Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thank you, Portland.

There was a bit of a rainstorm last night, complete with howling wind and little branches lashing against the house. I heard something that I hadn't thought about: the wind rushing through trees. I didn't realize how much I worried that I'd miss it. I really love the sound of a good storm frothing through a bunch of trees, and I guess I thought I'd said goodbye to it when I moved out of the forest.

There's so many trees here, and I'm so grateful for them. Right now the colors are spectacular, and every morning walk to school is a leaf walk with an absolute riot of color. I'm not used to deciduous trees, I'm from the redwoods which don't change with the seasons, and sometimes not even with the centuries. But here, just as the days are getting shorter and I'm starting to miss the light, all the trees are dropping their leaves and there's light everywhere. New vistas are opening up, and there's glimpses into interesting spots everywhere.

Honestly, I know this sounds weird, but the things I was saddest about giving up when I moved were sticks and lichen. There, I said it. I really dig lichen, I find it super inspiring, and I'll pick up chunks and just be amazed at its tiny details every time. And yeah, I grew up playing with sticks covered in lichen and moss, and I just LIKE them, they're great for art projects, but really, I just like them. I'm also a huge fan of moss, I love the color and it's intricate lushness. Guess what? The abundance of trees in Portland means that every walk is full of lichen, moss, and covered sticks. I fucking love it.

Here's another great thing. I moved here three and. Half months ago, and I've only filled my gas tank twice, and still have a half a tank left. I used to have to fill my tank once or twice a week at the old place. 90% of my driving is 6-8 minutes away, and if I need to go downtown it's 15 minutes away. Downtown is pretty fabulous, I can get to Powell's books, Lush Cosmetics, and a nice spinning store for awesome rovings. That's your basic trifecta right there, although the addition of perfect pastry and tea would round it out pretty well.

I might start gathering up some lichen to dye wool with. I'd love to find some local wool, and dye it with things I've found in Portland. I have pokeberries growing outside my door, and there's a huge windfall of black walnuts in their dye-covered fruit coating down the road, and of course lichen. Hmmm.....I feel a project coming on, I'm going to start ninjaing those walnuts on the dog walk today.

Portland, I love you, ya gorgeous town.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


You know, I really want to write a book called, "Peasant Fashion: beyond that ugly baggy blouse, a sack skirt, and some mismatched scarves." Let us not forget the styling, and go beyond yoga hair, eight coats of mascara, and some knock off of a bad 1970s Cover Girl lipstick.

I've been collecting books about loom-shaped clothing for about a year now. No, it's not clothes shaped like a loom :grin:. Basically, when you've spent such an enormous amount of effort on spinning and weaving a fabric, you really don't want to cut it up and waste a bunch. So loom shaped clothing uses a lot of squares with a few triangles thrown in for shaping. What's amazing is how incredibly PRACTICAL true peasant clothing is, and how wise it can be for a particular climate.

There's also a helluva lot more to peasant/primitive clothing than that damn blouse.

Naturally, that blouse looks fairly good on me, while most loom shaped clothing makes me look like a sack of potatoes! I've been sewing for myself since I was four, and ever since about age 20 I've found that the more curves, darts, shaping, and structure I can put into a garment, the better it looks on me. So, um, why the squared peasant clothes?

Mostly because I'm loathe to cut into homespun/handwoven, just as women have been for millennia. Also because I don't really give a fuck about looking hot anymore. Having men leer at you walking down the street isn't fun, and I don't have the body of a 20 year old. I am so into comfortable and practical garments made of awesome. I am not going to make and wear potato sacks, but damn straight I am going to make some awesome peasant clothing!

I might even weave some mismatched scarves to go with it, and wield the mascara wand with abandon ;)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Too much of a good thing?

I have a wonderful gift: I am almost never bored. Seriously, give me two sticks and strong and I'll make a knitted hat. Hell, give me a sheep and a stick, and I'll make the string first.

There is, however, a downside to this. It's a kind of crafting ADHD, where every new project is shiny and fun. I actually have to hold myself back from learning new crafts. Today I was looking at the shelves in my bathroom, and thinking about how much they needed baskets. My first thought was, "I need to learn basketweaving so I can make them!" Since I just picked up a new craft this month though (rughooking, way cooler than it sounds, I'll post about it another time), I am trying to hold off.

I haven't actually printed this out anywhere, so right here and now, I'm going to list all my works in progress and projects. I'm a little nervous.

1) Cutting out a raincoat pattern to sew. Hey, I found awesome black Burberry raincoat fabric, it has to happen. It's also an insanely difficult Vogue coat pattern, just to make life, um, interesting.

2) Weaving a linen-cotton waffleweave cloth that I think is destined for placemats or kitchen towels.

3) Weaving a handspun yellow-black-orange wool fabric destined to be felted and turned into a messenger bag.

4) Knitting...oh god, can I just put all the knitting porjects here? Otherwise it'll take all day!
a) A hilarious Dr. Who themed hat for Neil Gaiman
b) An orange-brown leaf themed shawl because I don't have any brown-orange lace or shawls in my life. Sad sartorial lapse, eh?
c) a garter stitch shawl in handspun that I'm heartily bored with
d) a few projects tucked away that I may get to, or may tear back into yarn and redo. Lace shawl, a scarf, a shrug, and another shawl come to mind.

5) Spinning a gorgeous progression in superwash corriedale, dyed by Amy at Spunky Eclectic, which is destined to be woven into a tartan that will become...maybe a scarf, or perhaps I'll cut and sew it into something when I see it.

6) Also spinning some wool into lace from Spunky Eclectic that I'm thinking will become a featherweight cardigan.

7) I have some polymer clay toadstools that I need to fire, I'm thinking about adding little faces to them, although they make damn cute pins as they are.

8) I'm setting up the Big Loom, a computer-driven AVL 48" 16 harness floor loom. I should just start calling her Bertha, but I really don't want to piss her off, that's a lot of loom that I want to work with me, not drop a beam on my ankle for calling her things like 'Bertha'

9) I've set up my knitting machine, and while I have some of my new designs transcribed into computer, I need to test run them all and make my kid a set of school-color "Hogwarts" style scarves and hats and gloves.  Then I need to make 60-100 of those for the school boutique (that's how you know it's a fancy school, they don't have a bazaar, they have a freaking booootiique!) by December 2.

10) I need to mix the paint colors...no I don't pick them, I mix them myself, doesn't everyone? Anyway, I need to mix paint colors for the bathroom and kitchen, and then paint those rooms. We shall not speak of the rest of the unpacking/organizing that needs to happen, because it's not a craft. And I'm sticking to that excuse.

11) Oh right, and spindle spinning some lichen-colored Tussah silk for a crocheted lace shawl that I'm coveting.

12) I have a couple more pillows for the living room cut out and ready to sew.

13) I'm starting hexipuffs  from random leftovers of handspun for a beekeeper's quilt.

14) I'm rughooking a wool rug for my kid that looks like a big piece of bacon. Yes on purpose.

OK, phew, that wasn't as bad as I thought, since I didn't write down any of the things I have PLANNED. I have two pages of notes on things to knit next. I have a stack of fabric that represents maybe eight or nine projects to do 'next'. I can't wait to start weaving wool rag rugs to give away and sell. I want to spin enough cotton that I can warp up The Big Loom and make some clothes to wear from handspun. I have a whole line of polymer clay jewelry that I want to start. and and old one to finish.  I have one or three rughooking projects to do 'next'. And of course, there's always the project that I come up with out of the blue that derails all the others and takes immediate precidence!

At least I'm not bored :wicked grin:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Holding down the couch

I spent the first three hours of my day telling myself that I am strong, that it's just pain, that I am a natural woman whose body is powerful and capable of healing itself.

Now, I'm just waiting for the ice cream and ibuprofen to kick in so I can hobble around the house and at least try to get some things done.

Pro tip: getting older does not do much to make cramps any easier to deal with, and ibuprofen does actually work.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn should be a time of gathering in, harvesting, taking stock and building stores against the winter. For me though, autumn is a time of beginnings. It's finally cool enough out that I can switch to spinning and knitting big smooshy cozy piles of soft wool, after spending a summer where I could barely stand to handle cotton and linen. I finally get to haul out the bins of my favorite clothes, the fall colored lumpy and cozy handknits, the thick and textured handwoven scarves, and the piles of layers.

And really, I'd much rather rock the velvet than sweat in a t-shirt.

A friend of mine made an amazing New Year's resolution: she decided not to buy any clothes, but make her own for the year. Then I ran across this remarkable blog http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2011/grow-your-own-clothes-the-fibershed-project/
And heard the term "fibershed" for the first time. I'm also pretty smitten with the "Slow Cloth" movement. Obviously, I'm completely in love with textiles, and the idea of making my own things from local products is immensely appealing.

I really want to weave my own fabric from yarn that I've spun, preferably from local 'ingredients', and then sew it up into a wonderful piece of clothing. I'd also love to inspire more people to do the same!

Depending on the time of month and hormone levels, my tastes in clothing run from tight luxe velvet and sassy knit skirts to big caftan-y dresses of thick drape-y fabric. Mind you, I don't have any caftans yet, but I always want them! I also like structured flat-front palazzo pants with a tunic top, and that's usually my caftan substitute. So my plan at the moment is to weave a schmutz of a big caftan, or at least a tunic, from local goodies.

Now, to go convince local farmer to put in a few acres of line flax, and someone else to put together a flax processing house so I have local linen :)

Alright, I'm going to post this and come back to edit it, since I don't trust safari to save it one little bit!