It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

I Lost a Shoelace

I know, I know - it's New Year's Eve and all you energetic young-at-hearters are out celebrating, and I'm searching for a shoelace.   Priorities folks, priorities!

This is an AWESOME pair of my favorite shoe brand - Trippen - gifted to me by my generous friend Rhonda (how lucky am I???).   I was going to wear them today but discovered one of the shoelaces went off for a stroll somewhere - how does this HAPPEN???  You would think I would notice when taking them off that I was a shoelace short, so surely they were both there the last time I wore must be the cat's fault.   It usually is, right?
I did nothing and I'm not here anyway...

I've been wanting to figure out how to make my own shoelaces, so clearly the time was ripe for it.   A quick web search showed me all of the ingredients I needed, which I happened to have on hand:

  • Ribbon of some sort (preferably something not too slippery, so they have some traction to hold a knot)
  • Shrink tubing (which comes in various colors, including clear - I had black for some electrical wire project sometime, somewhere - every girl should have a tool area with that sort of stuff, right?)
  • Paper clip (may or may not be necessary)
  • Hair Dryer.
That's it, and you're good to go!

I cut the desired lengths from my ribbon, and pieces of the shrink tube about 1/2" long.   The tubing I had was 1/8" diameter, and black, which just happened to be perfect for this ribbon (yes, I am lucky!)

I cut the ends of each piece of ribbon at a bit of an angle, and rolled it into as tight a roll as possible to stuff it in to the tube.   This is where the paper clip came in handy - I just pushed the ribbon in to the tube with the clip, and it was done in a jiff!

The hardest part was shrinking the fly-away ribbon & tubes with the hair dryer!   I didn't take the time to try and secure the ribbon with something that would hold it steady while the hot air was blasting it, and it was way too hot for my hands to be near it!   So if you're making a bunch of laces I suggest finding a way to hold the ribbon down while using the hair dryer.     I set the dryer on the hottest setting, and heated the tubes for 20 to 30 seconds.


For those of you who are out and about tonight, come home fulfilled, happy, and safe!   Here's to a 2016 that is filled with an abundance of blessings, good health and healing, fabulous friends and community, and lots of heart-expanding experiences!

I leave you with a shot of the first bulb opening up in my garden - Fresh Start!

And a sweet little gift from a young houseguest who is staying here for a few days:


Sunday, December 6, 2015

23 Lovely Ladies and a Greedy Gift Grab

One of my favorite types of parties is an old-fashioned White Elephant gift exchange.  One of my sewing groups holds an annual holiday party with a Greedy Gift Grab - and the gifts are far from White Elephants!

This group consists of creative, talented, and often elegant ladies with exquisite taste and sewing skills to die for, and many of the gifts are hand made and to die for!   The most fun is seeing these normally polite (but fun-loving!) women narrow their eyes at a coveted gift and go for the gusto with no-holds-barred enthusiasm!

We usually have so much fun at our gatherings that there is no time or thought given to a group picture, so this year I brought my camera and herded the cats together for a rare remembrance shot of the group.   Some of you will recognize many of the faces, but names have been eliminated to protect the not-so-innocent.

For my gift, I made a couple of felt containers - when I gather up my blog-posting energy again I'll post some instructions - I may make more for myself!    And I love love love the saying on the cup I found!   Big Bang Theory fans/fabricoholics will now have a new ear worm in their brains... ;-)

I was one of the early numbers in the number draw, but I happened to open a gift that ended up being VERY popular, so I ended up back in the fray quite a few times before the end.   There is definitely no guarantee that the gift you start with will be the one you go home with - especially if it's something you really like (because everyone else probably does too, and it WILL be stolen from you!  As it turned out, I went home with an exquisitely made pin cushion (which I stole from someone who loves this shade of red, but tough cookies Dorothy!)  ;-)

Delicious food, lots of laughs, great company, and the grey drizzly day even finally cleared up for us enough to enjoy the view from Ann's beautiful home!

A brief note on the health front - I actually ended up in the hospital last week, thinking I was going to go home with a new liver!   It was quite a dramatic day, since I got "The Call" earlier than I expected, but as it turned out I was only a back-up, and after 12 hours waiting (and getting readier by the minute!),  I found out that the liver had gone to someone else.   Disappointing at first, but the good news is that I learned so much about how unprepared I really was!    Focusing on getting all of my ducks in a row now, and really really really looking forward to being filled with energy and able to work again!

For any of my readers who don't yet know my story, here's a link to the background story, and a fundraiser that dear friends set up for me - I'm eternally grateful for all good wishes, healing energy, and any way that you can spread the word to help me get through this with as much grace and joy as possible :)   Jillian's Angels

And in the meantime:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Na Hulu Ali'i

The full name is Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Na Hulu Ali'i - it is one of the current exhibitions at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

I was in The City (that's San Francisco for you non-west coasters) this week, and decided, since it was a gorgeous day,  to enjoy some time in GG Park.   I checked on the exhibits at the de Young Museum (I admit it, I LOVE my smart phone!) and realized that the Feather Capes of the Hawaiian Royals were still there - I rushed my hiney right over, since this went on my wish list when I first heard of it!

I had seen a couple of the pieces at the Bishop during my time in Hawaii in the 70's, but this was a beautiful and inclusive, albeit still small exhibit, and very do-able in an hour or so.

So worth it!

This cape - an 'Ahu 'ula, is floor length.  
Although it LOOKS heavy, it probably weighs about 6 pounds.  
Only the Royals, and only men, were allowed to wear these.  From the 18th century.
(Note:  They did not display the capes on mannequins with shoulders because of the potential damage to the pressure points.  There's a good reason to have narrow shoulders, no?  

 Close-Up of the feathers:

 A non-traditional women's cape from the 30's or 40's, made of pheasant feathers.   
Wouldn't you wear this?   In a heart beat I would!!!   Just give me a place to go!

Lei hulu (feather lei). 
These were worn on the head or neck by women and girls.

Mahiole (feathered helmet).   This one was from the 18th century or earlier.  
All things considered, these are darn well preserved!

Those black feathers!!!   Drool...   
When this cape was new and fresh it must have been uber-stunning!

All of the pieces were enclosed in plexiglass.   Photography was allowed (no, I didn't need to be a surreptitious sneak!!!   Not that I'm above that [koff koff])

Next door was a small exhibit covering the preservation of feathers, and including a few later pieces.   If you go, be sure to check this room out too!

Aleutian parka - OMG I would SO wear this one in cold weather!   
Although I start shivering when it hits 55° these days...

A hat.
Yes, it's a hat.  
From New Guinea, and made of cassowary feathers.   
The smaller, more sedate lump behind it is also a hat, but I was so fascinated by this...umm...headpiece that I'm afraid I ignored the other one.

This is another hat.
I will say no more.

Afterwards I took the elevator up to the rooftop view area, which is one of SF's finest spots to know about!   You can get in to this section of the museum for free, and enjoy a fabulous 360° view of the City and beyond!

On the observation deck, looking South over the  Music Concourse, 
where many fantastic concerts are held.
The building with the grassy mounds on the roof is the Natural History Museum,
and you can see some of the UCSF Medical buildings behind that - buildings I've become all too familiar with lately!   (but I'm incredibly blessed to have those amazing doctors near me!)

The day was so clear and warm and beautiful, and the entire experience left me missing my years living in SF!   This was a thoroughly delightful reminder of just how beautiful this city really is - one of the best in the world, and right next door!

Note to Self:  Spend more time there.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Buttons and Baubles and Artists, Oh YES!

Before too much time has passed, I must say a word or two about one of my favorite events of the year, Artistry in Fashion.   Fiber Artists!  Jewelers!  Felters!  Clothing Designers & Makers! Speakers!  Fashion Shows!  Being Surrounded by Inspiration!

The event is held at Cañada College at the end of September each year as a fundraiser for the Fashion Department.  It's a wonderful day of visiting juried artist booths, watching fashion shows (one using goodies from the vendors, one with pieces shown by the featured speaker), and catching up with friends from all over.

The trouble with documenting everything with photos is that it takes away from the direct experience of all the eye candy!   So I rarely get many pics from the event...maybe next year!

Here are Dorothy, Ann, and Barbara V wearing outfits pulled together from various vendors, right after the fashion show.   This is a great way to showcase some of the pieces being sold by the artists - in fact, Ann bought the top and the felt necklaces she was wearing!   Doesn't she look great in them?  Don't miss the fun fascinator that Barbara V is wearing!
Dorothy Kaplan, Ann Smith, and Barbara V.  
Sadly, none of them are being active bloggers these days!

It's always a treat to see Margy, who drove up for the event (people do come from far and wide to attend AIF - it really is worth it!)
Margy, looking as elegant as ever, Me, trying to avoid the sun,
and Shams (note the fabulous necklace!)
As much as I would love to support ALL of the artists there by coming home with their amazing goodies, I was pretty frugal.   I love love love these earrings, by Eccentric Designs!  In fact, they were such a perfect match for what I was wearing that my ears donned them on the spot!
The artist, Winnie, creates most of her pieces from what she called "garbage" - discarded and found objects, married together with such a beautifully creative eye that her work has an appeal to many different tastes!  Shams, Margy, and I all bought pieces from her!

My other purchase was buttons.   Every year I simply MUST browse the Button Booth - I'm an admitted button addict, especially if it's vintage!   I bought this string of buttons (already assembled), with the immediate image of making a necklace from them.    Somehow.

There was so much inspiration from the vendors and visitors at AIF, including shams and the necklace she wore in the above pic, that I wanted to get started on my vision before it faded.

I really had no idea how to pull it off, but had to start somewhere...
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I added a few other vintage buttons from my stash, laid them on some fleece & sewed them on (utilizing the orange wire that they were strung on), fused that on to a piece of leather, then wound some leather cord around & through the piece.

It took several days of liking what was happening, then not liking it, sleeping on it to wait for some new inspiration about how to fix what wasn't working....

In the end, I'm happy with my fun new necklace!
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And it works with quite a few of my clothes!   I seem to be getting back in to an orange/gold phase again...
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Do you make your own jewelry?   Silversmithing & related activities are beyond me, and beading (although I've done a lot of it) can end looking more crafty than arty in the hands of someone like me, but there really are a lot of options out there to make some unique and not-that-hard pieces!   I've done some paper weaving beads, which were lots of fun!  They're not that hard, but a bit too complex to try describing on paper - I think that learning this technique is really an in-person thing)
This is two necklaces worn together.
This was a ridiculously time-consuming piece, made years ago,
and honestly, I can't remember the last time I wore it!   It may be time to pass it on...
Your Basic Beading.   I actually do still wear these at times.   I think I've given away everything else I ever beaded.   (Except my pendulums!   But those are still used...)  My beading days, I think, are probably pretty much over.
So why can't I re-home my boxes of beads and tools???   
Yes.   Why, indeed?   Do all of you creative and crafty type people hang on to your tools and treasures from projects you were obsessed with at one time or another?    I can get rid of so many other no-longer-used bits and baubles of my life, but not my creative tools!   Do I need an intervention?   How about you?  Do you hang on to those odd crafty bits because you're sure you'll get involved with them again...someday?   Or do you move on?    (I even help other people with their clutter - but don't you dare touch my 4-strand yarn winder or my paper-making screens!!!!)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pippi Longstocking, Marcy Tilton, and Me

So I know I'm missing the leggings, but still - aren't we just quite the little trio?   I seriously want to make some striped leggings and wear this with my Trippen boots!

I fell head over heels in love with this pattern, Marcy Tilton's V9108  - not in small part because of the stunning graphic on the front panel!  But of course one can't just copy everything about a pattern now, can one?   Even though, when I saw that fabric in person (shams made a GAWjuss shirt from it!), I wished I had it!   Wishful thinking only, since I'm sewing almost entirely from stash these days (and I really can't complain about the size of my stash! - thank the heavens for my greed foresight when I was still working and had an income lol!)

Wanting to make this, and choosing the fabrics, turned out not to be as easy as fabric mixing usually is for me.   Something about the layout & proportions of everything really presented a challenge for me.   I wasn't the only one!   My friend Ann (who, sadly, hasn't been blogging for ages - even longer than I) and I had a brainstorming session to help each other piece together our options.

In the end, I cut up an old pareu (rayon) I've had for years (that's the printed panel), and combined it with the stripe and the black (both knits), and ran a lovely ribbon on both sides of the panel for balance and a smooth  transition.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The construction is just unusual enough that I felt it warranted a slapped-together muslin, and I'm REALLY glad I did this!   I somehow missed a rather crucial fitting bit - the fact that there are straps added on to the shoulders that connect the front and back.   I couldn't figure out why my top was SO much shorter than the pattern pic, until I finally found the extra pattern pieces.   And with the way it's constructed, it just isn't possible to fit as you go - it all finally comes together in the end.

Unfortunately given my absence from blogland and the fact that I didn't take pics or make notes along the way, I have no memory at all of whatever fitting changes I made!   I'm sure I made a small (I nearly always do with Marcy patterns), and I used my TNT for the t-shirt, adjusting the neckline to match the jumper's.

Oh yes, the t-shirt!    People who don't know the pattern usually think this is a one-piece, but it's actually a jumper with a t-shirt underneath.  (what do you Aussies and Brits call an American jumper?   In spite of my British Mum and some Britishisms that stuck with me, I'll never be able to refer to a sweater as a jumper...)

In the end, this outfit has been getting a LOT of rotation in the wardrobe!   Maybe not the most flattering of outfits, but super comfy and versatile - I've worn it with and without the t-shirt, depending on weather, and once I get my Pippi Longstocking leggings made, it will transition nicely into cooler weather too!

And the pockets!   LOVE the big pockets!

Yes, it is indeed shorter in the back than in the front.   (reverse mullet?)   A bit odd, and if I made it again, I think I would even out the hem.

All in all, I love this pattern!   Comfy to wear, great pockets, multi-seasonal, super fun options with color blocking... Marcy has done it again!

Note the newly painted front door?   AND new porch stain as well!   Big Big BIG thanks to my fabulously generous friends who put hours and hours of work into making this happen while I wasn't feeling up to much of anything!    I did do the door myself this month, after I started getting some pep back, but the whole project never would have been started if it weren't for some old friends (and old friends are best!!)  who showed up with tools and time and muscles and got it all started.    And it was a LOT of work!!!

Here's to more pep in our lives, fun sewing projects, and red front doors!

P.S.  I'm adding this edit because I just had a grammar discussion with some friends.   I thought  about titling this post "Pippi Longstocking, Marcy Tilton, and I", but I ended up opting for the "Me" instead of the proper grammar - because I thought it sounded a bit on the pretentious side.   Isn't that a little sad?  Was I just being silly, and most of my readers would actually notice the error?  What would you do?  

Monday, October 12, 2015

A year??? It's been A YEAR???

:::Peeks out from under the covers to see if anyone still remembers me:::

A year of blogging absence - I suppose a bit of an explanation is in order.

I have been sewing - a bit, not as much as I would like - but mostly I've been resting, sleeping, talking to doctors, and healing after the shock of some health news sent me on a life-shifting journey.

The Story:  35 years ago - back in the dark ages - I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C (then called non-A non-B, since it was still such a new discovery).   There was no cure, until some years later when a horrible combination of shots and drugs was offered, which killed some people, made others miserable, and cured a small percentage.   Since I was firmly ensconced in "alternative" healing methods and healthy life practices by then, I didn't give the pharmaceutical option a second thought!

Fast forward to January of last year.  I was feeling flat out sick, and nothing I was trying helped.   I finally sought Western medical help, and after being poked and prodded and interviewed and scanned by numerous docs, I was given the news that I would be needing a liver transplant.

Time for research, research, research!!!   Find people who've been there, done that.  Scour the web.   Find support groups.   (There are, by the way, a LOT of support groups for people with HepC - it now kills more people annually than AIDS does, but there ARE cures please, get tested!!!)  The good news is that, right around the same time I started feeling so sick, the new drugs with a hugely successful cure rate were starting to be approved!   More (good news!) about that to come...

Meanwhile, exhaustion forced me into early retirement and the finances dwindled, but my fabulous friends, along with years of spiritual practices and various healing modalities gave me everything I needed to maintain an Attitude of Gratitude.   That gratefulness, and the joy of being alive (admittedly with an occasional relapse into the land of "I can't TAKE it anymore!!  Stop the world and just let me OFF!!!"),  keeps me going and lets me know everything will, indeed, be fine.  Better than fine!

Above all, Gratitude.  And laughter.  And lightheartedness.   And not taking any of this toooo seriously.  And friends and supporters.   And silliness.  Did I mention laughter?  That's the one thing that can always lift me when I start to choose a dark path (and those paths are there...along with the choice to take it, or not!)

It hasn't been easy writing this post - or rather, finding the time and energy and courage to write it. I'm just pounding it out right now, so that I can re-enter this fabulous blogging world and finally get some sewing posts up!    And writing this wasn't even CLOSE to being as challenging as agreeing to set up this:

I was fairly quiet about all of this for some time, except for all of my fabulous friends.   Agreeing to the You Caring fundraiser, then having the word spread through social media and blogs (thank you shams!)  showed me, once again,  that learning how to ask for help as well as being willing to receive it is a blessing of community that there are no words for!    More tears.   Of gratitude.

About those miracle drugs mentioned above - I was able to take them for a 12 week period, and after 35 long years,  my body is now cleared of the HepC virus!!!!   This is incredible - such great news, and such a shift, that I still haven't fully absorbed it!

This means I've been starting to feel better and have more energy, which means I'm playing the catch-up game with all of the neglected aspects of my life, including sewing and blogging!

Thanks to everyone for reading through this non-sewing post - I've so missed you all!   I have a number of projects to post about - taking photos has seemed like way too much effort for some time, but I'm ready for it now, so look out blogging world, I'M BACK!