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, August 29, 2013

The Case of the Gold Flannel Pillowcase

It was not a dark and stormy night; it was a lovely, balmy, California evening, spent with a particularly delightful group of local sewing mavens....   I arrived home at about 11:00, & realized that one of my cats was not only not there to greet me, but wasn't responding to any calling.   After 15 minutes of calling & searching, he finally showed up ... OUTSIDE the front door (this is an indoors only cat most of the time - how on earth did he sneak out - was it when I left earlier that evening?).... a few moments after that I found myself staring at the empty space on the desk where my laptop usually resides, and the pieces started slowing falling into place.

Yup - we had been burglarized.
 It wasn't until the police (possibly the NICEST cop in my local police force!) showed up that I finally saw the naked pillow on my bed - the pillow that just a few hours earlier had been nicely dressed in gold flannel....and then realized that the jewelry chest on the counter nearby had indeed been rifled through.   I think in my initial shock and denial I was SURE no jewelry was missing, but then I realized that every.  single.   valuable.  piece of jewelry that had belonged to my darling Mother was gone.   All the diamond rings (from 2 marriages and her own inheritance) - gone.  Anything silver, gold, or a valuable gemstone.   Gone.     Plus a few silver and gold necklaces of mine, which I could honestly care less about.  For the next few days I kept thinking surely there's ONE ring somewhere else, just ONE piece that belonged to her.....   nope - Gone.

I'm still reeling a bit, and noticing that I'm going through various stages of loss & grief  - yesterday I finally felt the anger that made me wish I could kick the friggin' dweeb in the balls....HARD!

I know that people do this, but I'm still mystified about the fact that it actually happened to me!
Bear with me - the silly cartoons actually make me grin,
and I can use all the grins I get right now!  :D

So.....The grand plans I had of sewing, reading, and blogging during the evenings this week have been mostly taken up by sleepless nights  re-doing all of my passwords, researching a replacement computer, dealing with software & old peripheries that don't work with the new system, denial, anger, browsing craigslist and eBay in the ridiculously unlikely hope that I'll see one of her rings, or my computer....uh huh.

Sorry for dumping on blogland, but I realized that I just need to unload publicly as part of the process of release.   I usually move through trauma pretty quickly; actually, this has only been 3 days, so I guess I can cut myself a break, but it still hurts, and the  hours that are being eaten up by realizing that I need to replace my printer (a perfectly nice printer that worked just fine with my older computer - which, btw, was also working just fine!) because it's not compatible with the slightly newer computer (rolleyes), set up a whole new email system, figure out how to transfer data from the 10-year old dinosaur backup computer, hours with online support "experts" some of who, as it turns out, know less than I do....etc, etc.....well... I'm just allowing myself to bitch and dump for a bit here.   Getting ripped off sucks.

I will move through this.

Oh, one bit of good news is that I will likely get an insurance settlement that covers only a pittance of the jewelry loss, but it's enough $ to replace the computer!  Insurance companies do come through sometimes (assuming they actually will, of course).

And of course, it's only "stuff", and it really could have been much, much worse.   :)   I did lose a lot of pictures that hadn't been backed up - I'm thankful for my blog in that sense, because of the shots that are saved in Picasa - yay to web picture programs!   And hey, all that clutter-clearing of excessive files stored on the computer?   Taken care of by the universe, thank you ;-)

I feel better already.   Thanks for being there, dear readers... :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Alabama Chanin!

Life is still biting me in the butt with busy-ness (it's a good thing, really... but oh to be independently wealthy and unemployed - what's that like?   Anyone?)  Which means very little sewing is actually happening, but the ideas and plans are still swirling around in my head!

I was at a gathering of sewists last weekend, and one of the women there had attended a Natalie Chanin workshop, and she was wearing a gorgeous top she had made from an Alabama Chanin kit.   I've been wanting to feel up the organic cotton jerseys Chanin eco-dyes and sells, to see if it's really as soft as the claims are.   It is!  Even better news is that I found out that A Verb for Keeping Warm, a wonderful little yarn & fabric shop in Oakland (6328 San Pablo Avenue, just a few blocks off Ashby, for the local folk) has a trunk sale of Alabama Chanin items - it's only through August 26, so zip on over there if you want to check it out!

For those who might not be familiar with  Alabama Chanin designs, Natalie Chanin, the founder, uses elaborate designs including stencils, dying, cut-outs, beading, and hand-stitching, incorporating embroidery and quilting techniques from eras past, and modernizing the looks in one-of-a-kind garments.  She is the very essence of slow sewing!

There are a couple of racks of her made clothes at A Verb - not for sale though (something about a conflict with someone else who carries her goodies).  At something like $1000 - $3000 apiece, nothing in this collection is ever going to make it into my closet,  but how wonderful to be able to touch and see up close so many of the makes from her studio!  A Verb also has some huge books with samples of the stitching and layering and beading...oh MY!   PLUS a selection of her cottons!    I managed to take a few pictures, mostly close-ups of the stitching samples from the books (these books are TREASURES - do try to check them out if you can make it!)

Lettering on a top!!!   LOVE this!
A cape, skirt, and top using various techniques

Yes, I could not resist a few pieces of the fabric.   At $24.50/yard, this is not cheap cotton, but it is oh-so-soft, and all ORGANICALLY sourced.  It's $22/yd through her website, but I'm assuming you need to add shipping, so it's probably about the same in the end.  It's the mid-weight grade, which is very sturdy - but did I mention how soft it feels?   It's also pre-washed, so you're not paying for fabric that you're going to lose through shrinkage.

Then I came home and immediately ordered Alabama Studio Sewing + Design from Amazon, which seems to be the most comprehensive of her 3 books, at least for sewists.   It should arrive tomorrow - can't wait!

Craftsy also has a class on Natalie Chanin Hand Embellishing Techniques - has anyone taken this class yet?   What did you think of it?   Her one-day workshops are in the  $400 range, which makes a $40 Craftsy class sound not so bad, eh?

I do look forward to having something I've actually sewn to share here....fabric and patterns are actually laid out in the sewing room; all I need is time and energy!   (Got some to spare?) ;-)

Until then, I dream :-)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Being Visible

The conversations at dinner the other night with shams & badmomgoodmom covered a variety of topics (3 women, 4 hours = you can imagine!), including becoming "invisible" after a "certain age" (badmom could not yet relate to this concept).

Today, for some inexplicable reason, I decided to join the group of visibly fabulous women who participate in Visible Monday, and dress a bit over the top (for me, anyway).   It's summer in San Francisco, which means the likelihood of c-o-l-d is very high, and I don't do cold well.   So I layered it on a bit thicker than usual, wearing my faux fur vest over my animal print Renfrew, and my latest Marcy pants (not blogged because I've made so many versions!):

I have two things to do today:  #1 -  go shopping at Fabrix (yes I'm going to drive into The City and that's all I'm doing - one store, one stop, one bag of fabrics (or maybe 2), and #2 - finish reading my library book (which is SUCH a great read I'm going to blog a review here - coming soon!  After a crazy busy several weeks lately, a 2-items-on-the-To-Do-List day is a most welcome event.   I guess I need to add one more - write this blog post.....Done!

Hmmm....maybe I should dress up my feet with my Trippens as well.....just because.....

Here's to visibility (in a good way) at all ages!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

When Sewists Gather.... my experience, it's ALWAYS a good time!   Fun, educational (we are a creative and curious lot), inspirational, and sometimes even unusual.

I've had the good fortune to meet up with other bloggers a couple of times recently - Elizabeth of SEWN and the delightful short one she lives with, and last night badmomgoodmom and Shams and I all got together.  (more about that below)

First I want to spread the word about an event coming up next month that sounds very intriguing, definitely educational, and probably a lot of fun as well!  Britex Fabrics is partnering with Laurence King Publishing/Chronicle Books to present an evening class on draping techniques, celebrating the launch of Karolyn Kiisel's upcoming book, "Draping The Complete Course".  I'm so looking forward to running my hands and eyes over this book - check out the cover, and a couple of pages of the beautiful illustrations inside - it looks quite promising:

The class will include a demonstration of how to drape Audrey Hepburn's classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's" sheath (do you really even need a photo to conjure up this image?), plus info and some materials to help us get started on our own projects.

My mother worked from patterns, but she always draped the clothes on me as she altered and fitted, and I've always loved to do that sort designing; my favorite creations often come from a draping type of inspiration!  Now that  I'm close to getting my dress form to actually match my body, I can't wait to start playing with draping on it; so the timing for this class is perfect!  I hope to see you there!  :)  The date of the class is September 19, from 7-9, at Apparel Arts; cost is $25.  (reasonable, I think!) The book will also be available at that time.

As for blogger meetups, I'm a bit late on this one, but I had a delightful brunch with Elizabeth of SEWN, and her sidekick Jack, a few weeks ago - here we are at Stonemountain (oops, did I say brunch?   Well, yes, brunch and just a bit of fabric shopping.....).   She is much braver than I in terms of exposure to our Bay Area summers - I never leave the house without layers!  Jack was being a real trooper while we shopped, and quietly sat at the pattern table with his iPad.   What a great kid!

And yesterday, I finally got to spend some quality time with badmomgoodmom.  The 5-second meeting we had at PR Weekend really didn't cut it, so after a few dozen emails and phone calls and planning and re-planning over the past few days (she aptly called the process "Space-Time Tetris" in her blog post here), we got together for some snoop shopping in Hayes Valley (Hayes Street in San Francisco - a rather fabulous area to snoop shop in - I needed an out-of-towner to show me how much the area has changed over the past 20+ years - I definitely need to go back for a deeper exploration!)

We made it into a total of 3 shops (that girl can talk up a storm with any interesting stranger on the street, I swear!) before meeting up with Shams, who also blogged about our gathering in her post here.  We spent the next 4 hours engrossed in tea and delicious food and conversation at Caffe Delle Stelle (Italian, of course, and recommended for great service and very good food, at reasonable prices).

badmom made a vociferous point about theoretical physicists not being nerdy & geeky (per Big Bang Theory, which shams and I both love and badmom hates).  When good-dad joined us for a second round of food, badmom turned into goodsexyflirtymom and proved her point quite well.   ;-D

It was a delightful evening!   The more sewing bloggers (and sewing non-bloggers) I get to spend time with, the happier I am that I re-joined the sewing world, and keep getting connected with some of the most interesting and creative people around!  Don't you agree?

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's a Hat Attack!

One of the more delightfully stylish bloggers I follow is  Judith of Style Crone (check her out!) - I think she may have started an avalanche of hat-wearing blog posts, thanks to her Hat Attack post!

Although I've been a hat lover for a long time, the dreaded "hat head" syndrome often curtailed my hat fetish.  However, I've noticed that my hair seems to be cooperating a bit more now that it's grey, short, and styled with a somewhat.... shall we say..."unkempt" look  (I can always say "It's on purpose!" no matter how wild it looks!)

A dear friend recently celebrated her birthday with a  High Tea gathering at Lovey's Tea Shoppe in Pacifica, and wearing a hat was a requirement.   I went a rather unconventional route (for high tea, that is), and showed up in my favorite black fedora - a bit beaten up, but dressed with a silver pin that used to belong to me British Mum, who always enjoyed an afternoon out for High Tea :)  By the way, if you're local, I can highly recommend Lovey's (which is the little sister of Lovejoy's in San Francisco).   Although the fare is far from my usual healthy eating habits, the quality of the ingredients was clearly very high (Strauss organic cream!), and even the white bread triangles tasted like "real" food.   And it was abundant!   I arrived with my hunger on, and couldn't possibly eat it all!

(Not what I wore to Tea, other than the hat...
I was a bit more "dressed")

Three of the women at the party had all been to High Tea with Mom and me in years past, so the pin, along with a necklace of hers that I wore, assured that the Mumsy was there with us. :)

This post is for you Mom, with love :)

90-something and still doing her crossword puzzles :)

Another hat - at her memorial gathering last year in my back yard :)

Hats Off to Moms and the wonder-filled connections in blogger-land!