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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Oncidium

I was worried when I had to re-pot the orchid. In the past, I would bring my orchids to little shops and let them do it. But here in Oregon, I haven't an auto so I have to do these things myself. Orchids can be delicate. How many times have I bought orchids in bloom and that was that. They have never bloomed again. They were pretty when bought, but after that, they were just leaves, curved over the pot, just sitting peacefully and unmoving. But this orchid. It has tripled in size and this is its fourth bloom. It's original pot was a boat in shape and tiny. It began to shoot out buds and I realized it would not blossom unless I re-potted it. Finding the right pot was a real guess because it not only had to fit, but I also didn't want something typical if you know what I mean. It has been flowering now for weeks and has been thrilling me for all of this time. It looks like it will continue to do so for perhaps another month, meaning it will be perhaps three months in the flower.

How fortunate am I!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, November 22, 2009

For the Love of Silk

Silk Dupioni. I have had this project on my table for maybe a month. I almost forgot it was there. How dare I?!. This is another circumstance where machine applique was required. I made sure the edges were smooth and I matched the threads perfectly. If I was making this pillow sleeve for myself, I would have hand appliqued. But, it is for the store and I am time focused. And there is no time to work on this at home. It's Christmas. I have much to do and I have already agreed to undertake a home project for the store. The pillow is covered with silk.

The pattern calls for a 13" pillow form although the cover is 14 inches. And, because it is dupioni silk, I completely lined the sleeve instead of lining only the circle piece. Why would a designer only indicate to line just one side of the sleeve? Especially with something that is made with silk? How absurd? So many flaws in pattern-design. I want to put myself out there as a pattern refiner. You design it, I will test it out for completeness.

So this little piece came out well. It was a project given to me from Marge who is the Craft Department Manager. She lightly mentioned that if I made it in a blue-way, she would love to take it home when it comes off of display. So, that I did.

Silk. The deep breath of how happy these little worms make me.

For The Children

I love making things for children. These little creatures are called "amigurumi" animals. The concept comes from Japan. They are crocheted and are very small and awkward to construct. You almost have to be an experienced fiber person. If I had the time, I would make hundreds of these and just give them away. They are fun to make and they bring smiles to the faces of those who touch them.

The quilt was wild to make. The pattern itself was in a colorway totally different from what I was given. So this was a total stretch for me to put together. I keep saying I am not a quilter. I am NOT a quilter. And.... I had never done the machine satin stitch quilting before. It took some practicing before hand. I have seen pieces that the more 'experienced' quilters have done and their satin stitch was loose and not always even. I was not sure that I liked it. Of course you would not notice those features standing away from the quilt. But if you were to wash it, would the fabric fray within the loose satin stitch? So I thought, this is a child's quilt and will have to go through multiple washing and so I should give it a nice tight stitch. Remember, this is my first applique piece such as this.

The approval board was happy and I gained more experience in what appears to me to be a rather broad horizon of the quilting universe.

Half Hour Project

Julie and Georgia went to NY last week for a vendor's expo and of course, did some shopping while there. They came back with all kinds of ideas of things for me to make. This was one of them. It was an expensive little tee which I made for what - $11? It was easy to match the frills on the side seams. It's just a matter of how you cut. The black trim is a pre-folded elastic which I applied once I removed the seam allowance. This piece is not even hemmed as I just cut the base fabric away from under the frill and let the frill be the hem. DONE! A sweet little thing to wear for any event whether formal of just to the office. And we have this fabric in so many colors. It will sell fabric well. I want to make a little brocade short skirt to go with it. I cut a picture out of a fashion magazine of this cute little number that is simple. Waist band, pleats at the waist, curved in just above the knee. The two pieces would look great together. We'll see what the decision might be. It is never totally in my hands unless I am given creative liscence.

Best Dress

I should have sent this out a week ago. But the days pass and where the time goes? I am told that I have no business dealing with time. That the moment is all I have and what I do with it is up to me. That if time passes without notice, then it is myself to blame for filling time with useless idle activity. Perhaps. Perhaps. I should not spend so much time thinking about time because it is only a waste of time to think about time when I could be doing something more important, like making this sweet little dress ahead of time.

So it put it into shipping on Friday the 20th in hopes that it arrives in NH on Tuesday the 24th.

And why is it not more traditional? What exactly is a traditional Thanksgiving dress? I walked around the store for almost an hour looking for something that called out "Thanksgiving" and nothing spoke. So I thought, maybe it is not about brown, orange and green. This little baby of mine is only nine months old! Thanksgiving colors just don't fit a baby that young. Brown, orange and green are for old people like me and even I don't wear them all together. Leave it for the dinner table!

I go through this all the time. I hope Stacy, Zoey's mom, likes it. I hope everyone finds it cute. What if everyone hates it and she doesn't wear it for the holiday? What if everyone thinks I am totally off my rocker with this print? And then when they get it, they are totally happy. Still I worry. But I know it will be just fine.

It's just a cute dress,no?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It is a great good fortune to have our art to turn to when we are faced with uncertainties, with difficulties, with clouds. We experience life at times and come through fragmented and what are we supposed to do?!~~~ We turn to a friend and they are not always there as they have their own drama going on and are not into even saying hello.

So we stop talking and retreat into silence, plying our needles turning out one beautiful grace piece after another, thinking that the world's technology is flinging us into solitude.

Rumi once said: "I have lived on the lip of insanity wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens, I have been knocking from the inside." This week my emotions have been under the influence of a powerful experience. Trust was shattered. My neck aches and my thoughts are repetitive. Still I work.

I am cooking for the holiday. What a respite as I work on the menu looking forward to cooking the turkey, something I have not done in years. I so look forward to this. And then the Christmas ornaments are ongoing, sure to be done on time. A wedding dress to be altered, now finished two weeks ahead of time. My granddaughter's Thanksgiving dress almost done which will have to be overnighted to her as she is in NH and I am in Oregon. And then there is the knitting. Always preparing for my class every Thursday. I may have two new students this week. that will be my limit.. No more than this.

I love knitting. Very soothing. Like applique. It's the needles. Having needles in my fingers is the most natural thing to my soul. They make me forget that I am so solitary. They "Get me through." Get me through.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just above the homeless

There are so many organizations and causes helping the homeless. Welfare. I am one person. I can knit a pair of socks or a lovely hat. What do I do. Donate it to Goodwill? My effort to help the cause? I once overheard a conversation between two well-suited women how they have sorters who go through the donations and take out the expensive donations, the nice things. Apparently they go to special auctions, or get taken by certain personnel. The money earned at special auction goes towards paying administration. It never hits the poor. OK.

But there is something more than the poor out there. There is a whole tier of women who live these lives of gray air getting by from day to day always wishing. They work, but always just above minimum wage and at unappreciated jobs. They eat frozen dinners and live in sparce apartments or apartments decorated from thrift stores where their wardrobe also comes from. They get a lot of catalogs in the mail and wish they could afford these lovely clothes. They spend so much time wishing they don't even know they are doing it. It is just a part of their nature.

It is all they know and there is a loneliness associated with it that is so profound that they have burried themselves in a closet and don't even realize that they are hidden from view in a society that does not recognize that they exist. There is no help for them. They earn too much for this and not enough for that. No one sees them because we are too busy with our own inner lists.

But I see them. I see them because if it were not for my creativity and the intensity of it, I would live in such a gray world. My world is full because of carefully placed plants, pieces of fabrics, my sewing and knitting entourage, carefully chosen pieces of porcelain, and everywhere, things I have made or things my best friends have made for me. These handmade items lift the soul whether I realize it or not. But the point is, at this very moment, I am immensely aware that it is pointedly important to write about this because it is precisely these colorful hand made artisan pieces that surround me that keep me moving from day to day.

Today, I met with a bride to be. A former Fabric Depot employee. Consequently, low income. I am altering her dress. A $300 - $400 alteration for $100. I asked for $50. I am a high end seamstress. We talked. Her future husband is not well. I had a drum on the wall. It was a spirit drum that I used to play with women interested in drumming and the dance, clearing space, smudging, etc. I recently took it off the wall thinking that it needs a home. I asked Kari if her fiance might be interested in drums and she said he loves drums. I was thinking it might help him with his healing. So I bundled it up with the striker which I had wrapped in silk, showed her how it was held and played and sent her on her way. Although speechless, the emotional air that surrounded her was unspeakably priceless.

It is about giving someone something unexpected that takes their breath away. Not so that you will be remembered by them for the rest of their life. But it is about putting something in their life they would never have thought they would own. And as artists, we can do that. We can knit an exquisit set of scarf, mitten and hat and put them in a bag and just giving it to a woman you meet at the market or the bus stop or the office, for no reason at all. And then just walk away. And when asked why? just say you thought she might like it. Simple. And just walk away. As artists we can bring beautiful things into women's lives that they never imagined they would ever have owned before.

I think that is what I want to do. Oh, I want to earn money too. I am not saying that everything I make will be for the hidden ones. But every once in awhile...........

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Define Busy

Can it get any busier. I get to work. I have so many projects on my board. And everyone is buzzing about a vendor spending till late last night pulling patterns and cuddle fabric for me to add to this schedule board. I even hear it from Julie. Get ready Pauline. Now cuddle fabric is not necessarily difficult to work with other than it does have a nap. It is just that it is messy because it sheds hhhhorrrriiibbbllllyy. Finally Julie comes in to my sewing area pushing a metal cart with maybe 12, not 3 or 4, but twelve projects for me to work up. OH MY GOD!!!! At the same time, I find out at 2:20pm from a manager with an attitude, that I have to work in the pattern department at 2:00pm. I am completely thrown off balance. I am looking at this manager going "Am I the only employee who can listen to a customer say "I want McCall's 2943" and can open that drawer and give the customer McCall's 2-9-4-3????? What a waste of time. Do you honestly really need me to work that department and why am I finding out about it 20 minutes after I am supposed to be there? So, after convincing them that it was not a good idea to put me there, I ended up only having to spend an hour and a half in the department late in the afternoon which was OK with me because I had 4 bolts of fabric that I had to pick patterns for and I used that time to come up with ideas for these fabrics. And I will talk about these four projects when I post the pictures at a later date.

God I love my job.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why Socks~~~

Why is it that people only want to knit socks? I can't seem to get anyone to go past socks. I had knitting class tonight. Five women and my wonderful little nine year old. Everyone wants to knit socks. Next week I am going to bring in the lace stole I am working on. I am going to press it so you can see it in its glory with the very expensive needles I am using to knit this. I am going to get some of these women to play with yarn. I am going to photograph some sample lace patterns and I am going to give them needles and balls of yarn and then hope that during the holiday week, they will play with the patterns and yarn and think of working with something other than socks. Now, socks are wonderful and I love wearing mine, but do something other than knit two pearl two for god's sake. Let's do something charming. And let's get away from those multi-colored yarns. Let's turn our socks into blooming flowers. Let us make socks so beautiful we don't want to give them away.

I was very lucky. Walking to class there was just a small wind. And returning home, the wind was minimal and the rain not really invasive. But I can see that that has all changed. It is pretty severe out there. I was spared. On the news, the weather was quite grand all over the city. I am so lucky. My sister Denise who lives on a trawler says her weather is pretty awful. She lives on the river. Some people have power outages with wind as high as 80 mph. I want to move to the woods.

I want to put myself out there to one of those dating places. I want a rich man who does not want sex. Has lots of property and does not need me to clean it. Who will enjoy my company for the colorful person that I am. Who will not expect me to work so that I can spend all my time working fibers. Who is technologically savvy so that I don't have to know everything about my computer. Who doesn't need for me to wake up before noon. Who loves food so I can cook a lot. Who can hire someone to grow the garden so all I have to do is go out there and pick the flowers, vegetables and herbs I need every day. Who has a house in the country big enough so that my friend Jody can live with us. She can do the garden. But neither of us want to clean the house. Someone who doesn't mind if I make his shirts. I love great shirts. A man who wants to learn how to play Mahjong with me. And cribbage and backgammon. A man who wouldn't mind sitting in the sewing room while I worked so we could have that quiet time together.

Is this too much to ask?

Knitting Class

Every week at the end of my knitting class, I like for everyone to put their name on a little piece of paper and I have someone pick a name and I give something away. What I have been carrying around with me for decades is a "ditty bag". My father had one always with him on his sail boat filled with his tools of the trade. Tools to splice line, special thread and needles to repair sails, pencils, a notepad, a little compass, different things that he would need at hand by his side. I have one filled with stitch markers, needle gauges, special needles, point tips, cable needles, stitch holders, everything I need is right there. When I get to class,the first thing I do is empty it onto the table because I know I am going to use these things. So, for this week's free raffle, I have made this little ditty bag. It is a black woven heavy cotton with gold butterflies and dragon flies. The draw string is green silk. I think this class is going to love this week's prize, eh!