Thursday, March 9, 2017

Grove of Giants

I've posted many times before about Woodlands Cemetery, my local Victorian-era cemetery, walking destination and general happy place.

I went there this morning after a trip to the post office, both because it was spring (again, for what, maybe the third time in three weeks?) and because I knew there had been some changes.

A few weeks ago on Facebook, the cemetery announced that the Grove of Giants, which was a group of enormous English elm trees toward the back of the cemetery (and the actual last standing grove of English elms in the U.S.) had become infected with Dutch Elm disease.  They had attempted to treat the trees, but the infection had spread and the trees were becoming hazardous.

The sad decision was that the trees had to be cut down.  The second part of the decision (which I liked) was that they would leave as much of the trunk as would be safe, both as a haven for wildlife - of which the cemetery has much - and as a tribute to the massive presence those trees had on the grounds.

The remaining trunks have to be at least ten to fifteen feet high.  If you don't look straight up, you can almost pretend the trees are still there, except that the shade is gone.

Seeing the trunks scattered among the gravestones, they seem almost more monument than the man-made ones beneath.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Easter. Rising.

So, I made rabbits.

I've made them before, generally as part of the receiving-blanket-bear marathon, but this year I decided to pull a few out of my hat for Easter.

Because why not?

(That, and I had some appropriately colored cashmere sweaters to tear into).

This little guy here, high on life and Easter eggs, is ivory cashmere with gingham accents.  I think he's pretty cute.

The second set, seen recently as photo props in my post about the Precious, are a combination of a lime green cashmere and a cotton/lycra sweater in Easter-y rainbow stripes.  The ears and foot pads are bright pink jersey from my t-shirt scrap bag.

The colors look almost edible, don't they?

I'm dropping a few more bunnies off at one of the shops I deal with, but I'm leaving the ivory one and at least one of the green striped ones with me so I can put them in the Etsy shop.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Working. My Way.

So sometimes it feels like the universe is conspiring to get you to do a particular thing.  And if you're me, your first response is "nah."  You want me to do it, so not going to.  Even if it might be in my best interests.

Thankfully with maturity comes a speeding up of that process, where I go from "nah" to "maybe" to "well, this might actually be a good idea" in a much shorter time.

I was temping last week at one of the offices that I frequent, and one of the secretaries gave 3 weeks' notice.  Everyone immediately started joking that I would be back in 3 weeks to cover for her, and I went cold.  It's not that it isn't a nice enough firm; I've been in and out of there for 4 summers now, the people are fine and I can do the work, but (a) this girl's attorneys aren't among my favorites, (b) I really don't want to spend another solid summer there, working potentially 4-5 days a week because they're busy, and (c) they're just getting too used to me being their beck-and-call girl.

Cue the sound of rescue.  My phone buzzed and it was a text from my friend Dianne, at whose firm I have also temped (and we even worked there together back in the late 80s).  I've been back there several times on longterm assignments when her secretary was out on disability.  (Her secretary left over a year ago, but the firm rearranged staff and they weren't looking to hire then).  Well, her new secretary gave notice and did I want to work 3 days a week?

I texted back: "For how long?"

"Up to you," she responded.

I went in yesterday to spend a day with her current assistant just going over what things were new since my last visit (not many, other than an upgrade to the computer system).  They let me spend a day at the desk just poking around the system, learning the upgrades and setting up the computer the way it suited me.  I set up my voicemail and email messages, chose my desk location (the area with the most natural light) and got myself ready for next week, when I'll start doing M-W-F.

For how long?

Well, that's the issue.  Part of me really, really doesn't want to commit to even permanent part-time work, because, well, it feels like I'm giving in.  Going back to the grind.

But . . .

These people aren't a grind.  The work isn't that hard, and it's the kind of work I can do while planning out my sewing to do list as I type.  They buy my stuff.  They're flexible -- I can work whatever 3 days suits me, so if I have a weekend show, I can work Thursday instead of Friday.  I have sewing camps booked at my house this summer, and they're okay working around that.  The money is the best of all my temp jobs.

And there is that, the money.  The Etsy shops do okay (especially this past October-December with the crazy publicity from Babble and Scary Mommy).  Craft shows are even better.  But they're seasonal, they're uneven and often dependent on weather.  It would be nice to have a steady income which would be supplemented by the handmade business, so I could go back to putting money toward retirement.  I still have a good bit of savings, but I would like to feel a little more prepared.  I would also like to be able to consider vacations without having to do mental math that involved Peter, Paul and taking from both of them.

I decided I would give it a few weeks and think about it.  And then at lunch, I ran into one of the attorneys who works at my third temp job, the place that hires me every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and actually pays me to decorate their tree.  Apparently they're closing down shop at the end of the year and won't be needing my services.

So, job 1 - demand for more hours with less pleasant people; job 2 - disappearing.  Job 3 - pleasant people, good money, hours of my choice.

Not sure what there is left to decide, but I'm still thinking.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Precious

I read recently, either on Instagram or Facebook, that some Patternreview members were going to do their best in 2017 to sew up "the Precious."

For those who don't sew, or (somehow) don't stash, the Precious is the fabric that is so breathtaking, so perfect, so . . . unusable that we buy it, we pet it frequently, and we never cut into it because no project that we can think of is ever good enough for the Precious.

Yeah, I have a lot of Precious left.

But not as much as I did.

I bought this candy pink embroidered velvet at PR Weekend in 2007, at Metro Textiles.  I bought it, gods forgive me, to make jeans for myself.

Pink. Embroidered. Velvet. Jeans.

Even 10 years ago, I didn't have the ass for pink embroidered velvet jeans.  This is not being down on my body, just realistic.  (And even if I did have the correct ass for said jeans, in the intervening decade, my desire to make them or wear them has gone down exponentially).

So I turned the velvet into 4 toddler dresses to list in my Etsy shop for Easter.  They don't have a lot of embellishment because this fabric doesn't actually need anything more done to it.

And that's 2.5 yards of Precious gone.  I feel lighter.

Almost like I could fit into those jeans.  Almost.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Altarpiece

Nothing to say here, just a photo to share.

This is a very special corner of my workroom - nothing useful, just beautiful things that make me happy whenever I walk into the room.  Most of them started out in other areas of the house, and as I've been trying to pare down and give myself less things to dust, they've migrated here.

Most of my family photos have ended up here as well.  They used to live in the bedroom, but now the only photo on the dresser is of me and Mario.  I took the rest of the family down around the time that my aunt died and I was sick of the lot of them (even though there are literally none of those pictured people left alive).

Family.  You can never get rid of them, even if you try.

Other bits: the cat mask on the top shelf is from my vacation to Venice.  The ceramic cat on the right is my first piggy bank.

The second shelf is a stuffed cat pincushion I love, a lantern Christmas ornament from my great-aunt, and a recycled sweater animal from another maker, Sweet Poppy Cat.

Third shelf, small barn painting from Anna Roberts Art, tiny gargoyle I bought for my mom in Paris, and crow artwork by Strange Farm Girl.  That one's a recent acquisition, but it seems to fit.

Bottom shelf: wooden angel found on the street, a few more vintage ornaments, and a teacup I bought in London for my great aunt.  As relatives die off, the gifts return.  Glad I always buy things that I like as well.  

This is the only corner of the room that doesn't have either fabric, sewing machines or active projects.  (Though if you look closely, the corner of the bookcase is showing part of my collection of Burda magazines).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hello Dolly

So the last thing I need is another project.

Which is not to say I'll turn one down if it appears, especially if it's time and labor intensive, with the added bonus of being fragile and hard to handle.

About 25 years ago, I purchased my first antique doll.  There used to be a shop on Philly's antique row that specialized in dolls. I fogged their front window for ages before I got up the nerve to :-O in.

My first doll is part of the group photo below, the one in pink.  When I bought her, she had no clothes. I happily took on the challenge of Edwardian era children's clothing, scrounging vintage fabrics and trims at flea markets.

One doll led to another. When I bought my house, I sold a few of the girls, the more valuable ones, but I kept my favorites.

I haven't had an urge to add to the family for ages.

Then last week, Mario and I took a weekday off for a trip to the flea market and lunch. Technically it was my (day after) birthday observation, but I'm always up for food and a market.

I was doing good, not spending, until I saw her.  No shoes, no original clothing, wig in desperate need of a wash, but the bones were there.  Beautiful face, body in excellent condition with no need of restringing, and a maker (Gans & Seyfarth) I didn't have.

The price was okay but not fabulous. Considering what she needed, I tried bargaining.  Which worked, because the seller wanted to get rid of her and his wife wasn't there to veto the price drop.

So now I have a project. She needs a new hairstyle, underwear, shoes, clothing and a hat.

So, not much. I can do that in my spare time, right?


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

UFOs

I saw a UFO the other day.

It wasn't in the sky; it was in my workroom.

Let me explain.  My workroom is always a mess; I tend to work better when there's a bit of chaos around, but even I had gotten to the point where I realized it was out of control.

On Friday, January 20, I decided that the best way to spend the day was to avoid the TV at all costs, and start cleaning the room.  It helped that I had just sold something on Craiglist that was currently in the room, under a pile of fabric, holding apparently even more fabric.  So I started there, pulling out the vintage trunk (which was absolutely beautiful, but round-topped and so hard to stack on, and, embarrassingly, there's another one in the attic anyway) and emptied it.  There was a ton of fabric in there that I could use right now, some of which I'd forgotten I owned.  So that's sort of a win?

Continuing on all week with the TV avoidance (though not social media; if we're friends there, you know my feelings and how abundantly I've shared them), I got the trunk out, added a metal shelving unit from the basement to better organize fabric, cleaned out the standing cedar closet (and its stackable bins inside), threw out/donated another 3 trash bags of stuff, and thought I was finished.

There was one more trunk left under the table, and against my better judgment,I moved everything aside and dragged it out.

Inside was stuff I literally haven't seen in over a decade, including a quilt that I started making shortly after I bought the house (2000), and drafted a review for in Patternreview's UFO Contest back in 2006 (but never posted because it didn't get finished after all).

I was trying to stitch down the rows of squares on my machine, and I didn't notice until I'd sewn a few rows that the backing fabric had gone crooked, pulling the whole thing out of alignment.  Instead of simply picking the stitches out and starting over, I folded it up and shoved it in a box.  For 10 years.

Last night I laid it out on the bed, over top of the comforter (which actually came with me when I moved in 2000), and it looks really good in the bedroom.  I fetched a seam ripper, ripped out those three rows of stitching, grabbed some  yarn and a big needle, and yarn-tied the entire thing in an hour.

So now all I need to do is bind the edges and I can add the 16 year old comforter to the donation pile and sleep the sleep of the righteous under my finally-finished UFO quilt.