Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring Chicken

I've got a temp job right now - three days a week, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and just in time for me to not be home, my lilac bloomed.

I've forgotten to cut it back the last few years and it's now taller than the back shed at about 10-12 feet.  (This still shocks me since I planted it 15 years ago this spring, digging a small hole with a table spoon since it was a tiny sprig in a 4" pot).

It grew, obviously.

During a recent hail and wind storm, I lost a whole middle section, but you can't really tell.  And I think if it smelled any more strongly of heavenly lilac smell, it would be nearly toxic.

Did I mention that I think lilacs are the best smell ever?

Hard to see, but Bonnie the evil chicken is peering out the door of the coop, just waiting for something to come along that she can eat.  A worm, a bug, some corn, my hand . . .

I ran into her previous owner last week at the farmer's market, and she was happy to hear that Bonnie was still going strong.  At 7, still laying 4 eggs a week is pretty impressive.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Art for art's sake

So the place where I teach, the University City Arts League, is having their annual fundraiser in May.  It's a big neighborhood event, they generally have it at one of the college halls so they have enough space.

This year, the 49th anniversary, they decided to do something a little different and contacted 49 local artists/artisans/crafters and asked them to submit a tiny painting for part of the fundraiser auction.

A tiny, tiny painting.  The canvas was 4" square.

I got one of these tiny canvases to play with.  The director who gave it to me said to do with it what I would -- she didn't know whether or not I painted, and said I could decorate it with fabric if that worked for me.

I thought about it for a bit, and wondered how I could use fabric.  Then I got an idea to embroider on the canvas, but that wasn't practical considering how small the canvas was versus how large the tiny stretchers were underneath.

Then I wondered why I couldn't just paint it?

I used to paint, quite a bit.  Never as well as I wanted to, which is how it fell by the wayside, left behind because of other things that were easier for me to do well.

Also, sewing and cooking were practical arts, people need clothes and food.  People may need art, but they don't see it as necessary the same way, and I always had trouble showing people my work.

So here, now, I'm showing my work.  Such as it is (both in scale and skill).  It's called West Philly Sunset and it's a study of sneakers thrown over the power lines at my corner which is so Philly it's ridiculous.

And I did end up using embroidery thread, because placing it on the wet acrylic paint was both an interesting use of a different material and a way to get out of painting tiny straight lines.

The fundraiser/auction is May 7th.  I'll be there, selling raffle tickets, and watching to see if anyone bids on this.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Off season

Way, way off season.

I got contacted about a month ago by someone who was interested in getting a custom Christmas stocking for her baby.  (I guess it's a good thing I hadn't gotten around to taking down all the Christmas listings yet).

We went back and forth a little on the design, and she ended up sending me four of her son's Christmas onesies.

My favorite part: the Santa head at the top was actually one of the feet.  Little Santa head feet.  Sometimes baby stuff is so cute it's almost toxic.

And at least I know there's one customer who won't contact me on December 15, looking for a stocking to hang up on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pattern Sale

I've put quite a few new vintage patterns up in the Etsy shop lately, but I kept a few aside to list here since I don't think Etsy shoppers are likely to be searching for secondhand indie patterns.

These have been in stash for quite some time, and never even met up with scissors or tracing paper.  My procrastination is your gain.

First up, two Colette patterns, the Ceylon and the Oolong dresses.  Sizes 0 to 18, uncut.   SOLD

Next, Angela Wolf's Angel bootcut jean pattern.  SOLD  I bought this when it came out, because I met Angela at Patternreview Weekend in Chicago and really liked her -- and her jeans.  But I don't have the time or attention span right now to make jeans, and someone else will.  Sizes 0 to 16, again uncut.

Last ones:  J. Stern Designs Khaki pants, sizes 6-16, uncut, SOLD, the Islander Sewing Systems City Western Shirt pattern, sizes XS - 4XL, uncut.  The khakis were a great idea, and they're a cute pattern, but I'm hardly in an office anymore and I don't see the need for them.  The shirt's also great, but why am I going to reinvent the shirtmaking wheel when I can whip up a KwikSew shirt for Mario in the time it takes for him to obsess over the election cycle on MSNBC?  

All patterns are $5 each plus shipping.  Discounts for taking more than 1 of these off my hands.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

A walk through West Philly

I gripe about my neighborhood occasionally -- the students, the corner bars, the closeness of the other houses, the lack of sufficient dirt to play in, the rules against chickens -- but then spring comes and I go outside and I forget all that.

I live in a pretty place.  Quirky, but pretty, especially when everything starts blooming after a long season of gray.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Who, me?

Who, me? Late to a trend?

The owl thing has been popular for a while now.  For so long, in fact, that now I've finally given in and made some owls, it will probably end tomorrow.  

Good thing there are buyers out there who are bound to be as behind the times as I am.

Owl fronts.
I made my first three owls back in December.  They were just an idea whose time had apparently come.  I worked out a paper pattern that I liked, its dimensions driven by the size and shape of the sweater scraps I had left on hand after a long season of mitten-making.

The contrast wings are my favorite, because I have even tinier scraps left over from projects long past that I just couldn't bear to throw out, and they're just the size for the wings.

The owl in the top photo with the reddish body and the green, brown and gold wings is a case in point.  His body was a recent sweater, but those wings came from the very first sweater I cut up to use for mittens -- in fact, the prototype pair that I'm still wearing three winters later.

I wasn't sure about those prototype owls, but I took them along to an outdoor Christmas market, and they sold.  Quickly.

Wings and bodies. 

So I knew I'd have to make more, I just didn't get around to it right away.  But they were on the list.

The list.  Ah, yes, the list.  There's a whiteboard in my front room where the inventory lives, with my goal for number of items I need prior to show season and my current stock number.  For a long time, the owl goal was 30, and the stock number was 0.

After the other week's little owl binge, we're now halfway there with 15 owls.

One improvement I made over the prototype owls -- they had eyes made from white sweater scraps, but it's very hard to cut sweater into precise circles.  I found some 3/4" white felt circles for a good price, and bought a big bag.  Also, the old owls had eyelashes, which I thought were okay, but this time around, I decided to give them eyelids.
Original Xmas-time prototypes
I think the eyelids give them more attitude, especially when they go on a bit crooked.  A Facebook friend commented that she particularly liked the one giving her side-eye.

So these will be a new thing for spring shows,which are fast approaching.

I'm finding I missed it more than expected, though at least teaching has kept me interacting with people and not in my usual wintertime hermit crab shell, having to remember how to smile and be pleasant all over again, every April.

Happy spring, everyone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Just like people, some cats are just more photogenic.  Annie was sitting on the bed yesterday morning, hallucinating (she does that), and she looked so amazing in that puddle of sunlight that I had to reach over and grab my phone, even before I thought about coffee.

For those that wonder, Annie is doing well since her surgery.  Her hair has grown back and -- so far -- nothing else has grown back.  She gets manhandled and felt up on a regular basis, which offends her kitty dignity, but so far, so good.

There is some sewing going on, but yesterday was my last sewing class for the winter semester.  I have next week off and then the spring semester starts.  And I need to figure out what to do with the kids all over again.