Tuesday, 25 February 2014

OK, Where's The Reset Button!

Well, life has a way of throwing things at one, doesn't it.
My one and only chair broke last week, so I'm now sitting on an old cane one that someone was throwing out, that is held together only by string. Can't see it lasting much longer. I was hoping to get a new(ish) one, but - oh, yay (can you hear the sarcasm dripping from my voice) - my old fridge finally gave up the ghost. I have managed to get a second hand one, but I still have to pay for it.
And now - how exciting (yes, there's that sarcasm again)  - the washing machine has died. At least the repair guy was nice and honest. When I told him what kind it was and explained what was wrong, he knew right off it couldn't be fixed (they stopped making them in 1984 and you can't get the parts anymore), and he told me that, explaining what had went wrong with the machine, so I didn't waste money having him come on a call-out just to be told. That kind of honesty is rare in tradesmen around here these days. Most will insist on coming out to have a look, knowing full well it can't be repaired, and then charge an arm-and-a-leg for the call-out. Fortunately I still have my little hand washing thingy, and it is only a 20 minute walk to the Laundromat for the big things (I don't own a car).
So now the fridge swap. After getting the old washing machine out, I got the new (2nd hand) fridge in, hoping it would go where the washing machine had been, because that is a MUCH better place for it. Then I would be able to swap everything out nice and leisurely, cleaning as I went. But - of course - the space was 1cm (1/2") too small, and no amount of pushing, shoving or yelling at it was going to change that. So now I had a fridge right in the doorway, very little room to move around (very small kitchen), and the only way to deal with it is to swap everything out from the old fridge, move the old fridge further down the kitchen to get the new one in its place, then get the old one out.
Now the kitchen is a diabolical mess, with dirty dishes piled everywhere, and containers of frozen "mystery stuff" from the back and bottom of the old fridge thawing on the counter so they can go into the compost. And I'm totally pooped from moving the washing machine and fridges around on my own! (Yes, I know Trish, I should have waited for Bill - but I honestly thought the new fridge would fit in the washing machine space!). 
Does anyone know where the reset button is for 2014? I'm calling do-over!

(Image from Housework Under Capitalism  by C. A. L'Hirondelle)

Monday, 24 February 2014

Hussif For My Sister

I finished the hussif I was making for my sister. "OK, what's a hussif" many of you ask (my sister certainly will). 'Hussif' comes from the Middle English word huswif. It was a sewing kit, varying in size and complexity from small and simple to large and elaborate, carried by most women, as well as by men who were tailors, or manservants. Later, it became a standard item in soldiers' kits as well.

My sister's favourite colours are hot pink and yellow/gold (good choice - my favourite colour is also hot pink), so those were the colours I went with. I know she likes modern things, and is fashion conscious, so rather that the lacy embroidered Victorian style, I went with a more modern, less 'busy' look, and used the 'zigzagged raw seam' construction style I use for my fabric books. 

On the front I did and uneven raw edge overhang on the lace overlay - a sort of modern version of the shabby chic, overlaid the seams with old-gold braid, then added several charms. I used letter charms to spell her name (the shortened version), then dug into my 'fashion' themed charms for a really cute pair of high heels (top left), and handbag (bottom right). On the back is a print from a panel of vintage sewing prints I have been hording.

This is the outside of the hussif, when fully opened out. I had been hording an adorable set of hot pink buttons, and decided to use them for this. On the left you can see the needlebook - another of those wonderful little vintage sewing prints, and a small pocket for bits and pieces.

On the underside of the needlebook cover is the info label. It is one of those wonderful fabric labels I custom ordered from Liz at Sew Victorian Crazy in the U.S. - a blank space surrounded by a pretty border, where I can write all the pertinent info, so in the future people will be able to know where the item was made, who made it, and how old it is.
As you can see, the back where the large vintage sewing print is, is actually a pocket, Great for putting cards of buttons, notes, etc.

Underneath the needle pages is a small pocket for a needle threader. It is open at both ends, so the wire can stick out rather than getting jammed and bent when put into the pocket.

This is the inside when fully opened out. The pin cushion doubles as a pinwheel. Underneath that is a place for safety pins. Then a loop for the tape measure. In the middle are three pockets for tools. Following that is my own little arrangement for threads. I use sewing machine bobbins. I find this is a great way to store threads in a hussif, as you can have the brands and colours you want (rather than having to go with the cheap thread and pre-selected colours on the small spools you buy in sewing kits), and it is fast and easy to wind them on a sewing machine. The cord will hold up to 6 bobbins, and the thread can be pulled off the bobbins without having to take them off the cord. The cord buttons at both ends, making it easier to access the bobbin you want for refilling or changing colours.
Last is the scissors. two common problems I have found with many scissor pockets are:
1) if you lose the scissors, you never seem to be able to find another pair that fits the pocket, and
2) after a while, the point of the scissors pokes a hole in the bottom.
I have solved both of these by leaving the bottom of the pocket open. That way if you get a different pair of scissors that are a little longer, they will still fit, and the scissors aren't going to be poking a hole in the bottom.
The scissors have a cord attached to them, which buttons on to the top outside button, so that they won't get lost while in use. There is also a ribbon tie to hold them in place when not in use, as those of us who use a hussif on a regular basis know that because of the weight of scissors they have a nasty habit of slipping out of the pocket and getting lost.

So there it is. I hope my sister like it.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Susie's Block

I loved Susie's block - it was just so pretty. And Rose Anne's work on it was stunning!
Although I really prefer working with fancy threads (actually fancy threads are diabolical to work with, but the results are so worth the frustrations), because both the previous stitchers used cotton threads, I followed suit to keep a certain consistency.

On the first seam I did, I laid down a foundation row of herringbone stitch, then added detached chain 'flames' in graduating colours - dark in the first row, medium in the second, light in the third, and added a dark yellow/gold French knot at the base of each. I then accentuate the zigzag  with the dark yellow/gold in a row each of peaks and troughs above the flames. Bright gold seed beads were then added to the herringbone, and the troughs and peaks.

On the second seam, I started with a stylized vine/tree (depending on which way you look at it) in stem stitch, then added hanging fantasy flowers done in beaded Eastern stitch (thank you Sharon B. - got that one from your TAST blog). I really like the finished result on this seam, and will do it again on one of my Fairy blocks.

Only one more block to go in this RR. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the first block of the Under The Sea RR to arrive.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Back In Action - Hopefully...

Almost a month has passed since my last post. A few short days after making the last post, I was hit with a migraine, which effectively put a stop to my embroidery - and I was going great guns too! After a week and a half of excruciating head pain and vomiting, I was finally beginning to feel better. Then wham! I came into contact with something handled by someone wearing a lot of perfume. I am allergic to most perfumes. Instant migraine - again. Another week and a half lying in the dark moaning or head over the loo vomiting. So this past week I have spent playing catch up with housework and gardening. Hopefully I will be able to catch up with the CQJP2014 blocks over winter, when there is nothing else to do.

Most of these pictures were taken in the early part of January (the corn pic was taken this morning), when we were more or less still in summer, as I had intended to include them in the blog when I had finished the first Fairy block (which I had expected would be around the 3rd week). Now it is February, and although February is usually the hottest month, we are definitely in Autumn, and have been for a few weeks. An early winter is most certainly on the horizon.

The garden is still doing its jungle-y thing.

My Moulin Rouge sunflowers have finally rouge-ed up, and are looking quite spectacular.

The second of my wonderful Dianthus Rainbow blend has started flowering, filling the small garden with a heady scent. These are such a wonderful, gorgeous flower. Thank you to all the unknown, unnamed people who worked so diligently to bring it back from near-extinction.

 The water lily has produced its first flower.

The corn is doing spectacularly, and draws comments from every person - even strangers - who pass by. It has hit the 10ft mark, and is still going up, up ,up. the most fascinating thing about it though, is the Bloody Butcher variety. The other two blue varieties have the standard whitish silks, but the Bloody Butcher has deep crimson silks.


The thing that seems to amaze people the most though, is when they ask what sprays and fertilizers I use, and I tell them I don't use any sprays of any kind, and only compost and manure are my fertilizers (and fish heads, of course). Many of them look quite stunned, and some don't believe me. So many people this year lost their tomatoes to bugs and blight, and they sprayed - but still lost them. Meanwhile I am bottling tomatoes and tomato puree madly, giving tomatoes away left right and centre to all the neighbours, and still can't keep up with the crop.

Here we have Juane Flamme, Tigrella, Indigo Rose, and Black Cherry.

I grew 16 different heirloom varieties this year, to get an idea of what I wanted as my regular varieties for future. I have decided on 3 varieties.
My first choice is the Oaxacan Jewel as my eating tomato. It is the best eating tomato I have ever had. A fabulous Beefsteak-like fleshy variety, deep gold with a small red heart, and a wonderful, juicy, tangy, full flavour. Not at all the dry, floury consistency that so many beefsteak varieties seem to have. It is also has a very thin, delicate skin, which is totally unnoticeable in eating.
My next choice is the Juane Flamme, as my bottling tomato. It has a lovely, perfectly smooth, roundish shape, that makes it perfect for bottling. Orange, fleshy, and juicy, bigger than a cherry tomato, but smaller than a standard tomato, and a very prolific producer.
My third choice is the Black From Tula, as my pureeing and cooking tomato. Another beefsteak type, fleshy, huge, all knobbly and gnarly in shape, and a deep blackish crimson in colour.
I had thought I was going to include Indigo Rose in my selection, as it is a beautiful ebony black where the sun hits, and red where it is shaded, a smooth, roundish shape, and very prolific, but I found the skin very tough, and when you cut into the tomato, it is one of those 'fleshy rim, hollow inside' varieties.

As for as my first CQJP2014 block - the Lavender Fairy - I got it a little over two thirds done before the migraines hit. Today is cold, with a steady drizzle, so I hope to get back into the embroidery. I have Susan's block for the 2013 Stitching Only RR to do, and it looks like the Garden and Flowers DYB RR is going to get going soon, so I will need to get those 6 blocks made in the next few days, as well as getting back into the fairy blocks.