It’s sunny and warm…

Wow, some days it’s hard to think of a title. So, there you go. It’s sunny and warm today. I might get in the pool.

Twobie and Archie had a bit of fun inside this morning, just moments before I booted them outdoors.

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It’s amazingly hard to capture a good photo of a kitten with a cell phone camera…unless they are sleeping. Not sure why that’s so blurry. Twobie discovered this fabric-filled basket the other day. She loves it.

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This was right before she started gnawing on the corner of my sewing basket. Time to go outside, kitty!

I don’t know if I mentioned that H and I went to a really great Japanese restaurant in Wichita last weekend.

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H had a ramen noodle bowl.

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We shared a calamari appetizer. It was the best calamari I’ve ever had. The kimchi was also the best I’ve ever tasted…loaded with garlic flavor…YUM…

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The Wichita Eagle did a story about the place, which gets rave reviews. The owner is half Japanese, half American. His estranged father, who lives in Wichita, became ill a couple years ago so, out of honor and duty, the owner moved to Wichita to be with him. He met his wife (pictured above) at the Costco food booth where she was having a slice of pizza. He asked if she spoke Japanese. Soon afterwards, she told him she loved a man who could cook. Go figure. Both lonely and homesick, the two hit it off and opened this place, which is a very traditional-style Japanese hole-in-the-wall restaurant. We loved it and will go back. I actually remembered to tell our waiter “arigato!”

I replaced the duck water this morning and watered all the plants. I also transplanted a trellis, as it was in too much shade to grow anything. It will be the new home for butternut squash. I’ve dug the holes for the Jalapeno plants. Hopefully will get those in today. Planted new starter seeds for zucchini, as none of the other came up. I’m eyeballing spots for okra.

This morning I made more progress on the Leafblower’s giant peacock doily and stitched a bit on the word cloth…

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The things people do…

Just when you are feeling all indignant and justified, people go and do things like this…

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The leaf blower mowed our overgrown lawn!

I was taking a nap at the time. I’ve been SO tired lately…that’s probably contributing to the grumpies. H has kept me up late watching The West Wing on Netflix, and it has really thrown me off my quasi-schedule. I say “quasi” because I don’t totally have set times for anything. But I had gotten in a fairly good routine of going to bed between 9-10:30 p.m. or so and waking between 7 and 9 a.m. Last night I cooked us a snack just before midnight. 😦

I really am trying to let the ducks out by 8 a.m. or at least before 9. They are much quieter and content if I do. The cats also get discombobulated if I don’t appear in my regular time zone, food in hand. This morning I woke up right before 10! Poor duckies. Turtle had gotten stuck between the wall and some straw…not sure how that happened. Bully was coming over the back fence (where he’s technically not allowed) in search of food. The indoor cats were itching to get outside. Chicky was waiting….you get the picture.

All I really felt like doing today was crocheting. I ended up ripping out the work I had done so far on the peacock doily…

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Too much black. I wanted the black to be an accent color, not the main attraction. So, I began again…

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The boysenberry color is really nice. But so much black was making it look too maroon to me. This is not for me, so I’m trying to make it as close to the original as possible, although I’m only working with two colors here.

Back to the topic of neighbors…

H was out working on the van lights last night, polishing them because the covers have gotten so cloudy over time. He went to the auto parts store and got an actual kit that was on sale so came home, hooked the scrubbers up on the drill and began working. The neighbor, who did this same job on his older car last year, stopped him and asked if he had any masking tape to protect the paint? H said no. (Of course we have masking tape!) So, the neighbor, who I’ve begun nicknaming the lurker because of his staring, peering through the fence, going up on ladders to look in our yard and other manner of creepy behavior…told him STOP. DON’T DO ANYTHING UNTIL I GET BACK. YOU’LL HURT YOUR CAR. Then he went in his house and got H some tape…

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Work in progress.

H and I have been of the opinion that we are surrounded by weird-os. But I know all these people think we’re weird. I mean…who on earth likes cats that much!!??

I really need to get outside and do a few minimal things. In the meantime, here are a couple of begonia shots…

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One last note, I am talking to H about getting a trailer hitch for the van so we can get a camper and take some trips. I had a dream last night where we were talking and I told him all I really want to do is travel. It’s true. I’ve actually wanted to do this for the past 10+ years. We have both discussed it for the past 10+ years. It’s why we designed our online business the way we did, so we could work it from the road, from anywhere that had an Internet connection. If we get a small camper now we can at least try it on for size and see if it’s a good fit.

I feel like things are maybe beginning to move…in the right direction.

Hopefully in the direction of Argentina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I was gardening…

People say a lot about community…

I think I prefer community at a distance. There are reasons for this.

I almost titled this post “A weird day…” because yesterday WAS. It was weird.

The planting of the last 11 tomatoes went easily. Looking at today’s date, I am realizing it is nearly June. It seems LATE to only now be getting everything in the ground. But then it has been cold and rainy so much. And I’ve been busy. And things get planted when they get planted. “Just stick it in the ground…” That’s what grandma used to say.

I have zinnias, big healthy zinnias, coming up in the yard…the yard that will soon be mowed. None have come up voluntarily in the flower bed where I want them. The ones I planted there on purpose, that are just tiny sprouts, have largely been eating by something…ants maybe?

Here are the fabric squares I mentioned yesterday…

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They are very large, made from a Drops scarf pattern. I might make some more so I can put them in threes. The fabric yarn is made more stable with some acrylic yarn. They will stretch, but hopefully not too much.

About community…

So yesterday, I was gardening and planting tomatoes. The only space I had left was at the side of the house. I happily noted there was a perfect amount of space for them. I notice the neighbor across the street, the one that’s in love with his leaf blower and gas-powered toys…is riding his new scooter. This guy is in his 70s. No helmet. Tentative on this bike. But he wants to show it off, so here he comes, big smile on his face, up my driveway and…right into my YARD. Where he stays for some time. I joke that he’s messing up my beautiful lawn…which is overgrown and full of “weeds”…and very soft because it just rained…but it’s not really about the yard, it’s about space, my private space, upon which he is trespassing…uninvited.

Then there are the two neighbor girls, the ones who are now homeschooled because the youngest one got into trouble at school and the school officer was called. The girls who are constantly in and around the home of my leaf blower neighbor who is their free babysitter and substitute caretaker because the mom is never home and the dad who is home all the time is glued to his computer games and is basically worthless as a parent. So, these girls do what they want. The older one is ok, respectful, but the younger one…no.

Because these girls are always with the leaf blower, suddenly they are in my yard, too. The older one constantly talking, the younger one investigating every inch of my yard, messing with my animals. Also uninvited.

Here’s the giant peacock doily I’ve started for the leaf blower’s friend…

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Suddenly, the older girl is asking about the giant peacock doily on my porch…

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…did I make it, that she wants to learn to crochet, that her mom knows a little and will show her, that her meemaw knows more, but her mother doesn’t like going to meemaw’s house because meemaw makes her work, makes her do things for her, so her mom will get her started crocheting, but then her mom says she will send her to MY HOUSE to TEACH HER HOW TO CROCHET.

I’m taken aback, not sure what to say. The last time I heard from her mother was about a year ago when we were sick of listening to their dog bark nonstop for the umpteenth time in 2 years and had turned them in to the city. They must have been fined because she was screaming profanities in my direction.

I look up from my stunned silence and uncertainty at how to respond to this girl and notice her sister is nowhere to be seen. In my busy-ness in getting tomatoes planted I put the ducks in their pen and left the gate open for my own convenience. And now I see it was for her convenience, too, for she is INSIDE MY BACKYARD…watching my cats…probably noticing the kittens. I make a beeline for her. She’s smiling a big toothy grin. I’m pissed. I make a motion with my big green garden-gloved thumb that says OUT. She says she’s just looking at this cat…which cat? I don’t care. I tell her GET OUT OF MY YARD and slam shut the gate behind her. She then makes a beeline for her own house, to do what? Report to her mother everything she’s just seen in my yard? How many animals, etc… who knows. Either way, these aren’t people I trust. They drink, they smoke, they do meth, they take advantage. Not trustworthy.

Some knots on the Heart Pillow…

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So the older girl is talking…she talks a lot…I am still fuming a bit…the leaf blower is still in my yard on his scooter…the girl gives me a light hug and thanks me for wanting to teach her to crochet because…she is saying…she needs something to do to get her away from her sister. Her sister gets frustrated or something and…see all these scratches…I had noticed the red scratches up and down her arms, on her face, some raised like welts…well she has all these scratches because of her sister, her sister does this to her.

Suddenly her sister is back, another big toothy grin, one that shows front teeth missing. I look at her and say…You’re doing this to your sister? You’re scratching her like this? The scratcher realizes she’s been exposed, the toothy smile fades slightly. That’s really WEIRD I tell her.

What I really want to tell her is get out of my yard, you’re not welcome here or invited, don’t touch my animals and don’t ever come back. I want to tell the leaf blower that riding vehicles into someone’s yard is rude. I want to tell the girl’s mother I will NOT be another free babysitter for you and if you don’t keep that dog of yours quiet…the dog that barked for SIX hours straight on Sunday…we WILL report you again.

I turn to the older sister when she asks how I learned to crochet. I taught myself, I tell her, mainly by watching youtube videos. There are a lot of youtube videos you can watch, I say, you can learn a lot there. Get started, get your mom and meemaw to teach you the basics, then show me something you’ve made and I will try to give you a little guidance. That doily, by the way, is a very complicated project, but there are easy things you can make. She frowns…this isn’t going as she planned…

I’m ready for them to go. The leaf blower is ready, too, but still lingering. I mention there are lots of youtube videos of people crashing those scooters. He objects good-naturedly. Then I ask if he knows Pee Wee Herman and the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure? He hasn’t seen the movie. I tell him about the crash scene…

Pee Wee’s Bike Crash

He scowls and looks pissed, like he might say something REALLY rude. I laugh and he’s done, drives back over my yard down the drive to his house. The girls follow suit.

The day’s not over.

To distract from my tale of woe, here’s a gem I got at the thrift store a while back, a butter press. I think I paid 50 cents for it…

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So then my neighbors to the south get home from the store. I am scooping up piles of freshly cut grass from their yard. I use them for mulch, fertilizer, and weed smotherer. I ask if they mind me picking them up. No. This is the yard where their giant Labrador poops, so I watch my step. The lawn the deadbeat dad just mowed. Seems fitting. The neighbor lady asks…don’t you make the doilies…which she calls “those things.” Yes, I do. How much would one cost? With all the labor and yarn about $75. Oh, that’s too expensive, how about a smaller one? I don’t know. Well, how about just a little round one? She can pay me $25. She likes red. I haven’t agreed to anything but say I’ll look around for yarn. Oh, and she doesn’t know when she would be able to pay me. I want to say REALLY??? ANYTHING ELSE??? Since when did I become the neighbor who wants to do things for them for free? Among other things…

Once I’m back in the house I see friends from California called. I return the call later. Turns out I was dialed by mistake, but we chat for a bit. This is when they tell me they are homeless and living out of their car. I am surprised. The last time we spoke they had lost their home but found a place to stay. But that didn’t work out. The man who owned or ran the place was extorting money from desperate people, taking their food stamps, cash, whatever he could get, disconnecting their electricity. So, they left.

I had a lot of good times with these people, they are friends and have been for a long time although we lost touch for about 10 years. It’s hard to know this has happened to them, that I know people who are in that category of “homeless” that is affecting so many.

At the same time I am noticing how relaxed my friend sounds. He and his wife are with new friends, and I can hear laughter in the background. He, they, sound HAPPY. Without the burden of paying for a home hanging over their heads, they sound happier about life. This man is a veteran, a musician, an animal lover, a father…one of the nicest people I’ve ever known who showed me kindness. He and his wife are camping, staying in campgrounds in a tent, living out of their car, sometimes staying at KOAs, once in a while getting a hotel. Most of the time they are camping near Mt. Shasta where it is so, so beautiful. It is so beautiful here, he says. We’ve met so many amazing people here, he says.

Another shot of those squares…

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I suggest he look at getting a popup camper, something that can be pulled with a car. I almost talk again about how H and I think about getting a camper, being on the road, how that appeals to us. But I am listening to their story. We talk about manifesting, listening to and connecting with that part inside you. I tell him your Spirit has the power to rearrange the universe to suit what you want. But how many people really know that? I hope he really does. I am interested to see what they manifest for themselves. Perhaps they wanted to have the freedom of this kind of life, needed it in some way, needed to be unfettered and free. I feel like that myself, a lot.

Community…how different our communities are. At the moment, I prefer the one I have online to the one I’m living in. It is nothing like the community I have experienced elsewhere, the connections I have made with people especially while traveling. I think about that life a lot, how it appeals more and more.

I told H the other day that this feels like my last garden. It feels like a last hurrah. I don’t think I want to keep doing this, keep living the way we are. H still talks about getting a trailer, and I am still on board with that. I wonder how that would work, what it would really be like. I don’t much like the idea of scrambling for places to park as that is a major issue for many. In LA my hostess pointed out lines of RVs parked along the streets, “illegally parked” she said…because there are so many homeless…45,000…and the neighborhoods don’t want them. How you are “illegal” because you can’t afford to live like they do, in a house.

Anyway, there were other weird things that happened yesterday. It was very odd. Something weird is happening in the world. Sometimes it’s hard to remain the observer.

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Hmmmmm….

It’s a cloudy cool day.

I like these days. It’s easier to get things in the ground and work outside without the heat bearing down on me.

So far I got the last 3 tomato spaces filled in the back, plus coverings. It’s not very attractive, but it certainly is pragmatic.

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The netting on top looks dorky, I know. In the past I’ve used tulle to completely cover my starters, wrapping it around the cages, stapling it into place and tying a big loose knot on top. I’ve never lost a plant to hail, and the grasshoppers and other munching bugs don’t generally get past it, either. But all my old tulle is either gone or misplaced and acquiring new tulle means a trip to the fabric store. I decided to just use what I have. We’ll see how it goes.

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Of course I skipped most of this last year. The cages were sufficient to keep the cats away, but this year the fabric barrier is a must due to the ducks. So far they nipped off three of my tomatoes. Hopefully the plants will come back.

I have 11 more tomato starts to get in the ground. These will have to go on the south side, in the space between houses. The yellow pear grew like gangbusters in a spot there last year. Hopefully this year will be a repeat of that.

The cardboard isn’t attractive, either, but it really helps with the grass. There wasn’t much grass growing anyway since I’ve built up these beds with lots of leaves and compost. But the cardboard will also serve as a more solid foot path. If all these tomato plants mature, by the middle of summer you won’t be able to see anything but green.

Twobie and Archie have been adventuring outdoors the past few days. We were really worried about them the first day they were out, but they were safe and sound, in here…

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I just couldn’t see them because there was a towel hanging over the opening, leftover from cooler days. This is Chicky’s house, which he doesn’t really use much. Poor Chicky…booted out of another house. haha. That’s ok, as I think these might be his kids anyway. That’s what he gets.

Shane’s boss wants a kitten. We’re trying to convince him he needs two.

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It really does make a lot of sense to have two. They keep each other entertained. They bite each other instead of you. Two are a bit more of an expense, but worth it in my opinion.

This past week, Yoyo’s head has begun turning green.

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It is really interesting to watch the transformations as the ducks mature.

Most everyone was out back while I worked. Buggar was there, wanting to play but also keeping an eye on things…

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Here she is scowling at the ducks. She could really do without them…

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The weekend was super busy. H and I had a good time in Wichita, doing a bit of shopping. We also tried a new Japanese restaurant, Yokohama Ramen Joint in DeLano. Boy was it good. They best calamari and kimchi I’ve ever had. I’m not even big on Asian food, but there you go.

Some crochet projects are in the works. I put together some fabric yarn squares which I want to arrange for a porch hanging. I’ll take photos later. And I’ve started another giant peacock doily for the neighbor. He wants to give it to a friend.

The other night I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep for a while. I realized I was feeling stressed, like my heart was buttoned up. And, I felt like stitching. This is what came out…

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I might work on that flower some more.

Speaking of flowers, I am SO enjoying these petunias…

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I hope the week is treating you well.

Gardening day…

Today was primarily a gardening day. I estimate I have spent at least six hours, probably more, bent over digging holes and planting tomatoes. I’m wiped out.

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The task was prolonged by the ducks, of course, who had their heads buried in every hole searching for worms, slugs, grubs and bugs. Earthworms and slugs are their favorites, but the others will do, too. They also managed to clip off one of my tomato plants…grrrrr….a Brandywine, I think. Hopefully it will make a come-back.

I haven’t marked the tomatoes. I know basically where I’ve clumped the different kinds together. This year I’m growing (fingers crossed!) Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Yellow Pear, Soldacki, and Ukranian Purple. (The last two are from Seed Savers Exchange.) I can’t wait. I’m also growing tomatoes from seeds I dubbed “Brandywine cherry” because they came from what I think are Brandywines that turned out the size of large cherry tomatoes. They grew from very old seed, some I saved back in 2009, I think, so maybe that had something to do with it.

For ages Cherokee Purple have been my favorites, but last year’s Brandywines were so, so good. I’m anxious for all of them. Each year I do try to grow some cherry tomatoes as they grow and ripen fast so you get to enjoy garden tomatoes pretty quickly. It will be interesting to see how they all turn out.

While rolling burritos yesterday (see yesterday’s post) I came across this tablecloth, another thrift store find.

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I liked it so much I decided to use it. I had originally slated it as a fabric source, as it’s that nice old soft cotton.

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H kept admiring it. At one point he said, “Why do I love this tablecloth so much?” I do, too.

Twobie and Archie are now very much up and about and exploring the house. They did that for a while, but then decided this was where they wanted to be…

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Go figure. It looks innocent enough, but Archie is a toe biter! Ouch!

Here’s Weanie’s face when she saw the living room was being invaded by munchkins…

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Nooooooo…..

Molly and Buzz are still too little (and too fat!) to be wandering very far…

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They really are pretty hilarious looking.

I had chosen the name “Molly” and was searching for  “B” name for the boy, since Bully is their dad’s name, when H happened to mention when he was a kid they had two chickens, Molly and Buzz. There you go.

For a while yesterday Noodle’s box was the place to be.

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Stop cleaning me, mom!

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Taking time to play with the kittens is like stopping to smell the roses…an opportunity that is fleeting and shouldn’t be missed.

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Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first burrito…

This is the first burrito…

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A child’s dress of stretch velour that I bought at a thrift store years ago and intended to turn into a belly dance choli (top), but I never got there. Today it became the first burrito in a long line of burritos…

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If you read yesterday’s post… “Moment of truth…” then you’ll understand my sewing room dilemma, how I have been overwhelmed with the mass of materials there. In the comment section you can read my discussion with Grace about what to do with so much, how to store it, keep or throw it.

I hadn’t really planned to reveal my dirty laundry the way I did yesterday. I just did it. I guess I was fed up enough with it that I knew I had to air it if things were going to change. And things did change. I went upstairs this morning, drank tea and played with the kitties for a bit, then decided to finish my tea in the sewing room and see what I could find to do. I sat down and realized it was a great time to begin rolling fabric burritos.

I gathered all the loose and/or folded stacks of fabrics, all undyed, and began rolling. I had a sack of miscellaneous items from the thrift store full of ribbons and lace I used to tie it all up, which was also serendipitous because I had been wondering what to do with all that ribbon!

I probably rolled for over an hour. It was very peaceful, fun to touch all the fabrics and remind myself of the wide variety of cloths I now have to choose from. The process of rolling this fabric was really quite amazing. The more I rolled, the more a sense of absolute relief rolled over me! When I stood up and looked at my stack of burritos the whole room felt different, like the air had cleared, like just doing this little bit improved the whole space around me and tidied it up instantly. I finally felt like I could go forward and get a handle on the messy sewing room, just by wrapping up the fabric in this manner. I can now SEE what I have and CHOOSE what I want to work with, rather than having it all under foot and nose constantly.

The next step is to clear out the bookshelf and see how much I can get in there. I will also consider getting a metal shelf like Grace has, although my ceilings are low I’ll have to measure carefully to see what will work.

I am doubly glad I shared my mess because it, in turn, inspired Grace to tackle some cluttered areas in her own home as she is facing a big move and needed to de-stash. Knowing this makes me very, very happy!

The icing on the cake was in the process of rolling burritos, I found H’s shirt, the one I want to use as a base for a robe! It was right on top of a basket I had actually looked through yesterday when searching for it, if you can believe that, albeit covered by one shirt so I couldn’t see it! Here it is…

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And here’s the woven patch that will be the first embellishment…

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Yesterday I put together another very pretty woven piece. I started by machine sewing the strips to a base. It made the weaving process much faster.

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When I was done weaving, I went ahead and machine stitched the edges. It went by so fast. Later I will hand baste the center.

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I also spent a little time working on this new cloth. So far I really like it…

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Thanks, again, to Grace for helping me get moving!

 

Moment of truth…

I want to get better, at a lot of things.

Organizing my sewing room in a more user-friendly way is just one of them.

Here is the state of it at the moment…

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I’m not proud of it…

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In fact, I’m pretty overwhelmed by it…

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I’ve had sewing rooms that were in this kind of state before…

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Usually I took periods of downtime to organize them, tidy the bits of pieces and really turn things around so I actually looked quasi-professional and able to create…

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Over the past two and a half years that we’ve lived here I’ve never had this room looking good. Instead, I have jumped from project to project, not finishing most of them, while carting things downstairs to work on. Other than its current use as a jumbled storage space, I really haven’t done much with this room. And, I’m finding it really hard to decide where to begin and how, exactly to store my fabrics so I can see them, get to them and use them.

I do like creating here, though. I spent some time up here (this room is on the second floor) last night and this morning. It was quite peaceful, and I realized how much I enjoy having a room where I can close the door and keep the cats out.

Last night I sat down on the floor, feeling the urge to create. I grabbed a large bag filled with fabric, stuff I had collected from my bedroom and, yes, thrown up here to get it out of the way. Without even thinking, just enjoying the look and feel of the cloth, I grabbed some walnut-dyed blue and coral pink strips that didn’t make it into the Heart Pillow. I began weaving, ala Jude.

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I sat there on the floor with my back aching and stitched it together. Not nine. I don’t know how many. But weave. My hands did it instantly, without thought. I like these colors together. Except for two pieces I used the wrong side of the coral, which is a linen/silk blend. I felt if I had done it mostly like this…

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…then it would have become about that lovely print. I was going for something more subtle, more Jude, I guess.

I already know how I want to use this piece. This is the start of a robe like one of Jude’s robes. I want to put it across the back, across the shoulders, then build from there. I even have a shirt I want to use as a base, one of H’s old, thin, very large shirts. But, I can’t find it. I think I know where it is, but I looked this morning for a while and was unable to locate it. I will keep looking in a bit. But, you see my dilemma…finding things in my cluttered mess of a sewing room is a challenge. *sigh*

I did finish going through the big bag of fabric and another basket that had caught scraps and other things. I sorted the contents into piles…big, undyed fabrics, dyed fabrics, undyed scraps, super small scraps, tough strips to use for garden ties and hopefully soften them up over summer, laces and leftover strips.

I know I need to be in the sewing room in order to create. I like sewing on the couch, but then that mountain of sewing stuff develops and I don’t have easy access to all the supplies in my sewing room. I’m going to endeavor to save the couch for small sewing projects and leave the bulk of my activities for upstairs.

Going through the fabrics, I was reminded of how many fantastic finds I’ve found at the local thrift store…for next to nothing, like this scrumptious soft cotton pillowcase.

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I haven’t been to the thrift store in a while because I am very aware of the need to use up what I have rather than continue pack ratting.

I started a new piece while upstairs. I realize it is very Grace-esque.

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I love Grace’s style and how it works so beautifully for her. I love Jude’s style, but I am so not there yet. I have found when starting new pieces I tend to get mired in the details. I am wanting to work more loosely, put pieces together more quickly. This continues to be another thing I want to get better at…finding my own voice in cloth.

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