Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sneak peek Sunday

Whew! Haven't done one of these in a while! You might recognize the pattern from Feeling Stitchy's February vintage stitchalong (hey, February's not over yet!).

I'm stalled a bit because I need to run out and get some water-soluble stabilizer, but hopefully I can get this stitched up soon and can show off the whole thing.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On pinning, patience and being a hare

Those of you who know me already know I'm not the world's most patient person (and a lot of you who've read here for a while probably had that figured out). I read young adult books partly because I get satisfaction out of finishing an entire book in just a few hours (by the same token, I like nonfiction because I can quit when I get bored and don't have to finish to find out how it ends). I usually don't read all the directions before just jumping in - it's a big reason I'm self taught. I don't think I could handle a sewing or other class where I had to take baby step after baby step, though I'm sure I'd be a better seamstress for it. In fact, it's pretty crazy the things I love most take the most patience. That old cliche -- it's the challenge that make it so rewarding.

I started thinking about all this when I was making bias tape, which I love love LOVE having on a finished garment, and hate hate HATE making and using. It's not super difficult to do, it's just super tedious. Careful marking, careful cutting, careful ironing, careful pinning -- all before getting to the fun part, the sewing! Then, MORE careful ironing and careful pinning. Quelle nightmare! But it's so lovely to have enclosed seams, and even lovelier to use custom tape rather than store-bought.

miles and miles of pins, i swear.

I'm definitely a hare, forever bolting out the door wholly unprepared (figuratively and literally - did I ever tell you about the time I dashed out to the convenience store with my shirt still undone from feeding Mr. T?), leaving masses of unfinished tasks in my wake. I watch my timid little tortoise son, almost nine months and not yet crawling (not that I'm fussed about it!), afraid of his own shadow, and I wish I had just a little of that caution and think-first-edness.

So I practice. I make myself iron and pin and iron again. I measure ingredients exactly (haha, yeah right. I do try to read the whole recipe and check my pantry first). The discipline is like meditating. Distracting at first because I get agitated and impatient, but the results are so much nicer, and maybe one day I'll learn patience to balance my impulsiveness. Until then, I'll just try to remember procrastination is not the same thing as patience!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hot and Strengthening, or Just One of Those Days

Jeeves was bringing me the morning cup of tea when I read these missives, and I handed them to him in silence. He read them in same. I was able to imbibe about a fluid ounce of the hot and strengthening before he spoke. 
--from The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

Yesterday was one of those days. Disappointment didn't come in the form of missives, it came in the absence of them. I was expecting a package of advance review copies of books from one of the girls over at Forever Young Adult, but the envelope I got was opened and empty. I'm not sure why it got me down, but it did. The prescription? Fortifying cups of tea! (Why, yes, I have read a lot of British lit.)

I did what always cheers me up a bit and pulled out my silver tea tray, badly in need of polishing, and got the omnibus copy of some of Barbara Pym's novels I picked up at the Friends of the Library booksale a couple of weeks ago and settled down with my new teapot. Also, I know it looks virtuous of me to have an orange as a snack, and while it's partly because it reminds me of that bit in Cranford where they eat their oranges in solitude* because there's something unseemly about sucking the juice from them, it's mainly because I'd already eaten the last cupcake and a handful of chocolate chips, and the Girl Scout cookies hadn't been delivered yet.

Isn't it neat? It's actually an old teapot, one my brother got me for Christmas ages ago. He scoured the mall and other shops and this was the only one he could find (I think it predated the teapot vogue of a few years ago). I was thrilled, and on Christmas Day, the first time I used it, the lid fell off and smashed to pieces on the floor. Of course I was crushed, but when I got home, I found the lid of one of those brew mugs fit perfectly and added a little dash of color.

Anyway, ever since reading The Code of the Woosters a couple of years ago, I've been dying to embellish this teapot with Bertie's wonderful epithet for tea, the "hot and strengthening." I just used a couple of Pebeo Porcelaine pens and a great deco font I found on urbanfonts that I can't manage to find now, and Bob's your uncle.

Have any of you read P.G. Wodehouse? He's marvellous, and I wish there were more opportunities to sprinkle his hilarious turns of phrase into ordinary conversation. Frankie Landau-Banks, the protagonist of E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks does a pretty admirable job with her embrace of neglected positives (like "gruntled" and "maculate"), if you're looking for a way to get a little more Wodehouse in your life.
*When oranges came in, a curious proceeding was gone through.  Miss Jenkyns did not like to cut the fruit; for, as she observed, the juice all ran out nobody knew where; sucking (only I think she used some more recondite word) was in fact the only way of enjoying oranges; but then there was the unpleasant association with a ceremony frequently gone through by little babies; and so, after dessert, in orange season, Miss Jenkyns and Miss Matty used to rise up, possess themselves each of an orange in silence, and withdraw to the privacy of their own rooms to indulge in sucking oranges.

I had once or twice tried, on such occasions, to prevail on Miss Matty to stay, and had succeeded in her sister’s lifetime.  I held up a screen, and did not look, and, as she said, she tried not to make the noise very offensive; but now that she was left alone, she seemed quite horrified when I begged her to remain with me in the warm dining-parlour, and enjoy her orange as she liked best.
--from Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reading, thinking (or trying to) and the past few weeks

It's nearly 4 on a Saturday afternoon, and Mr. T is still fast asleep (in his own bed!), and Chris and Daisy are snoozing on the couch, so I'm taking advantage of the quiet to think a little, and catch up with y'all out there. I don't know how long my reprieve will last, but I'm going to enjoy every second of it.

Earlier this week, I got a lovely box o' L'Engle (of the Madeleine variety) from Amazon, and I've been slowly soaking in A Circle of Quiet, the first of her Crosswicks journals. Published in 1972, it's "the attempt of a gifted woman to define and explore the meaning of her life," according to her website. Anyway, aside from having to look up several words and sit and think for a while to figure out what they really mean in the context of the book -- specifically ontology, a word I remembered from college philosophy courses, but couldn't explain or understand anymore -- it's been a joy to read. Madeleine L'Engle's books are so familiar to me, they're like old friends. She's one of those authors I've read so often I feel like I know her, and it's been wonderful to get inside her mind and realize she was very human. She made me feel good about sitting and enjoying a book in the midst of housekeeping failure (yes, that's a pile of unfolded laundry about 2 feet tall in the picture above).

Oops, I hear little noises from upstairs, so I'll leave you with this, the secret to long naps and sleeping (almost) all night solo: swaddling. Yes, I know he's eight months old, but honestly I don't care if he wants to sleep swaddled until he's 15 as long as he sleeps. So I used it as an excuse to make the cutey cute cute swaddling blanket from (who else?) Prudent Baby:

he's totally thinking, "are you for real? this is not cute."
Yes, there are birds on that fabric. Would you believe me if I told you a. I bought it years ago and b. I bought it because I liked the trees. No really, I swear.
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