Dharma Skye

Recipient To-Be

Meet the child who will be getting the custom-made, gratis, “Wollen Jas Blauw” (except it won’t be wollen nor blauw, I’ll bet…)

Dharma Skye

Dharma’s mother wrote me:

“… Dharma Skye. She is 2. It is unlike me to ask to be considered for this gift but our sweet Dharma is missing her right hand and always wants her sleeves rolled up to be able to have her right arm free to use it. I was thinking a jacket that fit her right arm would be awesome. Not sure you would want to make a jacket with two different arm lengths* but that is what would work for Dharma …”

I had eleven applicants for the jacket, most of whom sent me email. I truly hope I didn’t miss anyone, in responding via email.

If you are reading here I want to thank all who responded, and who wrote a bit about their child. Many sent pictures and I almost died at how sweet all these children were. There was this one baby in the bath? I WANTED TO SMASH MY EYES OUT, FROM THE CUTENESS. I wish I could just get paid and sew coats, the perfect coats, or whatever, for every child who needed or wanted one.

Thank you so much, dear readers and supporters.

* Wow. I so want to sew a jacket with two different arm lengths. I am incredibly excited.

just fine / bling-blong!

Check the coat.

Wollen Jas Blauw, Nels

You wanna know more about the coat? You can read about it here. My Flickrstream contains many pictures and construction details. I’m happy to share any tips or advice on making one; the pattern inspiration is originally a size 6 months to 5T and good for beginners (if said beginners are cool with asking questions – the directions are quite sparse). I’m thinking about making up a smaller version in a poly fleece. So if you’ve got a size in the toddler region, and an initial, I can make the test garment up FOR YOUUUUUUUU

***

We had a walk today out at Bowerman Basin, as we’ve done many times before. On the way we got talking about survivalist strategies which of course (because we’re weird) soon got to cannibalism and whose body would be most practical to consume. It was all fun and games and laughs until:

Nels’ eyes fill with tears and his cheeks flush. “Mama isn’t even one pound of delicious MEAT!” he yells, suddenly very upset.

"They're Not Fightin'"

I will not bore you with how many million times Nels and Phoenix wanted us to take pictures of the insect life they found. You can check my Flickrstream for an extremely truncated photo series. Bugs this, bugs that. Hey look I found another bug! REALLY.

Nels + Bug

Salmonberry Blossom (I Think?)

Ralph, Tree

Beetle (more bugs)

A little time perspective out at the boardwalk. Today, 2012:

Kiddos, Bowerman Basin

Laughter

2010:

Lurve 4

2008:

They Do Science
(That last picture is in August… Nels will be blonding up again accordingly.)

At home, a work station – just before finishing the facing back of bound buttonholes, and sewing on all eleven buttons:

Evening, Workspace

correspondance, commerce, & creeps

This morning after meeting a friend at Pure Clothing here in HQX (I love the owner J. and think we are so lucky to have such a great shop; today I found a pair of hot-ass Silver jeans in my size as well as a pair of my tried-and-true Levi 501s – have I mentioned how much I love jeans yet hate stretch jeans, which are almost all you find if you’re over about a US size 10, and remind me sometime to tell you my friend Jasmine’s dire and graphic warnings on such stretchy-fare) I stopped at Jackson Street Books and chatted with the owner Tammy (who really. REALLY. knows her books). While talking my eye fell on about ten books I wanted for myself or as gifts. I finally settled on two for Phoenix: Bunnicula by James Howe and The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (the second book in the very popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; she simply devoured the first one about half a year ago). I thought both were excellent Halloween choices. When I got home I surprised Phoenix with the books and she smiled bigger than you can imagine and put aside the “younger” (and shorter) Bunnicula to dive into the YA/General fare of Percy. I felt a bit sad as it seems her babyhood vanished far before I could treasure it; however I know she will pick up the story of the vampiric lupine (a favorite of mine as a kid) – at some point.

So I spent my grocery money on jeans and books but we made due with pantry provisions for dinner and I really think the purchases, especially the books for my girl, entirely worth it.

Today a friend asked me if I’d sew her up a dress (based on the striped hooded version recently modeled by Phoenix) to which I said Yes. I am ready and willing to take on full-grown ladies (and gentlemen), especially plus-size women as they are so underserved in the fashion industry. All of this has to be done within my own work schedule of course (I am currently two pair of monster booties behind) – which I’m trying desperately not to get backed up on as:

the gag order has been lifted and I am now able to publicly blog I am testing for an upcoming book project of Karen and Shelly’s (of Patterns by Figgys) as published by Wiley. While I’m not able to post pictures of the garments I’m testing (yet), I can say they are all fabulous and fun to sew and scratch my technical-writing nrrd-skills.  I’m saving up pictures in Flickr (as private) and hoping to make them public some day. There are a lot of things I really love about these two ladies, their designs, and their ethos (including generous voluntary copyright clauses for cottage-industry or home sewists). It is pure joy to be able to help such an enterprise.

And:

I recently received a Thank You email (very specific and edifying and including details of my reader’s life – which I love!) and a Paypal donation by reader E.; the day after a handwritten letter arrived, penned from New Zealand blogger Elly – and full of NZ and AU currency and some history/geography to boot! As far as feedback and commentary from readers it’s been a great week. Well actually it seems to get better all the time, although to be clear IMs and DMs and tweets and email and snailmail has never been much more than a steady trickle (I am no Celebrity). For this I am grateful as I sometimes fear I let correspondance slip through the cracks. Frowny-face.

In other news, sketchy Flickrite Alejandro seems to like the ladies. And the little girls. Like my 8 year old daughter. (Just not anyone over 22 or so, or fat or “ugly” – ew!) But don’t worry, I’m sure the fellow’s legit. See how he has no profile information and has posted no photo except one of a Siamese cat.

Cute cat.

kittle, kittle, author, author

Poor Ralph. Truly he does not know when I’m going to get this feverish idea and simply obsess on something until I get my way. In this case “my way” involved about $32 worth of sewing patterns, which I enjoy shopping for and ruminating on more than perhaps the reader can understand. At dinner the children asked I sew them sleepwear and were quite specific: two “nightshirts” that match in style (but not size nor fabric), as well as a set of button-up flannel PJs for Nels (“Like my mermaid pajamas,” he tells me – and reader it is a total shame I never took pictures of those home-dyed and hand-embroidered lovelies!) and a summer-weight nightgown for Phoenix.

As we finished our dinner (homemade pita stuffed with fried tofu, cucumber, and grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese) my brain was working like the tiny little self-perpetuating maniac it is.  When I contemplate my next sewing project (and just so you know, there’s currently one 20% underway in my sewing room, and it’s going to be Awesome) I think over what fabrics I have, what patterns I have; my children’s current tastes vs. what’s already in their closet (in this case, nothing regarding sleepwear; they go to bed in home-sewn boxers and Walmart panties). In my case the planning is one of my favorite parts of sewing: in a kind of energized trance I swim through my ideas, my inspirations, strategies and skillset; it is the first stage in a process where I pluck something from thin air that never before existed and fashion it with my tiny little hands.

By the time my mom stopped by to pick up the children for a sleepover (her request) and we all shared a half bottle of wine (“we all” meaning the grownups) I’d thumbed through my pitiful little batch of highly organized Ottobre patterns and thought about the Etsy shop I stalk for vintage children’s patterns.  I also considered an appropriate “nightshirt” for Nels, meaning one he would love and that I would enjoy sewing – something new to tackle. After the kids left I circled around Ralph like a shark and then came out with it: he must allocate funds for these sewing patterns. My final pattern decisions: one of my Ottobre patterns for the button-up pajamas, the Folkwear kittle for matching nightshirts, and a lovely vintage nightgown for my daughter (who favors fitted bodices and long hems). In all cases I already own the requisite fabrics (although I could be persuaded, always, to buy something else fondle-able and lovely) and – to save on shipping, obviously – I gave ordered just one more excellent set for my girl, a little swimset she will adore (probably to be made up in seersucker, which my mom charmingly calls “cocksucker”, which to her credit, a tiny bit, is a piece of jokery from a respected and acclaimed novel). Thinking of these patterns winging their way to my porch, to arrive just as I finish the current sewing project, gave me little shivers of joy.

I’ve been realizing just lately I feel a tiny, tiny bit sad at the middling-quality fabrics I often sew with. This simply can’t be helped; if I am to sew as much as I do I have to rely on sales from the large “meh”-quality chain, thrift store finds (and fabric “scores” are sparse, here), and gifted fabric (two yardages of flannel sent by my girl JJ will be made into Nels’ button-up jams). In my most recent finished object I did observe that a higher quality fabric would have rendered a well-made piece into a piece of Art; but, well, we’re a single-income family of four (with lots of pets) and I make clothes my kids wear into threadbare dust with their varieties of high-energy outdoor play.

So that’s that, for now.

In other news I am fully published, for realz. Let me tell you, tears of pride and gladness are in my weak beady eyes thinking on this. Wendy Priesnitz, the founder and editor of this publication (as well as companion magazine Natural Life) is a Real Life (S)hero to me – someone I look up to immensely and find myself reading and re-reading her words. She has been a deeply influential mind and author in our family. For some perspective, I get told by several my writings serve as help, or mentorship, or are appreciated for candor or insight. Well, Priesnitz is a persona and author I go to for mentorship, one of the few I’ve found who’s spoken to my heart and mind like cool drafts of clear water. To be included in her publication is extremely gratifying.

The article I wrote, “The Unschooling Conversation That Never Happens”, is available with subscription obviously (and I recommend it; it’s a wonderful periodical and includes awesome authors like 19-yr old unschooled anarchist Idzie) but will also soon be available online either at Underbellie or the LL site or both.

And finally a footnote: HQX residents may be amused at the “lumberjack” collection at Etsy. Yeah, ok, little cutesy/hipster stuff because loggers are funny and quaint and extinct? Grays Harbor, you and I know logging history is here and gone but also still very, very much with us.

summer McStitchery whiz-bang

Nels & I & My Mom's Minivan
Last week before a beach date – and as the kids slept – I frenetically sewed up a pair of linen shorts for each kid using Burda 9641. Nels loves his Times One Hundred and calls them his “Fancy Pants”, after the video game character he so loves (and resembles). By the way on hot summer days I let my kids eat ice cream about five times a day, or as much as they want it. Here we’re just about to hit Scoops while waiting for my mom who’s around the corner getting a picture framed.

We bought one of those cheap kid pools from (the dreaded) Walmart. My daughter is lovely to me. I love most that she has a brand new swimsuit on and that in order to find one long enough for her it’s all baggy. I love grabbing her up and getting a handful of that suit.
Walmart/Summer Part 1

Walmart/Summer Part 2

Walmart/Summer Part 3

Walmart/Summer Part 4
Doing laundry with a “washboard”. Nels is often out in our front yard in his underwear; in this case he has the boxers, not the tighty-whities, so I’m less likely to get the tsk-tsk from neighbors.

High Noon (Bluster)
This is Bluster, our alpha-hen (except one brief afternoon where a toe injury toppled her off the high-horse; she recovered quickly).

Lemon Bloom
“Our lemon tree is doing well” (Holy shit, those pictures I just linked to were taken only a handful of weeks ago and LOOK how much my son has grown since then! I’m scared. I really am.), in fact there are between one to two hundred blooms on the plant (it had four last year when we got it). Lemon blooms look lovely but they smell amazing, sublime.

Last night I finished a dress for Phoenix made from an out-of-print (or OOP, in sewing-parlance) Vogue pattern from the 50s. I have much to write regarding sewing with my first very, very vintage pattern. Here I am doing a curved hem from the topside, no pins nor gathering stitches (that’s right monkey-flippers!):

Skillz

This was also my first time working with a sheer overlay. It went very well as I just applied the principles of underlining (darts separately, then hand-basting all layers).  Since I so often sew for my children, my knowledge of couture techniques is often tempered with practicalities of homesewing equipment and the fact my “clients” will probably, say, immediately take the new frock down a ramp on a skateboard and tear the shit out of their hem). Hopefully I can get one good picture of my daughter in this dress before Whatever Befalls It.

Bound Buttonholes
Above: four bound buttonholes, not at all the menace I thought they’d be. Practice makes perfect as they say. These, at a scant 1/2″, made Ralph flip his shit when he saw them because they were so tiny and perfect. The dress itself taught me quite a bit: besides the overlay business and the bound buttonholes I also bias-bound the armscyes, made shoulder pads from scratch and tacked by french knots, stitched up (a simplified version of) lantern sleeves, and employed to good effect pseudo-tucks via lapped seams. Using vintage patterns to sew for my children is winning my heart over.

Today the family has asked for Shepherd’s pie for dinner, which should be lovely fare to cook, and I’m going to get started on Nels’ companion piece to this dress.  Good times.

(I wonder if my readers enjoy or loathe my picture-heavy posts. Yet they are a record as much as any Wordy McWordiness I whack away on.)