“does your thumb get sore?” – asked me, today, by a friend

Answer: No. I have strong hands from the time I’ve put in.

"Patience & Care"

Keeping it real, a bitch has been working hard to get her craft recognized in a world of Walmart and Target and buy-it-from-Martha-for-the-homemade-look-but-guess-what-it’s-made-in-China. And probably just the most insidious bit, the materialistic pursuit to own a bunch of stuff, willing to sell out others to get comforts, buying into that aspirational lifestyle.

This all used to bug me. And probably a half dozen other complaints. I can tell you I am no longer bitter about these forces, because I have accepted I can’t change any of it. But *I* changed. A while back now I stopped competing in this worldview. It’s just too damn depressing. And frankly, I could stop messing about – because Ralph’s salary pays rent and food [she said, flatly]. I stopped sewing things I didn’t want to sew. I stopped saying Yes to things I didn’t want to do, and I stopped listening to advice from people who didn’t understand artisan craft. The many Makers I’m blessed to know have given me the gift of valuing my work.

So yeah, I finished this wonderful quilt today. I already know my next item for Homesewn. In fact I can design and create stuff a little too fast, but I want to give people time to get some scratch together if they want to buy something. I know the pangs of waiting for a payday.

This & that:

A manatee baby bunting made for a family expecting a child in a bit:

Oh The Hu-Manatee!

I designed the manatee (or dugog, if you will) in all cotton and fully fleece-lined with an asymmetrical closure, carseat buckle window, and little foot windows because having babies in bags always seemed a little off to me, although it probably bothers no one else. Besides babies’ socks are always slipping and this way you can reach and snug them up. I’m most happy with the eyes and hand-embroidered eyelashes but I didn’t get good pictures due to poor lighting and all the hundred other things I had going on this morning.

A thread-drawn patch on a baby wrap. Designed the patch, overdyed the chambray, and sewed the wrap.

Thread-Drawn Patch:

& while I work – Harris, sleeping off a nap.

Harris After A Hard Day Eating A Lot Of Food, And Sleeping

Just before I finished the quilt – I picked up some lovely Dylon at Gray’s General Store for a not-so-distant future project.

"Patience & Care"

I’m truly grateful to get to practice my craft and it gets more satisfying all the time. I am aware at some point, my abilities may fall away. Old age, illness, calamity. Whatever. I meditate on my bodywork and enjoy the experience while I can. Funny, for many years I was declared the math & science type and some influential people in my life hinted like that was all I was good for. Now I’m like this crunchy-as-fuck unschooling mama stitching and spouting feminazgul manifesto.

That’ll work.

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.)

a berry bacchanal

Last night at a party a fascinating gentleman and I got to talking. Among other things, he told me a visit to a Childrens Hospital will make one an atheist, then and there.

The reverse concept occurs to me as I’m at my kitchen sink topping and washing the huge bowl full of strawberries my husband has brought in from our garden: I could become a believer based on this fruit. These berries are amazing. They are almost a pornographic depiction of the word “strawberry”, the word “fruit”. So tender it seems ludicrous they could stand their own weight in the bowl, yet they do. They are each perfect, not a blemish, rounded and shining, glossy. So fragrant it’s almost overpowering, yet one does not tire of them. Biting into one and I do not encounter the wooden stem and the flavorless sadness of the berries that ship to our stores; these melt in my mouth, they redefine the word red with their taste, they dissolve in a joyous surrender to being eaten. They grew just a few steps away from where I’m now washing and cutting them.

My mother will be picking up most of this to begin canning. Everyone is getting a good deal here; I insist I don’t like to garden – but I love the food that comes out of the garden, and I love to cook. My mother similarly loves to prepare food, especially in large batches. The only one that grumbles a bit is Ralph, who gets a workout on his back picking the fruit.

I cut and cut and cut the tops off, honing my ability to save as much as possible of the prized flesh. A selection of perfectly glossly dark red berries go in a bowl for tonight’s dessert (including shortcake made with eggs from our hens, yay!), the rest in a large bag in the fridge, added to the ones frozen previously; “putting food by”, experiencing the earth’s bounty.