Whoosh….

Did you hear that sound? That was May whooshing by. Another month disappearing in the rear view mirror. I wanted to post more this month but obviously that didn’t happen. We rambled about the neighbourhood. We gardened – a lot. We read and read and read. I finished a couple of projects. We wore our masks to get groceries, both for ourselves and for Thom’s elderly mom. We stayed isolated. We stayed well.

When put like that it sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it? It doesn’t feel like that while I’m living it however. We’ve found some pleasant and most of all quiet places to walk. Our favourite is Shaughnessy, that Vancouver bastion of huge heritage mansions and treed streets pompously named after prominent members of the Canadian Pacific Railway board of directors circa 1885. Foot and car traffic is minimal, giant old trees keep it cool and the curvy streets keep us guessing as to which direction we’re going. It’s an adventure every time! I haven’t been carrying my iPad though so I have no photos to show you.

The garden is doing well and we’ve actually gotten quite a few compliments from passersby on how nice it looks. We both enjoy gardening and of course this year we have less alternative distractions, right? Yeah. Thom does the bigger stuff: pruning, mulching, mowing, leaf blowing, the larger weeding, turning compost, staking and tying up plants. I do the more delicate stuff: starting and transplanting seedlings, shaping beds, fertilizing, harvesting, the pickier weeding and plant trimming. We luckily have complementary skills and abilities! The weather has still been mainly relatively cool especially at night and this month it’s been quite changeable too. More like April weather than the mostly sunny April we had. A benefit is we’ve been blessed with enough rain that I haven’t had to water very much at all so far, except in the greenhouse of course. Everything (except the cucumbers which are still in pots in the greenhouse waiting for it to warm up a bit more) is planted now so all that’s left to do for the next few months are weeding, harvesting and watering. And watching things grow. Yes, the hammock is already out and being enjoyed.

Not much exciting has happened in the studio however. I did promise a photo of the finished tea towels:

Towels in 4-block 4-shaft Summer & Winter

I love them so much! And am now encouraged to wind a new warp for more towels in a different weave structure. Maybe there’s hope for me to regain my weaving skills yet? Then there’s the second pair of socks for Thom:

New Berry Socks

Yes, I wove the mat underneath too. Years ago now and you can see the sheep are losing their chenille “wool”! Poor things. The sock yarn is DGB Confetti from 2009. Working from deep stash these days. Heh. I truly love this yarn brand and am sad that it’s apparently discontinued. It’s very durable and the colourways were attractive. Now that the superwash sock yarns from independent dyers are more popular, they seem to mostly all use very similar base yarns which aren’t twisted as tightly so don’t hold up to wear as well. They’re also twice as expensive, but I don’t begrudge the hardworking dyers their profit. Just that I would love to be able to keep wearing the socks! Also, I do like dyeing my own but it’s hard to get undyed sock yarns for a reasonable price if you don’t have a business. Nevermind. I have enough for the foreseeable future anyway.

Here’s the masks I mentioned in my last post, free pattern from Dhurata Davies:

His masks
Her masks

They fit very nicely:

The masked woman

I have to say the masks have really helped us with the stress of grocery shopping in crowded stores where it’s difficult to maintain distancing. Some shops insist that all their customers should wear one along with only allowing a certain number of people in the store. I think there are actually more people wearing masks here now than there were. On the busier city streets I would say that perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of the people I see these days are masked but less than 1/4 of them in quiet, low traffic areas. A much higher percentage wear masks on transit. But not everyone. Discomfort, vanity or disinterest? Even we don’t wear our masks on our ramblings but only if we’re forced to be in closer proximity to others.

And I also sewed a shirt:

Tessuti Helga

This is the Tessuti Helga shirt pattern that I cut out of some thrifted poly-something a year ago. And then it sat. And sat. While I proceeded with a whole bunch of other projects. But finally I decided that this shirt had aged long enough. It was time to test whether this pattern fit me well enough to consider making another version from nicer fabric. The lines of this shirt with its clever hi-lo angled hem are quite comfortable. The facings are stitched down so I knew I wouldn’t have my usual fights with keeping them in place. I deliberately chose a size S which surprisingly fit well with enough wearing ease even for The Belly Fluff. Can’t imagine how loose it would be if I went by my actual bust measurement! The only fit changes I made were sloping the shoulders and shortening the sleeves, both necessary on nearly every garment I make. I had some trouble with the collar which somehow didn’t lie properly against my neck. I chopped it shorter and hand-stitched the seam closed and now I like it much better. Lastly I used 5 smaller buttons instead of the 4 larger ones called for. I only had these appropriate ones in the stash.

Back view
Front (slightly blurry) view
Hem detail and close-up of the novelty fabric

If/when I make this again, I would consider adding some length to the body of this shirt. It feels a little short in front to me especially when I’m just wearing leggings like I am in the photo. This fabric is a little stiff too (some kind of home-dec stuff?) so it doesn’t drape as well as something like a linen or shirt-weight cotton. It’s more like a jacket. But I think it will get some wear, more perhaps in the autumn.

Moving right along. I desperately need some t-shirts, particularly longer-sleeved ones, since there are obvious gaps in my drawers and several old well-used t-shirts are finally wearing out. After 20 or so years I think they don’t owe me anything! I have plenty of suitable knits in the stash so there’s no excuse really. When I cut garments out in batches I can usually squeeze in a short-sleeved or cap-sleeved t-shirt as well as a 3/4 or full-length sleeved one at the same time. These are all vital for layering with my other pieces in my wardrobe. It turns out that I wear knits far more than wovens or often pair them together. Knits are comfortable and forgiving of fit and lend themselves more to my leisurely lifestyle. Got to get on this, preferably before it gets stinkin’ hot in my studio. Which it will. Very soon now.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

For an idea of what I’ve been up to since my last post, just go look at my last post! The plants are bigger and there’s a different pair of socks on the needles. The dish towels are done except for washing, drying and photographing. I got them off the loom yesterday and hemmed them on the sewing machine. I find machine hemming is more durable than hand-stitching when it’s something that’s going to be dumped in the laundry over and over. I absolutely love these things and can’t stop admiring their pretty colours! I’ve still got lots of 2/8s cotton yarn left, not to mention 2/16s and 4/8s and 22/2 cottolin (cotton and linen blend, equivalent in grist to the 2/8s). I’m already finding myself planning another towel warp. Uh-oh. Am I trying to put sewing on the back-burner again? Hope not.

Because, well, I’ve finally decided to sew some face masks. Yeah, I know. But you know, we’ve found it more comfortable to go grocery shopping with a mask – even though most other people around here aren’t wearing one. Maybe a quarter of the population out and about? (Lots of people don’t wear helmets on their bikes either even though it’s a local bylaw to do so.) Mask wearing is not mandatory in BC (yet) but if they start to open more shops and services, I’m going to wear a mask. And gloves. So to that end I’ve found an excellent free pattern in 4 sizes from Dhurata Davies Patterns. She was just as reluctant to mask up as I am so I feel like a kindred spirit while using her pattern. It has ties instead of elastics which I need to accommodate my glasses and hearing aids. No room behind my ears for anything else! I haven’t started sewing these yet but I’m looking forward to playing with some fun scrap fabrics. At least it will be more attractive than my ugly N95 dust mask! Which leaves “mask face” creases and doesn’t allow my glasses to sit properly on my nose. And isn’t supposed to be resuseable. Ugh.

Everything is growing really nicely and the weather has been cooperating. We’ve had lots of sun, a bit of rain and some quite warm days with cool but not cold nights. My garden is nearly completely planted now, only waiting on the cucumbers and basil which are coming up under the lights. They won’t go out for several weeks yet. The runner beans which are more cold-tolerant than regular snap beans are already coming up. I’m picking at least a bucket of produce every couple of days and making lots of salads. Kale buds, dried cranberries and sweet onion dressing is a favourite. Also finely sliced bok choy, grated carrot and daikon radish with sesame/ginger dressing is another. I have 4 different varieties of bok choy this year so using it for more than a stir-fry is essential! Quick before it bolts which is inevitable when the nights get warmer. As always I use my patented cut-and-come-again harvesting technique: cutting the largest outside leaves of lettuce, arugula, mizuna, bok choy and komatsuna and leaving the plants to grow new ones from the centre. As the season progresses though I’ll start taking whole plants. The cool weather greens are better off picked before they start to grow flower stalks. The quality diminishes then but the already harvested leaves stay fresh for at least a couple of weeks or more if washed and well wrapped in reused plastic bags in the fridge. I’ve had bok choy last over a month that way after it gets too hot for them outside. Arugula and lettuce don’t last quite as long in storage.

Rhododendron “Jingle Bells”

Sadly this is the only photo you’re getting this time, one of our really pretty rhodos. Apologies for not having anything more exciting to impart. I wanted to post more often but it seems as if there isn’t really anything new or different and I’m not feeling like photographing myself or my admittedly uninteresting clothing choices right now. I did break down and cut my hair! Hah! It was driving me nuts and since my hair grows extra-fast I figure no harm/no foul. It’s not as straight as I’d like, of course, and I had to get Thom to help with the back because I can’t get to it properly at all. Nor see what I’m doing back there even with him holding an extra mirror. It really needs more off the back and better shaping but hey, it’s not in my face anymore so I’m calling it a win! I made my fringe/bangs extra-short. On purpose. Heh. My darling hairdresser likes to leave them longer, perhaps so I’ll come back sooner? Hope she can fix the mistakes when I finally get to see her again! Whenever that might be. Not holding my breath.

Sending you all virtual hugs and kisses! Stay well and stay sane! The world is weirder than usual right now but we can survive and adapt, right? Right???

Carrying On

How is everyone holding up? Out in cyberspace I see lots of calming videos and images and lots of jokes and laughter too. Keep it up! We can get through this together even if we have to all stay apart. Best line I saw somewhere that stuck with me is this:

Introverts, put down your book and go check in on the poor extroverts now. They’re suffering!

I know. It’s not so funny if you’re truly lonely and isolated. But society is usually so dominated by the extroverts among us that it’s kind of interesting that we introverts actually have an advantage during the current situation. I can be alone for awhile without becoming lonely. I don’t need (or even want) constant stimulation and conversation. Plus I have lots of solo activities that I enjoy. On the other hand if this goes on too long, I’m kind of glad I’m sharing my isolation space with my spouse! Who is also an introvert.

You know, everyone talks about COVID-19 but do you personally know anyone who has it? My son picked up what we think is the dreaded virus at his shop thanks to an inconsiderate customer. It’s unconfirmed. He can’t get tested because they’re saving that for the serious cases but in consultation with the BC Health med-line and his doctor by phone, they’re pretty sure. Luckily he’s not too ill and is on the mend now. His family (wife and two teenagers) haven’t shown signs of coming down with it. Yet. Though the kids might kill each other first! They’re self-isolating in their small apartment with the golden retriever while building comes to a halt (by government order) on their new one. It’s already a year behind schedule. Are we having fun yet? Kind of happy we haven’t seen any of our kids in person for nearly a month! But I worry about them all.

So I finished a thing. When I discovered that I cut this jacket out back in November, I was amazed that it took me so long! Of course I was distracted by the Make Space Project. Even I am not that slow of a sewist. I had it half finished and hanging out on Debbie Double for months so I finally got it together and got it done. It’s dark and rainy today so I settled for a hanger shot with supplementary lighting.

In The Folds Flynn Jacket
Inside view of the seams

It turned out a little more oversized than I prefer but it’s not really any worse than my Issey Miyake jacket. I actually used the same size as my vest version that I made last year but the jacket has more ease with that wide back pleat and drop shoulders. I did get the sleeves the right length exactly though so I don’t have to turn up the cuffs unless I want to. There was a little trouble with the drapey linen crepe fabric stretching out on the seams. They’re a little wavy especially down the front edges. I probably really should have used my walking foot but didn’t. I was too busy switching back and forth from the regular foot to the stitch-in-the-ditch foot to sew the binding. I love that foot! I never had one with my old sewing machine and it just makes getting really close to the seam so easy. Also happiness for snap-on feet too. On the other hand, the walking foot is a lot more involved to install than my old Pfaff’s IDT foot which was built in. Ya wins some; ya loses some.

I’ve been out in my garden and for plenty of walks while the sun was shining. I got my peas planted a week early this year! My wee seedlings are going to need transplanting into bigger pots very soon (like starting tomorrow). And then begins the Daily Schlep – taking them out to the greenhouse every morning and back inside every evening until they are ready to go in the garden. There’s not enough room under the lights for them all and I need space to plant the tomatoes very soon. I was realizing that it’s a very good thing that I was able to buy my seeds before all the shops shut or I would have had to resort to mail ordering them. Not sure if we’re going to get our scheduled manure order delivered in a couple of weeks or not. We’re all in a waiting game here, aren’t we?

Sending virtual hugs to everyone! Stay well and stay occupied as best you can. As my auld Scots mum used to say: “This too shall pass”.

Clarity in 2020

Well here we are in the New Roaring 20’s! I’ve chosen the theme of “clarity” for this year since “2020” calls up associations with good vision. (Not that my own vision is actually 20/20 or anything!) I intend to focus on clearing out the junk, clarifying my future goals and generally looking to clear my head of all the negative emotions that are floating about. Don’t know about you, but I’m trying desperately to hold onto my peaceful little corner of the world. This is my 70th year of life and I can’t guess how many more years I’ll have left but I don’t plan to give up what is important to me anytime soon. All I can do is carry on the best way I know how. And keep making stuff, using what I already have as much as possible, and trying to live a little lighter on my poor abused planet. We can only do what we can only do, right?

So. I promised a bit of a retrospect of last year’s makes. The stats are interesting considering I didn’t think I’d done much! I finished a total of 39 projects: 33 sewing (including helping the granddaughter with The Beast), 5 knitting and 1 dye. The UFOs were 3 sewing, 2 knitting and 2 spinning for a total of 7. That seems like more uncompleted projects than I usually have ongoing but I guess not really since I often cut a half-dozen items out before I sew them.

A selection of successful sewing (and knitting)

Interestingly, I made more dresses this year than tops. Does that mean that my personal style is shifting? I seem to feel more comfortable in longer lengths but I still wear either shorts, leggings or pants underneath. My fondness for layers isn’t going away! I did discover a hole in my wardrobe however. After I reorganised all my drawers it seems that I don’t have many long-sleeved tops left anymore. I bought several lengths of suitable knits quite awhile ago but hadn’t gotten around to sewing it up. So solving that issue is on the agenda in a top position.

And there’s still some garments I want to make for Thom. I have the patterns and fabrics. I just have to do it. He doesn’t have nearly as many clothes as I do. Since he mostly wears shirts, pullovers (or sweaters) and jeans his needs are pretty simple. But he’s beginning to be quite spoiled with his “bespoke” wardrobe! More men’s sewing coming up.

Other than those things I don’t really need anything else until something wears out. Not that a lack of need will stop the wants. Just wait until I start going through the stashes during that section of the Make Space Project! It’ll remind me what I’ve already got until I’ll have a long queue lining up for future makes.

Meanwhile, I did finish one spinning project that’s been worked on in fits and starts for a year, the Fernwood yarn.

This is the first of 3 skeins

The fibre is 250g of New Zealand Corriedale in the colourway “Fernwood” purchased from my friend Andrea when she owned Aurelia Fibres. FYI, these rovings are now sold by Dewedlebug Fibre Emporium (Alberta) and their Fernwood seems a little brighter than mine if I can judge by the computer screen. Instead of being dye-painted the roving has the colours in carded strips aligned lengthwise. Sorry I didn’t save a bit unspun to show you (or a photo) but this makes a somewhat more blended effect when spun from the roving just as it presents itself. I spun one bobbin-full (half of the 250g) that way but for the second half I decided to strip the colours to separate them as best I could. I spun 6-10″ lengths in a sort of random-ish order which definitely made longer areas of a single colour.

Bottom: first bobbin; top: second bobbin

You can sort-of see the different effects in the above photo. (Note the photo of the finished skein shows the colours more accurately than this one.) Then I plied the two bobbins together for a kind of faux-fractal. I ended up with three skeins, two larger and one smaller, totalling about 980 yards of fingering weight. Why is it that 2 bobbins full of singles often don’t ply into just 2 bobbins full of plied yarn? I guess it doesn’t pack as closely together as the singles so there are going to be leftovers! Anyway, the amount isn’t quite enough for a sweater but a lot more than I needed for my intended project. I started with the little skein.

Cowl beginning

Yes, I started another knitting project still with two UFOs haunting me! Pfttt… This is the Wolkig Cowl by Martina Behm from Knitty, First Fall 2017. It’s deceptively simple to knit so you can guarantee I’ll be finished in a jiffy! I like the way the variegations in the yarn don’t clash with the puffy knit texture as it would if it were lace or cables. I have no idea what else I’ll make from this yarn. Maybe a hat? More fingerless mitts? At this rate I’ll end up with a matched set.

Progress

Well here are some actual completed projects to show off! On the Make Space Project we’ve finally finished the kitchen section. I decided to just “git ‘er done” so after locating my original patterns for the foam padding, we ordered the pieces cut. Then we went to good old Dressew and found some good-enough dark red velvet-ish upholstery fabric. It unfortunately was a limited bolt and already cut into three pieces so I was unsure of how the pattern would lay out especially since it was only 56″ wide instead of 60″. So to be safe I bought the whole lot, just over 4 metres total, when I really only needed less than 3. At only $9.99 per metre it wasn’t a big sacrifice. There’s leftover pieces which can become some throw pillows for the front room couch eventually.

So there were four antique oak chairs and a stool to cover. The last time I reupholstered them, I not only did the seats but also made back cushions for three of the chairs that hang from tabs tacked to the chair back. This made them a lot more comfortable so of course I went all out and did that again. Also I hadn’t ever reupholstered the stool before which was originally covered with some tacky vinyl. The other pieces are over 100 years old but the stool is probably only from the 1960’s or ’70’s. (There’s actually two of them that were dumped on given to us decades ago but one lives in the basement so I cheerfully ignored it.) Thom took the upstairs stool completely apart and sanded and refinished the legs and rungs so it looks much nicer now.

Every piece of furniture in the kitchen has a family story!

The newly spiffed up kitchen chairs
Granny’s chair
The stool, which I mostly use to reach high shelves

In the first photo (which is somewhat more yellow than it should be thanks to the artificial lights) you can also see our new window above the kitchen table. Now I can sit at the table and not feel like I’m sitting next to a refrigerator with the door opened! The horrible old drafty louvered window should have been replaced 40 years ago when we did the other one. But we held off thinking we’d do something different like a larger window or a bay window or even a door to a solarium. Never happening. And then there was another year-long delay because we had trouble finding a company that would just make and install one itty bitty window. The building trades are so busy here that we were just too small potatoes to even get a call back on inquiries. However, we did finally get an excellent reference and they were great. Git ‘er done, eh?

We’re now taking a well-deserved break on the Make Space Project until after the New Year. It took nearly three months to do one half of the main floor! Whew. Hopefully the living/dining room and entry hall won’t take quite so long. Unfortunately there’s some more reupholstering to be considered there but since I’m not able to do such complex chairs myself, we’ll need to find someone else to do it. That’s going to be spendy for sure! I’m going to be lazy and not worry about reupholstering our old hand-built couch/TV table/bookshelf/spare bed but just clean it up as best I can. Just remind me I said that when I get tempted to go all out on it, won’t you? More on this section of the house when I get there.

So what else is there to discuss? Oh yeah. I finished knitting a sweater.

Sammal Cardigan

This is the Sammal cardigan, pattern by Joji Locatelli, yarn 100% Peruvian Highland wool (Cloudborn Fibers wool fingering twist) in Iron Heather. I probably should have gone up one size since I didn’t quite get gauge in this yarn even after going up a needle size. But it’s not too obviously tight. I increased at the sides somewhat to compensate for the pattern being straight from the underarm to the hem. I am definitely not! It’s a beautifully written pattern and I like the extra-warm sand stitch texture and the cute little opposing cables in the front. It’s knitted from the top down in one piece which is my favourite method for sweaters.

I counted up all my Finished and Unfinished Objects for 2019 and I’ll have a quick review in the next post. I’ve been feeling rather unproductive but there were more than I thought!

Checking In

Hi! Hello! I’m still here! So tell me…how did I manage to skip the whole month of November? Sigh. Somehow, between the Thom’s damaged knee, dreary weather (not inspiring for photos), the Making Space Project and sewing with my granddaughter I just haven’t felt like there was anything concrete to post about. We haven’t been able to walk very far, though the knee is finally improving so we can go on some of our usual grocery trips. But not much more than 4 kilometres every few days which is a lot less than our usual 30-40 km per week. And yes, I’m noticing the difference in the old body! Hopefully we can up the distance over the next few weeks if the weather doesn’t foil our plans.

It’s not as if I’m not getting some exercise though, if you count deep house cleaning as exercise. I certainly feel it, especially in my hands. I’ve had to rest my poor sewing and knitting fingers as a result so not much progress in that area. I have so many UFOs! They are starting to weigh on my mind since I usually prefer to keep the numbers down by actually finishing things. So not happening right now. Oh well. I can pretty much guarantee that most of them will get done eventually.

Making Space has been going quite well anyway. We are very satisfied with the cleaning, decluttering and small changes we’ve made so far. We finished the bedroom, hall linen closet, bathroom and are mostly done in the kitchen, which has been the most time and energy consuming room. Every single cupboard and drawer has been gone through and sorted. It took days and days! The counters, windows and walls have been washed down. The microwave, stove and fridge have been thoroughly cleaned. We’ll be getting a new replacement window installed on Friday. Now all that’s left is the floor to clean and the kitchen chairs reupholstered. Unfortunately the chairs are going to be a big deal! There are 4 chairs, not all the same but all antique oak. The last upholstery job was mine and included replacement padding and my own handwoven fabric. It actually lasted quite well, apart from damage caused by our late lamented cats. But it’s way past it’s best before date now! And I don’t think I can talk myself into weaving the fabric this time unless I can’t find something suitable to purchase. The foam padding will need replacing as well. I need to see if I can hunt down the original paper patterns that I’m sure I kept from last time. Once I have the materials, the actual upholstering job isn’t difficult.

As for the granny/granddaughter sewing project, it’s done! Yay! The Beast, as we began to refer to the duster coat, took since July to finish but it turned out so well.

Wearing her grampa’s Barmah hat.
Showing off the back.
Testing the twirl factor.
I think she’s pretty darn pleased!
I made her a tag to celebrate her accomplishment.

The pattern we used is McCalls 7644, a cosplay pattern by Yaya Han. The envelope only shows the shorter length coat but you can see the details better on the line art.

We made the longer View B version.

This is a very nicely drafted pattern and includes A/B, C and D cup sizes. There is some tailoring, with shoulder pads, sleeve heads and lots of topstitching. The instructions are quite detailed and it all went together pretty easily (apart from one mistake that was my fault but luckily fixable). The main fabric is a lovely warm dark brown wool/cashmere but I really think we could have done better on the lining fabric instead of settling for rayon but didn’t see anything else that appealed. Oh well. I was rather glad I had made the peacoat for Thom last winter/spring so that some of the tailoring I learned was fresh in my head. This one isn’t quite as well-armoured but there’s still plenty of interfacing so it should hold its shape. If I was to do this all again (noooo….) I might add a back neck facing and a centre back pleat in the lining which this coat does not have.

This was definitely a joint project! By the end it took both of us with me supporting the weight and granddaughter feeding The Beast through the sewing machine. Apart from the weight issue though, her little mechanical Brother machine held up really well to this coat. There was quite a lot of hand-sewing as well which she actually quite enjoyed. I think she learned a lot but was happy to have me step her through and show her what needed to be done or leap in myself when things got difficult. We’re both glad it’s finished but a little sad about not having our weekly sessions! I think she’s planning to ask her grampa for a woodturning project next. But not until after the Holidays. It takes her an hour and a half each way on public transit to get here and I’m not surprised she wants a break.

It’s already getting dark at 4:30pm. The weather was sunny and fairly cold for a good portion of November. We spent a lot of that time raking lots and lots of leaves and it was nice to have them dry instead of soggy. Now it has warmed up somewhat and gotten rainy which is more like our usual end of autumn/early winter weather. We shall see where it goes from here.

Do or Do Not

Part of me always feels like I’m running behind and the other part of me doesn’t care enough to try to catch up. I’ve read a ridiculous number of books. And not meaty informative literature either but instead they’re mostly historical romance and murder mysteries. Frivolous fluff. Like eating too many potato chips. Oh yeah, I’ve done that too. Oops.

Reading is a distraction from struggling with my current knitting projects, in particular one of which has been stalled for months. Needs to be fixed or frogged. But first I need to assess and I’m not even looking at it. I usually consider myself a knitter first before all other textile-based occupations, but recently I’ve gone days without knitting a stitch. What on earth is wrong with me?

I’m also not dyeing anything. Haven’t used any of the dye plants in my garden at all this season apart from harvesting and drying some of the Japanese indigo and saving some weld seeds. (Why the weld seeds when I have a gazillion babies that keep popping up?) I keep looking at the dye stash from years past and thinking that I have enough. Especially if I never use it! I even have a couple of things that I want to dye before summer is over. It will be next week or not at all. Wish me luck on that one.

And there’s two spinning projects, one on each wheel, that have been sitting around not progressing any further. I did have plans for the yarn but obviously I’m not feeling in a hurry. In my defense it was rather hot for spinning but even though it’s cooled down (even rained hard for most of yesterday) that hasn’t inspired me to spin either. And we won’t even mention the naked looms. Nope.

The only craft that seems to be enticing me at all is sewing. I’ve already made four dresses this month and am working on a fifth. I showed two of them in the last post so I guess number three is up next. The pattern is the Rushcutter dress from In The Folds.

Before starting to sew

This photo shows the fabric better, a purplish-brown linen. (I think! It might be a blend.) I even had the perfect zipper in the matching colour but decided that I didn’t need it. I was right too. As long as the neckline can go over my head my dresses are all loose enough in the body to not need a zip to get it on. Besides the fact that I can’t do up a back zip by myself anyhow! T-Rex arms, remember?

Debbie Double and me sharing a cup of tea

The other photos I took are rather dark and lightening them up in the photo app tends to leave them grainy. But here’s a more full-length shot anyway.

My Rushcutter Dress

I love how it fits and I didn’t even do much in the way of modification. Just cut a size E at the sleeve/yoke area and graded out to a size F at the underarm/bust. Of course I also shortened the sleeves by the usual 2″ or they would be full length. The pockets are huge and I love the little inset in the front yoke. There’s also a sleeveless version that has quite a different piece for the shoulder/back yoke with a button placket instead of calling for a zip. It also has inseam pockets and a waist tie that I won’t use. I’d like to try this variation or maybe a combo of the two views but definitely there will be more Rushcutters in my future. It’s such a perfect shape for me.

In other news the garden is winding down somewhat for the year. I replanted some of the Asian greens and lettuce which may or may not survive the slugs and insects to maturity. The arugula bolted almost immediately! The zucchini, cucumbers and beans slowed down a lot during the really hot weather but are now starting to come back a little. The tomatoes are ripening earlier than usual. I’ve got a few trays of Juliets (small paste tomatoes) in the dehydrator right now making “sun-dried” deliciousness. Sometimes I get really frustrated with the garden and other times I’m so grateful for its bounty.

Lastly, I got new hearing aids! Whoo-hoo! My audiologist gave me top marks for keeping my old ones going for over 12 years – twice as long as they were supposed to last. Probably because I was notorious for not wearing them as much as I should have. Ahem. They’ve been limping along for a couple of months anyway and are no longer repairable. It was exciting to have a good excuse to replace them! My new ones are the same brand (Oticon, a Danish company) but the technology has come along lightyears since my first pair. And naturally they’re also nearly twice as expensive! These little guys are rechargeable (no changing batteries) and have 4 programs and adjustable sound levels. Also Bluetooth so I can listen to audio directly and I even got a TV connection box too so now I can actually hear movies correctly! I haven’t actually watched TV in months because I found it so frustrating. 100% improvement. Two thumbs up!

There’s an app for my iPad (I don’t have a phone) that gives me another way to access the sound levels and programs besides the buttons on the hearing aids themselves and the separate remote control. The app also charts my usage so I can tell how much I’ve used them and on what programs. Besides the regular program, there’s one for noisy background places like a restaurant, one that will hopefully help me at my weavers’ guild meetings in an uncomfortably echoing room, and one called “comfort” that cuts everything back so I don’t feel I need to take the hearing aids off when I’m reading or doing something else quietly by myself. There’s definitely a learning curve with these bad boys though since even the comfort setting is much more powerful than my old failing hearing aids! I’m not yet used to hearing so much detail. And it’s not even cranked up to my full prescription yet. Not until October when hopefully my brain will have adjusted.

Oticon Opn S 2 miniRITE R

Don’t the in-ear domes look like wee jelly fish? Heh.

Can you see it now?

I know a lot of people are reluctant to get their hearing tested or to wear hearing aids if necessary but I really don’t understand why they should feel any embarrassment or shame. Do you feel bad if you have to wear glasses or contact lenses in order to see? It’s exactly the same thing – except the hearing devices are more complex and expensive. Here in Canada at least, hearing aids plus their batteries and repairs are even tax deductible as a medical expense which helps somewhat. (Eyeglasses are not.) Research has shown that untreated hearing loss can contribute to social isolation, cognitive decline and dementia. Sounds like some really excellent reasons to suck it up and do something about it, no? Yes!