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???