Friday, April 29, 2016

Creative Puttering

It may not be everyone's thing but I love when something I've read or heard leads to a progression of thought. That happened earlier this week. I was sharing with a friend about how I'd lined up the bits & pieces of potential boxes and planned to work through them and she responded by saying you love to putter like that.

Since I'm super excited about what I'm going to learn by working my way through those boxes, my thoughts were more along the line of tickle trunk, sandbox, playground, magic kingdom, or some other mysteriously-full-of-the-unknown kind of phrase. Putter is not what came to mind which made me wonder what does putter really mean.


... to
 busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner as in to putter in the garden.

... to move or go in a specified manner with ineffective action or little energy or purpose as in to putter about the house on a rainy day.

to move or go slowly or aimlessly as in to loiter.

... puttering or ineffective action as in dawdling.

putter away, to spend or fill in a random, inconsequential, or unproductive way; fritter away; waste as in we puttered the morning away.

I did that - sort of - on Tuesday when I went to a friend's house and we spent the day painting canvas bags in her studio except that our day wasn't ineffective, with little energy or purpose, aimless, inconsequential, or unproductive. It was a fabulously fun, simple, leisurely, casual, slow play time - friend time - definitely not a waste - which made me wonder what adjective changes puttering from mostly-not-so-good to mostly-good. Perhaps creative which means... cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes

to evolve from one's own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.

... to cause to happen; bring about; arrange, as by intention or design

That would make creative puttering a slow process of bringing into being something that is unique and imaginative. And that bringing into being would be full of purpose and energy - and possibility - like creatively puttering in my bits & pieces of potential boxes. I'm okay with that. My mind is...

... bubbling with ideas only I've been finishing up some other things first like the quilts for the guest room. Above, I'd reached the point where the remainder of the first quilt fit into the throat of the machine. YES YES - a positive thing... and then I finished it... and now I'm on the second one... which is also a positive thing, only different. 

And I've been working in the garden. Not puttering. It's more like hard labour digging up turf, moving rocks, building garden beds, and planting. Puttering might apply to pulling the odd unresistant weed but definitely not to 6 1/2 hours of digging, lifting, bending, throwing, dumping, pulling, pushing, hoeing, raking, planting, covering, watering... and so on.

It took four hours just to clear the rocks from the left edge of the gravel path above to the right edge past the hose where you see more rocks and to build the two walls. Then I filled in the walk with six bags of pea gravel and dumped and raked 24 thirty-liter bags of dirt into the garden.


Creative puttering.

Once I get rid of all the rocks along this side of the house, the plan is to create a five foot wide vegetable garden with more raised garden beds formed with rocks. I have lots of rocks. Millions of rocks. More rocks than any body should have and most of them in the wrong place.

When I bought the house last fall, the front porch had diagonal corners with stairs coming down at each end which were IMHO rather ugly to say nothing of the fact that the stairs on the carport end walked straight into a post. In the picture below with the ladder, you can see the piles of bricks that I removed from the space above that is now a curved garden. I planted the tree and some perennial plants and the rest will eventually get filled in.

The previous owner left behind two wooden ladders. Above is the shorter one, now a trellis. I sprayed it with a clear top coat to protect the wood and then wrapped it with string so the Trumpet Vine can climb up. It'll have pink flowers. And look much better once the carport is cleaned up.

Originally, I wanted to build the raised garden beds using wood so I invited my oldest son to come and help me tomorrow. He doesn't know yet that the task has changed. If he doesn't mind doing rocks, we'll work on the side of the house but if he'd rather do wood, the garden center up the road has a huge stack of pallets to give away and I want to use them for the skirt on the porch.

I had wanted the pallet wood for a walkway like the one above that I saw on Pinterest only it uses the wider boards and there aren't very many in a pallet and the walkway I want is quite long wrapping around the front gardens and the side of the house. Since that would be a LOT of pallets, I may need another plan... like a rock crusher ! ! ! Because I have rocks. Millions of rocks. More rocks than a body should have and most of them in the wrong place.

Speaking of bodies... I saw the surgeon yesterday and she was quite intrigued with my hip. The hematoma has shifted up and over and there is a softer pocket of liquefied blood as well as harder painful areas. The plan is to have it drained when I go for an ultrasound in a couple weeks and then immediately wrap it with a tensor bandage and keep that on day and night for a month to see if the tension will prevent the pocket from refilling and allow the tissue to knit together.  We may need to repeat that action but she would rather try that route first than surgery... which means...

... I need to be done the yard before then so I rest my hip and give it every chance to do its thing. Hmm... I may need to sew with my left foot.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - one finished quilt, progress in the yard, creative puttering

Friday, April 22, 2016

Play Through The Boxes

The weather has been unseasonably hot. We've had blue skies for over a week and it's been 17 degrees Celsius at 8:30 in the morning. I wore a sleeveless sun dress one day, sat outside to journal several mornings at Starbucks, and ate breakfast and lunch at the table on the back patio. So weird for April. Wonderful though.

This chest cold is a real "winner". I only started feeling somewhat normal on Tuesday. Last weekend, I was lying on the couch feeling like all kinds of miserable rolled together when the clutter started getting on my nerves. Tidying up led to the decision to move a cabinet from the living room where it held yarn to the kitchen where it could hold dishes, which meant moving the yarn somewhere else, and that had a domino effect that somehow led to spring cleaning the entire house... including the studio. Perhaps not the wisest choice for an "invalid" but it did distract me from feeling miserable.

One of the books I'm working through in my journal time is Rice Freeman-Zachery's Living the Creative Life which is a compilation of answers from fifteen successful artist on questions like where do your ideas come from, how did you get started, and what are your tricks for overcoming blocks? It's an excellent book. I've read it several times and get something different out of it each time.

One of the assignments is around providing a rich, creative childhood for yourself now. It suggested to gather together whatever catches your eye and then to start with whichever one looks the most enticing and play with it. That's the important word: play. Don't work, don't set goals, don't give yourself exercises. Just play.

Two things make that just the perfect assignment for this spring and summer. The first happened one morning about two weeks ago when I woke up with that wiggly, jiggly, YES YES feeling in my stomach and thought today is the day - to start being healthier, losing weight, and toning up in a flavourful, maintainable way. I researched losing weight over fifty and it recommended no more than 1,200 calories. I've counted many things before but not calories and WHAT an eye opener that has been. I had no idea about some of my favourite foods. I'm glad I picked that option and - if 1,200 calories aren't enough - can add a bit when my stomach growls.

I already had this recipe book from Weight Watchers with information about their point system as well as calorie counts. It's been really helpful especially as the meals are quick and easy. It must be the right time in my life for this "get healthy" decision because so far I'm finding it quite doable. I decided to weigh myself once a week but mostly to go by the fit of my clothes since I'm also doing a lot of yard work and getting out to walk... which builds muscle... which weighs more. AND...

... the second reason this is the perfect assignment is the bits & pieces of potential boxes. They are in the "whatever catches your eye" category. Normally when I clean my studio and review these boxes, I assess whether the contents still have potential and if so, fold everything neatly back into the box and continue storing it. Only I've been doing that for years. This time... since I've been encouraged to play... and I won't be sewing fitted clothing any time soon, I've decided to play through the boxes. They're sorted by woven fabrics in the two at the front, then knit fabrics, than jewelry bits, painted bits, and quilted pieces. There is a LOT of potential.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through stitching the first quilt for the guest room. It's tedious work that was messing up my dining room so I moved it back downstairs with the second machine at a separate table facing the window and the boxes of potential. While I'm stitching, I can thinking about turning that robe into cosmetic bags and combining those painted pieces with the beads from that necklace to make a purse. I have more than enough ideas bubbling to get started and I'm excited to see how I grow creatively while working through the piles. I imagine some of the pieces will end up back in the boxes but a lot - hopefully - will get moved forward and this is good.

Have you ever noticed that your creativity has grown? One thing I've really noticed since moving here is that I'm taking more time to come to a decision and oftentimes I'll circle around to the next or the next right answer. I'm also seeing potential where I might not have seen it before. The previous owner left two very old wooden ladders, both with at least one rung that is duct taped together. I leaned the smaller one against the post in the carport to use as a trellis for a trumpet vine and will use the taller one on the side of the house when I plan a vegetable garden. And I'm working on a way to display my house numbers with a piece of garden fencing. We'll see how that goes but it's fun to be creative in a different way.

Thanks for all the suggestions for the frumpy dress. In the end, I took out the sleeves and threw away the rest because the fabric just wasn't worth investing so much time and energy into when the other pieces were labour intensive. I'd rather take them forward differently. Above, I made two woven sections of serger strips for the sleeves and below...

... I made a 6" x 42" section of thread lace using the 1/8" strips cut off by the serger and some soluble stabilizer. The thread lace has a much heavier look than I anticipated and looks fabulous as a collar which may take the garment in a totally new direction.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my oldest grandson turned three this past week. He's healthy, happy, and one of my favourite people.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Frumpy Dress And An Unfinished Cardigan

Along with their snuggles and kisses, my darling grandsons shared their cold... and it's a winner... going from not too bad, to horrible, to getting better over the last week. Most of my time has been spent lying on the couch but I did get some studio time in earlier in the week and yesterday, I did some more work on the grey sweater refashion.

At left is how it started with a basic V-neck with a ribbed stitch. I started by cutting up center front after stabilizing it with some interfacing and then cut a curved hemline... which ended up looking rather chunky on me. In the video...

... I show some of the first decisions I made and how I go about starting a refashion. I made several other videos but I'm not sure they'll be of much use. First I'll have to see how the sweater finishes. It's being quite stubborn right now and not playing pretty.

I took a break from the refashion to work on a dress using the same idea of serger strips as embellishments. As you can see, I inserted the sleeves from the sweater and that part works okay... as do the embellishments... and the white top stitching... however...

... the dress is looking rather frumpy. It's a lengthened version of Marcy's Vogue 8876 that I wanted to look elegant and graceful. It's definitely not there - VBG. Because I hate matching plaids, I cut the side panels in a different direction than middle front and center back and only matched along the side seams. I have come to the conclusion that I dislike horizontal stripes immensely. The dress looks less than wonderful and this is the point at which I decide if I'm going forward or not. Probably not. Even though I've spent quite a bit of time on this dress, there is no point finishing it if I'm never going to wear it and right now, it doesn't look at all flattering and it's unlikely the shaped bottom will make much difference. I'm more inclined to start over and let this one become a learning curve.

Originally, I wanted to wear the refashioned sweater over a sleeveless version of the dress only when I tried the sweater on with a previously sewn version, they didn't work well together. The cardigan fit too close to the body to be flattering with the dress so I put it aside and thought I'd make the dress next and then finish the cardigan. Apparently I'm at a bit of a standpoint right now - a frumpy dress and an unfinished cardigan, neither of which are going where I thought they were going, however, I still want to try the dress in a longer version and I am hoping the longer pattern will also be suitable for a coat. We'll see. I'll try again.

With my cold, I haven't been out walking. These pictures were taken a couple weeks ago. They're of the walk along the lake that is 3 kilometers in each direction, six round trip, and mostly flat. This pair of Canada Geese walked part way with me. 

There are several walks that extend off of the main one. The two pictures above are of Christmas Island which is a bird sanctuary with a 1 kilometer walk around the outside edge. The Canada Geese are on a small pond in the middle of the island and the walkway is along the lake side.

Salmon Arm is located on an arm of Shuswap Lake which is a HUGE lake. There are over 5000 miles of shoreline. When I was a child, my family often camped at a provincial park on the opposite side and I walked or rode my bike along that shoreline. 

Right now, the birds are pairing off and the beavers are building big dams and there's always something happening at the lake. Contrary to what you see in these pictures, a lot of people walk, run, or bike this path so there's always someone to greet along the way. I'm so grateful to live somewhere that's creative, calm, and peaceful and where walks like this are just minutes from my front door. It's a gift.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - knowing when to call it quits

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Idea That Keeps Jumping Around In My Head

This past week, I was in Calgary visiting my daughter and her family and Wednesday's posting - obviously - didn't happen. In thinking it over, the middle of the week may not be the best choice so I'm going to try Friday postings for a while and we'll see how that goes. Theoretically, I'll get more done through the week and therefore will have more to talk about.

On Wednesday, I spent the day with my friend Mary. We went out for lunch, to Value Village, to Fabricland, and to Tandy Leather where I bought some remnants hoping they'd work for the final version of my daughter's purse. OH MY... what a wonder world that was of snaps and buckles and rivets and other hardware to say nothing of the beautiful leathers. I'll definitely visit there again. I enjoy making purses - especially with simple shapes like the one above - and I think it'd be fun to work with the remnants, dyes, and embossing supplies to see what could happen.

Mary took several pictures of me wearing the surface designed jeans with a black top and fabulous hair that somehow managed to stay looking great even in a wind - LOL.. or at least in my dreams - only they weren't on the camera when I went to download them. Too weird. I'll try again. I really wanted to show you some finished pictures.

The stretch denim jeans I made using the same pattern lasted two wearings and then the seam pulled apart at center front... I'm assuming because of the high degree of stretch needed for my curvy hips only there's so much stretch in this fabric that it doesn't really make sense plus the seam was serged and top stitched. Has this happened to you? Do you have any suggestions for sewing a more secure seam? I won't have the jeans but I did get to test the better crotch curve and I will have the fabric. I plan to serge it into more strips and then use them to work on the idea that keeps jumping around in my head for creating a open weave fabric that could be used as a hem, collar, or sleeves. It'll be labour intensive but...

... for some reason I don't fully understand, but that just is, I enjoy labour intensive projects. I found these two images in Pinterest one night when I wasn't sleeping. The grey one would be fabulous sewn out of linen and the gold one has the look of a fine boiled wool. All those dots would be too fun... and labour intensive.

When I'm at home, I don't spend any time snoop shopping on-line but when I'm away, it's a great way to gather inspiration.  Both of these tops look like potential refashioning ideas and these...


... are interesting pants. I like funky pants and I need to be careful. I've put on some weight since falling in October and I was already a little too fluffy so now I'm super fluffy and I've noticed that I'm dressing baggy because I feel uncomfortable. I need a better solution.

These two top ideas intrigued me. The one at left is a combination of knitting and woven yardage which I'm working on as a goal and the one at right is a fun way to play with a knit, not necessarily a plain one. I have several fabrics in stash that could be used with this inspiration. The skirt is fun too... for the right figure... not mine.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - happy visits, baby snuggles, good friends, and inspiration