Friday, October 9, 2015

Fall Color, Natural Dyes of the Pacific Northwest

As I mentioned in my last post, I attended a Natural Dyeing class on Sunday. It was held at the amazing Wild Craft Studio here in the Northwest.

First, let me say that the setting alone is worth the trip. What a beautiful area, and so different from the landscape here in Portland, though it's only a little over and hour away. Wild Craft Studio holds a large range of awesome classes, there are so many I would like to take!

It was a bluebird day. As we arrived, we were invited into the cozy studio to have tea or coffee while we waited for the rest of the class to come. The class on Sunday was taught by the very knowledgeable and lovely Chelsea Heffner. What a grand day it was! Chelsea went through all the basics, processes, plants and so much great information. While I was familiar with most of the information from my natural dyeing fever earlier this year, there was plenty of new things to wrap my head around, and I really appreciated the way Chelsea presented everything.

 Coreopsis flower and Poke Berry

Poke Berry stains on my hands

We processed some plant material and started our dye baths. Then it was time for a forage out in nature. We learned to identify some native plants and picked rose hips for another dye bath.

I spy my good buddies Tif and Meg!

After our hike it was time for lunch. We ate outside with a beautiful view, and wow, what a gorgeous meal they prepared for us! We ate and chatted in the sunshine, all of us soaking in the new knowledge from the morning.

Then it was back to the dye pots! We had samples to dye, wool and silk. Then we were all given a silk scarf to dye and take home. I loved seeing all of the scarves and experimenting that the group did.

Our Fall Color samples: Coreopsis, Lichen, Pokeberry, St. John's Wort, 
Black Walnut, Rosehips

If you live anywhere nearby, I highly recommend taking a class with these amazing people! I know I had a blast and my love of natural dyeing has been re-energized! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Little Cabin in the Woods

This past weekend I was so fortunate to be able to have a getaway to a little cabin in the woods. I packed my bags, kissed my family goodbye, and headed out on the road. A beautiful drive up the Columbia River stretched before me on a warm fall Friday afternoon.

It has been awhile since I've been able to get out on my own and connect with the natural world. While I usually take my solo weekends at the coast, this time it was a real treat to travel to an area I have not spent too much time in. A place of rolling grassy hills, scrub oak, shadowed mountains and ribbons of rivers running through.

This was my view from the deck where I spent my mornings with coffee and my afternoons reading. It was lovely weather, quiet and peaceful with a fair amount of bird watching and crocheting. No TV, no traffic, no schedule to keep... Ah yes.

Everyday I walked down along the river and breathed deeply of fresh air and blue skies.

I slept in a cozy nest where sunlight streamed through the windows. When I opened my duffle bag upon arrival, I found that Pony Girl has sent along a little friend to keep me company. The Little Red Hen and I had quite a time.

Part of my trip included a nearby class on Natural Dyeing from local plants. It was great. I'll tell you all about that in my next post! 

For now I'll just say how grateful I am to my family for keeping the home fires burning and giving me the chance to have this relaxing and lovely weekend. Many thanks to my friends for letting me stay in their sweet little cabin in the woods, it was so special. I will keep this weekend in my heart and soul for a long time to come.

Thank you cabin 21

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Back to work

Oh goodness me! It's fall, there is a crispness in the air, the leaves are turning and I have started baking again. I am also, as of today, back to work. Hooray!

For the last month I have been a bit of a gimp, suffering from adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder. The pain and lack of mobility have made doing my daily routines fairly difficult if not impossible. The real corker, is that I couldn't work in my studio. No stitchy happiness for me no siree!

However, I used this time wisely, letting ideas percolate away in my mind. I am slowly getting better and so grateful for that. I pulled out my supplies this morning ready to go! Ah, hello old friends, I'm back!

What are you up to?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fresh Eggs are Here!

Well, exciting news friends! All three of our ladies are laying at last! We all discussed it as a family and we all did agree that there is nothing quite so wonderful as fresh eggs from your own back yard. Tis true. 

Why just yesterday, I was a'wondering what I could possibly eat for my lunch. You see I was quite famished and I had not yet made my trip to the market for the week. I looked high and low and nothing seemed quite right, nothing seemed to do.  Then I spied a slab of homemade bread and the last of the Summer tomatoes and took a quick trip out to the coop to see 2 little brown eggs awaiting me! Scrambled on toast with toms, honestly one of the best things I've eaten in an age! Pure goodness I tell you.

So, thank you ladies and hooray! You have my deepest gratitude and respect.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I've long thought that I would like to be a maker of smocks. Long smocks, short smocks, art smocks, canning smocks, gardening smocks, smock frocks... all the smocks really. I would like to make them in cotton, calico, vintage cottons, hand dyed linens, toile, barkcloth, even gauze - why not? I might open a smock making shop, a Smockery if you will.

What makes a smock a smock? Oh details people! Certainly discussions could be had, definitions linked to, experts asked and theories pontificated, but that wont happen here. Nope! I'm just gonna call it a loose garment often worn over other garments to protect them whilst doing messy work. However, I do believe a smock is much more than that, and can be worn just because. I find wearing a smock makes me feel industrious and artsy, even if in actuality I may look like a frumpy mess. I call it the psychology of donning a smock. You may call it what you like.

The above smock was made from a "vintage" See & Sew Pattern by Butterick (with a couple of modifications). They did not call it a smock though, they referred to it as a "Jumper." You can imagine, what with the international nature of the interwebs, how confusing calling it a "Jumper" could be. Clearly, it is a smock, though I might concede to sheath, chemise, overdress and what not.

I made it from lightweight unbleached muslin and some vintage ribbon. It has hidden pockets, a sneaky pocket smock it is! I really like how it turned out, still needs a bit of finish work, but all in all I see potential. The down side is that it is not my size and I am now searching for an appropriately proportioned model so I can see what it looks like on a real human. 

Now, I'm off to dream of all the smocks I will make for the grand opening of my Smockery! 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sewing in the past

I didn't mean to disappear last week. It was not by my choosing, but rather due to a house wide plague that settled in upon us. Terrible thing a stomach bug, no good at all! I'm happy to report that we are all back to standing on our feet and feeling like human beings again.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

I was having a rummage through my sewing patterns and took out a few of the vintage ones. Now, it's not just styles that have changed over the years, sizing and body measurement requirements have changed quite a bit as well. For instance, that sweet dress in the middle above is a size 18 US. and if it were a modern day pattern it would in theory be a little big on me in areas. The package says that for a size 18 the bust measurement guide says 38" and waist at 30", yeah, that's not gonna fit me. A current pattern (among the major US brands) has the body measurements for a size 18 at 40" bust and 32" inch waist. That's a 2 inch jump. Interesting.

These wont fit me either, but I kind of want to sew them up any way, how groovy is that pantsuit? By the 70's measurements were beginning to change on patterns. Still, while I wear a 12 - 14 generally, according to this size 14 pattern, I would require a 27" waist. I haven't had a 27" waist since my first year of high school. Ah well. Any one out there with a slim figure who wants a fabulous custom made jumpsuit?

It's possible that the poncho would fit and the cape would totally work. Everyone should have a cape in their wardrobe, am I right? Fortunately, the Big 4 pattern companies here in the US have now reproduced a selection of their vintage patterns in modern sizing and larger sizes as well. Of course I have yet to see them put out that pantsuit pattern.

I actually have plans for sewing up another vintage pattern that I found in my stash. It wont fit me either, but I think it might lead to some groovy inspiration.

Happy Monday all!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Dottie Angel Frock - for smalls

Instagram and the interwebs are abuzz lately with #DottieAngelFrock. Simplicity has taken Tif Fussell"s frock design and put out pattern 1080 so that all of us can make our very own Dottie Angel Frock. I must admit, I am so excited for her, but it took me awhile to get the pattern myself. I wasn't sure how I felt about how I might look in it. I love it mind you, I just didn't know if I would love it for me. So I got a little sneaky and decided to try my hand at making a version for Pony Girl.

 Before the pockets

I used some Alexander Henry fabric that I've had in my stash for a couple of years. I just love it, and it's a bit different. I started out by tracing the size small. I was going off of the waist measurement and wanted to make sure it was roomy enough. I found that I could have done the extra small and been fine. I cut out the tunic length and made a few alterations to the pattern.  I will tell you that I didn't really follow the instructions, I just followed my own weaving way, like I do.  So, this isn't an actual review of the pattern, just my take on it.

I made changes to the front tucks to gather up a bit more of the ease and sewed the arms a bit willy-nilly. The one thing I forgot to consider in my rush to make the dress, was the neck line. Next time I will cut it to better fit a small person, or add a bit of elastic 'round it. I ended up making some gathers at the shoulder seams before I added the cotton lace.

I thought that the pockets that are part of the pattern were a bit too large for the small person version, so I just whipped up a very simple version of my own. Though I would make a few more alterations next time (there is certain to be a next time), it is adorable on my girl, I love it! I am even getting up the nerve to sew one for myself and see how it goes.  This really is a great frock and quite easy to work up. If you would like to see more stunning versions of the dress, just head on over to Instagram and search the hashtag #dottieangelfrock, there are so many clever makers out there. I bet you could find quite a few on Pinterest and other parts of the world wide web as well!

We are on the tip of a long holiday weekend and headed to the ocean for a couple of days, I'll be back next week. Have a grand weekend my friends!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A trip to Bountiful - via the garden

In my last post I mentioned a busy life, there is always something that needs doing and I think we have that in common. We all have our own busy and pressing matters, to-doing, running hither and yon, etc. Part of my busy this Summer was the garden, not bad as pressing matters go really. Ultimately satisfying and very delicious, still sometimes you just can't figure out how to get it all done. You see, when a garden comes on, it often comes on all at once!

This Summer we had record breaking heat, which resulted in our first bumper crop of tomatoes in years. So far we have harvested about 50 pounds of heirloom tomatoes from 3 plants. Amazing and so tasty, yet a bit overwhelming. Oh but look at those beauties! Nothing like a fresh tomato from the garden. Oh, and the chilies, good gravy we have roasted a lot of chilies this summer!

We also grew tomatillos, An experiment really - that ended up combining nicely with the chilies to make some tomatillo salsa. Oh Summer in the garden...

And now we have figs. So many figs! Our tree is drooping under the weight of their sweet soft goodness. I have been inviting passers-by to help themselves as I still have fig preserves in the larder from last year. Figs coming out of my ears I tell you!

Lastly, our new brood of backyard chickens have at last laid an egg! A teeny tiny egg sure, but no less exciting. I haven't sussed out which one is the layer of said egg yet. So looking forward to having fresh eggs again. Hooray!

So concludes this episode of "In The Garden." Are you growing anything?

In my next post you might actually get to see a spot of sewing, will wonders never cease?