Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Find your lost items!

So. Everything has turned out well. I had 5 students for my purse class and they all seemed happy with what they learned and made. The space was really fabulous. This was at the Ozark Fiber Fling. 

I was sick the week of the Guild sale, and so was only able to limp there on the Sunday to spin a little, but I made 3 times what I made last year. I sold some of everything, which was my lesson from the previous sale - to make several different things, with a variety of prices. 

I seem to be puttering along through November, dreading any day that I have to leave the house. I’m still a bit icky feeling, and so even in the house, I am not doing much.

I painted the frames of my kitchen cabinets; not the doors or  drawers. It liked to have killed me, I am still so weak. I have paint for the downstairs bathroom, too, but I don’t feel up to the task yet.

I bought a Kindle the other week, and I am liking it more than I ever thought I would. (I remember back when such a thing was only a bafflement. How to make such a thing? No one knew.) I have only downloaded free books - good old classic things like Jane Austen and Wodehouse - because I am a frugal midwesterner. I did subscribe to Scientific American, which we once got in print, but the price became too much. $3 a month on Kindle. 

The dogs and cats and rabbit are all well. The outside rabbits continue to flourish and spread. That makes Sweetie and me happier than it ought. We always remark to each other which ones we see and where.

Sweetie is with his mother and sister for Thanksgiving, and he has the Creeping Crud, too. I will have a pleasant Thursday, with no turkey to cook or pies to bake or relatives to make me unhappy. Holidays are always so fraught for me, and so I try to not notice them anymore.

I am more sad lately, a little more down. I know for a fact that it is the short days and long nights. (Also, because I have been ill, but mostly it’s the lack of daylight.) I hate that it is darkening at 4:30, but in another month the sun will start strengthening again and before you know it, crocuses will be blooming.

There are things I want to try, ideas that I want to explore, but I am just gonna rest awhile. Right now? I am making hats on the Knifty Knitter, that round loom. It requires absolutely no thought on my part and they will be donated to Project No Cold Ears. 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

For $40, a doctor will contact you in minutes.

I have my camouflage on, in order to blend in and appear normal. Going to a ‘breakfast’ at a local bank. Not my bank, but the one the Arts Council uses. Then, at noon, it’s the Chamber of Commerce regular meeting. I have been asked to stand for their board. I figured they needed a warm body, which I am, but I have no intention of getting elected. But if I do, I will continue to wonder what the hell I have gotten myself in to. Anyway. Sitting here in my polyester clothes and lipstick.

I am like a number of ‘retired’ women around here; involved in various groups and causes so that one is busy all the time. Not that I ever say I am retired; I just quit working back in 1994, and I have no intention of ever working a so-called real job ever again.

I keep busy. I have been feeling rather well lately, and I post a mental gold star by my name for every day that I do well and am creative. This Saturday, I travel to lovely Steelville, MO to teach at the Ozark Fiber Fling. Tomorrow, I will wet felt a purse, so that I will be able to show others how it’s done. It’s been a while since I made one of them. It’ll be fine. Of all the things I have anxieties about, teaching is not one. Even public speaking holds no terrors.  Just don’t ask me to make a phone call.

The Guild sale is November 13-15. I have just over 100 items entered, and I think I have realistic ideas about what will sell. Last year, I was a nervous wreck and then when my sales barely covered the gas to travel there and back four times, I went into a funk that lasted several weeks until I discovered wet felting. I haven’t woven anything all year, and only have knit a few things. Felting is a many splendored thing and I find myself following one path after another after another and there are dozens of ideas still to explore. 

I like the near-immediate results I get with loose fiber, when I can cut out the middle-men of spinning and knitting.

Added this evening. Why the hell did I go to the bank for a breakfast meeting? It was a sales pitch by Liberty Mutual. I am glad I took my knitting as I got 2 inches of ribbing done for a hat. Anti-Obama jokes were told. I am not sure why I am surprised, but it pissed me off. On my way out, I told the suit that he should not assume that everyone in the audience was a Republican. Also, he spelled ‘flexable” incorrectly. I left my literature and so-called goodie bag on the table. Ugh. Lesson learned. 

And because it had started raining, I skipped the Chamber meeting. Also, the sausage from the breakfast was not sitting well. 

It was not a good day. Fucking people. I did not get a gold star by my name. But I am feeling better now. 

And just now, just this second, a call from someone from Foundation of American Vets (said the caller ID) called me and I answered quickly so it wouldn’t disturb Sweetie, who had already gone to bed. 

He cheerily called me by my first name, and then proceeded with his sales pitch. God damn it. I yelled at him, saying, It is 8 o’clock in the evening! Why are you calling me? He replied, Oh, sorry, I’ll call back at a later date and I told him he better not call me again, ever.


Rat bastard. 
More pins. The leaves are machine stitched. 

Felt mitts. I was going to knit a pair, which would take me more than a week
because I am not a fast knitter, or I could felt a pair. It took less than two hours.
They are perfect.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Koo Koo Kachew

It's not that what I do is any good, the wonder is that I do anything at all. I totally spaced and forgot the felters' meeting in St. Charles yesterday. Completely off my radar. I think I might have been too tired - I don't know.

We stayed in and watched Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for the first time. John Cusack is a cutie, but the drag queen stole the show. We also watched Season 1: Episode 1 of the Sopranos. As you can tell, we are down with all that hep jive of popular culture. I've also been watching The Wire, Season 1.

I've been making things. I finished the purse from last post - handles and a zipper, even. Then I somehow got involved in all these little beaded pins. Sitting at the kitchen table, watching Popular Culture on amazon Prime.

The little ones are about 2 - 2.5 inches. Click to embiggen.

They make me inordinately happy.  Each one is its own little story, its own little scene. I think they are good. I think they are worthy. 

I've been feeling okay these last few days, in spite of the fact that the sun is going down around 6 p.m. No frost yet, but nights get chilly and I need a jacket when I walk to dogs. 

Tomorrow is the Guild meeting in Columbia, and I must go in order to get my items juried for the Holiday Exhibition and Sale starting November 13. I am supposed to teach at the Art House in Fulton this Saturday - I need to check to see if I have any students signed up. Is it bad that I almost hope I don't? I really just want to stay in the house and not go anywhere.

Monday, October 12, 2015


I am tired. So much energy has been drained from me that I spent today recovering. (I dreamed about opera and opera costumes last night. Now I know I really am stressed.)

Lots of things going on, but mainly I did a show in Fulton, MO Saturday. It was their second year and it was well done and well attended. I made one sale. So it goes. Fulton is famous as the place Churchill gave his Iron Curtain speech; there is a Churchill Museum there. 

There were two different women visiting from California who were effusive in praise for my purses, so that was nice. Oh, everyone was nice; this is Missouri after all. It’s just that nobody wanted to open their wallet for my goods. I did get a small bump of merino spun though, (I took my wheel,) and plyed into yarn. Lovely blue and purple. 

As president of the Arts Council, I have had to put out yet another fire - the third in two months. I hate being responsible for other people’s actions. Or inaction, whatever the case may be. Plus, I am not getting paid for doing this and sometimes I just want to chuck it and say fuck it. People make me weary. On a side note, I have been asked to stand for the board of our Chamber of Commerce; the Arts Council is a member of the Chamber. That’s one way to know what’s going on in this town, because the good bits don’t make it into the newspaper.

And then there are the sewing machines. Sweetie and I spent several hours yesterday replacing a gear. One gear, people! (The gear I ordered was from a guy in American Samoa, of all places.) Anyway, Sweetie has the strength and mechanical know-how, all the little tricks and tips, whereas I have the skills to set the hook and feed dog timing, and make sure it’s making a nice seam. 

So we spent several hours on it, with a break to go to Harbor Freight in Columbia to buy me some more tools. And him some more tools. Finally got the damned thing put back to together last night, mostly, but when I plugged her in I got nothing. No power to the light. Then I stepped on the pedal and the light came on. Okay. We’ll save taking the motor wiring apart again for another day. And somewhere in there, the needle position lever got messed up. And then I couldn’t find all the screws to put the damn top and sides back on. I have packed it all away until next week. Sweetie told me that that is what working on cars is like, except sewing machines are smaller and simpler and cleaner. 

Thank goodness this one isn’t for a customer. “Here ya go, ma’am, that’ll be $500 for labor, $23 parts, and by the way, the top is duct taped in place and you can’t zig zag with it anymore. Other than that, she’s good as new!” 

So, I’m tired. Nothing has gone well for the last few days, it seems. But I did start a batch of kim chee this afternoon and that is a good thing! We eat a lot of kim chee, Sweetie and I. I credit my first effort at fermenting cabbage to the return of my sense of smell earlier this summer. I find the pungent aroma delightful. Sweetie adds kim chee to his breakfast burrito. I add it to most everything I eat save for sandwiches and cereal. Did you know that when a South Korean astronaut went to the space station, much money was spent to make an acceptable kim chee that would work up there for the 6 month stay? I think that must have been part of the deal - if I don’t kim chee, I’m not going, goddamn it. 

What else is good? Oh, I tried to dye wool with black beans. I read that I should get blue, but as you can see, it is gray. So it goes. 

And I made another purse. It needs a handle. I think the handle will be an improvement, because right now, it ain't much to look at.

I still fuck around with wire and silk and wool. And I located those silk scarves I bought last year and fucked around with them today. 

Monday, October 05, 2015

With 4 mg of memory!

I bought 4 sewing machines over the weekend, from 2 different places, and paid $114 for the lot. All of them were supposed to 'work' or 'run.' Ha. I learned a lot about what is wrong with them - trouble shooting is an important skill, after all - and Sweetie and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to repair them. All of them has something wrong; either a belt needs replacing, or the clutch is worn, or the thing doesn't want to zig or zag.

I futzed with the last one this evening, an old Singer 401 from the late '50s. (May I insert here that I have gotten very good at disassembly and re-assembly? Save for these new clam shell dealies that require a certain tenacity and dexterity. I was given a 'dead' one to autopsy, so maybe I will be able to figure it out. Sweetie wanted to use a screw driver to prize the pieces apart, but that is a nope nope nope. Do not do that! Just sayin'.)

So the old Singer actually worked quite nicely! Especially after a good cleaning with compressed air and oiling. The zig was a little wonky on the right side, but I was able to coax (threaten) the needle bar to behave. What a good feeling to finally have one good machine up and running. I even serviced my old Brother machine that I bought at Sears sometime in the late 80s. Does Sears even sell sewing machines anymore? That baby made me a lot of money back in the day, (jeez, that makes me sound like a pimp,) but has sat unused for a long time.

And that is the worst enemy of a sewing machine - not being used and left to sit in the closet or attic or garage. The lubricants can set up into 'varnish' and make the machine seize up. But one can place drops of lube (Tri-Flow, if you can find it,) on the seized bits and slowly work the wheel. It might take a while, and sometimes the heat from a hair dryer helps. Those are the words of the instructor. He has been servicing machines since he was a young feller. He is an old feller, now.

And so once, at Sewing Machine Camp...

Brother, can ya spare a belt?

If I can get this baby working, boy o boy! 

I plan to autopsy this piece of crap. Do not buy this machine.

I love the watermelon pink! A Brother Festival. 

Singer 401, up and running. Yippee!

One little tidbit that I learned from the inner tubes over the weekend is that the Brother machine was almost called the Sister machine, but some other devise had that name already. Brother is a Japanese company.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Faculty use only.

Larger vessel, about 10" high

So. I have been making sow's ears out of pigs butts. Or something like that. What I mean is, I have been finishing projects, or adding embellishment, or sticking random things together and calling it jewelry. Let me sew some beads on that and by Gawd, it's a brooch your kooky Auntie Griselda  would just love!

I've made 3, and finished 2, new little purses, and a larger vessel that still needs a little something, but I am happy with it so far. I felted some odd bits together and that few minutes work will be something neat. Soon. Making my little brooches can't be a forced thing; I need to try new things, gather together a variety of left overs, and the failed pieces, too.

I even built an armature, I guess you could call it, for the forest man half-mask. Those wire-working skills came in handy. The piece is now wall ready. It is very cool. As always, click to embiggen.

These are two small purses, no flaps, no pockets. Silk on wool.

The weather has finally cooled and for a few days, I have felt like a King Goat, or King of the Hill, or something. I have felt well, in other words, and my feet have been happy. Today, I can feel my atrial flutter and it has made me tired. My mood has been good, though - I seem to finally be out of that dark hole I was in for so long. And it makes me happy to make things.

I decided to do a show called Autumn on the Bricks in Fulton, MO. I think I have enough product but I don't expect much in sales. It's a modest show, in its 2nd year. My more arty items are going to the Southern Indiana Fiber Art show, and the Guild sale will get everything else.

I also have 5 sewing machines to work on. Egad! I know I can fix at least one of them.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Missouri's Best Kept Secret.

Because balls. And beads.

Beaded edge on felt coaster. A nice finish.

Wool, silk, and copper. Small, about 2" by 3"

Wool, silk, glass beads. About 2.5" square.

Terrible photo of a lovely bunny. Light gray at my back porch.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tough guy narcissism.

Felt hat, second version, with cockade. 

Small felt pin
Shawl pin. Really a neat idea. Third attempt nailed it.

I gave my natural dye talk and demonstration yesterday at the Art Center. I was able to
speak coherently for 45 minutes.

Passed out from life.

I found this great table last weekend! Finally a place to mount my vises. And keep my drum carder. And all my little felt bits. Also, cat.

So somewhere in transit, I lost the gray and red hat shown previously. So I made another, better one that looks just like it. But better.

I have been making felt rope things. These fellas are bookmarks. 

And these are future spikes for a cat cave. I once said I would never make a cat cave, but well, these are the perfect decoration. I'm not sure what the green bean-like things will be.

The spikes are lengths of roving with wool yarn wrapped around before felting. I like the technique.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

$8 a month

Flowers and Dragon Eyes from today's class of eight. (!)

And this? Is a hat, a toque if you will. It looks really cool in real life, on a real person. I will add some decoration
 but I don't know what just yet. It makes me happy.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Hold it with your thumb.

I had an anxiety attack last night, and didn't get to sleep until 2:00. I am writing this because it is remarkable, in the old sense of 'worth noting,'  because I have been feeling so well lately. It was the old bogie man of self-doubt, and the voices played on a continuous loop - I should have done this, why did I do that, why did I say that, I can't possibly do this and so on. Today, I feel fine and am preparing for class tomorrow at Hillcreek Yarns in Columbia, where I will teach my Felted Flower Class, with a bit of Dragon Eye thrown in. Everything is in order, and I am sure it will be super. Also, I am looking forward to getting paid. 

I am working on a few new things, one being this felted bracelet.
Clicking embiggens. It's an idea in progress.

Also, made two new berets. Haven't made a hat in a long time, so it was fun. I have been trying to work with the idea that, as in opera, More is More, so I am adding beads and layering different elements. 

I hope to teach this in Fulton before Christmas, at the Art House.
I have always personally favored simplicity, so it has been hard. I feel clumsy. Maybe that is where the anxiety is coming from.

Here is a purse from last week. I don't know. It's colorful and busy, but not my style. I do like how I did the handles, though. 

Whenever I make felt rope, I am reminded of the opera singer from The Fifth Element. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Blue Bird of Happiness

Class is over and I am home. I feel competent enough to clean and lube a machine, to set the hook timing, and change out a few parts here and there. I am not ready to totally disassemble and reassemble a machine. Out of four machines, I have made two whole again. Another is a puzzle, and another needs a part that I don't feel comfortable changing out just yet. So, I guess I should be happy with that - but I'm not. But I will get over it.

Thornton, from Canada, Ray White, Billy from South Carolina, Amanda from the Penland School of craft, David from Knoxville. Not shown is William from Illinois. 

Ray White, Instructor.

As I look at these pictures, and remember the progress the other students made, I do feel better about what I accomplished. I was right up there with them in most things, so maybe with some time and more and different machines under my belt, I will feel more competent. (I hate being and/or feeling incompetent. I want to be head of the class. I want to be the smartest, and it's a blow to my pride when I am not.) I was a solid B student and I got my certificate.

The red socks are knit. These are from yarn I dyed last fall. They have gone to a friend with size 10 feet.

I heard sad news from a friend over the weekend. He and his wife came home from their lake cottage to find their 24 year-old son dead from a heroin overdose. My friend had told me his son had talked suicide at times, but he was in therapy and on medication for depression, so he was hopeful that his son could get well. He also told me his frustration about that son, who couldn't seem to finish projects or stay out of trouble or keep a job. His other son was never a problem - good grades, good kid, good worker, good husband, good father. It makes me sad and I feel their pain. It's horrible. I know he wonders what he could have done to prevent this tragedy. My friend said he is sure it was an accidental overdose because he had bought new speakers for his car that morning and was making plans for the future and he had been doing better and all that. And I won't tell him otherwise, but I doubt it was an accident.

This comes 6 weeks after another friend lost her 18 year-old son in a truck crash. So much sadness.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Here I am in beautiful downtown Pilot Knob, Missouri, in my motel room. Sewing machine repair school begins tomorrow. I am excited.

Also, grateful to my guild, The Columbia Weavers' and Spinners' who have kicked in $1000 toward my tuition and expenses. If I eat frugally, (there is a fridge and a micronuke in the room, I may not be out much, out of pocket. I have promised to give a program about the history and mechanics of the sewing machine, and to also hold several free or low-cost clinics for guild members.

I have a borrowed MacBook. I have wifi. I am set.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Now with More Flavor!

I keep making things. But Blogger has decided I can't upload photos.

And now Blogger cooperates.

Layers of adornment.
Another purse thing, this time with no flap and different handles.

And felt lariats. I have made more and better since I took this shot this morning. 

I messed around with wire working, but I think the flowers are better.

I have another purse drying downstairs in the basement. I am worried that the basement is too cold for felting, as I am having all sorts of little problems working down there. I can just as easily, and maybe betterly, make things at the kitchen table, but I have gone to some trouble to make that space livable. Anyway, the new lariats look much nicer than these two.

News is that I have been contracted to teach 3 different felting classes at the Art House in Fulton, beginning in October. They requested a bio and a headshot, (almost wrote head shop,) so I asked an actual photographer to shoot me. 
I liked this shot the best.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Magnet Proof

Socks don't really take much time to knit. I just haven't sat and knit often enough, apparently. Just kitchenered the toes and wove in the ends, after maybe 6 months since the first cast on. Now, I feel the need to have another project. It's rather like finishing a book that one has slogged through, and once the final page is turned, one cast ones eye toward the bookcase.

Speaking of which, I am reading about the Battle of Hastings. It's about more than just the battle, thank goodness. It's difficult to imagine just how hard life was for the average person back then. Not that being rich was much better - maybe just a better class of misery.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ten Years After

So, yeah, as if I don't already do too much useless stuff, I go to a basket class every month here in town. I started a slightly-scaled-down version of a quilters' basket, although it looks more like some sort of explosion in a wood working factory

It's nice to have a class with little thinking required. Ok, do this for nine rounds and so on. Pat Moore is wonderful and patient teacher who charges by the basket, not the class.

Nobody registered for my Baggie Dyeing Class. I had forgotten that it was Old Threshers', a three-day extravaganza that is more popular than the county fair. I had been secretly hoping that I could cancel - I didn't feel particularly well. Just tired, mostly. I worry that I won't feel well during my sewing machine tech training, but I will do my best to soldier on. It's too good of an opportunity to miss.

My friend Pat, (just Pat,) who has worked with Windows her entire career tried to turn towards the light by buying a Mac book, second hand, but she has thrown her hands up in defeat. Nancy, would you and Sweetie like to buy it? Even though we can't afford it, we said not yes, but Hell Yes. I'll be able to take it with me to class, but first I will have to get a mouse. I cannot bear using that touch pad thing - it drives me ca-razy.
Another purse. Gray gradient, with a lavender lining. I like the
gold and purple flower. It's the first one I made downstairs in my new basement studio, so it meant standing. (I made the table high enough that I don't have to bend over, using pvc pipe lengths on the legs.) I am used to sitting at the kitchen table. So anyway, I screwed up somehow and this purse has ridges at the sides. I made it a Design Feature and using dark gray wool, I stitched a line to accentuate  the mistake. 

And because I don't already do enough useless shit, I have been fiddling around with wire work jewelry. The Tree of Life looks as though it has been struck by lightning - more of a Tree of Death. But parts of it aren't bad. Click to embiggin.

The little things made with flattened marbles make me happy. Left to right - side view pendant, back view earring, front view pendant, front view earring (on another piece of glass for stability,) and front view pendant-to-be. Those are cats from a Booth cartoon from the New Yorker.  For scale, that one is about 1.25 inches.

The weather has turned lovely. It was 62ยบ when I walked the dogs this morning. I needed a light jacket.