"Respect the earth, live in harmony with nature, spend time with your family, be good to your neighbor, and value the dedication, skill and care of the craftsman."

Seamwork DYW: Think Like a Designer

February 20th, 2018

Today — and that word is important — we are supposed to find 50 pieces of inspiration for our collection.

50. In one day.

Having collected these things, we must analyze them, but I am stuck on the 50 items.

I found some pictures of elegant ladies in age-appropriate outfits.

It's not 50, but it's what I can manage today.

Now we look for 5-10 elements these items have in common.

  • Jackets — Chanel, cardigan, classic blazer
  • Narrow pants or skirts — jeans, simple plain neutrals
  • Subdued colors, with occasional pretty accents
  • Feminine shoes
  • Accessories — necklaces, rectangular bags

We can also include fabrics and patterns, colors, and such. I plan to use my stash, both of patterns and fabrics. So here's some of what I have on hand.

Seamwork DYW 1: My Why and My Goal

February 19th, 2018

I'm doing the Seamworks Design Your Wardrobe series. I paid a ridiculous amount for a special binder. Note the typo. I won't buy from Zazzle again.

We start with a set of questions:

  • What's the biggest challenge you face with your wardrobe now? I have clothes in all sizes, mostly too big.
  • How would you feel day to day if you had a wardrobe that was just right for you? I think I'd feel more confident, polished, and professional. Maybe I'd be more comfortable with meetings and sales calls.
  • Why is clothing important to you? Honestly, I think I like the colors and fibers and shapes more than fashion, but I think it can be fun. It also determines, to a large degree, what people think of us. "Dress for success" is not a myth.
  • What motivates you to design and sew your own wardrobe? Using beautiful fibers and creative skill to make things, and then having the pleasure of wearing them.

We take these answers and distill them into a statement: "My main goal for designing my wardrobe this season is to enjoy transforming my collection of beautiful materials into a chic wardrobe that will let me present my best self."

As I move into the third act of my life. I will be 60 in a couple of weeks. Hard to believe. The first third is filled with angst. The second is all about striving and accomplishing things. The third is our true selves and the things that really matter to us.

And actually, I quite like food, shelter, and clothing. Along with God, my family, education, music, literature, and wellness, these are the things I enjoy thinking about. So I guess a well-planned wardrobe is an excellent way to celebrate my birthday.

Life is a Dream, by Pedro Calderon de La Barca

February 18th, 2018

Sunday School today, then church, annual congregational meeting with barbecue and salad, and then La Bella and I went to see a play:

Life is a Dream, by Pedro Calderon de La Barca. It's a long series of philosophical conundrums, or conundra. The author was a Spanish gentleman of the early 17th century.

The sets and costumes were awesome, combining teal with copper, dark brown, gold, russet, and rose. This may be my palette for the Seamworks DYW, which begins tomorrow.

The play was entrancing, weird, mysterious, and cool. It wasn't Shakespeare, but it was intriguing.

I got home and reheated last night's shepherd's pie. Served it up with fruit salad and almond pillow cookies.

I spent the evening sewing up Ketch. It's all put together now. The shawl collar and button bands come next. The is a custom fit sweater, but I have been fearing all along that it would be too small. Assuming that the button bands are as wide as they look, it won't be. The shoulders are just right, but I need a few more inches in front.

It looks as though I'll get them.

So far, I like this sweater a lot. I think I will make more of them. It's a basic pattern, so different yarns and stitches will change it up a lot.

Now, I'm hoping that the light, slippery silk will hold up well in the collar and not be so unstructured that it doesn't have the shawl effect.

Murder Ahoy

February 16th, 2018

We had staff meeting today, complete with The Baby. I wrote my required blog posts, deposited my paychecks, cooked and cleaned, and then settled down with Ketch and a cuppa to watch this evening's knitting movie (part of this month's KLL assignment).

This is a Margaret Rutherford portrayal of Miss Marple, in a story which was I think not written by Agatha Christie at all.

There was a bit of knitting. Rutherford is clearly an actual knitter. I think it's harder now than it used to be; actresses in those days would have knitted as a matter of course. In fact, I can quite believe that the knitting in this movie was just what Rutherford was carrying in her bag anyway.

"We've read your statement, Miss Marple," the detective says austerely at one point. "We don't believe it, but we've read it."

In other news, the Google Analytics social media account shared a blog post of mine. It brought a few hundred visitors to us, and my kids in staff meeting poo-poohed it, saying that the people who would follow Google Analytics would be our competition, not our clients.

But I think it shows our expertise and authority and I'm quite proud of it.

I also made a sale this week and we are well out on the blogging and nearly through with the annual strategies, so I feel that I deserve a quiet evening of old movies and knitting.

DNA: Great-grandparents F.D. and Diana

February 15th, 2018

In 1907 and 1908, F.D. worked as a general helper and typesetter for the Louisiana Press Journal. His sister worked at a shoe factory, under Joseph Robitall, whose daughter Diane married F.D. in 1908.

F.D. continued office work for a few more years, working for Stark Nurseries and Orchards and for the Burlington and Quincy Railroad, rising to general manager at the Duffy-Trowbridge Stove Co. In 1914 he took up real estate brokerage (he was listed as a real estate agent on the 1920 census) and in 1921 was admitted to the bar. He became City Attorney of Louisiana, MO. He also owned several large farms.

Diana was French Canadian. Her father came to Chicago as a shoemaker. I had shoemaker great- and great-great-grandparents on two continents. I don't know how surprising a coincidence that might be.

Diana's family is a bit of a mystery. A Canadian shoemaker with the same name as her father, born in 1860, shows up in a boardinghouse in Chicago in the 1880 census. In 1882, a man with the same name married a woman with the same first name as Diana's mother, in Chicago.

As for Diana, who is sometimes called Diane in census records, she married F.D. when she was quite young, and didn't have any education beyond 8th grade.

She died in California, long after F.D. died.

I don't know much about these people, actually. In pictures, Diana is a perky woman with fluffy blonde hair. F.D. is a rotund captain of industry kind of guy.


February 13th, 2018

I have congenital cataracts. Until now, they haven't been in my field of vision, so it has been no big deal. Today I went to the eye doctor and learned that the cataract(s) in my left eye is growing.

They recommend surgery.

I can wait, the doctor said, till I begin to notice some change in my vision. But I think maybe I'll begin to notice changes now that I've been informed.

#1 daughter says that I should do it now if my insurance will cover it. That makes sense. I might not have insurance next year.

Are there alternatives to surgery? Googling natural cataract treatment produces lots of claims that cataracts can be reversed in the usual way — that is, with plenty of vegetables. The means of preventing most illnesses is, I have learned while blogging for medical clients, exercise and vegetables. Cataracts seem to be in this group as well.

Give up smoking, alcohol, and processed foods, and Bob's your uncle. Except that sun damaged and excessive computer use also seem to be implicated. I don't know what I can do about the light issue, but I certainly can get back on track nutritionally.

The doctor said we can revisit the question of surgery next year, but perhaps a year of leafy greens and citrus fruits will change the outlook.

They Can’t Throw Kittens, Can They?

February 12th, 2018

I'm reading a book about human interactions with animals. The author is troubled by human inconsistency about animals. If we're okay with fishmongers tossing fish around in the Pike Place Fish Market, he wonders, then why would we be horrified if they were throwing kittens?

If we love kittens and scratch them under their chins, how could we be okay with wearing fur? If we're troubled by cockfighting, how can we eat chickens brought up in much less humane conditions?

I think he's leaving one thing out of his consideration, so far.

We're not just dividing the world into flora and fauna. Nor, I think, are we dividing fauna into human and non-human. Research shows that people can develop emotional bonds to machines, including cars and robots and phones. We can also manage to be relatively indifferent to whole groups of fellow humans.

I think many of us also have a whole scale of creatures, like the Great Chain of Being. Humans are most important, and some of us — especially those we share genes with — are more important than others.

Creatures that live in our homes are next up. We don't eat our pets or make them into coats. Creatures that don't live in our homes are less important. Among these creatures, there are useful ones and cute ones, which are more important. And perhaps those that are rare or expensive are also pretty important.

After a bit there are the ones we eat. For me, that's really just fish (frozen rectangles, so I don't care what kind), chicken, pigs, and cows. I don't eat any other animals. Ever.

My husband is far more open minded.

Below the ones we eat are the ones we scorn to eat. Rats, bats, bugs… it depends where you grew up.

But why would anyone think that a cat is roughly the same as a mink, let alone a fish? The closest thing to a kitten is either a puppy or a baby. We don't eat or wear those things, or even throw them around. Ever.

How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

February 11th, 2018

"I need something to calm my nerves. Where is my… you know?"
"I put your you know in the back right drawer."

Mr. Gatch pulls out… his knitting.

His secret knitting habit turns out to be a pivotal plot point when the ambitious young junior executive claims that knitting helps him think more clearly.

"I feel sorry for men who don't knit," he says with every appearance of sincerity.

This is another of the movies for February's KLL. This is an impressive bit of midcentury social commentary with choreography by Bob Fosse.

With ice covering the streets, I gave myself a weekend of knitting for Ketch's sleeves. I'm about to begin the sleeve caps.

I hope that I'll feel refreshed and focused tomorrow. I don't regret traveling last week, but I don't feel that I was as productive as I should have been.

Sopping up solitude and sloth all weekend might help me be productive during the week, or it may just be a habit. Even perhaps a bad habit.

Or not. I'm getting my sweater finished up, after all.

Seamwork Design Your Wardrobe: Prep

February 10th, 2018

I'm adding this journey to my year of journeys: Seamwork's Design Your Wardrobe. It begins on the 19th, but they accidentally gave me early access. It goes very fast, it seems to me.

Having glanced through it, I think there are a couple of things I need to do in order to succeed:

  • Organize my fabric stash and my sewing room, including getting the cutting surface cleared and organized.
  • Clear and organize my closet, removing all the shabby and too-big pieces, no matter how emotionally connected I may feel to them.

I've got a week to accomplish that.

Knitting Fast

February 9th, 2018

I don't generally care much about knitting fast. If you're not being paid, then the more hour of knitting pleasure you get from the investment you've made in your yarn, the better off you are, right?

But as part of the KLL experience this month, I'm making an effort. The KLL acknowledges that speed isn't usually what we want most when we knit, but they also say that keeping your hands still and your stitches near the tips of the needle, as competitive speed knitters do, makes your hands and arms less likely to tire and keeps your tension more even.

So I'm trying it out.

So far I'm not impressed. However, I have to admit that I came to it with a somewhat closed mind. In our team meeting today, #1 son was saying that it's become hard to talk to people about politics. He wants to know what people "on the other side" are thinking. He doesn't assume that he already knows everything about them, and he's tired of being pigeonholed by others. But he finds that people have made up their minds so thoroughly that nothing can change their minds.

I might be this way with new ideas about knitting. I've been knitting since I was a child. I am completely comfortable with it and can knit without looking. I can read, watch movies, or carry on conversations while I knit. Why would I want to change?

But I am trying. I'm not sure how still I ought to be keeping my hands, but I think I already keep my stitches near the tips of the needles, so there may not be much change to make. That may be why I don't seem to be going much faster.

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