Thursday, May 31, 2007

Once upon a time...

One of my favorite online fabric stores,, has some fabric with Japanese fairy tales on it. Now I know the European fairy tales I grew up on are rather violent and disturbing in their original form, but I don't think I'd buy fabric that depicts the wolf actually eating Little Red Riding Hood's grandma.

Yikes! This one is called Kachi-Kachi Yama.

I had to know what on earth was going on with a raccoon on fire and dead, so naturally I looked it up. The first hit was, conveniently, a Wikipedia entry that tells the story. Here's my synopsis.
A tanuki, which is (also according to Wikipedia) a raccoon dog (not a raccoon) is caught by a farmer who is going to make soup out of him, but the tanuki persuades the farmer's wife to let him go while the farmer is out. The tuniki then kills the farmers wife, makes soup out of her, assumes the shape of the farmer's wife, and feeds the soup to the husband when he comes home. Then the tanuki changes back so the farmer can see what's happened. The tanuki runs away while the farmer is still in shock. The farmer is friends with a rabbit who offers to avenge the death of the farmer's wife. The rabbit drops a bee's nest on the tanuki, "treats" the wounds with a peppery poultice, and sets him on fire. Finally he challenges the tanuki to a race across a lake but the tanuki makes his boat out of mud, which dissolves, and he drowns.

I just can't get over a fabric that shows a cartoon-like raccoon (ok, raccoon dog), on fire, drowning, and dead - complete with little x's for eyes.

There are a few other Japanese fairy tales depicted in fabric, but they don't quite show the level of violence as the one about the tanuki. It was interesting to read the stories. All cultures, it seems, have tales that are told to children to warn them of the consequences of bad behavior, poor choices, etc. They're told and retold in a variety of ways and although the creatures and locations are different depending on the culture, the themes are pretty much the same.

So what do you think, shall I make a nice little tote bag out of the fabric? It would be a conversation starter, that's for sure!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bien sûr!

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I make things but I'm not a Maker

We didn't go to the Maker Faire. My husband was more interested in working in the garden and to tell you the truth I wasn't sure I wanted to go either. I love to make things, both artsy and mechanical and I've been doing it all my life, so you'd think the Maker Faire would be right up my alley. But something about this event didn't sit comfortably with me. Maybe it's that they call it a Faire. Maybe because it attracts some of the same people who go to Burning Man. Maybe it's that I liken it to a Star Trek convention - I enjoyed the original TV series and I work with satellites but that doesn't mean I speak Klingon or want to dress up as a crew member. Maybe it's that making stuff is now trendy and has become a sort of cult, especially when the stuff you're making involves recycling and will save the earth from global warming.

I never thought of it as recycling when I saved the cardboard from dress shirts for some future craft use or when I rescued the fine veneer that was wrapped around some of my dad's cigars to use as floors in my dollhouse. I grew up seeing potential out of stuff that was still usable but would normally be discarded. My mother once made a doorway curtain out of the plastic lids from margarine tubs (she cut out the centers to leave rings, painted them orange {I think} and strung them in vertical rows - it hung in the basement and was quite 70's mod). One Christmas mom turned tuna cans into little dioramas with a bit of felt, gold trim, and some tiny plastic reindeer and Santas. My dad was a marvel with wood and metal and also built radio-control planes with Barbie as the pilot. My sister dressed tiny plastic mice in Victorian outfits and sold them. My brother put together plastic car and truck models, but he customized them as a NASCAR car/transport combo. My sister and I shared a room and were told we couldn't have wall to wall carpeting until we stopped leaving so many snips of paper on the floor. We were always making stuff in our family.

So about the Faire...maybe I'm being cynical and we would have had a good time. I was intrigued by the life-size Mousetrap, especially since I still have and enjoy this board game. I would have been interested to see the ingenious contraptions people come up with. I wasn't, however, interested in the fiber crafts too much - the craft events I saw online seemed to appeal to someone 20 years younger and for those not skilled or interested in operating a sewing machine.

I think in the end, we didn't go because we wanted to make our garden.

Now that the vegetable planters are in and the plants are growing, we turned out attention to the pathways and other planting groups in the yard. We bought more plants, set up drip lines to everything (it won't rain again here until October), and my husband set bricks to line the edge of the pathway. I hope to snap some pictures tonight and post them when I get some time. We enjoyed a few ripe blueberries and strawberries and noticed new blossoms on the squash plants. Since we're a few weeks from harvesting anything substantial, we made a trip to our local farmers market to buy some fruits and vegetables.

I squeezed in a little time to work on my sewing Friday night. I traced off one of the Butterick tops and made full size pieces of the ones designed to be laid out on the fold. I'm going to take Gorgeous Thing's advice and cut the pattern out on a single layer of fabric. Since I'm working with a plaid for one of the tops and stripe for the other, this is almost a necessity but I probably would have cut them out folded had I not read her post. With the plaid, I'm thinking about placing either the top portion or the bottom on the bias and leave the other portion straight. And I'm toying with making the sleeves puffy. I might also do something interesting with the stripe. These were supposed to be quick summer tops but I don't do anything quick.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Random things

  • I finished knitting one sock (Socks that Rock "Little Bunny Foo Foo" in the Monkey pattern from

  • I (temporarily) cast the Bonita top aside until I figure out the mistake I made that caused one shoulder to be much wider than the other. It's an error in counting, for sure, but I just hope it doesn't involve ripping both shoulders.

  • I washed and dried two 2-yard pieces of cotton fabric, one Madras plaid and the other striped. They're going to be made into some summer tops from this pattern:

    Butterick 4549
  • Progress in the garden. Everything is growing! We've been eating salad nightly and just planted some more lettuce seeds to keep our supply going. I'm anxious for the tomatoes, squash and peppers. I took pictures but I haven't downloaded them yet.

  • I went to a knitting machine class on Saturday and found that my Brother Electroknit 910 needs a sponge bar but is otherwise in pretty good shape and just needs a cleaning. Since the sponge bar was deader than dead (it's a foam-backed metal strip that compresses against the needles), I was advised not to operate the machine until I replace the bar. I got to try out the instructor's machine, which fortunately for me, was a later model Brother so is almost identical except for the electronics.

  • I took advantage of the pattern sales at Hancocks (Butterick) and Joanns (Vogue and McCalls) to buy more:

Vogue 2971 - I like the top but don't think I can pull off the skirt.

Vogue 8400 - I will not be doing this in striped fabric. It reminds me of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

Butterick 5047 - this is one of the new Connie Crawford patterns

  • I bought a little bit of fabric this week. Well, ok, not a little bit. Gorgeous Things tempted me with a sale so I finally gave in and bought some fabric I'd been looking at. She's making it very hard to stay on the fabricaholic wagon. And my old standby,, gets me all the time with their bargains. I bought a boat-load of fabric from them that I don't really need but I wanted it and couldn't resist. I couldn't say no to high quality (their words) Japanese shirt-weight cottons, wool suiting to try out some pants, rayon knit, cotton batiste in a paisley pattern, and some $1/yard novelty knits.
  • I'm thinking about going to the Maker Faire this weekend. It looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Weekend update

We spent a wonderful day in San Francisco last Saturday.

First we went to Fog City News, a newsstand that has received good reviews on-line as having international magazines (and chocolate) but is only open M-F during the day and the first Saturday of every month. I hoped to find some international sewing magazines like Patrones, Knipmode, or Diana Moden. But alas, they only carry Burda. We walked about 5 blocks west to Harold's International Newsstand but found that it's no longer called Harold's and although they carried some international magazines in their tiny store, none were sewing-related. I guess I'll just have to go to Europe!

Since we'd already paid for parking in downtown, we walked a bit more and then soaked up the sun and watched tourists for a while in Union Square. Of course Britex was just a block or so away and no trip to SF is complete without a stop into Britex. My husband actually encouraged me since we were already there and paid for parking. I took a quick browse and feel of the fabrics on my way to the 4th floor where the remnants hide. So many pretty ones. So many. I purchased a 2-yard remnant cut of a polyester (blend?) woven to sew up a light-weight top.

Back to the car, and with only 2 minutes to spare before paying for another 1/2 hour, we next headed over to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park for the primary reason we made the trip: the Vivienne Westwood exhibition. I hadn't heard of her before reading the previews of the exhibit on the de Young website but I made a note to see it before the exhibit leaves on June 10. When we visited the V&A in London in December, I saw and photographed one of Vivienne Westwood's dresses. That one is tame compared to the vast collection that's on tour. I must say that her work is quite interesting and definitely creative. She is considered to have started the punk rock look and is very free-thinking when it comes to clothing. I'm a very conservative dresser and I don't have the artistic eye of a designer, but looking at her work did inspire me to consider clothing in a different way. It's an exhibit worth seeing, but unfortunately SF is the only US stop and I think it may be the last.

After the museum we drove to Ocean Beach and just watched the waves and the people for a while. It was quite a windy day and I twisted my ankle a little earlier while walking in Golden Gate Park (I'm such a klutz, but thankfully the ankle is fine now), so we sat in the car. But it was still nice and relaxing.

We stopped in the Haight for dinner and ate at the Magnolia Pub. Great beer but only so-so food. The service wasn't great - the waitress forgot to put our food order in but in the end they did comp our beer without us even asking. However, when our food was finally served there was no notice of my empty beer glass and again no notice when asked how our food was. Not that I wanted another beer but good grief, they're a brew pub. Aren't they interested in selling beer?

I made pretty good progress knitting Bonita on the ride up to the city. I'm in the home stretch now, just decreasing for the arm and neck on the last side of the back (the front is finished). However, this morning I seem to have made a large error and will have to rip back to where I picked up to work this last side. Oh well. It's not an error that can't be fixed.

My husband has been working hard in the garden to supply drip watering to the veggies, which are doing well, despite the heat we've had. It's been in the 90's the last few days. What happened to spring? We have one little green tomato already, a few pea pods have formed, and the peppers are ready to flower. We've had one salad so far from the lettuce and will enjoy another one tonight. The peach trees are putting out far too much fruit and I've thinned quite a bit, filling at least 1/3 of a 5 gallon plastic pail just on Sunday. It is painful to pull off the fuzzy little peaches but if we don't, there would be a lot of undersized fruit and at worst, the branches would break and we'd have no fruit and a damaged tree.

Hancock Fabrics had another sale on Simplicity patterns this weekend so I made a pit stop while I was out running errands. I picked up these:


4589 (I know, it looks just like 3887, but it's not exactly the same and they were only $2)



3745 - I gave in to the lure of the "Duro Dress". Well, not quite, this one has a lapped front and I do like the other dresses also.