things i want to talk about

1.) My hair looked great when I got up this morning. Not different than usual, but it was looking good. I get my hair cut every four weeks. When you keep it short, you have to keep it short, so that means frequent visits to your hairdresser/stylist. It’s my one vanity thing. I don’t get manicures or massages or eyebrow waxes. The guy that cuts my hair doesn’t even wash it anymore. I just plunk down in the chair, he cleans it up, and off I go! About two haircuts ago, I decided I wanted to try something different. Let’s grown it out on the sides instead of cutting my ears out. We tried that for about two months, but it never really settled in. I called it the “Jim Trafficant” (if you don’t know who that is, go look him up). The hair on the sides when straight down, while the hair on top got tall and poofy. It did not work. When I got it cut in January, we went back to my old standby: shorty all around, long on top. It works, so I think we’ll just stick with that for now.

2.) This is the year I keep up with my bookkeeping. I probably say that EVERY YEAR, but this time I mean it. Even though the data entry isn’t that time consuming — especially after I figured out that doing a single receipt per day with the item totals rather than an individual receipt for each transaction — putting it off buries me with unnecessary stress. I can’t remember why I sold a thing in February 2015 when I’m inputting receipts in January 2016. If I keep up with it, things will be fresh in my mind and maybe everything will make more sense. Today is the day I start on my new journey. The first of the month will be DATA ENTRY DAY.

3.) Sewing things! Last year around this time I decided that I would claim sewing as my hobby. Spinning, dyeing, and knitting has gone the way of job, so I needed something that was just for me. I spent the year collecting patterns and modern fabrics, making something now a then, primarily dresses. Around Christmas I picked up a few new sewing pattern books by Japanese designers. I love how simple the clothes are – no zippers, no knits. Just straight forward linen with a button here and there. I’ve made a few dresses so far, mostly “shapeless bag dresses”, as I call them. On Friday I made my first piece that was NOT a shapeless bag dress. It was a boatneck top. The entire time I was working on it, I was convinced it would be too small. I had the pieces on the dressform and it just didn’t seem like it would work. But, as I tend to do with most things, I didn’t let that stop me. When it was all done I put it on. It went on! And it fit! Really well! A surprising success.

4.) Saturday I went shopping with my husband to look at food processors. When we got married six years ago, I got one then at the suggestion of my mother. It wasn’t anything too fancy since I had no idea that I even “needed” it. But now that I’ve been using it regularly, I could say more confidently what I did want. In preparation, I had watched some videos on YouTube and read reviews. In my mind I had settled on a Cuisinart, but when I saw it in person and struggled fruitlessly to remove the bowl from the base and the lid from the bowl, we both decided to consider another option.

cashew butterThat’s when we ran into the Breville Sous Chef. Sleek! Easy to use! A lot more money than the Cuisinart! But I could see this thing sitting on my kitchen counter getting used a lot. So we went over to Bed Bath & Beyond (20% off coupon) to see if they had it. Yes, but just one! “You better keep your hand on that,” husband says. I didn’t think there was going to be any kind of battle over it and they probably had another in the back, but I kept my hand on it just in case. We decided pretty quickly to get it. In addition to the coupon, I also had one of those Visa gift cards floating around in my purse from two Christmases ago, so we used that too. Gift card + coupon = paying half the sticker price. Weee!

Unfortunately I couldn’t use it right away when we got home. Dinner from the night before was still lingering in the kitchen, so after cleaning up, I tested out the new appliance with a batch of hummus. Whoa! It was nice. And all the things I didn’t like about my old processor had suddenly disappeared. Sigh of relief. I also made cashew butter and cracker dough and sliced cheese and sausage. It was very satisfying. The slicing blade has 24 different thickness options!!!! WHAT?! My old processor had ONE. I want to go use it right now.

personal time

I need a hobby. I used to have one when I started this blog in 2007, but it has since become a job. My other hobby, the SCA, requires so much work and causes so much stress that it should be a job. I feel like I have nothing that is just for me any longer. What do I spend my free time doing? Who am I kidding? I have no free time. I don’t want to knit even for myself because I am knitting all the time. So yes, for those of you who are curious, turning it into a business sucks all the fun out of it.

I find myself turning towards sewing. All my SCA clothing is made by me, so why can’t I make normal clothes for every day? I love fabric, but one only needs so many dresses for a “hobby”, so I thought that making modern clothes would be a good direction in which to expand.

I started a feeble Pinterest board to keep track of various patterns and tutorials, but so far I have only attempted a Simplicity that failed miserably. If anyone can mess up an “easy” Simplicity pattern (it was actually designated as “easy”), it would be me. And of course that episode has discouraged me from trying anything else. One of my main problems is my body. It’s short and lumpy and none of the patterns are designed for short people. Yes, of course I know you can adjust and shorten them, but guess what?! That sucks.

For my birthday, which was yesterday, I received The Magic Pattern Book by Amy Barickman. It looks cool, not too complicated. Maybe I will try again with a pattern that isn’t so stressful. But it probably won’t work. And then I’ll end up with a pile of shredded fabric. You can reknit yarn, but fabric isn’t so forgiving!



Back to that fabric…

olive "helping"
Olive decided to help keep the fabric on the table.

Apparently I have made an unconscious decision that I don’t have any need for new garb. It’s been about three years since I added any new dresses to my wardrobe. I think I’m afraid to cut into my fabric. I have so many beautiful pieces that I don’t want to ruin. Either I’ll destroy it by turning it into something hideous or something that doesn’t fit.

chatty face
The last time I sewed for me, July 2009.

But I have been busy making new tunics for my husband, the Honorable Lord Rickard de Als. His style and size has changed a bit recently, so I wanted to get him some nice new outfits before Pennsic. We decided on the longer length tunics of the 12th/13th century. So far I managed to get an undertunic and an overtunic completed. They are basically the same thing except that the undertunic has tight sleeves and the overtunic has fuller sleeves. Also the necklines are different, but that may have been my own creative license.

finished tunics
Green overtunic and orange undertunic.

The overtunic is finished, but I haven’t finished the hem of the undertunic. I did all of the edges by hand. I’ve started doing more handsewing lately since I learned the rolled hem technique. Good photos here. I still sew all the long inside seams on the machine, but I do the neckline, cuffs, and hem by hand. It’s so thrilling! And it doesn’t take too long once you get the hang of it. Plus it has a more authentic look. Perhaps someday I’ll actually do an entire garment by hand. Someday.

handsewn neckholes
Rolled hem at the neck.

I can’t talk right now, I’m sewing.

All year I’ve been saying to myself: Gwen, you have lots of fabric. Why don’t you make something? Now’s the time!

Instead of doing it in January, however, I’ve decided to wait until one week before Pennsic. I’ve gotten two dresses put together though, so I consider that not too shabby.

Both dresses/tunics are blue and of the same style, which is a mid-calf length overdress. I would wear a full-length dress underneath in addition to a chemise. In the photos I am not wearing a chemise. These dresses are super easy to make. I have one piece for the body; one piece each for the sleeves (nearly square); I take two rectangles cut in half diagonally for the gores; and another rectangle to do the facing around the neck hole. Usually I make the body wide enough that I don’t bother with gussets because I’m not good at putting them in.

chatty face


Excited for Pennsic!

countdown to time travel

With Pennsic quickly approaching – 36 days/2 hours/45 minutes/8 seconds – my priorities are shifting, which is why I shared that tunic a few days ago. I’m thinking not so much about knitting and craft sales as I am about fixing wayward garb and filling my wardrobe with hot weather friendly garments. Lately I’ve been heading in a slightly new direction or at least a more tailored look. I saw an illustration in a program of a woman standing at a cooking fire. She was wearing clothes very similar to what I like to wear, except she looked better.

Usually I wear large baggy dresses because it’s easier than making things fitted. However, it isn’t very flattering to my figure. Also, the fabric shifts around a lot and I’m always fidgeting with it. The veil I’ve been wearing is a rectangle – actually called a headrail. It constantly falls off the back of my head and the tails are always falling over my shoulders into whatever I’m working on.

Using the illustration as a guide, I made a new dress that laces in the back to make it more fitted. I also made a new two-part veil, one part being a tube that gets tucked under my chin and one part being a circle that pins to the top of my head. It might actually stay on this time! I’m quite excited to try it out in a few weeks. I’m hoping to get at least one more fitted gown finished before Pennsic, but I also need to sew a few more sleeveless dresses and overdresses so I won’t die of the heat.

Lady Genevieve
Lady Genevieve at Squire’s Castle, March 2007.

a new fiber art

Sewing counts as a fiber art, right?

This weekend I attended Northern Oaken War Maneuvers and had a great time. Several friends camped with us, which made it even better. I shopped around, took a class, relaxed, got very sticky and stinky. Saturday night we had a terrific potluck feast in camp: chicken and lamb kabobs, couscous, cheese, fruit, veggies, bread, and cookies. We sat under the trees and enjoyed the sounds of a hammer dulcimer played by a fellow camper.

In my free time I hand-stitched some trim onto one of Rich’s tunics. I’d made the tunic last year some time (using a sewing machine), and after washing, the yellow fabric around the neckline began fraying. How embarrassing! I could not let him wear it until I had fixed the mistakes. So, at War Practice I bought some trim to cover up the edges of the yellow. I’d never sewed trim in a circle like that, so it was exciting. I’m very pleased with the way it turned out. Now I want trim on all my dresses!

new trim on neckline
Rickard’s tunic. Keyhole neck with new trim.

And one more thing… last weekend Thomas crawled into the window of car. He does that sometimes. I spotted him hunkered down on the floor, asleep under the peddles. He didn’t seem to mind a photo-shoot, although he woke up eventually. Someday I’m going to drive away without knowing he’s there!

thomas in my car