Saturday, September 16, 2017

Walls

Our housemate moved out a week ago, and I'm still trying to get the house back together.  Any change, whether it takes place in our portion of the house or not, is still unsettling, and she and I had lived here for 17 years.  Before that, we were roommates in my 20s and early 30s, so even though the changes has been a while coming and is the right thing to have happened, it's still difficult to get used to.

We're empty nesters, more or less, and I didn't expect to feel like that.

But on to what I wanted to say, rather than what I haven't quite figured out how to talk about yet.  I had to undecorate the halls so the movers could get furniture out without damaging my stuff, and that's when you realize how much stuff you have.  I took 70 things off the walls, and then had to pull 70 accompanying nails -- because you don't want the movers to get caught on them, of course -- and now I'm patching the holes.

Because what I've decided to do is to not completely redecorate.  We're going to be moving ourselves in the next year or less, and partly I feel like there's no point in putting it back up to have to take it all down again, but the other, more pressing thing is, watching her move was a learning experience for me, and I want to have as much of my excess out of the house before the move as I can.  There's no way I want to move it all to a new house and then realize it doesn't fit.

So things are going to go back up on the wall slowly.  With deliberation.  I've gone through all the piles of artwork and odds and ends that were hung and I've chosen all my favorite pieces, the ones I know I'm going to keep.  I'll place those, and then I'll go through the remainder and find some pieces that work with the ones I've rehung.

The rest are going.  Really.  They have to.  There's no way in hell I'm going to have another house with a 3-story, high-ceilinged stair hall to decorate.

If I do, I need my head examined.  Someone please remind me of that fact if I show up here one day talking about my new BIG house.

Right now it's both oddly quiet and strangely noisy in the house.  Quiet, because there's no one upstairs, and noisy because without things on the walls to absorb some of the noise, every single sound echoes.

It's like the house is telling me it's time to move on.  I'm listening, really; these things just take time.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

zero waste

Over on my Facebook business page, I have a weekly Recycle Tuesday feature.  Since most of those are either photos or links to articles elsewhere, I don't generally share them here.  But every once in a while, something is so good that it needs to be spread around.

One of the reasons I got into upcycling was the epiphany one day that I was throwing out more fabric than I was using.  I'd always kept scraps, but never really did much with them until I started my business.  This designer closed his business and then got the scrap epiphany -- in a major way.  Here's a video showing his technique.  Watch this and try to stay away from your sewing machine.  Just try.  I dare you.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Moving on up

17 years.  Still never finished the paint job
I bought my house in West Philly in spring, 2000, so I've passed the 17 year mark.  During that time, my life changed a lot - and quite a few of those changes were brought about because of the house.

I bought a big house because I looked at my friends buying "starter" homes and thought, I never want to do this again.  I'm not buying a small house so that I can buy a big house later.  So I went big from the beginning, big enough that my oldest friend could rent an entire apartment on my third floor.

In 2005, I met Mario, through a neighbor.  I would have never met either of them if I hadn't bought the house.  He and I got together in 2007, and married in 2011.  Slowly but surely, he moved all his stuff into this house, and it got absorbed with no loss of space.  During this time, I also sewed a lot, bought even more fabric, started a business, bought more fabric for that, and just . . . bought more fabric.

There's also a really good thrift store down the street, and the phenomenon  known as "Penn Christmas," when all the students leave the neighborhood and abandon most of their worldly possessions on the curb.

So, in 17 years, I moved a one bedroom apartment into a 3 story house (with an attic), added 2 more people, a dozen or so cats, and filled the house to the bursting point.

Now our housemate is moving out at the end of the month, and we'll have an empty third floor apartment - which can't be rented to just anybody, because they would literally have to walk through our house.  Trust like that only extends to your oldest friends, who can not only be trusted with your stuff, but with your cats.

The porch raccoons were not my favorite guests
This coincides with the City raising property taxes in the last few years.  Taxes have gone from $1300 when I moved in (2000), to $6500.  With no increase in services, street repairs, or anything else that I can see.

So it's time to move.  To a smaller house.  A "starter" house.  With a bit more yard, far less space to cram stuff, and a slightly longer commute to work.  (Not thrilled about that part, since I've lived within walking distance of work since I was 19).  But the nearby burbs are where it's at for us, where we'll be able to find a smaller, less expensive house, with possibly lower taxes (but at least a higher level of service for said taxes).  More yard.  Did I mention I want more yard?

After our housemate departs, I'm going up to the attic and start ruthlessly sorting.  If it stays, it goes into her space, for now  Otherwise, it's getting donated down the street or put on the curb.

I'll start my own Penn Christmas, all by myself.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Blanket Bears

The receiving blanket bear / bunny / animal project is still moving along - at this point, it's my best-selling Etsy listing.

There's a lot going on right now, gearing up for show season, and I'll have a lot more to show soon.  For now, I'll just leave you with a selection of some blanket bears, old and new.  Most of them are the classic stripe, but every so often someone surprises me with a totally new blanket and it's a treat to work with.












  







Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Camp, week 2

The second camp session there were 4 campers.

This was a mistake.  With the space I have, and the attention they require, 3 most the most I can handle.  Possibly the most they can handle, as well.  There was more squabbling this time - for space, for machines, for attention.  Just for the fun of it?

But we still got a lot done.

The girl who started doll making last time finished a total of 15 dolls. She's going to sell them at the local farmer's market during Labor Day weekend, with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.  (It is West Philly, after all).  The second girl made a tote bag/birthday gift and helped with clothing for the dolls, and her little sister (the quilter), made accessories and a very large bag to carry them.

The fourth girl, who only did the second week, wanted to make a dress.  She showed up with 2 different fabrics, one for a dress for her little sister and one for herself.  Since we didn't have patterns to fit, we just took her tank top and drafted a pattern from that.

The pink gingham is for her sister (they're 3 years apart but nearly the same size because my student is a gymnast), and the zebra stripe was her own.  Because the zebra dress was more fitted, we added a zipper and did a front and back facing to make the neck and armholes neater.  The smaller dress was just pull-over and had hemmed neck and armholes, mostly so she would get frustrated and agree to learn about facings.  (It worked).

I think we all learned a lot.  They learned about sewing and the best ways to drive me crazy.  I learned a lot about patience and how loudly I can bellow without scaring the neighbors and yet still be able to freeze 4 girls in their tracks.

Not sure if I'll be doing this again next year - we've been talking about moving, and it might put us out of range, but it's still a possibility.

I learned enough to know that I'd do it again, just a bit differently next time.






Saturday, August 12, 2017

Camp Projects

Another camp session will start on Monday (I'm not ready, I'm not ready) and I wanted to share some projects from the first week.

Two of my campers are sisters, 9 and 11.  The 9 year old wanted to make a quilt.  She'd made a few small patchwork pieces in the after school class, but she wanted something big enough to sleep under.  I said sure, thinking, "She's 9, she'll realize how much work it is and find something else to do."

Nope, not this kid.  It may be a little wonky-shaped, and some of her fabric choices weren't the best -- but at 9, I would have mixed fabrics with abandon, too -- but it's a quilt, it's big enough to sleep under, and she did it in a week.  I'm really proud of her!

Some of the squares got decorated with patterns from my embroidery machine, which was in use as a reward for good work.  Others have pockets, or drawings, or drawstrings from a pair of PJ pants so she can practice braiding.

We yarn-tied it, because machine quilting may be a little much yet, and with 2 (soon to be 3) other campers, there really wasn't enough space to properly lay it out to stitch.  After being shown, she did most of the yarn work herself, except when the layers were really thick and she was having trouble pulling the needle.  Then I showed her how to pin the binding, and she stitched it herself.

Her older sister, who for a year has fought the idea of hand sewing, decided she wanted to make these hand-sewn felt dolls she'd found in a book.  Because she learns best by repetition, she's now made 8 of them, and she intends to sell them at the farmer's market in a few weeks.  The third student didn't have a specific project in mind, and decided to join in on the entrepreneurial project by making clothes for the dolls.

And because they're kids, in addition to the sewing and inevitable eating, there was some goofing around.  It's not sewing until someone falls into the box of stuffing and can't get out.