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This space belongs to Megan Eliza (Red Cedar), long-time Vancouverite kicking it in the neighbourhood of Hastings-Sunrise. I communicate for a living, play music for pleasure, and fill the rest of my waking minutes with love, home, craft, art, outdoor adventures, photography, writing, grad school, gardening, cooking and even sometimes politics.


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Post 2035: A new skirt for the wardrobe

Following on my post about fall sewing and unfinished objects – I took a sick day on Tuesday because I was wiped out from insomnia, family, and a sore throat – which gave me time to Invisible-hem this skirt that I found at the bottom of my UFO basket last week. I don’t know why I abandoned it in the first place because the fabric is a decent weight for a skirt, the elastic band isn’t turned, and it fits me well (though I have lost weight, so perhaps it was too tight when I made it?) I think I started this more than two years ago, so I’m glad to have it on the hanger in my closet as opposed to wadded up in a ball somewhere.

I wore it to work yesterday and there was no wardrobe malfunction:

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Neatly Organized Spices

Post #2033: A feature every house should have

Months after starting this project, Brian and I finally got this done over the weekend. Behold the life-changing spice cupboard!

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You can’t see the whole thing, but along the bottom are also some vinegar bottles.

What started as a poorly placed ironing board in the kitchen (by the back door, it was a cramped place to iron out anything larger than a small shirt) has now become one of the most useful organizing spots I’ve ever had in a living space. Not only are the spices visible and easy to grab, but the use of small canning jars means that I can always stick a tea/tablespoon in rather than trying to pour it out of a bag or small jar.

No more drawers stuffed full, no more unlabelled jars – this spice rack has got it all. And here’s the before and after just for comparison:

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Post #2032: Autumn sewing and fabric destashing.

(Drawing above is of the layout of my sewing room to be as discussed in the last post)

I’m pretty sure that with the redo of the sewing room, this fall will not see much in the way of actual sewing – and yet I find myself planning out an autumn wardrobe anyway. This is something I find myself doing every year – a habit leftover from back-to-school shopping – though I rarely make more than one or two of my planned items. My goal in making a list this year, however, is to help me in the quest to whittle down my fabric stash to something manageable going forward. I am ashamed to admit it, but this is what my fabric stash currently looks like:

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Plus I have another shelf full of items that intend to use sooner rather than later, plus I have a few pieces of fabric sitting on top of my printer for “imminent” projects, plus of course I also have three jackets, two skirts and a couple other items in various stages of construction. I know that I am not the only sewist with much fabric and many unfinished objects, but I would like to use my upcoming room-reno to put an end to this habit of collecting fabrics “just in case” and then cramming them into a tiny closet never to be seen again. One part of my redo will involve putting proper storage shelves into this closet, but another part will focus on halving my fabric collection so that it all fits tidily into this closet. To do this means letting go of all sorts of odds and sods collected from thrift stores and “our social fabric” sales and keeping only the materials for which I have *enough* to make something out of. I will also get rid of all “mystery” fabrics and stick with the jerseys, cotton wovens, silks, wool, and higher-quality materials that I have purchased (rather than found) over the years. And while I will allow myself lots of quilting cotton, it will get organized and sorted into sections that are likely to get used (versus those that aren’t).

And so my autumn wardrobe list is useful because for each thing I write down I think about what fabric I currently have and could use. As much as I have collected all sorts of fanciful material – the truth is, at the moment I am a very practical sewist. This is true for crochet and knitting also. I don’t have as much time as I would like for making, and so I limit myself to things that I will actually wear (darker colours, plainer designs, simple cuts). Collecting fabric for some other kind of garment sewing really doesn’t make much sense! Limiting the amount of fabric that I have at my ready also means that when I am inspired to make something new, I can allow myself the luxury of picking the right fabric for that project rather than trying shoehorn a textile into a pattern unsuited for it.

It also means putting an end to the lie that I am somehow spontaneously creating non-stop. I’m lucky if I can create ten garments in a year – which at most would mean having fifteen different garment-ready fabrics on hand at any given time to choose from – rather than the bizarre collection that is currently growing every time I attend another sale or take apart an old piece of clothing so as not to waste the material.

My autumn sewing list includes a couple of dresses for meditation retreats (a Moneta and a Cappuccino), a couple of knit-fabric tops, a couple of skirts (perhaps one of my ufos will count), a kimono-style top, a cape (for which I have a beautiful vintage wool), and a new tote bag. I will be lucky if I make two of these items – but choosing out fabric from my collection for each of these will be a starting place for what I will keep (I can envision the fabric for each). From there I will stick with the basics, throwing in some of the fancier dress and skirt fabrics because they cost some serious money, and paring out anything that I don’t love. The quilting fabrics will be more difficult, but I’m willing to live with some uncertainty as I go through and divide the scraps into colour piles for later use or discarding. I am thinking of attaching small baskets to the back of the closet door into which the fat quarters and bits can go in their colour families. It feels naive to think they will all fit.

Fortunately, my yarn collection isn’t nearly so advanced – and for that I am grateful! My intention for yarn is to fit into under-bed storage which is entirely possible given that I only own two smallish-boxes worth (one is wools, the other is cottons). And speaking of that, I’ve got a lot of dishcloth knitting to catch up on! Apparently I went crazy a few years ago and bought a lot of supplies for dish cloths which have been languishing as I moved onto other things.

I’m taking a big breath as I contemplate this – but I’m committed! Both to the de-stash and some autumn sewing – even if I have to decamp my sewing machine from the clutter in order to do so.

 

 

 

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Post #2031: Sewing, yarning, cleaning, planning

Last night I cleaned up my sewing room a little bit – mostly because it had gotten too messy to do anything in, but also because Brian’s family are coming to town and I like to tidy up before people descend. It’s not even like I’ve been sewing lately (too hot, though now it’s cooling off I’m excited to get back to it) – but just using my ironing board and sewing table as places to dump stuff that I don’t feel like putting away. Bad habit!

As always, when I start tidying, I notice how many unfinished objects (UFOs) I have kicking around. Sometimes I just stuff them all back away for some future gleaning, but last night I actually assessed a few as “too old” or “I hate that fabric feel” and pitched them in the garbage rather than pretending I was ever going to get around to them. Other items, I noted, only need a hemming or a blocking to finish – and so I’ve set those into a pile to see what I can do with them in the next six weeks or so. Then there are larger projects that will take more time and energy to finish – and once I do the “easy” finishes I’ll start working through those too.

But mostly what I thought about was the fact that I’m going to be pulling everything out of that room (and the closet) in September so that I can paint it, and after that I’ll be putting in new furniture and reorganizing the rest. My step-daughter going into university residence means we’ve got a new room in the house which for now will be used as our TV and guest room (including place for her to stay when she isn’t at school) – and that means that at least for now I get a dedicated sewing/yarning/making space. Since it’s a pretty small room – my goal is to maximize storage while not crowding it up – so I’ve got plans to change up the closet storage and include some under-desk and under-bed storage options as well (I’ll be converting the single bed from my SD’s room into a daybed in the sewing area for now). I’m also hoping to improve the lighting and find space for a design-wall or at the very least a corkboard for pinning ideas and cloth scraps to.

In any case, I’m pretty excited about having this dedicated space – it’s a real privilege to have enough extra space to do things like this. I’ve got a list of possible Ikea furniture in white with black accents and am now thinking about neutral paint colours that I can live with. I’m thinking silver or dove grey mostly – something with warmth though, and not too much blue. And for an accent (pillows on the daybed mostly) – purples as the accent colour? I’m not exactly sure about that yet – but I do like the idea of painting the inside of the closet something crazy vibrant-fuschia and having cushions on the daybed that pick up on that. We’ll see.  Whatever I end up doing in there, it’s a bunch of work in the fall to get done. I’m looking forward to it though – a refresh of a room that has up until now been just utilitarian space without much character. I’ll post before pictures and swatches soon!

 

 

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Post #2030: Crash landing

Having done two (short) residential meditation retreats, I now feel qualified to say that I *always* have a rough re-entry to the world after three or four days of silent meditation. I mean, who wouldn’t right? After four days of forest, silence, lovely dharma talks, healthy food – you’re getting truly and juicily into the deep meditation state – only to get back into the car, drive on a highway, go back to work, deal with household aggravations, and so on. Yesterday I was not only late for work but I left my government ID at home, had a mini-spaz about some work stupid, screwed up a knitting project, and had a  stress attack at the hardware store. It wasn’t awesome. Today has turned out much better which means that I have truly arrived back in my life.

 

 

 

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Post #2029: Foolproof fruit

Stone fruit season came early to BC this year – cherries! nectarines! peaches! apricots (and soon, plums too ). Now, I know that we all dream of the canned fruit the way your grandmother or father used to make (it was my grandpa who did all the canning) – the perfectly sliced peaches and apricot halves floating in golden sugar-syrup, ready to be doled out after dinner as a dessert…. but I just don’t can that way (or use fruit as a snack). In fact, I try to do as little as possible when it comes to putting up for the winter – and that means no perfectly sliced or pitted peaches. When it comes to fruit that can easily be stirred into plain yogurt or oatmeal, and sometimes added to pancake batter – it really doesn’t matter what it looks like – it just has to taste like fruit (not sugar) and come in bite-sized chunks. What follows is my foolproof fruit recipe – I use this every year to put up enough for a jar per week in the winter. Yesterday I put up 40 of those jars which means I’ve got some more work to do in the near future (applesauce probably, perhaps some kind of plummy jam). You can adjust this to the actual amounts you might use:

2o pounds nectarines or peaches
2 cups of water
2 cups of honey (or more to taste)
spices (I use about 15 anise stars for the nectarines, 10 small cinnamon sticks for the peaches)

Wash and rough chop fruit, leaving peel on (discard the pits) . Throw it into a big (very big) pot with the honey, water and spice – bring to a boil on medium temperature, stirring every once and awhile. Ladle into jars and process (12 minutes for 1/2 pints, 20 minutes for pints). This recipe will make 12 1/2 pints plus 8-12 pints (depending on how much fruit comes off the pit) – so plan on two full canner batches.

And voila! Much fruit to put by without too much effort – it’s even better when your partner cuts the fruit for you beforehand (thanks Brian!)

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Post #2028: A simple woodshed and a shower in the woods

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Added bonus is that the person in the hammock gets a free show!

This week at the cabin has seen much work – a woodshed (mostly) finished this morning, a bunch of trail (and beach) building, a wash station set-up for our outhouse, and a small shower platform in the woods. The woodshed above represents the first time that Brian and I have successfully worked on a building project without arguing – *and* ended up with a finished project that is level, mostly square, and won’t fall apart in six months. I am fairly thrilled by this fact alone and we’re already talking about whether or not we could build a small bunkhouse (100 square feet or less) on our platform behind the cabin. Not this year of course, but maybe next? We’ll see.

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Post #2027: Arrival at a conclusion

We have now been at the cabin-in-progress for four days, with another three ahead of us before we return to Vancouver. This is the longest stretch we have spent on this property in one go.

Each day I have meditated, jogged, kayaked, walked, worked on the property, and gone swimming. This afternoon I spent the two hottest hours of the day at a swimming hole created by Brian and our friend Will – thus giving us a “private” beach covered in lovely native grasses, solomon’s seal, and wild mint (photo above). Also, I have seen water snakes, frogs, osprey flying overhead, deer, rabbits, and many signs of other animals since we have been here.

In the last year I have sometimes wondered if the cabin project is worth it, worth going back to work full time to pay for it, worth giving up other experiences for. After floating around on the lake with our friends this afternoon, another fabulous meal, another day of watching the sun go down over the hill – I can honestly say yes. Yes, it is worth it and all the work ahead will be worth it too. We have been incredibly lucky to find this place within reach of the city at a price we could afford. Each moment we spend here is a taste of more to come – and in particular I look forward to more time with friends in this place.

It is quiet at the moment, with friends gone to bed, or out fishing – and I am grateful for that also. A moment to myself in the evening hum of crickets, birds, and the odd passing car on the main road.

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Post #2026: More knittery

Enough about me – here’s a quick post about what I’ve been knitting in the middle of the heatwave – worsted weight hats! Cause, you know, nothing says summer like wool crafts.

Seriously though – I am enjoying this first experience of knitting in the round. Thanks again to Tin Can Knits for the Barley pattern. The first version of this (above) I missed the instruction that said to switch to double-points on the decreases and couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to finish :) I am currently working on a second version, and have to the appropriate DPNs for it, but have now dropped two stitches that need fixing before I continue.

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Before DPN and dropped stitches

Oh well, live and learn. The Yarn is Sweet Georgia, mostly from Party of Five (Rusted) which I ordered in the wrong weight for another project (the fingering weight version should arrive today via Canada Post) plus some leftover from my last scarf project – this worked out perfectly because now I’ll have a hat to go with the Reverb shawl I’ve got planned, as well as one to go with the Wheat Scarf which I’m thinking will become a Christmas gift.

We’re heading out to the cabin this afternoon and I’ve got four knitting/crochet projects in my bag. We’re only going up there for a week, but I’ve got supplies to make things for a month! I pretty much only want to swim, knit, and read for the next eight days.