Perfect Process

When I use my hands to create it is the act of creation that speaks to me. I love the process. Yes, the finished product is nice (usually) and I like using and wearing what I make, but it is the in and out of the needle, whether knitting needle or threaded needle, I enjoy most of all.

I work slowly, not by choice, necessarily, but it is the way I work in this moment. Once upon a time, I could whip through a sweater in a month, but those days are behind me -- partly because my hands and arms need a slower pace, and the occasional rest, and partly because I have found other shiny objects to draw my attention. 

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This past year I found one of the processes I have enjoyed most has been the sewing of Alabama Chanin projects. I buy kits from Alabama Chanin because I do not have the desire to own all the stuff needed to do my own stenciling, nor do I have the space. The fact I can buy a ready to stitch project is a big part of the draw. I need only thread a needle to be ready to go.

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The Market Bag was one of the most process heavy projects, of any sort, I have ever made. The point was to learn the different techniques used in the Alabama Chanin process and I certainly have learned that over the course of the two projects I've completed. I've also learned just how much I like it.

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The first thing I did was stitch the motifs on the two larger main pieces (the front/back) of the bag.  For one side I outlined the designs using a running stitch and on the other side I used a back stitch. The back stitch took 5 times longer, and more than twice the amount of thread, than the rest of the project. After outline, the inside of the motif was cut away to reveal the color below. Joy filled my heart, as the spots of color brought the whole project to life. However, there was much more to do once the main pieces were complete. The bag had two narrow side sections, a bottom, and two handles, plus all the pieces of the lining to sew into place. Don't forget, the cute little inside pocket with the AC label, which is the icing on the cake!

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To keep the bag stable I decided to only do the stitching of the bottom and side pieces and not cut them to reveal color. Three layers of fabric should give the bag the ability, as well as the stability, to carry heavier objects, like books or a computer. 

As with any long-term project I am going through a bit of a mourning period. I miss stitching my Market Bag. I started this project over Labor Day weekend of 2014, so we've been together a long time. It's now time to enjoy the next part of the journey with my Market Bag on my arm, full of my favorite things. I'm stoked.


Anticipation

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Hopefully, by the time this posts, the ground around us will be white with snow, with even more coming down in the mountains.  We have felt the anticipation all weekend of this coming snow event and, as I type this, I watch the clouds roll in hoping the "red sky at night" means waking to the "delight" of snow.  

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Hopefully, the time I spent sewing this weekend means the Alabama Chanin bag it will soon be finished. The sides, the handle pieces, and one corner of the front/back remain to be outlined with red thread. The pocket is stitched onto the lining and the  lining is ready to sewing into place. I'm anticipating using this little pretty! 

I had anticipated reaching my reading challenge of 65 books and, as it turned out, I was able to complete the challenge this weekend. Yay me!  Reading and listening to 200 page (or shorter) books helped me reach my goal. One must be strategic.  

Many of us (and I know many of you) have been anticipating the next installment of the Serial podcast. Well, it's here! This is going to be an interesting listen. I am a podcast fan and I listen to a wide variety of genres. Music, spoken word, stories, and mediation, I'm always looking for something new and interesting.  Do you have a favorite podcast? 

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Smith and I have anticipated the last day of Chanukah just so we could light all the candles of (almost) all the menorahs at one time. Now that's a way to get the light to return! 


Day 30: Weekended

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Friday - I shopped, but only at the LYS and local grocery. I also cleaned, cleared, and organized, even started to decorate. But, most of my day was spent with my nose buried in a book. I crafted in the evening, but it was not the focus of my day. 

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Saturday - Lunch with a friend, but the rest of the afternoon was stringing lights, placing menorahs, putting poinsettias here and there, mixing in a Santa or two. But, mostly I read (or listened) as much of the day as I possibly could. Since my hands were free, I worked on my Alabama Chanin market bag and made good progress. I have made a renewed promise to finish it (soon). Crafting is one of the main reasons I love listening to books. 

Sunday - Decisions were made...the cowl project abandon and a fire lit under the desire to get the sweater off square one. I was 10 books behind in my reading challenge, but by reading as much as I could this weekend, I have only 5 books to go. The market bag and the sweater will help me reach my goal of 65 books this year--or at least I hope so! 

Thank goodness today the 30th! whew


The Stitching Goes On (and on and on...)

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There are many pieces to the Alabama Chanin market bag, but, I just realized, only the two largest need to be stitched. I've finished stitching and cutting one side and will soon (I hope) finished the second. There are a few more motifs to outline then I'll cut and reveal the red below. Seaming will be next, both the lining and the bag itself. When the project first arrived I was a little intimidated by the amount of work--so many pieces! Sewing it together seemed a very long term task (and a far distant), but after seaming my AC T-shirt, I am no longer worried. It will be a joy to watch the bag come together and be usable. Whether it's knitting or sewing, or any other creative pursuit, it is the process. 

You may or may not be a fan of Alabama Chanin and you may or may not be a fan of Rosanne Cash (really!?), but my guess is you're a fan of creativity, which leads me to suggest you read this post from the AC Journal. Natalie's interview with Rosanne is spot on, with her brilliant questions and Rosanne's thoughtful responses. It won't take long to read and I highly recommend you do so. Also, I think I'll add Rosanne's newest memoir, Composed, to my TBR.


My (Oh So) Slow Fashion

One exciting day last week. I finished my first piece of Alabama Chanin slow fashion. Most of my inspiration for starting the whole slow fashion/Alabama Chanin phase of my crafting life, came from Vicki (as you well know). Her vision and her constancy are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

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After I bought all the books and ogled the AC Journalfollowing the blogs of people who sew, and watching their Instagram feeds, I decided to take the plunge. I am in awe of Vicki who will start from scratch, reuse old Ts, do her own dyeing, and/or stenciling (even cutting the stencils), then air brush the design onto fabric, but I will only stitch if it is easy to put the project together.

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It was January when I took the first stitches on my Magdalena DIY Shirt. Stitching was easy and I would have been finished months ago had I not decided each petal would that much more spectacular filled with beads. Beading was slow, but worth doing, as I'm very happy with the shabby chic elegance. 

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After months of working with tiny beads of all sizes, sewing the T-shirt together was a piece of cake. I think I'll do another, sans beads, with more stitching detail, because sewing was the fun part. 


Let's Call This Post WIP Wednesday

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On Monday's post, Jo asked where was the yarn in the pictures from Alta and, I must confess, there was only a tiny bit of knitting and a whole lot of tinking done. I sewed a little, too, but mostly visited, stared at the mountains, the golden aspens, and did a whole lot of just nothing. Mountain air is calming, as is hanging out and chatting with friends (not to mention eating and drinking). Thanks to Anna, we all found a new to us, but instant favorite wine. (This wine had nothing to do with my knitting ennui.) 

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With my Alabama Chanin T-shirt all but finished, I took along the AC Market Bag that has not been forgotten, but has only been languishing, and it will now get the majority of my (sewing). I am in no rush. Soon, you will be seeing a photo shoot of the finished AC T, which I'm happy to report, has had it's debut as a finished object.  

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Knitting will not take a backseat to stitching, but I came to a realization yesterday and I know my heart isn't into the project I've been struggling against. The pattern is fine, I love the shawl, the yarn, and the process, BUT...there is a big but, I need to knit something else and I think I know what that is.  You'll find out soon, too. 


It Can't Be Over!

I refuse to believe summer is over! The weekend was cool, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the waning summer and packing as much into the weekend as I could.  My contribution to Carole's ToT is here to tell you all about my fabulous (long) weekend. 

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1. I made 4 batches of Vicki's Roasted Tomato Sauce. Everything I pick on any given day goes into the batch, which means a variety of flavors from one to the next. So many hidden treasures go into the sauce. One batch might have carrots, the next eggplant and squash. One batch we had to mark HOT just so we'd know it had an over abundance of hot hot peppers. It's ALL delicious and can be "doctored" when preparing a meal this winter. 

2. Saturday morning first thing I had a pedicure (love my red toe nails) and a manicure (buff to make the nails shine, no polish, thank you). It feels so good to have the cuticles cleaned up and the nails cut short. 

3. Smith and I had a chance to have lunch together and we went to our favorite tacqueria, Lonestar (of course). I always have the delicious fish taco and the fruity, flavorful ice tea. 

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4. Saturday night we celebrated at my sister's wedding. Two happy brides add up to a crowd full of happy people. The cake was fabulous and the cake cutting ceremony the best ever! They cut the cake and each held a piece as if they were going to smash each other in the face, but the intended targets (which they both hit) were the unwitting groomsmen standing behind them. Maybe you had to be there, but it was a hoot! 

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5. Sunday morning I went to a new to me coffee shop, the Coffee Garden, which has been around for a very  long time. It is a staple of the 9th and 9th district of SLC and even ran one of the big names out of the neighborhood (THE big name). I also had my first macaroon and enjoyed every.single.bite. (I'll have another, thank you.)

6. Sunday I, also, made progress on my Ropedance, which is a bit of a feat, as I need to keep a chart to check off each row. Staying on track is difficult when I in a  social setting, but I foresee it getting easier over time, as I make progress and become more familiar with the pattern. 

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7. Monday morning I went for a walk around Red Butte Gardens and ran across a cipher left by another visitor. Maybe you can read the code, but I left it for the next person to puzzle through. 

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8. While walking through the park I ran across a Sea of Susans. I got a kick out of seeing the sunny bright yellow faces and when the name a Sea of Susan's popped into my head a had a little giggle. Colorful blossoms were everywhere, as autumn has not yet taken over the garden. 

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9. FINALLY, I finished the beading on my Alabama Chanin T-shirt! Monday afternoon I had time to sew the shoulder seams and sew in the D.I. Y. label. This made me especially happy. Next I will follow Vicki's lead and baste in the neck band before sewing it in place. 

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10. We had BLTAs on the patio. The weather was perfect Sunday evening and since Smith worked the early shift, we had a lovely evening together.  We cooked bacon on the grill using the skillet he picked up at a garage sale a couple of years ago and enjoyed a tomato or two from the garden. Since I don't eat bread, I added a soft cooked egg to my bacon, tomato, avocado stack.  

How was your last official weekend of summer? Please don't tell me summer is over, as I want to live with the illusion of summer for a little longer. 


Getting a Move On

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There are hints in every direction I turn--the little bit of color in the willows or the maples, the pyracantha berries turning a vivid orange, not to mention the sun disappearing earlier and earlier. I've missed the morning light for over a month now and heard reports the leaves are turning in higher elevations. 

As another sign of fall, the first batch of Vicki's tomato sauce is in the freezer. There will be more, as the tomatoes have just started to ripen. As predicted, they are all coming all at one time and it will be hard to keep up. Summer taste in the dark of winter is my driver. 

As the days shorten I find it easier to pick up my knitting and park myself in one spot. It's time to get a move on, tomake some progress with my handwork projects. It's time to prove myself a knitter.  The latest project to meet my needles is Ropedance, but there's not much to see, as yet. 

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It's taken me forever to get back to my Alabama Chanin T-shirt, but I spent an evening this week beading a few of the petals. I am in no small part inspired by Vicki's progress on yet another new AC skirt. I am slower than molasses , but determined to finish this year. 

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This weekend were able to fit in a photo shoot of my latest FO, but you'll have to wait to see how it turned out. I'll give you a hint...I have worn no other shawl since the TTL mystery came off the blocking board. 

Happy Monday, friends! 


You Might Say It's Hot

The weather this weekend was what you might call blistering. It was 105 on our patio both Saturday and Sunday. It felt like a blast furnace when you walked out the door. We did our best to stay cool, mostly by hibernating.

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But, Saturday, we decided it was too hot to cook, so we headed to our favorite Mexican place and ate dinner on the patio. We weren't the only ones enjoying shade of the umbrellas and eating guacamole (and drinking ice cold drinks).  Later that night, after it had cooled down to 97, we walked over to the high school to watch the sunset. We could see the air quality was poor, but the sunset was beautiful, nonetheless. 

Beading progress

My indoor activity was beading my Alabama Chanin T-shirt and I made good progress. Placing each bead is time consuming and slightly fiddly, but I've only a couple more small petals to do on this side of the T. On the other side of the neck, I've only started to cut the detail. Nothing about the process says fast, but I'm enjoying every stitch. 

I'm looking forward to the the weekend, as I took Thursday off to spend with Smith, which means I'll have 4 days off. We can only hope the weather will cool down by then. 


Organizing

Sadly I have had little time to sew on my Alabama Chanin T-shirt. The bag with the T-shirt pieces, the beads, needles, and all other needed accoutrement, sits beside my chair in a neglected state. My evening hours have been taken up with other activities and any leisure time has been taken by reading and/or knitting. There is the Mystery shawl to solve, as you know.

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But, Saturday, while running errands, I stopped by a big office supply store and picked up a few helpful organizational tools. Vicki gave me a tip on some cool boxes she found to hold the eleventy-gazillion beads that come in an Alabama Chanin packet.  

All my beads, all my needles, all of my thread bobbins, the AC notebook, plus all the other supplies needed to work on a project, are now kept together in a storage box and the beads are safely stowed inside clear tiny boxes. Now to find more time!