Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Biking in the Black and the Red

Eugenia Polina graphic
As mentioned, I got some new cycling gear for Christmas, much of it to help me schlep stuff (or my bike) to and fro.  The ladyfriend bought me the Southwest Waxed Canvas Bike Suit Bag from Two Wheel Gear, which I had waxed (yes, a pun) poetic about both on this blog and in person.  I'm a little bummed that I won't be able to put it into action immediately as my teaching schedule this coming term has eliminated my overnight stay (sigh).  Nevertheless, I'm ready to go when I need to!

My parents (okay, my dad for the most part) took over the other cycling desires like this merino wool jersey (in red) as well as a saddle/handlebar bag and the aforementioned frame handle.  Yes, I'm psyched about riding again and ready for my commute (will still be riding to and from the train station once a week).

But while I'm looking forward to more cycling, Iva Jean, makers of everyday/wearable cycling clothes for women, are closing their doors after five years.  I'd initially found them through a Kickstarter campaign to fund some new designs - I'd really liked the merino wool racer back tunic with zippered pockets -
but it never went into production.  It's too bad when small, independent companies can't make it.  Clearly one person can't save a company (unless they're fabulously wealthy, I guess), but it brings home the need to support these kinds of makers (all the clothes had been manufactured in Seattle) in whatever way we can.

In the meantime, we can just keep cycling.

Monday, December 29, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: In the Midst of the Holidays

Our Christmas celebrations were great.  There seemed to be a dearth of anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed/underprepared.  Our cats have even decided (after a few discouraging sprays with the water bottle) to leave the tree alone although Mulberry has been after all and any baked goods:  German gingerbread cookies, fruitcake, fortune cookies, etc.  I think he's doing me a small service by requiring that I dispense of the mauled carbohydrates. 
  1. Food and fermentation:  I got Sandor Katz's The Art of Fermentation for Christmas, and I'm reading Dan Barber's The Third Plate.  Yesterday (a glorious day for so many reasons), I started some kefir (some of which I drank today) and some kombucha.  Yep!  I'm getting cultured!  I find that these two books really work with the whole wabi-sabi philosophy (also got Leonard Koren's Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, & Philosophers for Christmas).  It's good reading for a new year.
  2. The new year and a plan:  Despite my desire to continue the bliss of yesterday (reading, cooking, crafting, sigh), I did some schoolwork today, which just reminds me that the luxury of time that I'm experiencing right now is about to come to an end.  But I'm looking for balance (again...always) and am going to work on a new framework/schedule for the coming year.  This time, however, I plan to have both a weekly guide as well as a yearly guide.  I want to think about some of the ways I can spread my work out throughout the year, and when I say "work" in this context, I mean both writing and creating.  I have a lot of ideas, and I think that with a more global view of the year, I might be able to find the time to engage in more of my activities.  
  3. Crafting:  I managed to do quite a bit over the last year, thanks to my PiC and our year-long challenge (which I hope to give a year-end review of here soon), and just the other day, I went to the studio and whipped up a wrap-around skirt from Chic and Simple Sewing.  I also received this excellent pattern with money for fabric for my birthday from my mother-in-common-law, and I hope to make that soon.  But wait, there's more!  I've also joined the 15 in 2015 hat challenge from Stash and Burn. I made two hats in December (allowable for the challenge) and am ready for another one.  All this is to say,  I'm hoping to continue my hardcore crafting over the year.  There's lots to make!
  4. Cycling:  Of course!  I'm back on my bike now - yay!  My knee is much improved, and I'm going to test it out at shinny (pick-up hockey for my American friends) on Friday.  It hasn't been very cold, but it's supposed to drop down tonight, and I have the feeling that'll be the end of our mild spell.  As soon as the snow comes, I'm putting the studded tires on.  I also got some great cycling gear for the holidays (which I'll save for another post).  Whoo-hoo!
  5. Blogging:  Sure, I haven't kept up with my Friday posts on what I've read, eaten, seen, and what-not on the internet, but the intention is still there.  I hope to continue with regular posts throughout the week and will, yes, schedule them in my weekly framework.
  6.  The finessing:  My newly renovated office is giving me such pleasure (yes, another post with lots of images) that my curating and organizing impulses are bleeding into other areas - even my computer desktop.  One area that I've started to work on is the fridge.  I'm dumping items that we don't use (or didn't buy in some cases) as well as engaging in my personal project of using the last inch of jam in numerous jam jar.  There's just enough to top a few jars of homemade yogurt.

Monday, December 22, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: A New Kind of Holiday Season

Ah, the Monday before Christmas, the day after solstice.  We're looking forward to things settling down a bit before we get back to it in January.  In the meantime, there are things occupying the frontal lobe (whether that's anatomically correct or not).
  1. New holiday traditions:  I have probably mentioned that our family decided during our last get-together for the holidays to not require anyone to travel anywhere for Christmas.  I'd been looking forward to starting some of our own traditions although it's hard for us not to have the boy here with us.  Last night we had a Solstice party, which was a lot of fun.  I'd had ideas about how I wanted the party to go, but in the end, I just decided to let it be, and let my friends celebrate the season in whatever way they saw fit.  With the few remaining guests, we lit sparklers at midnight in our backyard.  I think I'll keep that "ritual."
  2. Longstanding traditions:  My parents sent us a package with gifts and lots of great German chocolate.  I do not have a Bunte Teller here - a festive plate where my goodies go (my parents have one for me at their house), so I'm looking at our collection of vintage serving platters to see if there's a smaller one I can use.  Who knew I'd miss having my own Bunte Teller?  The other major tradition I have is that we eat potato salad and wursts on Christmas Eve* and then open our presents.  The ladyfriend may have complicated that plan by making plans with another friend, but I think we've gotten it back on track.  I did say that I'd consider moving the potato salad meal to Boxing Day, but I'm hoping that's not necessary.
  3. Too many "sale" emails:  I've found myself unsubscribing from email lists almost daily because I'm tired of the appeals to buy, buy, buy, and more, more, more.  Sure, some of them I read and consider (Alabama Chanin is having a sale after Christmas...hmmmm), but for the most part I resent what feels like a desperate cry to shop and consume.  I just sent off the boy's holiday gift, which means I'm essentially done!  Yay!  I'd just like a little reprieve from the solicitations.
  4. My newly organized and cleaned office:  It's been a long time coming, but I finally managed to make my tiny office on the main floor (I have two "half" offices - spaces that are shared with other objects or purposes) work.  I got a shelf from Ikea, and now I have places to put things.  We moved a chair from the living room into it (ostensibly to make room for the Christmas tree), and I love sitting in it and just looking at my books or knitting.  I'm hoping that I can find a chair to replace this one after the holidays.  It's amazing how a fresh and organized space can do so much for you.
  5. A gift for the reader:  Here's the recipe for the punch I made last night.  I love that the printout has my writing, in blue highlighter, saying "Yummy."  It is, but let me warn you - it can sneak up on you.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Love Between a Girl and Her Bike Shop

A number of weeks ago I went to my local bike shop, Downtown Bike Hounds, to pick up some studded tires for winter.  Unfortunately they didn't have my size (700x35) and said they'd order them for me.  I came back the next week, but the order hadn't shipped.  The next week I got a call that said they still weren't in.  I stopped in again the following week, and then I decided I'd wait for them to call me.  Frankly, it was fine.  I'd injured my MCL and there really hadn't been much snow, so I could wait.

Today they called.  Apparently everyone's buying studded tires, which is great and also explained the difficulty they had in getting them in.   The tires were in, but they were a notch up from the ones I'd planned to buy.  Nonetheless, because I'd been so patient, they sold me the tires for the price they would've sold the others to me.  The price difference was not insignificant.  I was so excited that I raced over there and picked them up!
My MCL sprain is getting better; I've been riding the recumbent bike at physio and am thinking about taking Topaz (you remember my bike's name, right?) out for a spin next week before I put the new tires on.  I'm so grateful to Downtown Bike Hounds for taking care of me.  I'll think of them every time I ride through the snow.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Feel Me, Eat Me, Watch Me, Read Me

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?  Hope so because I've been pretty absent this week.  The good news is that I'm done grading and will have a little space to breathe, think, craft, and blog. 

I like to listen to podcasts, when I remember they exist, and one of my current favourites is Stash and Burn.  There are many reasons to like it - from the cool name to the Sleater-Kinney intro song to the feeling of just hanging out with your knitting buddies.  I always get pattern suggestions from them, and I'm seriously considering joining their 15 Hats in 2015 knit-a-long/challenge (check out their group on Ravelry).  Check out their latest podcast here.

I've had a serious lack of imagination when it has come to dinner this week, but I'm feeling my cooking mojo coming back.  On the menu for next week is Crock Pot Green Enchilada Soup.  I'm going to use a combination of corn (non-GMO corn that I froze from the summer) and hominy instead of all corn.

Here's a shout-out to my father's biking friends who really like this blog best when it deals with bikes. Hey, I can't blame them.  I'm missing my bike right now because I'm still recovering from the MCL sprain although I did ride the recumbent at physio for five minutes today.  It felt like a small victory!

The Online Bicycle Museum has lots of great vintage images as well as information on vintage bikes.

The LA Times did an article in September (but I just found out about it) on a mobile library called the Feminist Library on Wheels (F.L.O.W.).  Bicycles, feminism, and books?  What an awesome idea.

Finally, back to the crafting zone.  In my Pinterest gazing, I came along this handy tip for adjusting the tension on your sewing machine.  I've got some plans to sew some fussy fabrics soon, and this will probably help me.

So, that's about the size of it for this week.  Enjoy your weekend!  I hope you have lots of crafting, eating, and merry-making ahead of you.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Feel Me, Eat Me, Read Me, See Me - Weekend (aka late) Edition

It's been a busy week, so perhaps the offerings today are a bit meager.  But nonetheless, I persist and have a few things to share.

Starting with food, I think that peppermint pretzel marshmallow fudge from Joy the Baker has a rather festive ring to it.

Lovely Bicycle had an interesting post on how people often assume things about the character of a cyclist based on the type of bike they ride.  If you're feeling creative, you might want to try your hand at a poem to win an owl on a bicycle print.

Clearly the Two Wheel Gear's Bike Suit bag is making the rounds; Momentum Mag posted a profile of it here.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Share the Ride?

While I really wish there were a comma between "ride" and "and," I think this card hits the mark.  You can see (and email) this and other clever cards here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

(Insert Adjective) + (Name of a Day of the Week)

Yes, we've had Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now it's Giving Tuesday.  Well, at least one day gets designated for generosity and non-product-based support (let's coin it as NPB-support).  I generally try to ignore all these, but I've recently been enthralled by the videos and message of the I Am What's Underneath project and plan to support their Kickstarter campaign.

This could be a gift that keeps giving.

Monday, December 1, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: There's Always Something

Sure, Monday is winding down, but I've still got a little over six hours left.  Frankly, I'm just tired today, but of course, there are some things occupying the grey matter.
  1. Injury:  First and foremost, I'm hoping that the MCL sprain I sustained in my hockey game yesterday heals quickly.  I've never had a knee injury before, and I don't need to start having issues now.  I've been working on upping my activity, and I'm not the most patient person when it comes to injuries; however, I also know that I'll only make it worse by rushing it.  Nonetheless, my physiotherapist didn't rule out me playing hockey on Sunday.
  2. Why people do or don't read my blog:  Sure, I was going to say "Why people do or don't read blogs" to make it less personal, but who do we think I'm talking about?  This came up when the ladyfriend's mother, whom she recently visited, chastised her for not following my blog.  After reading a number of my posts (going all the way back to September...really?), she said, "You learn a lot more about you from your blog than you might in person" (says the woman I've been with for over 20 years).  I suppose I (kind of) understand why the ladyfriend doesn't keep up with my posts, but it is interesting to ponder what makes people, and my friends, stop by and either continue to read or not, and what they might be missing by not reading (sometimes pointed remarks directed at them - hah!).  I'm thinking about writing a piece called, "Why You Should Read Your Friend's Blog."
  3. The ongoing refinement of my wardrobe:  I pulled one of my favourite books, Cheap Chic, off the shelf this weekend and fell in love with it again.  I had listened to Marketplace before that and they'd had a brief interview with Sarah Lazarovic whose recent book A Bunch of Pretty Things I Didn't Buy has just come out.  She was talking about what it meant to take a break from shopping even if one wasn't a classic shopaholic.  There were things that rang true for me, such as trawling eBay or Shopgoodwill for funky necklaces or vintage hats or whatever (definitely something I'm guilty of - ask my parents, where all my packages go).  But what I realized in both listening to her interview and reviewing Cheap Chic is that I'm not necessarily interested in whittling down my wardrobe to the bare essentials but in making the things I own work together happily and idiosyncratically.  I will probably always have a lot of shoes.  That's just the way it is.  I like shoes.  I like clothes, but what I don't like is mindless buying because it's a new season or I'm bored or I have money burning a hole in my pocket.  I'm into refinement, and the refinement continues.

Friday, November 28, 2014

See Me, Eat Me, Watch Me, Read Me

Bikeyface had a hysterical commentary on hipsters and cycling in the winter.

Southern cooking happens to be a favourite of mine, and I think this weekend I'll be making biscuits and gravy with this recipe.

Continuing on the southern food theme, Gravy, the Southern Foodways Alliance's quarterly publication, is about food and social justice.  With the recent events in Ferguson as well as our headlong rush into the holiday season, this should make for compelling reading.  (A membership to SFA might also be a great gift for a foodie in your life.)

Speaking of gifts and the holidays, this list of 10 Essential Cookbooks is great.  I have three or four of them on my bookshelf already, but I'm always open to suggestions.

Black Friday confession - I've been sorely tempted by the emails flooding my inbox promising 15, 20, even 50% off items, but I'm holding fast.  Whatever reasons you might have to not shop today (anticonsumerism, Ferguson, broke, etc.), keep them in mind as retailers continue to tempt you.  If you do shop, support your local shops first.  Stay away from the chain stores if you can (apologies to my mother who has to work today although she's not at a chain store).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: The Mod Squad

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends & family.  Wish I could be with you!
Turtleneck:  Neiman Marcus
Skirt:  Carnaby pattern, knit by yours truly
Tights:  Hue
Boots:  La Canadienne

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Staggered

Cardigan:  Made by yours truly using Malabrigo yarn
Dress:  Piazza Sempione
Shirt:  DKNY
Tights:  Hue
Shoes:  La Canadienne

Monday, November 24, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: What It Means To Be An Adult

Not sure what kind of mood I'm in this week, or today, although "introspective" generally is one word frequently used to describe my mindset.  Some of the things that are on my mind this week are -
  1. Friends and feelings:  It seems to me that as adults (whatever that means) we're not supposed to openly air our feelings with our friends.  It's kind of weird because frankly, we can probably speak better about our emotions now then we could when we were, say, eight.  I'm afraid that it's seen as childish and that we're supposed to either keep it to ourselves and suck it up or bitch to our other friends, and that all seems counterproductive.
  2. Gifts: Ah, the holiday season.  Let me be the first to say out loud (this probably follows under point 1) that I love gifts.  Yes, I love presents.  But not impersonal, obligatory, or out-of-character ones, and the holidays often have that underlying sense of both 'never enough' and 'is it right'?  I'm interested in dispensing with some of the anxiety and guilt that the holiday season brings with it.  So the ladyfriend and I are either making all our gifts or buying (predominantly) handmade gifts (and not "handmade" in an iPhone way, okay?).  The boy asked for a gift that I'm so excited about - I'm going to refurbish one of his hoodies with various bits of applique, embroidery, and whatever else I want to.   I love that this was his wish. (The fact that I feel like I have to say something about how that won't be his only gift is so revealing about what this season does to us).
  3. Thanksgiving:  As an American in Canada, this is the holiday that I miss the most.  I haven't quite been converted to Canadian Thanksgiving (which we spent in the States this year), and I always teach on Thanksgiving Thursday (insert here my classic complaint that Canadian Thanksgiving takes place on whatever day over the weekend everyone agrees to, which just doesn't sit right with me).  It's a food holiday, and I want to spend the day in the kitchen (yep!) making turkey and all kinds of other goodies.  The ladyfriend is getting some of that this year as she's going to see her family in Colorado.  I, and a friend, will be having the turkey dinner at Russell Williams after we're done teaching.  Maybe next year I can take the day off.

Friday, November 21, 2014

See Me, Feel Me, Watch Me, Read Me

(Not necessarily in that order...)

I find that there's lots I encounter on the internet that I'd like to share or blog about, but I don't always have the time for an individual blog post for each, and some are just suggested reading anyway.  So I thought a weekly run-down of some of the highlights of my internet trawling would be a good compromise.

First up - my intellectual crush, Michael Pollan, has a few things to say about the Paleo diet as well as the raw food trend.  Food for thought, indeed.

I watched this TED talk where Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize (which itself has a TED talk on Cycling Without Age that's great) and Cycle Chic talks about bicycle helmets and why he's not into them.

Rolling into the holiday season means the craftory will soon be open (just my own phrase for the double-shifting crafting that seems to happen this time of year).  Check out this free pattern and tutorial from Britex Fabrics.  Cute hat!

It might've been All About That Bass for Meaghan Trainor, but it's All About That Gaze for some McMaster students.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Foiled by the Weather

Dress:  Karen Klein
Tights:  Not marked
Boots:  La Canadienne...

but these were the shoes I'd intended on wearing
You may not be able to see it, but that's snow outside the window.  It's already hard enough to get around London, and I don't need to break my ankle even if these shoes are pretty spectacular.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Whooo, Indeed!

Sweater:  Owls pattern by Kate Davies, knit by yours truly.
Skirt:  Archie Brown & Son of Bermuda (thrifted)
Tights:  Falke
Boots:  La Canadienne

Monday, November 17, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: Pride and Prejudice

We're having our first solid snowfall.  Winter is here, and with it, I'm thinking about the following:
  1. Lack of corporate pride or responsibility.  I know, that's what everyone thinks about when they think about winter.  I'm relating this to the calendar I have ordered for many years from Letts.  When I got my 2015 calendar, I was disappointed by not only the quality of it, but the fact that production had moved from the UK to Mexico.  After several emails (one was bounced back and another simply elicited a shipping receipt), I've gotten a response. A response that pretty much ignores the issues and simply puts it down to, and I quote: "We are sorry to hear your disappointment concerning the country in which this item was printed."  For some reason I don't believe them.  I'm not going to bother to return it because shipping will cost me more than the calendar and they'd only give me a credit, but I'm also not using it.  I don't know that I even want to give it to anyone.  It will probably go to Goodwill or Value Village.
  2. Bike lane snow removal.  I've come to understand that many Hamiltonians are not into the new network of bike lanes or the idea that the city will take special pains to keep them snow-free (I'd heard something about special bike lane snow plows).  But at least they have real bike lanes and seem to be interested in increasing ridership in the city.  I can't say the same thing is apparent in Burlington, which I cycle through to get to the train station Wednesday mornings.  Their bike lanes, at least along the heavily trafficked street I take, are actually just shoulders now called bike lanes.  I don't think they're even a metre wide.  Is it because Burlington allows cyclists to ride on the sidewalks?  I'm glad my studded tires are coming in on Friday.
  3. Schedule/Framework.  I'm really trying to get back on my schedule.  It's particularly important at this time of year because everything is culminating.  But really, all I want to do right now is knit and maybe have a cup of tea.  I'll have to schedule that in for later.

Friday, November 14, 2014

File Under "Oh, Kentucky"

I follow BikeyFace, and she posted a cartoon about "Sharing the Road," which is pretty funny and on-point.  The ladyfriend and I have discussed designing a new, more attractive as well as more visible Share the Road bumpersticker because...uh, we have time?  No, because we have a pretty strong design aesthetic.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Meanwhile, back in Kentucky (my least favourite state to cycle in so far - search Kentucky on this blog to read more), one of the comments on BikeyFace linked to this article about a woman who was arrested for riding her bike in the centre lane.  Ontario is trying to push 1 Metre Bicycle Safe Passing Law, which would be amazing.  Even Mississippi had a three-foot passing law; Ontario would be ahead of the game because as we know - a metre is a little more than a yard.

Getting geared up for winter commuting.  I'm going to try to extend my cycling even further into the winter and am considering studded tires.  Bike Pretty had a good post about ways to stylishly warm up your commute.  I'm totally going to make the reflective vest (yes, I sound like I'm, like totally, 14, and like, from the, you know, valley).

Shake-n-Make at the Craft Mart

Tonight and tomorrow !  Come by and see what Shake-n-Make (the art collective I'm a member of) has whipped up just for you!  Think pot holders, beer cozies, coasters, exclamation marks, and more!  (No, we're not selling exclamation marks.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Are Those Snow Flurries?

Turtleneck:  Uniqlo
Skirt:  Made by yours truly
Tights: Hue
Boots: La Canadienne

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Walking the Walk: Ethics/Values in Shopping

I have on numerous occasions mentioned my desire to buy more locally (which extends to the continent) made items, especially when it comes to clothing.  I've spoken to my fashion writing students about the cost of fast fashion - in terms of the value of labour, the carbon footprint, the inevitable waste.

So there I was last night, perusing the clearance section on REI, when I saw this:

 It's a cycling shirt that has reflective threads woven into the plaid (in the men's description they included an image of it illuminated, as it were).  It's a bargain at less than $40, or at least that's what I initially thought.  However, I was bothered by the fact that it was "imported," which if it doesn't mean China or southeast Asia, it usually means Central America.*  Whatever the country of origin, it wasn't the US or Canada.  Could I buy it because it was a bargain, a bike shirt, and cute to boot?  Did cycling gear override country of origin/ethical manufacturing practices?  Did it override my desire to keep employment for the population of my two countries?  What about my wardrobe pruning?!

Monday, November 10, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: What Has Been and What Will Be

So another birthday always brings with it ideas of what I want the next year to be like.  Birthdays are like a personal New Year's Eve, but I don't like to think of it in terms of resolutions.  For me, it's about being more of who I am, a seemingly endless project.
  1. Firstly, however, I'm thinking of our friend Sharon Little who died on Thursday.  She was only  41, and it's sobering to think about how quickly cancer can take someone who was so healthy and fit the last time you saw them.  My uncle Mike died a little over two weeks ago, from cancer, as well.
  2. Ch-ch-ch-changes.  I've started a slow and hopefully lasting project of implementing and integrating little changes in my life.  It's mostly things that I've done (often with vigor) previously that have passed by the wayside.  For example, one of the things I'd like to do is get to bed by midnight.  I've been going to bed at 1am (or later) in the last few weeks, and it's taking a toll on me. 
  3. Me and my bike.  Not surprisingly, I'm continuing to refine my cycling life whether it's through problem-solving carting issues, considering upcoming weather challenges, or thinking about making these super cute skirt bands.  Plus, I got the most recent issue of Momentum Magazine, which will probably add inspiration.
  4. My mom's birthday today!  Happy Birthday, Mom!
  5. The ongoing refinement of my office.  I've got it started, and it's going well.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Food For Thought

I just had a chance to read this article by writer Camilla Gibb.  It's a bit sobering, but for those of us who are trying to write, it's not surprising.

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: What's Red, White, and Black All Over?

The birthday girl!
Hat:  Amy Downs
Sweater:  Valerie Stevens
Skirt:  Ralph Lauren (length modified)
Tights:  Unknown
Shoes:  Christian Louboutin (mom-me-down)

I know - kinda crazy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sashiko Workshop with Katrina Rodabaugh

 As I  mentioned, I had the great luck to take a sashiko workshop with Katrina Rodabaugh.  I've been interested in Katrina's work since stumbling upon her Make, Mend, Thrift project, and when I  had the opportunity to take an online two-week sustainable fashion workshop with her, I was pretty psyched.  But to take an in-class workshop was amazing.

Before we got down to work, Katrina went over some of the key points of sashiko like the history of it as a mending technique in addition to placing it within a tradition that includes the quilts of Gee's Bend.

Then we got to work on a practice square.  The stencil will disappear in the wash, and you can pick any pattern you wish.  I'm still fussing with mine.

When we felt pretty good about that, we worked on a pot holder (sorry - no photo), and then our mending.  I brought a well-worn (and already patched) pair of jeans that I mostly use to do yard work and what-not.  While my technique has some room for improvement, I'm really happy with the mending of the knee gash.  There's a patch of jean material as large as the stitched square behind the original tear.  Now the knee is reinforced, and, if I may say so myself, looking much cooler.

Lots of plusses about this - both literal and figurative.

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: She's a Lady (Go Ahead, Sing Along)

Dress: Chaiken
Tights:  Hue
Shoes:  Isaac Mizrahi
Scarf:  Hermes

Monday, November 3, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: Going Home

It's been a pretty packed weekend here in the Bay Area.  I feel like I've been here for longer than the four nights I've stayed - in a good way.  It's been great seeing the boy, and despite the fact that he had to work every day of my stay, we spent a lot of time together.

So in addition to getting ready to fly home, I'm thinking about -
  1. The sashiko mending workshop with Katrina Rodabaugh that I took yesterday at the Handcraft Studio School in Emeryville.  What a fantastic workshop.  I'll be finishing the mending of my pants on the plane ride today.  I hope to post more about this workshop in the next few days.
  2. The yarn I bought at A Verb for Keeping Warm that I initially thought I'd start a shawl with on the plane.  What was I thinking?  Starting a lace shawl on a plane?  I'm saving that for when I get home and when I find the right pattern. 
  3. My boy.  Always.
  4. My birthday, later this week.  You know.  Just thinking about it.
  5. My boy's suggestion to get on Twitter, which, frankly I've thought was stupid.  However, he's quite convinced, and somewhat convincing, about it being a good way to get my work and what-not (I am not a brand) out there.  I'm thinking about it.
  6. Posting about my new tattoos (yes, plural) and the one I gave Ian (yes, I gave him a tattoo).  Here's one of my new ones.
That's my bike!  And it commemorates this summer's bike trip.
 Have a great week!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Is It Really Necessary

that as I'm walking down the street in Oakland, I get cruised by a car driving by, which then goes around the block to "chat" with me?  If I say, "No, thank you" once, I pretty much mean it.  Please don't ask again, and please don't stalk me.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Quick! Before Someone Walks In

 Dress:  Junya Watanabe for Comme des Garcons
Hat:  Simmons
Tights:  Wolford
Boots:  La Canadienne

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dedicated to the One I Love

MichFest bracelet fell off today.  I wore it as a talisman for fest.

Fashion Blows

I went into Toronto today to see the Fashion Blows exhibit at The Bay, and I'm really glad I went.  The exhibit was intermixed with racks of clothing on the sales floor, making it feel more like clothes worn than clothes presented.  To underscore the fact that these were the clothes that were actually worn by Isabella Blow, they left all stains, cigarette burns, and tears as they were.  I really enjoyed being able to walk around the mannequins and see the clothing from all angles.  I did, however, have to restrain myself from reaching out and touching the material.

Junya Watanabe jacket; Alexander McQueen skirt; Philip Treacy hat

Alexander McQueen suit & top; Philip Treacy hat

Authenticity in action

There were a few text panels but not too many or too academic.

Deborah Milner dress; 1930's monkey fur jacket; hat unattributed

Hussein Chalayan dress

Monday, October 27, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: Toward a Common Goal

Mulberry is fascinated by the pressure canner
  • Independent bookstores:  I listened to a Fresh Air interview with Ann Patchett who was compelling in her argument for buying books at actual bookstores and not online.  More often than not, I buy online because it's often less expensive and conducive to off-hour (aka impulse) purchasing; however, I do value bookstores, and frankly, I can afford to pay full price to support local economies so that's what I'm planning on doing whenever possible from here on out.
  • Wabi Sabi (continued):  I'm reading Simply Imperfect:  Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House by Robyn Griggs Lawrence, and her explanation of the concepts and how to make them part of one's life resonates with me.  I cannot claim to be a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination, but my life seems to be a constant work-in-progress where I continue to try to whittle things down and get everything closer to what I value.  I'll be working on slowly decluttering spaces around me.
  • My upcoming trip to Oakland:  I'm off for a visit with the boy and will have a lot of time on my own (the boy's got to work).  I've signed up for a sashiko workshop already, and a friend has recommended I check out the Ai Weiwei installation on Alcatraz.  While I'll be seeing the boy daily, part of this trip feels as though I'm on my own, which is quite interesting.  What will I do with my time?
  • Fashion Blows:  My friend, Abi Slone, curated this exhibit showcasing some of the late, great Isabella Blow's clothing.  It's got a short run, and I'm going to Toronto to see it tomorrow. 
  • Interrogation of the Closet:  I've been trying to "curate" my closet/wardrobe for the last couple of years, slowly.  I'm working with the theme "Making my closet work better, not bigger."  Now it's time for the inquisition, as it were.  I'm going to take each rail of clothing (yes, there are more than one), divide it based on how often or the last time I wore an item, and then figure out what stays and what goes.  In conjunction with that, I've conceived of a creative nonfiction piece that deals with the process.
  • Apples:  Today I've got to utilize the last of our apples.  Applesauce & hard cider are on the schedule.
I've never seen Gwendolyn so fully sacked out on the DVR before.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: You Wanna Talk About Purple Prose?

Dress:  Woolen Moss (etsy!)
Vest:  Noro pattern, Noro yarn, knit by me
Tights:  Hue
Boots:  212

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Another Way to Travel

I have to admit, I am one of those people who find adults riding Razor scooters kind of lame.  Yes, I said, "lame," but I just followed a link to this Kickstarter campaign.

I have to admit, kinda cool.

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Time to Demonstrate

Dress:  Alabama Chanin design sewn by yours truly
T-Shirt:  Mossimo
Jacket:  Noblu
Boots:  212
Tights:  Wolford

Monday, October 20, 2014

On My Mind Mondays: Eternal Recurrence

It's Monday morning, and here's what's on my mind:
  1. What do I really want my life to look like?  (Yes, it's time again for an existential crisis, or at least an existentialist reckoning.  Always fun!)
  2. The idea of wabi sabi and how that might fit into my life
  3. Slow fashion and the continuance of the curating of my closet 
  4. Today's To Do list:
    1. Prep materials for class on Wednesday
    2. Make and can applesauce
    3. Start the hard cider
    4. Continue figuring out my life
    5. The seized muscle in my right calf - it's been over three weeks now; off to physio today.
That's probably good for one week.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Harvest & More: Preserving the Good Stuff

A weekend in the Berkshires can be quite energizing!
We spent Canadian Thanksgiving in the Berkshires with friends; it seemed like a good idea to go south for the holiday because not only does most everyone love the opportunity to have two Thanksgivings, but also we wanted to go to New England because it's freaking beautiful at this time of the year.   It was, by far, one of the most relaxing weekends we've had in awhile.

So this weekend I've had a bit of a making/cooking/canning spurt.  It's been fantastic!

Yogurt, courtesy of the yogurt maker I bought from Goodwill.  I feel like a fool waiting so long to make it because it is really easy, and it works even if you put the lids on during the process (whoops!).

And then there was...
  • canning the traditionally fermented kosher dills; frankly I was afraid they might've gone too far.  I had them in the brine for 6 weeks, easy, but they are very tasty.  I use the recipe from Canning for a New Generation
  • cooking and canning apple butter (it's in the crock); also from Canning for a New Generation
  • I made some elderberry winter tonic syrup (not shown); it's supposed to be good for staving off colds and what-not during the winter.  I put some into my homemade yogurt, and it was delicious
  • and I tried my hand at making some cottage cheese.  Not entirely sure about it, yet.
The magazine in the foreground has the recipe I use for applesauce.  It's from the November 1998 issue of Martha Stewart Living (they don't have the original recipe online; we've noticed that with some other MS favourites from the '90s).  I'm hoping to make that tomorrow along with starting some hard cider (yay!).  There could also be a batch of chicken stock...

Tomorrow will also be the start of a regular Monday feature called "On My Mind Mondays."  This is not a spoiler, but clearly I've been thinking about the shape and future of this blog.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Dressing for Climate Change

Shirt:  Aimee G
Skirt:  Ellen Tracy
Boots:  El Naturalista

(I taught yesterday as well, but it was a bit crazy, and well, I thought I had a photo of the outfit already...)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What I'm Wearing to Teach Today: Sweeping Ramifications

Dress:  J. Morgan Puett
Skirt:  J. Morgan Puett
Tights:  Falke
Shoes:  Cydwoq