Upon arriving home the other day I found a curious brown envelope tucked behind where the milk man delivers the milk, my name and address typed out upon it rather than, as would be far more common, printed or even written. Immediately I was piqued, a sensation that became even more pronounced when I opened it and discovered an obscure newspaper, a government handbook detailing the proper techniques to employ when attempting to survive an atomic attack, an absinthe spoon and a pair of invitations. One of the invitations was to a charity fete and was long past due, as the party was scheduled prior to my birth, making my attendance at it quite unlikely. The other was a wedding invitation for September 15th, the same date I recieves the package, though the invitation itself omitted the intended year but apparently folded a black mass into the usual nuptial proceedings. 

Being unfamiliar with any of these persons I was naturally puzzled, but certainly curious, and in browsing the newspaper I found it made reference to one Miranda Elder in a narrative account of a detective’s investigation of a grizzly murder. This was the same name as figures on the invitation and she made reference to the man, her soon to be ex husband at the time of the writing.  I feel compelled to investigate further and shall record my findings here. 

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It Must Be Jelly…

imageSo every Sunday my neighborhood has a farmers market in the middle of the street. It’s great! The produce is amazing, and just about nowish the guy who specializes in foraged edibles shows up with huckleberries.

A lot of people have never actually had a huckleberry, mostly because I don’t think they’re commercially cultivated and all the ones I’ve ever seen are picked in the wild, where you have to wrassle Bears for them, but honestly? Totally worth it. They taste sort of like the best, most flavorful and concentrated blueberry you can imagine. They’re only in season for about three weeks a year, so I bought two pounds and made jam. Vanilla bean huckleberry jam to be specific.


They also had Concord grapes so I made some grape jelly while I was canning.


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And just like that… Jelly and jam!

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Red Renaissance Gown

A couple of months ago my wonderful dance instructor, Anna, at Seattle Early Dance gave my number to one of the ladies in her Renaissance Dance class. They had a performance coming up in six weeks, the first one for the lady in question in the Renaissance genre, and she needed a new gown. We talked, exchanged a couple of emails, and a week or so later I went ’round to her house to take her measurements and get started on her dress.

When we first spoke, she showed me a painting of a very young Queen Elizabeth I that she fancied. We then went over some fabric samples that I had brought and discussed various options that she could go with as well as some modifications to the original dress that might be better suited to a dance performance, like making the under-sleeves more tightly fitting to better show arm movements. We settled on a mid-weight cotton velvet for the main body of the dress and a pleated silk taffeta that I had brought a sample of for her to look at. We opted to keep the trimmings simple, with no treatment at the shoulders and just a very simple skirting at the edge of the bodice that would make sure the waistband of her overskirt stayed covered. The neckline would be done in alternating ruby-and-gold ‘ouches’, which is the period name for what is effectively a jeweled button, and little clusters of glass pearls. After showing her various hat options she settled on a darling little pillbox style with a long veil that we had decided to do in a metallic gold silk organza. I sketched up her design for her approval and the next day I mailed her a list of what we’d need so that she could order the fabrics and findings herself. I took her measurements and we were off and running.

About a week later I came back with a toile of the bodice to fit on her. A toile is sort of a test/pattern garment that you use to get the fit just right before you cut it out of the real fabric, which I was just picking up at that point. I marked some adjustments on the toile and picked up the velvet that had just arrived, and went to work in earnest. Two weeks and a couple of fittings later we were almost done and I just had to tack the hem over the hoop skirt and trim the neckline of the bodice with the jewels that had just arrived.

We were pretty close to their dress rehearsals at that point so I speedily whipped through putting the hem in and trimming the neckline of the dress. I had originally planned on using a bias cut strip of the underskirt silk as a backing for the neckline trimming, but it proved not quite flexible enough and so instead I opted to go with a lacy bit of gold corded trim about an inch and a half wide, and that worked perfectly. The large band of gold and gems at the neckline looked beautiful under the stage lights as she danced,  twinkling beautifully, and the scarlet color was just stunning.

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Himself and I went up to Vancouver last weekend to see the Sounders take on the Whitecaps in the first Cascadia game of the season. Despite our boys getting off to a slow start, it was an exciting match even if it did end in a tie. More than that, it was a wonderful weekend and a much needed break after finishing my last dress. We took the train up, strolled around in the soft spring sunshine, had a lovely dinner at the tiny little place we first discovered during the last Vancouver riots and generally had a perfect time.


Barkley had his first night away from home too, staying with two friends of ours at their place. They tell me he was good but then I expect they would say that. Also their cat apparently chased him.


If you make it up to Vancouver, definitely check out a place called Fat Dragon BBQ. It’s a melding of Asian and southern style BBQ and it was wonderful. They had Thai basil soft serve ice cream too. Noms.

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Family, Fruit & Fabric

I’ve had my mother-in-law all this last weekend, which was quite lovely. During several well-timed breaks in the ‘Oh Lord, the rain has already started and it’s not officially even officially autumn yet’ we all toddled down to World Spice and Pikes Place Market on Saturday.

As seemingly everyone else in Seattle joined us in rushing out en masse to be outside while you could do so without also being quite sopping wet, it was a bit of a zoo.

Sunday was much the same and, when the rain let up, we raced off down the street to our neighborhood Farmers Market which included an unexpected classic car show  that had blocked off several blocks of the main street. I had some of the first Honeycrisp apples of the season, which if you haven’t had them are good enough that I honestly can’t bring myself to eat other, lesser apples now, which seem mealy and bland fruit-shaped hoaxes and pale in comparison.  Himself bought me a tiny piece by a local artist that is a very prettily rendered crow painted over a decoupaged quote from Poe’s ‘The Raven’ which I adored at first sight.

See? A lovely weekend.

Having my lovely mother in law in residence also meant a short enforced break in my sewing work, as my sewing studio is also the guest room. In order to have things just so, all such things had to get neatly tucked away in the closet.

I thought to myself as I was tidying up on Thursday night that, after several weeks of working at work and then working at home amid the various assortment of usual chores and such that it takes to keep things trim and comfortable on the domestic front, that I would relish the enforced weekend break spent doing family sorts of things. This is certainly true, and I had a perfectly pleasant time being unproductive.  Taking guests about to show them your city invariably makes you appreciate it more and do all the things that you probably mean to but never get ‘round to doing under normal circumstances.

By Sunday night, though, I found myself itching to get back to work.

I have a bias cut grey and violet plaid skirt that is mostly done and just needs a zipper and hemmed that I suddenly had a great idea for, and now want to rework slightly.

I have to say that though it’s early days yet, I’m glad to find myself craving getting back to work.  This morning at other-work, I just wanted to ogle fabric, which I certainly do not need more of at the moment, only there is this really lovely muted teal and grey mohair sweater knit that would go perfect with a sort of a heathered wool gauze in the same color family. I was thinking a little fifies-esque frock, fitted through the bodice with a ballet neckline, bracelet length sleeves and circle skirt for the gauze and ruffled cardigan with the knit? Of course, I should very likely not until I’ve got through at least half of my current supply, but it was really gorgeous… Fall is certainly my favorite season for textiles as well as apples.

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