Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Clan of the Big-headed Women

It seems there are a lot of us with big heads. Sandy claims hers is bigger than mine. She wears her husband's hats. My husband's hats are too small for me. My problem is two-fold. Big head, lots of hair. I measured my head. If I pull a tape measure tightly around my head, just above my eyebrows it measures 23.5 inches. According to a chart I found by googling that is an XL or 7.5 hat size. I need a little extra room for my hair if I don't want a crease in it when I remove the hat. The hat I made measures 26 inches around the opening, which leaves it nicely roomy on my head.

I got lots of suggestions. I have tried the stretching idea. I have had luck taking the band off hats made of straw or grass-like materials, wetting and stretching them. I have never been able to stretch a fabric hat enough to make it fit.

I plan to make a rain hat from the pattern one of these days.  Synthia suggested cute oilcloth. That might be good, but perhaps a little too cute for my tastes. I am thinking more along the lines of GORE-TEX® . This is Oregon. We don't do cheerful rain gear. We blend into the landscape and are one with the rain. (ohmmmm) My friend Sheila directed me to Sunday Afternoons, a company in Southern Oregon. These look like very nifty hats and they do have an extra large size—which is not a guarantee that it will actually be large enough, but seems worth checking into.

For my hat I made my own pattern. It is a simple design, but required some math and figuring and trying. I constructed a paper hat and adjusted the sizing, then took it apart to use for the pattern. I am very happy to share my pattern with my big-headed sisters, if you'd like to make your own. I will need to draft it in Illustrator and make into a pdf, which I can email, so give me a week or two. I'm going to be gone for several days before I can even get to it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Big head, big hat

I have a big head. I look silly in hats because they do not fit onto my head. They perch, like fat birds, atop my head. I have always found it strange that women's hats come in one size only. I know women whose heads are so small that most hats cover their eyes. Men's hats are more likely to be sized and occasionally I find a men's XL that fits me, but the choices are limited and most men's styles are not to my liking. Once my son Andy gave me a purple woman's hat for Christmas. It actually fit. I asked how he decided on it and knew it would fit me. He said he tried it on and knew if it fit his head it would fit mine. Large heads are inherited. I would loved to have seen him trying on the purple hat in the store!

I am getting ready to go on vacation and for years I have wanted a soft, floppy hat that will keep the sun off my face—one I could fold up and stuff in my pocket or pack. Earlier this week I looked once more, in vain, for such a hat. After examining a few, I decided I could make my own, in a size that would fit me. Here it is, and it fits over my large head and thick hair. I am wearing it as I type this. I like it so well I might make more. I think, made from waterproof fabric, it would be great for a rain hat. Ray even liked it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A day in Portland

Old friends from another city were here for a quick visit. They hadn't seen the house since we were working on it before we moved in, so we brought them out for lunch and the quick tour, then into the city to see what we could see. The old standbys—Powell's Books, The Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, Saturday Market—were all old hat. Been there, done that. The weather was undecided. Rain by the bucket load, then sun and blue sky and then all of it over again. Seemed like our friends might enjoy a stroll down N. Mississippi Street, a bit of the old, a bit of the new and a small sampling of Portland culture.

We went into this store, restored to its elegant bird-free state.

The birds, well chickens, were actually here at Pistils Nursery, roaming among the plants and flowers.

Sunlan Lighting is a light bulb store. Any kind of light bulb you would ever need or not need. Our friend Monte got just what he needed for an antique fixture that won't handle a modern light bulb. The owner, sitting at her desk as you come in the door greets you with, "good afternoon. How may I enlighten you?"

We walked on. The sun came out, the sky turned blue. We browsed the gourmet salt shop. We found just the exact tiny piece of hardware Monte needed for another project at the Rebuilding Center, we marveled at the curiosities in the shop windows, and admired the lovely old buildings that house them.

Note how the color of the sky has changed since the previous photos. Really, it was a crazy weather day.

We finished the day with an excellent Portland micro brew, before heading back across town.

Great to spend the time with Monte and Janet and fun to play tourist in our own city.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


It has been a weird week. I am running up against the deadline for finishing the "Elements" pieces and I essentially lost two days this week. Monday morning I woke up with a stiff neck and by bedtime I was in a serious amount of pain. Did not sleep and by morning I was in such pain and fear of what might be causing it that I went straight to the Urgent Care Clinic near us. It was a strained trapezius muscle in my neck, making my neck impossible to move without screaming, hot pain and sending tentacles of pain winding up around my skull. The recommendation was rest and drugs and sleep and a soft cervical collar to support the weight of my head. So I lounged around all day on Tuesday reading and sleeping, felt a little better on Wednesday and much better today. So I was back in the studio this afternoon.

"Water" should have been easy (that's why I left it for last), but I had a hard time settling on an idea. Close to my heart is the wetland area where we walk, so that began to take shape in my head. I started with an assortment of blue, gray and tan fabrics and fused some strips to form a base.

At the end of today I had this:

I think I am nearly there. A few additions, then I will trim it to size and bind it.

Speaking of the wetland area, we had a surprise when we walked last week. Sofia was with us, and as we came around the corner near the Fanno Farmhouse, Beth and I were talking away and Sofia piped in "look at the turtle!" There, studiously digging in the dirt at the side of the trail, was a large turtle. I took its picture with my phone.
That evening on the local news was a story of another turtle that was captured in a backyard several miles away. They are snapping turtles that have invaded the wetlands and creek. They are not native to the area and are thought to have been pets, originally, that were released into the creek and have bred there for years. This is the season when they come onto land to dig holes and lay eggs. They are quite destructive, eating the native fish, frogs, even baby ducks and can take a finger off if you are dumb enough to offer it to one. We found this one pretty interesting and were happy to have encountered it until we learned later what pests they are. If we see another we are advised to call the Parks department or Fish and Wildlife, who will come and take it away. Wish I had known. Now I am on the lookout when we walk.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The old with the new

Ray's greenhouse is his happy place. I have to check in every so often to see what's up. I think the last time I posted pictures the entrance looked like this.

There's much more of a jungle view through that glass door these days, and the door, itself, is now painted to match the siding.

I noticed recently that he has hung a few treasures on the upper wall—things we have carried with us for years. Horseshoes. I told him that you are supposed to hang horseshoes with the opening facing upwards, otherwise the good luck empties out the bottom. He didn't care. Pieces of an old iron stove. We found these

on a hike many years ago when we came upon the ruins of an old cabin. The tool at the far end is a log peeler, made for removing the bark from logs. Where did this one come from? I'm not sure, but it is like the ones my family used when we were building our cabin.

The oval plate is an international license plate that we bought for the shiny, new yellow Volkswagon we bought in Germany in 1972 . We spent that summer traveling in Europe in our yellow bug, then we shipped it home. The Oregon plate is the first one we had when we moved to Oregon in 1979. I was happy to find these old fragments of our earlier lives lending their spirit to the new greenhouse.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Drawing with the sewing machine

If you have been keeping up with my drawing blog you know that I have been focusing on contour drawing. I thought I might try some contour drawing with my sewing machine. I laid a little bunch of leaves next to my sewing machine and decided to first draw some of the leaves on a gray/green fabric and fused them onto a piece of white canvas. Then I started "drawing" using black thread in the machine. Free motion stitching is not unlike drawing with a pen or pencil, except instead of moving a pen across the paper, you move the fabric under the needle.

I added a contour line of the shadow with gray thread.

I wish I had not stitched the veins in the leaves. Too much and they are far too tight and fussy. I removed them from the photo in Photoshop to see what it might have looked like. I like it better.

I could go back and pick out all those stitches, but I won't. Just something to file away for the next time.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Seasons, they go 'round and 'round...

This week marks the end of another school year, during which we have helped to care for our grandchildren. We have had the pleasure of doing this since Sofia was born a little more than five years ago. Marco was born almost two years ago. Their parents, my daughter and son-in-law, think we are helping them out with childcare. We are, from our point of view, both helping them and adding so much joy and love into our own lives by having them with us for two days a week during the school year.

There is no more powerful reminder of how quickly time passes than watching a child grow. Sofia will go to kindergarten next year. It seems like such a short time ago that she was born, making us grandparents for the first time. We still refer to Marco as "the baby" but, as you can see, he is quickly moving beyond babyhood.

On today's excursion to the nature park, the kids and Ray and I loved the sunshine and the blooming forest and the smell of woods. We have all been cooped up indoors for most of the past nine months and today felt like summer had arrived. Marco, who seems to be learning a new word every day, learned the word "flower." Sofia exclaimed over the yuckiness of the many giant slugs encountered on the trail. They were the only animals we saw today.

They walked, skipped and ran along the path to the end, then let Ray push them in the stroller on the return trip.

Marco wore himself out.

Next week their parents, both educators, will start a hard-earned summer break. We will see them all often, but not for our scheduled twice weekly days together. I will get a lot more artwork and blogging and drawing done. They are five minutes away, but I will miss them. The brightest little lights in my life.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

A week...

has gone by since my last post here. Dang, time flies.Can't say I was too busy to post, though we did have a sick baby this week—our grandson— and did a bit more childcare and support services than a usual week, but still. I just didn't have too much to post about. STASH met on Thursday and we celebrated Gale's birthday.  I posted on my new drawing blog. I am having fun with it and making myself do a bit more drawing than usual. Please join me over there and draw along, or just enjoy the drawings that readers are sending.

I finished the "Air" quilt for the set of "Elements."

"Water" will be the last, but I am still pondering. In the meantime I made a start on my next 12 x 20 piece. The theme is "Myths". I don't want to share too much before the reveal, but I made a challenge for myself to portray draped, striped fabric. I started with a little sketch.

Then I cut into one of my precious pieces of Marcia Derse fabrics to start putting it together. I think it is a good effect. Here is a bit of a preview. Care to guess what it is?

This fabric is so beautiful. My favorite color for sure. I tend to hoard favorite fabrics. It is always hard to make the first cut into something really special. But this was just what was called for here, I think. I needed something fit for a goddess. OK, that's all the hinting I plan to do.

This morning I wandered around the yard while I was waiting for my friend, Jeri to arrive to go to a meeting with me for the Open Studio tour. It was wet out from all the rain, but boy are things blooming. This is my neighbors' Dogwood tree. Astounding.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

On the path to somewhere...

I headed to the studio this afternoon as Ray was working on the final section of the pathway to the studio, with the assistance of his loyal cat, Thor.
Those little bloops of green along the way are Irish moss, which we hope will spread and fill in between the rocks. I added the solar lights to light the way.

Along the way I admired the poppies and the foxgloves.

 I spent the afternoon quilting/doodling on the "air" quilt and finally finished the stitching part. Here is a detail.

Then I added the dots. I'm not sure where these dots originated in my brain, but somehow they seem to work on everything. More needed, I think.

In this piece the air is just full of "stuff". Leaves, pollen, motion. fragrances and atmosphere. It seemed odd to be working on an autumnal quilt on such a perfectly wonderful spring day.

At the end of the day I had accomplished a lot and so had Ray.

Pretty great pathway, huh?