The Familiar Comfort of Cloth

The other day I opened the sewing trunk that serves as a bench in the front hall area.

And removed anything that might be usable for clothing that was among all the linen pieces. Those and the tattered shawl to press and take another look at. I even found a small stack of purely Australian printed swatches

It felt good to put the iron to everything I pulled out….especially the shawl of pigments with holes and stitches.

One stack of pressed linen went in with new two metre lengths of linen bought in the last two months for pants or tops. Small scraps went into a bag for patchwork. And some of those were rolled up with the leftover Eucalyptus leaves that I ordered from California several months ago.

That bundle and two shirts from my closet that I filled with more leaves and wrapped tight, were put in a pot with iron and simmered for three hours yesterday. The iron scrap is from a leg of an old wood stove that I bought in 1997 on my first trip to Australia. I was in a recycle shop and the man who took my money was incredulous, “Don’t you Americans have rusty things at home?!” I tried to tell him that it was not the same thing but to no avail. He thought I was nuts.

I love that smell of cooking cloth with leaves and seed pods from Eucalyptus. Now the three bundles are sitting in a bucket on the porch for a week or so before I unwrap them. A good day it was…the smell in the house with fond memories.

I folded up the shawl and then went through my threads to do more stitching into the loosely patched areas. It is like holding a cloud when I work on it.

And I get to use Marla’s gift of an old book turned into a sewing kit. Lovely.

When I finish this over the winter, it should be completely held together with stitching.

My soup from the other day turned into what Adele Outteridge calls, “spoon standing soup”. Two meals a day of this is not getting too boring but I did like having lunch out today.

I get my ugly stitches removed tomorrow morning after I go to the gym. Tuesday morning it was a lovely sunrise when I was leaving there.

By the time I went around two curves to get back home, it looked like this. A beautiful morning.

The dogwood tree out back is turning and showing it’s berries. And the red fountain grass loves being near the pond.

I am still writing and looking over the Burke and Wills story. It will need total concentration to make it all sound right. And in the meantime I thought it would be fun to also publish the Stoat Story. I spent most of yesterday afternoon trying to find the original word document on my computer. No luck! Where did it go? I tried all the searches but only the illustrations show up…none of the text. So I will have to take my own copy of the book and write it all down from there to get it into a word document that can be arranged with the illustration that part of the story goes with. In my limited edition of the story all the pictures were connected end to end in a concertina form with the text below. I won’t be able to do that if I self publish through Amazon under Sandy Webster. But it is just another challenge to figure out.

There was such a collection of pictures I had to get a blog written to get them used. So this one might seem a bit scattered. Next week I will be able to show the leaf contact printed cloth and shirts. No more soup making for at least a month. I am taking myself out to dinner tomorrow night to celebrate something…maybe getting stitches out…maybe finding lost documents…maybe just having good food and wine. Or maybe writing a good poem for the poetry meeting next week.

Speaking of writing, my first royalty checks have been deposited. Thank you to those here in this country and those very good people down in Australia.

Better go…could use a walk and another search through the computer.

Til later….



One day for out patient surgery on my face. All is fine but it took a couple of days to get the anesthetic to wear off. No gym, no tai chi, no walking, and no wine!

I will see the doctor Monday for a follow up

Before my surgery I had time to sample the wares of the baker who moved into the kitchen where we all have coffee in the morning. She is superb. And on the first day she made the longed-for cinnamon rolls. Delicious! from there she went to an apple cider French toast made with brioche, pecans and  fresh apples from an orchard about an hour away. There are so many things coming out of the oven when I get there a bit before 8 in the morning, Monday through Friday.

Then another cinnamon roll to welcome me back from my day away is pictured with a couple of butternut squashes decorated with a smile. The men are gathering in the background pondering what to order for breakfast.

I did manage to put some of my own banana bread in the freezer and had some this morning with my latte. Dorinda the baker does not bake on weekends and as soon as she leaves at one each day she heads off to her “real” job as a paralegal. Amazing woman. My banana bread looks nothing like hers.

And while we are on food, I have the last of every vegetable, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, red pepper, celery, carrots, garlic, onion, spinach, tomatoes, all in a pot with ditali pasta. It will last me for several meals.

I worked on Burke and Wills and now have them well situated in the nursing home.

Now it is just constant reading aloud and changing words. My children’s poetry friend from the poetry group told me I tended to have eight syllables on most lines and that was a good number to stay with. It never occurred to me to count them! No wonder I seek her advice. I think the hard part of telling this story is over, but there will be plenty of edits before I want to put it all together. The final decision on where the nineteen illustrations go has been made

I need another project to get started on. Watching the end of the film based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, Alias Grace, today made me want to thread a needle and just stitch on something big. The quilts in the movie and her hands threading needles and holding layers of cloth were mesmerizing. I am going to open the large sewing trunk this week and seriously get out some cloth. I am thinking about the large linen shawl that had earth pigments and then hand stitching to get through the difficult news of Lee’s dementia. It was such a soothing and worn cloth. There were holes from the green earth full of an acids that needed sewn over. And rows and rows of kantha stitches in colors.

I wonder about cutting it up to piece back together with another cloth that has been waiting in the trunk. Something big that will take all winter and stay on my lap by a cozy fire.

I am also going to do a bit of sewing on clothes. I bought the most amazing linen in a grey with a hint of green this week. Washed and dried, it is begging to be made into pants. Today I have on the ones I covered with patches because a hole wore through the seat. And you can’t just have a patch on the rear end. They needed patches in different places as well to look right. They are so soft!

So after I see the surgeon on Monday and get to the hairdresser the same day, I am going to open that trunk, pull out my favorite patterns and the new linens that are waiting, and SEW!

Til later….

A Good Men Post

This morning the washing machine hose popped out of it’s drain. Big mess with water all over. Put the machine on “pause” and called the builder on a Saturday morning. He came and put things back together…even skinnied in behind to clean what the water did not wash out in the way of dust bunnies. I did not know I had so many towels!

Now washing towels with no worries that the hose will become dislodged again. Kept in place with five zip ties!

A week or so ago I went to the dermatologist to have those pesky things that appear on old faces looked at. Two of the three removed bits require more surgery at the hospital this coming week. I was told I could not drive myself home afterwards because of the anesthetic. So while having breakfast out with some from the coffee shop that I see five days a week, I asked about the county transit service to get to the hospital and back. One of the fellows said not to do that because he could easily take me there, hang out at Walmart, have lunch and be back there three hours later to bring me home. I told him I thought that was asking a lot and he assured me it was what he wanted to do.  Such out of the blue kindness. I am taking him up on his offer.

The past several days I have been writing more rhymes for the Burke and Wills story. So far I have written through ten of the nineteen illustrations. There is so much self-editing in children’s rhyming. Each time you look at it and read it aloud, you see where it could be better…it is just finding the best word to make that adjustment that takes time. But I will get there.

I looked on Amazon to see if there were any reviews on the four books under S. Webster….still only that one international review that gave five stars for each book. I am thanking that likely Australian for being so kind.

I continue writing poetry for the meetings twice a month, but feel a bit depressed when most of them write about aging, the state of the world, dying, etc. Some of the words seem to be wagging a finger at someone who is guilty of something or simply not paying attention to how things are. I so appreciated the children’s poetry writer who had a fun rhyme about using an elephant as a piece of playground equipment. Sometimes the other writers feel a need to share their life experiences related to someone’s poem, and too much time is lost that could be better used at critique time. And so many of them need to be published to feel their work is valid. It is strange the things we think are important.

Now here is something important!

A familiar convict on a new white label. I stopped buying much of the 19 Crimes wine after they thought it clever to put Snoop Dog and Martha Stewart on their labels as additional convicts. Those two may have served time but they had zero to do with helping in the early stages of developing new life in Australia. It was a pathetic marketing ploy to the American consumer. Anyway, the boys are back. I recognized this one from before. Figured I should photograph the back of the bottle.

Evidently this is one of those six who made a great escape back to the country they were forced to leave after committing one of those nineteen crimes that got them deported. And of course I downloaded the app so the label would come alive and I could hear him tell his story. And now the label even sports a chart of how bold the red wine is.

A convict’s wine should never be thought of as “light” but I will have to buy it to see for myself if it appears on the shelf.

I think I will write some more about the lives of Burke and Wills. They are growing up and getting a bit stout for the house they are in. Could be time to move.

Or, I could read Limberlost. Or start writing another short story. Or just finish the towels and have a massage on the Migun bed. That might just take me up to wine time. Or at least close enough. I will practice a bit of tai chi first…so embarrassing if I fell over in class next week.

Til later…


Back With Books

Another entry in the Meadow Book.

And the basket makers of Tasmania gathered again…so I had to keep up in the Gathering Book.

Then several more illustrations for the Burke and Wills book.

Burke’s mother keeping an eye on him.

Finding a bigger house that Wills can fit into.

The new kitchen.

And a bit more work on the place they end up…the nursing home.

I now have eighteen illustrations for the book. I need to get down to writing the story in rhyme.

And then a friend emailed me to ask my input on making a book to hold samples of weavings. I liked this idea so well that I wish I had samples of my own to house in a book. It would be good for basket weave swatches, loom weavings, collage and hand pulled prints….and anything else one could think of.

So, what it involves is the making of a double concertina book…or double accordion. The small concertina fits through slits in the valley folds of the larger one and are kept from slipping out by putting a piece through its extended fold that is the width of the protruding fold and the height of the book. These slits need to be in the center and if using a thick handmade paper, may require cutting a bit more away than just a slit. Keep things snug but do not tear the slit.

This book that can be added onto by simply making more concertina folds in both sizes to extend it. And the best part is the smaller concertina and its stop piece of paper gives lots of extra thickness at the spine edge where it will be needed to make up for the added on folios with windows to hold the samples.

The windows have been cut through the folio on both sides.  Keeping in mind that the samples need to be kept clear of the smaller extended concertina with its stop sheet. The folio only  glues on by 1/4 inch to the concertina that is extended further out.

You can see above how the short concertina folds coming out in the center help give space where needed. And here is another fun part about this concertina with the stop sheet fitted in. Years ago I cut a hole in the small concertina so I could slide a hidden image or message up into view. This can also be a thicker card stock to add needed thickness. For weaving samples I am seeing both concertinas made from a nice thick handmade paper. For hand pulled prints maybe a nice thick card stock…

To keep the sample or print from dropping through, a simple fold of paper glued to the front and back insides of the folio just below the window out of sight. Additionally printed information about the weaving/print can be added in the window on the back side.

When the book has all the pages it is going to get, lay it flat on the table and measure the thickness to cut a spine piece of book board and front and back covers a smidge bigger than the height and width of the book. Make a separate cover with these three pieces and then attach it to the book using extensions off the front and back to hold it in place. These will be covered with the end papers.

I hope this has not been too boring, but I needed to share this idea somewhere.

Til later….