Monday, January 21, 2013

Muslin Number Two

Here's  a photo of the first muslin I did the other day. As I stated in the previous blog entry, the neckline is much too wide for my taste.  Maybe in a younger day, but with my bust line now, this style sort of made a presentation of my head and neck. So, I moved on to another pattern and another piece of fabric from my stash.
This is the casual knit top I finished this afternoon.  You can see some similar design features, but the neckline is much more reasonable for me.  I finished this, hems and all and will no doubt wear it around the house, maybe further, but it does need one modification to the fit.  I need to raise the neckline in the back due to my rounded upper back (sometimes unflatteringly named a widow's hump or some such horrible appellation.) In any case, it's there and has been for decades and affects the way tops "sit" and usually makes the center back pull up.  Sometimes the yoke will compensate for it, but in the case of this pattern, it needs more help. 

This pattern may be made in woven fabric as well, and I think that a rayon or some other drapey fabric would work well.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Making a Muslin

The owner of an independent pattern company I sometimes buy from always advises us to sew a  muslin before cutting into our wonderful fabric. If you take the long view, this is sensible and may save you from a total disaster. I have never been a big fan of doing this as it takes as long or longer than making the garment alone. It also uses fabric for something that may never be wearable. So, a compromise for my frugal soul is to make the garment from a not too expensive fabric, but if the project is wearable, perhaps I can wear the 'muslin' around the house.

Well, it's been a long time since I've actually made much for myself to wear. My shape, which never did comply with commercial pattern sizes has changed even farther in these past few years. So, as  I have been looking at patterns and styles and fabrics thinking about what I'd like to make, the muslin idea seems even more sensible.

So, today I made up a pattern for a casual knit top.  I most likely will not make this pattern in fashion fabric, there are some basic problems with the width of the yoke piece.  I just don't like exposing that much skin to the sun or for all the world to see. However, I did use a piece of knit fabric that must have been really really cheap. It's a green, tan and pink camo pattern. (I have fabric that was purchased before my four year stint in Japan - I have little recollection of how much it cost or when I bought it.)

At least now I know to look for a different pattern for a casual knit top. I guess that was worth some of my time today.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Where Shopping is a Pleasure

I might as well admit it first thing, I like shopping, especially grocery shopping.  I think that in most countries I have visited I have wanted to see what the local grocery or market looks like.  Here in Florida we have several chain grocery stores and even if I do visit one or two of the others, the one I really like is the one with the slogan I have used for my title, Publix.

If I make that statement around people who live here I may get a response that indicates that they think that I'm wasting my money; everyone knows that Publix prices are higher than elsewhere. I have seen surveys over the years usually sending someone to each of the major contenders to purchase the same basket of commonly used foods. They then show the differences in price and declare one store the low price leader.

Price isn't everything. I'm big on cleanliness and wide aisles. I also like helpful, knowledgeable staff, attractively displayed produce. Having an on site bakery is great if the products are nice looking and great tasting.

However, the way you shop makes a big difference.  I'm one of those people who keep at least a minimal "pantry" of packaged, canned or frozen food that I like and use.  Once I have established that, I am free to buy fruits and vegetables in season and products that I use regularly when they are specially priced.  One of the hardest things to get together when I returned to Florida was a basic pantry.  I needed everything.

Of course I don't have a family to consider, and I have really cut back on meat in my diet, so I know that my way of shopping won't suit everyone. Even so, Publix has gone a step further in making my shopping a pleasure.  They have a free android app available which I downloaded to my phone.  I can look at the weekly ad and make my shopping list.  I have told it which store I shop in, so the list appears divided up into the numbered aisles of my store. Today at the checkout I showed the cashier and the young woman doing the bagging. They had, of course heard about the app, but had no idea it was really useful. It really was fun - me a 65 year old showing a couple twenty-somethings a great app on my phone.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Same Four Eyes

Had an appointment to have an eye exam first thing this morning.  I hadn't had one since 2007 and hadn't had new glasses made since 2006. I thought surely I would be getting a new prescription; not so. The reason for my tired eyes is just deteriorating muscle tone. The feeling that I can't see things as clearly as I once did is due to the beginning of cataracts. Boo.

The good news is that my retina and macula are in good shape and for that I am grateful. My doctor does a very thorough exam and I am just waiting now for the medication that dilates the pupils to wear off before going to the sewing room - it's quite bright there most days. I will need to restrict my sewing activities to daytime till I get my Daylight Lamp back I think.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

People On My Path

Sunday has been a steep relearning curve for me here in Florida.  Since I left in 2008 so many of the usual things have changed, and then an additional batch of things changed as well, so I returned to a home church that was in some ways unrecognizable. Certainly this church is larger than any I attended in Japan, and yet so much smaller than when I left. Many many staff changes including lead pastor, music pastor and church secretary occurred in the interim. We still have a large seasonal group who spend winters only in Florida and they have gradually been returning.

Reading Graham Orr's new book, Not So Secret has encouraged me to look at these changes in a different way than I have in the past, and I am able to begin coming to terms with some things. So, progress, I think.

Today before the service I saw a familiar face and was happy to greet a woman who had moved away from our area to Deland, FL. She has been a supporter for years and she and her late husband and family have been involved with missions for a long time.  She invited me to have lunch with her after church and I accepted. Now that I think about it, she is the first person to invite me to lunch after church since I'm back. So we ate and talked and caught up on each others activities for a couple of hours. Here is another person who is sensitive to where my head is these days and is truly interested. Wow, two in one week, how great is that?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friendly Advice

My dear friend Julie's comment on yesterday's post inspired me today. I have been back in my U.S. home since early October and except to test my sewing machine to see if the lights still lit up when I turned it on, I have not spent any time in my sewing room doing any sewing.  What have I been thinking?

So this morning I installed the sewing machine in it's table, running the wires in the proper places and did a tiny job of repair on a shirt I noticed needed doing on laundry day. I also put my serger into it's table, oiled it and attempted to thread it.  I had made an appointment to get my hair done and had to stop before I succeeded in the job, but it felt like such progress!

At the hairdresser's I had an opportunity to talk about Japan and my trip to the UK to someone who hadn't heard any of it before and asked interesting questions. I was invited to come sit while she set another lady's hair and talk.  I didn't even blink when one of them asked if I could see Mt Vesuvius from where I lived in Tokyo.

Now, back to that serger.  I'm sure I can master it!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

No Pain, No Gain?

I've disliked that saying since the first time I saw it on the wall of the workout room at a gym I visited for a time.  Does gain always have to be painful?  I think not, but also know that painless gain is rare. The event that brought on this musing today was the walk I took around the neighborhood wearing my new walking shoes.  They fit really well considering I bought them online. I did know when I bought them from the Earth Shoe Company that they would have negative heels - the company's term for the way they construct the shoe, so that when you wear them you stretch your leg muscles. In younger days I wore out several pairs of the same type of shoe. Now with my older body I find many parts complaining about the extra stretch after my walk. So, here's hoping for some gain in my fitness level.
On an entirely different topic, I finished reading the second book of Terry Pratchit's Discworld series. I heard about them from friends in Japan; Friends from New Zealand and England. I remember finding it improbable that the books could be any good as I had never heard of them or the author.  Goodness Gracious! I can be an insufferable American. The Light Fantastic contains several of the best (worst) puns I have ever come across. Thanks R.P. and G.O. for the recommendation.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

It is progress, if slow, and sometimes the places revisited are worth the journey. 

Today we returned to our regular schedule at the church, laying out squares for new quilts, sewing tops together and knotting the layers together. We gave one more quilt away to one of our people being cared for at home by her husband. That made a total of 70 quilts made and given away last year. This is less than the total for last year, so we are making an effort to do better this year.

Leaving there I went to pick up a check that needed to be deposited in the bank. I went to a branch of my bank I visit infrequently and the teller was someone I met years ago. The daughter of friends. She knew something of my recent work in Japan and asked some very insightful questions.  The bank wasn't busy so we were able to chat a bit. It was lovely to be listened to. To have someone be truly interested in what I've been doing, where I've been. However, some of the ground we covered was still able to bring tears close to the surface and scrape at the healing wounds.

I've decided that I need to work at cultivating friendships new and old.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Start

Our lives can be full of new starts if we choose to see it that way.  This is often associated with the new year, but think about it, really, we can choose to see any day, any event, any time as a new start.

Sometimes I think I get bogged down to commitments made to myself that are unrealistic. It's great to have goals and to work hard to reach them, but from time to time I think I have slightly misplaced goals which need to be reevaluated and reset.

So, today I will be re-thinking some of the places I'm headed and re-evaluate the need, desire, and wisdom of those goals. Perhaps tomorrow I will need to readjust a bit, but tomorrow is another new start, it pays to keep your options open and to be flexible.