Monday, November 9, 2015

Today, I lost it.

Stop calling. Please stop calling. I spent 3 hours working on your case last week, which you absolutely deserved, but with over 80 families on my caseload, I'd need to work 240+ hours per week to give them as much of my energy. Never mind the intakes 3 days a week, and meetings for half the day(s) on Tuesday and Thursday, and anything else that requires my attention. 

Please stop calling me on repeat. Your situation is urgent, no doubt, but with every message and every call, I have less time to actually do the work you need me to do. Listening to the 2-3 voicemails you leave each day (for different reasons) only accounts for a small amount of my time, but the fact that you leave 2-3 messages in one day with the same question that we talked about yesterday, makes my job more difficult. Some days I spend 15-20 minutes just checking my messages. 

You're right, why should I complain? Like I've been reminded so many times, I have a warm bed and a paycheck to go home to. You're right. My children don't go hungry because they are waiting on someone else to update their case, to issue assistance, to just Do. Their. Job. 

I just realized I forgot/ran out of time to issue someone's food benefits today. I hate this feeling. I'd drive back to work right now and do it if I could, just so I don't have to go to bed with that guilt.  

While I was busy forgetting that other family, you kept calling me on redial, like often happens. I'm not sure what else to say, but I was busy. I'm sorry you think I'm ignoring-- and it's true, I know it's you calling on my caller ID and I definitely didn't answer. Today, while you were calling me on redial, I was on the phone with 911. Then when you kept calling, I was talking to a police officer while simultaneously attempting to reassure my client that the abuser in our parking lot would not come into our building and kill her, like he had threatened. Sure, I didn't know if my reassurances were right, but you gotta have some hope, right?

Then when you were calling on redial, that person sitting at my desk was constantly interrupted by the ringing of my phone. When I called to make arrangements to try and keep someone safe, you were there on the other line, calling.

We were rushing. I answered my phone and was regrettably curt, asking you to PLEASE stop calling me on repeat because it was extremely difficult to have a conversation with the person at my desk. No, I'd not listened to your messages from this afternoon yet. WHEN COULD I?!? When???

I'd really hoped to finish this intake in time to have a police escort out of the building for my client, but instead I escorted them myself. Meanwhile, my phone just kept ringing. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Winter: Hearty Vegetarian Stroganoff

It's raining in the Pacific NW, after a long, hot, and very dry summer. I'm glad the weather has finally turned-- cozy months ahead!


** Note: I don't have any exact measurements when cooking, so these are all approximations and you can adjust to taste.

1. Roast some vegetables. Whatever you want-- an organic variety of mixed veg, especially if in season, is best! 
Pan 1: I added Rosemary to the mix on left (chopped finely after taking picture): potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower, red onion, and entire head of garlic, peeled and left in whole cloves. + olive oil, sea salt

Pan 2: cauliflower, sweet potato, onion. + olive oil, sea salt. This is set aside for tacos later this week!

2. While veg roasts, cook 1 cup whole spelt with 2.5 cups water until tender. Bring to a boil, then simmer with lid on for 30 - 45 minutes. 

3. While those things cook, make mushroom stroganoff!!

-- add oil or butter to pan, enough to prevent sticking and make the food a little fatty too, because fat is delicious. 
-- add sliced/chopped onions, chopped mushrooms, and either eggplant (my most frequent choice), TVP, tempeh, or veggie sausage. I prefer the brand Gimme Lean for this dish if I'm going to use a meat replacement. 

Sauté this together until mushrooms are well-cooked. 

-- add ~1 cup semi-concentrated broth. I mix my broth paste with less water for bigger flavor, and if you are using prepared/liquid broth I'd recommend cooking it down a bit in the pan. 

I like to buy little jars of broth extract paste that one mixes with water to make broth. I like the brand "Better Than Boullion," and their vegetable broth is good here. They also have a great no-chicken chicken broth that is vegetarian and really great for other dishes. 

-- In a small jar, mix flour with cold water in a ratio that makes sense for the amount of liquid in your mushroom pan. This will be the thickener for all the liquid, turning it into delicious gravy. 

Add flour thickener, and stir until gravy textured. You might need to add more water or more flour thickener. Relax and imagine how delicious the gravy will be. 

-- add dried dill weed and smoked paprika to flavor. 

Let this all summer for a bit, then let cool for a bit. Once the gravy mix is no longer hot, add thick, plain yogurt and stir it up! Avoid adding yogurt while hot or it might curdle. 

Layer the foods, add some extra yogurt if you like, and serve with a side of your favorite pickles. 

I added pickled kale (recipe is in my canning archives) to mine. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Banana Bread; 1941 recipe

Roughly 20 years ago, my grandma Bonnie agreed to host 4-h classes at her home for a group of 'neighborhood' girls one summer. We 
lived on a farm in a rural area of northern Utah and neighborhood is a loose term there, meaning people living within about 5 miles of home. Grandma was one our nearby neighbors-- just a single mile bike ride toward the neighbor's dairy, and up the canal road lined with cattails and wild plums, past the shop that housed all of our farm implements. 

That summer, we rode bikes to her house once a week and learned the basics of baking: the purpose of sifting flour, the correct way to measure flour in a cup, and how/why we should fold the batter of quick breads. My baked goods won a prize ribbon at the county fair that year, and went on to the state fair. Grandma's baking (and her guidance) is just that good!

I learned to bake banana bread from her, a memory I'll cherish forever. When she moved into assisted living this year, her household goods were divided amongst the many kids and grandkids and I inherited a bread pan-- this bread pan. I keep it in a special place and use it like she would have, except I don't pull it out of the oven with bare hands (how did she do that??).

I greased and floured the pan, filled it with the folded batter, and spent the morning thinking of her. Thanks grandma-- you're the best. 

Recipe adapted from a 1941 edition of Fisher's Blend Baking Book. 


1.5 c white flour, .5 c wheat flour

2 tbsp almond milk, 1 tbsp Greek yogurt instead of buttermilk, just to use what's on hand 

1/2 c pecans, added

2/3 c sugar instead of 3/4

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Handspun: Merino/Bamboo yarn

I'M BACK! What's the occasion? I drank coffee in the evening.

Merino / Bamboo Blend Handspun Yarn

Many, many months have passed while I've ignored this space. There were times when blogging was a major past-time for me and now it feels like a fleeting memory. I'm considering reviving the space, in large part because this is how I take notes and document my craft-- the details in what I do, the changes I consider making, the troubles I have, and the successes I celebrate. My appreciation for others' blogs continues and I read many faithfully, thankful for their insight, amused by their lives, and glad to have something to do when I have downtime (though, truthfully, my iphone has taken place of knitting in the purse and I have very mixed feelings about the amount of screen time I maintain...).

So, on that note, I've been spinning again and loving my time at the wheel. I bought this fiber eons ago-- the receipt in the original bag I've kept reads Sept 10, 2011, purchased at Fiber Gallery in Seattle when they were hosting a Black Trillium Fibres trunk show. I purchased two hand-dyed rovings, the first of which was spun while I was still living in Seattle and also knit shortly thereafter into a lovely kerchief. This was put into a plastic tote, moved from an apartment on Queen Anne in Seattle to a farm in Poulsbo, WA, then to a house on Beacon Hill, Seattle, then to Columbia City, Seattle. I packed everything into a U-Haul 2.5 years ago and it went with me to a house in SE Portland, then into a storage unit while I stayed temporarily in a studio in central SE/NE Portland, and then it arrived at my current house in SE Portland. Phew! What a travel partner.

Travel-- that's right. I spun this yarn on a binge of watching repeats of Doctor Who, and may have spilled a few tears when Donna Noble lost all of her memories of the doctor and time changed, again. Time travel, space travel, real travel, whatever. This yarn has seen it all!


4 oz fiber
60% Merino
40% Bamboo
Singles spun S-twist, then chain plied Z-twist
Singles yardage: 1195 yards
3 Ply / Chain Plied yardage: 398 yards
Knitting Weight: ~13 stitches per inch, somewhat variable

And so, here it is. I wrote a full blog post (there are many in draft form collecting dust somewhere on here...). I survived. A few thoughts I'd like to share:

1) Why do I love spinning yarn in summer and fall more than any other time of year? Spinning and knitting seem like such winter crafts to me but this summer I've had a real sewing block (though, I sewed all winter long) and want to spend lots of time on easy, mindless spinning. Maybe it's just that I can justify a TV binge during 100 degree miserable weather a bit better this way. During our heat wave(s) I realized that with the windows shut tight, drapes drawn, blinds tight, it stays a mild (eyeroll) 84 degrees inside the house and with an overhead fan I am quite (relative statement, here) comfortable sitting at my wheel, giving minimal exertion with a product to show at the end.

2) Is blogging just another form of the selfie? An ego stroke at best, or a genuine form of sharing and socialization via the internet? Whatever. At least I'm writing for fun-- a welcome change from the usual case notes and data entry at work.

3) Have you been spinning? Do you want to join me on a spinning retreat on the Oregon coast this winter? This is something I'm really, truly going to plan. I'm going to dye some yarn with lobster mushrooms I've had in the freezer too long, binge-spin some lovely yardage, and comb the shit (literally) out of some fleeces that are stored in my closet(s).

4) Let's talk about carding and combing fleeces. Do you hand card? Do you drum card? Do you comb? I have hand cards and am happy to use them for small bits of fun, but there's no way I'm going to hand card multiple fleeces, and being real... I have something like 4 full alpaca fleeces, a mohair fleece, a romney fleece, and partial other fleeces of Jacob and Romney and who knows what else. My mom owns alpacas and angora goats and I think I/We should really bite the bullet and invest in a drum carder. Do you have experience with different drum carders? What's your favorite and why? We/I want to be economical, but because I intend to spin for the rest of my life and want something durable, I feel like I'd be happier purchasing a chain-drive carder instead of band-drive. Hand crank is great. I'd love your input.

Now, for a real treat, a video of me using my hand carders for the first time in 2009. The technique is terrible, but the short hair is great. Thanks, past self!



Your Long Lost Friend

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pattern Fitting trial with Lutterloh


This Lutterloh adventure is coming along quite nicely, as I've already taken a trial on the vest pattern included in later editions. The vest pattern is designed for women and is intended to help illustrate what fitting changes will be standard for our individual Lutterloh patterns in the future.

The first step to using the vest fitting pattern is enlarging the base pattern, using the special ruler included in your Lutterloh set. Please read the Come Sew Lutterloh with Me blog for more information. It is a treasure trove of help!

Tips/Steps from my experience:
  1. Gather your tools:
    • Ruler kit, push pin, tape, french curve or curled ruler
  1. It helps to have something beneath your pattern to push the pin into. I used a cardboard mat beneath my pattern & paper, and added a second square of cardboard beneath the mat so I could push the pin farther into my pattern without damaging my floor (or table)
  2. Measure properly! Watch the instructional video on Lutterloh's website about pattern fitting and grading. It's helpful to see what you are getting into.
  3. Grading: I'm wearing some winter weight right now but I'm not going to by shy about my measurements. My high bust measures ~86 cm, my full bust is between 89 and 90 cm, and my full hip (the fullest part of my bottom half) is 110 cm. We have two options:
    1. Grade the upper half of the pattern, INCLUDING the waist, at our full bust measurement as instructed, and grade the lower half using our hip measurement. Then we can adjust for things such as narrow shoulders, larger waist, full bust, etc as needed.
    2. Grade the shoulders/neckline and armscye midpoint (basically the middle of the armscye) on our high bust measurement for a better fit through the shoulders, then finish grade the lower portion of the upper half (lower armscye, side seam, waist, etc) with our full bust measurement. I found this gives me a much better fit through shoulders and I have fewer alterations to make. Use full hip measurement for all points BELOW the waist point.
      • *** This method is not endorsed by Lutterloh. I recommend trying approach 1 first to see how it works for you-- but if the shoulder/neckline area of your garments are often too large based on your full bust measurement, I suspect approach 2 might work for you. Or you can Just make a full bust adjustment if your waist measurement is closer in line to the result of grading entirely with your high bust measurement. Basically, make it work for you.
  1. Trace the pattern, sew a muslin, and evaluate the fit. The waist darts don't have plot points, so you need to align them with the shoulder/neckline plot point vertically, then draft them yourself. I didn't bother with this when working the paper pattern and regretted it on my muslin since I was left to just pinch out the darts as needed. It wasn't even and I took in too much at the waist, but I understood the intent and moved on. In the future, I will grade the waist darts like this: measure my total waist circumference of the pattern, determine what my final waist measurement should be (including ease), and divide the difference among the darts as appropriate. I will adjust the waist darts to the shape that bust suits my body, with the dart tips ending at the proper point on below my bust and/or back. Make sense?
My muslin looks ok... but I plan to make modifications this week. The shoulders seem to fit properly for a vest, the waist feels a few cm low, and the bust might be a tad tight for a vest. 

I think I may need to narrow the shoulders a bit. In the future, I might need to draft a slight FBA but I find vintage patterns from mid- 40's - early 60's usually give me extra room as needed in the bust area. I'll pay attention to the waistline on future vintage patterns as I might need to grade out a slight amount there since I won't typically wear a girdle or corset. 

The darts sewn here are too large at waistline-- see the drag lines? This is in part because its a bit tight, and partly because of the length. 

The back of my vest only has darts pinned at the apex so it's not representative. It's easy to tell, however, that it will need work. I am short between the neck and waist and will take out a pinch there, and a narrow shoulder adjustment seems appropriate too. My shoulders look rather sloped too. Once I adjust my darts and sew properly, I will post more pictures with alterations as described. 

Where I had trouble:

  1. See the extra lines on the bottom half of my vest? That's because I initially forgot to plot the points based on my hip measurement! Oops! I am ignoring the blue lines on the bottom half and paying attention to orange instead. When I made a mistake, I found the correcting to a different color helped me cut where I intended.
  2. I had some pretty sharp angles at the waist. I might grade this into a more natural curve depending on the pattern. 
  3. My hip measurement is SIGNIFICANTLY larger than my bust measurement, proportionally speaking. I looked at some of those plotting dots and thought "Seriously?? This is what I should connect?" I did. It worked. I was surprised.
    • The plotting dot at center front seemed really out of line and I wonder if it might give me more room than I want/need. In the future, I might grade this closer in line to the other dots at center front. We'll see.
Older editions of Lutterloh do not have this specific vest pattern-- it appears to have come along once the binder-style editions of Lutterloh were released instead of the old book styles. Regardless, I found the vest is available for free if you sign up for the mailing list at the New Zealand Lutterloh website. The free pattern will be emailed to you shortly after adding yourself to the list.

PS. Sorry about the poor quality night-time pictures. Sewing often gets done in the evenings, and though the days are starting to get longer, I'm dealing with poor light during most of my non-work hours.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Vintage Lutterloh Sewalong

Hi friends!

I've been reading my vintage Lutterloh books with longing (except the German one... I just stare) and have even given attempt at drafting a pattern with decent result. I'd really enjoy having other people with whom I can discuss the efforts, and my friend Emily and I got talking about how this would be a fun group project.
1949 Lutterloh
The Lutterloh system is based on the golden rule-- that our body is proportionate and so the patterns draft up from a drawing based on your bust and hip measurements. I encourage you to read their information online, watch their videos, and do some google work to see how others do it. As it is, the two of us are going to give it a shot and all of you that have your own books (Lutterloh maintains copyright) are invited to join. If you feel like joining, send me your blog address and I'll link it here so we can reference who might be posting. Instagram is my favorite platform (helllooooo lazy) so I'll post there most frequently with #lutterlohalong. I'll also post the projects on the newly formed (!!!) WeSewRetro Sew & Tell facebook group!

1954 Lutterloh
Our first steps will be to draft a basic pattern to check the fit-- Lutterloh recommends first drafting the basic vest (from the more modern binder kits), then you will find what minor pattern adjustments you will need to make with every Lutterloh you will draft in the future. Such changes might include full bust adjustments, lengthen/shorten, moving darts, etc. Overall, the adjustments should be straightforward and rather minor since we are drafting to our measurements.

1954 Lutterloh
Do you have any of the vintage books? The modern ones? What has been your luck with the drafting and sewing? I think it's important to note that to use the vintage Lutterloh books one must have a basic knowledge of pattern construction and sewing techniques, plus have a few vintage sewing books to reference. The Lutterloh system includes the patterns, but no instructions, no info to where openings (zippers, clasps, etc) might go, and we're expected to draft our own facings, pockets, figure out linings, etc.

1954 Lutterloh
PS. I have a few books from the late 40's and early 50's, plus a 1970's edition with supplements, and two 1980's books-- but it's the early editions that really get me excited. I mean, look! Behold the beauty!

Sewing Advance 9464, a vintage skirt pattern

Hi friends! Did you know this blog post has been in draft form for over a year? It turns out I had a bunch of sewing entries just waiting for pictures to publish-- not sure why I did that. Moving on...

Advance 9464
This pattern was a real delight to sew. The waist of the pattern matched my measurements but I carry a little extra something at the hips, so I graded out a couple inches at the sides. Easy-peasy. This pattern is wonderful because it uses only ONE yard of 54" fabric, which conveniently is often the width of wool. Yay! Also, extremely easy sewing since it is a front, 2 back pieces with a zipper, and a waistband.

I love sewing with wool. The stitches sink right in.
I grabbed the fabric from my stash, surely having spent no more than $5 total on the fabric. The plaid was grabbed from our local crafty reuse store, Scrap, and was old coat pieces left as scraps. I pieced together the plaid on the bias for trim, then sewed it into a tube. Pressed flat and sewn down, it worked quite well! You will see, however, that I must have stretched the trim as I was sewing since one side seems to be pulling up on the hem. The buttons are self-covered with the same scrap fabric.

Sorry for the grainy shot-- I enlarged to show the bias trim detail.
And, that's it! Wear and be happy. Sewing with vintage patterns brings me loads of joy, mostly because the design details are adorable and because I love feeling like I got a deal. This project cost under $10 total-- though next time, I'll line (maybe underline, as well) the skirt and raise the cost just a smidge.

Can you spot the St. Bernard?