Monday, January 31, 2011

it wanted a moon

The wish cloth has persistently and magically kept a place on the top of the sewing pile, it clearly wanted more attention. It wanted to be part of the moon quilt. It wanted a moon . . .

                                            one                                                                                          two

                                                                             three . . . a moon at last!

Its indigo moon is from here. You can tell from the picture that it's a dark, snowy morning here in Colorado.

I usually mention that moonday is ruled by the moon but haven't yet referred to the ruling planets of the other days of the week. Each day is actually named for either its ruling planet or a divinity associated with that planet -- Moon (Monday); Tiu, god of Mars (Tuesday); Woden, god of Mercury (Wednesday); Thor, god of Jupiter (Thursday); Freya, goddess of Venus (Friday); Saturn (Saturday); and the Sun (Sunday). When you think about it, isn't it amazing that these ancient designations still hold today?

Sometimes I dress in the color associated with the day -- this moonday, I'm wearing a light blue top. There are other correspondences to the days of the week besides color -- metal, gemstones, plants, etc. -- and by no means is there a consensus on color but this is the chart I have. It can make choosing what to wear in the morning a little more interesting.

Moonday -- blue, silver, white
Tuesday -- red, pink
Wednesday -- yellow
Thursday -- lavender, purple
Friday -- green
Saturday -- black, white, grey
Sunday -- yellow, gold, white, orange

This dark moon moonday in Capricorn is a time to calmly clear out the old to create space for the new. Eliminate what you no longer need. Let things disintegrate.Take down projects that have been completed and celebrated.  Clean out the refrigerator and remove dusty dried flower arrangements. If you still have any Yule decorations around, pack them away. Take down old displays that have lost their appeal. Clear the refrigerator door or bulletin board of paper clutter. With the Capricorn influence of persistent and serious focus, this should be a most efficient process today! Tomorrow will be different -- it will be the last dark moon day and better spent resting and being inspired for the next moon cycle.

Capricorn rules the all-around health of the bones, knees, and skin making this the ideal time to treat conditions of those parts while remembering to not overstress them in any way.  Skin treatments that calm, soothe, or moisturize may be more effective, but avoid using harsh exfoliant or acid treatments. Also, avoid heavy lifting or pushing too hard when running, walking or lifting weights. Spending long hours sitting at the computer can be stressful on the spine, so take frequent breaks today. Keeping this in mind, I'm getting away from the computer now to 1) clear off my desk and 2)  fold and organize the piles of fabric around here and 3) organize crafty-paper stash.

See you Tuesday -- red & pink!

Friday, January 28, 2011


lucia moon is finished. For now, anyway. Sometime in the future it will be the centerpiece of the moon quilt.

                                                                                                                                                                   lucia moon

The large blue spruce now holds a candle to honor the return of light. This winter cloth is dear to me. It holds the magic of a beautiful dusk on December 13, St. Lucia's Day, my grandmother's namesake. Like St. Lucia, my Lucia had a glow about her and she fed many people including eight children and forty-something grandchildren.

                                                                                             lucia's homemade pincushion & scissors

Sometimes when I try to sew, I invoke my mother and all my grandmothers in the great beyond and ask for their help. They were expert dressmakers, quilters, knitters, and crocheters -- I'm an intermediate seamstress and knitter at best and don't even know how to crochet beyond a chain stitch.  But I use this pincushion and scissors, their pins & needles & threads, embroidery flosses, buttons, trims, and cloth sometimes. I find it comforting to have and use these things.

And those are the times I can sew.

                                                                                                                              lucia dusk

Thursday, January 27, 2011

honey honey

Yesterday my hands had so many rough spots that I was constantly getting caught on my sewing -- threads clung to me like velcro. I suppose it would've been the same with certain yarns. This happens to me a lot. Oh my gosh, I can't believe I never thought of this before. I feel like I've discovered cheese in my sheep bladder milk vessel (they say that's how cheese got started in case you're wondering there).

honey sugar scrub!

This is the easiest recipe ever. The sugar exfoliates at the same time the honey moisturizes.  As I was mixing this up with my hands, instead of with a spoon as I normally would, the roughness was completely smoothed and when I went to sew, there was no clinging action. I even picked up strips of frayed silk! Nada. The crazy part of this is now I remember reading about using sugar scrubs on the hands to soften them but didn't connect the dots far enough. For some reason I guess I thought only gardeners needed a sugar scrub for their hands but now I see that stitchers need it as much, if not more!

In making this, I had a January craving for a citrus fragrance so used grapefruit, lemon & bergamot orange essential oils, but anything goes. Just the honey alone smells good enough to eat. But don't because both the almond oil and the essential oils are for external use only. I had to catch myself as I was about to lick it off my fingers.

Here's how.

 Items needed: Sweet almond oil, honey, sugar, essential oils.

  Add 1 1/2 cups sugar to 1 T. sweet almond oil in a ceramic/glass
bowl -- work it in with your hands. 
 A little at a time, add about 1 1/2 cups honey, again working it in
with your hands, until it's a smooth paste.

Stir in about 30 drops of essential oil.

Put it in a lidded container with a wide opening so you can get your hands in there to scoop it out.  To use in the shower, apply a small amount to wet skin in a circular motion -- some recommend sweeping upward toward your heart to encourage circulation.
Rinse off with warm water.

Store what you won't use in the next week or so in the refrigerator,
but bring it to room temperature (or try popping it in the microwave) again
before using. This should be good for a month or two, just keep an eye on it.

Now how about a little ABBA singing "Honey Honey" just a short 37 years ago!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

an open heart

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."   Anais Nin

an open heart is woven from strips of thrifted and felted woolens. I've always liked red with deep, dark brown. Still figuring out the very top, to weave or not to weave. The wool backing is bulky but its roughness is lovely -- may use a branch to hang it like the Bee did here.

The only cotton fiber in the piece is a written-word strip of muslin with the above quote. Am not sure whether to weave it in or leave it as a long float.

open heart



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

sage stands alone

roasted butternut squash with sage butter

Sage is one of the few herbs I can still harvest after several bouts of temperatures at or below zero. Oh, there's always thyme, a very small amount of parsley, and a few things in the cold frame -- but to pick enough to actually make something we love? Sage stands alone. For this meal last night, I pretty much cleaned all the leaves off one plant to get the half cup needed. And that's OK because there are several more plants for the next few months if I watch it. 

sage stands alone

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage Butter
This is our favorite use for sage.  I don't bother with washing it unless I see something -- I figure it's going to be cooked anyway. If you do wash the sage, make sure it's completely dry before proceeding.

Peel & cut squash into 1" chunks, toss with olive oil and spread on foil-lined sheet. Season with s & p, then roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Toward end of cooking time, melt a stick of unsalted butter. When bubbly, add 1/2 cup of whole sage leaves and saute until the leaves start to get crinkled and the butter has browned. Drizzle over roasted squash.

 see how the leaves nearly match the spatula now?

 crispy sage leaves over squash

If you've never made this, try it! It's won-der-ful. It's probably great over all kinds of vegetables, but I keep going back to squash. I think it's a traditional topping for pumpkin-filled pastas, too, but we don't normally eat grains so no pasta around here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

a good time to rebalance

Another written-word cloth project . . . wish cloth made from the skeleton jeans, cotton, silks and velvet.

                                                                                                     not feeling it -- where's the magic?

This piece is in the editing process -- just like the third-quarter waning moon -- trimming, decreasing, smoothing, clearing, reducing, and rebalancing.

                                                                                          getting better, starting to feel the magic!

The red silk and black cotton were both removed, a deeper purple added. One of the wish cloth strips holds a secret wish and is turned inward. I like the calm of it now . . .

This moonday is a waning moon in Libra, the sign of neutrality and balance. While a waning moon is already a letting-go time, with the addition of Libra energy, I find this to be the perfect time to clear and edit spaces -- whether it be colors in a quilt square, recyclables piling up, or furniture in a room. Neither overly-attached to the status quo, nor impulsive toward change -- calm and balanced.

I have a hunch that waning moon/airy Libra days would also be a great time to have carpets cleaned -- when we have the carpet cleaned, we clear out as much of the small furniture and decorative stuff as is reasonable. After it's dried, it's nice to have this mostly-empty living space to slowly bring things back into. The whole business turns into an opportunity to decide if and where an item will stay or be shelved or passed along. Space clearing can evolve into giving if items are donated somewhere or set outside labeled "free." If you've ever set something out with the free sign and then watched from your window as someone came along and claimed it, you know how good that feels.

Physically, Libra represents the hips, kidneys and bladder. That means that any treatment for those parts is possibly more effective under the sign of Libra, and those same parts may be more easily strained. The hips keep our bodies in stable balance. We need healthy hip joints to stay active and moving. I've just read an article about putting every joint in the body through its full range of motion, each day. To help do this, we are advised to do routine activities slightly different -- use the right hand instead of the left, put the left leg forward instead of the right, change chairs. To create balance.

Questions that come up on this Libra day are: How easily do I lose my balance, both inner and outer? What causes me to become out-of-balance? What can I do to stay balanced?

Keeping this in mind, now I'm off to clear and balance a few messy areas in this house!

Friday, January 21, 2011

1 turns into 2, 2 turns into 3

I thought I would make a proper cape so got out old patterns in various sizes. Had quite a pile there -- but ended up not using any of them. They only seemed to complicate things so I just cut in. It was to be a red cape with purple lining. But when I put the two together, it was much too heavy and might've pulled at the neck. So 1 turned into 2!

There is a little boy who is getting two capes this weekend. One will be shiny red and one will be shiny purple. They will flow and flutter behind him when he runs. He will be a knight. Or a king. Or who knows? He will be stronger when he wears a cape. He will be taller -- he might even be faster! For sure, he will be 2 turning 3!

Now I better get sewing here. So I can wrap up two capes, a sword and a shield for that sweet little Aquarian!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

build a better mousetrap

                                                                                sorting little bits

Build a better mousetrap means to improve something that is already perfect. The case in point here is the canning jar. How could it possibly be improved when it is perfection, itself? The answer comes in three words: plastic storage caps.

                                                                                  plastic jar lid

Aesthetically, they are the little black dress of the storage world. Easy-on-the-eye, neutral white, neat, pleasant in a tactile sense, and simpler to use and wash than lids and rings.

Herb-wise, I much prefer them and here's why:

Herbal-Infused Vinegar -- vinegar will corrode any kind of metal, requiring a protective sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap but with the plastic lid, you avoid that extra step. This also applies to most herbal cleaning products that contain vinegar.

Herbal Tincture -- same as above, but the culprit is alcohol.

Herbal-Infused Honey -- easier to wash the stickiness off the plastic lid than a lid & ring.

Bath Products -- when you're in the shower using a scrub, which would you rather mess with, honestly?

Tea Jars -- aesthetically pleasing and easier to use.

Dried Herbs -- same as above.

Herbal Liqueur -- same.

    32 oz. lacto-fermented plums, 64 oz. raspberry rose-geranium liqueur, 16 oz. lavender tincture

 I think I actually use jars more now that these lids are available. I know it's plastic but maybe more use balances out the negatives of the plastic factor. They can be used for food storage in the cupboard, refrigerator or freezer; any kind of liquid from juice to dyes to homemade cleaning products; playdough & crayons; ribbons & fabric scraps -- it's an endless list. And if you get the half-gallon jars, the storage potential increases exponentially!

                                        in the freezer: some of the 2010 pesto, grape juice & tomato sauce

The only time not to use these is when you're capping something hot -- making an herbal infusion or canning still requires the lid & ring system.

I've never seen these lids in-store so have always ordered them on-line. There are several makers with prices in the $4 range for a box of eight, some sites sell by the case. And they come in regular and large-mouth size. Do a search for "plastic storage caps" and go-to-town!

I hope you like them as much as I do.

Also posted at Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

stitching down the moon

                                                                                                                                         stitching down the moon

Today is a full moon in Cancer. Normally I take notice of something in nature or how life feels for me at a full moon and then name that particular moon accordingly. I might gather herbs that are well-harvested on a full moon or do some decanting of oils or tinctures begun on a previous new moon but there's not too much going on for my herbal pharmacy today. Or I may take a moon-lit walk with the dogs but it's pretty cold at night now.

So I got to thinking. Fulfillment. That's what this full moon is all about. It is now that we should be receptive and acknowledge the fullness of our lives -- the success of endeavors, progress on projects, and desires fulfilled. When I take a good look at things around here, I see many fulfilled desires -- some woven cloth made, a new sewing class beginning, a pattern given to me out of the blue (that I'd been looking for but it was out-of-stock), a clean laundry room and pantry (that involved paying somebody!), a new plan to create a bit more space for sewing, a pulled muscle healed, and many more large and small wonderful things. You get the idea.
And, too, sometimes I simply draw down some moon energy to replenish and celebrate. Because when you think about it, there's really quite a lot to celebrate now, isn't there?

In gratitude.

full moon fancies . . .
name: cloth moon
fiber: woven cloth
class: contemporary woven boro
stitching: silk organza moon on black velvet
feast: undecided
book: Gwinna by Barbara Helen Berger (children's book)
dye-pot: onion skins on silk organza
herb: lavender tincture for sleep

                                                                                                           onion skins & silk w/vinegar mordant

What are your full moon fancies?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

avoiding the collared sleeveless jacket

To my chagrin, I am blocking a washcloth. Yes, you read that right. A flower washcloth from Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick
Dear Knitter,
How could you knit that silly pink washcloth when I've been waiting so long? Why are you avoiding me? I notice how you can't look at me, how you look away when you see me waiting for you here on the rocker by your bed. Are you worried that it won't work out between us? Don't let your past failures hold you back. They were only cotton, for goodness sake, and I'm designer wool. I'm not going anywhere. I'll be right here on the rocker. You know where to find me.

                                                         Patiently waiting for the situation to improve

Monday, January 17, 2011

changing moon

                                                                        red moon

                                                                                                                        red spirit moon
There is a chant "she changes everything she touches, and everything she touches, changes" that I think is most appropriate with this piece. red moon is undergoing change -- it's being snipped and split and woven and quilted to hold what she's learned recently over at Spirit Cloth.  And she even changed its name.

Change is good.

As the moon moves through its lunar phases, the times that we are able to see it change: A new moon rises and sets with the sun, so we don't even see it for about three days around then. The first quarter moon rises around noon and sets at midnight and the full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. That's when you can sometimes see the moon setting and the sun rising at the same time if you get up early! Or vice versa, the moon rising as the sun slips over the horizon. The last quarter moon rises at midnight and sets around noon the next day. One thing to remember here is the only moon that you will see high in the sky in the middle of the night is a full moon.

When I stepped outside last night, the moon was high in the sky around 9:50 PM MST, tonight it'll be about 50 minutes later. By the time of the full moon on Wednesday, it will be high in the night sky around midnight, as the full moon always is.

Today is a moonday changing from Gemini (coincidentally the sign of change!) to Cancer  (in about an hour from now). Now is when to take care of the chest, lungs, stomach, liver and gall-bladder -- and to also avoid overworking those same parts. This is a good time to eat lightly, have a cup of mint tea after dinner to aid digestion, and avoid alcohol to give the liver a break. Cancer days feel cool and moist. Don't wash anything like bedding or pillows that take a long time to dry because they'll take even longer now and for the next two days. But do water indoor and outdoor plants -- and if you're sowing seeds this month, this is the perfect time to do so.

A moon in Cancer is when both psychic awareness is heightened and emotions & feelings are intensified. You may notice things now, feel things, know things.  With the impending full moon, you may have trouble sleeping. It can be a little unsettling. At the same time and maybe because of feeling unsettled, Cancer brings out the nesting urge and the desire to feed people and to create a safe place. The moon is still waxing (growing) so continue on projects already begun, tend to plans made, and visualize your wishes made into reality. The intuitive strength of Cancer can help us see more clearly exactly what changes we need to make to see our projects reach completion.

Do you feel your nesting instinct awakening today?

Friday, January 14, 2011

(cloth) fever

    Something is happening.
Cloth fever has descended upon this house.

                                                                                                   skeleton jeans
                                                                                                         wish cloth

I love this song -- just imagine it being all about cloth!

Never know how much I love you,
Never know how much I care.
When you put your arms around me,
I get a fever that's so hard to bear.

You give me fever,
When you kiss me,
Fever when you hold me tight.
Fever! In the morning,
Fever all through the night.

Sun lights up the daytime
And moon lights up the night..
I light up when you call my name
And you know I'm gonna treat you right

You give me fever
When you kiss me,
Fever when you hold me tight.
Fever! In the morning,
And fever all through the night

Everybody's got the fever
That is something you all know
Fever isn't such a new thing
Fever started long ago

Romeo loved Juliette
Juliette she felt the same
When he put his arms around her he said,
"Julie, Baby , you're my flame

"Thou giveth fever
"When we kisseth
"Fever with thy flaming youth
"Fever! I'm afire,
"Fever, yeah, I burn, forsooth."

Cap'in Smith and Pocahontas had a very mad affair
When her daddy tried to kill him
She said,
"Daddy, oh, don't you dare!

"He gives me fever
"With his kisses
"Fever when he holds me tight
"Fever! I'm his missus, So
"Daddy, Won't you treat him right?"

Now you've listened to my story,
Here's the point that I have made:
Chicks were born to give you fever,
Be it Fahrenheit or Centigrade

They give you fever
When you kiss them
Fever if you live and learn
Fever! 'till you sizzle
what a lovely way to burn
what a lovely way to burn
what a lovely way to burn
what a lovely way to burn

Thursday, January 13, 2011

red geraniums did it again

There's a lot you can do, dye-wise, with red geraniums (pelargonium). This is one plant that puts all of us, whether in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere, in the same season. Most of us in the Northern have geraniums over-wintering under plant lights or by a sunny window, and those in the Southern have them outside where they belong! But they bloom no matter where they are, these sweethearts.

This is white silk on which I laid semi-dried oak leaves and sprinkled red geranium flower petals all over. Then it was tightly rolled, tied, and steamed, 20 minutes on two consecutive days, over boiling water. As a mordant, about 1/2 t. alum was sprinkled in the water and the pot was aluminum as well. I just left it on the counter in between steaming sessions, then let it dry completely before unrolling and ironing.

voilĂ ! -- red geranium/oak leaf dyed silk

There is a plan in the works for this silk and some other silks from the dye-pot. And the Rumi cloth. I'm not exactly sure how, but somehow these pieces will be parts of a new whole.

rumi cloth, marigold silk, red geranium/oak leaf silk, elderberry/orange marigold silk

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

greencraft: tea jars

It took over 20 years. Now that's what you call procrastinating. I first saw this in a friend's kitchen way back, probably when Celestial still made Mo's 24, do you remember that? I am absolutely flabbergasted at how much I love this.  It's orderly, much easier to get a teabag, and the tea stays fresh. And you can see when you're running low. It costs basically nothing and saves money in the long run -- in fact, I shudder to think how many tea bags have gone to the compost. Sort of like composting dollar bills.

greencraft: tea jars

Here's how it began.

  Assorted boxes of tea, some probably growing old and stale
because, you know, that happens when you don't close the box just right.

      Gather jars -- these are former almond butter jars and a few quart jars.

                        Remove the tea bags from the box, then remove inner bag carefully --
                             save it because this can be reused for all kinds of food storage.
Cut the top of the box or whatever part shows the type of tea it is.

 This will be your new jar label

   Cut out and tape the ingredient list on the backside of the new label,
    you just know someone'll be allergic to something or you'll need to prove it
does or doesn't have caffeine!

 Insert label into jar, fill with tea bags and screw on top.
One down, many to go.

The inner liners are actually great for food storage -- they're food-safe, after all.
The photo shows cookies, but I've been mostly keeping opened-cheese packages in them,
that way the bags don't need much cleaning, although they can be
quickly rinsed or wiped out.

 The boxes can be recycled or stashed, notice the beautiful pattern
on the inside of one box -- I'm saving that.

Organized tea cupboard, every jar with fresh tea bags!

Also posted at Food Renegade's Fight-Back-Friday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

rumi cloth

I wanted Rumi cloth.
So after ironing unbleached muslin onto freezer paper to stabilize it a bit and
getting out the newest, thinnest, non-bleeding sharpie pen, I wrote Some Kiss We Want 
over and over. Pretty much have it memorized now.

Wrote at night by candlelight -- I highly recommend this practice.

Wrote during the day with Ms. Pelargonium blooming herself wide open
right over the cloth, that's got to be auspicious.

Separated the cloth from the freezer paper.

rumi cloth! So many possibilities . . .

Have something in mind for this . . . but I think I'll won't tear anymore until I'm sure.

Some Kiss We Want

There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of

spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At

night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its

face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language-door and

open the love-window. The moon
won't use the door, only the window.

Translation by Coleman Barks