Monday, February 27, 2017

Spring is on the Way

It's that wonderfully hopeful in-between-winter-and-spring season in Jordan; it's still cold  and rainy on the winter-like days, and we're still wearing at least two layers of clothing in our 62 degree home, but it's also warm on sunny days, days on which you can see house windows opened wide, mattresses an blankets airing on rooftops, and people pulling up chairs in front of their homes or storefronts to soak up the warmth of the sun. And if one can escape the city, it's the season for watching the hills turn greener and greener by the day, and heading to lower elevations, enjoy the early spring wildflowers. 

Dear Husband and I began our almost-springtime pilgrimages to the countryside about a week ago, wandering around on backroads until we found this lovely view overlooking King Talal Dam, just outside of the village of Borma. It was one of those cold, sunny days, so there weren't any picnickers around. We pretty much had the area to ourselves.

We spotted some of the early blooming wildflowers:


The ubiquitous Asphodel lily, which is now blooming around the country

And, I was happy to discover this new-to-me species of crocus making beautiful close-to-the-ground mini-bouquets. 


We had few hours this past Saturday afternoon, so we again headed for lower elevation, this time towards the Jordan valley and found the almond trees  just beginning to bloom.


A particularly lovely mound of asphodels

The rockery was aflame with beautiful sedum.

Red Stonecrop
Sedum rubens I.

Senecio vernalis (yellow)
Silene aegyptiaca (purple)
Together, they make a beautiful spring bouquet.

Selfie in the wildflower

Grasses catching some afternoon sunrays


The souvenir rock Dear Husband found for our sun room collection of Jordan rocks

My favorite exploring partner

Friday, February 03, 2017

Creative Space

I was in the States for three and a half months this summer, and from about the third month on I began experiencing strong, recurring urges to create something with fabric. Alas, I had another month plus of transient, though delightful, living to endure before I would be reunited with my sewing machine, and so I just let myself enjoy the ideas swimming around in my head. I had found a plastic bag of denim scraps at a thrift store, already cut for a small quilt and costing under three dollars, so though they were a little heavy, I made sure to pack them in my carry-on. I knew this was a project that could go directly under my sewing machine needle when I arrived home. And so it did.

The laying-out stage is always a bit like putting together a puzzle

I ended up with this quilt top, along with the immense satisfaction received in just creating something. I wasn't yet sure what I would do with the quilt top, but it would make a nice picnic blanket sort of quilt when I could find some coordinating flannel to back it.

Soon to begin my month long intensive CELTA course, and knowing that all sewing would soon cease,  I hurried to sew this cashmere baby blanket for a dear friend's new baby boy.

And, some felted-wool potholders for Artist Son, who is living in a real apartment and cooking real meals for himself these days.

I also made a long longed-for ottoman/pouf/footstool  to use with my favorite reading chair. I used the basic pattern found on this site, though I modified it a bit. particularly by making it about 8 cm higher.

And then, CELTA. I lived in Amman during most of this month-long course and I had not a moment to sew during this time, let alone think of what I might want to sew. When I finished my course, I promptly got sick (no surprise given the stress and sleep deprivation) and then had "just life" to catch up on. I didn't do much sewing for Christmas, but I did manage to sew up about five of these denim-pocket purses for some sweet younger friends...

...a make-it-in-10-minutes gift card holder for Tayta...

...and I finally made a recycled linen dishcloth I was thinking about since a friend told me she had re-purposed linen in this way. This was a stocking gift for Tayta. My used clothing source marked their summer wear down to about $.75 per item in the early fall, so I stocked up on all the good linen I could find. I'm plotting pillow covers next.

While home for the holidays, Tayta spied my denim quilt top and shyly asked what I planned to do with it. It had crossed my mind earlier to give it to her, but I wasn't sure she'd like the colors, and that she might want the same style of denim picnic blanket I had made for her siblings. Turns out she didn't mind having something different, and she liked the colors, so my quilt top took on a purpose. Now to back it. We headed to the used clothes market and found five flannel shirts in somewhat coordinating colors. I showed Tayta my deconstruction procedure, so she did the hard part: cutting, and layout. I just sewed it up.

I taught her how to yarn-tie the quilt and she did that too. (I just noticed her reflection in the mirror. Lol!)

I bound the quilt with left-over flannel scraps. Nice to have that one finished and out the door!

This pillow had been percolating in my mind for a few months as I had seen something kind of similar on Pinterest. Oldest Daughter has turned into a Cat Lady (of the best kind) and adores her two cats, Winter and Autumn. And her birthday was coming up.

I drew up a paper pattern for the felted wool pieces, and then appliqued them onto the red felted wool backround. This was my first attempt at wool-on-wool applique and I found it so easy and rewarding. I look forward to doing more. 

As I finished this wool project and the wheels of my creative brain began imagining my next project, and then the one after that, I became overwhelmed with what an unorganized and unworkable jumble my sewing room had become. I had about twenty plastic tubs, drawers, and cupboards stuffed with fabric, which meant that I couldn't really see what I had, except for some wool stacked on a shelf. That visual encouragement kept me going, but the rest was a mess. It was a new year and time to take action.

I told Dear Husband of my desire to purge and organize and since he was very agreeable to at least the purging part, he set out to help me. What I really wanted was to get everything out of tubs, where I could see it and keep it organized. He got on the IKEA site and figured out the most efficient and inexpensive system that would work for my space.

I absolutely love it! With such a great design upgrade, I am now referring to this room as my studio rather than my sewing room. The green table on the left is a left-over first kitchen table, which Dear Husband transformed into a changing table when Oldest Daughter was born. The children grew, we moved house, and it became a plant table. We moved again and it became a sort of catch-all table but I couldn't bare to part with it. I actually moved it out last week, but Dear Husband said he would put a small work surface on it and I can use it for cutting fabric. It is just the right height.

Cashmere on the left, cottons and linens on the right.

I just began a cashmere scarf for a friend, and it was so easy and enjoyable to consider the colors I might use as they were all right in front of me. Sometimes I stand in front of this shelf just to admire the colors and textures. And all recycled fabric.