Do Be Do Be Do

Hello! How have you been?

I’ve been well — busy at work getting everything ready for our new and returning students, busy at home with my usual makin’ stuff and taking weaving classes. I’ve made my first woven scarf! I love, love, love weaving.



What else?

I cut my hair into a chin length bob.


I finally have obtained the concentration to start knitting lace again. Phew.

I’m taking a graduate book history class that promises to teach me so much and has me running around to our area’s finest collections.

I’m also feeling both quietly introspective and also very immersed in making and doing. As Frank Sinatra sings, “Do be do be do.” ūüėÄ (Strangers in the Night, of course!)

So please excuse me as I do and be. Come visit on Twitter if you’d like to say hi! 140 characters at a time feels just about right, right now.


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A funny little rationing story:

I’ve now been rationing so long that I am even running out of RAGS.

I try to limit my use of paper towels, so rags are a very popular thing in my household. Old clothes make fantastic rags, but I’ve been holding on to EVERYTHING over the past two and half years of rationing. I haven’t added to my rag pile, but I keep using rags — and they have been getting used up. Sometimes something seems like an average cleaning job but turns into a real mess, and I have to compost the rag.

I went to clean my house from top to bottom before leaving for vacation this past week — and ran out of clean rags mid-clean! I didn’t know if using paper towels or doing a load of not-full laundry would be the better choice environmentally, so I opted for the laundry route. Paper towels disintegrate when you clean with them anyway. I don’t know why anyone would want to clean with them even not thinking of their disposable nature.

Anyway — imagine that. Running out of raggedy olde rags.

I then opted to turn my ripped up nightgown to rags since I need them so desperately. The universe was looking out for me, and I managed to put my thumb through the netted yoke of my other old summer nightgown ripping the whole thing. Once that goes through the wash I’ll have a few more rags. I may be able to donate a few of my old dish cloths to the cause too. But please — no more clothes. I need my wardrobe and I am already -3 coupons for this year!

P.S. Good thing I did buy that new nightgown for my trip. Not only is it now my only summer nightgown, but it was very well received by the peacock. In fact, he stared in my window for hours at me (!) What???

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Creative Alchemy

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been too distracted with The World to work on complex projects. I’ve been moving towards getting back to speed, though. My heart and fingers started to crave some knitting. I wanted to work on something simple that would keep my interest, and syncronicity (well, actually, Pinterest if truth be toldūüėČ brought me to this Ribbie scarf. I have some Noro Kureyon, a gift from Natalie (hello Natalie!), which I was sure would work with the pattern if I went up needle size and decreased repeats.

It worked. Not only the pattern, but the simple but varied repeats,  the mesmerizing color changes, and yarn flowing through my fingers. I felt the fog lifting.


This scarf has the Orlando shootings, Jo Cox’s murder, Brexit, the murders of US policemen, the murders of unarmed US civilians, this insane US impending election, oppressive climate change heat, and so much more knitted into it. Overwhelming sadness, heartbreak, fear.

The important thing I realized, though, is that after all of this strife, I’m left with something lovely and warm and creative. By participating in making, I was able to transform these feelings into something I find beautiful and useful.


I can’t help but think of this trying summer when I look at this scarf, but it’s now tempered by the incredible power of making. I don’t think I could ask for more. I still have to block this scarf and weave in the ends when I find the energy, but at least I’m on to a more complex shawl pattern with the remaining Noro from Natalie. It’s helping; it’s helping.

The Farm

Last week, I had the immense pleasure of seeing a book I made in a show at the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.image

My Guild did a project where we each took the letterpress printed poem The Farm by Wendell Berry, and did our own interpretive binding.


The poem is amazing and so moving. Once I was able to start working without bursting into tears from the poem, I had a great deal of fun and learned so much with this project. It felt like serendipity — I was racking my brain about what kind of binding ¬†would evoke this wonderful poem about place, nature, integrity, ¬†work, and a way to live a life, and a friend (thank you Kathryn!) sent me a copy of Non-Adhesive Binding by Keith Smith. When it arrived, I opened a page at random, and there was Hedi Kyle’s piano hinge binding done with twigs instead of dowels. My heart skipped a beat, I thought of my collections of dried flowers and branches, and knew exactly what to do.



I’ve also been wanting to try my hand at linocutting and printing, and I thought the cover of the book would give me the nudge to finally give it a whirl. I’m SO glad because I’m in love with the process and want to make a million more!

I didn’t go to the opening — I already had plans to go to NYC that weekend, and I only have so much energy for out and about. Although I would have enjoyed being in the company of the other artists, I appreciated quietly seeing the show in a place that I’ve loved my whole life. Me! In an art show! In one of my magical places! It was such a good feeling.


Here’s to many more learning experiences, nudges to try something you’ve always wanted to, and magical places. Clink!


My Coupons, & Beauty Zone, Floweth Over


Since last year, really, I’ve been worried about the state of my bras. They were worn to bits — even my newest one was stretched out, filled with runs (!), and overworked. A few months ago, another of my bras had the underwire¬†snap in half at work! That was an uncomfortable afternoon! Another of them had one of the little back hooks fall out which made things not as, ah, secure. And I only own three everyday bras (I also have some non-underwire stretchy things but they really aren’t supportive enough to wear to work, I’ve discovered). Well, two after that underwire snap!

Last week, my husband wanted to listen to guitars at the music store, and I went for the ride to keep him company. I figured there was a bookstore nearby, and I could have some hours wandering the stacks. Then my bra strap kept slipping down because of that missing hook, and I saw a department store. I wasn’t wholly satisfied with my last bra purchase – as you get older, things, ah, shift and change, and you can be a new size. The cups were no longer fitting well, and not really containing the whole, ah, beauty zone as the vintage advertisement euphamises. I had updated my size when I was in my 30s, but not since — I’ll be 47 on Friday! It was time to actually try on bras. Oh dear.

I will spare you the gory details of trying on bras in a little fluorescently-lit¬†box, ominous signs of “this room is being monitored” prominently displayed, wriggling like a fish out of water adjusting the contraption, ooops I said I wouldn’t elaborate. Anyway, my ordeal produced two well-fitting, well-made bras, a new size for me, two new brands for me,¬†on sale for less than half price.

I road-tested them this week and they are comfortable, and look great under clothes. I’m so relieved! I immediately threw out the bra with the missing fastener, but am saving the stretched out one with runs for a rainy day. I would have bought more if not for rationing.

Alas, bras are three coupons, and I only have three coupons. I purchased two bras. This year, at half-way through the challenge, I’m three coupons over budget. It’s regrettable, but necessary. The time was right — I’m pretty much never¬†near a department store with hours to try things on. This was not a frivolous purchase (the frivolous purchases were made afterward at the bookstore to recover from trying on bras!).

Year three of rationing is proving to be difficult. Things are wearing out. I’m thanking my lucky stars I bought that nightgown last month because one of my summer nightgowns completely ripped under both arms last week, right where they were repaired last year! The fabric is so thin it’s not able to be repaired further. I am¬†going to save the bottom fabric for handkerchiefs and cleaning rags — that soft thin cotton will be great for both, but its life as a nightgown has come to an end.

The next six months of rationing should be verrrrrrrrrrry interesting.



Image: advertisement from 1948.

Stitch, Stitch, Stitch

The world feels overwhelming currently. I feel like a twitchy, hypersensitive wild rabbit! I am about to run across the field at the smallest provocation and hide in my burrow! Thankfully, I have something in my burrow — I mean home — to help myself ride these feelings out: simple, repetitive stitching.

I usually grab a cross stitch project to work on intermittently when I need soothing. Most years I finish one project, and some years I finish zero projects. Well, this year I’ve already finished one!


I couldn’t help using it as a vehicle to display some of my collection of olde keys, too!

. . . and am half way through another!


I have 4 days off from work right¬†now, and I am planning nothing more than to do some gardening (dig, dig, dig) and a whole lotta cross stitching — stitch, stitch, stitch — to make this nervous rabbit into a ¬†human being again. Maybe. There is a certain charm to being a wild rabbit!

(Cross stitch patterns by Notforgotten Farm. LOVE)


To Be a Flower, is profound Responsibility —

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Bloom — is Result — to meet a Flower
And casually glance
Would scarcely cause one to suspect
The minor Circumstance

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Assisting in the Bright Affair
So intricately done
Then offered as a Butterfly
To the Meridian —

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To pack the Bud — oppose the Worm —
Obtain its right of Dew —
Adjust the Heat — elude the Wind —
Escape the prowling Bee

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Great Nature not to disappoint
Awaiting Her that Day —
To be a Flower, is profound
Responsibility —

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Emily Dickinson‚̧

A poetic way of saying that I spent 15 coupons on flowery summer clothing. Two tops (5 coupons each) and a nightgown (5 coupons) from April Cornell.

It’s hot walking to and from the train (94 degrees today!) and last year I was miserable in clothes too hot for the weather. I wore stockings almost every day! It was a bit much.

This year I wanted loose, cotton, casual. Breathable. Everyday stuff I could wash a ton and not fret over. I’m saving my dresses and skirts for when the weather is ok enough to wear tights, or I don’t have a lot of walking to do and can get away with wearing just sandals. I need to wear socks with my shoes when I walk to the train (I’ve commented before about my tender feet!) and little socks with clogs and dresses — eh. I tried it and it just wasn’t me. I like them with cropped leggings and such, though.

I lucked out at the thrift shop with a few pairs of cropped leggings in varying degrees of legging-ness. Well, one culotte type pants thing is technically a pajama, but I’m wearing them to work anyway. No one but you and I knowūüėČ But I only found one top. I have a few tops from previous years to wear, but not enough, so I purchased the watercolory flowers and Victorian rosey tops. They look good with all of my pants and are loose and cool.

The nightgown I bought because we are going on a little jaunt to upstate New York at the end of July, and both of my summer nightgowns are uber-mended and ratty. Fine for at home, but the bed and breakfast we are staying at has a fainting couch in-room, and on the grounds live peacocks. I can’t wear a tatty gown on the fainting couch viewing peacocks! I think this one with embroidered pansies will be just the thing, though.

This leaves me with only THREE coupons left for the rest of the year. I’m trying to wrap my mind around how that is going to play out! I’m well stocked for the fall and winter so I don’t see myself making first hand purchases, but I will continue to make things and the materials will cost coupons. In my third year of rationing, I’m kinda ok with that. If I go over a handful of coupons because I made a sweater or shawl, or sewed a top or dress, I can live with that.

The world is kinda scary right now. Again. In more ways than just the environment. I don’t have the answer, but I think Dickinson shows me a way forward. It’s hard to be a flower (an artist. a person concerned with justice. the world. others. a good person) with all that is against us. But it’s our responsibility, no matter what else is going on. That’s the best I can come up with after Orlando and Jo Cox. It will have to do.


3 out of 66


This Thing of Paper


I’ve knit a bunch of knitting patterns in my time, but the only ones I have conversations with, that make me do research, that make my reading pile grow, that tell me stories and let me tell my own, are ones by Karie Westermann. So you could imagine how over the moon excited I am about her new project, This Thing of Paper,¬†a knitting book with accompanying essays exploring the age of Gutenberg.

To hear more about This Thing of Paper, read interviews with Karie about her design inspiration and research so far, see photos of her swatches, and learn about the yarns she’s using for the project, check out this blog tour, of which I am today’s stop! If you’re here after Leona’s fun interview with Karie — welcome! (And Leona, I love your doggie!)

Monday 23 May Karie Westermann
Thursday 26 May Naomi Parkhurst
Friday 27 May Meg Roper
Monday 30 May Natalie Servant
Wednesday 1 June Jacqui Harding
Monday 6 June Wooly Wormhead
Wednesday 8 June Tom Van Deijnen
Friday 10 June Ella Austin
Monday 13 June Leona Jayne Kelly
Wednesday 15 June ME!
Thursday 16 June Felix Ford
Friday 17 June Clare Devine
Monday 20 June Dianna Walla


I love, love, love making things, stories, history, and books. I see the world through the lens of materiality, and consider myself a New Materialist both philosophically and practically. I believe in thing power. In fact, Jane Bennett is my spirit animal. To say This Thing of Paper ticks ALL of my boxes is an understatement!

What I’d like to contribute to this blog tour is to teach you something that encompasses the spirit of This Thing of Paper and also provides you with something beautiful and useful, as our friend William Morris would¬†recommend. I’d¬†like to encourage you to make your own simple book, which you can use for your notes once you get your very own copy of This Thing of Paper.

Pooja Makijiani has written the world’s clearest tutorial on the five hole pamphlet¬†stitch book, so I won’t reinvent the wheel. But I will give you some tips on how to make it without any specialized tools.

First, read through the tutorial.

Then, gather your materials:

Paper:¬†You can use printer paper or the like for the insides and something heavier for the cover. In book makin’ terms, this translates to text weight and cover weight paper. If you have card stock hanging around, that’s perfect for you cover. You can also use cereal boxes or some other paper box, heavier paper from magazines ¬†— search around your house!

I used French Paper which I got turned on to in my first book making class. Doesn’t their Construction line come in colors that relate to Karie’s palette well?



I also used their Parchtone for the text weight portion of the book.


Bone Folder: use your thumb nail!


The keratin your nail is made out of acts very similarly on paper to bone. Fold paper with the¬†pads of your fingers to make the crease, then fold another piece using your thumbnail in a downward motion to make the crease. See the difference? If you like making books, a bone folder is something you’ll want to invest in. Your thumbnail won’t hold out for lots of creasing!

Awl, binder’s needle, and binder’s thread:¬†use a common sewing needle as your awl, the thinnest yarn needle you have as your binder’s needle, and some fingering or lace weight yarn as your binder’s thread (hey, if it’s good enough for¬†the¬†Bront√ęs it should be good enough for us! Do check out that linked chapter from Deborah Lutz’s materialist study of nine Bront√ę objects for inspiration. They were master repurposers. Their handmade books were made of rescued household paper, any bit of string they could scrounge, etc). But don’t use sewing thread — it is too thin and will tear the paper. Embroidery floss will work, though!


This yarn was left over from my Frances Herself shawl!

Self-healing mat: use a stack of scrap paper, an old phone book, or any other old book you don’t use (books bought for practicing standardized tests come to mind. Heh.).

Now, follow the tutorial and make your book!


This book has 10 pages, 1 double-sided page for your notes on each of the 10 patterns that will be in This Thing of Paper:

Story 1: Manuscript. The story of handmade manuscripts and the people who worked on making them. This story features one garment and two accessories.

Story 2: Invention. The story of the period in which Johannes Gutenberg transformed book production. This story features one garment and three accessories.

Story 3: Printed. The story of when printed matter became more commonplace and helped spread information across Europe. This story features one garment and two accessories.

Oh my goodness how I can’t wait for this book!

Now you can label your book. Write on the cover, use a label, or take some of your cover weight paper, pens, glue, and photo corners and have some fun. Make your mark.


Karie, I think we have very similar medieval manuscript paper! I got mine in NYC last year. Great mindsūüėČ and forgive my use of your beautiful border. It’s an homage and meant in honor!).


I remember the first time I made a book; it was an incredibly powerful experience. I was amazed — you mean I can make this thing that I thought only publishers and large machines can make? I thought someone had to give you permission, then make it for you. No. Just like the hats and sweaters you knit, you can make books yourself. ¬†You are filled with agency and know-how and you can create your own clothes, books, world. I hope you will make books with your own content after making this notebook.

Contributing to This Thing of Paper will allow you to make a book in a different way than one you fold and sew with these instructions. Your offering will help create beautiful patterns in a book one can hold, touch the pages of, inhale the paper smell of, and one that will make you do research, tell you stories, and have conversations with you too. I do not have even the tiniest bit of doubt that this book is going to be incredible, and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands.

I hope you will consider supporting This Thing of Paper.

…and don’t forget to check out Felix’s tour post tomorrow!

(images are mine, except the illuminated manuscript/palette and lovely borders which are Karie’s, and the French Paper Construction color card which is from French’s website)

The Gift


A few weeks ago, I was straightening out my studio, and came across my printed pattern for the Ishbel shawl by Ysolda. I remembered purchasing the Whimsical Little Knits e-book shortly after it came out. I had printed the patterns, read through the Ishbel shawl instructions, and … put it away. The lace looked too complicated. Not only did you have to increase each row, but you did different things with the lace on each side of the center spine. I’m not sure if it was actually too hard for my skill level, or if I just thought it was too hard. Either way, there it sat … until last month’s tidying up.

The shawl was just as pretty as I remembered it. I reasoned I had several more years of knitting experience under my belt since I last thought about knitting it — why not give it a try?

So I did.


I don’t want to sound all puffed up or anything, but it was a perfectly straightforward pattern completely within my skill level. It was very enjoyable to knit — so much so that I immediately cast on for the larger size in a yarn I’ve had in my stash for probably 10 years. It’s sewing-thread-thin black lambswool, and just looking at it makes me squint and feel all thumbs! But, since I’m trying to make friends with these “too hard! scared!” demons in the studio, I felt that the time was right. I’ve wanted a hand knit, spiderweb-thin, large black shawl since I saw my first one almost 16 years ago, and I’ve got one on my needles right now. *insert the sound of me knocking on wood whilst crossing my fingers* It feels big, and good, and my beginner-knitter-Jackie fumbling with her first scarf in September of 2000 (yes, I remember exactly) is staring at now-Jackie in amazement and pride. eep!

A note about the yarn in my finished shawl — isn’t it beautiful? It’s by PhileasYarns. This heavy lace weight, Escapism, is half blue faced leicester and half baby alpaca. I love this combination! It’s soft but characterful. Lovely to knit with, and after blocking — wow. It has a great memory and sheen.

I have such a story around this skein. PhileasYarns had recently opened for business, and I saw a photo of a Scollay cardigan knitted by Sylvie with her Wanderlust DK yarn. I immediately knew this was the yarn for my Scollay, and purchased enough for a sweater. A bit afterwards, she contacted me — she noticed that her shipping costs were off and I had overpaid on the shipping. She was going to refund me immediately. I thanked her for being honest — the shipping fee didn’t set off any alarms for me and I would have never known! I told her not to refund it, but to surprise me with a yarn in her line that came close to the refund price. This gorgeous piece of sky and clouds was what she sent.

What a gift. Her honest business practices, beautiful goods, and kindness. An absolute gift. I’m not going to use a coupon for the yarn for this shawl because the whole thing feels like a gift from start to finish: the yarn, the culmination of learning enough about knitting to knit something I held in my heart as The Thing I Wanted To Knit Once I Was Good Enough, the confidence to say, “I think that time has come.” All of it. I don’t know what to do but pinch myself, and say thank you.



Not Such A Spendthrift After All


Last week, I wound up spending almost $200.00 on groceries, and it didn’t even seem excessive in terms of what we replaced and used. I didn’t buy any meat, and just a little cheese. We even ate a few things from the freezer. I was ready to tear my hair out — how do people do it? I figured there must be something wrong with the way I was approaching things, and started doing a bit more research. I found:


Ah! That makes more sense! This is two years old, too. A low-cost option for two is $496.90 a month and a moderate option for two is $618.60 a month. A liberal plan is $774.20. These are also national averages; prices are different throughout the country. I feel like my area is in the middle Рnot the highest, but not the cheapest either.

I’m going to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again in June. My new target is going to be $550 a month: in between low-cost and moderate. My overarching goals:¬†very little meat, as local as possible, as organic as possible, as unprocessed as possible. Remember, this is just a little over $9 a day a person for three meals. Perspective: a coffee out is $5. I’ll report at the end of the month, once a month.

I’m not a spendthrift after all — good food costs good money. Supporting farmers, fair treatment of workers and animals, health and well-being are not rock bottom cheap. Just like with clothing rationing, the nonsense/excess/unconscious is falling to the wayside. How do I make my food dollars/coupons go as far as possible, as good as possible? How do I make treats and luxuries truly feel like treats and luxuries?

This past month has been great for examining my habits and starting new ones. I love my CSA and I probably wouldn’t have started with one if it wasn’t for this challenge. I feel good eating less meat for many reasons. I’ve been enjoying my Bean of the Week so much! Most importantly, I’m figuring out just what my ideals are, and what it takes to support them through setting limits. It’s worked for me beforeūüėČ