Sunday Sum-Up: August 1, 2021

Last week was a fairly sedate week, in that I took a couple of vacation days and spent them almost entirely indoors, at home thanks to high heat, humidity, and smoke. We had another heat wave sweep through last week, and thanks to the usual July humidity, whenever I walked outside I had the uncanny feeling that I was stepping into a giant bowl of soup. Especially on Wednesday, when the heat index reached 113°F. The wildfire smoke from Canada (I think? Or anywhere wildfires are currently burning in North America. We’re almost guaranteed to get the smoke here no matter where in North American they are) settled over us, and so in addition to feeling like we were living in a pressure cooker, it also smelled awful and was incredibly hazy.

Please remind me of why summer is supposed to be a magical season?

Fortunately, a cold front came through on Friday night, bringing thunderstorms with it (yay!) and cooler weather. The smoke is supposed to start clearing up today, so presumably I’ll be able to go outside without melting or feeling like my eyes are burning.

In other news, a couple of weeks ago I ordered some new tea from Harney & Sons. Because I usually have some sort of bizarre shipping delay, my tea didn’t arrive this past week. Once it got here, though, I simply couldn’t wait to try it out, in spite of the 100°F+ heat indices. It smelled wonderful and tasted just as good. I ordered a decaf Vanilla Comoro, decaf Paris, and a caffeinated Venetian Tiramisu, which smells heavenly. It is going to be my go-to Sunday morning tea.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

Mina decided that the sewing books I checked out from the library would make great headrests. She curled up with them and napped for a while, and got all grumpy when I pulled out the camera to take a picture.

On one of my vacation days, the handyman came by to fix my dripping shower faucet. I was working on some photo editing and Mina was sleeping on the bookshelf next to me when he knocked on the door. Now, Mina likes to pretend that she’s a bold, adventurous cat, but when the handyman came into the living room and said ‘Hi’ to her, her eyes got wide and her ears went back, and she darted over to the couch to hide underneath it. The handyman is a nice guy (and when he asked how my new AC unit was working, he mentioned that he’d been worried about my cats the day he replaced the old AC unit), but Mina is not as brave as she thinks she is. The handyman was only here for about twenty minutes, but she refused to come out of her hiding place until he was long gone.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

I read three Brother Cadfael books last week, and so all their plots are merging in my mind. Probably not the best idea to finish three books in a series within 48 hours of each other. That said, I enjoyed them all (thought I wish Olivier would have made an appearance). The Devil’s Novice and Dead Man’s Ransom are linked a little more than most of the other books, if only because the real politics of the time (the books take place during the war between King Stephen and Empress Mathilda) factor into both books, and the events of The Devil’s Novice lead into Dead Man’s Ransom. I thoroughly enjoyed all three of the books, but I think I’ll slow down a bit and not read multiples in such a short period of time.

Closer to the Heart was the next in an ongoing Reading Valdemar project that Mel, Jackie, and I are finishing up this year. This is the second book in the Herald Spy trilogy. I enjoyed the first book a lot, but this one was disappointing. There were some bright spots, but with the addition of unnecessary Kirball, another example of Random Ten-Year Old being able to teach the expert about the expert’s own field, and Lackey stating that a neuro-atypical character’s mindset was more akin to an animal’s than a human’s, the lows outweighed the highs. Also, who designs wedding apparel that has all sorts of unlikely weaponry hidden within it? And what was with that terrible ending?? Overall, Closer to the Heart was a disappointing read for me. I hope things turn around in the third book in this trilogy.

What I’m Currently Reading:

I’ve only just begun The Elder Edda, as I spent a lot of time on the initial notes and going through the bibliography, which came before the actual text instead of after. Suffice it to say that there are several books and essays on that list that I now want to read, and may not have access to. But I haven’t looked yet, so I may be pleasantly surprised. Though I’m not very far into the Edda itself, I’ve already read this part of it, so now I’m wondering if I’ve already read the entirely of the Elder Edda, or if I’ve just read parts of it because they’re relevant to J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. I know for sure that I haven’t read this translation, though, so if I did read the whole work in the past, I’ll have a new outlook on it thanks to a different translation.

I decided to reread Wolf Hall, because it’s always a good time to reread Wolf Hall, and because I didn’t want to listen to another Brother Cadfael book so soon after reading books 7, 8, and 9 in that series. It is as brilliant as ever, and I am perfectly happy to spend hours of sewing time listening to Mantel’s unparalelled prose.

I’ve only just begun reading Velvet was the Night, but I don’t think it will take long to get through it. It’s fast-paced so far, and I really like Elvis’s point of view so far, even though he is not a good human being. At all, really. He’s a criminal and proud to be one. Maite, on the other hand, is a complete romantic who kind of hates her life, but doesn’t really have the desire to go out and try to change it. She’s stuck where she is, and while she’s unhappy, she has no real motivation to look for a new job or anything like that. The plot is about to kick in, though, so I anticipate plenty of changes ahead for both characters.

What I’ve Been Watching:

A couple of years ago, I turned a friend onto the Australian show, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. When the film was released, we decided we would get together and watch it as soon as it was available, whether that was in the theater or streaming. And then the pandemic hit, and thought we’d made those plans back in January 2020 or so, we didn’t get together to watch the film, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, until last night.

I went over to her house, we got takeout, banished her husband and kids to the upstairs, and watched this wonderfully campy film together- finally- and had a blast. I definitely prefer the show, which is far less campy (and has more fabulous 1920s fashion overall), but the film was so much fun, and I would be happy to watch it again. Especially because a thing happened that I had been waiting for since the first couple of episodes of the first season of the show.

And now I want to read the books the show and film are based on even more than I did when I was watching the show. Perhaps when I finish the Brother Cadfael series…

The Craft:

I spent so much time sewing and doing the prep work for sewing last week. It was great. I mean, my back and neck would start complaining after a few hours of felling or whip stitching things, but it’s such a meditative process that it was worth it. And I got some useful things out of the process.

First off: I finished my witch hat! Well, it’s not quite finished yet as I don’t have a liner for it, but it is wearable, and I will probably get a bit of silk the next time I place an order with Burnley and Trowbridge. I had purchased some silky polyester fabric for the lining, but after stitching the initial seam, I decided that I hated working with it and (more importantly) I hated the feeling of it. So that plan went right out the window, and I’ll have to use something else.

The witch hat is still a little small, and I figured out why: I used bias tape to cover the raw edges between the brim and crown pieces, and the cotton bias tape doesn’t stretch nearly as much as the wool blend of the rest of the hat. It is still perfectly wearable for me, though, (unlike the first hat I made). I can still see plenty of mistakes, but the second had is a lot better than the first one, and if I wanted to make another version in the future, I’ll have an even better idea of what I need to do.

The next thing I made was a very basic pin cushion with some of the scraps of the red linen blend I bought at the local fabric store. It’s nothing fancy, just two squares stitched together and then stuffed, but I needed it and it’s been incredibly useful over the past week, so huzzah for that!

Project number three was a pair of linen slippers. I used some of the leftover blue medium weight linen I bought for my pillowcases back in March, and while the project itself was pretty straightforward, I had a bit of a problem with the instructions– they were a little vague and meant for a sewing machine. I do not have a sewing machine, so I had to take the vague instructions and convert them to hand sewing methods, which kind of worked. My seam allowance was not enough to deal with the curves, and because I didn’t know how to deal with the multiple layers of fabric, I didn’t do a very good job of pad stitching the inner layers of wool to the outer layers of linen. So the final project is not attractive, and the insoles don’t sit flat, but I have the pattern (and I know what modifications I need to make), so the next time I make a pair of slippers (and there will be a next time), I’ll have a much better understanding of what I need to do.

The initial pieces for the slippers. I botched the seam allowance, which made it difficult to properly wrap the blue linen around the black wool insole pieces.
The finished slippers. Not the most aesthetically pleasing stitching, but it’s a learning process. And they’re warm enough for the upcoming Fall days.

The next finished project from last week is the one I’m the most proud of for some odd reason. It’s nothing fancy, just a basic drawstring bag, but it turned out so well and it looks so nice that I haven’t taken it off the shelf and put it (and the shoe care supplies I made it for) back in the bottom drawer where it belongs.

I used a block of 100% linen I got for super cheap at the fabric store, since their fabric remnants are usually fifty percent off. It was only a few dollars. I’m fairly happy with the felling stitches, though there are a couple of spots where I caught too much of the fabric with my needle and messed it up a little. But that’s okay, as it’s just a cosmetic thing, and it doesn’t prevent me from using the bag at all.

The finished project. It used a length of woven linen stay cord from Burnley and Trowbridge. It took a bit of experimentation to threat the drawstring through the opening, but I figured it out after a bit. It’s a simple bag. There’s nothing special about it (aside from the fact that I sewed it all by hand), but I just looks so nice.

I’ve also prewashed and pressed the yard of white linen ticking I bought to make some dish towels, and I prewashed, pressed, cut, and pinned the blue and white striped lightweight linen I bought from Burnley and Trowbridge to make a couple of pillowcases.

So. Much. Sewing!

7 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: August 1, 2021

  1. Summer is a magical season for how much it reminds us of just how much more we enjoy the other seasons! 🙂 I don’t like the sound of the weather and atmospheric issues you’ve been having lately and hope they clear up a bit soon. And though I’m not currently much of a crafter I enjoy reading about your crafting experiences. I did hand sew a simple face mask back when covid first started and I still like it better than most store bought ones I’ve seen (even if the stitching is a bit ragged). I acquired a nice living room chair that was missing a cushion and so years ago I bought some thick foam and some green fabric that mostly matches the chair. I cut out the foam to match the shape of the missing cushion and ever since I’ve been wanting to stitch the fabric around the cushion and have a usable chair… but haven’t yet taken the time to think through or research how to do it. Perhaps if I keep reading your stories it might help encourage me to tackle my own project. 🙂

  2. Oh, so that’s why summer is magical! *lol* I don’t like the sound of the weather we’ve had, either. The haze has cleared up a little, and while we’ve had a reprieve from the high heat, it’s coming back this weekend. Ugh. Bring me September! I hand stitched a mask early on, too, but it didn’t turn out very well. I’d probably do much better if I made another one, but I already have several. Good luck with finding inspiration to re-make your chair! Someone I follow on Instagram got a couple of old chairs that needed work. She reupholstered one and re-caned another, and they both turned out great for her being a complete amateur at it. Maybe that’ll be your next rainy day project!

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