Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Cuddly Cacti

These fabulous new additions to my cactus collection do not have thorns, spines, glochids, trichomes, hooks, needles, or any other exterior unpleasantness. They are soft, squishy and perfectly huggable!

Outside on a visit with their spiny cousins
They are crocheted cactus made by the amazing Urban Rustic. Visit her blog here, but I warn you, after viewing the results of her talent and energy, you will end up with an uncontrollable urge to sew, knit, crochet, hook rugs, do quilting, photography, needlepoint, and have more cats, dogs, lush English gardens, and clever turn of phrase.

Completely crocheted, from the pots all the way to the flowers

Happily (for me), she developed a case of compulsive cactus-crocheting earlier this summer and ended up surrounded by them. I was thrilled to be the recipient of some of her incredible handiwork.

This is Cornelius, who resembles
Carnegiea gigantea, the saguaro cactus.

The saguaro Source

This is Stanley - his shape is similar to
Stenocereus thurberi, the organ pipe cactus.

The organ pipe cactus Source
So I now have miniature representatives of the two iconic cacti of the great and beautiful place that I live – the Sonoran Desert. And I can keep them inside, and I don’t have to worry about over- or underwatering them.

Thank you, lovely blog friend Urban Rustic, for the beautiful cacti!
Have you received an unexpected and/or hand-crafted gift recently?


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dress and Coat Set – Harmonious Hues or Color Clash?

This dress is the oldest survivor of the black hole known as my UFO pile.
Partly sewn
I’ve said that about other items, but this is truly the oldest. I purchased the fabric in May 2011, and cut into it soon after that.
Painted, embroidered silk shantung
This was long before I had any knowledge of fitting techniques or even muslin making, so my attempts at adjusting the fit were made with the pieces pinned together. (Yes, it’s true. If I ever get this done, I may name it The Dress of A Thousand Mistakes. That’s worth an entire post in itself.) After a few frustrating sessions, I put the whole thing away for a very long time.

I always had the plan of making a coat to go with the dress – not in the same fabric, but a coordinate. I even mentioned it back in my early blog days when I was swooning over dress and coat ensembles. I won’t even get into my endless vacillations over the coat style, suffice it to say that there will be eventually be a coat!

Now that I’ve decided to finish this thing once and for all, my fabric hoard has thwarted my efforts in the most vexing way. I cannot find just the right fabric for a coat to coordinate with this dress!

Here’s the suiting I originally bought (online, of course) for this purpose. Even though the color is called “gold”, it’s obviously butter yellow, and putting it anywhere near the peachy gold silk is enough to make people ill.

This is also a nice lesson in the effects of lighting as each fabric looks different in outdoor light (left) and indoor flash (right).

Here is a tan silk/linen that is just not quite the right color, plus the coarse texture looks wrong to me.

Here’s a peach rayon suiting that picks up the overall pink-gold hue of the silk, but is too… pale? flat? chalky? It seems to look better in the camera flash than in natural light, but it’s still not good.

In desperation I tried a contrasting color and was pleasantly surprised. This is a blue-gray cotton shantung, and it looks nice with the blue flowers. Then I started dithering again – maybe it was too much contrast.

Belatedly I realized that fabric shopping was my only option. I grabbed my scrap of embroidered silk and ran to the local SAS Fabrics Superstore, a sprawling warehouse without air conditioning where my physical stamina doesn’t always match my fabric enthusiasm. I was able to endure two hours of the heat, and even more amazing, I found a fabric that I think will work.

I really would not have imagined that a multicolored cotton basketweave suiting would be the answer to this problem, but I can’t argue with the evidence.

I definitely prefer this to the other options. But now I have to actually get to work and finish this project before I change my mind again!