Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snowy Setback--2011 Tree Year

The Tree YearAfter several warm days that made the lilac and rose bushes pop new leaves, winter weather returned.

This is the same snowstorm that caught Sherry on her way home from West Virginia. Bourbon County had a sunny, snow-melting day today, but here on Droop, the snow persists.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day View of Lake Kilarney

Another holiday postcard from Grandma's album--this one was never addressed or mailed. It says "Erin Go Bragh--Upper Lake Kilarney." Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

19th Century Doll Clothes Links

I confess I never quite outgrew my girlish fascination with doll clothes, doll houses, and miniatures. I quit making doll clothes because I needed clothes more than dollies did, and there were so many other things to do. However, browsing the Internet shows me that there are a lot of grown-up ladies (and gentlemen) who never put aside their interest in miniatures, scale models, dolls, and doll clothes.

Although I feel I could easily be sucked into the world of dressing vintage dolls or even creating fanciful cloth dolls, I'm going to confine myself to making clothes for this one doll. To that end, I've put together a collection of links that I found helpful, informative, or just interesting.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dormancy--2011 Tree Year

The Tree YearIt's snowing again today, and the sumac buds are tight shut still.

Like other smooth-barked tree species here, the sumacs have lots of lovely lichens.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Late Winter Sumac--2011 Tree Year

The Tree YearYesterday's sky did not promise spring, and this morning we had snow and sleet. Robins have been visiting the sumac fruits, but the main customers there are our red-bellied woodpeckers.

Lately, they have been rather rough in their foraging, and pieces of the fruiting bodies are scattered on the ground under the trees.

I wonder whether they enjoy these dry, furry fruits, or if they're the last choice here at the end of winter.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Heraldic Socks

I've finished another pair of socks from my vintage yarn collection. This yarn is what they used to call "baby weight," and judging by the label and the pastel color palette, "Peter Pan" by Wendy was intended for baby clothes. The fiber content is 55% nylon, which made me think it would make long-wearing socks. If the nylon/acrylic fibers are uncomfortable in shoes (as is sometimes the case) I'll have a nifty pair of bed socks for cold nights.

I used Barbara Walker's Heraldic Pattern from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, pp. 150-151. It's a pattern I've wanted to try for many years, but I had great difficulty converting the back-and-forth, flat knitting direction to in-the-round directions, mostly because every stitch is, at some point, twisted with another stitch. The odd directions in rows 23, 25, 31, and 32 reflect the way I worked around this.

The end result of a seamless tube of diagonals is very pleasing. I'm going to have to use this pattern on another pair of socks if only to justify the time I spent working out the "round and round" directions.

Barbara Walker's Heraldic Pattern
Multiple of 12 stitches, knitted in the round
Row 1: *K2, P4*
Row 2: *RT, K4, LT, K4*
Row 3: *K2, P4*
Row 4: Knit
Row 5: *K2, P4*
Row 6: *RT, K4, LT, K4*
Row 7: *K2, P4*
Row 8: *K1, LT, K2, RT, K5*
Row 9: *K3, P2, K3, P4*
Row 10: *K2, LT, RT, K6*
Row 11: *K8, P4*
Row 12: *K3, RT, K7*
Row 13: *K8, P4*
Row 14: *K2, RT, LT, K6*
Row 15: *K3, P2, K3, P4*
Row 16: *K1, RT, K2, LT, K5*
Row 17: *K2, P4*
Row 18: *LT, K4, RT, K4*
Row 19: *K2, P4*
Row 20: Knit
Row 21: *K2, P4*
Row 22: *LT, K4, RT, K4*
Row 23: *K2, P4* Last repeat, K2, P3. Slip last stitch
onto next needle, making it first stitch of next row.
Row 24: *RT, K6, LT, K2* 
Row 25: *K3, P4, K3, P2* At end of last repeat, slip
first stitch from next row onto working needle, knit.
Row 26: *K8, LT, RT*
Row 27: *K2, P4, K6*
Row 28: *K9, LT, K1*
Row 29: *K2, P4, K6*
Row 30: *K8, RT, LT*
Row 31: *K2, P4, K3, P2, K1* Last repeat K2, P4, K3, P2
Slip last stitch onto next needle, making it
first stitch of next row.
Row 32: *LT, K6, RT, K2* At end of last repeat, slip
first stitch from next row onto working needle, knit.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Rethinking My Web Presence

Now that I've updated my Drupal website, I need to think of something useful to do with it. I've used it for sharing information with my students, and as a trial ground to learn to use content management systems, but I don't currently have a need for either of those purposes. I've also thought about using it as an adjunct to selling my fiber arts projects, but I've made no move in that direction.

I made that site to learn how to use Drupal, but I'm also thinking about switching to Wordpress. Ironically, I started this Blogger blog to get my website indexed, but these days, this blog covers most of my web presence needs. Maybe I should drop the site all together?

Here are some tips I've collected for using Drupal for a personal site. (See, I'm using this blog to keep track of links I don't want to lose.)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Workaday Dolly

For now, Grandma's dolly is going to sit around in her underwear. Once that would have been indecent, but nowadays, it just means she telecommutes. The silk dress dress didn't dissolve or shrink from washing, as I had feared, but it was so badly stained that I won't be putting it back on her.

I wonder what my mom would have made of e-commerce. It only took me half an hour to learn that this is what collectors call a "flathead" china doll, most likely made in the waning days of "lady dolls" (as opposed to "baby dolls") as the little girl's gift of choice. Although this doll is in relatively good condition and has most of her original clothes, she is just one of the common dollies. Collectors pay the big bucks for rare dolls that were never played with.

Meanwhile, after washing and ironing her complicated lingerie, I'm feeling fond of her and thinking about making her some new outfits. I believe I can make an acceptable period dress--perhaps a wrapper with an apron, or a shirtwaist and skirt. I do have those seven plastic tubs of fabric scraps, and fitting doll clothes is much simpler than fitting human clothes. Dolls don't need wearing ease and don't ever complain.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Overcoming My Fear of Antique Dolls

Recently I pulled my grandmother's china doll out of the box I've kept it in since clearing out my mother's house in 1996. Mom, in her turn had kept it in a box after clearing out her own mother's house in 1963. Mom used to show me the doll occasionally, telling me it was a valuable antique which we would restore "someday." She kept some vintage fabric scraps and 1960's magazine clippings with the doll.

I've decided to end the family tradition of not knowing what to do with this doll. I could clean it up and display it, sell it, or perhaps find some way to preserve it in storage, but I no longer keep stuff just because I'm afraid to get rid of it.

As a little girl I was frightened of the doll--it made me think of graves and corpses. Opening the box, I found it was just as creepy as I remembered. It was dressed in a silk gown my mom had told me was made from "Aunt Ella's wedding dress," meaning her dad's sister. The dress had a number of brown stains, was grey with dust, and smelled musty.

I undressed the doll (imagining how horrified my mom would have been to catch me playing with it) and suddenly, it looked more pleasant and friendly. (I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of doll, dress and all. It was too disturbing.)

In the first picture, it's just wearing a chemise and some lace scraps that were sewn on, not fashioned into a blouse. I clipped the threads holding it on and removed the chemise.

The stockings and shoes are sewn and pinned in place, and I didn't have confidence that I could replace them. The doll body is made of muslin stuffed with sawdust, not kidskin, as Mom had thought. It has kidskin forearms and hands with individually-sewn fingers. The painted hair shows some wear on the back, suggesting that my grandma played with her, but Grandma must have been big enough to avoid dropping a 22-inch doll on its china head too often. I'm guessing she might have been six or seven, which means she got the doll about 1890.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Drupal Updates Long Deferred

I've been putting off updating my Drupal Web page for most of the winter, but I thought I'd better get it taken care of before spring or I wouldn't do it at all.

The first thing I had to do was get my desktop computer set up as LAMP, Linux Apache Mysql PHP, so I could have a test site.

  • I had apache2 and php5 already installed on my Linux desktop (Debian Wheezy). All I needed to do was add php gd support to Apache thus:
    # apt-get install php5-gd
    # /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
  • For the "M" in LAMP, all I had to do (as root) in Debian was:
     # aptitude install mysql-server mysql-client
     # aptitude install phpmyadmin
    and then tell apache2 to find phpmyadmin: "Include /etc/phpmyadmin/apache.conf"

In the process of relocating a Drupal site to a local machine for testing, one has to clone the database. PHPmyAdmin has a push-button function for exporting a database; however, my database has grown too large for the push-button "import" to work. There are lots of bad hacks with high Google ratings, but they're much harder than using command line MYSQL with the commands given at Import/Export Large MYSQL Databases. "Source" is a dandy sql command I'd totally forgotten--it tells mysql to read a file and do the commands given there.

After all this, adding the updates to the Drupal installation took a few minutes. I haven't finished with the Spice Ridge site yet--I'd like to do it after a good night's sleep, in case something goes wrong; however, it's been my experience that the live site is easier to manage than the localhost one.

Every time I update Drupal, things go a little differently; however this time, I found most of the things I needed to do in my own Drupal posts here on my blog. I may bore my readers, but these Linux and Open Source posts are the things I revisit most often.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Spinning Away a Winter Virus

Other than these skeins of Rambouillet yarn, I have little to show for the past few days. I thought I might get through a winter without a head cold, but a virus got a hold of me, and my mental acuity has not been too sharp. Fortunately, spinning is something that doesn't require much concentration, and I have compressed a big plastic bin chock-full of fleece bats into a dozen skeins of yarn, freeing up about four cubic feet of closet space.

You may recognize my ancestral pincushion posing next to the yarn, sporting its collection of hatpins. My grandma and her mother must have been brave women to use these fierce implements to fasten down their hats.