Six dollars for sweaters!

I’m in the Featured section : )

The Facts

Fabric: Sweaters from stash, bought 3 new for this project at $2 each
Pattern: My own but inspired by Katwise
Notions: 2 mondo brass hooks
Year: Contemporary
Time to complete: About 5 hours First worn: September 2012
Wear again? Yes, when the weather calms down.

Total Cost: $6

Do you ever have some weeks where you really have to think, think, think about the challenge? Where it takes SO MUCH THOUGHT to just come up with one idea? That was not this week : ) I had SO MUCH STUFF to pick from that I almost cursed the over-abundance of ideas. I was drawn back to Katwise for several reasons:

1) I still haven’t cleaned up my mess from the last project.

2) I am making a couple of these coats as presents for Ariel and Elora, my little twin friends. Ari is the one with cancer, Elora is the one that my daughter took photos of shaving her head at St. Baldrick’s this year that won her the photo prize at the Marin County Fair.  I am in full-on sweater mode and that makes me happy and there isn’t quite enough “happy” right now.

3) The last couple weeks the weather has been cool, especially in the mornings. I thought we were into fall. Ha!

So I started with the pile in my living room. I loved the greys I didn’t use in the last coat and was really wanting to do something with the grey cashmere that Stuart kitty fell in love with. I had a purple wool sweater that someone gave me because they had smeared something on it they couldn’t remove.

My gain : ) I also had a grey wool sweater that I got at the last swap that was beautiful except for these:

So far we’re up to free. I called to take Elora shopping last Monday, when all clothing at Salvation Army is $2. She had been grounded (!?!) for texting a boy too much so I had to go it alone. It’s tough being 14…

I found the lovely dark purple sweater along with another medium grey wool/silk blend and a cotton light grey. Just as I was throwing everything into the washing machine I spied a grey floral-printed  wool sweater that I had set aside from another swap, I was wanting to replace the buttons and cut it down to a cardigan but what the heck, it joined the party!

Then I cut strips. The toughest part for me is cutting into these guys, I don’t know why. I once did a project for a friend of mine who did very high end wall coverings for very wealthy clients in the City. He brought me a bolt of Fortuny fabric to cut into panels and stitch together and that stuff was $1,000.00 per meter. No, I didn’t put the comma or period in the wrong spots. One thousand dollars. A meter. And the bolt had 100 meters on it. It was worth more than my house.

I cut into IT just fine so I’m not sure what my problem was this week.

The inspiration piece (above) was a garment Kat made to auction off, a fellow artisan by the name of Chopstix died suddenly of a brain aneurysm and Kat was trying to help the family raise money to settle the estate. Had I felt wealthier I would have been tempted to bid on it, it sold for the price of a meter of Fortuny fabric.

Then I found this pic –

  In the end it really took about an hour to cut and sew the dress together, another couple to futz with the hood/cowel. I fussed over what band goes where more than I’d like to admit. I wanted the center purple band to define the waist and I’ll probably cut it off the dress, shorten the grey top and put it back on, I think its a little long.

I made a pretty cha-cha belt loosely based on an obi design. Of course I had this idea around 9pm Saturday night and I had set things up with my daughter to take pics first thing Sunday morning. For some reason I just didn’t want to pull out my sewing machine. Nothing is set up any more since puppies have the sewing room so hauling the thing out, finding the cords…ugh… I made the belt from a sleeve of each of the purple sweaters and just overlocked everything together. I didn’t mind hand stitching on the huge hooks I had in my drawer and was done around 9:45. I put everything on the mannequin, stood back and frowned. I didn’t care for the hood/capelet. I don’t know why. I played around briefly with another idea until the rational part of my brain said “This isn’t important, it looks fine. Go to bed.” I went.

Sunday morning we were all up early. As I was walking mama Chloe at 7 am my next door neighbor, who has not spoken to us in at least 9 years, opened her door and was passive/aggressive mean. Generally this kind of thing doesn’t throw me but I didn’t have my emotional Wonder Woman bracelets on. It was unexpected. Walking my other dog I just sat in front of the library downtown and cried. I came home and tried to put my make-up on. After my eyeliner washed down my face for the THIRD time I finally got it together and my daughter called “Are you going to be here soon? The fog is burning off”.

I pulled my outfit on, threw the rest of the makeup on, didn’t care about my hair and jammed. I wanted fog – big swirly cold blasts of it. Let me let you in on a little secret if you plan on visiting the Bay Area. Don’t come in the summer. Late September through mid-November is when weather in the City rocks. By 9am there not only wasn’t any fog but standing in the sun was H O T. Which means that by the time I’m typing this it is over 100 at home.

I’m a little warm, I’m a little unhappy. At least I stopped crying and my daughter did manage to tell a series of silly jokes that made me feel better.

But I’m afraid this is about as good as it got in the smile department. I really like the dress and in a few weeks it may be one of the best things in my wardrobe : )

These “benches” area actually HUGE trees that were cut down and left along Grizzly Peak. Someone cut out some seating for this view:

No fog : ) Well, there’s a little left at the coast but this, ladies, is Berkeley, the Bay Bridge and San Francisco, all at your feet. The ground drops off about 6 feet away from this bench/log, almost straight down into poison oak. My camera lens is nothing special so we couldn’t get a wide shot with the Golden Gate bridge but if it’s this clear it means it is WARM.

On our way home we decided to hit Bittersweet, a shop that practically guarantees you’ll feel better. Chocolate, they specialize in chocolate. Hot, cold, sticky, gooey, wonderful chocolate. Brittany discovered their Thai Iced Tea with chocolate, I indulged in a Coconut Chill. A little bit of heaven in a glass.

Happy girl : )

Can you believe we only have 12 challenges left?

 This was an odd week, a mixture of good and WTH. A little while back my friend Barbara Galla died. She was a local costumer who became a great friend and a second grandma to my daughter. She had a sizable collection that her daughter needs help with so I’m assisting in the “liquidation” of her estate. It will probably take us a year to go through everything and I was shocked and delighted to find some very special pieces I had built for a former employer in her stash! They’ll be coming home with me : )

I also spent some time with Ariel and took her twin sister, Elora, shopping for sweaters since I’m going to be making them Katwise coats! Ari is stage 4 and terminal in her cancer battle, I’m not sure how much time I have but it keeps me going when it’s over 100 degrees out and I’m tired.

All of that is good. Here’s the WTH part-

We live in a pretty nice little town. Our house was built in 1925, added onto a few years later and sits on half of the original land grant. The property was split in half in the 50’s and another house was built for the son of the family and his new wife. They had two kids, the grandparents died in 1971 and 72, the wife divorced the son and he tried to manage both properties. He died a few years later and the houses were sold, my landlords buying this one. They originally bought the property with the intention of tearing the little house down and building a 4-unit apartment complex. They never did anything, not even fix up the obvious flaws that made this one a steal to begin with. At some point the wiring was updated from peg-and-post to Romex but it can still be a little iffy : ) If I had the money I’d buy it in a heartbeat but I don’t.

The house next door was bought by a lesbian couple in the late 90’s. Both seemed nice, Carol had some “issues” and stayed at home while Sharon had the power job. A few years pass, when there was “something amiss” in the neighborhood you can bet Carol was at the forefront of NIMBY. Some of the causes were justified – the kids that lived across the street and sold drugs at weekly parties…not so good. The other neighbors twenty-something cousins that would house sit, bar-b-que and hot tub until the wee hours…just not the biggest deal.

Years ago my daughter adopted a little Cairin terrier, a toto dog. He was a yipper and rather unpleasant. He was old when she adopted him so we did our best until he died. If he was outside barking and Carol was in a “mood” I’d get an email. Not a phone call, an email. I tried to stay “neighborly” and encouraged her, via email, to use the PHONE if the issue was pressing, as everything in Carol’s life seems pressing. Never a phone call. The last email I exchanged with her was almost 10 years ago, when my husband moved in, to let her know the “new guy” in the neighborhood was “ok”. Since then I’ve seen Sharon around town a couple of times but that’s it.

In the intervening years my daughter became quite sick. At one point I was told to accept the fact that I’d probably bury my daughter. There were times we had to call an ambulance for assistance. There were times I was in tears in the backyard. Did we hear anything from them? No. (Is my daughter better now? Yes : ) But there are days that are a struggle)

We have dogs, chickens, cats, bunnies…heard nothing from them. I figure no news is good news. If she has an issue she can walk her behind 100 feet down the street and knock on the door. In 2008 my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He got sick fast and it was dreadful. There were people coming and going, the occasional ambulance or two and a LOT more crying on the phone in the back yard at night when I could have some privacy and talk. Nothing from next door. It was like they didn’t exist.

At one point we had a nurse, a speech therapist and a physical therapist coming to the house. Our neighbors across and up the street knew exactly what was going on because he would see me out walking the dog, or crying, and ask how I was. He told me if I ever needed help with Jim to just ask. Tears of gratitude because that’s how a decent human being acts. Our nurses and therapists got notes on their cars asking not to park in front of Carol’s house. So not cool…

This Sunday I had plans to do the Sew Weekly photos with my daughter first thing in the morning. We were going to drive up into the Berkely hills in search of fog so I got up at 6, started feeding the animals and walking the dogs. I took mama Chloe across the street, as is our custom, and then up. As we came down I hear Carol’s door open and she calls my name. “Do you have a puppy?” she asks. No hello, just the question. “Yes, we’re fostering a mom and her puppies”.

“I can hear whining and crying. Are they leaving soon?”

“Yes they are, I’ll close the window.”

And that’s it. Not terrible, not great but here’s my problem with her. NOTHING in almost 10 years but passive/aggressive notes to people helping us out. This from a couple that asked me to LIE to the Chinese government when they adopted their baby girl because if Chinese officials found out they were giving one of their kids to a lesbian couple they’d be denied and the child taken away.

You’d think you’d be nicer to the people you’d asked to commit a felony to a foreign government.

There are a lot of great people in my life. Many of my friends, when I told them this story, were appalled. I got all sorts of helpful “Say this” suggestions : ) There is also a group of people that were once in my life that I’ve found to be toxic, including a sizable set of relatives, that I have no contact with. Carol is in the latter group but she’s a little different in her tactics. She’ll find some way to escalate things because that’s how her illness manifests itself. My vet has told me not to worry, the animals are all in great shape so if animal services shows up I’ll have no problems. Carol might try to contact my landlords but since I don’t even have a phone number for them I’d be surprised and impressed if she does. I’m curious to see what she comes up with but can’t give her any more time in my head. What I’d really LIKE to see is her break her record of not speaking to us, see if we can go a full decade this time : )

We don’t walk up the street any more. I’m trying to think of the perfect 25-words-or-less thing to say to her should she crack her front door again. Nothing yet. Here, however, is the longer version:

“Carol – the dog you saw the other day? Her name is Chloe. She was stolen from her family three years ago and recently turned up at a high-kill shelter in Merced. She was probably stolen by dog fighters and bred continuously. She was a skeleton when found, she had given everything she had to her eight puppies. She was also going to be killed within a few days if a rescue didn’t step up. A rescue DID step up, but they needed a safe foster haven. I volunteered. We took 9 dogs into our home to love, protect and raise until the puppies were ready to go to their new foster homes in pairs. We’ll work with mom, getting her healthy and trained so that she’ll find a wonderful forever home.

Could you slide the needle into her leg and kill her? How about the eight puppies? Because that was the plan. Just kill them all, they’re taking up too much space. Is your heart that black?

So they’re here for a few weeks. Yes, they yip and tussle, they’re PUPPIES. Most people find their little noises inoffensive, maybe even cute. I’m sorry they make noise as I get on my bike to ride to BART at 6 am to go to work. It’s the best I can do. I don’t have the luxury of a partner with a good enough job so that I can stay home and marinate in my issues. Your moods have been known to control the entire neighborhood but I don’t play that game.

In the last 18 months I’ve saved 10 dogs, 2 rabbits and 2 chickens. In addition I’ve buried 1 dog, 1 chicken and 5 cats. The cats died after a rescue dumped leukemia-infected kittens on my property because THEY couldn’t do the right thing and they in turn infected MY cats. It took 10 years for us to catch every cat in the local feral cat colony and get them fixed, all paid for out of MY pocket. Several other neighbors offered to help with spay/neuter costs, where were you? Every cat that has died has had food, love and shelter. I held them as they died and told them they were wonderful and that I’d never forget them.

We both walk multiple dogs multiple times a day. Jim’s chemo brain is so significant it’s like a TBI. If he forgets something, like trimming the branches out by the stop sign, was it you who called the city to complain? Again, you could always knock on the door…

I hope you have a happy life. We all have karma. I wish you luck with yours.”

So far so good but Carol is like cancer. She’s in “remission” right now but we just never know what’s going to start her “growing” again. In the meantime, in an effort to find assistance and form a plan for “just in case” I’ve received the most amazing book. In the short term has changed my outlook and it may end up changing my life. I’ll share more in a bit : )

2 thoughts on “Six dollars for sweaters!

  1. Love this outfit you look wonderful.
    On the neighbor, you just go on being the good, caring, and kind person you are and don’t think about her. She is the one with a big problem and she tries to bring you down to her level but don’t have any part of it.
    Nan

  2. Just want to say that I love seeing your ensembles — and rescuing mama & her puppies? What a lovely, generous, selfless act of kindness. Karma, indeed, does follow us, and you have nothing but love and positive energy coming your way.

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