Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Studio build: before

Meet the new home of Tangible Daydreams! It doesn't look like much yet, I know. But look a all the possibilities! The previous owners of my new home are in the house proper for a few weeks more, but we have access to the out building now. It is an L shaped building, and you are looking at one wing of it here. The other wing will be Brian's recording studio eventually. That side has higher ceilings and no windows, which is good for recording. This side? Look at all that light!

The old ratty garage cabinets are all coming out. The plan is to put vinyl tile squares on the floor, insulation and dry wall on the walls and ceiling, and turn the lift up garage type door into a set of double french doors. There is a swamp cooler right now, but I want to put in proper air conditioning to better deal with the Arizona summers. I'll have a ceiling fan in the center of the room, and two solar tubes for even more natural light.

I can just about picture it all in my mind. I'm not sure exactly where various things are going to go inside the studio once we get the walls built yet. I spent today measuring out the positions of the doors and windows and such, and found that the walls are all different lengths. Not a true right angle corner anywhere, and the ceiling is slanted. This is going to take some Tetris skills to get everything working well. First step first.

Actually, the first step is going to be taking care of the roof, which has a few leaks. We've got the stuff for that already. Then the insides. In between packing up and moving my whole house over. We're staging boxes into the recording side, and setting up some wood working stuff into the fiber side to do the build with.

I'm getting excited, can you tell??

Ok, less time on line, more time packing boxes. Back to work!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Just keep packing... Just keep packing...

If you're following along, you know that a bit back we put an offer in on a new house. We got it!!! The papers are signed, all is in order. The folks who had it before us are there until the end of the month, to give them time to move to a different part of the state. But we get access to the out building that will be my new studio this coming week. Wheeee!

And so I am in the process of tearing down my current studio, and boxing it away. The cats are NOT AMUSED at the changes. I am alternately bouncing off the walls excited, and weepy at leaving here. I've been in this house for about a quarter of a century, and I don't like change very much. I'm rather like the cats in that fashion. Except I haven't gotten to the hissing part. Yet.

So, there is a lot of dust, and So Many Things to figure out what to do with. We're only moving about 20 minutes away, and my grown up kids will be still staying in the current house, so we can do the move a van load at a time. Which is a good thing. Because our plan had been to call in a couple of decades of moving kharma, and tag everyone we know to come haul boxes and lift furniture. But, well, there is a wee problem of a pandemic going on. It is awfully hard to have a moving party and social distance at the same time. So it is going to be up to us. Oy. I am going to have so many new muscles when I am done with this all! And I'm going to feel each and every one of them.

Stay tuned. After the move, there is going to be the new studio build. But first, all the packing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A prototype cloth mask: Tutorial

With the onset of the current pandemic, I've taken to making cloth face masks for myself and my family. My mom and sister asked me for my pattern, so I'm sharing it here as a tutorial. Now, that said, this is NOT a medical grade mask. I have no medical back ground. The only research experience I have is Googling, and I encourage you to do your own research on how effective or not this type of mask might be. From my reading, I've concluded that cloth masks like this one can block maybe half of the ick. Better than nothing, but not as good as an official mask, and will NOT totally prevent you from contracting COVID-19. What it is really good for is blocking your own droplets from going all over the place when you cough. I figure that since there is a chance that you can be contagious before you know you have the virus, wearing these if you must go out in public protects other people from you. Folks have been saying, "My mask protects you. Your mask protects me."

So, disclaimer done. Not medical grade. Do your own research.

There are two types of masks that are popular right now. One is sort of cup shaped, fitted in the shape of an n95 mask. The other is a pleated rectangle, which ends up shaped like a surgeon's mask. That is the type I'm making here.

When making the masks, there are several choices you need to make. Do you use cloth ties, or elastic? Do you include a wire at the nose, for shaping? Do you include a pocket, so folks can add an extra layer of disposable non-woven filtration? (Think paper towel, coffee filter, dried out baby wipe...) This mask uses cloth ties, a wire, and a pocket, and an optional plastic toggle on the ties. Check the folks you are making masks for, and see what their requirements are. One of the medical folks I'm making masks for didn't want the toggle or the wire. My husband wanted both when I made his.

100% cotton woven fabric, in two colors. Quilting cotton is a good weight.
Sewing thread.
Cloth ties: Bias tape, or make your own. Folks are also making ties out of cut up t-shirts.
Wire. I use 18 gauge copper craft wire. Folks are also using floral wire.
Optional: plastic paracord toggles.

Cut 1 piece of your decorative fabric 7"x8". Cut 2 pieces of your contrasting fabric, both 7"x8". I'm making 6 masks at once in this tutorial, so I've cut 6 blue fabric, and 12 white fabric. Having two colors of fabric makes it easy to tell which side is which at a glance, so you don't put it on backwards.
Actually, I didn't cut my fabric. I'm using woven, so I just snipped the edge of the fabric at the proper length, and tore the fabric. Since it is woven, it will rip along the grain line. Snip and rip for the win. Much faster for me. You just have to remove a few raveled threads as you go along.
Take half of the white rectangles. You're going to turn these into the pockets. Finish one of the 7" sides. I folded it down narrowly twice to hide the raw edge, and sewed it down.
I take this time to make my wires and ties. For the wires, I cut them to 6", and fold the ends over so they won't poke folks.
For the ties, I prefer to use bias tape. But that gets expensive when you are doing a whole batch of these. Some folks are making ties out of old t-shirts...but I did a closet purge recently. I don't have clothes I want to cut up. I did however have some twin sheet sets I wasn't using anymore. They are nice light weight cotton. Perfect.
Using the snip and rip method, I tore the sheets into 2" strips.
Then I folded the edges in once, and again, so the raw edges were encased. Then I ironed the strap down. You can use a bias tape maker if you have one, but I found this easier for myself. If I kind of tugged on one end of the folded fabric while the iron was weighting down the other end, the fabric just kind of wanted to fold in on itself.

Cut two 40" ties per mask.
Ok, I have all of my parts. Time to assemble! (Ok, the toggles aren't in this picture. Those are later.)
First, I stack my fabric. The outer decorative layer goes right side up. Next, the pocket layer goes right side down, on top of the decorative fabric. Line up the unfinished edge with the bottom edge of the decorative layer. Finally, the inner plain fabric goes on the top, right side down.
Sew the fabric stack together on the shorter 7" sides, with a 1/4" seam allowance. One side will have three layers. The other will have two layers. Be sure you tuck the finished top of your pocket layer back out of the way while you sew the 2 layer side.
Turn your mask right side out.
Press your seams.
Ok time to top stitch those seams. Use a 1/4" seam allowance. A hint: if you are sewing lots of these at a time, you can just kind of sew from one mask to the next, chaining them together, instead of starting and stopping and cutting your thread each time. You snip the masks apart after sewing them. It is a time saver.
When you top stitch the 2 layer top side, make sure your pocket layer is flapping out of the way. We'll get to that soon, I promise.
At this point, grab your wire if you are using one, and slip it all the way into the channel you made when you top stitched the top of your mask. (The side with just 2 layers.) It will end up securely encased here in the mask.
Ok, that pocket piece that has been flapping around and driving your nuts? Smooth it down and pin it in place now.
The next thing we are going to do is make three 1/2" pleats along the 8" sides of the fabric and pin them down, so the mask ends up looking like this.The pleats all go the same way, away from your nose and eyes, to cut down on things getting stuck in the folds of the fabric.
Your first pleat starts 2" down from the top of your mask. I find it easiest to pinch and fold the fabric on both sides of the mask, and then weight one side down while I pin the other.
Pinch, and fold.
The sides should be somewhere between 3 1/2" - 4" when you are done pleating, and both sides should be the same. This doesn't have to be absolutely perfect, but even is good.
Sew down your pleats, on both sides. 1/4" seam allowance again. It is going to be tempting to just sew over the pins and take them out afterwards. You'll bend your pins and maybe break your needle. Trust me on this one. Take them out as you go.

Also? Make sure your encased wire is far enough in that it is out of the way of sewing. My needle does not like hitting that wire!
Mask part done! Now, on to the ties.
Find the center of one of your ties.
Pin or clip your tie so it encases the raw edges of the side of your mask. The center of the tie goes at the top of your mask. This is because it takes more fabric to go around the top of your head than it does around your neck when you are wearing the mask. So you want a bit more length at the top than at the bottom.
If you aren't going to use the plastic toggles, tuck in the ends of your strap and stitch them down, to finish the raw edges.
Sew the ties from one end to the other, so you're sewing them closed at the same time you are sewing them onto your mask.  Sewing the ties closed all the way along them ensures they don't come unfolded in the wash. Sew back and forth a couple of times to reinforce your strap when you get to the edges of your mask. These are going to be the stress points, so you want them to be strong.
Quality check. Flip your mask over, and make sure you actually caught the edges of your ties. I had to go back over this spot.

If you aren't using a toggle, you're done at this point!
If you are using a toggle, make sure your tops straps are the same length, and snip the ends just a bit with pinking shears if you have them. Stack the straps on top of each other, and kind of fold the ends over to make them as narrow as possible.
Shove the ends through the toggle. You might have to use a pliers to grab onto them and pull them through. Repeat for the bottom ties.
I tie knots in the end of the ties, to stop them from raveling, and to prevent the toggles from sliding off.
Done!! Here's a half dozen more masks ready for wearing.
This is what it looks like on. The toggles make it easier to take on and off. However, if you have long hair, I recommend you put your hair up in a pony tail before you use them, or you might cinch up your hair right into them. Ow. My short haired husband had no problems, but I did. If you don't have the toggles, just tie the straps.

Form the wire to fit your nose, and down your cheeks so the mask doesn't ride up into your eyes.

My recommendation is to use a fresh mask each time you have to go out of the house. Don't touch it when you have it on. Take it off without touching the outside of the mask when you come home, put it directly into a laundry bag, and then sanitize your hands. Wash  the masks on hot, tumble dry. The wire will get a bit bent in the wash, but if you grab the sides of the mask and snap outwards, the wire and pleats will straighten right back out.

Remember, wearing these masks is in addition to your social distancing routine, not instead of it! 

Take care, all!!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Just breathe

I live in Maricopa County, in Arizona, USA. And we just had our first death from COVID-19. Which means it is past time for us all to go on an in-person social fast. You've all read the headlines and delved into the articles, so I really don't have a whole lot to add to that. I've been staying home the past few days, but I realized today that social distancing can happen really well on the trails as well. Yes, I'll stay home most of the time. But I know where there are empty spaces, with no other folks around for ages. Every now and then, when the walls are really closing in around me, I think I'll take myself to the wilderness and just breathe.

We've been told to not gather in groups of more than 10 at a time, and that is a good start. But this thing... You can have it, and pass it on before you show symptoms. And that scares the snot out of me. I had been looking at just having small get togethers, just with my friends and loved ones. Well, I was thinking that way last week anyway. There were hardly any cases locally, and we'd let each other know if we weren't feeling well, and.. and... And if I get it, that means the folks I would pass it on to would be my friends and loved ones. My nearest and dearest. And some of them might not make it. And that would be on me. And I am watching our numbers climb, and climb, and I can see where this is going.

So, home. Or out away from everyone, until they tell us that out of the house isn't a thing.

And keep breathing.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Cooking in the time of uncertainty

Yup, I'm a home body these days. The world is an uncertain place right now, and the best thing I can do for it is to stay home and take care of my people. I got this.

So, I've been turning to my home making. We have an orange tree that needs to be harvested, and a bumper crop of mint out front with all of the spring rains we have been getting. My daughter and I had a kitchen day yesterday.

 First up was making up a batch of sekanjabin. This is a drink that I usually make for SCA camping events. But my daughter had her tonsils out a few years ago, and we found that this is awesome stuff for sore throats. She had a hard time getting water down when she was recovering, but this stuff did the trick. I decided since we had so much mint, it might make sense to have some of this already made and on hand for if/when we get sick. The syrup lasts for a long time without refrigeration, and you just dilute it with water to drink.

5 lb honey

4 c water
2 c apple cider vinegar
big handful fresh mint

Dissolve honey in water. Bring to boil (watch this, it will boil up all of a sudden), add vinegar. Simmer 1/2 hour or more. Remove from heat and add mint. Let cool. Strain out mint. Dilute resulting syrup with water to drink, about 8-1 water to syrup, or to taste. 

 Then we harvested some oranges and juiced them. Store bought tastes nothing like fresh squeezed from the back yard!

We also had a dozen lemons from a neighbor's tree, so we made up a pitcher of fresh lemonade. Which reminds me, I want a drink. Just a sec...

Ok, I'm back. Yum.
And then we took the time to make candied orange and lemon peels. Luckily I wrote on this a few years back, so I could just pull up my own blog entry for the recipe. Thanks, past Melissa!

 And here are the fruits of our labors. Two containers of sekanjabin syrup. Candied orange and lemon peels, which are really yummy. Little containers of lemon and orange syrup. A pitcher of lemonade. And I saved all the sugar that fell off of the finished candy, and tucked it into the tea cabinet.

The afternoon of slow cooking and chatting served to settle me from my anxiety. I know things are going to get worse before they get better. But I also know that home arts speak to the heart, and provide comfort. We've got this.