Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I heart smocking

Okay, this is the cheaters version, I admit, but I am in love with elastic smocking! Another great pattern from Weekend Sewing, and oh, so easy! The smocking is done with elastic thread in the bobbin, which must be hand wound. The hardest part was actually getting the bobbin thread up, since the elastic is heavier than regular thread (if anyone has a trick for this, I'd love to hear it!). You mark the right side of your fabric with half inch lines using a water soluble fabric pen, and then topstitch. It gathers a bit as you sew, but the magic happens when you steam it. You first spray the right side of the fabric with water to remove the pen and help with steaming, and then you iron. When you iron, the elastic shrinks and you get smocking! How cool is that? It's a simple seam down the back and ties. Finished. I've made one for Madeline and a matching dress for my goddaughter, and more are on the way. I'm thinking a smocked coffee cup sleeve, maybe a smocked dog sweater, toaster cozy.... you get the idea;)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A life changing week

So, it has been a whirlwind for the last five days. Last Thursday Max had yet more appointments, first with the nutritionist, then with the allergist. The allergist ran about an hour behind, so by the time we got in there, it was almost four. Max didn't take it well. He screamed for at least ten minutes straight during the scratch test, and proclaimed at the top of his lungs that these "doctors were all trying to kill him!" Yah, it was fun.

However, he tested positive for wheat. Starting with that night's dinner, we went gluten free. He had tested negative for Celiac through a blood test, but it wasn't the full three part panel and they are notorious for false negatives. We were scheduled for an endoscopy to test for Celiac, but I canceled it. Max declared at the allergist that this was it, he was done with appointments, and I promised this would be the last. The therapy for the allergy and Celiac are he same, so I figured we would just go with the diet and see what happened. Well, this is what happened - I went through gluten withdrawal!

I have been reading a lot about Celiac, since that's where the best diet information is found, and not only did I find many of symptoms that matched Max's, but me as well (it is an inherited disease). The first full day of the diet, the gluten withdrawal symptoms began, too. Basically, all of the nausea, GI problems and gas that I've had for years suddenly got much worse! That pretty much confirmed for me that we were dealing with Celiac. I actually got excited when I read that tooth discoloration and loss of enamal were symptoms. Max's front teeth have always been discolored, and neither his dentist nor his doctor could tell me why. I always suspected that it had something to do with his weight, and some deficiency!

There is much, much more to going gluten free than giving up bread. It is an ingredient in just about any processed food you can think of, because it is in malt flavoring, caramel coloring and many other common additives. Cross contamination is another huge issue. I had to get a new toaster, cutting board, and replace many pans and utensils (any finish that is porous or has a scratch where gluten can get in has to be replaced). Not cheap, but it actually felt good to streamline my kitchen.

So it's day 5 and I felt better today. I hope this means my symptoms will continue to get better. Max was really cranky for the first three days, but now seems pretty much back to normal. Max has taken the diet to heart, and can actually sight read the words "gluten free" on food packaging! Before our crazy week, we all started nature journals for the summer. To end this all on a lighter note, here are some of our pages:

From Madeline and Max:

and my pages:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Polar Bear Week

So, this is what happens when you have a teacher for a mom - summer theme weeks. Max is crazy about polar bears, so we kicked off the summer with everything Arctic. We built a snow cave (decorated by Madeline)

Max made a topographic map to track the bears in the Acrtic (made from Moonsand)

And they both wrote in their own polar bear journals

So, I haven't gotten much done for myself. I'll have a sneak peek later of some pages I'm working on for an Alice in Wonderland art journal exchange, and a very special little guy that arrived from Australia the other day, and we'll see if I can get anything else done in this polar landscape.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bernina Meme

It's sewing machine month at Sew Mama Sew, and they are asking for reflections on your machine. Here's my meme:

What brand and model do you have?
A vintage Bernina 830

How long have you had it?
A few years

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
One is listed on eBay for $400

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)? Mostly clothes, some home decor and stuffies

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I'm sure this machine has seen much wear and tear over the years. I sew in spurts, since I can't keep the machine out all of the time, but I've sewn a lot lately.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
No name, but I do love my machine. Bernina says their machines are built to run for a hundred years, and I believe it. It is a workhorse - nothing fancy, but runs and runs.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
I rarely use anything other than a straight and zig zag stitch, but I do appreciate that it can pretty much sew through anything. It's all metal, all power.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
It weighs A LOT, so hauling it in and out of the closet is kind of a pain, but that's the only complaint I have.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
My mother picked it up second hand for me, because her machine is even older and still going strong. I love the fact that the machine is the same age as me:)

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Definitely. You can't go wrong with a Bernina, and you can get the vintage ones for the price of a new Singer, and it's a much better machine.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
The computerized models are very cool, but how many of those features will you really use? If you are primarily sewing clothes and pillows/curtains, you need reliability and power over fancy.

Do you have a dream machine?
A new Bernina would be lovely, but honestly, this machine fits me just fine.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What I should be doing right now...

I'm taking an online collage class, mainly to kick my butt into gear and get back to painting. Three works in progress, and I've spent the last hour surfing sites and blogs. I need to go paint now.