Sunday, October 12, 2008

Halloween's on its way, and cold weather, too

Chicago was blessed with an absolutely gorgeous Indian Summer weekend--75 or 80 both days--so we've been wearing shorts and doing yard work. (I make a point of mowing the lawn at least once every 60 days....I'm hoping today's session will be my last until May).

Even with the beautiful weather, I was able to think about the chilly times that are on their way, so I did two things that I'm quite proud of (well, technically three). First, I made air conditioner covers for our ancient, ugly, and inefficient dining room unit (which we will replace in the spring) as well as for Elliot's bedroom unit. I used two layers of sand-colored microfiber suiting that was given to me by a woman I happened to meet on the el train a couple of years ago---she was ready to have a baby and was trying to get rid of sewing cloth she didn't see herself using in the next few years. The cloth in question would have looked great on her, as she was a beautiful brown woman from Pakistan; the same cloth would have made me look like a beach. (Not a "beached whale," as the cliche goes, but the actual beach). Underneath the cloth, I created a two-layer plastic sheeting cover for each unit. I haven't yet addressed the leakage all around the units....but considering that I left the dining room unit completely uncovered until early December last year, I'm feeling really, really good about myself.

The other fall thing I did was to get started on Astrid's Halloween costume. She wants to be an alien--which was Elliot's costume last year--and I had just enough scraps from his ensemble to make up the better part of hers. She'll have black tights and a black turtleneck underneath the cool jumper I put together (made with Simplicity 5391, now out of print). I love how the binding came out---I used some of the fold-over elastic I bought from SewZanne's, and it worked great. I also made a metallic teal batwing "sweater" to go over the jumper--really, it's just sleeves and a bit of a back--I figured out how to make it from an old Threads article. Now I just need to design her Alien Headgear, which will probably be based on whatever big-enough plastic beverage container we empty between now and next week.

Elliot's going to be a ghost; right now we're haggling over how high-concept it should be. I have grand ideas about an apparition covered with the washed-out photos of Civil War soldiers or WW I sailors, but it sounds like he just wants to be "a scary ghost." My mother wisely reminded me the other day that Elliot's getting to the age at which any recommendation I make will be completely unacceptable; she urged me not to press my luck with him, so I will try not to. (Perhaps *I* can be a high-concept ghost....)

Believe it or not, once I was done making Astrid's alien dress yesterday, I grabbed an atrociously-huge, never-ever the right size pair of jeans I made a couple of years ago, and I turned it into a jumper for her, using the same pattern I'd just traced off for her Halloween costume. I used homemade bias tape for the bindings, and I salvaged a pocket from another way-too-big dress I made myself a year or so ago.

I think I'm done sewing for the week.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Working my way back up

A long silence, huh? It took me a while to get over the stomach bug I had when I last posted--and an even longer time to catch up on my backlog of work. I'm just about done with the article revision that was supposed to be complete in mid-August....I don't think I've ever been so late with a piece of writing. Fortunately, the editor isn't quite done revising her piece yet, either. Elliot's birthday was on Friday, the 26th--and boy, were we in cupcake heaven (except me--I was sick). We made 48 cupcakes for Elliot's schoolmates and teachers, and there must have been a few kids missing, because he brought home about 10 of them. I like this picture because it looks like Elliot is growing out of Astrid's head.

Lots of anxious fall days, watching the economy implode. I heard people on NPR comparing the current panic to the terrible uncertainty following the 9/11/01 attacks, and while it seemed like an outrageous idea at the time, I confess I've had some moments since then when I could see what they were talking about.

Onto a more pleasant subject: Astrid's been taking her Saturday morning art class for a few weeks now, and she's really enjoying it. I don't think it's providing the level of challenge that her Montessori teachers urged us to try to find for her, and, to be honest, I don't think she's doing anything with her teacher that she couldn't do with me--but it's very nice for her to have someone else to work with. She's quite strong-minded, and we do sometimes step on each other's feet when I'm teaching her. I have definitely enjoyed sitting outside the studio, in the fall sunshine, doing my class prep on Saturday mornings. I hope the weather will stay nice....

Last Friday, Astrid had her annual checkup--including three shots. In the waiting room before the appointment, she drew this picture of Frida Kahlo. (Yes, she is quite focused on Frida Kahlo.) In this drawing, Frida Kahlo is working in my office (all of the furniture and fixtures are pretty accurate), and she's using the computer to create a self-portrait. As you can see by her "Woo-Hoo!", Frida's pretty happy with how her self-portrait is coming out.