Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mothwatch '06 continues...

For those of you anxiously awaiting an update on the status of Mothwatch '06, I'm pleased to present this late-breaking news photo:

Yep, not a lot has happened with the cocoons since I first introduced them to you (and, no, that's not the same photograph). It's supposed to take 21-28 days for the moths to emerge, and these were taken out of the produce drawer on May 8th, so sometime this week we should be seeing a bit of action.
Of course, I'm a little worried that their time in the fridge may not have gone as well as it should have, and these posts will actually become evidence against me in the case the media will be calling The Great Moth Slaughter of 2006. Every once in a while I put my head close to them and listen for rustling and peeping (the peeping makes no sense, since even "hatched" moths don't peep, but I listen for it anyway).
Hopefully I'll have some more interesting Antheraea polyphemus pictures soon.

In crafting news, I made a case for my laptop from a vintage barkcloth pillowcase-type-thing I found at a yard sale last summer. I may need to take it apart so I can do a better job on the padding, but I'm going to live with it for a while first to see if it's really necessary.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

because I really need more stuff

At first this weekend's yard sales seemed a little lackluster, but when I got home and admired my finds I must say I was rather pleased.
Along with the dresses that I already posted about, I got some cool patterns:

The two above may come in handy for Wardrobe Refashion. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure they won't look quite the same on me due to my normal-sized/wider-than-a-pencil calves (plus, unlike those gals on the right, I do have an upper-body).

Two apron patterns - the child's one still has all the transfers that it originally came with. I wear aprons fairly often, but I don't plan to ever make any (despite my love of Tie One On). Obviously I don't need either of these patterns, but I just found them too irresistable.

These ones are for kids. I have no kids. But they were only 10 cents each! and so very cute.

I did get some other basic patterns, as well as several pairs of double-pointed knitting needles in a variety of fabulous colors, a vintage green electric fan, a vintage pink light, and a practically mint condition 1953 pin-up girl calendar (only $4! - this one is pretty funny, so I might be doing a girl-of-the-month feature). Since this post is already way image-heavy, though, I'll leave you with today's flea market find - Mr. Bingley:

He's 18 inches tall and one of the old-school realllllly heavy ones. I've loved lawn gnomes since I was 3 years old, despite Travelocity's best efforts to make me sick of them by turning them into mundane advertising fodder. My mother would have gouged her eyes out before she would have put one on our lawn,which has, of course made them all the more desirable to me. I'm so excited to have finally found one of the fabulous vintage ones to call my own.

the best laid plans...

So remember how in my previous post I had all those lofty plans of clearing out my stash of clothes that needed work? I guess some part of me must have felt that I wasn't challenging myself enough, because look what I brought home from the yard sales yesterday:

The two on the left are probably early 1960s (they look a little drop-waisted in the photos, but they aren't really), and the one on the right is probably late '60s. And they all need work! Excellent!
I think I may have inadvertantly discovered the secret to clothing alteration, though. It turns out that it's much easier to do it using Photoshop than it is using a needle and thread. Who knew?
Use the skew command to nip in the waist, do some patching and button replacement with the rubber stamp tool - what a time saver!
My new plan is to stay at home in my pjs all day and post images of the virtual outfits I'd be wearing if I weren't so lazy.
I did manage to get them all washed, and the yellow one has been lengthened and just needs a little waistband reinforcement before it's ready to go to town.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Petula shows her drawers

As I've mentioned before, I signed up to do Wardrobe Refashion. I pledged that for the next four months I wouldn't by any new clothing and would either make clothes or re-make existing clothes. Buying clothes from thrift shops is also an option, but since that's where most of my clothes already come from it wouldn't be much of a challenge.
Here is my challenge:

It's a chest of drawers packed full of clothes that need work. The drawers are so stuffed that they need to be wrestled shut, and there are two small piles of overflow sitting on top.
When I say they need work, it's anything from something relatively simple like needing a hem, all the way to garments that I took apart to rework and then lost interest in (so now they're in many pieces and I've forgotten what my original plan was). There is no garment in there that is simply in need of a button or two and some ironing. Even the shoes on top are waiting for some hand-sewing.
My goal for the next four months is to whittle that monstrosity down to just one un-stuffed drawer of unwearable clothing, either by repairing, re-creating or retiring stuff.
In the unlikely event that I get that done, I always have this behemoth to turn to:

This is packed full of fabric. If you're wondering why it's blocking the window, it's because it's too big to fit anywhere else in my studio. It's sort of dreadful looking, but it's such a cool shape that I've kept it around for years with the intention of repainting it. Are you sensing a trend here?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pride and Prejudice in Poetry

I'm having some photography issues that I hope to work out shortly. In the meantime,
I thought I'd share a poem/film-review that I wrote for the bathroom wall at work
(long story).

I must wax poetic about P & P,
for I just bought the box set that’s on DVD.
It’s a tale by Jane Austen that’s chock full o’humor,
and romance, and hijinks and many a rumor.
This BBC version is a 5-hour series.
It’s the best adaptation and it never wearies.
This story’s about a young gal named Lizzie,
and a man, Mr. Darcy, who’s a butthead. Or is he?
Lizzie’s mum is much worse than the poor girl deserves,
always carrying on about her “poor nerves”,
and constantly scheming to get her girls married.
Mum’s antics embarrass and leave Lizzie harried.
If you want sex appeal, of that there’s no dearth,
since Fitzwilliam Darcy is my dear Colin Firth.
It’s so darn fantastic it improves with each viewing-
watching it now is what you should be doing.

You're probably all wondering now why my work hasn't been featured in the finest of poetry journals or maybe TV Guide. I can't explain it myself. I guess it's another example of the tragedy of the misunderstood poet.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Japanese craft books part 2

Here's the second half of my small, but well-loved, Japanese craft book collection (Blogger seemed to be getting a little cranky about having so many pictures in one post, so I thought I'd split them up).

This book about aprons is isbn4-579-10972-4

I've long been a fan of aprons, and this book has lots of ones I'd be happy wear. The details on them are so charming (scalloped edges! pleated pockets! that look like tulips!). Plus, who doesn't love pictures of itinerant cafe workers watering each other?

This last book on bags is pretty popular and I've seen it on lots of blogs. It's isbn4-8347-2235-x.

I like approximately half of the bags, while the other half are a little too fussy (they look sort of like cosmetics bags from Elizabeth Arden circa 1988). I really love the polka dot ones.

Japanese craft books part 1

After many trials and tribulations getting the scanner up and running (followed by a little time-out for the rabbit who chewed through the cord!), I am finally able to present my Japanese craft books.
I had been coveting the ones I was seeing on various crafty blogs and at Crafting Japanese, so I finally braved the language barrier a couple months ago and ordered them from amazon Japan. Ordering was challenging, but it was so very worth it. I've looked at each book at least 40 times and I'm still beside myself with their cuteness.
The first one is isbn4-579-11025-0 (the image at the top is from this book as well).

It's all about re-making clothes and accessories. I get really inspired whenever I look at it, however whether I'll be inspired enough to get off my butt and actually make something remains to be seen.

The next book is isbn4-579-10949-x

It's chock full of skirt patterns. The photo styling in these books is really great. They even manage to make white Birkenstocks look cute, which is no easy task.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

New Books! (sort of)

The sun hasn't been out much lately around here, so when I saw it shining today I made big plans to photograph the roller derby skirt I made recently. My plans were thwarted, however, when I found out I had a much more important mission before me.
My favorite used book store, Lobster Lane, was opening today for the first time this season (it's only open from mid-May to mid-October). You're unlikely to find a first edition of The Great Gatsby there, but it's a great place to pick up vintage craft books and cookbooks for unbelievably reasonable prices (I don't think I've ever seen a book marked over $3 there).
The Make It Yourself Boutique has some really cute 1960's sewing patterns. I'm not a fan of '60s decorating or crafts, but I do like a lot of the fashion.
I also found numerous vintage knitting pattern books. Each one has some decent patterns in it, and some of the pictures are hilarious. The picture on the right came from the Columbia Minerva magazine. Don't they look natural? A part of me actually likes the Charlie Brown-like blue sweater, but I'm sure I'll come to my senses before I start knitting it.
The cover of the Reynolds magazine is pretty funny too. They want us to think the woman in the ridiculous position is cross-country skiing, but it's obvious when you look at it up close thatthere are no skis attached and she's just standing like an idiot.
I'm also pretty pleased with the novels below. The Tomorrow People was written 1960-ish and takes place in the distant future of 1977 when people apparently live on the moon. It looks very, very good (cough).


Friday, May 19, 2006

wardrobe refashionista

I just made my first post at Wardrobe Refashion '06. I'm pretty new to blogging in general, and that was my first post to a group blog. I had a fear that I was going to make a formatting error and do something like post a picture that was so big that people would have to scroll over 3 screenwidths to see it. Fortunately, it looks like it turned out ok.
I have a little refashioning that I wanted to post here, too.
Once upon a time there was a sweater at the local Goodwill store. It had the most adorable stripes and it caught my eye whenever I went by it. The problem? It practically went down to my knees. I was sad, but moved on. However, when it was still there the next time I visited, I just had to bring it home with me. The first things I made were two very stripe-y Christmas stockings out of the very large sleeves. Then I took the body and made this bag. It's lined with a heavy weight canvas-y fabric, and it has served me well for a while now. I usually use it to carry my laptop, its accessories, a ringbinder and my cosmetics bag. The only thing I would do differently would be to do a better job strengthening the straps. They feel a little too bouncy now and I worry that someday they'll give way.

Using a different sweater (from the same Goodwill), I made my husband a laptop case for his iBook. I lightly felted it, and I embroidered the Apple logo on it for him. It's double-thick, so it provides a lot of cushion. I'm not especially happy with how it came out - it looks a little too sloppy and home-made (I like things to be homemade, I just don't like it when you can tell from 50 yards away).
Oh well. Some crafty projects work out better than others.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

revenge of Mothra

So, a couple of days ago I was over at Whip Up and I read about this guy, and it blew me away. Not only does he hand-weave beautiful things out of silk, but he raises his own silk moths and does all the reeling/spinning and dyeing. His site has amazing pictures of the whole process.
I haven't even managed to get around to spinning any of Isadora's easy-to-access fibers, so I'm quite sure I won't be doing any silk harvesting. However, looking at his site did inspire me to post about the moth-rearing project that's going on chez Petula.

It started a couple of winters ago when Davis found a cocoon lying on the ground and brought it home (it looked kind of like a cross between a dried out husk and poop to me, so I think it's pretty impressive that he knew what it was). He put it in one of the flower pots inside and would put a little water on it as he watered the plant. It took many months, but the cocoon finally opened and a moth like the ones in the picture on the right came out (the picture of ours is on a slide and I'm too lazy to hunt it down and fire up the scanner, so you'll have to take my word on it that he looked just like this). He was a Cecropia moth, and we, of course, named him Mothra. Once they've hatched and become all moth-y these guys only have about a week to live. They don't have mouths, so they don't eat - they pretty much are only there to mate. Since Mothra was in a single moth home he pretty much went berserk hurling himself at the windows trying to get out and find a little loving, so we set him free.
We've had quite a fondness for the cool kinds of moths ever since (not pantry-moths or sweater-eating-moths).

For his birthday last year I got him some antique hand-colored lithographs of moths and caterpillars. Here's one of them(check out the caterpillars!) ------->
He mentioned that he had also long wanted a hand-colored print of luna moths, so I went on the lookout for one of those for his Christmas present a little while later. Turns out that those are pretty hard to come by, but while I was searching I came across an ebay auction for a live luna moth cocoon. It had never occurred to me that you could just go online and buy cocoons - a whole new world suddenly opened for me.
We had learned our lesson about solo moths, so I knew we were going to need several if we got any at all. After some research, I purchased 6 Luna actias cocoons and 6 Antheraea polyphemus cocoons through Bill Oehlke who was incredibly helpful (check out the pictures on his site!).

Now the next dilemma was how to wrap a dozen moth cocoons for Christmas. They're not the most attractive of gifts so it took a bit of thinking. I finally decided to do them up as sort of a Victorian-era scientific display/vivarium. I don't know how true I was to the time period, but I thought it came out rather nice looking, all things considered.
Davis definitely didn't know what it was before he opened it! (or even for a while afterwards - hee)

The plan is to hatch the moths, let the moths fly around, then mate and lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch (assuming all goes well up to now), we'll raise the caterpillars, they'll make cocoons, and it starts all over (either in captivity or outside). The caterpillars are extremely picky about what leaves they'll eat, so it's important to time all of this with when their food will be available. The cocoons have spent the last couple months in the produce drawer of our fridge (hey, that's where we were told to keep them!), and Davis just took the polyphemus ones out about a week and a half ago. They're not too impressive to look at just yet. Hopefully things will progress as planned and I'll be able to update you with more impressive pictures in the future.

meet william morris minor

I was recently busted for only showing off one of my bunnies, but I want to assure you that it was not favoritism. Isadora is just a lot easier to photograph than Morris. She's the tortoise of rabbits and will pretty much hold her pose while you change the batteries in the camera, fix yourself a snack and watch a couple episodes of Buffy. Morris, on the other hand, has usually bolted out of the frame between the time you press the button and when the camera actually snaps the picture.
I did finally get one, but you can see that it wasn't easy going.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mars Attacks!

I'm both overjoyed and relieved - Veronica Mars has been renewed for a third season!
It's an amazing show, so why aren't the rest of you watching it?

corners of my house

Several months ago a project was started by Soulemama called Corners of My House. I didn't really have a blog back then, so, even though I'm really late to the party, I thought I'd jump in now.

Most of the time I look around my house and just see the gazillions of things that need to be done, so I really like the idea of focusing on the small areas that really please me. I thought the end result might be that I'd realize that my house was actually much more charming than the image of it I have in my mind. Sadly, it had quite the opposite effect.
My house is generally rather messy and it's always very crumbly (falling plaster, water marks on the ceiling, peeling wallpaper, chipped paint, etc...), and yet I somehow managed to convince myself that my task would actually be easy. There are lots of places in my home where we've somewhat artfully assembled stuff that we think is really cool, so I thought I'd just pop over to one of them with camera in hand, do a wee bit of photo styling, and - TAA DAA - I'd have an image that I'd be proud of.
It turns out that I've actually been looking at my home through rose-colored glasses, because apparently it's much, much worse than I thought. Even the little areas that I think of as oases of perfection were in states of unphotogenic disrepair. So, as you look at this picture, try to ignore the water stains on the wall and the rust on the cabinets.
Instead, think about Cheery Pink! Little Birdies! Pretty Lights!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

meet isadora

This is Isadora Quagmire.
She's an angora rabbit who generally has free run of our house.
If you feel that she looks more like an alien water-buffalo than a rabbit, it's just because it's nearing time for her quarterly haircut (I don't mean to imply that she looks any less strange after a visit to Petula's Lagomorph Salon, it's just that she no longer bears a resemblance to any sort of buffalo).
Angora rabbits are a lot of work, and I wouldn't recommend getting one unless you're really willing to devote a fair amount of time to their upkeep. The upside of having an angora rabbit hopping around one's home (beyond their generous donations of knitalicious fiber) is that they're bound to make you laugh every time they enter the room.
Plus, since angoras are bred to have really gentle, mellow dispositions, they really do make good snugglebunnies (FYI - it's important to always say "snugglebunnies" with that annoying baby-talk voice that grates across every nerve of those within earshot).

our state of the art sound system

My husband has recently developed a fixation with vintage radios, and this is what he brought home today. It's a 1947 Philco. I'm pretty psyched about this one because it has fm and could actually be something we would use (there is a growing stack of not-as-useful ones that I am rather less enthusiastic about).

I think it would be really cool to transmit music from our computers to it.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I'm finally jumping on the blogwagon.
Well, I'm actually jumping back on - I started a blog a while back, and then decided it just wasn't for
me and gave it up. Lately, though, I'm feeling a longing to join in some of the great craft-a-longs that are going on now (like the monthly apron-making at Tie One On and the just-begun clothing renovating/recycling challenge at Wardrobe Refashion). While you don't really need to have a blog to join, it seems like it's a lot more fun if you do.

swing by the archives to see more petulishness
(the link is in the sidebar on the right)