Just Frigging Cold With Dainty Frills of Snow

What a Friday – 33 degrees, cold and gray. It never went above 33 degrees on this blustery November 14th, and to add injury to insult, there was a fairly brisk West wind plus occasional scattering ultra fine snow flakes. Very pretty (the snow flakes) but no fun to be out in.  I passed an older couple out doing their morning constitutional and I said “We are insane, don’t you think.” and she gasped out, “We just walk faster.”

I took that advice to heart and stepped faster myself.

The wetlands are totally brown now, except for the deep rich ruby of the Sumac berries.  This time of year you can really see why it is also called Staghorn, because the base stems are so thick and soft with velvety hair, not unlike a buck’s horns in velvet. Of course, by now the bucks have beaten the velvet off their horns and are ready to do battle with one another for the favors of all the lady deer out there.  Hunting season (with guns) starts tomorrow (the 15th), so the deer are nervier than usual.

My Coursera courses are all really great resources. What Plants Know is pretty intense although this week was easier because it delved more into the biochemistry of how plants exchange information. Which for me is always good. I also managed to sneak in under the wire for the ‘effect of chemicals on our bodies’ course, even tho technically it’s done, I made the registration so I still have access to the class. It is also quite good.

Today I worked more on the JERF/Hippocratean aspect of Herbalism and made some things with of course, real foods.  I made some Fig/Olive tapenade using a recipe from epicurious, a reasonably ok gluten-free Walnut cracker from  Elana’s Pantry, and a roasted Fall vegetable salad from myfitness.  I wouldn’t remake the salad – it sounds awesome (what’s not to like about roasted Fall vegetables?) but it rather failed in the end for the amount of prep and time it takes to make.  I’d rather have just roasted the beets, sprinkled some chevre on it and called it a day.  The crackers used oil to bring it together and I think I might opt for butter or Coconut oil next time and add some other seeds such as sesame. I would also make it with black walnuts and grind them finer, into more of a flour.  The tapenade was unfortunately very good. I say unfortunately because it was decidedly not a low cal option. I’ll be adding some mileage to make up for the unfortunate consequences to my D&E.

Three more weeks of Gardener class to go. I have four additional sections I need to read. I also need to identify a garden where I can find a plot to practice what I preach.  I like the class but of course, it’s that annoying homestretch of the class – I think everyone is glad there will be a break for Thanksgiving. I’m starting to design a couple of garden plots. One for the Herbal Studies Course and one for my soon-to-be plot.

I’ve been knitting whilst listening to the Digestion Series. I have the back of a sweater completed and half of the front.  It’s a great way to multi-task I find.  By the time the series is done, I’ll have acquired a ton of new knowledge, AND I’ll have an awesome new sweater.

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Safe protection/safe inspiration: IP law for fashion designs – Lexology

This is one of the better overviews I have read of the current state of the art with fashion IP protection.

Given how cannibalistic design can be, it is increasingly important that designers remain as au courant with forms of intellectual protection of their work and how to best protect it.

I found the section on trade dress particularly well-written, especially in light of the recent court decisions about Christian Louboutin’s ‘red-soled shoe’ marks.  Louboutin’s legal issues with his shoes to me highlights why designers should find a lawyer they feel comfortable with and ake sure their work is adequately protected.

Safe protection/safe inspiration: IP law for fashion designs – Lexology.

Interesting New Material: Pearlflex

This interesting new material from TCI Tang Chen in the Philippines has some interesting possibilities. Pearlflex is made from mother of pearl and Paua shell and combines the iridescence of these materials into a flat sheet suitable for use as tiles for home decor, or in fashion as a button or trim material or it would be ideally suited to make small evening bags.

Pearlflex is a nonwoven, with a flexible  base matrix that includes a water-based coating. The natural iridescence from the matrix changes hue as the material is moved and different parts of the matrix reflects light at varying wavelengths (this is a natural property of shell and mother of pearl.)

Pearlflex is light, sturdy, flexible and it able to withstand low or extreme temperatures. The material is tested on water absorbency and UV exposure to ensure quality.

You can check out its technical specifications at the Materia database.

New Directions and Stuff – Musing on Couture

Spent the weekend working on what I now affectionately term the ‘shirt from hell’. It was definitely a learning experience; I learned that couture skills do not do well when left to moulder for a few years and picking them up again is not like riding a bicycle.

It seemed like such a simple idea: I’m have a new business, and I wanted to make myself a shirt to wear when I went to talk to people about it. After all, when people say ‘what do you do, it’s far better to be able to finger your sleeve and say ‘I design stuff like this’ then to hand-wave. One of the real take-away lessons I learned from developing digital content for virtual worlds is 99% of the world still doesn’t get it, the success of World of Warcraft not withstanding.

So with this in mind, I pulled some yardage of one of my favorite prints, Thoroughly Thoroughbreds in Cream from our new Faster collection and set out to make make myself a shirt. This may sound intimidating to some, but I spent thirty years doing couture and have a couple of degrees and certificates from FIT where they make you make tons of stuff in order to graduate. At the height of my couture practice, I could crank out a shirt in an afternoon and it would be done with a fully couture pattern that fit me perfectly. With this as my background, I perhaps had overly high expectations of myself starting my recent ‘make a shirt’ project.

I was too rushed to draft a pattern for myself. In hindsight, this was a callow decision. I have CAD pattern drafting software on my computer. I could easily have created a half-couture pattern that would have taken about the same flat adjustments as the commercial pattern I used. It would have fit far better at the end. But the commercial patterns were on sale, and yada yada. Armed with my commercial pattern I made my couple of simple pattern adjustments that worked in the past and proceeded with my fabulous textile print.

An aside here about the material itself – I bought the 100% basic cotton textile and once it was washed to remove the sizing and other chemicals it was a dream to work with. It has a wonderfully soft hand and I am really going to enjoy wearing this shirt.

Cutting out was no big deal. I adjusted on the fly as I went and while it took a little longer it wasn’t horrid. Even the pre-sewing stuff went pretty quickly.

But then it was time to sew, and even all of my time saving techniques (which I thankfully remembered) were not enough to save me from the fact that I had lost muscle memory. Somewhere in the past 7 years, my fingers had forgotten how to pat-press and gather to ease the fabric under the sewing machine foot, and I had lost the finer nuances of a good couteriere.

There are some things on this shirt that let’s just say I’m grateful that most people won’t understand if they see them. I made the decision to use a man-style closure (right over left instead of left over right) so that I could hide the less-than-perfect collar stand on the left side. And the thing that really offended me the most was that it took me 6 hours to make this shirt, including buttonholes and buttons. In the past, that would have been more like 2 1/2 hours. However, by the end, I was remembering some of my hard won muscle memory, so I have hopes I haven’t lost all of my couture skills.

I learned some good lessons here – I need to make more stuff so I don’t lose my exceptional body of skills. And I need to not have overly high expectations as I get back into the process of ‘making stuff’. Also, at the end of the day, I have a super cute, fitted shirt made from my very own textile design.

And that, dear reader, is priceless.

The shirt from hell, unpressed: