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Paula Makes

Bubblicious or Cold Retrospective

Frozen window

I like the super-cold weather — when it doesn’t overstay its welcome. But after I’ve worn both pairs of flannel-lined pants for several days each, subzero temps become a little tiresome.

Frozen bubble 6

So the hubs and I cheered ourselves up with frozen bubbles during the recent cold spell.

Frozen bubble 7

Temps below zero with a nil wind create the best results.

Frozen bubble 2

But single digits with a mild breeze (doesn’t move your hair, really) will do.

Frozen bubble 5

Usually I use store-bought bubble juice and I drink something hot at the outset. This produces steam-filled bubbles that drift upward and after a few seconds shatter spectacularly, releasing a puff of steam.

Frozen bubble 4

This time I used a homemade brew (water, Dawn, and Karo Syrup) instead. The goal is bubbles-on-the-ring that crystallize. They also capture lovely reflections of light and surroundings as they freeze.

Frozen bubble 9

The post-bubble phase, however, has little charm.

Frozen bubble 8

Still, it’s a lovely thing to look at for a fleeting moment, even when the bubble looks like it could look back at you.

Yankee Doodle (non)Deadline

Star-spangled bag best

Some time back I decided to make tote bags for friends — close, distant, hadn’t heard from in a long while, like but never able to spend much time with, like and spend lots of fun time with — for no reason other than I have lots of nice fabric and, back then, had some time on my hands. The idea seemed a nice, personal way to express appreciation. Most recipients were pleasantly surprised. While I wasn’t expecting nor desiring praise, the cold response of a few cooled my enthusiasm. And then time became less available.

This wasn’t a random activity. Each bag was created with someone in mind — the fabric, the size, the style. All the fabrics were of high quality and good design: Of one thing I am sure: I have a good eye.

Star-spangled bag1

Delivery was random; mostly the bags were shared within a few weeks of being finished. A few ended up being gifts for birthdays or Christmas. But after a career in deadline-driven publishing, I wasn’t looking to put the pressure of time on this project.

Fast forward to today. A former coworker and her family have been going through a lot, and it’s been going on for some time. But the Facebook posts are unrelentingly positive while remaining true to the events unfolding. It’s an inspiring display of the resilience of the human spirit.

She deserves a little pick-me-up. Back to the sewing machine. Her birthday is also Independence Day. Since I have an appropriate fabric in two colorways, she’ll get two tote bags. Perhaps she’ll share with her sister. And I made these far enough in advance, this isn’t actually a birthday gift, more a gift in fabrics that honor the day she celebrates for two reasons.

I wonder if she’ll figure out from this post that these are for her. . . Also, will our schedules coincide so that I can deliver these before July. . .


Is It a Fabric Yip?

Back in the day, yip was the term for a mental hang-up experienced by sports pros and amateurs. Accomplished golfers who suddenly couldn’t swing or their swing suddenly went wonky being the main use. The term was also used for other sports; I recall seeing footage of a catcher who couldn’t release the ball on a throw back to the mound.

While not a perfect use of the word, I call the experience of being unable to bring myself to cut a piece of fabric a yip. It is especially acute when I haven’t sewn anything for awhile or I’m about to cut a special piece of fabric.


I yipped last week. I decided to make a top from a piece of Charley Harper fabric,and the dilemma was twofold. There was just barely enough fabric and the fabric is a cotton knit. I love wearing knits but sewing them is another matter entirely; I’ve never been completely satisfied with the outcome.

In this case, I created a pattern from a dress-turned-tunic I liked but hardly wore. The dress fabric was lovely but rather thin for the cut. Previously I had cut the dress to tunic length thinking the shorter, lighter result would work better for the fabric but it still just drooped. The Charley Harper fabric has a bit more heft, and thus began the new project.

And then began the fretting. The pattern pieces sat on the fabric for a day or so when I finally took a deep breath, rechecked everything six times and started cutting. Then I pretty much forced myself to finish the project in two days, concerned I’d stall out and the thing would sit there half finished.


And there’s a charming little cheat: The original sleeves have a lovely zipper detail that I doubted I could repeat. Since I was short on new fabric, I simply used the original sleeves and added a matching trim detail to the pockets. Nothing like a well-executed hack!


Well, I did finish it, and it’s lovely. And since coincidentally the new tunic is red (the project has been sitting around for half a year), well, that’s just a bonus for my Ben Ming Nian.





Bag Ladies


A couple of years ago I got the idea to thank my friends for being my friends by giving them something personal — beyond the cheer, kindness, and thoughtfulness (and occasional baked goods) that I make sure to bring to those relationships.

Because I like making things, bags came to mind. For each woman, I look for a fabric that reflects her personality. Forgive the immodesty, but on the whole I have pretty good taste and a rare gift-choosing ability, so trusting my judgement puts me on solid ground.

This is my latest bag. It went to a woman I met through work. She’s artsy. I’d like to be artsy. Although we have a lot in common, our friendship didn’t really solidify until we weren’t working together. The pattern is Glenda from Swoon. (The credit is included only if someone feels inclined to find out more; I have no personal link with the company.)  I do love the interwebs to find new and different things.


Of course for this level of effort, passing friends and acquaintances won’t be receiving bags any time soon. But I still have a dozen good women on the top-line list. That will keep me busy this year.

Knit One, Purl a Bazillion

On Facebook a friend recently posted something about a knitting site. Some contest or giveaway or whatever so I clicked through and signed up.

Then, as the interwebs overlords intended, I started clicking around the site. Tee-shirt yarn! They have tee-shirt yarn and I want to try tee-shirt yarn! And when you buy bunches, you get a darn good discount. Then I checked my email. From the sign-up, a discount coupon! The two can be combined for a stupendous (or at least really good) discount!

We Are Knitters 1

Then this happened. The tagline is deceiving. The box did not contain a kit. It contained a lot of tee-shirt yarn wrapped in a vague plan. And yes, that is happiness.

We Are Knitters 2

The plan is rugs. Striped rugs – use a simple stitch and let the color do the design work. A couple of years ago, I spent an entire Sunday afternoon ripping old sheets into two-inch strips to make ‘yarn’ for a bathroom rug. That did happen so the possibility of this happening is greater than zero.

Maybe there’s a sale going on; maybe just a few more skeins/rolls. . . a little more happiness. . .













Orange fabric

The AmeriCorps member at the legal service agency where I volunteer is leaving next week. She’s smart, charming, and really gets my sense of humor so I’m going to miss her terribly.

I thought a tote bag would be a nice farewell-and-good-luck gift. Now all I have to do is pick the fabrics and make one. The orange in front is for the exterior; the others are lining options. I want to go bold but can’t decide which direction of bold to follow. (Yes, this is what bold looks like to me.)

And I’ve grown so attached to my fabric stash that I hate to use anything because whatever I use might go better with something else. The orange is new, a remnant from Ikea; I haven’t yet become very attached. But it is starting to grow on me. . .

This is ridiculous. Truly silly. Flip a coin and get out the scissors.




Instant Access to Memory


The oft-cited example is Proust and his d@#m madeleines. Those sights/smells/things that sometimes unexpectedly but with surety when encountered emotionally transport one back to childhood in a flash.

Letting down the hem on a pant leg (yes, that’s what this odd picture is) recently triggered it for me. In particular the tell-tale white line of the old hem took me back without warning. My mother made dresses/jumpers/pants longer, anticipating an extra season or two of wear by letting down the hems. She covered the scar of the old hem with a trim. I remember a burgundy corduroy jumper with two rows of trim. Money must have really been tight because that hem was no more than a narrow turnback of fabric.

For an instant that fresh-faced child was looking at the ironing board. . . ironically a pair of glasses fitted with progressive lenses sitting right there. Past and present accounted for.

I’ll skip covering up that indelible white line with rick-rack. No need to get carried away with that reliving one’s youth business.


The best way to knit is the way you knit best, with thanks to Ancient Arts Yarn.

Rising Before the Sun

I have determined to make rye bread. A post on Facebook inspired and terrified me, so it’s off to crazy foodville once again.

The FB post’s claim is demystification — sort of like sitting in an astrophysics class demystifies the universe: Not really, but the explanation was presented to you.

A more personal analogy is knitting/sewing/almost any kind of handwork — the most recent attempt being tatting. See interesting, intriguing, complicated pattern. Glance through it and realize I can either already do or have a reasonable expectation of being able to do all required steps. Then dive in and hope for success.

Oh, and I accidentally bought caraway seed twice (see International House of Cabbage, fermentation) and have to use it up. And the hubs really likes rye bread. There’s a starter to make and lots of rising to happen; that often means an early morning rise for me. Here’s to another kitchen adventure!

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