twinsies... you'll have to believe me

It's not everyday a twelve year old girl wants to wear the same shirt as her mom.

I'm not sure how to feel about it.

I made myself a racer back athletic top a couple years back and girl child has developed an affection for it.  I still had some fabric left over, sourced from Sew What?, from mine of the same style. Which I realize, now that I just went to look for pictures for, I don't think I ever posted it.  I'll have to remedy that soon but you'll have to trust me, it looks about the same, bit longer, more room for boobs and higher on the neckline so nobody can see said boobs directly when I bend forward.

For both of us, we often reconstruct t-shirts and sports jerseys to fit us better for roller derby and the gym, and it's not often I use virgin fabric to make something to sweat in.  Bit of a novelty right now.

Anyway, the top:

The pattern I use for my own athletic shirts is my own.  Adjusted over the years, it fits me just the way I like it.

The pattern I use to make girl child's athletic tops is also mine, the RacerBack Athletic top Epattern for kids.  She's at the top size now, and looks like I'll probably have to draft up a larger size soon.  It is a pattern I use often for t-shirt mods.  Roller derby puts you in a lot of different colours over the course of a season so it's not unusual to have to make up six or seven shirts over a couple months.  

The Racer Back pattern, by the way, I think was the bestest photo shoot we ever had.  It's girl child and one of her good friends and roller derby teammates.  It's fun to see how much they've changed since I took these photos two years ago.  See the original post here.

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What sort of clothes do you guys sport in? 



It's super duper hot here.  Which means great berry weather.

We are the weirdos pilfering the berries on the sides of the paved paths in our small city.  We brave the hobos, sudden long boarders and, sometimes, a bit of awshucks embarrassment to have a little warm berry snack, about the most delicious thing you can imagine eating.

We've had people say, omg, you can't eat that.  Because it's transgressive to just eat food without the intermediary of a vendor.  Without the permission implied by the paying for a commodity.  Like we consumer animals and we eat products, not food.

I think that we have an obligation to ourselves to maintain some autonomy from commercial interests.  Saving seeds, growing a garden, trading with your neighbor, growing fruit trees, learning what wild edible species you can forage in your area (particular invasive species or crazy prolific like dandelions).

But I think that about everything.  Making your own clothes, your own art, your own fun.  Not all of it, but some.  Enough to know you can do if the alien lizard monkey beasts do take over and we have to live exclusively by our own efforts.

Ten years ago people used to ask why bother sewing clothes when you can anything you want at Walmart instantly for less money.  People don't ask anymore; DIY has come into it's own since then, and there are plenty of manifestos out there that have explained it better than I ever will, but, generally, everybody gets it now.  That's why they spend money at Walmart to buy home d├ęcor and clothes that look handmade.  Culturally, there is value (or even just aesthetic) in doing it (or appearing to) yourself.

I'm still in the actually doing it for yourself mode. It's what, to me, constitutes freedom. 


book drifts and a lap top bag

As I get older, I find myself worrying less about goal setting and thinking more about how I should live.  What constitutes a good life?  It's creeping into midlife, late night thoughts of mortality territory, and the more I think about it, I realize, the less I know.

Which is probably why this is what my bedside looks like:

Actually, this ever shifting messy pile of books is not a new thing.  I'm just trying to justify my book drift with my existential angst.  I've always been untidy with books, coffee cups and general art supplies.  A little cavalier when it comes to leaving my mark on things, especially since I consider literature, art and curiosity to be of much higher priority than being neat and clean.

My childs have learned well from me.

We don't need no stinking gloves.  Our kitchen table bears the marks of a hundred projects.  And often our art falls into collaboration, as we inspire and encourage each other.

Messy creativity with weak boundaries may not be a virtue, but it still qualifies as a way of life.

In the same way, I love combining what I read with what I make.  One of my favorite children's books is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.  I love it as much for Alvin Schwartz's short stories as for Stephen Gammell's illustrations.  If you don't have a hard copy, you can check out some of the stories here.

My attempt at recreating the illustration from The Dead Man's Brains is not super duper excellent, but it was a free hand machine stitch drawing that I touched up a bit with water colour and wanted to keep around because it's still kind of cool.  And reminds me of a good book.

This is it:

I've made it into a laptop bag, since I've been transporting the laptop back and forth from home to my studio. It is all machine stitched, no hand stitching.  A closer look:

You'll have to forgive my messed up hand, with the scrapped knuckles from the gym and the nail polish that girl child applied.  She's a great kid, but not so precise with the paint (see second picture of this post).

Also, on the theme of screw ups, I managed to some how put the patchwork panel intended for the back of the bag on the inside and putting the inside pocket intended to hold a power cord on the outside back. 

My only real defense is that while piecing the bag together I was also having a small argy-bargy with The Man over text messages about what-I-can't-even-remember, and I was all flustered and did not pay enough attention to what I was doing.  Which reminds me why I wanted to have a studio in the first place, so I could focus on what I was doing and not have to redo things or rip them out so often because I was distracted by family life.  I will have to start ignoring messages from home, keeping at least one boundary a little intact.   

I don't think that will stick though.


drat dancing on my wall.

Little bit of paper and water colour fun.  I was thinking that this was a rat with a deer's antlers, but The Man says it's a rodent sized deer with a rat's tail.

Either way, I call it a drat.

Deer + Rat = Drat

Of course, the drat doesn't want to stay on the wall with my subpar double sided tape, so I stuck him to a glass picture frame and he's been doing ballet with a squid ever since.

It's been quite gloomy over the past couple of days, which is a nice change from hot like hades it was last week, but makes for less than spectacular pictures indoors.  If you are interested, I posted a few of the steps I took while making the drat on my Instagram account and girl child helped me make a little video here.

I think the drat needs a little buddy to dance with, maybe a bouse (or mear?) or a vrane (crole?).  What are the best animal mash ups?


Little shop update: I can't be bothered trying to keep up on two separate Etsy shops because I a) have some books to read, stuff to make and kids to raise and b) Etsy keeps changing their stuff and fixing problems on both shops its a bit too much.  So I am posting my Dollyshop Theatre dolls on my first and best shop connected with this blog, Indietutes.  So if you like weird art doll things, please visit.  Also there is patterns.



Battle Cat vs Skunk: everybody loses

Dear Backyard Skunk,

You should know that your current form of defense - the spraying and the stinking - in no way deters Battle Cat from throwing your smelly butt out of his yard.  It's just not working.  May I suggest you try a different tactic? Something that might actually be effective.  Like honking a horn or martial arts.  Because the shooting off your anal glands does not work against cats with standards as low as mine. 

Somebody who has better things to do than bathe a belligerent feline at midnight


After thirteen years, our kitties have recently retired as indoor housecats.  In the morning, I clip on their collars and give them the option of going outside.  Tiny Cat mainly declines.  He's not a fan of the nature and, being a giant chicken, when he goes out, he tends to be gone for way too long as he's most likely hiding somewhere under a shed, paralyzed with fear. 

Battle Cat can't wait to get outside though.  Remember how I said Battle Cat is super chill?  That is all true, unless you happen to be smallish creature that dared to set foot in his yard.  He patrols his territory boundaries, which extends to everything he can see outside from our house windows, and has successfully driven off many aggressive invaders, like squirrels and large beetles.

And the other night, he chased off a skunk.  This was of mixed success.

We have an 'all cats in before dusk' policy because, you know, vampires.  A couple days ago, though, we were gone for the better part of the day and didn't arrive home until nearly dark.  We let Battle Cat outside for one quick rove, feeling sorry for him for being cooped up in a hot house all day. 

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

It's not like we didn't know about the skunks.  A mama and her three babies have been terrorizing The Man for months as he travels between the house and his garage in the evening.  You'd think those little skunks have bombs duct taped to themselves, the way The Man reacts.  He's ever alert for skunks.  I would actually say, he's almost pathologically terrified by them.

Which is probably why he was the one to first notice the stand off between Battle Cat and mama skunk. 

The Man's reaction was to yell at me to get out there and call my cat off because it's MY job to deal with rowdy children.  So I did (while The Man and boy child hid in the house).  My goofy five pound cat responded to my call with his 'coming!'  meow but added a, 'just a sec' chirp.  He would not and did not back down until the skunk had left his domain. The skunk was probably twice the size of my cat, yet Battle Cat did not hiss or growl, and he certainly never raised a paw.  He just slowly walked that skunk towards the fence line.  I think he wins with his pointed looks and general air of disapproval.  The one of time I've seen him in an encounter with another cat, a scarred old tom, he used this same lack of menace to remove him.  Perhaps his name has given him a reputation that other critters are too nervous about to test?  Like how the little guy with multiple tics, scarred face and neck tattoos named 'Skinner' never gets into fights in the pen?

Battle Cat, once he chased off the skunk, came back all perky and proud.  Good job, Battle Cat.  You smell bad, Battle Cat.

The scent was not so much experienced nasally as much as the feeling like someone was squeezing all the air of your lungs. 

In short order and in line with out family policy of having me deal with the icky stuff, Battle Cat and I were sequestered in the bathroom.  I had grabbed the cat, then The Man grabbed my shoulders and steered us both towards the bathroom, then firmly shut the door behind us.  Then, from the other side of the closed door he asked, 'What can I bring you?'

A pair of rubber gloves were pushed underneath the door crack and frantic Googling ensued, trying to find out with what to wash a cat with that has gone and done something so stupid as to get sprayed by a skunk.

Battle Cat's proud demeanor quickly turned to resentful disappointment as the bath commenced.  Oh, bathing a foul and hostile creature at midnight instead of crawling into the bed you so desperately need is super fun.  Reminded me having infants in the house. 

Stop washing off the wash, Battle Cat!

See, Battle Cat, this is the price of being outdoors.  You want adventure and fresh odors to sniff?  Well, congratulations, you've got it.  Indoor kitties don't need baths.  They also don't need flea collars or de-worming pills.  All of life is trade offs.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Good news though!  We pulled the cat in so fast I don't think the skunk oils had time to really settle.  He was being washed with a combination of dish soap, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide less than five minutes after being sprayed.  Another wash with just dish soap and Battle Cat smelled like the after supper dishes.  Granted, I turned nose blind after about ten minutes of being in that bathroom with him so I couldn't say for sure, but the next day he didn't make me feel like I'm suffocating when I put my nose up to him.  Boy child also gave me a thorough sniff after I washed up from washing up the cat.  He is very sensitive to odors and he gave me a thumbs up and allowed me to hug him good night.   

Spikey little pedal paws

The rest of the house also received a super clean up with a degreaser and just in case any skunk oils remain lingering about.  Right now Battle Cat is sitting on my lap and he seems to have forgiven me the bath.  That's great, because with his vet visit last week, the medications he's needing to take and his surgery planned for Friday, he has a lot of stuff he could be resenting me for.  But, he is, as I said, generally, a really chill cat.  Just stay out of his yard.


This short video helped the childs understand what happened between the cat and skunk and answered boy child's question on, 'how skunk's work'.  It's a little graphic in the anal zone, though, so I do not recommend viewing first thing in the morning or while eating.