This morning I am overwhelmed with the longing to travel, to see new places and things again. What sparked that feeling was watching the annual New Year's concert on TV and seeing pictures of Vienna, one of the places I would love to revisit after decades. I know I would appreciate it a lot more than I did when I was younger.

Unfortunately, this comes at a time when I am not able to leave my responsibilities at home and go off on my own. I don't want to complain and am making an effort to see the positive things in my life. Still, I feel cooped up, like my world has become very small. I want to find a way to be whole, to integrate those parts of me that seem to be unneeded in my current daily life.

As little as I use this blog these days, it seems like the best place to share my thoughts with a few people - too many on FB...
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The Tolkien Seminar this past weekend provided an opportunity to meet several Barrow-Downers:


from left: Novatlan, Estelyn, Mirkgirl, shadowfax, and Guinevere

Step One: Victorianize

I started the change from cheerful normal Hobbit dress to steampunked Hobbit cook by taking away the colourful elements, sobering up the look to give it the Victorian style that usually underlies steampunk costumes.


1. Replace the yellow blouse with a white one - fortunately, a style that I have in my closet.

2. Replace the coloured apron with a black and white striped one - new cotton fabric purchased for this purpose, sewn yesterday.

3. Cover the coloured trim on the bodice with a black velvet ribbon - from my stash, just barely the right length, but it works! Hand sewn over the existing trim so it can be removed should I want the original look back. Also replace blue cord lacing with black leather band - existing in my collection of stuff.

I think I will hike the apron up on both sides to achieve the layered effect I've seen on other steampunk skirts.

I don't think the dress itself needs more detail - the accessories will add enough busyness.

I'm pleased with the changed look so far - amazing how much difference trim makes!

Next step: accessorize. Today's task - sewing a white, lace-trimmed mob cap.

Progress (or non-progress?) Report

I continued working on my world map quilt until shortly before my vacation. I paused in the middle of row 6 (of 13), somewhere in northern Africa, so the blocks are not quite halfway done. During vacation, I had time to hand-quilt my white vintage quilt - it's not finished, but the rest can be done without a frame.

Upon coming back home, I had my hands full with daily tasks and church service music, so the only sewing I did was one quick lavender sachet for a friend's birthday.


This holiday weekend is busy with music, and though no family members are coming to visit, we've invited friends over for coffee and cake on Sunday afternoon. Cooking, baking and keeping everything neat will have top priority.

After that, I can get back to creative work, though not on my magnum opus. I will be spending the coming month putting my lecture for the Tolkien Seminar together - a comparison of the narrative function of music in the BBC and German radio plays. I will also be revamping a costume for a friend's birthday party, so my sewing and crafting time will be needed for that. Perhaps I should follow my favourite costume maker's example and write a list of what I need to make:

change dress: replace blue cord lacing with black; hand sew black velvet trim on top of existing coloured trim (so I can take it off if I want the original look back)
apron: sew black/white striped fabric (already purchased)
cap: sew white fabric and lace (from stash), decorate (feather and brass owl button, perhaps, or goggles made of metal sieves)
ammo belt: cut faux leather, sew elastic to hold corks in place
tool belt: add loops to existing belt, customize tools by using wood and/or copper self-adhesive foil

blouse: I plan to use a ruffled long-sleeved white blouse I already have.
boots: My high-heeled laced black leather ankle boots will be fine, probably topped with something like spats - the faux fur hobbit foot toppers I've used over bare feet in sandals.

chains with old keys and/or other details: as time and material allow

Before I start on the changes, I want to take a "before" picture of the hobbit dress...


Just when I'm working on channelling my creative energy into finishing UFOs and WIPs (unfinished objects and works in progress, for non-quilters), a new idea strikes to distract me. A birthday invitation from a friend, who wants as many guests as possible to come in movie costumes, got me thinking about the costumes I already have and whether one would be appropriate.

I decided last summer that my Pink Wizard phase is over, so as fun as those two costumes were, I'm leaving them behind me for now. I wore the Ioreth dress and apron often enough, and I don't feel svelte enough for the red Elven gown. That leaves my dove blue linen Hobbit dress. That's quite appropriate at this time because of the Hobbit movie. However, I've had it for several years and would like to re-dress it for a new look.

Nuranar was the person who introduced me to steam punk, and since I regularly read Jen Yates' (of Cake Wrecks) Epbot blog, with lots of steam punk costumes and decorations, I've wanted to try the look. But Hobbits and steam punk?! There's no common ground, is there? My brain started working on the concept, and I soon came up with an area in which Hobbits would have lots of gadgets - for cooking! Within a day, I had lots of fun ideas, many of which involve stuff I already have on hand.

The dress is two-pieced, with a separate skirt and corsage of the same fabric. That makes it easier to fit than a one-pieced dress. The blouse is yellow, the cotton apron cheerfully striped in yellow and blues. There's blue braid trim on the bodice. I will replace the blouse with a more severely tailored white one, with long sleeves and a high neck ruffle that give it a Victorian look. I have black laced, high-heeled ankle boots that look appropriate - maybe I can attach a "foot wig" or some fuzzy spats for a "Hobbit feet" effect.

Finding the right fabric for a new apron will be the most important task - I'm thinking of a black/blue/white striped silk, but who knows if a manufacturer thought of the same thing?! I may add a long black skirt under the blue linen one, and hike up at least one of them at the sides. I do have enough of the linen left over to add a bustle at the back of the bodice, which would add Victorian flair to the Hobbit corsage.

So far, so good. This doesn't involve a whole lot of work nor much by way of cost - I have a piece of black velvet trim that I can use to cover the blue braid, and I'll replace the blue lacing cords with black. That will leave the original costume intact should I decide to go back to that look. The best part comes now - accessorizing!! I get to do all the fun stuff without the bother of sewing and fitting the dress itself!

There will be a tool belt, definitely. It will hold cooking utensils and gadgets: an old-fashioned egg beater (the first thing that occurred to me - what a fun real use of gears!), metal measuring spoons, a whisk, a cake decorating gadget that looks a lot like the ray guns I've seen (well, it will when I'm done with it!), a sieve, bottle opener, and whatever else occurs to me. Then there will be an ammo belt that holds wine/champagne bottle corks instead of bullets. If I can get some copper pots and pans without paying a fortune for them, I may construct a back pack to hold and display them. I will also be looking for a hourglass egg timer, and I already have a couple of old-fashioned keys to hang on my belt.

The one thing still missing for a total look is something for my head. I thought of a cook's hat, but that seems too modern and not quite right in its proportions for the costume. I'm thinking of a white mobcap, perhaps decorated with some metallic fabric roses (in gold and silver and bronze) and a black feather or two. That seems both Hobbity and Victorian. My hair is curly enough and not too long, so it will look like it came directly from a Shire hairdresser.

There will be copper wire to add effect to some of the gadgets, though I won't try to paint the stainless stuff. Metal is metal, and I think that will look good as is. But any plastic parts are fair game for copperizing.

So what do you think? Any additional ideas or criticisms of those I've listed? There will be photos, yes, as I get things made...
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Thirty years ago, I met a woman who became my best friend for many of those years. Today, her husband called to let me know that she died after a long illness. She was a fighter, battling numerous diseases in the course of her life, and she finally had no strength left. Her death at this point is not surprising, and it is merciful, but I haven't yet grasped the concept of a world without her.
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A Holiday Tale

And lo, there appeared a meme at the end of 2011, and it shone on the blog of hukbillgoomba. Thereafter it showed the way to the page of sarahlitarose, from whence it came unto memoryleaveme. And behold, the meme was pleasing to the reader's eye and was also appropriate to the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, so that it continued its wanderings through the interwebz.

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