Thursday, January 29, 2015

Aphids. Hate 'em.

I was admiring our swan plant and all the little monarch butterfly caterpillars feeding off it, when I noticed little clusters of tiny wee yellow bugs with lots of legs. But I wasn't sure what they were or whether they were a bad thing.

When it comes to gardening, if I'm not sure I let Nature worry about it.

A few days later I decided they didn't belong on our swan plant, so I scraped some of them off with a stick. I didn't do a great job, but then I was trying to avoid damaging the plant.

Then TLM googled "swan plants yellow bugs" (or something), and found out those little yellow things with tiny little legs that seemed wave at me were in fact aphids.

Apparently you have to kill them or they will kill your swan plant. And you have to keep at it or they will take over. Then you will have no swan plant with testicle-shaped seed pods, and you will have no  monarch butterflies or catepillars because they will have nothing to eat.

It sounds like aphids are the nits of the swan plant world.

When you crush them they leave a pretty yellow stain on your fingers...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A different standard

I've been on a bit of a sewing binge lately, because it is far, far too hot to even think about knitting. Sewing, reading about sewing, thinking about sewing, and watching the Great British Sewing Bee.

After reading many sewers' blogs about the difficulties they have with getting a good fit when using commercially produced sewing patterns, I noticed a common thread in what they said.

What I got was that, in general, younger sewers have few (if any) problems with sewing garments from commercial patterns and getting them to fit well without making any modifications.

But when they got older, their bodies changed and became "non-standard", and they had to learn how to modify sewing patterns before using them to make clothes to fit.

I can totally sympathise.

It was only while perusing an old sewing book (Sandra Bettina's "Power Sewing", to be exact) that I remembered that once upon a time sewing pattern companies used to make patterns for different body proportions.

Nowadays, patterns for adult woman are mostly categorised as "Misses" (i.e. the body proportions of a young woman), with a very few in "Petite" (i.e. for short young women), or "Plus" (i.e. too fat to fit into the "Misses" sizes).

But a decade or so ago you could also get patterns which were designed for other proportions too - "Woman" (i.e. women in middle-age or thereabouts) and "Half" (i.e. the same as "Woman" but shorties).

I looked at the measurements for each of the standard pattern size categories and realised that my body is approximately the standard "Half" size. Other women who, like me, can't find a trouser pattern that fits their bodies, are probably either also "Half" or "Woman".

And that's when the light went on for me. My body is not non-standard. It's just a different standard to the one which the pattern companies - and commercial clothing manufacturers - have decided is the only standard to use.

Unfortunately that doesn't much help me to sew trousers that fit me...unless you have a Half size trouser pattern to lend me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The last of our summer holiday

Just before Christmas last year I had spontaneously decided to take a couple of week off in January in addition to several days over Christmas and New Year. It meant I'd have only crumbs of annual leave for the rest of the year, but while I'm on holiday at home it feels like the right decision.

We'd had restful mornings followed by leisurely lunches followed by splashing at the beach. We've had visits from TLM's friends, I've managed to cover our porch (as well as my hair, some of the concrete around the porch, and some of my clothes) in a couple of coats of paint. I've nearly finished my non-classic denim jacket and finished my Japanese-inspired linen maxi dress (to be posted here later).

Although it hasn't been all fun and games, what with my elderly mum requiring visits to the doctor, the practice nurse and the medical lab, as well as many visits to cook for her while waiting for her home health service to kick in.

At the same time, the boy was diagnosed with shingles in his optic nerve. That was pretty scary at the time but the big box of various drugs seems to have worked because he looks normal now and didn't lose his sight. He still gets a lot of pain though, unsurprisingly.

I sure hope the rest of 2015 isn't so medically stressful as it's been so far...