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Two more weeks…

We had a good laugh last week when one of the DJs H works with announced there would be two more weeks of winter predicted by the groundhog.

Expectedly, he caught a lot of flack for that. This guy has a tendency to not research anything.

I’m actually ok with there being six more weeks, as I have some garden preparations to do. I got started a couple days ago laying out some cardboard and piling on leaves to make my version of raised beds. The weather was beautiful and not winter like at all. My back is still tired and strained from those efforts.

I’m preparing the garden, even though I don’t know if we’ll actually be here. That’s kind of the story of my life. We’re always making plans and keeping things open for possibilities. It’s grown tiresome. And, perhaps, in spite of that tendency of ours to not know where we’re going to be, I purchased these…

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I’m particularly excited about this one…

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Apparently good for making soup stock. I can’t wait!

I also want to get some ducks. I wanted to last year, but it never happened. We paid a guy to make us a chicken coop last year, but that never happened. I’d like to have some chickens, too. We’ll see what happens…

Over the past week I managed to finish a couple of projects – the weaving I had started and a crochet bag.

H was puzzled by the weaving:

what’s that for?…it’s just some weaving…but what’s it going to be? …I don’t know, it’s just some weaving…but what are you going to do with it?…I don’t know, it’s just some weaving…

I guess he is used to most of my creative efforts having purpose. Of course, I envision it going into cloth work some day, like Jude’s beautiful creations, but obviously I’m not there yet.

The crocheted Rondo bag is a free pattern from my favorite free pattern company…Drops. I want to line it, probably will use up some more of that quilting fabric I have. I think I even have colors that would match.

I didn’t get a lot of drawing done last week, but did manage another hand…and then there was class yesterday.

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We worked with charcoal.

And, there was another Prairie Girl.

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A bit of stitching…

I’m finally getting back into the swing of things, I think. We’ve had so much going on I haven’t had a chance to write.

We bought a new bed at Costco last night. I think I’m going to vote for visiting Costco on a week night in the future. The weekends are just so crowded and chaotic. Got the bed back to the house and installed. A few nights ago we got a new washer, so yesterday was spent catching up on laundry. Exciting stuff.

I’ve managed to get a few things crocheted, along with one cloth that’s nearly finished. I’m having trouble deciding what to do on part of it, but think I’ve landed on an idea. I will head upstairs in a bit to finish it.

Here are the two hats I made following a Drops pattern.

One is floppier than the other, as I used different size yarn.

Ever since I got back from Denver I’ve played catchup. The first day home was spent in the garden, gathering up everything that had been left to grow in the Indian summer because that night it was going to freeze. I still haven’t processed all of it and the sweet potatoes are curing. Check out the size of them! I’ve never seen sweet potatoes so large before.

That’s a quart size jar and then a pint size for comparison.

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I have about 2 1/2 gallons of green tomatoes fermenting in a cool upstairs room. I haven’t even gotten to the rest of them yet. Many have turned red. I hope they’re still good enough to freeze. Maybe I can tackle that today.

I have a couple cat pics to close. Matty KNEW I was trying to get her photo and was turning away on purpose. (I’m thinking of changing her name to “Bratty.”) This was the best one I got. Olive is much easier to photograph.

 

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The Spider and Her Web…

Yesterday I completed the Spider and Her Web.

I had to force myself to sit down and put the wire through the legs, stitch them on. It wasn’t too difficult a task, but I had been putting it off. I’m so happy to have this completed in time to enjoy it for Halloween.

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I want to find some purple lights to put around the perimeter. Maybe I will get out and do that today.

Here she is this morning.

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Isn’t she FABULOUS?! I believe my first blog post contains the link to making the crocheted spider. I didn’t make it exactly as instructed, mine’s a bit bigger…and designed to look like our native Jumping spiders, which I love. The doily is crocheted from an old pattern book I have, probably from the 80s. I used the center bit until I ran out of white, and then basically made up my own pattern for the purple perimeter. H really loves it, which makes me happy. I love it, too.

Also yesterday I took loads of flower photos. Even though the gardens are fading in the cooler weather, they are still fabulous. I will enjoy them to the last. Look at that STAR.

 

I just love THIS flower, here, and have been watching it the past few days. I adore how it turns up its head to the light, and how the light shines through it.

 

I would love to be able to stitch this and do it justice. I will have to try.

And this ageing orange zinnia…so gorgeous…

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The rain drops on this fading glory…

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And little Olive, so quiet and observant. She is a joy to have with us. The little stray, scared, hungry, wild and alone…now has a family.

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She is becoming such a beauty.

I got on a silk square kick this weekend. Cut and stitched and stitched some more. Silk thread on silk. I was totally absorbed for hours. This morning I looked in the basket and realized I had SO many. I counted. 76!!! How did I DO that?

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The Spider

Yesterday, as I was sitting here at the computer, I felt something plop onto the top of my head. I knew instantly it was a spider. I hastened to remove it, actually trapping it loosely with my fingers before quickly plopping IT onto the floor. Then I scooped it up in a piece of tissue and released it outside.

I’m not afraid of bugs, but I don’t like them crawling on me. I also don’t see the need to kill every bug who crosses my path. They serve a purpose. Except fleas. And mosquitos. Those don’t count. 😉

I found it ironic that a spider dropped into my hair, as I’ve been working on one for Halloween.

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She doesn’t look like much now, but she’s going to be Fabulous! You can find the pattern here. I didn’t follow the pattern exactly. I made my spider a bit bigger.

Today I’m working on some stitching projects, trying my hand at both traditional quilting (of sorts) and making dye. I’ve got some of my marigold flowers simmering as well as some black walnut husks I’ve had in the cabinet for years, leftover from when I made black walnut hull tincture. I made a ton of the stuff, but never used much of it. I went searching for the big container of tincture I had sitting around, but couldn’t find it. I think that may have gone into some detox baths. Anyway, I’m creating something with a fall theme, and the marigold and walnut, yellow and brown, might work well for dying the background.

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I’m having trouble with technology this week. Yesterday and today the computer has been running oddly, not wanting to highlight text. Today I can’t seem to get my phone to send emails, which is strange since one went through just fine. The others are in some kind of limbo holding pattern in my outbox. It’s important I get them because I’m sending myself photos I want to include here. So, for now, I’ll move onto other topics.

There is something restful and calming about typing my thoughts here, on a blog, rather than somewhere else like Facebook. I don’t care much for FB these days, other than for playing words with friends and keeping up with real friends and my fermenting groups. I rarely post there. No matter what I say it always ends up sounding trite and meaningless. I find that in other’s writings, too. They really do speak from the heart, but often the format simply cheapens their words, turning them into passing soundbites. Some days my newsfeed is full of screaming words, like political rantings and social outcries. The sound is deafening, overwhelming. As a result, I’ve turned away from doing the same, choosing to focus more on my own interests and more lighthearted sharings. This summer I’m sure I bored everyone with pictures from my garden, but it was the most fun I’d had there in a long while.

Cats. Cats always seem to find me. I’ve lived with them my whole life. We had our cat numbers down to 3, if you count the elusive Mr. Chick, who only comes around every two or three days to fill up on food.

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I adore this cat. He is so gentle and quiet. He has turned into a real gentleman. While the big girls hiss and yowl at the little girls, he remains calm and passive, even though he is largely wild. He lets them get close and sniff. In truth, the little girls are in awe of him. They stare and tiptoe around him.

Chick – formerly Chicky, but I call him that less these days – is a tom. Gorgeous, even with the mangy spots on his skin. I tried treating him earlier this summer, and now he acts even more skittish. I kept him cooped up maybe two winters ago trying to treat this weird skin problem he had, to no avail. Later I read it was probably ringworm, something young cats are susceptible to but tend to grow out of. As my cats are all indoor/outdoor, they tend to get cat issues sometimes. Who knows where they sleep?

When Chick comes around, he eats his fill and may sleep for a while on the porch. But, I find he’s always on the lookout for the asshole tortoise shell tom who is a bully and tends to show up when Chick does. The two have fought at times, but now I suspect they run together. Their personalities are polar opposites. Here is Chick looking over his shoulder. Sometimes I suspect he feels hunted.

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So, like I was saying, we had our numbers down to 3 from 5, after two left. I won’t get into their stories. I’m actually considering writing a tale about the cats I’ve known. They are all such individual creatures. The longer I live with them, the more I see them as people. It’s impossible not to, their personalities are so unique and distinctive. I suppose the more you love them and allow them to be who they are, the more expressive they become. I think that’s the trouble with lots of people who don’t like cats. They’ve never had the patience to really get to know one.

So, two left and two arrived. Two girl kittens, one from my mom’s cats who together have produced 20 kittens this summer, and one who just showed up. They have a tendency to do that. I’ve been so happy to have the first to keep me company, as the big girls wanted out as soon as it started getting warm and have refused to come back in. This winter they will refuse to go out. The other girl was a stray, wild and scared, much like Chicky when he first turned up 3 years ago. But this girl was soon tamed, probably with the help of the first who reassured her, and is so lovely. Sweet and adores being petted. She has proven to be a good pal for the first, keeping each other entertained with play.

Finally, the photos are here. I’ll post them above.

And, here is the grid I’m going to work on for that fall theme I mentioned. So far, I am loving this basic stitch work.

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I started this project because I missed stitching with thread, and because I found a blog online I wanted to follow, someone I wanted to learn from. Sometimes, between the threads and the fabrics and the stitching, she reminds me of my old quilter friend who is gone now. A quilter and a friend. She liked to teach, too. I still miss her.

I want to stain this grid with my walnut and marigold colors and see what happens. I’ll try some test squares first, to see what I get. I may also mix some rit dye along with it. Just experimenting.

A Day in the Life…

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Aren’t those marigolds gorgeous?

A neighbor pulled up four little marigold starts this spring and gave them to me. “Do you want some marigolds?” he asked.

I had no idea they would grow so large. I stuck them between tomato plants in the back yard and this summer they got so bushy they spilled out on either side of the tomatoes and grew up through some. They were so loaded with blooms I wished several times I’d planted some in the front yard to enjoy there as well.

At some point I was reading about dyes. Oh, yeah, I read another blog where the writer makes her own dyes. I did a search and saw a link for marigold dye. I wish I had thought of this earlier. I could have been collecting blooms all year rather than watching them wither and go to seed.

After drying, I’ve got half of a quart size bag full. I stuck in a silica gel packet from some leftover packaging to help keep the petals dry. I’ve got more petals drying and in a couple of days I should be able to harvest some more flowers.

I’m playing with some quilty stitchery ideas, although I haven’t had much time to pursue them. I’ve missed stitching with thread lately, so am considering getting back into it. I’d really like to make some projects that would decrease my fabric stash. I’ve gotten started, but haven’t gotten a lot accomplished yet. Mostly ideas…

I came across this old piece while digging through my stash. It’s something I traced out of a book and filled in. I don’t think I even have the book any more. I didn’t care for most of the designs.

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It’s one of those things from my stitching days where I look at it and am amazed that I actually did that. Here’s a closer look.

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Button hole stitch, satin stitch, French knots, cast-on stitch, bullions…I’m impressed. Yet, still unsure what to do with this piece.

I haven’t done a lot of embroider in a number of years. Over the past few years I’ve been learning a lot about crochet and continuing to needle tat. But, I find myself wandering back to stitching. Plus, I have so much thread I need to use up.

I need to spend some time in the kitchen today. I’m nearly out of sauerkraut, and I’ve got some okra and cucumbers staring at me. I’m pretty sure there’s a jar of kombucha that’s ready, and I need to bottle these guys today. Perhaps I’ll add some more sugar and let it get a bit more bubbly. Lime pine fermented soda.

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Here’s another pic of the Aztec man.

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Encore, Etsy, Comfort and Drops for fun combinations

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Starting a new blog has a way of making me feel old.

All these selections, uploads and decisions to make, how to change this that or the other, what’s free, what’s not…it can be quite confusing. I understand why people hire someone to do this for them.

But, here I am, writing at last, after spending the past two hours getting the basics in place. As I learn more about how to use WordPress, perhaps I can make this blog a little easier on the eye.

I want to talk about a variety of things here, no restrictions, no parameters. Just an expression of who I am, what I like to do, and how I see the world. I’ll have a few things to sell here and there, but mainly I’d like to talk about what I’ve made, what I’m making, etc…

Now, to begin…

After a long humid summer itchy with mosquitoes, fall has finally arrived. Today is cool and rainy. The two kittens were playing most of the morning, sometimes inside, sometimes outside. A joy to watch. Playful. Now, sleepy. One is curled on a pile of blankets behind me. The other, outside on her blankie, which is just an old fleece shirt I folded and set on a chair. I’ve got the windows open to let in the cool and have a somewhat cropped view of two gargantuan fern plants, a section of gorgeous deep red mums not yet fully opened, and a few arms of a Christmas cactus, all greenery for the front porch. We have enjoyed these plants – and more – immensely this year. Autumn has been my favorite season all my life, but it pains me to see the flowers fading and know the glory of their blossoms is nearly done. I also wonder where I will house all these plants during winter. It will be a challenge.

Onto the making of things…

The photo collage above shows pictures of the cozy I just finished for my French press. Is it a frozy? Either way, it will keep my hot beverages a bit hotter this winter…and add some delightful color. This was a quickie project made from remnants leftover from a shawl, which I’ll talk about below. For the “frozy” I first tried alternating single and half double crochet, but it was too static and boring. Then I tried a granny square flower, but didn’t like that either, mainly because of the color distribution. Then I tried this very simple square I’d seen a yarnie friend do out of the same yarn, but a different colorway. This one worked. You can find the pattern here. Looking at the pattern title, I guess it’s actually a rectangle. I missed that last night. I was going for a square, but the rectangle was the best choice, so I didn’t argue with the pattern as I watched it form. Two of them covered the French press nicely, with a few sc rows to join as well as a border. Four loops and buttons sealed the deal. I used yarn to stitch on the buttons. I wrapped the thread twice around the base of the button to raise it up so the loops would fit under them easily, as you would do when sewing buttons on a jacket. I love how it turned out.

The yarn for this project and the shawl was Encore Worsted Colorspun, Sangria (#7655) by Plymouth Yarn Company which I purchased from my local yarn store. It’s a 75% acrylic 25% wool yarn I had eyeballed for nearly a year. When I saw the shawl pattern, I decided to try it. You can find the pattern for this buttoned crocheted shawl on Etsy. I used the better part of four skeins at 200 yards per skein and a size 8mm hook.

*It’s raining more now. Did the sky borrow this water from a pond? Because it smells like fish.*

I like this shawl, although I liked it better made out of a solid like the model garment in the yarn store. I have to say I’m not crazy about all the yellow in this colorway, or the kind of ho-hum, mottled design it turned out. I’ve made other projects out of Colorspun before, and loved them. Like my frozy, those items were made with cluster stitches, so the individual colors in the variegated yarn each have their say. Using single crochet, the colors merely run together, although the striping effect is nice. The truth is, I just don’t like a lot of yellow and with this pattern it kind of washes me out. But it could be perfect for someone with different coloring. Maybe I will sell it to a friend or give it as a gift. Maybe I’ll sell it and donate the proceeds to a local horse rescue operation. I like the sound of that.

Selling…one of the reasons for sharing my work. I have too many things. Lately I’ve thought about the oldtimers, my grandparents, when I was growing up. Their houses were so tidy, rooms so sparse. Just simple furniture with simple coverings and bare wooden floors. I never saw their houses cluttered with too many things. Everything had its place and was put away when not in use. Not like my house. Always cluttered. Everything in its temporary place, until I feel like organizing again. I find myself thinking I need more space. But, really, I need fewer things.

Looking at the other Colorspun selections, I see another color I’d like to try: Concord Sunset. I’m a sucker for purple. And variegated.

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Onto another finished project…

I’m rather proud of this skirt. Made out of sock yarn and using a 3.5 mm hook, it took forever. But, the pattern was fun once I got down to the more intricate rows. It’s my own take on a Drops pattern called Lady Lace. If I remember correctly, I made the top longer than the pattern. I also crocheted a tube for the tie. I love this skirt. I have yet to wear it. The yarn is Comfort sock yarn by Berroco. The color is Stewart Island.

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I have another skirt planned, also from Drops and also out of Comfort sock yarn, but in English Garden, a mix of purple and red and a touch of black. Like Lady Lace, the other pattern,  Autumn Swing, will probably take me a while. But, I shall enjoy every moment.

As a side note, my Lady Lace skirt won me a blue ribbon at the county fair this year. It was a nice nod but, really, it deserved a purple (superior.) Overall, it was a disappointing awarding of ribbons at the fair this year. I didn’t win a single purple, although I had a few blues and reds. I blame it on being judged by a knitter. But, don’t get me started.

I think this is plenty for a first post. I’m hungry and tired of being on the computer. Time to make a salad and do something else.