Archives

A bit of this and that…

I don’t have much to write about today. I’m mainly sharing pictures.

Why?

Because it’s sunny and gorgeous out, I slept late so I am missing a chunk of the day, and I’m itching to go here and stitch:

20170211_170831

Hey, don’t laugh. It is a very redneck set up, but it works! I made this discovery last spring when I was desperate to be outside but tired of baking in the sun. I kept eyeballing that piece of lattice and thinking…I wonder if it would work? On hotter days I throw an old sheet over it for enhanced shading. Is that called make-do ingenuity? I don’t know, but it works.

That’s my word cloth pictured above. I’ve got a few words to get on there. And my socks are already off in preparation for some grounding. The grass is greener since taking this photo, thanks to all that rain. Earlier I found a ladybug in the kitchen and took it out. I have more gnats than usual and a few moths in the house. I suspect the plants upstairs are hatching things. It’s that time…

Jude has been putting together log cabin blocks. I have admired them for a while now. They look so easy and fun I wanted to try it. It was a good excuse to start using some of that fabric I dyed last year.

20170221_123954

Jude has a video she posted recently where she talks about the stitches she uses on seams. I found her method actually creates a beautiful decorative stitch, so I went with it using perle cotton and some bamboo silk thread, which sews like a dream. The stitches remind me of a Morse code pattern…dot dash….dot dash… After all, we are communicating with fabric and thread…

20170221_124013

I enjoyed putting this block together so much, I started another one. Here I’ve used thicker thread again to make the invisible stitch visible. I like the effect. That magenta thread is soy silk.

20170221_194933

On the drawing front, I showed this sketch to my instructor yesterday.

He helped me understand what was wrong with it…the eyes are off a bit. He explained how eyes need to be level with the tilt of the head. However, he said it was too good a sketch to change anything about it. That was nice to hear.

As far as kitty shenanigans, not much to report. I suspected it wouldn’t be long before Buggar started playing with the little girls. I have been enjoying their antics in the back yard.

20170211_155930_1

They do love the tall grass that grew in this little garden plot, Buggar especially. She loves to hide in it. That’s her poofy tail on the right and Matty (aka “Noodle”) laying in wait on the left. As Matty grows older it gets harder and harder to tell them apart. They are so alike in coloring…and personality…you’d think they were related.

Everyone has behaved pretty well lately, even Bully, although there has been more chasing of Wienie, which I really dislike. She has always been chased by the other cats. I don’t know what that’s about, but I’m going to look into it. Everyone also came in right away last night, except for Matty. She giggled above my head on the roof for a long time. She loves to get up there. Finally, I directed her to the top of the shed, where she jumped down and then finally ran inside, as if she hadn’t done that by herself a million times. Cats…

20170221_114317

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…

20170208_113610

I’m particularly excited about this one…

20170208_113928

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.

20170208_113832

20170208_113738

20170208_113809

We worked with charcoal.

And, there was another Prairie Girl.

20170208_113723

Isn’t she lovely…

cactus-daylight

I’ve been enjoying the winter cactus blooms.

About five are fully opened. Three more decent sized blooms are on their way. More than half a dozen are just beginning.

It’s wonderful to have a blooming plant in the house again.

On the creative front, there has been drawing practice:

I’m especially fond of the basket drawing. Practicing circles and shading…that’s something I enjoy, too. Things are a bit lopsided, but hopefully that will improve.

Weaving happened yesterday while watching Z: The beginning of everything on Amazon Prime, about Zelda Fitzgerald. I recall reading a biography about her some years ago.

20170130_122019

There has been some heart-felt stitching:

20170130_122040

I’ve a few ideas for backings, but honestly, not a lot of vision is coming through. Instead, I’m merely enjoying the process.

The word cloth grew by two new words…20170130_122235with a little embellishment to boot.

I thought about my grandmother while photographing the winter cactus. I’ve put the one I started from her plant upstairs. I’m hoping the warm days from the sun streaming in and the cool nights from minimum heating will inspire it to bloom. It wasn’t showing any signs of inspiration in my cold dark bathroom, so we’ll see what happens upstairs.

I snapped a couple photos of the blooming cactus, then noticed I had something of my grandmother’s in the shot: the ceramic graduated measuring cups that hung on her kitchen wall during my childhood.

I happened to be there when she passed away and when her belongings were divvied up amongst her children. None of the grands were allowed, which was fine with me. But some cousins were quite concerned I was around…what did I want? what was I trying to get? I think mainly they were all vying for her rocking chair, which was a big part of her daily life. She loved that thing and, if she was sitting, she was bound to be in it.

My mom asked if there was anything I wanted as a keepsake and, if so, she would try to get it.

I wanted these.

20170130_103247

Together with a blooming winter cactus, it is such a fitting reminder of Grandma. If the cactus from her plant blooms, I will place it here and photograph it again in memory of her.

Buggar wasn’t all that interested in the cactus. She kept wondering why I was poking her. (to get her to turn around, of course)

I think this one is my favorite…

20170130_103237

 

 

 

 

Stormageddon…Icemageddon…whatever…

People in my neck of the woods have gotten super riled up over the last couple of storms. It has bordered on the hysterical at times, with people lining up to buy generators and groceries and some claiming online that the storms would cause many deaths.

Me and H? We drove 45 minutes north yesterday to go out to eat at our favorite new Mexican restaurant.

But that’s us. We are generally nose-thumbers. When you’ve covered the news as long as we have, you recognize hyperbole when you see it.

The storms here were wet and somewhat icy. But anyone with the ability to read a thermometer or simply look up how cold it was going to get at night would have realized it wouldn’t be that bad. A low around freezing isn’t going to cause that much harm. Of course, there were those who didn’t have sense enough not to get out and drive late at night during the worst of it. Now, that is foolish.

I got outdoors before our trip to town and snapped a few photos.

Most of it melted throughout the day because of all the rain. It’s nice to get some rain in January. December and January are typically our drought season.

In other news…I’m trying not to think too much about the big event this week. It’s my goal to stay in non-reaction, also known as zero point. When you react to something you enter someone else’s game and can get stuck in time, recreating the same event over and over (per Aboriginal Lore.) These are not events I necessarily want to relive.

In an earlier post I mentioned laughing at the ridiculousness of the current political system, more out of disbelief rather than any enjoyment of the situation. I have to say I find Alec Baldwin and SNL’s take on things good stress relief. The first 20 seconds are golden – no pun intended – and certainly sum up my thoughts. Laughter is the best medicine. Maybe it will help get some of us through this.

H and I stopped into a Goodwill store last week on a whim. I think I already shared the photo of the decorative box I found. It is now filled with my DMC floss, mostly solids, which I had kept in plastic baggies separated by color. Now they are still arranged by color clumps, but I think I already prefer being able to see them in one place all together.

20170115_103541

It is one more step towards organizing my supplies in general – and the couch pile in particular.

My other fab find at Goodwill was this:

20170112_164404

A suede leather Hobo bag by Eddie Bauer. Barely used. In fact, the only way I could tell it had been used at all was I found a few crumbs and a couple of cat hairs at the bottom. The leather is pristine, the stitching superb, the lining a fabulous heavy beige 100% cotton. I used it last night to hold the ipad, phone, cards, tea thermos and water to take with us on a late night story H was covering. I was thrilled to use it. A great find for $7. I found only one other online, a brown one, used and stained with paint, for $25. The seller said this bag originally retailed for $80.

My second drawing class is tomorrow. I am looking forward to it. I experienced an especially peaceful moment during my first class when everyone was given an assignment (we drew a coffee can, funnel and sphere) and the whole room fell silent, except for the gentle skritching of pencils on paper. It was blissful. Here are a couple of my efforts this week.

The hurricane lamp I’ve had for over 20 years. Please someone tell me they recognize the item on the right. H had to hold the sketch pad in his hand before he could tell what it was. He then confessed he is unable to see those trick 3D pictures where you lightly cross your eyes and the image pops out at you. I’m not sure if I knew that about him.

20170112_164415

As you can see, I’m mostly ready for my next class. I have some work to show and bought supplies. I found the bag on clearance for 85 cents – regularly $4! It had a long thread hanging from the stitching near the zipper…nothing a snip of the scissors couldn’t fix! I also snagged a couple of very nice sketching journals for $2.15 each, regularly $10 a piece (one is slightly pictured under the thread box.)

On the cat front, everybody has cabin fever. I try to get them to spend as much time outside as possible, but it’s cold and a tough go. Four cats is a lot to have in the house at once, and it gets overwhelming at times, even though I have the luxury of space here and can put the little girls upstairs for the night. The hissing and histrionics of the big girls gets tiresome. They were quite happy last winter when it was just the two of them.

I looked out just now to see Chick. I hadn’t seen him in two days. He was quarantined in his little shed for 3 because he had fat foot, swollen due to some sort of injury. He must have had some roaming to do. Earlier I saw Olive run by with another garter snake in her mouth. Where on earth is she finding them??? And this little face at the window cracks me up every time.

Sun. Star. Book…

20161031_144751

Here’s my little SunStarBook. I worked on it this weekend. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Here is the inside of the front and back covers.

And the back cover…

20161031_144738

I mentioned in a previous blog I was working on making a drawing book for myself. I had purchased a very large artist’s pad with pages too big for me to use for my small efforts. I thought I would share my process here.

I began with cutting the big pages lengthwise and folding them up accordion style. Then I used my leather punch to put in holes for binding. I then used embroidery thread for the binding.

As it turned out, I didn’t make the binding holes big enough, so I had to redo the pages after I’d already stitched up the first one. I needed the larger holes because I stitched through several times to make it really secure. Plus, I needed room to add stitches for the inside fabric binding.

In my efforts to mold myself into a fabric artist, I’ve been working with my own Spirit. I’ve asked my own Spirit to help me find my way. I felt that influence when I went to the big fabric bin to find a suitable piece of cloth to work with. Without even thinking, I snatched up a scrap of black duck cloth/canvas. I knew instantly this was the cloth I wanted to use…and thanked my Spirit. The cloth still felt like it had chemicals on it, so I gave it a wash, dried it on the line outside and left it wrinkly when I cut it out. As it turned out, I really enjoyed working with the duck cloth. It’s woven and easy to get a needle through. It also gave the book the kindof of comfortable feel I wanted it to have, simple yet, well, artistic.

20161030_115516

I began with a tatted star. I made these a few years ago. I have one just like this somewhere I want to put on a jean jacket. It’s actually made out of crochet thread I dyed some time ago. I’m happy to use the tatted stars as it’s a pattern I copied from some antique tatting I found, rescued really, although the star shape was my idea. For the back cover I went with a sun made out of fabric I dyed recently, and I fashioned it with flames made out of satin stitch, or wrap stitch, as Jude Hill likes to call it in the way she uses it. I’ve seen a number of fabric artists make suns this way and find it very endearing. It was also really fun to stitch.

The masking tape is a trick I learned from my old quilter friend who is gone now. This was her method for easily marking lines by laying down a piece or two of tape, marking with a fabric pen, and then peeling up the tape. I simply stitched (running stitch) alongside the tape for one row, came up the middle between the two and down the other side. Then, I peeled off the tape and filled in the kantha (running stitch) rows.

I used a blanket stitch for the edges, which worked well for keeping the fibers of the duck cloth together. It tends to unravel easily.

20161031_144701

I really like how I used the orange kantha in between the variegated blue/purple. It looks like the sun is raining.

20161101_143353

I used Jude’s invisible stitch to tack the layers together when adding the backing. I developed a kind of mantra as I worked. It was a bit tedious, but I didn’t mind. The words helped me concentrate and monitor where I was in the stitch.

Down, up, invisible slide through layers…Down, up, invisible slide through layers…Down, up…

For the inside I used a 6×3″ piece of canvas to work as a fabric binding. It was to this I attached the covers.

Sun. Star.

The sun is a star.

Sun. Star. Book…

In other news…

We only had ONE trick or treater last night. The neighbors didn’t even bring their kids over. I’m not all that surprised.

The last two times I’ve passed out candy I haven’t had many kids. There are bigger, better neighborhoods who tend to go all-out and draw the crowds. Having gone out with the niece and nephew a few times I don’t blame parents for wanting to have the treating centrally located. I don’t blame the kids for wanting to get the best haul.

But one thing I like to do is buy like one bag of candy. Then I will mix it with a variety of toys. So, this year, I had a bag of tootsie pops and mixed in a bunch of super balls (the super bouncy kind) and some of those champagne poppers (party favor things.)

What did our ONE trick or treater take?

A big red bouncy ball and a champagne popper.

Who said all kids want is candy? Last time it was the same story. The kids went for the toys!

One a sad note, today I have to take my Spider down. It is, after all, November.

 

 

 

 

A few favorite things…

Yesterday I spent some time sewing together bases, or something. I cut up strips of colored cloth and sewed them onto little squares of knit interfacing. I used the machine. I wasn’t sure if it was interfacing at first, not until I ironed the pieces. Yep, interfacing. Fusible. I’m glad I sewed to the appropriate side!

I’m not sure what I will do with these, but sometimes it just helps to get some things moving. I like to start new things. Sometimes it takes a while to decide what to do on a particular existing piece, what is the next move, so at the moment I have several things sitting. I look at them, try to decide, try to let it flow…

Here’s a new project begun yesterday…

There are the squares of interfacing. Most of them are gone now. Fusible knit interfacing became my favorite when I was making clothes. I’m not so interested in making clothes these days, even though I’ve got loads of fabric left over from my sewing days. So much fabric…I went through one of those jumbo size tubs full of fabric yesterday, pulled some of it out to sew onto the interfacing squares. I have so much fabric. I collected a lot in my crazy quilting days, a lot of synthetics. How will I ever use it up?

One of the things I want to do is cut up the unfinished crazy quilt blocks I’ve had lying around for years, cut them into smaller blocks, and use some of these bigger fabric pieces for the backing. But, that’s a new project yet to be started.

In my efforts to improve my drawing skills I purchased a jumbo size artist’s pad. It’s way too big for my simple efforts, not what I was really looking for, but the whole pad was $2.50 on clearance. Not long ago I saw little books made by textile artist Dorothy Caldwell and her workshop students. (I’d love to go to one of her workshops.) As a writer, this immediately appeals. I found examples in one of the blogs listed on Spirit Cloth, but can’t remember which one. I tried looking, but need to take a little more time to find it. Anyway, I loved her idea for using these little homemade diaries, which can become soil examples, color swatches of earth on paper. Ingenious. I’m just going to make one for drawing, or whatever, and these folded pages came out of the jumbo pad, cut in half lengthwise and folded accordion style. I’m a writer, so if it’s like my other drawing books, it will probably end up with a fair amount of writing in it. I might make a cover for it. I was considering that last night. I think it would be really nice. I have some cover-type things already made up which I could use.

I’ve mentioned before my love of rescuing pottery from thrift stores. I found this beautiful bowl earlier this month for $3.

20161024_142520

It’s in my sewing room, holding some trim to be dyed.

And this one was from a different town. The seller had 4 of them, two big, two smaller. I bought a large one. $10. Made by a local artist who is probably gone now. I wish she had signed it.

I love it. It’s so earthy and gorgeous. I may go back and get another one. I don’t know why, but this bowl/canister makes me think of black walnuts. Perhaps the brown, perhaps the thick wrapped layer like a protective hull, the round shape, the heftiness of it.

I love this one, too. $5 at an antique store in the same town where I bought the previous bowl/jar. This one’s more like a stoneware pot. I really love this one. It has such a fabulous feel, is very earthy and rustic. The lid snuggles in perfectly. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was made by the same artist as the one above. I suspect there was an estate sale at some point in time.

Maybe I’m a ceramic pot hoarder? These pottery pieces are a few of my favorite things. I don’t even have a use for these yet. I’m still thinking, deciding how best to use them. I’m close, though, I can feel it. Close to figuring it out. What would like to live in there, how would the pot like to be of use? What does it want to hold?

Now, if I could just decide what to do with cloth. Why isn’t this process easier? Learning something new is never easy, I guess, not really. Maybe some things just have a different learning curve. I was thinking last night about the freeform coat I made when I first began crocheting. It’s fabulous. It really did come together so easily. I made one small headpiece before I jumped into making a whole coat. I’ll devote a whole blog to it some time, it’s that fabulous. I’m also thinking about selling it, as it’s really not me any more. Still fabulous, but not really me. I’ve changed.

Then there was needle tatting. I watched a couple videos, watched one over and over just to get the hand movement down. And soon after I could copy antique tatting and reproduce it. I understood it. It came easily to me.

And before that was embellished embroidery. During a class I once showed students over and over again how to make a bullion rose, how to make a French knot. They could not understand. They couldn’t see. In the last tatting class I taught, which was like torture, really, the only two people to really understand how to make stitches and slide them off the needle were two girls, sisters, who weren’t really all that interested in being there, but they caught on fast. Their old bat of a grandmother was there, “helping” them. She tried to take over the class from the start, was uncooperative, kept talking while I was instructing. I told the girls how well they were doing, that, because of their progress, they could “help” their grandmother, but she couldn’t help them. Gma didn’t like that, but the girls cackled with glee, said “Yay!” Gma didn’t slide a single stitch off her needle the entire night. She actually hid her stitches from me when I asked to see her progress. Gma wasn’t interested in learning. She just wanted to be in charge.

There were other snafus in that series of tatting classes last year which have made me pledge never to teach beginners again. It takes too much time to get down the hand movement which blows right through a couple hours without the students making much progress or learning how to actually make something, form a ring, make a Josephine knot, form a picot, etc… If I’m asked to teach another class it will be for those who already understand the basics.

20161026_141649

Feeling in between…

I feel a bit off today. I woke up too early and had sketchy sleep afterwards. It’s made me feel tired and cranky and not sure how to shape my day.

I had some options. I could go to the yarn store and hang out where the annual yarn hop is going on. But I’m not sure I’d be good company. Maybe I will take a nap, instead. I have a slight headache.

Something unusual today…I learned about the death of a local man, an artist and photographer. I didn’t know him, but H did and spoke with him just a few days ago. I suppose he died suddenly, unexpectedly. The topic of their conversation? The historic stone bridges which suffered damage during recent flooding.

bridge

As you can see, the bridge above was destroyed, completely washed out. Three others were damaged. I haven’t heard if they will be torn down or repaired.

The man who died was nearly finished writing a coffee table book about the history of these bridges. He had been retired from his career job for less than two months. I wonder if the destruction of the bridges broke his heart?

The people who designed and built these bridges are long gone, along with their skills and craftsmanship. A few years ago, one of the stone bridges was replaced with a modern bridge. There wasn’t anything wrong with it other than the farmers hated it. They couldn’t get their big, modern farm equipment across it. Workers used bull dozers to take down the bridge. They thought it would be an easy task, but it took them days. The bridge was so well constructed it was nearly impossible to take down.

Other things of an antiquated nature…I took another look at some linens my mother gave me. She thinks they belonged to my grandmother, but really doesn’t know for sure where they came from. They are so beautiful. A few of them I will use in my new cloth making adventures. But some of these…I don’t think I have the heart to alter them. They are so perfect the way they are.

I love that old cotton camisole. I wonder who that belonged to? A piece of clothing from a time when women used many layers to cover themselves, all cotton. Many say life was simpler then.

On a different note, I’ve been working on my drawing efforts. I am hoping to take a drawing class this winter. I’ll have to drive an hour to reach it, but it’s the closest option I can find.

Per Jude Hill’s suggestion, I looked for inspirational photos online. I tried sketching a few faces I liked, mainly from ancient art, carved pieces and abstract art.

Maybe I can draw…just a little.