I adopted 2 new kitties a couple of weeks ago. My senior cat is not impressed...so she's pictured here taking an early morning moment to pray about her predicament!
Monday, September 25, 2023
Friday, September 22, 2023
We had a Frost Warning here the other night. That said, the dreaded frost didn't show up -- at least, not in my yard. The days are still warming up (eventually), even if daylight starts later in the morning, and retires early.
I've been retiring pretty early, too -- and going full tilt in between. The air has been tense in Miss Pookie's Queendom, ever since these two Interlopers arrived two weeks ago.
On the left, Miss Sylvie; on the right, her brother, Master Smokie -- shown here "at rest", which (thankfully!) occurs every few hours. (As I type, they're sleeping on my bed. Miss Pookie is sleeping in her nest in the Indoor Studio.)
Note the sealed packet next to them. It's just one of several sealed packages and project bags which, so far, have managed to keep prying paws at bay. The baskets of yarn that used to decorate my living area are all now stored behind a closed door in the guest room, and the Indoor Studio door is closed completely while Miss Pooks and I are outside. Otherwise it's open a wee crack, so she can get out.
For those of you, Gentle Readers, who don't follow me on Facebook, Miss Pookie had a medical emergency a week ago -- just to add to the excitement (and expense!) She's doing fine now, but I've had to give her an antibiotic (teeny-tiny pill) twice a day for the past week. We'll both be thankful after her last dose tomorrow morning!
So how does a Maker of Textile Things try to bring order to this chaos?! She keeps on making, of course! (At left: Order Out of Chaos -- or Chaos Can be Colourful (c) 2020.)
And it being September, when we move from the lassitude of summer into "Back to School" in these parts, my current chaos has been mitigated somewhat by a case of September Startitis -- which, when you really think about it, is just a second round of the Startitis that takes hold every January!
Since my post three weeks ago (!), I've...
- Started and finished another little hat to give away:
|Design: "Peggy's Cap"|
Designer: YaYa LovestoKnit
Yarn: Patons North America Classic Wool Worsted
Colour 00210 - "Petal Pink" (shown before blocking)
- Started and finished a pair of baby socks for a friend's new grand-nephew:
|Pattern: "Baby Socks"|
Designer: Kate Atherley
Yarn: left-over sock yarn - all used up now!
- And started a pair of larger socks for his 3-year old big brother (sorry, no photo). The first sock of the pair is finished and I'm past the cuff on the second.
- I started a seed-stitch ribbed vest for myself. It's a cotton/rayon blend that I've had for (probably) 20 years or so. The vest is started flat for the hems. Then you put it onto a circular needle and join to knit the body in the round. I've done the front hem (1 1/2") and am now working on the back hem (shown below), which ends up at 3 1/2" before joining to the front.
|Pattern: Waterrock Vest|
Designer: Jennifer Kelley
Yarn: Nova Plus La Playa from deep stash
Colour - #9840
- On the quilting front, I dug out another almost-20-year-old project: the One Block Wonder quilt, from One-Block Wonders by Maxine Rosenthal (2006).
Yes...I probably got the book shortly after it came out, and bought 3 metres of a stunning chrysanthemum print with which to make it. And over time, two different triangular rulers, both of which were supposed to cut 60 degree triangles. I decided earlier in the summer that it was time I made this quilt. I knew I couldn't part with the beautiful fabric and didn't want to use it any other way, so I set to.
- And as this week marks the first days of Autumn, I decided yesterday to start a wee autumnal piece. It's one of the "Gingham Seasons" by Ruth A. Sparrow of Twisted threads -- appropriately entitled "Autumn Gingham" (2002). Here's my little start:
|Left: the photo I took; Right: "Impressionistic" version|
I need to decide how large I want to make it -- and while it will be larger than the 10" x 10" piece I designed, it won't be much larger. I'm not ready to take that plunge just yet!
- Last but not least comes the garden and yard. This week I started to clear it away for the winter -- cutting back and dead-heading and weeding out grass that insinuated itself in and around the plants. I mustered my courage and transplanted a baby peony -- purchased last spring -- that wasn't flourishing where I'd put it in the first place. It turns out that spot, once the leaves of the nearby trees were full out, was too shady. I've moved it to the east side of my house where it will have company with other peonies and hope that it "takes" enough to survive the winter so it can do better next year.
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
The Annual SAQA Benefit Auction kicks off tomorrow at 2 p.m. Eastern Time (noon here in the Mountain Time Zone). September 14, 2023 is 'Diamond Day', when ALL pieces will be available for $1.000 each.
|"Morning Prayer" (c) 2023|
12" x 12"
Commercial and self-dyed fabrics
Fused raw-edge applique, machine quilted
Friday, September 01, 2023
I'm not a hot-weather worshipper; I like to be able to handle gardening and working with textiles of all sorts without fainting from the heat. I live in a part of the country which -- until recent years -- didn't require owning an air conditioner (I still don't own one, though there's one in my car). So while in the last two summers I've found myself learning how to mitigate the effects of extreme heat and the smoke from wild fires to the north and west, I confess that I'm thankful that (hopefully) cooler days are ahead.
I've had to adjust my making to the weather even more than usual in the last few years, so I'm glad my work with textiles has so many different ways to do this!
When it rains (or snows), I stay indoors and knit and quilt. In the last couple of weeks, an occasional day of much-longed-for rain arrived, enabling me to make a bit more progress in the Keep It Out of the Landfill Project (KIOOTLF). Right now my focus is on hats and mittens that are likely going to be needed by wildfire victims if or when they're able to return home -- particularly to the NWT (NorthWest Territories). I'm on my fourth wool hat and have begun the decreases at the top:
|Pattern: Morning Coffee |
Designer: YaYa Loves to Knit
Yarn: Patons North America Classic Wool Worsted
Colour-way: #308 - Wisteria
In the "knits pour moi" category, I finishe my 'Crayon Box Millie' and am enjoying wearing it in the cooler weather:
|Pattern: Millie by Nice and Knit|
Yarn: Sirdar Silky Look DK (discontinued)
Colour-way #0974 (Rainbow)
And in preparation for even cooler weather, I'm gradually closing in on a finish for my Sock Knitter's Pullover. It's made from assorted odd bits of fingering-weight sock yarn, so those sleeves seem to go on forever!
|Pattern: Sock Knitter's Pullover|
Designer: Merri Fromm
I've also managed a bit of spinning in the early morning sunshine. In an effort to do more spinning, I've been participating a bit in the "Summer Spin-In" from the Two Ewes -- podcasters who also have a Ravelry group by that name.
Having finished my goal for the "Tour de Fleece" back in July, I began to spin up some wool top given me by a friend. No idea the breed (not labelled), but it was very colourfully dyed by someone, somewhere along the way. (I wrote a bit about it back in July.)
So I took some of this:
And spun enough of it to fill a spindle, thus:
This week I've been spinning with some black fibre which was in a bag labelled 'alpaca' -- a lovely thing to spin, and the first time I've done so! I've got a bobbin that's nearly full, and when finished, will ply it with the multi-coloured singles (above) to make a marl. I know it's two different animal fibres -- alpaca and sheep -- but that should give me interesting results, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out!
Now to quilting. This week I (finally!) finished the 80 Butter Churn blocks I needed for a throw-sized quilt top. I slapped on some plain borders and called the top *done* -- 51 1/2" x 63 1/2" -- but it now needs quilting, of course!
|Scrappy Butter Churn throw quilt top|
Block pattern from Bonnie Hunter's
"Addicted to Scraps" column,
Quiltmaker Magazine, Mar/Apr 2023
As I've been working on this, I've continued to stitch up crumbs and strings. Yesterday I finished the 60th no-paper, straight strings block in my stack thereof, and decided to turn them into half-square triangles for another throw-sized top:
This meant, of course, that I'd need enough neutral fabric to cut 60 plain blocks. Hmmm...
I took out a couple of options from my quilting cottons, but neither was a large enough piece to do the job (each block had to be 6 1/2" square). Then I remembered my daughter's contribution to my "KIOOTLF" Project -- bedsheets! She decided to replace a set of twin-sized poly-cotton (50-50) plain off-white bedsheets, and gave that old set to me to use as I saw fit. I dug out the flat top sheet, trimmed off the top double-fold hem, and set to cutting out my neutral squares. Perfect!
|Look at the puddle of fabric on the floor!|
Once the HSTs are made, I hope to turn them into large pin-wheel blocks. Sixty 6 1/2" string blocks plus 60 plain blocks of the same size = 120 HST blocks measuring 60" square, and four of them in a pinwheel = 30 pinwheel blocks measuring 11" square before putting them in the quilt. They'd finish at 10 1/2" square, so six rows of 5 blocks each should measure 50" x 60" (give or take), before borders. Ta-da!
In other textile work, I finished hooking my little prairie landscape. In my last post I talked about needing courage to tackle that stormy sky. Well, I finally bit the bullet and did it -- and I'm rather pleased with the results! Here it is, sitting in a wee wooden stand, propped up by a square of mat board:
|Something's Brewing! (c) 2023|
When I finished this I realized I'd need more blue chunky yarn for skies. While I was able to dye more golds and browns, I don't have the supplies (yarn or dye) to do blues, so I tracked some down from my friend and former employer, Lori of The Crafty Lady. They've arrived; now to figure out what I want to do next.
I'm thinking about a small landscape based on the flowers I've enoyed this summer: all those pretty poppies. Not a scrap of blue in sight, but one must be prepared! 😉
And on the stitching front, things are moving along as well. I received my floss order from Embroidery Market Place, and have moved on with "Nevermore" -- a design by Lila's Studio that I'm stitching as a gift for my nephew George and his new bride, Chey. Lest you think it an odd wedding gift, well...let's just say it suits what I know of their esthetic. The colours are luscious, and I'm enjoying this stitch immensely!
|Progress - Aug. 30, 2023|
Floss: #0980 - "Lagoon" from Gentle Arts
Today, of course, is the start of Sampler September. In that vein, I'll not be forgetting Keziah Campbell 1796 from Needlemade Designs, the kit for which was given me last year for my Big Birthday, from two friends who knew it was on my Traditional Stitches wish list. I'm nearing the bottom now, having finished the house:
And while I have another sampler languishing from last year, I also have a new start planned for my birthday: Memories of the Past from Hands Across the Sea designs. I'm torn between starting it today or waiting till my birthday date. I had it on my wish list for some time before I invested in it, and once finished, it will be the largest piece I've stitched to date. The colours are glorious, and I love the verse and the border. Stay tuned!
I think that's all the news that's fit to print -- for this post, anyway. And I have a homily to write for the Morning Prayer service on Sunday (I'm a Lay Minister in my local Anglican parish and take a service once a month, when our priest is off at the other parish he shepherds).
So...best away, so I can get my work done and still have lots of stitching time before bed!
As usual, I leave you with a link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday. This week she's "geeking out" about thread -- of the sewing variety. If thinking about thread -- its composition, its colours, its weight, its role in your sewing and quilting life -- her post's for you!
Here's wishing you all, Gentle Readers, a safe, sunny, super September, wherever life may take you. For the moment, a bientôt!
Friday, August 18, 2023
The majority of my time in recent weeks has been spent here:
|Pookie in the Outdoor Studio West|
|Outdoor Studio East -- in "The Grove"|
And sometimes, here...
|Yet another stitchy spot - moving with the sun|
|First double poppy under the willows|
|All the pretty baby poppies under the willow|
|My first bird-planted daylily in the Grove|
As a result I've been doing well with my stitching endeavours, making good progress since my last post.
|A Dragon in the Sunshine! 😉|
I've just finished a little red sampler from Thames Path Samplers on Etsy. Note: I got this as a PDF download; I'm not certain, however, that it's still available. Sorry.
|Modification: replaced part of the bottom border|
with my initials and the year.
I really enjoy monochromatic stitching; I've kitted up a few more of these -- and the next one, I think, will be done in variegated blues on a tan or caramel-coloured background. I set aside Thursdays for these, so stay tuned...
Since this photo was taken, I've finished that second motif, and have found a third that I can do with the floss I have on hand...but it will require serious counting and concentration, so I've left it for now.
Friday, July 21, 2023
It seems to me that most of my life I've been seeking contentment. I don't mean that I've not experienced happiness or moments of great joy. No. I mean living in an atmosphere of peace and having a relaxed state of mind. It's certainly not come naturally.
It may have been that very early in life I was content -- but in our household, if memory serves me, the focus was on service to others, duty, responsibility, study and developing a sense of purpose. Contented was what cows were in the Carnation milk commercials.
Living with those key concepts in mind didn't mean we couldn't have fun -- we certainly did! Ice skating -- first on a backyard rink our father fashioned, and later on the indoor but real ice rink at the local Arena. And dancing! Dad built a false floor down in our unfinished basement and made sure there was an outlet in which to plug our portable record player, so we could go down there with our friends of a Saturday night and dance, dance, dance.
But as we got older and shaped by our parents, teachers and the Culture of Accomplishment and Possibilities in the nineteen-sixties...well...you were expected to have a purpose for your life. A reason for being. You had to contribute to the society around you.'
Later, given all the American television to which we were exposed, added to this was earning and consuming -- and if you weren't working at something 'useful', what were you doing?
So...after the dust cleared in 2006, when my husband had died and my children were living and working on their own, I decided to move to the country and become an artist -- something that would have horrified my parents, growing up as they did through the Great Depression and WWII and the 'let's make up for all that!' fifties.
It's been almost 17 years since I found myself alone and wondering, "What's next? What's my purpose?"
It's taken turning 70 last fall to cause me to really question my outlook. My "need" for a "purpose". I began to ask myself, can't I just live my life, doing the best I can, making things for others, yes, and contributing to my immediate community and my faith community, without specific goals or purpose?
Six+ months into this year, I'm getting closer to a "YES!" answer to this question.
I've decided that "one day at a time" isn't a bad idea. I want to keep learning, but no longer need to do so to prove anything to anyone. I might answer an artistic Call for Entry -- but not worry if I'm not accepted, or if I change my mind and don't enter after all.
My "Purpose in Life"? Leave my tiny spot in the universe a bit better because I was in it. That's it; that's all.
To that end, I'm feeling more contented this summer than I have ever felt -- and I've stopped punishing myself for having delightful days in which I took my time, walked around my garden, didn't bother with formal exercise, didn't meet any deadlines, and simply did things I love to do.
A Little Bit Every Day.Here are some of the examples since my last post: I made more jam -- from my own raspberries. I gave some of those berries away, and rest assured; there are more to pick!
Every morning I take what I call the "Morning Tour" of the yard and garden -- coffee in hand, of course. I've been using that time to check for bugs where there shouldn't be any, to remove the heads of finished dandelions so that the population is reduced somewhat next year, and to check on what might need watering.
A couple of weeks ago I received my order of 20 wildflower 'plugs' from Wild About Flowers (south of Calgary) -- from the Prairie Meadow selection of plants. With information I provided about my location, sun exposure and current wildflower population, plus the note about Lacombe County's verboten list. I planted them and they are making themselves at home. Each comes with a label stick that includes the plant's name, potential size (width and height) and ideal sun/shade exposure. Most will grow to at least 12" tall -- eventually.
Some days that's all there is to do. Other days I need to mow the 'non-meadow' -- aka the 'West Lawn'. Sometimes I need to water everything -- I use rain water collected in barrels and water only beds and pots. I never water my grass. Sometimes a tree branch goes down in the wind -- like it did Tuesday -- and I have to cut it up and prepare it for burning, whether here or in a firepit belonging to my sister or my daughter.
But I do all that in the very early morning when it's coolest.
After that, it's time to do whatever I want to do with fabric, fibre and floss. In the summer I save rainy days for quilt work; I've now amassed 62 'Butter Churn' blocks -- only 18 more to go to reach 80, which will make a 48" x 60" top -- before borders.
I love to spin yarn outside in the summer, so for inspiration and motivation, I signed on to two Ravelry events for spinners: the "Tour de Fleece", which models itself on the Tour de France and will end on Sunday, the last day of the French event; and the Summer Spin-in from Two Ewes Fibre Adventures (I 💓 their podcast). It should come as no surprise that I'm on the "Rookies" team on the Tour -- I'm not a die-hard spinner who wants to stick to a schedule! The Summer Spin-in is much more laid back and the moderators more encouraging. Works for me!
My self-challenge for both was to spin up most (if not all) of a bag of what I'm calling "Mystery Mauve" -- a wool batt I was given years ago and have taken forever to turn into yarn. I set a mini-goal of filling 4 bobbins with singles, and turning those into two-ply yarn that might actually be usable. Well...I did it!
Here are the skeins:
All in all, with some of this spun before this year, I have about 350 grams of usable yarn -- and about 75 grams of Mystery Mauve fibre yet to spin up. As a Very Casual Spinner (contented, remember?), I've yet to measure how may metres/yards I have, or its thickness in wpi (wraps per inch) but...it looks rather like a 'DK' (double-knit) weight to me (#3 for American knitters). It'll probably end up in a shawl.
My next spinning attempt: bright, colourful roving. I got a bag from my friend Anne earlier this spring; it included both wool (breed not identified) and alpaca roving:
I've chosen that bright red-orange bit there on the right side of the photo. Who knows where this will lead?! Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, speaking of shawls...I finished the Balvraid Hap that I was making from somewhat 'rustic' Condon's Yarn (from PEI, now discontinued). As I type, it's been washed and is now blocking -- with wires and all!
Depending on how firm the top edge is after blocking, I may add a crocheted edge; it was rather "loosey-goosey" before I washed it.
On the art front, I'm learning something new: rug hooking. Well, rather, decorative hooked mats -- for the wall. I'm looking at it as a way to a) use up more of my yarn stash; and b) get me enthused about landscapes again.
I've decided to explore this at the urging of a friend who is very keen on the process. I got a few freebies online from Deanne Fitzpatrick Studios (Amhurst, Nova Scotia, doncha know) -- and I realized the possibilities. Said friend had given me Ms. Fitzpatrick's book, Sunday Letters (signed, no less!) for Xmas...and I just loved her reflections. Then...the clincher: I heard an interview with Ms. Fitzpatrick by Mary Hynes -- her CBC podcast, to which I subscribe. That clinched it. I think I've listened to that interview four or five times now.
It's about creating beauty, with no other reason but to do just that.
That's my purpose! Bingo!
And that -- being part of my 'fabric, fibre and floss' esthetic -- is my greatest source of contentment. That and the inspiration of my yard and garden.
I bought a wee kit and finished it save for the binding and mounting:
|"Country Moon" (with modifications)|
Designer: Deanne Fitzpatrick
I've now ordered some burlap and an online class from her, so I can translate my skills of landscapes in fabric to landscapes in wool/fabric slices.
And I've dyed some natural-coloured wool I'd been given eons ago -- a bit chunky -- into 3 shades I can use in a variety of ways. I'd not played with my acid dyes for a few years, so this was another source of fun!
And yes...creating beauty continues in the stitching realm too. "Keziah Campbell 1796" is getting her garden, a tree, a house etc. -- and a bit of Robbie Burns' poetry:
|Yes, that text is one over one!|
Setting Keziah aside for a wee bit, currently I'm working on "Christmas (Gifts) in July" with a return to the Modern Folk Embroidery piece for my son, Here Be Dragons. Not much left to do now!
And there are two new starts -- one an anniversary/Hanukkah gift for old friends, and another, an Xmas gift for my soon-to-be married nephew and his fiancée.
First, the Hanukkah gift -- "Shalom", one of the Jewish pillows from Mani di Donna:
Next, the Xmas gift for the soon-to-be-newlyweds -- "Nevermore" from Lila's Studio (I know...unusual...but it suits their esthetic...)
I'll be focusing on these "starts" this weekend, and will go back to the 'Dragons' next week.
So...now, for today, I've been inside long enough. I'm going to go outside with my stitching and keep on adding a little beauty to my world -- and hopefully, to that of others.
Linking this to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday. This week she's been stretching her brain, her artistic skills and her ability to create her own contribution to the beauty around her; she needs a bit of a break, doncha think?
Hugs and blessings... a bientôt!