Sunday, July 02, 2023

Everything's Growing

 I seem to be able to manage a post only once a month...but that may be due, at least in part, to the fact that summer's here and there's lots more to do outdoors than there is in the winter.  Despite periods of barely tolerable heat, and a long stretch of drought, we've at last had some rain and everything's growing!

A few years ago, I bought the empty lots next to my home -- they came as a pair and total 104 ft. x 130 ft. -- when they'd fallen into the hands of a bankruptcy trustee.  Unserviced, all that was on them were scruffy shrubs and an over-grown willow "bush", left when the prior owners (before the bankruptcy) cut everything down but didn't remove the stumps.

I've been working on 'taming' the trees, and turning the dandelion-filled grass into a meadow.  Without a lot of money, it's a slow process, but it brings me a great deal of pleasure.

This year it now sports 2 apple trees, 3 Saskatoon berry bushes, a cherry shrub (edible, not just decorative), two raised beds for veggies, and two flowering beds under trees.

I've been fighting spiders on the apple trees, and drought everywhere, but it's still a pleasant place to sit in the cool of the early morning, with coffee, my journal and some knitting.

"Outdoor Studio East" in "The Grove"

This week I ordered some wild flower plugs -- of the Prairie Meadow variety -- from Wild About Flowers in southern Alberta.  I hope to get well over a dozen plugs, so I can plant them here and there over the expanse, optimistic that over time they will work away at taking over.  

I don't mind the dandelions, per se -- I make jam from the blossoms, after all! -- but I would like a bit more variety.  To that end, I've inserted daisies, irises and lupines, and am allowing the natural spread of red and white clover, alfalfa and Northern Bedstraw that have appeared on their own.

In the beds under the trees I've added poppies, bachelor buttons, brown (or black)-eyed Susans, more irises and some hens-and-chicks, just for fun.  So far, their progress has been slow -- especially due to heat and drought since early May, but "instantaneous" is not part of this gardener's vocabulary!

Grasses and wildflowers under the willows

While I watch my garden grow, I love to "grow" my textiles too.  I've not done much with the Butter Churn quilt blocks -- that's inside work -- but I am up to four dozen or so of them...another 3 dozen or more to go!

But the Tour de Fleece has started, as well as a Summer Spin-in -- both via groups on Ravelry -- and I've been trying to spin at least an hour almost every day.  My bag of Mystery Mauve wool batt has dwindled appreciably.  I'm almost finished spinning a fourth bobbin, and once I have four, will ply pairs together to get two 2-ply skeins.  Stay tuned!

I've set aside the Swan Lake shawl temporarily, as I've been 'growing' a Balvraid Hap shawl -- the small size, in the four-colour option -- from woolly wool my daughter gave me last Christmas (I wrote about that gift HERE).  It's been growing at a steady pace, and I'm now on the last bit: the outer-most lace edging:

Edging started -- June 28-2023

Here's a close-up of the edging, which you apply as you go:

And a detail shot of the tri-colour border:

I cast on this piece on June 12 -- and might just finish it by July 12.  That's how much I'm loving this project!

There's been 'growth' on the stitching front too.

"Bernarda Bellon 1838" was fully finished and mailed off last week.  All the crowns are done on "Keziah Campbell 1796", and I've charted the initials I want to place under them, but have yet to begin that.

Instead, I started and finished a delightful little stitch from Maximum Cross Stitch: "Road Leads Home".  I was inspired by the verse on the sampler, attributed to C.S. Lewis, as I connected it with the theme of a recent sermon by our parish priest.

I used the called-for DMC (except the black, which is "Carriage Black" from Weeks Dye Works), and stitched it using one thread over two, on 32-count "Smoky", a printed linen from Zweigart that I got from Embroidery Marketplace when she had her pop-up shop at Fibre Potpourri in Red Deer in mid-May.  It's too big (I think) for a pillow or flat-fold finish, so I'll try to find a frame for it.

I then finished the red sampler I was working on -- a little piece from Red Barn Samplers entitled "Jemima Fortune Cunningham 1883" (a free pattern).  I worked it on 32-count something-or-other linen, using a single strand of #8 Elganza Perle cotton from the Sue Spargo line, in the variegated red colour-way "EZM 89".  I found that at Quilting from the Heart in Camrose a while back, and was excited to try it out with cross-stitch.  It's lovely!

Next, I returned to "Barnabee's Quest - Part I" from Just Nan (a pattern from 2001!) and it's growing too:

As you can see, I've got the text and the bottom border to do, as well as adding a bee in the bottom row of flowers -- and then there are beads and a charm to add, in true Just Nan fashion.  I'm doing this on a high-count mystery fabric that's linen-like but likely not linen (!) using 1 strand over 2 (or over 1, as required on occasion), and my own DMC colours-to-match-as-closely-as-possible.  I bought the charms and beads with the pattern eons ago, but not the silks!  I've enough space on this piece of fabric to do Part II, and then another scrap of the same for Part III, and will likely create three small pillows with them once the series is complete.

But...Yesterday was Canada Day 🍁 -- so of course I had to have a new start for the occasion!  I set out a couple of months ago to find just that -- and found a reproduction of a Canadian sampler, at a mail order shop in -- of all places! -- Red Deer, an hour's drive SW of here!

The Essamplaire has an amazing array of original antique samplers and reproductions thereof -- from all over the world!  She also has a few of her own designs. Who knew?!  The ordering process is a bit 'old school', but it works just fine, so I ordered "Julia Amelia Hounslow (1848)" -- a wee marking sampler stitched by Ms. Hounslow in or around the town of Sweetsburg in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  I had ancestors from the Townships, so that suited me down to the ground! Here's my start from yesterday:

I'm stitching this one-over-two on 36-count "Cream & Sugar" from Fiber on a Whim -- a wee remnant that I bought from a vendor at the SAQA Conference in Toronto in mid-April.  The piece calls for Soie d'Alger silk, but I had only 2 of the colours.  I'm using those, and the rest I've substituted for DMC in colours I think are "close enough". 😊  I finished the top and the left-hand borders first, to ensure I have enough space on this little bit of fabric.  It's close, but it will do.  It may end up being a pillow -- or mounted on a small canvas, or put in a small frame.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile, I've discovered I really love interspersing more complex pieces with the simplicity of alphabets and numbers on marking samplers!

Now, in addition to "Julia Amelia", I have brought out "Betty Sumner 1822" from Red Barn Samplers, and am working it as well.  Both are in very light, breezy summertime colours -- perfect for lazy, hazy days!  Here's that piece from a June 29th photo:

Today the weather has cooled significantly and may be a mix of sun and cloud, reaching a high of about 17 C (low sixties Fahrenheit), so this afternoon I just might return to those Butter Churn blocks --  to keep that quilt top growing!

Meanwhile, this morning we're supposed to have an outdoor church service at the family farm of one of our parishioners, with a potluck to follow.  Hmmm...looking out the window at the moment, I'm thinkin' it might just move indoors!  

With that I'll leave you with my usual link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she has a guest blogger: her daughter Tess, whom we've watched grow up over the years, and who has now published a book!  

Happy July 4 to my American readers, and blessings to all for the next while -- à bientôt!

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