small sample of my crazy quilt embroidery

About Me

I am a consumate crafter. I knit, quilt both sane and crazy, scrapbook, bead, mosaics and any other thing I can think of along the way. Someday I also hope to do real glass jewelery and stained glass but those have to wait until I have room and more time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Sound of Tiny Hoofbeats

Most people this time of year are waiting for the sound of hoofbeats. On the roof. Made by reindeer.

But yesterday the dog was outside and when I went to let her in, this is what I saw. Making hoofprints all over my front yard.

They had escaped from my neighbor's pasture. And now I know, not for the first time. Recently we had several big piles of horse manure way back in our garden. Couldn't figure out why anyone would have rode their horses thru our yard like that!! Well, now we know. These beauties may have come over during the night and blessed our garden. Those piles plus what they left last time were scooped up in a bucket and thrown in the compost pile to enrich our garden next year.

But these guys spooked really easy and as soon as I headed out to get pics they started running like the wind. Thank goodness, they headed back home and hopefully right back in thru where they escaped from cause their owner was not home. Supposedly these are very valuable horses and she makes a living of them. Not sure how, cause she never comes outside and does anything with them. They never get ridden or socialized. The guy that feeds them and cleans their stalls told me this. He is the only human contact they really get. Such a shame. But I am not a horse person myself so I can not offer to go spend time with them in any helpful way. But I do admire their beauty as long as it is from a safe distance.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Bees Knees-Literally

My husband and I are beginning level beekeepers. Many of the men in his family have been beekeepers. It has always interested my husband and recently one of his older relatives, who is not in the best health, gifted us with 3 hives.

I have pretty much left DH to do all the work with the bees. He has a calmer nature and the bees sense that and stay calm while he is messing with them. But this winter I have helped out by feeding the bees on warmer weather days, when DH just happens to be at work. It is easy to feed them. You just pour sugar water into very shallow plastic lids so they can land, eat and not drown. Usually on warmer days, I will fill their bowls continually all afternoon. After the first fill they are usually buzzing all over the place, just waiting their turn at the sweet stuff I am putting out.

So yesterday I decided to put on the close up lens and try to get some good pics. Trouble is, at my "advanced age" it is hard to keep the camera really really still in order to get real crisp shots with the close up!! But I think these are pretty cool.

I love the last one where the bee has just taken off and is in flight!! Of course, there is always the danger a yellow jacket will also come feed. They are very easy to recognize with the very distinct yellow stripes and shiny body. The bees usually tolerate them when they are really hungry and will chase them off during times when they have the extra energy to do so.

But as I was shooting pics, I realized I have come a long way since the bees came to live with us. I have never been really scared of them but when I saw them crawling on my hands while I was shooting pics, I decided I am getting pretty complacent about them altogether!!

So hopefully this spring we will harvest our first honey. Then work to increase the number of hives and bees for the future. Meanwhile I know they increased our garden productivity and will continue to do so. They are the best pollinators for many plants and I always saw them busy at work ever morning when I went out to pick.

A few more pics from my day yesterday. First some pretty leaves and tree fungi done with the close up lens. Then of our dog Daisy who decided to make her self comfortable in the chair on the porch.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Log Cabin Tour-2009 Elkton, Tennessee

As I mentioned yesterday, we had tickets to the local historical society's log cabin tour. There were 5 cabins to be visited spreading over about a 20 sq mile area in just 4 hrs. Plenty of time I thought. Well, we barely had enough time cause we enjoyed each place so much we didn't want to leave that one to go to the next!!

The first cabin I have no pics of. It was the official starting point and stayed a bit too crowded. It was a true old log cabin, restored just enough to keep out the weather. It was furnished with period peices, including a gorgous old quilt on the bed. They had a spinner there with yarns she had spun from all kinds of animals. Even dogs and cats. I am convinced by spring we will be raising angora bunnies and maybe a golden retriever will be added to the family. Don't even get me started on cashmere goats!!

The 2nd cabin is the one I took the wreath on the door picture at. It was a very old cabin with mostly historical value. 2 governors to the great state of Tennessee were born in it many eons ago. The elderly gentleman there was a descendent of the 2nd family to own it and he was great at telling all the history that was held within it's barely standing 4 walls!! Also these cemetery photos were shot just below the cabin in the Bethany cemetary which has some very very old graves.

The next cabin we visited was modern and quite a cute place. I think it is probably just a weekend house for a young couple with no kids and way to much money on their hands. The shell was built but the husband finished most of the inside himself. Funny thing-the husband had put up a teepee in the front yard which had 6 beanbag chairs, a firepit in the middle with a large screen TV hooked up to satellite so he could watch the football games. Gorgeous house that the man builds and still he is relegated to having his mancave outside!!

Then we went to see a amazing large modern log home up on a hill not very far from our neck of the woods. I have been down the road it is on many times and not seen it due to the trees surrounding it. But without leaves you can catch a peek of it driving by. The driveway was so steep that they have a winter parking pad down below in case they can not drive up. Inside the home was lovely, large and although sparsely furnished, it was perfect. I fell in love with a armchair that was obviously from the 50's that they had reupolstered and now I want to find one of my own. But I didn't just love the house the way I might should have. Just didn't have the spark I normally find appealing in a home. The view from the wrap around porch was beautiful tho, and I swear you could see the entire county from up there.

The last cabin was the one that took our breath away and inspired us into wishing for a cabin of our own. Like that would ever happen. But you gotta dream, right? This place was quite aways out to begin with. And it was getting late by the time we finally got down the road to the actual cabin. It was set in a lovely shallow valley away from anyother signs of life. The closest house was over a mile up the road and it was actually the house of the owner and builder/restorer of the cabin. The man had never ever built anything in his life prior to this undertaking. But it had always been his wish to have a cabin. So when he found this land without any cabin to restore he chose another direction to take. He bought a old cabin that had been dismantled and had it brought to his place. He rebuilt the old structure with a new, but done in the original method, foundation. He had to add some new logs to make the place just a bit bigger but he had those hewn at a old style sawmill and he hand cut the mortises to match the original. He kept everything so it looked like it had when the cabin was first built but threw in new technology if it could be completely hidden. Like in the foundation and behind the chinking. But there is no plumbing, electricity or insulation. But my goodness, it was gorgous. Everything about it shown with the love this man put into it. And the view in all directions was pure heaven. I should have asked the man if he rented it out for a weekend occasionally!! The pictures I got were pretty good considering how dark it was getting when we were there. But I think that everyone is worth seeing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just Keeping Busy

As usual, I am horribly suprised by how long it has been since last blogging here. I just live life in the slow lane. A little like my friend up above. Lately, really short, quick messages on Facebook is all I can muster up. But every once in awhile, it is nice to do a something that has a little more content and depth. Especially on the rare occasion my life has had any excitement.

I never really had much opportunity to go to the retreats my friends organized in Oklahoma. I was either working, moving or poor. Well, relatively on that last one. But when my on-line friend Debbie decided last year to organize a retreat for the Lizzies, I jumped at the chance to go. But alas, I did not make it to that one either. Again, that moving thing got in the way. But this year, I knew hell or high water would not keep me away. Ashville, NC was only a 6 hr drive and I have no more excuse of working.

So a week ago Monday, I packed up and headed out. All by myself. I drove the southern route, thru Chattanooga and then points east thru some really nice scenic miles. My 6 hrs turned into 10 cause I kept stopping to look at the leaves turning, the rivers running and even to see a dead black bear on the side of the road. Several antique stores drew me in and I even snagged a nice vintage quilt for a song right before I arrived at the retreat. More on that later.

The weather during the 4 days we were there was not the best. Tuesday was the only day it did not rain. I had to be the luckiest person there, to take my walk at just the right time to get these awesome shots. It was never this pretty again, and I began to think an umbrella and wet socks were pretty much a permanant part of my attire.

The cabins were really nice, with 2 twin beds per room, 4 rooms to a cabin. Ours overlooked the lake with rocking chairs out on the deck. We also had a fire in the fireplace every evening to keep us warm during our last glass of wine for the day.

The food was amazing. 4 star or better. Home made soup, grilled sandwichs, 3-4 salads at each meal, unique desserts, ect. All served by delightful staff members in a warm appealing dining hall.

The space we used for our sewing was a large meeting cabin with windows everywhere. There were tons of tables and floor space to spread out on. The girls who did not travel as far brought extra sewing machines, irons, and lights for those who had to fly in.

We ended up with 15 ladies that stayed the night and 1 who came in just for the day. I can not tell you how many projects got done but it was amazing to see everyone's nose to the grind stone so much of the time. I even stayed on task and got Maddie's little quilt top all hand quilted and Katie's basted, ready to quilt. I also did some knitting in the evenings.

2 ladies were gifted quilts that were made for them by the group. Debbie organized this retreat 2 years in a row so we made her a fall maple leaf quilt on a dark blue background to remind her of our gathering. Marylynn is one of the only ladies who has had a major health issue, who did not get a quilt from us during the worst of her treatment. But we put together a Greek Cross quilt in jewel tones that turned out stunning, thanks to some talented ladies in our group, who could combine blocks that were not quite the called for size and still made it work. Both ladies cried some very happy tears and I am sorry I did not manage to get pics of either gifting.

On the way home I decided to drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway and go home thru the Smoky Mountains Nat'l Park. Of course, as soon as I stopped at the first pulloff, the clouds quickly thickened and rolled in to keep me from seeing much of anything. But I took pics of the signs, by golly. Someday I do plan on going back thru and having the sun shine on the fabulous fall colors.

Now on to my latest knitting project. This is a slip stitch cardigan that I am not going to link to. Cause I think the pics that come with the pattern are not that flattering. If I had not seen this done up in other yarn colors I would have not wanted to do this pattern. But i was looking for a sweater to show off some recent natural dyed yarns. And this needed exactly what I had on hand. So to quickly fill you in, the background main color is sort of a mushroomy color. This was dyed in the exhaust of the red hibiscus that I used to get the darker brown. The red is cochineal. The yellow is from marigolds. The blue is the fresh indigo and the green is fresh indigo over goldenrod. The knitting is going well so far. My row gauge is not coming out exactly right so I may have to add a stitch pattern repeat to make it long enough in the body. But I love all the colors and stitches and it will be one incredibly warm sweater when finished.

The antique quilt I talked about above has not been photographed yet cause I washed it and it is still wet. I can date the quilt for sure at about 1900 by the fabrics. When I looked it over at the store I saw almost no flaws, although the quilting and batting were not all that great. After I got it home I decided to wash it, gently. Tons and tons of clay red dirt poured out of that thing. It is now much brighter but I did find one fabric in one block and one place in the border that shredded despite my tender loving care. That's alright. I will fold that in when I put it on display. It should probably never be washed again but I will keep it from ever getting that dirty again.

I think that is all that has been going on in my life. At least, what anyone would want to hear about, that is. My life is so quiet, that today, I was sitting here knitting and I could hear all 3 of my animals snoring. And they were all in different rooms in the house. Now, folks, that is quiet!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm Ready for Fall, Are you?

I am ready cause I finished Seneca!! Well, except for blocking and the possible overdyeing. But she is sitting in the sink right now, so blocking will shortly commence and the overdyeing? Well, we will see. I still think she is the color of one of my favorite comfort foods, hamburger gravy. The kind you serve over mashed potatoes. Yummy stuff. To eat, but not to look at, colorwise. But others, who have only seen her on-line, assure me it is a pretty grey.

I have tried this sweater on and it fits me wonderfully. It is a well designed pattern, made to nicely hug a girls curves. Which means waist shaping and short rows. The waist shaping is just increases and decreases. Elementary school stuff. Short rows now, are the devil's handywork. Not that they are hard. I've tried every version out there and no, they are not hard to execute. They just don't ever look good. Ever....So I will keep trying any new technique that comes along and see if someday I don't find a way I like a little more. Cause, boy, they do make a sweater fit like a sweater should. I also have not yet, found a way to get my underarms to look just right. These turned out pretty well for once. But not till I fussed with them a bit. First thing was to really tighten up the armhole stitches that were going to go on the holders for later joining. I mean really tighten. Then when you put them back on the right sized needle to do a 3 needle bind off from the inside, you have to work to get them on. And the extra yarn comes from the last stitches on the body section. So that tightens up that side on both the sleeve and body. But that leaves the side where you have your yarn tail still a bit loose. You kind of fix that by pulling the tail as tight as you can when you start the 3 needle bind off. But still I always manage to have a bit of a hole at the join. So I try to pull any looseness in the stitches away from the gap and out into the body of the peice until the looseness is distributed over many stitches instead of just 1 or 2. I actually like knitting sweaters from the top down just a little bit better because it allows you to pick up an extra stitch on each side of the armhole seam when you are picking up stitches to knit on down the body or sleeves. But enough of all this. I am not good at any tutorial stuff. Better left for those who are. Just know that this sweater is a lovely knit and I may even make it again. Maybe I will try to re-engineer it to be top down.

Next up on the agenda is my wonderful woad dyeing success. I have only once messed with using any kind of indigo and that was a chemical vat with indigo granules. That was fun but I wanted to see if I could get that same blue with something I could grow myself. So into my dye garden this year went both woad and indigo. I decided to go with woad first. The leaves are larger and faster to pick was the only reason. So I stuffed a 1 gallon glass jar full of the leaves. Then poured nearly boiling water just to cover the leaves and left it sit for 1 hr.

The liquid was then a sherry brown and barely cool enough to touch. I strained off the liquid and squeezed the leaves to get out all I could. Then into that went 1 Tablespoon of ammonia. The next step is kinda fun. You get to pour this liquid back and forth between 2 containers, to incorporate air, til it starts to get frothy, blue and has a coppery sheen to it. It didn't take long at all for this to happen to mine. I probably should have kept up the aeration for a bit longer according to my directions but I really didn't have the best containers and I was getting sloppy and losing some of my dye liquor. Besides it was blue and I was a bit over excited at this point!!

Next step requires you keep this liquid at a very stable precise temperature of between 100 and 120F. So I made a water bath out of a large shallow stock pot, put in my glass jar and kept my electric stove on its lowest setting. I checked the temp every 10 minutes or so, and turned off the stove if it started to get a bit high. Then you add 1 Tablespoon of Rit color run remover. Stir very gently and cover. The dye remover reduces the liquid, meaning it removes all the oxygen. It takes the indigo blue, which is not water soluble and changes it into indigo white which is. The liquid is now supposed to go yellow green on you in the space of an hour or so. And if not, add more color remover and wait. So of course, mine stays blue. Even after a second dose.

But my reducing agent was old, from last year. And this stuff is a bit fragile so I think it was very weak. But I threw in a ready sample, let it sit for 10 minutes, pulled it out carefully and it was a sickly yellowy green, swiftly changing to blue!!! OMG, what a feeling that was. Pretty close to orgasmic I think!! Well, for a natural dyer it was! So in went my intended yarn for 10 minutes. It came out the same sickly green, swiftly turning blue. Without a partner, standing right there with the camera you can not get a good picture of this color change. In fact, I have not even seen one to speak of in a dye book or on line. But beleive me, it is cool to watch. I was really thrilled with the blue but felt it needed to be just a tad darker, so it went back in for another 10 minutes. Just about perfect that time. But I still had a lot of dye left so I threw in some shetland I had laying around and got a gorgeous blue on that also. Wish I had some previously dyed yellow to throw in so I would get green. But next time, which there will be very soon. As I still have a ton of indigo and a bit of woad left. And now I know woad will have a permanant place in my dye garden. I will just be careful to keep the self seeding under control so it does not attain noxious weed status here, as it has in many other states.

Not sure what project will be next. I wanted to immediately start another sweater but not all the yarn has arrived and will need dyed once it does. But I have lots of leftover Cascade 220 in that hamburger gravy color to use up. And I have an idea just how to do that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Big Black Racing Machine

Do you have any idea how long I have waited to drive one of these around the track?? Years, many years, way to many years. But I finally took the plunge. Thanks to a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath and Beyond, a rebate sale by Kitchenaid, and a $70.00 rebate check from another transaction I was able to get this at about 1/2 the impact on my wallet than usual. My worst problem was trying to decide between the Artisan at 5qts and the Professional at 6 qts. The motor on the Pro is also a bit stronger. Of course, there is the pesky fact that one cost $100 more and does not come in cool colors like the Artisan. But after weighing all the facts I decided on this pretty black racing machine. Now I could have gone all girly and gotten blue, yellow, pink, ect. But what if my kitchen changes moods down the road a bit? Hopefully this machine will still be purring and black will never be out of style. So far I have managed to make bread dough quite nicely. With great end result, not having depended on my wimpy old lady arm muscles for kneading. The guide book firmly states to not go over 6 cups of whole wheat flour in this size mixer bowl and beleive me, they know what they are talking about. My recipe calls for between 6-7 and as soon as I put a tiny bit more than 6, the dough started crawling up over the top of the hook. So I am going to try another recipe next time that makes just one loaf of bread. Cause I think I was really a bit shy on the flour with this one. But still-NO KNEADING ON MY PART!! How cool is that?? And I haven't even gotten the chance to whip cream or eggs yet.

This is what else has been going on in the kitchen this week. Tomato slaughter. Lots and lots of tomatoes. This was a 30+batch that yeilded 4 qts of rich sauce that got frozen. I didn't even bother to take pics the day I did 60+ and got 6qts finished product. But I think I am about thru with the red guys. Still gots lots of pumpkin to do without a great system worked out yet to get it done. Everything is too small or too messy. But I am moving on to another idea tomorrow. We will see if I grow behemoths like this again next year.

The sweater is progressing. But it just looks all frumpy and lumpy. Not picture worthy at all. But I am not afraid the end product will be awful, rather I am convinced it will be all that and a bag of chips!! After all, Jared told me. Right?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On to the knitting!!

AS promised, I am back, sooner than later. This time I am opening with a picture of just some of the tomatoes that I need to process tomorrow. I will probably just make them into tomato sauce. Although some are nice enough to leave as diced tomatoes. But seriously, don't you love all the color in these? Yes, some have a tad more ripening to do, but mostly all the color differences come from the variety itself. I have Cherokee Purples, Striped Romans, Cour d'Bue, Yellow Pear and I think some garden variety Big Boys thrown in for good measure. The variety that has done the best for me this year are the striped Romans. Will definitely plant those again next year. And the yellow pear. But for the rest, I think I will go with all new varieties. And keep picking the best each year til I have a full orchestra of tomato colors, flavors, styles and sizes.

And now on to some knitting. Now I warn you ahead of time. This is not nearly as colorful. Not at all. In fact, much bland, in my opinion. But this yarn was on sale. A good sale, a darned cheap sale. So I bought it. My plan at the moment is to finish said sweater. Wear it once and decide. Is it too boring? Or does it look great in the throes of a dull dreary winter. If it is indeed too boring, it will get dyed as a garment. Probably something in a deep bricky red color to cover up the oatmeal gray. But time will tell. On to more pertinent details. First this sweater was designed by Jared Flood and its name is Seneca. Seneca is half way down this page. He designed it to be knit in Classic Elite's Lush yarn, which is a wool/angora blend. But I think that whipping this up in Cascade 220 is still a worthwhile option. It will for sure need to be worn with something underneath, if sensitive skin is an issue at all. Mine is getting a bit more that, all the time.

So far I have gotten the body knit up to the underarm join. I am well into sleeve #1. The sideways cables on this sweater are easy peesey to knit but will demand a really good blocking to set them into the fabric the first time. Jared mentions that, which for sure made me feel better when I could not get my hem to lie flat for the pictures I was trying to take.

Maybe it is because I have knit on some small gauge yarn this last year, but this project seems to be going pretty fast. Of course, when knitting a raglan from the bottom down, you are working on the smaller rows of the project. Just join the body and arms to start knitting that yoke and then you get some long rows to knit!! But when you get to that part on this sweater you get to throw in some interest following the 2 different cable charts. And you get to do those decrease rows every so often.

And yes, I did get all that pumpkin processed. Some went into freezer after much prep work. Pumpkin has a lot of water in the flesh. And to get it to something akin to what comes out of the can made by Libby, you really have to work at it. I think I have the process down to an art now tho and can hopefully breeze thru the other 20 giants out there. I also used some to make Daisy some dog treats. And if you throw some into her dog bowl along with her food she will scarf it down and lick the bowl. It is supposed to be really good for dogs, just as long as she doesn't start turning orange from all that beta-carotene!!!