Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Busy Hands

This past weekend we attended a concert comprised of performances by multiple bands from area middle schools and high schools. My son was playing in one of the middle school bands. I figured there would be a lot of down time between songs while one band moved off the stage and the next band got settled in, so one hour before the concert began I was madly searching the internet for crochet dishcloth patterns. I had never crocheted a dishcloth before, but at that moment, I knew I needed to start.A few hours later I was the proud owner of a dishcloth hooked out of Lily Sugar 'n Cream yarn in the color buttercream. I am not wildly crazy about the color. It reminds me of a bedspread I had back in the 80s. However, I am sure the dishcloth will serve it's purpose, and I sense that I have developed a new addiction. It's very likely that from now on, I will have an in-progress dishcloth tucked into my purse at all times.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strawberry Pincushion

I gathered my courage to finish my latest alphabet cross stitch into......a strawberry pincushion!

I didn't realize just how large it would be. It's as big as my hand!
When I first started this pattern I was picturing it being much smaller, something I could put on a string and hang up somewhere, but it's so big, I think I will just give it some shelf space somewhere in the house.

The finishing of this project was fraught with stress and mess. I keep half my craft supplies on the second floor of my house, and the other half is in the basement, but my preferred work area is on the main floor of the house, so this project had me running up, down, and all around. I needed fusible interfacing, an iron, an ironing board, poly pellets, stuffing, floral wire, floral tape, wire cutters, pliers (to manipulate the wire), fabric, and glue. Some things were where I thought they should be, while others were not, so it took more effort than it should have to get everything gathered. (That is entirely my own fault and I am strategizing how to improve my storage system around here.)

Assembling all the supplies was only half the battle, as I also had several mishaps during the actual making-of-the-pincushion. The gathering thread I stitched around the top of the strawberry broke when I tried to gather, so I had to redo that. I misread the instructions and made the wire shapes for the leaves too small, and the strawberry looked really silly with that cap of too-small leaves, so I had to redo that. And then, once it was all done, I thought to myself "Strawberries don't have brown curly stems! Pumpkins do!" But alas, making the stem brown and curly was called for in the instructions, and I followed them blindly. I do think the end result is pretty cute, though, and it truly was fun to make, even if it was a little bit stressful.

Now I will go back to a sampler I am stitching on 32 count fabric, which I swear is going to be the project that ruins my eyes for good. I have to make a serious effort to focus on that tiny count! I've been slightly near-sighted all my life, and so far this has served me well for reading and needlework, but I just may need to get a pair of cheaters to get me through this next sampler!

Pattern Info for pincushion: Blackbird Designs Secret Garden (Loose Feathers Pattern #20)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ox-Cart Man

Our elementary school's used book sale was this week. Every year I find a treasure at this sale. Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, was this year's find.

The cover illustration really caught my eye. Well, no wonder, as this book won the Caldecott Medal.
The story is told very simply, but conveys so much about living simply and how there is a cycle to the seasons, and the tasks that go with those seasons.

It begins with the man packing his cart to take to market in October. "He packed a bag of wool he sheared from the sheep in April. He packed a shawl his wife wove on a loom from yarn spun at the spinning wheel from sheep sheared in April. He packed five pairs of mittens his daughter knit from yarn spun at the spinning wheel from sheep sheared in April."

It goes on to tell of the food from their garden, including the maple syrup they made by tapping trees and boiling away the sap.

The man walks 10 days to market, and sells everything. Then he buys things his family needs to make more things: an iron kettle, an embroidery needle, a Barlow knife. He also buys them a treat--two pounds of candies! I love that he buys them candies! There is some play among the work.

He walks 10 days home, and the family settles into another year of work, preparing things for themselves, and to sell at next year's market.

This book goes on my keeper shelf.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This is a photo of the salad I made last year for St. Patrick's Day. I will make it again today! St. Patrick's Day feels like the beginning of spring to me, with the fresh green color scheme and the shamrock motif.

Today we have sunshine and warm temperatures. It is the day I have been waiting for to go outside and start doing some spring yardwork. It will probably snow again before warm weather is here for good, but that makes a day like today seem like a mini vacation, or like a little unexpected gift.

Now I'm off to research blenders. My daughter wanted a smoothie for breakfast today. I must have been half asleep, because I started up the blender with a spoon still in the pitcher. Oy! The spoon was mangled and the blade isn't looking too good, either. Oddly enough, it didn't make that much more noise than usual, even with a spoon getting crushed, which proves to me that the blender I have really is unnecessarily loud. I was thinking I'd get a Vitamix, but I just looked at them on Amazon and am reeling from the outrageous price!

Monday, March 14, 2011

In the works

My current WIP. Stitching is done (and oh my goodness, it's another alphabet. Sorry for the redundancy, but I just can't help myself!). Now I need to make it into what it is supposed to become. I am slightly terrified to carry forward with this project, because I'm worried I'll mess it up. But if I'm successful, it's going to be awfully cute. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I stitched this kitty alphabet for my daughter while we were in Florida. She is not as enamored with the alphabet as I am, but she does love kitties! I saw the design in the photostream of my Flickr contact kwgronau. There wasn't a pattern available for it, but it was easy enough to recreate. (Kwgronau didn't use a pattern either--I asked her, because I always buy the pattern if one is available.)

This is stitched on 14 ct aida. The design area is pretty small, about 3 inches by 3.5 inches.

My favorite "pose" in this alphabet is the letter N. I always get a kick out of watching cats stretch out their hind legs!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1 Yard: More of the Same, Unfortunately

Those of you who live in warmer climates can now officially feel sorry for me, because we are still covered with snow over here. If it still looks like this on April 1, I think I will cry.

Usually we have one or two very warm days in March (temps in the 70s F), and that is when I go outside and clip back all the dead stuff I didn't cut back in the fall.

I hope we get those days soon!

The snow from February had actually almost all melted just before we went to Florida, but while we were in Florida, home was dumped on again with almost 10 inches of snow. Luckily I had had the foresight to hire a snow removal service just for the week we were gone. We only had to pay them if they ended up having to remove snow, so it was risk-free. I think they had to come twice!

I do like snow, and I like cozy clothes and my down parka and my fur-lined boots, but I am ready for winter to be done now. I hope the yard looks more springy for my April 1 photos!