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Two for May – YAY!

I finished this towel warp a few weeks ago, but realize I forgot to include it in my last post.

I wove 8 of them, these 3 with a cream weft, and a different color weft for each of the remaining 5. You can see them in my Etsy shop. Along with this shawl I showed you on the loom in early April.

And here are the bead bags I sewed for May.

In other fiber-y pursuits, I was motivated to do some embroidery. In my pre-teen years my Mom taught me how to embroider with designs stamped/transferred on fabric. Honestly I don’t remember what I made. Pillowcases? Towels? Something else? Sure beats me. Then as a young woman I ‘graduated’ to counted cross stitch. After my husband died I created new Christmas stockings for the kids and I. Counted cross stitch on navy backgrounds. All using someone else’s designs.

A year ago I took a beginning embroidery class at the Weaving & Fiber Arts Center. We hadn’t offered such a class in many years, I knew I liked the teacher, and wanted to be sure the class wasn’t cancelled for lack of enrollment. I didn’t expect to learn new stitches, and I didn’t. I also didn’t expect to be motivated to do something new, but I was. In January I stitched my Christmas cards for 2024. I started with someone else’s design and ultimately made a few of my own. They were all admittedly simple designs, as was appropriate for their purpose.

Then a few weeks ago a friend sent me a link to an upcoming unjuried show. Some years ago (I looked it up – 2018! Where does the time go??) I’d participated in a (juried) show called Co-Crafting Democracy. Well, the same people who’d organized that one were doing another. The 2024 show will be at the National Women’s Hall of Fame in nearby Seneca Falls. (Aside – coincidentally, my wonderful son went there with me for my first-ever visit for Mother’s Day this year.) With the subtitle Fiber Arts and Activism, the focus is on the (mostly immigrant) women who worked in the knitting mill there until 1999 and those who fought for equal pay and other essential women’s rights.

I wasn’t going to submit, but one morning I woke up and had an idea. I would embroider something! I went to the local craft store and purchase a hoop that would become part of the finished piece, as well as two adult coloring-type books that I hoped to pull design inspiration from. I made several modifications to one of those designs and transferred it to some cotton I had. (That wasn’t as easy as it sounds and there were a few mis-steps in the process.) Although I did have some design help with that book, this was at least 80% my own design.

I knew I wanted words in the center of that circle. The specific words changed a few times as I worked. I looked at several online embroidery alphabets, none of which suited my skill level or space availability. (Mind you, that hoop is only a 7″ diameter, so my letters had to be small.) But one of them set off the lightbulb in my brain…I could create the phrases in a Word document, print it out, and use that. So that’s what I did. This time I’d figured out an easier way to get the letters onto my fabric. Then it was time to do some sample embroidery to see what stitch(es) would work best. I decided on a simple stem stitch, with tiny stitches to accommodate the frequent curves.

They are far from perfect, but I am satisfied with my result. All I have to do now is figure out exactly how to deal with the excess fabric, affix the embroidery permanently to the hoop, and back it. There’s enough time to do that.

I finished the stitching itself on Memorial Day. That struck me as appropriate. If we – by which I mean humans – were simply kind to each other, stood up for each other, and joined hands with those different from us – wars would be a thing of the past. A girl can dream, right?

Moving on. So many lovely things happen in the spring. I put my roof rack on the car and got out for my first kayak of the season last week. Looking forward to many more.

After having it on my to-do list for weeks, I finally got a mess of rocks painted so I can once again start depositing kindness rocks on my morning walks.

And I’ve been really enjoying my gardens. Weeding and mulching aren’t a drag for me; I enjoy the time spent there, especially in the spring. Here are some recent beauty shots. A lovely deep pink clematis.

A beautiful blue flax, with bronze fennel and golden spirea in the background.

And some peonies my son dug out of his side yard last year. I was hoping they’d be an heirloom variety with a gorgeous fragrance, but no such luck there. They are beautiful nonetheless.

The sad news is my Redbud. It has some type of lichen, which is really just a symptom of an underlying problem. I contacted my county’s Master Gardeners, who told me I needed an arborist. I was thrilled when I learned that my town employs one, as the town planted this tree on the right-of-way 8-9 years ago. I’ve left him a voice mail and sent an email with pix and hope to hear back from him soon. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can save this little tree.

I had bearded iris that definitely needed thinning. I posted on my BuyNothing group that I’d be digging rhizomes and when & where they’d be available. These large piles were gone within an hour, maybe less.

Now I really must go walk Jack. It’s already too late today, but maybe I can get the kayak in the water again tomorrow.

Best laid plans???

Clearly my intentions haven’t led to action. Sigh. I used to post SO much more frequently. Sure, I was weaving A LOT more, but still, I do have things to say and show. Let’s start with some garden shots.

Last year I moved my bleeding heart because it was struggling where it was: too much competition, too much late afternoon sun, too much wind. This year it is SO much happier – which makes me happy, too.

Two years ago (I think) I bought a cutting of this lovely shrub at a local garden club sale. It didn’t do much last year, but this year, my Kerria japonica pleniflora is just stunning. Set next to that crabtree – WOWZA! And it makes me really happy that this year, at least, those double flowers are lasting a good two weeks.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kerria-crabtree-2.jpg

This yellow is roughly the same color as a forsythia, but IMHO a much preferred shrub. So I decided to remove the ancient forsythia planted not far away that had been struggling for years. It was a LOT of work, mostly done with a pickaxe, but I got most of those roots out. I guess I shouldn’t have been, but was surprised to see how much of the roots were dead. I’m sure I’ll have to deal with shoots coming up from those roots for the next few years, but I’m very happy to have done this.

Without requiring much work from me, my English primrose are putting on a colorful show this year.

As is the pulmonaria. This plant is so much happier since I transplanted many of the hostas and pruned back the hellebore, both of which were totally crowding it out.

And aren’t these wood hyacinth sweet?

All those things are in my side or back yard. The front, which faces south so gets really hot, presents its own challenges. This year I am really pleased with this east side of the front, showing the golden spirea in the foreground and Japanese maple in the back. In truth, that maple is far too large a variety for where it is planted and I’m not sure how I’ll deal with it in the years to come, but it’s beautiful now. I have three more of those spirea in other spots, and prune them all in the fall, but this one is always the largest and most beautiful.

So what else have I been doing? Well apparently I like to participate in research studies. A few years ago I took part in a Covid vaccine study. This year I’m doing two different ones. The first, which I didn’t take any pix of, was a smell test. Apparently they can do something with these results regarding Parkinson’s disease to help determine risk and develop new treatments.

More in depth, here’s a photo of me getting ready for an EEG. This was phase one of a study being conducted by the University of Rochester. The goal is to develop ways to identify Alzheimer’s disease earlier so they can begin treatment earlier. The test with all those wires connected to my skull took a few hours. Then I went back the following week and took some timed paper and pencil tests. I can quit any time I want, but as long as I choose to stay on I’ll go back annually for both the EEG and the paper & pencil tests. They already have the earliest participants in year 5.

I definitely had some people ask me when SSSid would be back, and I had told them May 1, so that is indeed when he returned. Here are his first few rocks this year.

Last but CERTAINLY not least, I was one of hundreds of thousands of people who got a real thrill seeing the Northern Lights this year. I’d tried a few times last year when they were supposed to be visible but got nothing. This year was such a show! I was surprised that the colors, while visible to the naked eye, were stronger when photographed. I know it wasn’t just me; this was a well-reported phenomena. I took several photos, and will just post a few here.

I have done some weaving, but don’t have great photos yet. Soon, I hope.

So Much Has Happened

Clearly my best intentions are useless. In blogging, as in life, actions are what counts, not words. It’s now been a whole month since I wrote. Sigh.

I’m going to try to take things in chronological order. And I’m going to try to not write excessively – time won’t permit me to sit in front of my computer that long this evening, and you probably wouldn’t want to read it all if I could.

In early March I took a class at the Weaving Center, Suminigashi. Ever hear of it? I hadn’t till recently. A Japanese ink marbling technique. It was actually a two-session class, but I could only attend the first part. We used just black ink for this class. It was pretty cool. Here are my finished papers.

suminigashi

I couldn’t attend the second class because I went on a program with Road Scholar – my first but it won’t be my last. They did SUCH a good job giving us a very high quality program. I could go on and on about what we did for the week that we were in Santa Fe, but I won’t. I’ll just give you one highlight. We spent an afternoon at Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O’Keefe did much of her painting. The tour guide took us around the Ranch, very slowly, in small vans. They stopped frequently and we go out and they pointed out a specific visual, and then held up an 9″x12″ color copy of an O’Keefe painting and showed us exactly what she was looking at when she painted that scene. Wow! Here are 2 photos from that visit.

tree at Ghost Ranch

The weather was beautiful in Santa Fe that week – cool in the morning and sunny and warm in the afternoon. At home in Rochester? Not so much. Here’s my yard on March 23, the morning after I returned.

March snow

I got my taxes done, shared a lovely Easter day with family, and did a variety of mundane tasks.

I’ve joined a group of local women who write postcards motivating people to vote. They’ve been doing this since the Women’s March in 2017, growing their list of people willing to write since then. Their email list now tops 500, and it’s not all talk. This group send out roughly 600 postcards EVERY WEEK!! The core group studies races, determining where extra encouragement is needed. Writers can pick up packets at a variety of locations, which include 20 postcards and stamps, a mailing list, and a script. We’re encouraged to decorate the postcards to make them more eye-catching. Here’s one of the 60 I’ve already mailed. It feels good to DO something instead merely worrying. Or kvetching.

Get out the vote postcard

Then, of course, the postcards have to go to a mailbox. This is where I got sad. Or frustrated. Or some other unpleasant emotion. Not that long ago these PO drop boxes had big ‘doors’ that pulled down so you could put a pretty decent-sized package in them. A few years ago they switched to a much smaller door that would accommodate a thick, soft package; all of the USPS Priority Mail boxes were too large to fit. When I went to drop off a batch of 40 postcards, I put a rubber band around them to make it a tad easier for the postal carrier – pick up one wad of postcards instead of a mess of single cards. Hah! The boxes had been modified again, this time there’s only a slot. Nothing opens. And a group of 40 postcards was too thick to fit in that slot. I’m guessing they did this because some jerks were putting garbage or other nasties in the boxes.

USPS drop box

Then there was the eclipse. I made my grandson a Tshirt, and wish I’d taken a photo of it because it turned out much better what you’ll see here. It just involved black fabric, a bowl, and bleach. Of course, my grandson did fine, but I got bleach on my favorite sweatshirt, so I decided I’d put decorative patches on it. Since there’s a big heart on the back of the sweatshirt, I went with hearts on the front. When I have time I may do some simple sashiko embroidery on the hearts. Or maybe not.

denim heart patches on a purple sweatshirt

On eclipse day my daughter had a party, with a total of 31 people – adults and children – attending. I offered to use the Tshirt technique to make eclipse bandanas and head ties. They did not work as well, but here you can get an idea.

Eclipse head ties
Eclipse bandana

Of course, because we live in Western NY, the weather didn’t cooperate. It had been sunny and beautiful Saturday and Sunday, and was again on Tuesday. But Monday? We were SOCKED IN with thick clouds that never parted.

Eclipse day in Rochester

It was still very cool. It got darker out very gradually, and then all of a sudden, BAM, it was pitch dark! A minute later BAM it got much lighter quickly. I do wish it had been clear as none of the many kids there had ever seen a total eclipse. They’ll just have to wait.

Meanwhile I put a warp on the loom – all 16/2 Jaggerspun fine superwash merino. Long enough for a shawl and a mobius. I wove the shawl of 2 strands of 60/2 pink silk held together.

Jaggerspun & silk shawl on the loom

Here I was auditioning wefts for the mobi. I really wanted to like the navy (I’d already tried black), but I just didn’t. I ended up using a 30/2 cream silk.

auditioning wefts

I’m leaving in the morning with 3 of my line dance sisters for a Beginner’s Ball in Richmond, VA. Although I’ve attended a few local & regional line dance parties, this is a MUCH bigger deal – 850 people and 3 days of dancing! WOO HOO!!! I’ll leave you with this photo I love of my grandson and his dog.

a boy and his dog

Marching ahead

Somehow it’s a whole month since my last post, despite my intentions and efforts. I was pushing myself to finish some things in the last few weeks, which kept me away from my computer. But let’s not focus on the negative.

I took the photo above on February 10. Those snowdrops were quite brave, as we had plenty of both very cold temps and snow after that. Since they’re not mine and I didn’t record the address where I snapped the image, I can’t tell you how they made out, but I am seeing lots of snowdrops on my morning walks now, in early March, so I know plenty of these little lovelies made it.

What was I so busy with? I finally admitted to myself that the USPS was never going to find the package I’d mailed on 12/18. So I remade both the placemats and the handknit fingerless mitts, filed for a refund of the shipping & insurance coverage, and sent off a new package. Along with his thank you, my nephew kindly sent me a photo of the placemats on his table.

I made a batch of 10 more bead bags, although I apparently forgot to photograph them. I THOUGHT I had taken a picture, but it’s nowhere to be found. Not even in my recently deleted file. Oh well.

At a customer’s request I wove a batch of 9 more crackle towels. We kept in close contact throughout the process, and within hours of me listing them in my Etsy store she’d purchased 7 of the them.

After those two weaves I immediately warped my loom for some black & white gradient scarves in Tencel.

The Copper Shop Gallery at the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora had sold some items I’d sent them in November, so I wanted to send them a few more. A scarf from this warp seemed like a seller to me. Here are the 4 items that finally made it into the mail today.

They got the gradient scarf with white weft. I also wove 2 more. Personally, the blue is my favorite, but I think the black & white will move faster. We’ll see.

Not something I made but instead something I just think is too sweet not to share. This vintage tablecoth is hand emboidered. I’m pretty sure it came from my mother’s, but I don’t think she made it either. Maybe my sister knows???

Now I have to go pick up my grandson from school, and if I don’t hit Publish RIGHT NOW this post will continue to linger.

Christmas, 2023 & more

I can finally show you what I made for Christmas presents…sort of. USPS has lost one of the packages I mailed on December 18, and I am in the process of re-making those gifts, but since that family doesn’t read my blog I’m not worried about revealing what they will get…hopefully in a few weeks. 🙁

In mid-December I shared my early efforts with weaving rag placemats. After having what I considered to be success, I decided to weave placemats for my sister, my niece, and my nephew. For my sister’s placemats I used some really beautiful fabric that our oldest sister had, which I saved when I cleaned out her apartment.

I was a tad disappointed that the beauty of that fabric didn’t really show through as much as I’d hoped, but I knew that they would be appreciated anyway.

While I had more gorgeous fabric from that oldest sister, they were all rather dark. After my experience with the above placemats, I thought my niece and nephew, each with young families, would prefer something lighter, so I made a trip to the fabric store and bought some cotton yardage for this purpose. My niece and family live on Hilton Head Island, so I decided she needed beachy colors. More weaving surprises…the sun was more identifiable than I’d expected, but not in a bad way.

My nephew and family live outside Dallas and have 2 very active little boys, so I chose yardage that seemed perfect to me. This time I was surprised that none of those words showed up, just the colors. That was actually what I was hoping for but didn’t expect. 😉 After accepting that the package was really lost I made another trip to the fabric store and managed to snag the last of this fabric to re-make the placemats. I haven’t finalized warp colors yet.

The other things I made for Christmas weren’t from my loom; they were made sitting the living room watching way too many cheesy holiday movies. But knitting isn’t a fast process, at least not for me. I made 6 pairs of these fingerless mitts, and am now making a 7th pair to replace the ones in the lost package. Cindy over at EweniquelyEwe turned me on to the pattern, which is free from Carolyn Greenwood on Ravelry. The pattern is called Keep the Leaf.

So much for the Christmas reveals. Life has been…interesting. About 10 days ago, almost home from our evening walk, Jack & I were…assaulted…by a pair of French bulldogs who had clearly escaped from their home. Real short version of the story – I was saved by a runner who heard me screaming. THANK HEAVENS FOR HIM!! It could have been SO much worse!

Jack & I were both emotionally traumatized, and Jack has a wound on his tail that doesn’t look bad and will heal. I ended up at urgent care with 2 wounds on my right hand from one of the Frenchies biting me, and bunch of bruising on that forearm from other attempted bites. Those wounds are healing well, BUT, my ulnar nerve had some trauma and as a result my pinky & ring finger have a constant tingling as if they’d fallen asleep. Numb but not really. I’ll be seeing an ortho doc on Tuesday, and am hoping he can give me better news and/or strategies than my PCP had, which is that it can take 6-12 months for the nerve to fully recover.

I’ve never seen those dogs before and have no idea where they live. I’ve been doing some asking around to see if anyone knows them, but so far no luck. I doubt I’ll ever know. I now have both pepper spray and one of those little emergency alarms. I don’t know that I could have made effective use of the pepper spray in the moment, but I feel like I could have activated that alarm, which would hopefully either sent the dogs running or alerted neighbors sooner.

Other than that, I keep line dancing, reading, doing yoga, baking sourdough bread, living my life.

Oh, yeah, and weaving. Thank you to Susan Poague for providing a great crackle draft. I’ve said it before and will say it again, I always think I don’t like crackle weaves – until I see them. Then I really like them. 🙂

I made a TINY modification to the treadling in Susan’s draft. I wove eight towels and listed them in my Etsy shop at 8AM Saturday morning. By 9AM four of the towels were sold, and three more were gone by 5PM. WOWOWOW!!! Truth be told, one woman – who has purchased countless towels from me – bought all seven – she’d been waiting for me to list more towels.

Now I must get back to re-making Christmas gifts. In February. Sigh.