August fun

You’ve heard me talk about my wonderful urban soul line dance group, the Grateful Line Danze Krew. I can honestly say I have never been involved in anything like this group before. In my 70+ years, nothing has made me feel so welcome, so appreciated, so truly grateful to be a part of it. I’d like to think that a single Black woman would feel as welcome in a group of white women as I do in this group of Black women, but I know in my heart that is just not true. These women are something else. Like any organization, large or small, so much starts with the person at the top, and for us, it’s LadyP. She exudes warmth and joy. LadyP is the woman kneeling at the far right in the photo below.

Our 2nd year anniversary celebration is this weekend, and I’ve been involved in getting everything ready for a wonderful and FUN time. This year we’re hosting a Glow Party. We have sold 146 tickets to this event, with groups from Buffalo and Syracuse sending large contingents as well as lots of local people.

As the name implies, we’ll have black lights and lots of glowing decorations. Everyone will get a bag of favors on entry. Shhhhh…..don’t tell anyone, but here are 2 of the items in that bag. (I suggested these.)

I crammed myself into my little closet to take that one. 🙂
Then, because our line dance group loves to make noise when we dance, the favors also include a branded whistle.

The whistles were my idea, so although I didn’t create the graphics, I was the one who worked with the online company to get a sample, then get our artwork correct and get them shipped on time.

There are also 2 starlight mints in the bag. Here’s a tip from me, learned too late. Don’t buy the mints at the local dollar store. While they taste fine, they are very hard to open and I know that people will find that frustrating on Saturday. Unfortunately I didn’t know that until I had already purchased 5 bags of them and put them in the bags.

Because there will be so many people, we want everyone to be able to identify who our group is, so if they have any questions or concerns during the event they can easily find one of us to ask. Someone (not me this time) suggested that we make buttons/pins. One of the group thought she had a button maker, but it turned out she’d given it away. So I reached out to a friend of my daughter’s who used to make buttons as a side gig, but she’s a busy woman and it took several days for her to respond. In the meantime I learned that one of the local libraries has a whole button making kit available for borrowing, but unfortunately it was already checked out and not due back in time. I was getting desperate so sent out a group email to my weaving guild and one of the members actually had one she’d loan me. She lives almost an hour away, but we were able to coordinate times for both pickup and return when she would be much closer. But still…time to find one, time to drive to meet her, and way too much time spent at the computer making the logo the correct size and shape to print several of them on a sheet, in a circle that I could very carefully cut around, and then turn into these buttons.

Then, while I was meeting the woman with the button machine, I stopped at a local seafood eatery to pick up gift cards for LadyP and Cleo, her teaching sidekick. (Standing far left in the photo at the top of the page.) One of the other members of our core group suggested I make little pouches to hold the gift cards. I went through my fabric stash and came up with two that I knew would work great. From my sister’s place when I cleaned it out after she died back in January. It took longer to sew on those snaps than to make the little pouches themselves. 😉

Then, one of the group said she’d buy bottled water and make labels for them, also handed out at the event.. She did this last year as well. Last year we had about 85 people come, so she’d planned on bottles for 100. When we sold almost 150 I told her I’d take care of the last 50. I bought the water, configured a Word document with both our logo and that 2nd year 2023 side from the whistles, printed them out, and taped them on. Only after the fact did I have an oops moment. Kim had labels printed on label paper. Mine were on plain paper. They would NOT stand up to an ice-filled cooler. So I went back over each label with clear packing tape. They will likely still have issues and Kim’s will be nicer, but I did what I could. (See how the time adds up?!)

So while I have been busy, it hasn’t included included a lot of weaving.

I did finally get another batch of 3 handwoven hugs completed. I’m quite pleased with them. I used a draft I’ve used several times before, because it’s easy to thread and treadle and I always like the look. This first one may be my favorite of the three, and it went first. The warp for all three is mercerized cotton, mostly 6/2, in a gradient. This one has a lavender cotton weft (8/2 and 16/2 held together), that seems to go from silver to bright lavender as it crosses the warp colors.

Using the rule about black intensifying colors, I used black bamboo (3 strands of 20/2 held together) for the next one. It’s fine, and got chosen second, but it’s just a tad dark for my taste.

I still have this last one, waiting for someone to claim it. Will that be you?

My hugs are given at no charge to people who are dealing with depression OR Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The hug can be for the person with the disease or one of their caregivers or loved ones. I do not have anyone on my wait list, and I know myself well enough to know that I’m motivated by a list, so if you’d like this hug, or to get on a wait list for whatever might come next, PLEASE let me know. All I will ask is reimbursement for postage. The golden glow of this one is so inviting. Another bamboo weft.

Finally, I did get bead bags sewn for August.

I have some lovely garden shots, but I’ve been sitting in front of my laptop for too long and have to get out and do my morning walk, so they’ll be in the next post.

Late July, 2023

I’ve accomplished a lot in the last few weeks. First up, I wove and finished 8 Fun Stripe towels. I just posted them in my Etsy shop. I saw some towels that used a draft called Dianne’s Awesome Rainbows and posted in Blazing Shuttles Chatter Facebook group by Jean Eldridge Flores. It called to me. I made just the tiniest modification, changing to blocks of 4 instead of blocks of 3, and went to town! Every block of 4 stripes in both warp and weft is a different color, so these towels took much longer to make than is typical for me. That would usually make me not like them so much, but not these towels. I really like them. A lot. I know that my newest creation is often my favorite, so I am trying to remember that.

Look how totally SMASHING this would look with black as the primary color instead of natural! I may have to do that sometime, but probably not for kitchen towels. Maybe as shawls?

I also finished that second jacket, with some lovely, nubbly, undyed yarn. This one will be for sale…hopefully it will speak to someone.

nubbly cream jacket, front

I spent A TON of time on the finishing of my red jacket, deciding on and then making the closures, and couldn’t do that for this one that’s for sale. So I opted for a magnetic closure with a simple button for looks, one that’d I’d made from polymer clay some years ago. I’m happy with it.

nubbly cream jacket, inside

I didn’t plan how the various weft options would fall, it just happened. If I think about it, I may try to do that on my next jacket. I’m kind of sorry that the stripes are mostly on the front and the individual inlays are mostly on the back. Although they take the most time, they are my favorite look and I wish there was a bit more of them on the front. You can just see tiny bits of them on the collar/flaps on the front. C’est la vie.

nubbly cream jacket, back

I have quite a length left over. Will I finish it for a regular shawl? A mobius? Something else? I don’t yet know, and would welcome your input.

leftover nubbly warp 1
leftover nubbly warp 2
leftover nubbly warp, wrapped

I also sewed bead bags for July. All this batch needs is the ribbon threaded through the top casing.

July 2023 bead bags

Then, because I apparently don’t have enough commitments (LOL), I decided to take a 3-session beginning embroidery class at the Weaving & Fiber Arts Center. It’s the first time it’s been offered, and I do like this teacher. I knew if she didn’t get enough students the class would be cancelled, so I registered.

I learned to embroider as a pre-teen. In the (MANY) intervening years, I’ve done stamped cross stitch, other stamped embroidery, counted cross stitch, and probably others that aren’t occurring to me at the moment. I was therefore a bit surprised to learn new things in this class. :-0 Here’s the output of the first 2 classes. I still have to do my ‘homework’ before the 3rd and last class which will take place this Friday.

embroidery class work

As always, I’ve been line dancing with THE BEST group of people EVER, and kayaking. I even got my 7-year-old grandson out kayaking twice in a little plastic sit-on kayak. I hope we can do a few more adventures when he gets back from family vacation.

This is what happens…

…when I let a month go by without posting. I have too much to show & tell. Sigh.

Far more on the home & garden front than the weaving front, so let’s get that out of the way first.

I loaded up my loom with Queen Anne’s Lace yarn from Henry’s Attic, sett at 12 EPI. Then, like with my red jacket, I rather randomly wove in various stripes, clasped weft, and inlays in a few blues and a few browns. This is the fabric immediately after the loom. 6-3/4 yards. Has to be wet finished, cut, sewn, and trims applied. This one will be for sale.

I really like this closeup – it shows you both the texture of that creamy yarn and the glitter of one of the browns.

fabric closeup - jacket #2


Also weaving but a very different type – I decided to do one more branch weaving, this time a more pictorial form. I cut off my first try, as the warp wasn’t tight enough and was loosening as I wove. After re-warping I made a boo-boo at the beginning that I could sort-of fix midstream. Note: I am most definitely NOT a tapestry weaver, so this stretched my skillset for sure, but I’m pleased with my end result.

a beachy branch weaving


Jack aged 2 years in a few weeks. No, he wasn’t ill or in an accident or anything. It was all about my thinking. I’d been saying that Jack was 9, knowing that I made his birthday be when I got him, which was in September of 2015. So just like with people, he wouldn’t be 10 for a few months yet. BUT! I had to stop in at the vet’s office to pick up a regular monthly preventative prescription for heartworm & I saw that they had his birthday listed as 2012. I thought that was wrong, as I believe he was 2 when I got him, but decided not to question it at the vet. I came home and looked at his adoption papers, and sure enough, the vet was correct. He was estimated to be 3 when I got him, not 2. So suddenly he went from age 9 to almost 11. As I understand dog years vs. human years, (1st year=1, 2nd year=2, 3rd year=4, all subsequent years=7) he went from age 49 to 63 in the blink of an eye. While I was wrapping my head around that, he got his next grooming, and didn’t he look like a little old man when he came home. 🙁 Dogs die too young, and this mistake on my part didn’t add any years to him except in my mind…2 years closer to having to say goodbye to this little guy.

Jack got old

At least I can take comfort in the fact that he’s become a pretty calm and peaceful dog. He has gotten rid of many (most?) of his anxieties.


Now for what else has been taking lots of my time – my gardens. Which I love. It makes me happy to see things blooming and know that I have planted, weeded, mulched, watered, and tended them. So here are lots of garden shots.

blue flax

blue flax that came in a wildflower seed blend last year and returned.

oak leaf hydrangea

oak leaf hydrangea in full flower

roses, clematis, and peonies

fragrant roses, clematis, peonies blooming, oak leaf hydrangea just beginning

fragrant honeysuckle

a beautiful fragrant honeysuckle that I’ll have to move so it can get more sun and be more appreciated

Japanese maple and gold leaf spirea

Japanese maple and golden spirea in front of my kitchen

raindrops on cutleaf rudbeckia

raindrops on cutleaf rudbeckia

I mow my own yard, and it’s always a pain to get under my crabapple tree and mow right up to my chain link fence. So I decided to do something about it. I dug out grass, moved some crowded hosta, and put in border. This new garden area is about 12′ long. Took quite a while to do the work. Thankfully, most of the time I was in the shade of that crabapple.

Then, being a glutton for punishment, I decided to move even more hosta to under my Japanese dogwood. Really nothing had grown there before, so again, I had to start by digging out the grass and preparing the soil.

preparing for planting

That circle is roughly a 12″ radius out from the tree trunk. Then I dug out the hosta, divided, planted and watered.

I also did a bunch of work on my front garden, but since most of the plants were dug from someone else’s garden and transplanted, they’ve taken a hit in the heat and it doesn’t look so pretty right now, even though I’ve made sure to water it well.


And here are my 10 bead bags for June, 2023.
June 2023 bead bags


As if none of that is enough…I LOVE my BuyNothing group. A woman posted that her tart cherry tree was loaded with fruit and asked who was interested in coming to pick. She set us up with a sort of schedule so that we’d be there on different days so that we’d all get cherries. I was AMAZED at how prolific her little tree is!

tart cherry tree

I was there at about 7AM, and picked 4-1/2 quarts in record time.
4-1/2 quarts tart cherries

I came home, washed them, pitted them (by hand, no pitter here), pulsed them in my food processor, and set about making jam.

cherries, pitted and pulsed

I love using this pectin.

Ball's low-no sugar pectin

For 7 cups prepared fruit I used 6 Tablespoons pectin and 2 cups of sugar. And that’s plenty sweet for me. I also added about 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon, but I can’t say I tasted that in the final product.

I got 8 half-pints of jam, plus a bit in a mug. One of the jars didn’t seal when it came out of the canner.

8 jars tart cherry jam

I sent that photo to the woman with the tree and offered to bring her a jar. She was so thankful! She invited me back to pick again when she had cherries ready. This time I looked at my watch; it took me 5-6 minutes to pick a quart of cherries. This time I picked 7 quarts. I pitted them all, made a cherry crisp for my son’s birthday, gave him a quart and a half, and put a quart in my fridge. They have graced my morning overnight oats and provided a yummy evening snack.

So you see, I have been busy, I just haven’t had time to do a lot of weaving. I’m currently deciding between various drafts for another set of towels as the ones in my Etsy shop keep selling out. 🙂 MAYBE tomorrow I’ll have time to work on sewing that jacket. Unless something else calls to me.

Early June

I’m going to get this post written in less than 30 minutes, which is much quicker than usual. That’s all the time I have, since I have to go pick up my grandson from school then. Usually I could finish the post when I got back home in an hour or so, but today I won’t be coming back here. I’m on grandma duty until about 6pm tomorrow, when I’ll hand them off to their other grandma so that mom and dad can have a much-needed weekend away to celebrate their recent anniversary.

So. Here goes. Let’s start with a nice shot of my yard. Japanese dogwood on the left, (non-fragrant) red rose up against the garage center, climbing hydrangea on the right.

kousa dogwood, roses, climbing hydrangea

Have these 3 plants bloomed at the same time in prior years? Undoubtedly. But I never previously noticed. Or at least didn’t take a photo of them in their glory.

A few days later I noticed that my dogwood was – unshapely. Others I saw on my morning walks were more well shaped, with a fuller crown. So I decided I should prune mine. This is not something I ever claimed to be good at, but my previous success with shrubs convinced me I could try. (And this after I’d really screwed up with what had been a lovely clematis in front of my garage. Sigh.)

kousa dogwood, trimmed

Although I found it a bit difficult to remove all those beautiful blooms, I knew if I didn’t do it right now, I’d lose the initiative and it wouldn’t get done this year. And I know that it can take a few years to see the beneficial of selective pruning. Wish my little tree well. I’m hoping that next year it will fill out a bit in the ’empty’ spots and will lead to that fuller crown that’s so beautiful. Then I can do a bit more shaping of the remaining leggy bits.

Like the rest of the northeast, here in Rochester, NY we had a few days of really horrible air for a few days as a result of the fires in Canada. I had to keep my windows closed and wear my N95 mask for my walks. Wednesday was the worst day by far. Here’s what the sun looked like at 7:45 that morning.

smoke in the morning sky

I did get my lovely Little Free Library registered. After a few days I got the official signage and posted it on the front.

Little Free Library with sign

On my morning walk on Thursday I happened to see this little storefront that I hadn’t seen before.

Provisions storefront

They weren’t open then, so I walked back in the afternoon. It turned out it was only their 3rd day of being open, and I was impressed. In only 400 square feet they’d managed to nicely display many locally-made or grown items: artisanal sourdough bread, maple products, meats, eggs, cheese, produce, and more. I’m hoping this works out well for them. I bought a loaf of bread, some lettuce, a bunch of asparagus, and some cheese. I will have to stop back and give them more support.

I did get those hugs woven – you saw the 2 bouts on the warping mill in my last post. They need to be hemmed before I take any photos of them.

Remember all those empty spools and cones in the last post? I also got those towels woven, wet finished, hemmed and photographed. Then, for the final piece, I got them up in my Etsy shop. I wove 4 of them with a goose-eye treadling, 4 with an MW treadling. All 8 have different weft colors.

8 Play on Rainbows towels

And now my time is up. Gotta run.

Closing shot – another red rose, likely the same variety as the one in the earlier photo. Both were here when I moved in. They look nice, but no fragrance at all. 🙁

rose by the chimney

2nd for May

I’m going to make it – 2 posts this month. Yippee!

Let’s start with this.

MANY empty spools

That’s a LOT of empty spools and cones. They ALL had yarn on them a few weeks ago. Not much on any of them, but that’s was the challenge – using up bits and pieces, odds and ends of yarn in a way that was visually pleasing – at least to me.

All I can say at this point is that this beautiful sight, along with a bunch of natural, undyed cotton, turned into 8 towels. They are now off the loom and in the queue for hemming, so no beauty shots yet. You’ll just have to use your imagination about what they might look like.

Sticking with weaving for a bit, I’m sorry to say that I didn’t get any of my handwoven hugs done in April. Nor in May, really. I don’t think winding the bouts on May 26th and getting the loom threaded on the 29th can reasonably be counted as May hugs. They will be June hugs. It’s the best I could do and I won’t beat myself up about it. I am very happy with the early stages of this warp. Here is bout one on the warping mill. I love the way those colors work together.

May-June tencel hug, bout 1

I also like the way the second bout looks on the mill. But I’m not positive about how these two will play together. The first bout is mostly tertiary colors in varying values, while the second is mostly primaries and secondaries.

May-June tencel hug, bout 2

This is all Tencel or rayon. I’m crossing my fingers that the colors will play nicely together.

For a totally different type of weaving, a few friends and I decided to try our hands at branch weaving. We were inspired by seeing some images of Kaci Smith’s work and started collecting suitable branches. They had to be an appropriate size, with a V that was neither too narrow nor too wide, and be very solid – no flexing when squeezed so that they’d stand up to a tight warp. Some testing was required and I ended up cutting off my first two attempts. Then finally we got together and wove. Here’s my 4th attempt (didn’t take a photo of the first two trials, or even my 3rd which is nice.)

branch weaving #4

I have ideas for another but haven’t had time to actually do it.

What else have I been up to? There’s been plenty of weeding and mulching and some planting of flowers and veggies. Then there’s this:

kayak on top of my car

I’ve made it out onto the water twice. 🙂 The first time was with the Genesee Valley paddling segment of the Adirondack Mountain Club. It was COLD that day – mid-50s when we put our boats into the creek, only low 60s when we left. I had on many layers, and instead of wearing my Keen sandals as I usually do, I opted for calf-high rubber boots. Couldn’t stand the thought of a few hours with cold, wet feet.

Then I went out yesterday, meeting a friend on a different creek, this one close to my house. We had beautiful weather and a lovely paddle, seeing several great blue herons, a swan family with 3 cygnets, a pair of mallards that looked like they were setting up a nest, and separately a group of 4 male mallards on what must have been their bachelor pad. There were marsh wrens, common yellowthroats, red-tailed hawks, and lots of red-winged blackbirds. There was a small swimming snake and a mammal – I’m guessing muskrat but it may have been an otter.

I was very happy when I got my roof rack on my car rather easily. Last year it was quite difficult, and I ended up having to drive an hour to the place where I bought it so they could fix it – the result of my having bumped it on the ground and thrown it out of whack. Taking my time and care removing it last fall and placing it this spring made all the difference.

I’m going to leave you with some information about how kind and talented my children are. On the Tuesday before Mother’s Day my son called my daughter and asked if she thought I’d like a Little Free Library. She answered in the positive and he set to work. Built it out of recycled/repurposed/scraps he had hanging around. Got it to her on Thursday afternoon. She painted it, using in part some lavender paint she borrowed from me (what I had painted my shutters with and use for my kindness rocks with), then on Friday snuck some leftover shingles out of my garage. On Sunday they made me lunch, then came to my house and installed it. The post is an old oak beam from our place in the sticks that my son had moved to his house and never used. Using a post hole digger he sunk that 5′ piece of 6×6 oak more than 2′ into the ground and attached the top.

Little Free Library front view

It’s beautiful and matches my house! I just got it registered and expect my official Little Free Library plaque to arrive this week. (Who knew you had to pay $40 plus shipping for that?!)

Little Free Library side view

Books have been moving in and out, which is the best thing of all. Wasn’t this a great gift?!?!