buffet style dyeing

here in the Mid-west we are fond of the all you can eat buffet style dining. long tables filled with all kinds of culinary delights. often at luncheons you will see a couple of roasters with dividers. well these all you can eats can be a little hard on the waist line and since I have given them up and also no longer serve up big family style meals I decided the divided pans would be better suited to high fiber diets. namely yarns. and the soup du jour would be flowers picked in the garden and made into a stew.DSC01260the nesco roaster is easier to regulate the temperature than my open fire at the cabin. and also takes up less space and I don’t make as big a mess with it. I really love how I can heat up dye materials in the nesco and then leave it at a low temp as I work on other things during the day. I am also glad to have a new use for the divided trays. what a great way to get tri-colored yarns.

I had brought home a few frozen flowers from the garden to play with. in the middle is golden marguerite. a beautiful daisy like flower that gives great yellows. to the right is coreopis flowers which yield a whole range of oranges for me. on the left I started with cosmos but the orange was just too close to the orange from the coreopis as you can see below.

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I think this yarn is beautiful but we wanted 3 distinct colors. last year I had potted up some fox tail as an accent plant for the containers by the front walk. I noticed that the tails left a stain on the porch when they dropped off so of coarse the tails had to be added to water and experimented with. the crimson tails of the chenille plant gave me a nice medium brown on wool yarn so this spring I decided to grow some more. so my daughter and I picked all the tails off my 2 plants and added them to the cosmos in the roaster.


much better.

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so this was our high fiber – low calorie luncheon yesterday. can’t wait to see what it looks like made up into socks.

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wtf

so yesterday was a wip or work in progress day showing off socks that were not quite done.

today is a wtf and I will leave it to you to figure it out.

we went for our walk early this morning and I took out the eggshells for the garden. you see I have been crushing the shells and spreading it around the kale cause the slugs have been feasting on. I had read in a garden book or maybe the internet that eggshells will stop slugs dead in their tracks.  so  we were gone for maybe 20 minutes and this is what I saw when I got back

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they like the freaking eggshells. wtf no wonder my kale is so full of holes.

and then the second half. I spent a good portion of the day yesterday working on thisDSC01215and thisDSC01214a soft buttery yellow from golden rod and a bright orange from cosmos.

I wrapped them in plastic to bring home from the cabin to dry and then in my scatterbrained way I left them wrapped in black plastic to bake outside the garage.  it will be a week before i can go back and retrive them and they will probable have mildew spots on them since they are still wet. arrrg.

slugs…… mold……….. oh will I ever learn.

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Wip.

I may have 4th sock syndrome. The socks on the right are sock number 3 and 4 of the same pattern. image

i started these back in May and am determined to finish that orange ribbing tonight.

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cormorant

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squirrelly

I am obsessed with the hook this month churning out 2 blankets with older stash yarn that has been hidden away in the closet. first there is the godzilla granny – granny has hit epic proportions and now is confined to the spare room. it has been rather hot lately and I can’t work on this blanket with it on my lap anymore so I have been sitting on a chair near the bed and hooking away. unfolded she covers the entire top of the bed and yet I keep stitching – maybe another 6″ of double crochet rounds and I will then call it done.DSC00930

……is this blanket obsession a sign that we are in for another brutilly cold winter?

after all squirrels stash away more nuts in the fall if they think the winter is going to be extremely harsh….maybe my fingers are feeling another cold winter coming. just call me Squirrelly Jo as I hook through my stash.

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when you knit socks there are bits and bobs leftover – fun stripy colors that are too precious to throw away(no matter what my husband says)  . so I squirreled away all the small balls of preciousness that I couldn’t bear to throw out and threw them in a drawer hidden but not forgotten. but these little balls of yarny goodness start to build up and migrated to a nearby closet. but lets face it I only have so much closet space and even less drawer space.

DSC00925well inspiration has hit and I am churning out lighter, smaller granny squares for a second blanket.

my hooky madness has no specific patterns or rules(except use up that leftover yarn before I get buried in it). I crocheted a little basket which I load with 10-15 small balls of yarn and a hook. the basket was just an experiment to see if I could follow a pattern(I can sort of)… it does make everything just a little more portable.

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sometimes I pick out tones that I think will work together other times its just a random pick without looking first. colors I wouldn’t normally combine sometimes work out beautifully other times I look and it is an ugh. but no matter – I don’t pull it out I just go on to the next ball of yarn.

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I have a variety of sizes represented here in my hooky madness. I am not sure of the rules for hooking different sizes together so I am just laying them out and stitching until it looks right. you can see in the center I have stitched hooked together 8 squares just to make sure it will work out. the smallest squares are 1/4 of the size of the medium sized square. the bigger size is maybe a third bigger than the medium

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clearing out my stash little by little …. a yard here and 40 yards there….

this winter when the North wind blows you will find me buried under a pile of blankets instead of a stash of yarn balls. and if you can struggle through the snow drifts and pound on the door I will welcome you to sit by the fire and swaddle you in a wooly soft blanket give you a hot toddy and we can watch the snow flakes outside the window.

 

 

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jack

DSC00875The world you see is just a movie in your mind.
Rocks dont see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you’re already
in heaven now.
That’s the story.
That’s the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they’re
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off. I will try to teach it but it will
be in vain, s’why I’ll
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing
by my woodstove
making pancakes.

Jack Kerouac

Brain Pickings

working on forgiveness and understanding and living in the moment so these words are just what i need at the moment.


 

 

 

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godzilla versus gramma

lurking under my bed growing hungrier  by the minute is a monsterDSC00915

a monster granny
I swear I heard it growling ………FEED ME……..last night

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(ok it might have been Meva she was pretty bitchy last nite)imgres-1honestly I am trying to keep this granny fed but she is insatiable. I am on a quest to find more fuel to keep her happy. I have cleared out 2 closets and under the daybed in my office – sorting through bins of yarn. she refuses all but wool flavors and is persnickety when it comes to color.imgres-2this crochet monster is eating through my stash faster than Japanese beetles are eating the leaves on my grape vinesDSC00907

it all started innocently enough – you know an odd skein here and a leftover ball there – but it quickly has escalated to the point where I am frogging unfinished projects to satisfy her hunger.
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is it hooking itself in the middle of the night when I am not looking????DSC00913

will it smother me in my sleep?????

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am I actually making a house cosy and not a blanket???????

 

ok a bit of an exageration but this blanket is growing by astounding amounts.

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today it stands at 4 1/2 feet by 4 1/2 feet who knows how big it will be tomorrow.  the quest to find more wool to feed it is relentless.   crochet eats up leftover yarn at an astonishing rate and the hook is always starving for more fiber.

today I will clean the spare bedroom and search under bed for those stray balls of yarn that are hiding there while the ‘monster’ lurches in the corner groaning “feed me”.  wish me luck in finding enough yarn to feed this hulking gaint and pray that the monster doesn’t consume me too.

 

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mid-weekending

I feel like this flower – blowing this way and that.

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slowly I am getting back on schedule…… daily walks with my favorite guys…… healthy balanced meals…… 8 hours of sleep and time to sit and do nothing.

the last 2 things are hard for me. I don’t sit and do nothing – there is always something in my hands whether it is my knitting or lately a bit of sewing or maybe that wicked hooky thing-a-ma-bob. and don’t get me started about sleep. but little by little a routine is emerging again. Routine sounds boring and awful but actually it is comforting.

life was so busy and hectic while Mom was in hospice. even when there was down time it wasn’t restful and then it ends and everything feels empty. it takes a while to get back into things. to get used to being home and not rushing around. to focusing on my house and family again.

the best thing for me is our mid-weekends. (these are pictures from last week because I am still trying to catch up ; )

since we are retired we call tues-thurs our mid weekends. it is our quiet time – usually spent at the cabin. and mid-week you will find me outside. maybe in the garden.

DSC00861 or maybe sitting on the pier waiting for a fish to bite. DSC00873mid-week is quiet and calm – the 2 of us plus mutt-puppy. I push myself in the garden and walk up and down the hill several times a day. it is all a jungle right now so much of my time is spent hacking away and trimming to try to tame the borders. I ran out of time in the spring and didn’t sow many seeds but what did get planted is thriving.

so much orange and yellow in the garden right nowDSC00833trying to pick and save all of itDSC00845i have laid it out in the sun to dryDSC00896hoping to save some of this wonderful sunshine to send to my daughter for dyeing projects.

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knit content

 

still lots of yarny things going on here. we took a break and were at the cabin fishing last week. but as the fish weren’t biting I needed some distraction.

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these socks have been traveling about with me for a while. they were unearthed in a pile near my desk. and though one sock was completed they just weren’t calling to me. it could be the yarn I suppose…it just doesn’t show off the pattern well. the faded lavender was part of a barter trade. although my trading partner was supposed to send me undyed fiber she decided to send me sock yarn already dyed and ready to knit. disappointed but determined to use it anyways I cast on this test knit. I finished one sock for the test and then put it away. this shade is so light it looks like an old faded article of clothing like my favorite jeans but purple. it is probable a skein thrown into the dyepot to absorb the last exhaust before dumping the dye. for some reason it reminds me of hydrangea blossoms on their last legs. the yarn is a lovely base and shouldn’t be wasted so I decided to cast on a plain sock. after the 1×1 ribbing my fingers got bored so a simple clock pattern was added on one side.

one sock finished and one to go. I kitchenered the test knit so well I had trouble unweaving the toe –  a snip of the scissors fixed this. instead of completely frogging the sock I am knitting the new sock off the first. it is my walk and knit project right now. I stuff the first sock in my back packet and then with needles in hand walk along the edge of the road with mutt-puppy and Marty…. happily reknitting while the dog sniffs and explores and Marty tells me his plans for the day. it also travels in my backpack for car trips and fishing exhibitions.

I bait the hooks and cast out my line and then pick up my knitting until there is a twitch or nibble. sometimes I catch nothing and thats all right because we talk and bird watch and stitch away the morning. other times those darn fish tease me they wait until I am doing a cable or am 2 sts away from the end of the dp needle and then strike my line and I have to throw down the knitting quickly and pick up my pole and reel in a fish. always a surprise – maybe a crappie or hopefully a perch but sometimes a bull head. then I rebait and pick up my knitting and fix the sts that fell off and stitch and wait for the next strike.

 

have you noticed that the boat has a nice little table in the back to hold my fiber tools as I work. it is all so convenient – cup holders for a coke and for my scissors and extra needles and even a nice measuring  gauge

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in case the sock bores me there is also this hook-y tool to distract and lovely mini skeins of sock yarn. I have a grab bags of left overs that are just too pretty to throw away and too small to be made into much of anything. this grows slowly with one or two squares made a day. with any luck by the end of the year there will be a nice blanket done.

at home there is this large hooky thing that is too big and heavy to lug around. luckily the weather is cooling off and it isn’t too hot to work on. it is just over 4 1/2 feet wide now and still growing. I am not worried about the apparent wonkiness cause I blocked it a while ago and it all straightens out in the wash. 
DSC00897arrg what did you get me addicted to Peg ; )

well there is little knitting going on and rather a lot of crochet along with the quilting.

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sewing memories

DSC00902very close …. just a few more stitches.

DSC00898I took the quilt top to the cabin and used my old treadle machine to quilt the 3 layers.

over all I am happy with this first quilt. I love the pinwheel and the cat blocks we found in my Mom’s stash of fabric. I pieced together a few squares from  material that I found in those bins. blue and yellow is such a cheery combination. the tiny squares are precut packages that I picked up at Ben Franklins as a present for Mom. even though getting into the sewing room and working was out of the question these tiny squares were fun for Mom to look through and lay out on the table in designs.  I also added some embroidered fabric from an old table cloth I found. whoever gets this quilt may be inspired to add some embroidery of their own on the white squares from the table cloth.

I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to do so much round robin knitting with my Mom this past spring – so I thought it would be appropriate to name this a round robin quiltthen I added an applique to the corner. so that the recipient will know that this is a Mom quilt finished together with me.

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while working on this I felt Mom looking over my shoulder – not criticizing just nudging me to slow down and take my time.

there were many stops and starts and a whole lot of pulling out seams to try to straighten out the stitching. finally I had to say enough – there are mistakes and less than perfect corners but it is done.  on to the next baby quilt I have learned a few things that will help and this one will go a little better.

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round robin quilt

binding all ironed and ready to put on a real live quilt.

DSC00824I have been struggling with finishing up quilt projects of my Mom’s. I did sew a few quilts back when my children were little. they were scrappy quilts. my corners were far from perfect but they were warm and colorful…..full of all the odds and ends leftovers from sewing kids clothing.

my Mom’s quilts have perfect corners and beautiful colors. she had a good eye for working out patterns and the perfect shades to add. her quilts were precise and her math all worked out maybe because she was a teacher.

I am a little scattered and hodge podgey. I have been pulling out seams and my gray hair trying to fit together these quilt blocks. I have put away the large pinwheel that Mom was sewing and told myself to start smaller.

so I started working on these odds and ends squares that were leftover from bigger quilts. my sisters and I would like to make 8 quilts from the odds and ends so we can give one to each our siblings. just little blankets that can be used for future grandkids. I made a few simple squares to go with Mom’s squares.

here is the first top ready to be quilted. there are a couple of Mom’s blocks along with some scrappy blocks I sewed together. this first attempt isn’t perfect but that is all right. I will learn as I go.

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MM

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you are my sunshine

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my only sunshine

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you make me happy when skies are gray

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you’ll never know dear how much I love you

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please don’t take my sunshine away

DSC00577my son’s lullaby song when he was a babe…Happy birthday Bud!

thanks to the birds that planted these sunflowers this spring when they knew I couldn’t get it done.

 

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continued hollyhock dyeing

fresh out of the solar jug is a lively purple color which I know will not last.

here is the post where I describe how I dyed the fiber

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after drying I wash with a little soapy water. below is a picture while it is still wet. there is still a lot of purple-y blue and grayish green DSC00728but unfortunately as lovely as this is I don’t trust it. so I let it dry and it is quite a bit lighter. more gray with hints of purple and blue now.DSC00735just to make sure one more wash treating it as I would after I knit a garment. I would hate to treat my dyed fiber too gently and then have the color change after I knit a stranded object. sure enough the water turns light purple after a soak. I swish it around a bit more and then rinse…it changes – the purple completely fades away but there is still some blue and it gets darker. finished and dry it has swirls of bluish green and grays and even some yellow-green areas. it is a little darker than the picture below shows and I love it. I have a stitch pattern sketched out in my notebook and a few ideas floating around in my head.

DSC00742 so after a more normal wash here is my black hollyhock dyed yarn.

440 yards of peruvian wool in a color that reminds me of spruce trees at the cabin.

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raw wool to rolags

DSC00721I have a couple of projects on the wheel right now.  first I have been experimenting with washing and carding raw fiber. this has been hit and miss. of course I didn’t research my project until I was ready to start. but I also didn’t buy a large amount so if it didn’t work out and I hated it I didn’t have much invested other than time. DSC00751 now I had fleece from a couple of different sources. I have 2-8ounce bags of fleece that I bought sight unseen from a store on the internet. the fleece was sold to me as raw with vm which is fine. I don’t mind vegetable matter in my fiber, I really don’t but unfortunately there was more bm than vm in this fleece. so when the package arrived in the mail and Meva and I inspected and then I banished it  to the top shelf in the shed outside. I can’t say I will never buy sight unseen again but it would have to be a really, REALLY good deal. I don’t feel too bad about it though I didn’t  invested much money in the fiber and if it is unspinnable  I can still use as a weed barrier in the garden{but only where Meva cannot dig}.

DSC00750in April I found a bag of yearling fleece at the Spin In in Waukesha. this bag of fleece is amazing it is soft and so clean you would swear it was already scoured. it smells like the soft baby lamb that it is from. just like human babies have that wonderful new baby/talcum smell – healthy happy lambies have a wonderful smell too…… they smell of warm sunshine and freshly mown hay and wildflowers ….. and lanolin….{maybe just a little of the stat fair barn smell too if I am perfectly honest}

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I wondered if I could spin this raw. the answer is I could but and this is a big BUT  it gets your equipment greasy. yes my hands are so soft after working the wool but it is hard to card and don’t even think about using a drum carder. and my wool was turning out stiff and clumpy.

so I carted the yearling fleece & the vm/bm fleece up to the cabin to scour it. we have a big yard that I can make a mess in. I did some of the raw wool outside using the fire to heat my water. while this was not a fail it was time consuming and hot work. I was bending at odd angles and that was not good for my back. and although I have several large pots I use for dyeing I just couldn’t heat enough water fast enough to keep up with the dirt that was washing out. and you know what I have better things to do when I am in the garden.DSC00753

no problem I have a wash tub that drains into the garden and has access to hot water. but I didn’t want wool going into the drain and clogging it. and how hot does the water have to be and how many rinses. this is where the internet is such a huge help. I googled and found answers and then just did it my way.

so the internet suggested heating a kettle of water on the stove and adding it to your hot tap water. too much extra work and my tap water is pretty hot at the cabin. as far as containing the locks and keeping them from going down the drain. I read this wonderful tutorial —- but I was at the cabin and didn’t want to run to the store and buy netting and then sew it into pockets and then sew them shut after loading fleece into them. so I kicked myself for not researching before hand and then thought well I do have 2 mesh onion bags that I could use.

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so I did. as far as soap I used dawn but then decided  my old reliable suave shampoo would work and smell pretty good so I used that. I did a couple of batches with the mesh onion bags and then saw the metal rinse basket above the slop sink. you have probable seen these at the thrift store. I have a couple I use for picking and then rinsing produce. I loaded the wool in one of these and then lowered it into a pan of hot water with soap, let soak – then lifted up and down to get some good sudsing action.  I thought the yearling fleece was pretty clean but  the brown soapy water told me other wise.  still it was  cleaner than the 2 bags of fleece I purchased through the mail. after I plunged up and down in the soapy water for a while I switched to a pan of hot water to rinse. I lifted the wire basket up and down for a while and watched the water get less sudsy and run clear – at which time I gently squeezed out the water. then took the wire basket out side and dumped and spread it out on the patio  table. the only flaw in the metal basket is evident as I do this a tiny bit of the fiber gets stuck in the wire but it is easy to pull out.

now my the table on the deck is wonderful for drying and blocking – it is a wire mesh so the air flows under, over and through for quick drying times. the wool must be fairly clean because Meva was no longer fascinated with it. I can still see locks in the yearling fleece and I still can feel some of that wonderful lanolin in it but it doesn’t feel greasy anymore.

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the dried fiber comes home again to card.  I decided not to flick the locks before putting them on the drum carder. instead I gently tease the locks apart with my fingers and add them in a thin layer to the trough of the carder. and slowly turn the crank. the thin layer is important you don’t want to force the handle or have the machine binding up. slowly and steadily I add more fiber. the fiber on the smaller intake wheel is too short to spin so that I put in a reserve pile to go into felting projects. the longer fiber on the big wheel I pull off and separate into smaller chunks and run it through the carder 2 more times. next I make a rolag and take it to the wheel and spin a sample of 35 yards Navajo ply. it is lovely sturdy wonderful yarn from scratch. it feels soft as I run my fingers over the twists. I can picture mittens or a lovely vest for me to wear this winter. I lift the yarn to my nose and I can still smell the little lamb and picture her and her siblings frollicking in a field of grass and wildflowers while their mamas patiently graze nearby. DSC00763now I know all these pictures are of my carding if there is any interest I can take pictures when we go back to the cabin of the process but I think there are other blogs with spinners with more experience than me that show how to scour wool.

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black hollyhocks

DSC00587I love these deep maroon blossoms some are so dark they look black at certain times of the day. unfortunately the Japanese beetle loves them too as you can see by the holey leaves. but even though there are some holey leaves I am not seeing as many of the bright green beetles as I have other years. maybe those nematodes helped.DSC00695I like to dye with black hollyhocks but the first few times I tried were unsuccessful so a couple of years ago I hit on the idea of solar dyeing. when the color still refused to adher to the fiber I started adding vinegar to the mix and I finally had success.  a couple of weeks ago I was driving to town on a Wens. and happened upon these large black jugs. I quickly snatched them out of the garbage to use for solar dyeing. the 1st black jug is filled with black blossoms and the second has cosmos blossoms. and you can see the vibrant color my fiber has absorbed. now the orange cosmos flowers had just warm water added to the jug and a threw a skein of alum mordanted yarn in and left the jug in the sun for a day.  the hollyhock jug is blossoms with a half vinegar and half water mix that has been sitting in the garden for 2 weeks. that just will sit for several weeks and I will keep adding blossoms as they bloom  and then switching skeins of yarn when I am at the cabin. the water gets rather slimy but it all washes out when I rinse the yarn.

DSC00682so here is some yarn fresh out of the jug. it was in the jug for a day. it is a wonderful purple hue but I don’t expect it to stay that color. I let the fiber dry out in the yard before I rinse it.

DSC00726I start with sudsy water. for the suds I use cheap suave shampoo. the fiber has lightened but is still purple but again I am 95% sure it will not stay that way. It looks like it will end up being a light bluish gray with green highlights. by the way it is really hard to get a good picture of the color but I will try to get a picture when the yarn is fully rinsed and dry.DSC00681now about my hollyhocks …I have traded for seeds with other natural dyers on ravelry. I have some new seeds from England that are very very black. I have some double fluffy flowers and then some singles.

hollyhocks are easy to grow. they are tolerant of my dry soil. I don’t baby them at all. in the late summer or early spring I will throw some seeds down and I mean literally..I don’t dig them in or  cover them with soil. I will water to encourage them to sprout if I remember. I weed around them as best I can. it takes 2 years to get a flower blossom. although occasionally I will get blooms on the fall started seeds the next summer. I don’t allow any other colored hollyhocks to grow in my garden. I don’t want cross pollination. although if you have the red variety you can use that for dyeing also. the plants are stunning …they are taller than me and produce dozens of flowers on one stalk. I deadhead them and throw the flowers in a jug with vinegar and water. deadheading  keeps the plants in bloom. in the fall I stop deadheading and let the hollyhocks go to seed. last year I collected a large container of seed and then shared them with friends.  the only other maintainence I do isn’t nessecary but I don’t like all the holey leaves so I snip off some of them. or if there is a large leaf shading another plant in my cramped garden bed I will snip it off. hollyhocks love the sun so plant them in a sunny part of the yard.DSC00588my hollyhocks grow in my dye/butterfly garden in a strip along side the driveway. I have another patch started by the road but that won’t bloom till next year.

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no finishes this friday

 

DSC00709it isn’t finished but it is growing. the motions of crochet are so different than knitting and oddly a little addictive. I love how the yarn twists and swings around the hook and in my minds eye my hands look elegant and clever as I make the swirly motions to form the double crochet.

but ……there is always a but isn’t there…… I am neither clever or elegant in my crafting. yesterday I picked this up to add a few sts and discovered a HUGE error.DSC00704not some itty bitty error like the tiny loop that I accidently didn’t pull tight when I formed my stitch. I left this one thinking I can always sew it in and no one will be the wiser.

no this time it is a rather large error. DSC00711look at this corner…at first glance it looks great nice and square.

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but wait this is the starting corner see all those unwoven ends. this is the corner where I have been adding new yarns and starting each round. some how that starting point got lost. it took me a few minutes to find but right there is the culprit. if you look closely where the hook is you can see that instead of making 2 double crochet sts and then joining to the beginning post I hooked over the post and made up a brand new corner. you can see the 3 double crochets then the 3 chain sts and then 3 more double crochets. I know I was probable just swinging my hook around happily making loops and puffing out my chest with pride because I felt so clever and just wizzed past the corner humming my happy song. DSC00715because I am completely delusional I first thought that it would be a good idea to try to reach my hook down into the previous row and pick up a st or two and bridge that corner and make it behave properly. now anyone that crochets is having a good laugh on me cause these hook sts are not submissive. I didn’t even try to take a picture of my fix it because it just wouldn’t work

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knit sts will submit and allow you to reach back a row or two and alter and change the outcome. but these little guys are tough and resolute – firm little knots of fiber that stay put. the only way I can see to fix it is to tink…but again this isn’t knitting so it isn’t tinking – is it? I guess maybe frogging would be the right term. but I ain’t gonna frog 120 double crochet sts and 130 single chain sts.

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nope no way… this can be an unvent…are there unvents in crochet???

instead of stopping and starting in the corner I unvented a corner that will let my blanket spiral out of control.

this is a design feature and it looks great. well maybe not great but it will still be warm and I think it is lovely. besides a good block fixes everything doesn’t it?

 

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venue of vultures

DSC00603this was the scene overhead as we headed out on the lake to fish Monday night. every evening in the summer the vultures circle sailing on the  heat thermals in the sky swooping in large arcs higher and higher until suddenly they disappear from view.

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a group of vultures  flying in this formation  are called a kettle. if you happened upon group of vulture on the ground they would be called a venue,a committee or a volt. a group of vultures feeding is called a wake of vultures.

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although these birds look like specks in the sky they are actually pretty large bird with a wingspan of 6 feet.

as majestic as the vulture looks from a distance when you get a close up look you might reel back in disgust

Turkey Vulture at Morro Rock feeding on dead Western Gull

but they play an important part in our environment. vultures are the garbage men or cleaners – they feed on dead carcasses that otherwise would rot at the side of the road or in the field protecting people and animals from getting sick.

of course I wasn’t thinking about any of that as we headed out on the lake searching for where a school of fish might be…for me this was just a beautiful ballet to entertain us as we waited for a nibble or two.

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hummingbirds

DSC00549this picture would have delighted my Mom.

Mom died June 11 this year. My family and in particular my sisters and I decided we would do everything we could to let Mom stay in her home till the end.

So the 3 of us and my Mom  began a journey. It was hard at times but it also was filled with a simple joys.

The picture above reminds me of the joy we shared. During one of my trips this winter I set out birdfeeders to entertain us as we sat in the living room. I wanted something to watch besides the snowdrifts outside the window that refused to melt. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  we  moved the wicker planters that line the porch to the living room and filled them with plants we found in the store – things like tulips and x-mas cactuses.photo-2 and then as the nursery started getting more of the annuals out we filled the planters with geraniums and annuals that would be planted outside when the weather warmed. we also hung bird feeders and watched the chickadees and woodpeckers outside the windows.

as the weather warmed up I found a hummingbird feeder in the shed. Mom and Dad always had hummingbirds in their garden. but over the years the size of the  garden had shrunk and they stopped putting out the feeders.

Mom didn’t think the hummingbirds would come back. we put a feeder outside her bedroom window along with a basket of petunias that my sister Peg planted and with in a half an hour the first hummingbird arrived.

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Mom greeted each visit with delight and everything would stop as she pointed out the hummingbird and marveled as it fed on the sweet water in the feeder. together we read up on hummingbirds and watched the visitors and quickly realized that the hummingbirds coming to the feeder were females. we rarely saw a male. I know that there must have been males in the area but at least 95% of the time it was females sucking down the sweet juice we mixed up. we never figured out why that was. but we called our hummingbird Ms Frida … because we first saw her come to the window on a Friday and since hummingbird babies are raised solely by their Mommas she is a Ms not a Mrs. That’s right the Papas are MIS – missing in action. look it up if you don’t believe me – in fact just google hummingbirds because these are fun birds to learn about.DSC00545

right up to the end Mom still marveled and was delighted at the little things.

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wip

this is my WIP this week. it is crocheted with 2 strands held together in cool greens and blues. all solitary skeins that are gathering dust in the closet and under the bed. it is a little wonky around the edges but I hope that that will block out. it is super thick and soft. there are some hand-dyed yarns in there and a few hand spuns.

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there are other WIP  but this is the one I can show you. it is kind of weird to be working on this….it is hot here or at least what I call hot. once you get into the mid 70′s or god forbid the 80′s I complain of the heat. so it is kind of weird that I can work on a blanket … it must be all the cool shades.  *my little sister will be proud of me working on my crocheting.

you see my sisters and I are working on a granny stripe blanket together and Peg patiently taught me the pattern while we were in Michigan. I have been terrified that I would forget my lessons and not be able to crochet the stripes when the blanket gets mailed back to me to work on……..so I signed up for a class online with Craftsy. I have been watching the video class and it is helping me to remind how to put the crochet sts I know together. I am pretty confident that I will be able to resume working on the blanket when it is my turn again. I am even thinking that I may be able to read a pattern and try to crochet something else. *yeah I know I am getting a little big for my britches Peg but who knows I might be able to do this.

I don’t think it will ever replace knitting as my passion but I would like to be able to do some of the cute crochet patterns I see on ravelry.DSC00558no reason for this geranium picture other than I thought it looked  old fashioned like my huge granny square. this is a rescued plant from the garden center that looked like it had heat stroke. I don’t know why but this time of year I am draw to plants that look like the x-mas tree in Charlie Brown’s show. pathetic, worn out, old things that are marked down and have no hope of being bought and taken home to be displayed proudly. so I am always thrilled if one of them recover and do anything.

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mutt-puppy

 

DSC00410Meva is a little embarrassed …. while I was at my Mom’s in Michigan  she made the police blotter of the local paper .

DSC00536apparently someone called the police and reported that we were keeping a wolf at our home.

This is wolf…… yeah she doesn’t look aggressive. she is a big fluffy mutt-puppy.DSC00407she is a pretty relaxed – this is her normal pose about 80% of the day.P1010010

she is a people person – she loves to visit with people and greet them. she rarely barks even when dogs bark at her. she is more likely to bark and wag her tail  at people to call to them so they will walk over and pet her. P1010044  when she does bark it is more of a song. it starts out low in the back of her throat and slowly gets louder, gravering until her head is thrown back and her eyes are shut as this beautiful melody emerges.  I do remind myself when she does this that even though I find her singing quite lovely that my neighbors might not agree and I go out and make her stop.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

she has lots of friends in fact I get more calls asking how she is when I am traveling than I get calls for myself. when people don’t see me walking her they get  worried and call me to see if she is feeling ok.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAshe is a winter creature ……. she loves the winter. the first snow fall has her running around chasing snowflakes and rolling in the snow. summer she tolerates  she won’t swim in the lake but loves it if we keep the sprinkler on so she can lay in its spray.

she doesn’t like small yappy dogs. they yip and yap and strain at their leashes jumping at her. she used to tolerate this behavior and even be a little curious about it until one of these small dogs came up to her repeatedly and then bit her in the nose. so now she tolerates it but if a small dog gets too close she silently shows her teeth and they back off.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the police officer that came to the house loved Meva and Meva loved him back. they visited and Meva rolled on her back so he could give her a belly rub. he checked her teeth apparently wolf teeth and dog teeth are different somehow. and then a reporter for the paper found a report written up about Mev and decided it was more interesting then who had a drunk driving ticket or the loud party at so and so’s house Friday night and decided to put Meva into the blotter column much to the amusement of Meva’s friends who stopped by to tease her and give her a pat on the back, a little belly rub and assure her she is the bestest, sweetest, friendliest girl friend ever.

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basket making

DSC00484Tuesday morning right before leaving for the cabin I snapped this picture of the humming babies. Lucky I did the babies have left the nest and are on their own. I suspected this was the case as soon as I arrived home I glanced out the window and saw that the 2 hummingbird feeders on the porch were completely empty. I went out on the deck and looked and saw the nest was completely empty. Well I think I read somewhere that hummingbirds reuse their nest and can raise 2 broods a summer so I will keep my eyes open and see if Mama lays a couple more eggs in this nest.

DSC00504I finished this almost 2 weeks ago when I was on a basket binge. I am so glad that I took this class last winter. It is so much fun to learn a new skill. The best part is the basket doesn’t look like a beginner’s project. I don’t know if this is because the antler that I wove the basket on distracts from all my mistakes but I suspect that is true.

I was going for a particular look with the second basket that I made. I am always watching the fields and seeing what wildflower is in bloom and this time of year the roadsides are covered with daylilies. A tall elegant flower mixed in among the black eyed Susan’s and Queen Anne’s lace. I decided to try to weave the image of the flowers into my basket. DSC00491I think it turned out pretty well. below is a picture of both my baskets and I am so happy with both of them.

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up close in the garden

DSC00367having fun with my camera. up close these leaves look like art.

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this sunflower came up on its own. good thing cause I didn’t have time to plant any seeds.
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a wild poppy left over from last year
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bee balm picked from along side of the road attracts a bee.
DSC00361so far this year I haven’t seen many of these beasties…..for the last couple of years they have been chomping away in my garden. my rasberry patch and the grape vines really suffered. in fact my rasberrys are just a memory now since the beatles ate all there leaves and weakened the plants.

Here is a last closeup… for the past month I have been watching this tiny family.DSC00471I am so lucky Momma built a nest just 15′ from our deck. she sat on the nest through some pretty wicked wind and rain. the babies are getting bigger every day. in fact it is a pretty tight squeeze for every one to fit in the nest now.DSC00455

 

 

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Mid-weekend

 

 

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harvesting color

DSC00347 it was a lovely mid-weekend*. the temp were just right …not scorching hot. and the sky blue with just a few wisps of clouds. I got a whole lot done in the garden or maybe I should be honest and say the overgrown jungle at the cabin. The native plants I planted are growing faster than I can keep up with and are taking over areas of the garden. Now that things are a bit more settled and I won’t be traveling back and forth to Michigan I will be able to tame things in the garden again. Many of the  native plants are ready to pick and dye with. I started some black eyed Susan dye pots while I was working in the garden and left them to soak and will dye with them this week. There is a bumper crop of jewel weed that could be thinned out in the garden bed and I am seeing lots of Queen Anne’s lace in the roadside ditches that could be picked. But with so much to do in my own backyard I settled for picking black hollyhock blossoms and have started a solar jar of dye. DSC00350I started this jar 2 weeks ago and look at the lovely purple hue from only 15 blossoms. DSC00351this week I added more blossoms and topped off the solution in the jar. Now it’s sitting in the garden and being gently heated by the sun.  after filling the jar with blossoms I mix 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water and just keep adding to the jar as more blossoms bloom. once I have a jar full I add wool yarn that has been mordanted with alum. this fermented bath tends to be on the slimy side but the yarn always rinses out nice and soft. DSC00357you may look at this beautiful burgandy flower and the purple tinted water and think that you might get a blue or purple yarn. but instead once the yarn is rinsed and washed it will be either a grayish green with a hint of blue or a lovely spruce green. Natural dyeing always has loads of surprises and the colors can vary from year to year or even during different weeks of the summer. the rainfall and the amount of sunlight and the temperatures can all influence the color that you will get from the dye pot. for me this is part of the fun of natural dyeing – the magic and the mystery of the process. *when you are retired you have a weekend and a mid weekend. it doesn’t mean you have enough time to do everything you want but it does mean I can go to the cabin when most people are at work in the city so it feels less crowded.

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quilting

this project is going slowly it may be a bit over my head. but I am going to try to finish my Mom’s last quilting project. Mom started this quilt last year for my son. she spent a long time trying to find the right material for it. I was always difficult she said to find masculine fabrics.  Mom didn’t finish enough pinwheels for an entire quilt and since I am not a quilter I don’t feel I can make the rest of the blocks. so I had the idea that I would piece together some of it and then tilt some of the squares like they were spinning off to the sides. DSC00322I really don’t know what I am doing and have to experiment a lot. after stepping back and looking at the quilt over all it doesn’t look quite right. there is too much white space on the right side. I guess this is where it helps to photograph the quilt and look.DSC00322I think the lower left block should be tilted instead of straight and that might help. or maybe adding a smaller square of the darker color would do it. or perhaps if I change the position of these 4 blocks to the upper corner of the quiml. or I could sew some smaller pinwheels to add in to the white spaces. But I might have to accept that there will be quite a bit of white space because Mom hadn’t finished enough blocks.

I can still pull it apart and reposition. and believe me I have been doing a lot of that. I think I spend more time ripping it apart than sewing seams. but I do want this to look right. I wonder if ripping out has a special name in quilting in knitting it would be frogging.

well I think that I will take a break from it for a few days and then take a fresh look.

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baby hummers

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July will be a month of finishing for me. I brought home my Mom’s last quilting project. she was making it for my son. she had finished a little over half the blocks before she lost her sewing mojo. DSC00180I quilted some many years ago when my kids were small but I am no way as good a quilter as my Mom was. I don’t feel like I can finish off the blocks as perfectly as she would have so instead I am planning to have the pinwheels scatter and spin out of control over the edge of the quilt. I laid it all out on top of a quilt my Mom finished a few years back and then showed it to Bud. I got a thumbs up so I started to work on sewing it up this week.

another project that has been sitting is my basket. I took a basket class last winter and was able to weave about 1/4 of my basket during the class. the class was fun but I knew I didn’t want to weave on this project in the house since you have to soak the reed and everything gets wet. I pictured sitting outside on the pier dipping my basket into the water as I worked. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAafter doing a little yard work on thursday I got out the supplies and started to weave. it took 2 afternoons but I now have a finished basket and I love it!DSC00219in fact I love it so much that I may start the second on that is in the material bag I brought home from the class. but first there is a pile of mulch that needs to be carted about and spread…..before I can play

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nov. 11, 1927 >>> june 11, 2014

 

 

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tiny mama

back home now.

a little worn out but getting back to normal.

had a quest for dinner last nite. mama hummingbird kept us entertained all evening. and I think one of the eggs hatched too. we saw a tiny little head pop out of the nest.
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