fo on friday

for a change I actually have a finished object on friday. DSC01645last knit I finished knitting the cuff on the second sock and wove in the dangling ends and promptly put them on my feet. brand new – never worn – hand knit socks are the best thing ever. warm and soft and hugging your foot just right – they make even the gray dismal weather we are having cheery.

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more cheery-ness is the blanket that I am standing on. ok it isn’t finished but it is cheery and bright and it is so grey and damp outside that we need a little cheery in Okauchee. the blanket is made from all the left over sock yarns cleaned out of my stash. I couldn’t bear to throw it away and it really needed to be cleared out so it is growing into a blanket.

last night after finishing my sock I started ends in. no matter how much time I spend weaving in those dangle-ly ends there are still more to do. DSC01652I wove for an hour and a half while watching tv and there are still hundreds of ends to do. it really is a never ending job. I have started to try to crochet the ends in as I go but every time I sit down and thread my darning needle and work at the ends I never seem to make any headway.

I don’t care though — I love this blanket and I love crocheting the little squares and knowing how beautiful this will look I certainly can weave in those ends. DSC01646and look DSC01654

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cold

weather predictions according to woolie caterpillar
DSC01530don’t know if the caterpillar is right but I saw snow this morning.

get the woolies ready

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Folded and ready for the sock drawer. image
These are comfy thick socks. They are a plain ole pattern – easy for walking and knitting at the same time.
And these are my new project for walking the dog
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Kind of plain until you see the unusual construction
image I started these a long time ago and then they wandered into exile (which is the bins under the bed in the spare room). I have been trying to purge some stash and finish some projects. So I grabbed this half finished, strange sock and settled down to finish it once and for all.
When I was getting ready to travel to Michigan last spring and a knitting group friend asked if I would show her how to knit my night and day socks. She had the cuff done and was about to embark on my weirdo heel and couldn’t wrap her head around it. I showed Patty how to put a waste line in for the heel and she could happily continue on to the toe and I figured I would be back by the time she was ready to try the heels.
When I got back I needed to show her the after thought heel and all I had going was this toe up sock. So I quickly knit a second toe on the sock turning it into something that looks like a maxi pad YEW!!
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Maybe a better comparison would be an insole insert for a shoe…….yes that is much better. So I took the insert and met Patty for a knit session. Using the 2 toed insert I cut a stitch and started picking up sts to my needles and then knit the cuff. While she unraveled her afterthought and turned it into a heel.
I like after the fact heels. They are no nonsense and straight forward. I like them because they are knit just like my toes and are mirror images. I like this toe and heel so much that I knit more cuff down socks then toe up socks these days. I like that you can put in a waste yarn line and easily pull it out when you are ready to knit the heel. But it isn’t hard to knit a plain tube sock and then measure a person’s foot and cut the yarn to add the heel.
Now I don’t think a 2 toed sock pattern is going to catch on any time soon but it was a fun experiment. The sock itself is very plain because that is what I needed at the time just plain ole knitting without thinking stockinette giving me plenty of time to think of more important things like taking care of Mom. Knitting on it now is relaxing and I don’t have to think about the pattern which makes it a nice knit and walk the dog project. Also a nice knit and watch tv project.

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no FO’s here

when I read other blogs fridays are FO days however these days I seem to be more about WIPs so my picture this morning is WIPs again.DSC01451my excuse (if I need an excuse) for having 3 different socks on the needles at a time is that some how I misplaced the finished plain ole sock (variegated blue and gold in the lower corner)…….without the first sock I finished how could I know when to start the sweet tomato heel. I searched high and low. I knew it was in my bag wens. but where it went to I just couldn’t figure  out. so wens. evening I made granny squares all the while muttering under my breath about what happened to the sock. actually I didn’t mind too much because I like making squares. thursday I searched a bit more  because even though I am not wild about the colors the first sock fit so nicely and the wool is thick, warm and soft. besides it just bugs me that in the space of an afternoon I  misplaced that sock.

I couldn’t find the sock anywhere but I did manage to find a Kroy jacquard patterned sock I started last spring and then abandoned to finish hats that were in Mom’s stash. a perfectly good sock but still not exactly what I want to work on.

in the end it seemed like a lot more fun to just start a new sock. with new yarn that I dyed 2 weeks ago.

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so I got out some colored pens and modified a chart that I  purchased. not bothering to swatch I just cast on what seemed like an appropriate number of sts and started to knit. after an hour I decided to give up on the first toe. the lighter color isn’t a strong enough contrast to the orange.  so I started a new toe with an undyed white for my second yarn and now I am happy with it. it is a little hard to make out what I am knitting I think but when I have more done you should be able to tell what it is.

of course if I flip it over you probable can guess when you see these sweet little paw prints.DSC01459 so these will be my tv watching project and the Kroy patterned socks will be my walking project.

but wouldn’t you know this morning while stripping the bed and getting laundry out of the closet to wash I found the first plain ole sock of blue and gold ….. only an inch to knit and then I can start the heel. so I think it will be the Kroy sock for the morning walk. and the plain ole sock for the afternoon walk and any errants where I am a passenger in the car. maybe – just maybe by next friday I can show off one or two pair of finished socks.

 

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wip wens

wip or work in progressDSC01428my sock drawer. the weather has gotten cool enough that socks are part of the wardrobe lately. 2 pair that I finished have been gifted and a couple more added to the drawer. might have to move to a bigger drawer or give away more.

DSC01424new socks have a sweet tomato heel. one got finished last night and the second is on the needles now. but more about the picture.

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this Hummel is the one ‘precious’ I brought home from Mom’s cottage this summer. this Hummel had been in my Mom’s house since I was a little girl. Mom had quite a few Hummels that my Nana had brought back when she went to Europe. there were 4 Hummels that stuck out in my mind. because Nana had picked them out for the 4 oldest kids in our family. (the youngers weren’t left out on purpose they just weren’t born yet) this is the Hummel she picked out for me. I have always loved it and it was the one thing I really wanted from the house. sure there were other things but this one meant so much – like Nana really knew me.

even though I didn’t pick up needles till later some how she knew this little knick-knack was me all wrapped in a ball of yarn.

the other thing I brought home was a  medalion. it was in a box of broken religious artifacts. I lost my religion years ago but I decided to take this anyways. I tell myself it may be Nana Jo’s.  and it could be – it is very old and worn and I know that Nana wore something similar. but that is besides the point –  I wear it everyday because I am a wip. it is a reminder to be patient and to forgive and maybe most important to forget. I am still working on it especially the forgive and forget part. it isn’t easy not to frog and obsess about the past. letting go of angry and bad feelings is hard. I work on it and most of the time I am like the little girl knitting and chirping away but still ….. well lets just say there is a lot beneath the surface.

I am slowly returning to my toys here are a few just waiting for some eyes and noses. I am just loving the sunny orange from the cosmos flowers in my garden. it truly adds the color that is missing outside my window on this cold grey rainy day. DSC01426

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wip wens.

DSC01405we woke up early yesterday anticipating a special day. there was an eclipse so it was as if nature was celebrating too.  as I watched  the moon and clicked a couple of photos an owl called out before taking off for the woods to slumber. what a wonderful start to the day.DSC01409yesterday I spent a little time just sitting and relaxing on the pier. I am close to being finished with this pair of socks. the pattern is my plain old sock recipe with an old lace pattern inserted to stave off boredom as I knit the cuff.

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but my mind wanders so much that even that wasn’t keeping my attention so I began to play with the yo’s and the decreases to see how reversing them alters the pattern and ended up with  a swirly, wavy cuff. 6 more rows and I start the ribbing on the second sock so there is a good chance these will be on my feet tomorrow.  the socks are far from perfect because I am so distracted but no matter they fit and will keep my feet warm.  DSC01388we saw a few snowflakes on Monday morning but nothing is sticking to the ground yet.  the mornings are cold enough that you need a winter jacket and gloves while walking the dog but if the sun is out the afternoon can be pleasant enough to work outside in just a jacket.

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sock blankie

it starts with a couple of chain stitches with yarn leftover from Bud’s socks ………DSC01296

some double crochet sts and suddenly a square is born…………….

DSC01300a few more and suddenly you are over run with grannies

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can you tell how I am hooked on this color madness? it is very addictive to sit with my bag of tiny balls of leftovers – turning the throwaways  into something warm and cuddly. so far it is 3 foot by 5 foot and growing.

although I thought some of the leftovers were questionable I can’t find one square that the color-mix clashes. it seems like the more outrageously bright the yarn is the better. really where else are you going to see red, green, purple and orange getting along so well.
I am still enjoying the process but and this is a big BUT…..

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BUT …. those dangling ends.  once you get past all the gorgeous colors you start to notice all the hanging threads.  and there are a lot of them hanging about. I should have been crocheting over them as I added each new color but that is part of the learning curve so I am trying different ways of weaving the ends in as I go. so far I don’t have a method I love but I will keep trying out new ways of taking care of the ends as I go.   but there are still a tons of ends on the squares already done that need to be woven in. so the new theory is if I weave in 10 threads each time before  I  make a new square the ends will be taken care of in no time at all.

I really need to finish this soon rather than later…there is snow in the forecast.

SNOW and I am halfway through a pair of socks. I just found a pair of mittens that are done but the matching hat that I started last March still needs to be finished. the sweater I planned in my head exists only in my mind and not on the needles. this morning I needed gloves and a winter coat to stay warm on the morning walk. I just am not ready yet.

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stockings

DSC01284I have knit so many socks I could probable knit a sock in my sleep…well not really but I certainly could knit a sock in a dark room while watching a movie.

this morning I was knitting my current sock while walking the dog. in fact I was knitting and chewing gum while walking mutt-pup.

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sometimes I even read while knitting…socks are my comfort knitting. they get tucked into my purse when I am running errants. they calm me when my husband is driving to the cabin and the traffic is horrendous.  once socks are started it is just round and round until you hit the toe then a little bit of decreasing and some kitchener and voila a finished sock falls from your needles. there is nothing so nice as a hand knit pair of socks as the weather cools off. and there is nothing so special  as being given a pair of socks as a present….all those little sts on tiny needles and you turned a heel just for me….best present ever.

so what happened to the socks in the picture?

just how did I manage to screw these up?

it could have something to do with the fact that I was watching tv while knitting and my ipad was probable open on my lap.  plus I just got a little too big for my britches thinking I could knit and not pay attention. DSC01289there is no way that I am willing to undo all those sts to fix this heel. these socks are for my son who wears a size 10 shoe – it is a lot of sts to ubdo and reknit. so I put this sock aside until I had some time to think through a fix .

well the fix was easy. first  I threaded a needle with  matching yarn and duplicate stitched along the row of sts before cutting my wayward, goofed up stitch. then I left the yarn and darning needle threaded and ready….cut the misplaced stitch…… picked up the knitting needles and knit my afterthought heel just like I normally would. once the heel was knit and the final 8 sts were kitchenered I picked up the darning needle again and darned a little more above and below my screw up to strengthen the spot.

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and unless I point it out to my son he will never know how I screwed up this pair of socks. and even more importantly he will continue to think I am a genius.

now if only I could figure out how this happened in the first place and what knitting Goddess I offended so it doesn’t happen again.DSC01283ps because I never learn my lesson I fixed these socks while watching the Packers beat the Bears and drinking a rum and coke. thank goodness I didn’t attempt this fix the week before when the Lions trounced the Packers … who knows what might have happened.

 

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indigo blues

besides reworking a failed sock last week I kept busy cleaning up the garden. fall is just around the corner.

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the garden at the cabin has become an overgrown jungle the past 3 summers. instead of tending to the garden we were tending illnesses. slowly I am reclaiming the garden beds and trimming out branches and vines. while I was unable to do much planting this spring because I was in Michigan what I did plant in the dye garden grew beautifully.

 

DSC01278the cosmos is abundant and every week I look forward to pulling in the drive and seeing the masses of cheery yellow and orange blossoms. and every week I am out there picking off those cheery flowers to throw in the dye pot. I also froze some of the orange flowers  and dried them too.

dyeing with cosmos is super easy. I just pick the flowers and throw them in a pot and cover with water. simmer and add yarn mordanted with alum. no fuss – no muss and in just a few hours I am rewarded with the most gorgeous bright oranges. I love this orange I am going to use some of it straight up for an orange hat and cowl. I will be easy to spot while I am walking this fall. a little more will be used in a stranded project that will be a special present. and some of it will be over dyed with walnut husk because I can never get enough of that wonderful orange-y brown I get.

this is my kind of dyeing…easy and unmeasured. I throw things in the pot and heat them up to see what happens. or even easier I pick and then put it into a solar jar and leave the jar to sit in the garden and heat up.

there are times when I wish I had the patience for a more scientific approach which you need to work with some plants like indigo and woad. when working with indigo you need to follow a strict regiment to get those awesome blues. sure I can and have bought a kit and managed to get the blues. but I have never achieved blues from the plants in my garden. twice I did get the dye pot to the  blue point but failed when the blue washed out of the yarn.

well this year I grew 15 indigo plants…my sister Peg supplied the seed and she also gave me some extra plants she started. the plants she started were bigger than mine and actually have flower buds now.

my plants were smaller but still produced some leaves. so last week I picked the leaves and followed a  recipe on the internet. this recipe was more my style – no measuring or heating to an exact temp.

I took an old tupperware bowl and filled it with chilled water and then added a glug of vinegar. I placed the bowl on the ground and proceeded to strip indigo leaves off my plants. I tore the leaves up as I picked and put them in the chilled water right away.

since I don’t have a blender I used my pruning shears to cut up the leaves a little more. then you just let the bowl sit for an hour.  after an hour you strain the leaves out saving the water in a bowl. then add more chilled water to the first bowl.  the water had just a faint blue tinge to it so I thought I had another failure but I added the wool to the bowl anyways and wandered off into the garden to do a little pruning.

when I stumbled out of the bushes about an hour later to my surprise the wool had turned a very pretty robin egg blue. the directions said to leave the wool in the water for a half hour then to dry for 2 days then rinse. so I hung it to dry and added yarn in the second bowl of water and  a little later I had 2 skeins of robin egg blue yarn. the skeins of yarn started to look more turquoise when I hung them to dry.

DSC01277but the big test is washing and rinsing the yarn. is the blue going to stick or is it all going to wash out when I add some soap and water?

DSC01275after 2 days I rinsed one of the skeins with a mild shampoo and the blue stuck. well to be honest the color shifted slightly and is a little more green than blue.  but it is still lovely so I count this as a win and I will be growing more indigo next year.

the only disappointment with this method is it is not as magical as the traditional method. when you use the traditional method you add the fiber and when you take it out it is a little yellowish and then as the fiber is exposed to the air it magically turns blue right before your eyes. you have to be careful how long you leave fiber in the dye pot because it can turn a very intense blue very quickly. with this method there isn’t that moment of oxidation and the blue/green that I got isn’t very intense.

but this is so much easier than  having to heat the dye water in a double boiler and watch the temps carefully. and beat the mixture, then add a chemical to take out the oxygen and then watch the yarn turn blue only to have all the blue run out when the yarn was washed and hung to dry. this is more my style of dyeing and I am pretty excited with this shade.

DSC01276the skein on the right is washed and rinsed — the skein on the left is not. there is a subtle difference between the 2 skeins. next year I think I will blend the dye water and that should release more pigment into the water and maybe I will get a darker colorunnamed-1

http://blog.design-seeds.com/2014/09/28/todays-word-38/

 

 

 

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problems in paradise

DSC01283last week was ready to finish a pair of socks and after pulling out my fore thought thread was simple flabbergasted to find this. can you see it???? there in the middle of my easy-peasy knit a hundred times with out a lick of trouble was a problem. look closer…..

DSC01284I have no idea how this happened. being me there is no way that these socks will go to the frog pile to be started over. but being me I hid my head in the sand and just started fresh on thisDSC01285and worked a little more on thatDSC01286while thinking about the best way to fix the wayward socks without losing all that work.

proving once again when the going gets tough some knitters just grab a different set of needles and pretty yarn from the stash and start fresh

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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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