Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Obnoxious Neighbor!

This obnoxious mockingbird sits on the railing all day squawking at the cats, who are asleep on the screened porch. It even gets mad at me for being in the yard-and I dare it to dive bomb me!
I do not tolerate silly birds that are obnoxious! I try to remind this bird that Noodles holds grudges. He has been known to go to bird's roosting nests and kill them at night. The front garden has begun to bloom. The smaller plants are blooming now. This is salvia.

This is lambs ears. A trivia nugget-lambs ears were almost completed wiped out during the Civil War, because it was used as a bandage. So remember if you need a quick band-aid, grab a leaf of lambs ears.

This is the first poppy. And some little unknown flower.

The correopsis is so happy. My little dye plant. I love it. I pop off the heads every other day, and then the next day, this!
I bought a Knit Picks kit for color stranding for my girlfriend to relearn how to do color knitting. She was at first overwhelmed-"I can't understand this stuff at all." Remember I went to her house and showed her how to hold the yarn, how to read the chart, how to do a provisional cast on? Well, she is so proud. She has now done the first 4 rows of 240 stitches each row. She only does 1-2 rows at a time, and then stops to do something else. She is now happy with what she is doing. She is doing what I told her-"Just do it. Don't think about it so much."
I washed a white fleece with my "new" old wringer washer. I noticed that a titmouse was trying to pick some for it's nest. When I mowed this week I found a little bit in the yard, and I guess someone tried to take a lot at a time. Two days ago when I opened the door to the deck, there was a huge wad of wool on the doormat. I wonder where it has been for ten days, and who brought it back? Does the Yarn Harlot need to know that someone brought my wool back to me? One of my friends says probably the cats brought it back and left it on the doorstep. But my cats are always with me or I know where they are most of the time. I have found a bird on the doorstep-but wool?
A yarn shop in a neighboring city is closing. That's one less for our area. It is so sad. I like the woman a lot that had this shop. She seems to have a general plan of where her path is moving, but the shop seems to be so sad. It was pretty picked over by the time I got there for the big sale. I wish her well.
Back to picking my fleece I washed. It is a monstrous job. Have a good week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Little Update!

I thought I would update a little bit on the Lifetime Blanket. I put it on the bed to take the photos. It is the width of the bed.

It will take a while to finish. Although I have been working a lot on it, it is difficult to see the progress.
Two friends came over on Monday to just "chill" out on the screened porch, to knit, to look at patterns, and to visit. They took me out to eat dinner for my birthday. We went to a favorite Thai restaurant in south Fayetteville. It was a delightful day, despite the drizzle and light rain. We did get some wool washed in between rain bouts. When we went to the restaurant there was a double restaurant in the eastern sky. Really pretty.
I haven't been doing a lot in the last coupla days. I did get the weedeater out to try to tidy up some edges and tall weedy places. I actually tore the skin off two fingers trying to get the damn thing started. Then after all that, the damn strings kept going back inside. After fighting for a while, I gave up. I got some of the tallest weeds knocked down, but still have places that need tidying up. I tried to get the push mower started, and gave up after several tries. My hand hurt too bad to keep on fighting that. Today has been overcast, cooler, and drizzle has fallen. That makes things too damp to mess with. At least that's my excuse today.
I guess it's the middle of the week, although it doesn't seem like it. There is nothing on t.v., and I have been reading a lot lately. I am into eating salads, and tonight I had my first piece of watermelon. And it was special-it was yellow watermelon! YUMMM! So now if the warm weather will stay around, maybe my own little melons will start growing. My corn has decided to grow, but not at a great leap. The squash and cucumbers seem to be doing well.
More later. Have a good end to your week.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Birthday Thanks!

Yesterday I was knitting on my Lifetime Blanket. As I finished a little square, I found myself smoothing and "petting" the square to make it fit in with the rest. Or to make it welcome. I am not too sure. But how many times had I seen my grandmother do the same thing? I remembered that I often saw her do this, and I guess it ingrained in my head. I guess it is a learned behavior. Or maybe it is something that a lot of people do unconsciously. I guess this is something to watch for. I know that people love to touch yarn. But this is more of a loving gesture to a finished piece.

As I lay in bed last night I thought about this. I thought of my grandmothers, my great-grandmothers, my grandfather, and the fading memory of my great-grandfather. I had unraveled a sweater to re-purpose the yarn, and I thought of things I had learned from them.

So today I will share a portion of a letter I mailed and emailed to everyone in my family after the death of the last grandmother. I will not explain their names. It is too complicated. My brothers asked me to write an obituary, but I waited until after the memorial service and mailed this to everyone instead. I have only taken a portion to share with you. It is something we can all share together.

As explanation of the last paragraph, my grandmother worked on our fish farm, she raised Tennessee walking horses when she first moved there, she raised parakeets and showed them in bird shows around the country, she had her own lapidary equipment and she made jewelry, she had a tropical fish business in later life in my great-grandmother's living room, and she did all these things so she could make enough money that we could go on trips in the summer and to buy fabric to make everyone's clothes for school. And to buy yarn to knit or crochet. When she was in her early nineties, she crocheted tops on kitchen towels for a friend's church to sell at bazaars. We are not talking about a few-we are talking production work. One of my friend's lately asked me if I still had some of my "Granny Towels". I still have some.

Each of us would look at our past life through the filter of our personal memories and would see different things. Certainly I did not learn to weave, spin, or quilt from Grandma Ease. The things I did learn from her, Big Mama, Darlin, and Julie will gather into the quilt or weaving or sweater I make. I began at age five to learn embroidery from Big Mama. Rather than look at the skills I have now, what did I learn from these women?
Whenever I want to create and make something so special even I am amazed at how gorgeous this is, there is a certain hesitation as “how do I begin to do this?”
So first I have to make a commitment. This leads to trust that I can create and finish something that will be beautiful. I then set a goal, and begin the planning phase of the project. This is the hard part. It is necessary to keep it simple, have a time frame, balance time and accuracy to keep it efficient, prioritize the plan, and get started. This leads to self-discipline. By using quality materials, the right tools, and creating quality work, I build self-esteem. And by being responsible for my own choices and for my own work, I become self-confident. These are all integral parts of who I am inside, my values that are established along the way of my life.
But there are people oriented skills that are learned also. Cooperation, perseverance, and communication play important parts in this formula. Without these skills, one must live in a cave and be a hermit. Life is a testing ground for these values, and once you know what kind of person you want to be, add integrity. It is often thought that all good people want to live with integrity. But this is challenged every day by people and situations. One may be tempted to compromise integrity to preserve harmony. But if integrity itself has a higher reward - being at peace with yourself- is it worth it? In your life you must know who you are, and you must communicate this through words and actions.
And what I learned mostly from Darlin, my father’s grandmother, is “Enjoy Life and Celebrate Life Every Day”. Celebrate your accomplishments and feel proud of yourself. Quality work should always be honored, and this will motivate you to keep doing the right things. Life is too short not to be happy and have fun!
So with these four women as role models, remember that their lives were not
“glamorous” or “romantic” in any way. They were women who lived through hard times, through prejudice, through struggles, through adversities that we will never experience. They taught me other things to sustain me today- to simplify my life and live with less. I have to admit I love my yarns, my wool, and my yardage, but I have pared my life to a simple statement of “me”.
The one thing that you have learned from Grandma Ease over the years is “Do
All Things With Love”. She lived her whole life giving out love. Every bucket of minnows she carried, every bird she owned, every rock she used for jewelry, every garment she sewed, every seed she planted in her gardens, every sweater she made, every tropical fish she sold, every towel she crocheted, everything she did was with Love.
So in honor of all our grandmothers, live good lives filled with love, honor, and integrity. Each of you is unique and valuable in this world. Lock in the good times, and celebrate Life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Who Are These Crazy People?

Have you ever wondered what spinners, weavers, fiber people do for fun?

Our spinning guild sponsored The Annual Sheep to Shawl event. Since it really isn't a true competition, it is just a Fun Event. This year there were four teams-YEAH!- and when I got there late, people were spinning away on all kinds of spinning wheels. There was one weaver per team, and as soon as they could get a skein of two-ply yarn, the weavers starting weaving a scarf. I carded wool so the spinners could concentrate on spinning.
After eating-or stuffing oneself - chicken and dumplings, chili, or soup, a variety of salads and fruit, and lots of goodie stuff, everyone seemed to just mellow out. There was lots of milling around, purchasing stuff from each other, talking and chatting, and the weavers were weaving.

This is a voodoo lily! I spent the day at CJ's house yesterday, and her husband, AE, grows all kinds of lilies. This variety gives off a scent of dead meat to attract flies to pollinate. It was working.

I was staring inside this thing, and all I can see is the possibility of perhaps a crocheted sculptural form.

Doesn't this look like a shape to be crocheted? Does to me.
Today being the first warm, sunny day in ages, I got out and fertilized all the plants I could. It is beginning to look like a bed of weeds in the front flower garden. I cannot tell what is weed and what is flower, except for the obvious things like grass. My corn is not growing very fast, but perhaps this warm spell will take care of that. The potatoes look okay. The grass will need to be mowed this week again. I put a load of clothes out on the clothesline. There is very little wind. If the weather stays this way tomorrow, I am going to wash some fleece.
So hope your weekend was a good one. I think I can say a bunch of us had a good time Saturday. CJ and I just vegged out yesterday and took a walk, knit a little bit, cleaned the kitchen, and just putzed around. We talked a lot about weaving. A good down-day from the chaos of Saturday.

Friday, May 15, 2009

DagNabIt! Stay Out of the Flower Bed!

I was so generous to my friendly groundhog. Since he/she was living here before I bought the house, I decided he/she could just meander around the yard eating and stuffing it's face. Yesterday I even put some old carrots out in the back lot where the edge of the high grass lives. Then I noticed that the tops of two sunflower plants had been nipped off. Then last night at dusk I looked out, and sure enough-Fatso- was climbing into the flower bed in front and chewing away. Well-how do you keep them out?

And when my friend OS was visiting with her friend from Minnesota, there were two roadrunners up on top of the shed in back. They just seemed to be staring towards the house the whole time. I haven't seen them since. But today, one of the roadrunners ran out of the flower bed, across the little bit of grass, and disappeared into the ravine.

So now the ravine is the repository of all creatures great and small. I am sure there must be snakes, too. Unless the roadrunner is keeping them at bay.

Sigh! So much for having a nice beautiful flower bed.

The spinach has just about breathed its last breath. This rain has been overly much for it to handle. The lettuce is thriving with the wet weather, but it is not very tasty. The potatoes look a little bit leggy.

I got high behind the last two days and have been working madly on the Lifetime Blanket. My friend SH came by the other day to learn how to cover a clothes hanger. After showing her that, I showed her the sweater I am making for the new baby. Her grandchild. When she saw the blanket, she picked it up and made lots of good comments- until she said, "I certainly hope you live long enough to finish this thing!" Ouch! So yes, everything else has been set aside for a little bit. I find it very satisfying to make these little squares. I like picking the colors, and I like that I am actually finishing a square. Although the big picture is not completed, the little ones are.

I am madly washing rugs and comforters today. We are having a nice, sunny, WINDY day. So out on the line to get dry before the next rain tonight. We have had rain nearly every day since April 27. Just two or three days in between-like today.

Well-have a nice weekend. Keep the needles going, even if its a little project.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kudos for Northwest Arkansas Weaving Guild

In 1986 19 weavers from the guild made this coverlet. One of the weavers injured her arm during the time of the weaving, and she cross stitched the name of the weaver and the pattern name for identification on the back. Someone else finished her woven piece.
Twenty-three years later, this coverlet was completed after two years of work. There were only 14 weavers for this one. It is quite a bit smaller, but oh! so lovely. One of the members even made a booklet to accompany the coverlet to identify the pattern and weaver. What is so striking is the smaller patterns do not show up far away, but up close they are stunning! This coverlet also has a Blooming Leaf of Arkansas square, and that is so appropriate. Another member wove the outside band in one long strip, and another sewed it to the coverlet like a binding on a quilt with mitered corners. Another person wove the bands in between in a double weave-white on the front and blue on the back. A long-awaited labor of love.
Yesterday was a must-clean day for me. I decided to finally sort through all the papers I have been saving and not sorting and putting in a big ole pile. I first cleaned out the file cabinet. That was a load to the burn barrel there. Then I transferred all the patterns I had in file folders in a milk crate into the top file drawer. After another trip to the burn barrel, I started putting personal files in the bottom drawer. Then I started sorting through piles on the floor. It was a chore that was long overdue.
I also put some skeins out on the yarn blocker to dry. I washed three pairs of winter woolly handknit socks and left on the deck to dry. It is time to put socks away for the season. I had already stored hats and gloves, but delayed the socks because it is still chilly.
Today I have been sewing on a quilt that is cut and ready to sew. I love, love, love the fabric, and it is the inspiration for a color-theme for the guest room. I want to see how the top looks after I piece it before selecting colors for the walls.
I have also been working on the Lifetime Blanket. It is soothing to me to knit these little squares that grow and I love the colors of the thing. It is so scrappy. It is "mac-and-cheese and mashed potatoes with gravy" soothing. Just comforting.
Speaking of comforting. Noodles likes the box that I am recycling. It was full of "stuff" I sorted through yesterday. Wednesday it is gone to the waste management site, but today it is a cute place to spread out.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Think It's Friday!

May your bobbin always be full! ~Author Unknown

I think it's Friday. All week I have had difficulty with knowing what day of the week it is. Tuesday felt like Friday, so Wednesday felt like Saturday. I went to the Spinning Guild meeting with CE and her mother, and her mother said it felt like a Saturday to her too. She woke up thinking she would have breakfast delivered by the church that delivers a Saturday meal to her. As you can see, there is no distaff. I don't know what the extra hole is for. Someone suggested a water container for spinning linen. ??? I know they look like little hearts, but I think they are tulips. There are three cuts on the top.
This maiden is intact. The far maiden has the very top part broken off. The bobbin is half broken, but there is one intact side with hooks. The bobbin is fine.

The wheel has two little dots of green above the red (?) tulip. The spokes are painted, as you can see.

And here she is! Isn't she darling? It is so tiny. I am loving it every time I see it. She just needs someone to care for her.
A #6 aluminum needle has been known to furnish an excellent emergency shearpin for an outboard motor. ~Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yesterday was a most frustrating day. Three-yes, three-trips to Lowes and hardware stores resulted in my insane madness showing through. I finally went to City Lumber, and the man treated me as if I was intelligent and could do what I need to do. It is very frustrating to find men who think that I am nuts, and why can't I just hire someone to do what I need to do? I just need to get the damn wringer washer rewired. I started to splice a heavy cord to the one already there. But the original cord is very brittle and not really safe. It is not grounded, for one thing. I talked to my neighbor this morning, and he gave me some tips.
I also have got to figure out how to get a hose to the drain. I am very frustrated with that too. It appears to me that there is a pipe coming down from the hole that just needs a fitting that will allow me to hook up an old garden hose. It is an old hose that I can cut to length, etc. First I bought one that was not the right size. Then I bought one to the size I measured for the umpteenth time. It would not thread onto the damn pipe. So now I am in the mood to just buy a 1" diameter hose or tubing and clamp the sucker to the pipe. That should do it. It is a simpler solution than the wiring thing is.
It was such a glorious day yesterday. Warm, humid, sunny! Guess what? It's raining again. It's suppose to rain until Monday! SIGH!
I guess I am out of options for new ideas. This is a post of stupid complaints. I have so much to be thankful for, and I am happy that we are getting the rain we need. The beans, squash and corn are up and running. The garden is happy now. So go forth to your gardens this weekend and be thankful that Spring is such a wonderful season.
God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Look! It's The Sun!

We have had rain everyday for nine/ten days. It is tedious. It is more than tedious.

So what do I do today? I couldn't stand it. I mowed the yard. I put a load of clothes on the clothesline. I sat on the deck and knitted while I grilled some dinner. I picked lettuce and spinach for my neighbors. It was glorious! The sun is back. At least for one day. More rain forecast tomorrow.

Today is First Wednesday social group for our Spinning Guild. We had a good visit time. The barn at the meeting place is finished with repairs. It was fun.

Last week I went to Jasper to see my friend. We had such a good time. I left on Wednesday afternoon, and CF cooked a frozen pizza, fixed a salad, and we just vegged out. Thursday she fixed a HUGE real breakfast, and we went to the nearest large town to thrift store shop. We went to perhaps 4-maybe 5- thrift stores. I was able to find two pairs of pants and four tops.
I also found a wonderful little spinning wheel in a junk shop. It was precious or charming or something. We also shopped in a Bent and Dent Shop-a Mennonite grocery that buys discarded canned goods and other stuff from groceries. I am talking really cheap stuff. It was fun. Then we went to another junk store in the small town near CF, and I found an electric wringer washer-a real antique- that really works. I got it for washing wool. You have to fill up the tub, and it drains out the bottom. This is much better than lifting it from tub to tub to rewash or rinse.

CF is having some difficulty with the colorwork kit I sent to her. It is a little daunting, I admit, but I showed her how to cast on, how to hold two yarns, and how to read the chart. I also gave her little tips of how to manage the balls of yarn. At least she doesn't have to steek. She did not understand why she was having to put on a provisional cast on. I explained three different ways, and I think she understands it. I told her to quit "left-braining" it. It will make sense once she starts knitting on it. I also showed her how to put a copy of the chart on a magnetic board to make it easier to follow. I think she is ready to try it.

I am still putzing along with my summer top, I laid aside my Surprise Jacket, I am also knitting a February baby sweater for my friend's daughter. I feel like I am just spinning my wheels. I am also moving into that "no knitting" zone that I get into when the weather turns nice outside. I usually reserve summer for washcloths or socks. I am reading up a storm. I guess it is just the cycle.

A friend of mine is having a heart cath Friday. I may have to go there to be with her, but I have notified others in the city that could be there if need be. It is just a little worrisome.

And my friend OS from California has been having some difficulty with her mother-who is 99 y.o. She has several broken bones, and has been in the hospital and skilled nursing facility. She did not even make it home 24 hours before going back to the hospital.

So my thoughts and prayers have been sent to both my friends. It is beyond anything else I can do for them.

I guess that's about it for the week. I did get high behind and vacuum really well, and I cleaned the carpet in the living room(knitting room) and the hallway. Of course, one of the cats threw up along the hallway and into the bedroom while I was away at the spinning meeting today. God forbid that anything look nice for longer than 12 hours!

I will remember to show pics of the little wheel next posting. I promise. It is darling. Just trying to find her name now.