Wednesday 30 March 2016

Art Worthy and Foxy

There are some crazy talented people out there. And I'm drawn back to foxes to highlight some of those talents....this will be the last time I write about foxes I promise.  It's just that I spied a fox the other morning on my way to Daughter's; it almost seems serendipitous that I see them.

Littler grandson is just beginning to love Peter Rabbit and to say big Oh No's whenever this fellow appears on the screen.  Mr. Fox.  This version was made by Paula Drage and is totally needle felted.
Her Flickr page is here to see what else this talented lady has made. Such a life -like medium.

Here is another clever project.  This little purse is what one imaginative person, Diana Art, did with Snowflower's Diaries' SAL January pattern.  Click Here to check out her Facebook page showcasing her other interesting pieces. And I love it stitched on a blue background.

And in keeping with a foxy theme...

Helen Richman's fox embroidered on white felt is magnificent.

Helen Richman combines her love for wildlife and embroidering in her work. Helen first draws her design onto tissue paper to tack it onto white felt, with the resultant tacking stitches becoming her guide. She then employs a hand embroidery technique called “silk shading” using stranded cotton threads. Each needle will have one strand and Helen will have up to 10 needles being used at the same time. She then builds up the texture and colour of the fur slowly, creating a few stitches at a time.:

So like the real thing!

I have to show you this photo taken by Chayleigh Arsenault in Prince Edward Island and passed around by CBC.  What a beauty!  But if this is her house, this is a little too close for comfort, I'm thinking.

Look Below

Isn't this beautiful?  It is a knitting pattern called Fox Paws by Xandy Peters and can be found on
Ravelry . This particular piece is from Yarn Harlot.  Stephanie has a wonderful blog, writing about her knitting and all her other adventures.  I've been following her for years and in fact included a free pattern from her in my very first blog post. I loved following her progress with Fox Paws till it became a shawl/scarf ; not only warm but remarkable.  I think it's a work of art.

Image result for fox paws knitting pattern free
foxpawsscarflong 2015-02-06

It is considered an Intermediate level pattern, well beyond my capabilities, but oh wouldn't I love to be able to knit this! Foxy indeed.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Silver Thaw and a Bit of Reading

Freezing rain is a very common weather phenomena here in the Ottawa Valley.  Often there is accumulation of several inches before it changes back to snow or rain.  Only once was I caught out in slippery driving conditions and it was slightly terrifying.  I don't think there is a more sinking feeling than when you realize you have no control of a car while driving.

Someone asked me what ice riming a field was as I mentioned in my last post.  I have several photos on file from 2014 when we woke up one morning to the whole forest around us coated with ice.  I took several photos and this one shows well just what riming is like.  The whole of each pine needle on the tree was encased in ice.  With sun shining it is a spectacular sight.  At home we call it Silver Thaw as this usually occurs when the season is warming and thawing is happening concurrently with freezing temperatures.

 Freezing rain ended and the Easter dinner day, Sunday, was lovely.  Daughter hosted the families with a large roast beef dinner.  Using their homemade noodles, they served an appetizer of pasta with lobster tail sauce. Very special and delicious.  I brought dessert which I will show you soon.  Littler grandson enjoyed his chocolate treats and the attention he got from his aunt, uncles, grandfather and two grandmas.  A typical family gathering for many at Easter time.

Besides the usual laundry, floor moppings, dusting and bringing in wood (yes, we still need fires), I continue to spend happy hours with my sewing machine and constructing more blocks for my Farmer's Wife.  I think I'm a little addicted as I don't really want to stop this project but I am using up all the vintage looking bits of fabric I had on hand.  75 blocks, which was my goal for this quilt, is within reach.

I read this magazine recently, Country Sampler, one of my favourites.

And thought I'd show you a couple of the things I found.

Keepsake cookie cutters.  Walnut Creek will make a mold of your child's hand and engrave their name and date on it as a special momento.

 I know it's not Christmas time, but I loved this wreath featured; the large gingham ribboned bows are really nice.

I finished this book on the weekend.  I've read books on all the First Ladies and several on Jacqueline Kennedy.  I'm totally fascinated by these wives and the kind of marriages they maintained.

I don't think there was really very much that hadn't been already told.  However, it did emphasize how traumatized she was by the assassination and that she probably suffered post traumatic stress for the rest of her life.  Quite likely and sadly.

Monday 28 March 2016

Crocheted Hexagons and 4 Inches of Quilt Blocks

I was so worried about the deer on the weekend.  With several inches of ice coating all the ground, the females who are pregnant this time of year would definitely have a terrible time searching for food.  During various ice storms, I've read how the deer population can actually crash so I know ice rimed fields can be devastating.

Meanwhile I made sure our feeders were full and our little flocks of chickadees, mourning doves, bluejays, juncos, and various finches were well fed. A number of red winged blackbirds joined them at times.  Hubby and I stopped to watch a large bird performing a display in the field one day.  Couldn't tell exactly what it was but it had a wide wing span and stayed in the position for a long time.  I think it may have been a turkey vulture because they have returned as well.

I'm enjoying having a wooly project for the evenings to accompany my t.v. viewing.  These hexagons crochet up quickly and the lovely jewel tones of the colours are cheering.  I've continued with the idea of the little flower centers just to add a bit of interest.  This Biggans Design wool is wonderful and has a different feel from other yarns I've worked with.  The strand feels dense or solid, maybe because it is merino and I'm not used to it.

I now have about 4 inches of Farmer's Wife blocks finished.  Another way of measuring progress!

I will soon have to think about sashing these, GULP.  Not at all my favourite part of the process. My  bad eye for straight lines is at the root of my problem. I can't trust myself to see where I've gone off. I've bought a supply of white Kona fabric for the sashing purpose and when I can get my nerve up to begin.

See how happy these little seed packets look.  It's getting close now.  SOON I will be able to get these started.  The downpours of rain predicted for today will wash that ice away, fingers crossed.

 "As the garden grows, so does the gardener."  

Friday 25 March 2016

Healthy Brownies, Yes There Is Such a Thing

There are so many different ways to eat these days...pure Paleo, almost, and sometimes, Mediterranean, Raw Foods,   I have family members trying to eat 80%  Paleo.  I'm trying to avoid labelling what I'm doing... eating just ingredients, minimal processed food, and keeping meals simple.  But there is a part of me that balks a little at going all the way with this.  Like I had McDonald's last week with Grandson including an ice cream cone.  I lack the ability to adopt a particular diet and eat only that 24/7.  I'm not sure why that is. And no one has to tell me I probably undid 4 days of 'clean' eating with that one Big Mac meal.

But in my own kitchen, I'm pretty consistent with what I cook.
Here is a combination I cook quite often...potatoes and tomatoes with a little onion fried in avocado oil served up with a little balsalmic vinegar.  Simple but tasty.

I know some Paleo purists would not eat potatoes but to fuel my mostly Irish makeup, I have to have my potatoes.

Anyway, back to the Brownies in the title...I came across this link  from  Julie at Knitted Bliss  for 4 ingredient Brownies, which satisfy any number of diets.  Brownies are Hubby's favourites so I gave them a try this week.

                                          Pin Ups and Link Love: 4 ingredient brownies|

They were good, definitely chocolatety and the banana did not completely overwhelm the cocoa.  I would recommend them. Also very moist.

Hubby had his with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and strawberries.

By the way, Julie posts her Link Love and Favourite Pins every Friday and they are always a varied and wonderful collection of things she has found around the net.  Definitely worth checking!

I just came back in from breaking up the ice around the bird feeder and scraping ice off the feeder holes. A very gray and dangerous underfoot Good Friday.

Hope you are not having to tread so cautiously where ever you are today!

Thursday 24 March 2016

From Skin So Rough to Knitters Doing Good in the World

Sunday was the first day of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere. Daughter sent me this on Facebook. She knows this is one of my favourite times of the year with the gardening starting.

Image result for so happy its spring I just wet my plants

Does this happen to you?
 Skin rough enough that your stitching threads get caught.  When I'm cross stitching and using two strands of floss, it sometimes hitches in my skin.  Oh dear, perhaps I shouldn't have admitted that!  It is a reminder that it's time to put some cream on my fingers.

I'm using this one recently and loving it.  Never mind the anti-aging claim which I ignore, it absorbs wonderfully without the greasy feel.  I just have to remember to keep lotioning in between stitching.

Easter is almost here.

Daughter made these with the littler grandson.  Rice crispy cookies shaped into eggs and decorated.  He enjoyed doing the decorating and now they have to be hidden or he wants to eat them all.

Last week I took these photos of him in his lovely Spring/Easter sweater with the two bunnies on the back. This was knit by his great-grandmother before she died.  How special is that!

When we were kids, we all had these Mary Maxim sweaters.  The boys seemed to have deer or dog patterns and the girls had figure skaters, birds or cats.

And speaking of knitting...

There is still good in the world

 and knitters lead the way.

About a hundred people in the Austin, Texas area knit and crocheted wool hats for Syrian refugees arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador.

 A Texas knitting club read about the Syrian refugees being welcomed in Newfoundland and Labrador and decided to knit warm woolen hats ( or tuques as we call them in Canada) for them.  The link to read about how this all came about is here.
Interesting and proves how small the world is becoming.

Winter Storm Advisory

And we can't put away our tuques just yet (as much as we might be dying to do so) and there will be no start to the gardening this week... have a Winter Storm Advisory in effect today thanks to a system working its way up through North America all the way from Texas!
 Snow, freezing rain and high winds...such a delightful mix for a day in spring.  We don't have to go out in it and thankfully one daughter is off today and the other is able to work from home so the family is indoors, not facing driving in these conditions.
 Happy for that at least.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Speaking of Splendid Sampler and a Floral Cross Stitch

I've been faithfully downloading the patterns for both the Snowflower Diaries and Splendid Sampler quilt and filing them in their respective files.

 I'm not sure if you knew the Splendid Sampler blocks, all 100 of them, are being included in a book by Martingale for sale later on.  What a great gift these free designs with multiple tutorials are!

Here is the Splendid Sampler link and here is the Snowflower Diaries Joyful World link.

This is a photo of Pat Sloan with the Samplers' mystery blocks which she hand carried to the offices to be photographed.  Precious cargo indeed.

pat sloan with blocks

It gives me comfort to know my patterns are there waiting for me.  I completed two of the Snowflower Diaries cross stitched patterns before getting a little sidetracked.

Recently I had need of a larger project to carry with me and dug out a kit I had in my stash.  It is a floral bouquet from the Posy Collection featuring a design by President Coolidge's wife, Grace, a very talented needleworker.

I am working on the upper right quarter presently.  This represents about two weeks work and I love the colours in the design.  Lots of raspberry shades that are appealing to me these days.
What a comfort it is to have a little hand work at times when you need to slow your mind and be calm.

At home and using my OttLite which is proving to be all it said it was.  I can't get over how I can now cross stitch at night without completely crossing my eyes.  Why on earth did I wait so long to make that purchase!

Speaking of purchases, I don't think I showed you my Valentine's gift from Hubby.  He often tries to tempt me with bargains and deals he finds online, which I appreciate.  When he spied fabric on sale, he had my attention.  

I've never purchased a collection of fabrics before.  My Farmer's Wife blocks are totally from what fabric I have on hand and I must admit it is a little scanty.  This set is Ambleside by Brenda Riddle.  I have it tucked away for the Splendid Sampler blocks.  Should be interesting.  

Monday 21 March 2016

Do You Ever Do This?

Do you ever do this?

Clean the house and do the chores one day just so the next day can be a guilty free craft day.
 I do that all the time.  Friday I came home from babysitting, put a Delissio Rising Crust pizza in the oven and set to work.  The bathrooms got scrubbed while a load of laundry was running.  The floors got vacuumed while the laundry was in the dryer.  The laundry got folded while we watched Inspector Morse.

I was so efficient (for a change).  Reminded me of my working life days.

Saturday was an icy cold, brilliant sunshine, bluest of skies day.  The dining/sewing room was flooded with light and Jocelyn was there on her sewing seat right after morning coffee. I paused the production line to take the dogs for a walk and to photograph the birds at the feeders.  So much activity there these days I just had to have a watch.
The red winged blackbirds are back; all males scoping out their future nesting spots.  It boggles my mind that they have travelled from the southern United States, a distance of over 800 miles.  I'm more than happy to provide them some sunflower seeds which they have earned!

A note about these particular designs.  I'm using some patterns from the Farmer's Wife 1920's book for my last 25 blocks.  There are mistakes ( known errata as it is termed; hey, we're all human) in the 1930's book patterns...not at all the author's fault.  Apparently it is the publisher who made the errors and they are being corrected for future printings.  But I figure I am challenged enough as it is, LOL.
And I feel very happy with having completed 50 blocks that I really liked from the book all with EPP.

I used my machine to  stitch the blocks with bigger pieces and it felt good to see progress like this...four blocks in one day!!  As much as I love EPP, it is really, really slow.
I finished up at about 4 p.m. in time to think about supper.  Then found I had a sore neck from all the bending.  Oh well, an advil later and I still think my day of stitching was worth it.

Do you remember me talking about finding house shoes that would be comfortable, light, and quiet on wooden floors?  Daughter wears this particular shoe at her work where she is on her feet for shifts and mentioned to me I might find these good too.

They are Sketchers and they are light, comfortable and have soft landings.  Though the soles are a little thick for indoor use, they are otherwise great.  I'm very happy with them.

Winter still clinging here with very cool temperatures but the sun is providing some compensation.

Friday 18 March 2016

Ides of March Fall, Blocks and MadAddam

Ides of March and I was out on the trail with the dogs.  Lower levels of the path had snow turned to ice so I was skirting around the patches carefully avoiding the chance of slipping and falling. Suddenly I caught my foot on a bunch of saplings that had been trimmed low to the ground and I took a hard full body fall.  There is always that brief moment of disbelief when you find yourself lying on the ground; could this be happening sort of feeling. Then immediately the taking inventory of possible injuries.  Relief when you realize nothing seems to be broken.
 Here's what hurt though....right hand thumb, right thigh, left kneecap, right side of face.  Yes, my face.  Apparently I didn't have time to put out my arms and my head brought up short on a clump of old candley snow. I got myself up and continued home, calling to Hubby as soon as I came through the door to come see what I thought for sure would be a series of injuries.   There wasn't a mark on my body.  My face was a little red from being scratched by the frozen snow. That was it.  Two days later and only my knee cap is still hurting.
My main worry, not my face, was my right hand thumb.  Yes, my stitching hand.  It still hurts a little when I bend it but I can sew and crochet fine with it.  WHEW!

What I couldn't get over is how uncaring the dogs were.  They didn't even notice I was lying down on the ground which you'd think would strike them as just a bit odd.  Just kept sniffing whatever. Fat lot of good they were. LOL

Sooo thankful not to be hurt though.

A few more Farmer's Wife Sampler blocks.  Please forgive me if I've shown these already.  I hope I'm not boring you by showing these from time to time.

                                           This one still has papers so looks a bit bumpy.

This is Charlotte number 3.  I've enjoyed making this one and playing around with the design a bit.

Above is my library book, MadAddam by Margaret Atwood.  I enjoy the writing but the story is not one of my favourites.  The characters just have not grabbed me in either book making up the trilogy.  I think your mood is vital to how you react to a book such as this one. I'll blame it on that.  Meanwhile, I must point out that someone before me underlined in ink, certain phrases and sentences throughout the whole book. It really bothered me.  I can't imagine doing that with my own book let alone a library book.
The accompanying cappuccino was delicious though.

From Thankful Me hoping there is lots in your life this weekend to be thankful for too!

Thursday 17 March 2016

Spring and Deer, Flowers and Chicks

Another wildlife mystery photo for you.

Can you spot the deer in this photo?

I have no problem spying wildlife from the car.  However, by the time I pull over, get out the camera and in this case adjust my little SureShot for a close up, said wildlife are suspicious and are on the run. (Which is exactly what they should be!).  I saw four beautiful deer all together but by the time I took the photo they were exiting the scene.

A little cropping at home brought three into focus.  Just like that fox I took, I'm amazed by the camouflage their colours provide for this woodland environment.  Only their white tails give them away.

Such beautiful creatures I don't know how people can shoot at them, but being a meat eater, I don't judge.

I wanted to show you this photo too so you could see the advancement of spring in the fields.  Yes folks, spring is occurring ( as Ness would say on Gavin and Stacy).

The signs are

daytime temperatures above 0 degrees
water dripping from the eaves
Canada geese flying overhead
the air filled with birds singing
farm equipment on the roads
getting too hot outside for my old brown down coat

My indoor plants continue to benefit from the longer daylight hours...

and the new little shoots are growing faster all of a sudden.  I wonder how many new African Violets are waiting in these clusters of leaves.

And for a little spring sewing, how about these cute (and easy) felt Chicks from Sew Lah Tea Dough blog .  They are designed by a clever lady who generously offers a tutorial on how to make them.  Also a great project for the kids.

These are about my speed these days as the Farmer's Wife is sapping all my sewing skills and patience for angles and triangles.


On a tiny sad note, Murphy found a dead ruffed grouse yesterday.  It looked to be in perfect condition so I don't know why it was dead.  I took the time to admire the colours and patterns on its wings and body before placing it back in the woods.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Confusing Crochet

Last weekend, I enjoyed time to just sit, watch Youtube and get on top of the new-to-me crochet block, a hexagon, I had in mind to learn.  I realize this is pretty basic stuff to you wonderful crocheters but for me it involved learning a pattern I'd never tried before.  I found several videos and first completed a granny square hexagon which is still in my comfort zone and seemed easy to catch on to. Not confusing at all.  I just couldn't resist trying several colours of the Biggan Design yarn.

 Then it was on to trying to complete a solid hexagon which is a variation of the block with the stitches organized in a different way. That was what Jane Brocket had used in her afghan which had been my original inspiration.
This video at Yarn Obsession on Youtube was wonderful to follow.  If only I had found it first!

Here was the confusing part.

I looked at several videos plus checked a couple of written patterns.  At first I wasn't catching on and then I realized why.  There is no one set list of instructions for making a solid hexagon.  There are a number of variations with everyone finding the one they like best, I guess. For instance, some patterns have chain 2 between the double crochets, some have chain 3.  Some do not have distinct 'corners' and are more rounded hexagons.  I was trying to take what I liked from each pattern and incorporate it into my own and it got very confusing.

 I did a lot of raveling back before I realized I would have to settle on one pattern and stick with just it.  My goal after all, is to be able to crochet this in front of the t.v. (Yes, a little lazy, I know.)
Think I finally got that mission accomplished.

I do like the idea of a little flower type center so I will be doing that rather than the solid colour center.  What do you think?

I bought enough white yarn to outline each hexagon which would make the colours really pop.  Oh dear, just thought of the eventual joining of these hexagons.  Will it be like the Y seams in quilting...not really fond of those!  Oh well, cross that bridge when I come to it...many months from now.

Monday 14 March 2016

A Photo of Me and My Morris Inspired Acorn

I know I talk a lot about William Morris, the most wonderful designer.  But working on my Morris inspired Acorn by Nicola Jarvis, has made me think about him.
Just look at this...

What do you think of these two main colours together? They are very pleasing to my eye...what would you term them...terra cotta,  pale orange, tans, grays, soft navy blue?  I can picture the most striking quilt made of just the shades present in this one sample.


It would be quite remarkable.  And of course, Morris produced thousands of such designs.

Mary Corbett at Needle and Thread  alerted us to the crewel offerings at The Crewel Work Company a wonderful little place on the net run by Phillipa Turnbull and her daughter, Laura.  Their needlework kits are exquisite and I like the way they have helpfully labelled them by difficulty, Levels 1, 2 and 3.


I just love the expertise that the long and short stitches in the petals of this flower showcase.  It is a section of the kit called Lady Anne's Flowers.

And here is moi showing you my Acorn stitchery.  It is starting to look filled out and in fact, I just have the large 'cup' of the acorn left to embroider.

Is it my imagination, or am I steadily gaining more forehead!  Eek. I'm going to need to stitch myself some hair. Note how I am cleverly holding my cloth to hide the biggest parts of me....namely hips and thighs. lol

Friday 11 March 2016

Tunisian Crochet, Biggan Design and Quilty 365

Sharing again...

This photo of a scarf turned up in the morning's feed.  If I didn't have a few projects started plus a few in the wings(eek), I would certainly be launching into this one.  I also love the wool the clever folks at Purl Soho have paired the pattern with.  Equally cleverly, they always seem to choose an easy pattern for these showcased items, something we can all work out.

This one is done in crochet, Tunisian Stitch.  Beautiful for a scarf and the colours the Alpaca Pure yarn come in are lovely.  I like this Paprika Red colour.  Since my hair has gone white/gray, I seem to be favouring the brighter colours.  Is that something anyone else has noticed?

While at the  PURL SOHO site, check out the pattern for the No-Purl Ribbed Scarf; that's right- no purl in that design.  You hold yarn in front which I think mimics the purl part. Anyway, it looks real easy.

Paprika Red 1160


Speaking of wool, I've received my parcel of wool all the way from Australia.  I'm very happy with the wool, especially the feel and the colours.  This is  Biggan Design and as I was their very first customer in Canada!, they included their colour chart for future reference.

                                                           What pretty shades.

Now my work learn how to crochet a Hexagon block.  I'm going to rely on Youtube for instructions.  I'm like the Little Engine, I think I can, I think I can.

My 'Moon Quilt', as I've come to think of my Quilt 365 effort, is steadily growing.  Some very interesting variations of this project are floating around the net leaving me to think...I wish I'd thought of that, over and over.  People are just so clever and creative.  I admire it all.

I am genuinely using just scraps for this and loving how it can eat them up.

It's very mild outside; eaves are dripping and the snow is taking quite a beating.  Wouldn't it be heavenly to think winter is done for 2016.  But I mustn't dare think that, might jinx things.

This weekend will find me on my stitching sofa in front of Youtube learning that crochet pattern.  I'll let you know how I fare.

Meanwhile, hope there is something interesting to learn during your weekend too.

Thursday 10 March 2016

Words, Flowers, Quilt Block

A solitary fisherman’s home keeps watch on quiet Placentia Bay in Newfoundland, Canada, 1974.Photograph by Sam Abell, National Geographic Creative

This week so far I've stared hard at this photo.  I know to some it would be the very picture of loneliness or isolation or abandonment.  Others might think of other words such as refuge,solitude, rest or even welcome.  This is one of those pictures, I think, that is really worth a thousand words.  What words does it conjure up for you...this fisherman's humble house in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland with the Atlantic Ocean at its door step?

This week I finished this book...


I enjoyed reading this book very much.  Perhaps it was the mood I was in.  A mood that allowed me to love the idea of messaging through flowers, for there is a secret language to be found there.  I loved this young heroine, Victoria.  I wonder was she named for the Victorians who first used flowers to convey their messages of love to each other.  Asters for patience, honeysuckle for devotion, red roses for love and so on.

 Here is a photo of one of my daffodil patches in spring, 2014, NOT right now.

How appropriate that daffodils mean new beginnings.  How much I love seeing them appear each spring.  I can't wait to see them again.  Alas still snow covered for now.

This week I prepped three more blocks for the FWSQ including this one with the unusual name of Pharlemia.

I love this kind of lap work you can achieve while watching t.v.  EPP is really the best when it comes to that requirement.

And speaking of rest and quiet.  You don't have to be isolated to find it.

A most common sight found in my kitchen any afternoon.