Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks...

This day reminds us of all the blessings that we have in our lives. No matter our hardships, there is something wonderful that we have been blessed with from God. I believe that there are angels in my life (whether human or spiritual or both) who keep an eye out for me and help me continue to enjoy a very good life. I have nothing to complain about, and am disheartened when I hear people complain about petty things when they have even more to be grateful for than I do. I always try to be good and kind, and helpful. It must be my Girl Scout background and parent's positive influence. I want to thank everyone who sent me a comment about my last post, as each note became a hug for me in the healing process. Although most of you are total strangers to me, your words can soften hurt, bring encouragement and add extra smiles to my day. You are appreciated!!!
Our turkey is in the oven and I am planning to enjoy a relaxing day filled with butt sitting and crafting time that I seldom have the opportunity to enjoy. I finished the binding on my cabin mat a little while ago, and can happily say that I have completed a project! I find that if I am doing a project where I have selected the pattern and colors, I put more care into it and scrutinize each color and placement. Possibly too much analysis can go into a rug and take away from the enjoyment of the creation. With this mat I was not terribly choosy as many of the colors had been selected for me. But it looks nice by our hearth and is just the right size. I am about to begin some ornaments today, as well as a small project for a swap. Tha pumpkin penny rug shown on this post is one of my favorite mats I have made. It is a pattern by Karyn Lord and was easy to make with just two stitches. I had to remove it from my table as I have so many food items there now, but later today when things are cleared it will be my centerpiece again. Each year I usually find a few people who do not have "family" to share their day with and invite them to join us for the day. But this Thanksgiving everyone seemed to have a place for a meal so today will be just the two of us. That is good. The grandaughters will invade this weekend and help take care of the leftovers, and I hope to continue knitting lessons with them. They always bring their yarn and needles when they visit. Time to put another log in the woodstove, baste the turkey and peel some vegetables. I hope you all have a safe, warm and love filled day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pawprints on my Heart...

Many years ago I was tasked to bring a donation of pet food to a local shelter. While there, a small cat spotted me and her eyes demanded that I be attentive to her. Her purr caught my was as loud as a lawnmower. To make a long story short...I brought her home and she became Tiggy Kat. She acted more like a dog than a cat and would follow me as I went about my daily tasks. Always curious, she would check out anything new and could sense any new object in the house. Within a short time she would be taking a nap on the object. She has had an amazing way of getting into high places, and liked to sleep on top of our refrigerator. She thought our barn was her private playspace and she would explore for hours looking for mice, chipmunks, bats and even a skunk or two.
I always liked her facial markings and she liked to pose to have her picture taken. Last Christmas she found my newly hooked mat within minutes and checked it out for a napping space. In the Spring she became ill and stopped eating, and I thought I would lose her. But after visits to the vet and several weeks of attentive care she was back to her usual self. I even learned to give a cat an IV, which can be quite a challenge but she seemed to know I was trying to help her. She became strong again and has had a great time this summer exploring our acres of land and climbing trees and our stone wall. Her amazing purr could always be heard no matter what she was doing.
As the cold weather has set in she has become weaker and weaker, and for the past few days I knew the end was near for her. She has spent many hours snuggling in my arms, and lost her purr because she was so weak with age. She headed for the Rainbow Bridge while curled in my lap as I read. She was twenty one years old. She was quite a lady, and an honorable cat who lived a very good life. I'll miss you terribly Tiggs...and I'll see you someday on the other side of the Rainbow bridge. I know you'll be there waiting for me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My rug hooking vacation...

I have just enjoyed a fabulous vacation! My travels began with a business trip to Newport, Rhode Island. That was work, but I enjoy traveling so it was also fun. I was home for one day and headed to Shelburne, Vermont for the Hooked in the Mountains rug show for 5 days. I stayed at the Comfort Suites, and my room was clean and huge! I was able to spread wool all over the room in short order in order to choose what to bring to class the next day. My class with Jule Marie Smith was fun and we all enjoyed her warm personality and talent. She is a good teacher for color planning a rug, and we all learned a lot. Some people chose too challenge her with monochromatic black and white rugs. The rug she made for our "Once upon a time" theme is at the top of this posting. I wish you could see the amazing number of colors Julie put into the skin's quite a rainbow and very large. You may be able to click on any of the pictures in my posts and see a close up view. We were also able to see the textile display at the museum while there. You can see some of the photo's of the hooked rug exhibit and a few from the museum in the slideshow at the top right of my blog. I just loved the old hatboxes that they had on display. I visited with some internet friends while at the show, and it's always nice to get together with friends for dinner and some crafting time in the hooking room.
Upon returning from Shelburne, I didn't even unpack my suitcase and headed to Alfred Maine for the 3 day "hook-in" held each spring and fall. It is a relaxing time with about 50 women (and one token man) hooking, chatting and eating. The location was formerly a Shaker village, and we were able to view their small Shaker museum. I will keep today's written post short as I haven't been home much for almost two weeks and I need to do laundry and other things before I head back to work tomorrow. But hopefully you will enjoy the pictures that follow from the wonderful "in process" projects from the hook in.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted...

Did you???

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bleeding (wool) for Halloween!!!

On Halloween afternoon I decided to use some of my wools that I call "bleeders" and see if I could create some new colors. After all, I live in an area where we have never had one trick or treater as the houses are too far apart. I always buy some chocolate (just in case) and end up eating it. Using bleeder wool is nice because there is no dye involved! Anyone can do it! In this picture I have gathered blues and purples. Some I know will bleed their colors when you get them wet. The dark purple in front is a 100% wool long purple coat (size 24) from a yard sale. I don't know if it will bleed out it's color or not. Next is a purple 100% wool blanket (bleeder, yard sale). The heather fabric is part wool, the next blue fabric is unknown and the bright blue is 100% wool from a rug braider, also a bleeder. I once used a bleeder sweater, and the fulled sweater was then cut up for ornaments. Once again I will give my disclaimer...I play and experiment with wool and colors. I'm sure there are many places on the web to get "proper" lessons. But in my blog I am merely sharing some of the things that I do...whether right or wrong.

In this picture the front dark red is 100% wool from a coat. The second is mostly wool and I know it is a heavy bleeder. The third is a gray unknown fabric with a wonderful fuzzy texture, probably part wool. The green is a known bleeder too, although 100% wool.I want to make rolls with my fabrics, and can use either 2 or 3 pieces in each roll. I used three, with the lightest color in the middle and using at least one known bleeder fabric in each roll. I started by tearing my fabric into rectangles that were about the same size, for me it was 10" X 18". I wet them for a short time with liquid dish detergent so the inside piece would soak up the dye better. Wring them out, lay them flat and roll them up loosely. You want the water to be able to penetrate the layers so roll loosely. Wrinkles in your rolls will cause horizontal lines or color, which can be wonderful for hooked rug wool. Here is the purple bleeder, blue bleeder and gray unknown fuzzy fabric.I use any kind of string or twine to loosly tie the rolls so that they will not come apart. Loose is important, because if you tie the thread tightly the color will not get under the thread and you will end up with light lines on the outside piece of fabric. I usually toss quite a few yards of string into the pot with the wool as it will also lightly pick up color that will match the wool. Since I like to make penny rugs, this thin string comes in handy for thread. I tie it off in 4 places so it doesn't tangle.I then place my damp rolls into my pot so they are covered with water. Someone asked me about my water as she does not have luck dying wool. I have an artesian well, and the water has a high lead content but nothing added like you might find in town water. I'm sure the chlorine used in town water might make a difference, but perhaps a positive difference. You never know. I could have used more water in this pot but I used tongs to turn the rolls over once in awhile so they would stay wet. As soon as the rolls go into the pot you can see the bleeder colors start to bleed and color the water. I simmer them for 1/2 hour, then add a few pieces of light or white wool to the mix to absorb some of the color in the water. Then I add a strong glug of vinegar and simmer another 15 minutes until the water is pretty clear. I turn off the stove and let it sit overnight to let everything blend. The next morning the wool is cooled and it's time for the exciting part. The revealing of the rolls is so much fun as you really have no idea what you are going to have! This is expecially true when you are using some unknown fabrics like I am using. I place the rolls in my sink and snip the strings. After I have them unrolled I rinse them well in cool water and put them in my washer: hot wash, cool rinse, hot dryer.At the same time I was doing the rolls, I had a pot of reds and purples going on the stove (not rolled). I had a lot of wool in the pot so the fabrics would touch each other and cause mottling. Again I tossed in a few light wools near the end of the simmering process to soak up leftover color in the water. This is what I had when I dumped the water out of the pot. Here is the result after the wools have been dried. The colors have blended and they would all work well together in a project. The blues picked up a wonderful rasberry cast, and have the mottled look I like. You can see the horizontal lines from the rolls where the color bled into some areas more than others. I'm pleased! Another wonderful thing about bleeding wool is that you will have two sided fabric when finished. One side of the fabric will pick up more color than the other, or more mottling, so each side of a piece will be different.

The reds in the pot bled a lot more than the blue that was in with them, but the blue gave a tinge of purple to the mix with some gentle splotching. The actual blue fabric did not pick up any of the red color and did not change color . Great rasberry colors!I will save the green bleeder wool for another day. And as you can see, my old antique sink is still white after being used many times for both dying with dyes and bleeder wools. If you have been afraid of playing with dye, using bleeder wools is an easy way to get started. And of course here's Tiggy, supervising but half asleep in a sun spot! Now it's time to stop playing with wool and rake some leaves. Have a great woolie day!