Thursday, May 31, 2012

Orange Ruffles

I promised to talk a little bit more about this skirt, which I volunteered to test sew for Kim.


Really, it has so many problems. But I learned how to do ruffles, and the bottom ruffle is actually pretty good. The top and middle ruffles were sewn on in what I was calling "ruffle sandwiches." So, the middle ruffle was gathered and pinned to the top of the middle skirt piece, then the bottom of the top piece was pinned, and you sew through all three layers at once. With the top ruffle, the sandwich included the waistband. I think if you look very closely you can see an extra bit of stitching below the waistband, over the ruffle, on the left of the skirt. The waistband shifted while I was sewing the sandwich, and I didn't catch the folded-under edge on the inside. The elastic doesn't sit quite perfectly either, because of the waistband shifting. And the ruffles are a little crooked in spots.

So what did I learn? Ruffles aren't that hard, but I'm probably fine with one ruffle on a skirt, and no sandwiches. This is the first time I used an attached waistband instead of just creating a casing, and I think it's more trouble than it's worth for a little girl's skirt, especially when ruffle sandwiches are involved. (But now I've done it.) I think my feedback helped the pattern designer; I hope so anyway. I know she made some changes based on everybody's feedback. (You can buy the final version of this pattern here.)

It's definitely the most involved skirt I've ever made for my daughter, and it's her favorite color, and the imperfections aren't going to be visible on a moving three-year-old. (Also, my thread color matches really well. That was smart.) Speaking of thread, this pattern used so much. I'm not sure why I'm so thread stingy; it's pretty inexpensive, even if my machine only likes Mettler and will puke thread if I try anything else. I hate running out in the middle of a project though, and having to stop and wind another bobbin. Between the basting stitches for the ruffles and all the edges that needed zig-zagging...it's a good thing I stopped and bought an extra spool of orange thread! (I might be thread-insecure because I can only find Mettler at one local shop, and it's not open on Sundays or Mondays...)

Final verdict? Achingly cute skirt, imperfections and all. I did two new things (the ruffles and the waistband), and I like confronting something that intimidates me. Now, ruffles will be a choice, not something I avoid because I think they're too hard. I can now take any simple skirt and put a ruffle on it. (I knew I could.) And what fun to get to test out a pattern for someone--it was complete impulse to offer, but I'm glad I did.

Is there something crafty-wise that's intimidating you? What would happen if you tried it anyway?

Linking up with the brave and creative folks here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Something For My Moos

Once you get Mini Moo cards, of course you want to make a little case so you can carry some around with you.


This is made from cork leather, which was part of an order from Agulha Nรฃo Pica, the shop of Gabi, who writes the Portuguese stitchery columns for Feeling Stitchy. I have a small and precious piece of it. It's already soft on the inside, so I didn't need to line it, just sew it. My crooked stitches are proof of my inexperience with sewing this new material.


But I still think it's just the perfect little carrying case for my sweet little Moos. That's just a simple adhesive Velcro tab, cut in half--I felt that would be the closure that would wear on the cork leather the least.


Gabi explains what cork leather is here. I already knew Portugal was a big producer of cork (the biggest, apparently) because when my husband went there for a conference, he came back with a a little blank book for me, with covers of cork leather. It would be so lovely to have enough of this to use in book binding. Maybe in the future.... meanwhile, I have the rest of my original small piece. Wonder what else I'll make with it?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

To-Do To Done

My to-do list is so big and so deep and so tall...and so eclectic, and containing some curious choices, considering. But bit by bit, I'm clearing my way through.


Something I wanted to get to before heading up to Squam...making my own bug spray. (My daughter helped--I'm sure you can see her touch with the letter placement?) I made a half-recipe (because that's the size bottle I had) of the Bug Stay-Away in The Rhythm of Family, except I substituted lavender oil for the lemongrass oil, both because I already had lavender and because that's the recipe of this bug spray that lots of people recommended in the Squam group on Ravelry. So this has essential oils of lavender, citronella, and eucalyptus. I'll let you know how it works!

Friday night my oldest and I ran errands after dinner to pick up some supplies (and presents) for his brother's birthday, which is coming up. While we were out, I bought some things for my trip.


I realized I have nothing waterproof for my feet except for my winter boots, which, while I love them, they're probably a bit much. So just in case it rains and the camp turns to puddles and mud, I now have rain boots. Actually, I have waterproof "garden boots," found in the gardening section at Target and half the price of their waterproof "rain boots." I'm thinking about painting black circles and faces on them, so they match my daughter's ladybug rain boots. I picked up a headlamp (for walking on dark trails and/or knitting in poor light in the evening) and a beach towel too. I actually don't have a beach towel--I've always just borrowed the kids' as necessary, to cut down on things to bring. But since it won't be raining (because I'm bringing rain boots, of course), I figured I can spread that towel out on the dock and relax in the sun.


Major item off my list...and I will post more on this skirt later in the week.


Winter woolens, soaking--and even more impressive is that I scrubbed that utility sink, which was filthy with paint and who-know-what-all else, I mean scrubbed, so that I could clean the kids' hats and mittens before packing them away, and then give my favorite spring cardigan a wash before I leave (because it's coming with me).

My to-do list, by the way, is one of those that doesn't actually result in an impressively clean house before guests arrive for a party (in two days). What can I say? At least the woolens will be clean.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Honoring My Crafting Needs

I am a selfish crafter. Not because I don't make things for other people--quite the contrary, I make things for other people all the time. But because, for the most part, I only make what I want to make. I don't need to worry about what color might be trending next year or whether I have enough items to stock a shop or for craft fair season or whether foxes are the new owls (or is the other way 'round? I can't keep that straight). I just make what I please and what I need to make--not "need" in terms of the finished product but "need" in terms of soothing my soul.

I've noticed this month that all I really want to do is sew and knit. Possibly this is because it's Truly Spring, and it's a good time of year to sew skirts for me and my daughter, and that knitting pattern I chose to try and finish for Squam is very spring-like, too. But I think it's more than that. I think, in this very chaotic and anxiety-inducing month that May has become for us, I am instinctively turning to the very basic acts of making something serviceable out of nothing more than cloth and thread, yarn and loop.

Yarn through loop, over and over, until a sweater emerges.
I wasn't consciously thinking these thoughts when I began sewing my daughter's skirts, of course. I just thought, It's time to sew a skirt. And then another. And now I'm working on another.


It's just a pile of orange at the moment, but it's supposed to end up as an a-line ruffle skirt. Kim posted in the Ravelry sewing group that she was looking for test sewists for a pattern she is planning to sell, and I volunteered. I think the sole reason I volunteered is because I have always avoided ruffles; they look complicated and difficult. And I know if I've promised someone that I'll make this, I'll deal with my ruffle intimidation. (My sister, who can sew anything, told me ruffles deserve their pain-in-the-butt reputation and the way to deal with ruffle fear is to not make any. But I'd already committed by that point.) I'm supposed to have this done by Saturday, but all I've done is cut. I decided the sewing will have to wait until my husband is home, because I am so tired by the time evening comes when he's away. (Yup, he's gone again, but he's coming home late tonight.)

So I cut the pieces earlier in the week, after my younger two kids were in bed but my oldest was still up. Instead of reading his book or playing his DS, he decided to hang out with me while I traced and cut. He didn't want me to be all by myself--even though, if his dad had been home, he'd have been upstairs with him and I'd have been by myself anyway. It was very sweet, and he asked about the rotary cutter and why my clear ruler had lines on it and what a selvedge was and he marveled over the disappearing fabric marker--no doubt pondering its possible applications in the spy trade. I thoroughly enjoyed having his company while I worked.

While I was rummaging around in the fabric stash for something my daughter would like for the ruffle skirt, I came upon this.


There's three yards of it, and it's part of what I gathered from my mother's sewing room after she died. I didn't sew at the time, although I felt it coming (I bought a sewing machine just over a year later, eight months pregnant with my youngest). So I've had this fabric nearly five years, and I have no idea how long my mother had it before that. It was still folded up from the store, with the cutting tag stapled on. It's a big, all-over-the-place pattern, isn't it? I want to make a long, a-line, drawstring skirt out of it, hopefully before I leave for New Hampshire.

I know I'll be coming back to embroidery soon...I had my camera out at the playground today, wondering if I could capture, with fabric and floss, the sensation of being enclosed by the big tree that the kids call a fort. And I have lots of mixed media/painting in the future in the form of a class and a workshop. But for now, I follow my desire to cut and sew and press, to run yarn through my fingers and around my needles, to make exactly what I feel I must, something out of nothing, comfort out of cloth and string.

And because I couldn't walk by the delicate veins of the iris petal, the softly clinging raindrops, without taking a photo, I will share it with you. I hope you are crafting some soul happiness, too.


Shared with my creative space...

Monday, May 21, 2012

May Check-In

The irises have begun to bloom.
Remember how my goal this month was to remember to breathe? Well the kid-stressy thing that was originally scheduled to be over and done with by Mother's Day was rescheduled and then rescheduled again, and is now at the very end of the month. So my original plan of thinking about the rest of May once that was over and done with obviously had to be abandoned. I realized this at about 11:30 last Thursday night, like this: Oh, we can't wait to plan details of X's birthday party until after Y, because now it's two days BEFORE Y. Oh no. We have to plan it RIGHT NOW RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Do you realize Memorial Day weekend is NEXT WEEKEND??

Deep breath...these smell like grape.
So maybe right then I wasn't breathing too well... in general though, I've been making sure to spend time outside, listening to the birds. We have a stream, too, that you can't see through the scrubby but you can hear, especially in the evening. The kids and I have been checking on the phoebe nest. No change in the number of eggs, but she rearranges them a lot. We don't often see her on the nest, though. I think maybe she's incubating them? And she's just very skittish? But we're not sure.

We try to respect her privacy but she did build the nest right under the deck, which we, you know, use. For playing and grilling and sitting in the sun reading a book. She also flies away as soon as I round the corner of the house on my way to fill the bird feeder, which I do every morning around 7 am. It's nice to walk through the wet grass in the quiet morning hush, listening to the birds. I photographed these irises, the first blooms this year, on Sunday morning after filling the feeder.

My favorite of these photos: a top-down view
So I obviously can't wait until the end of the month to start getting ready for Squam, either. My to-do list is random and all in my head (always a dangerous thing). Everybody's bathing suits are sorted out. And I ordered Mini-Moo cards.


I've wanted some since I first heard of them, but couldn't justify them. I don't have an Etsy shop or anything I'd need a business card for. But did you see how inexpensive these are? I decided I wanted something to tuck into packages that I send to Internet friends, and something I could hand out if anyone asks for my contact info. These are so cute, and they have cropped bits of my own work on them. The cuteness and prettiness of these cards is much more satisfying than just writing my email address on a scrap of paper and handing it to someone.

I also decided I needed a backpack. I have a backpack, of course, pre-packed with mostly kid stuff, and it'll be staying home so my husband can just refill as necessary and take it with him. After looking 'round lots of sites, I decided on this Timberland backpack in stone, which was on sale when I ordered it. And then I threw in this slingable tote bag in blue, also on sale, because it also looks supremely useful.

And I finally called the folks at the camp where Squam is held, to talk about my gluten cross-contamination concerns. (That had been on my mental list for...oh, a while.) The food services manager called me back, and the good news is that she seems well-informed on how to avoid cross-contamination on buffet lines and as far as such matters as preparing the gluten-free food before the gluten-containing food. Also good news, she seems willing to work with me in whatever way she can. The not-so-good news is that while breakfast and, often, lunch are being prepared, the baker is in the same small shared kitchen, baking. She told me that the areas only have one exhaust fan and flour is definitely in the air. I really can't safely eat anything prepared where there's flour floating around.

It seems I'm extremely sensitive to cross-contamination. My thought on this is that it forces me to be vigilant. Did you know someone can have celiac and experience no symptoms at all, while all the while their body is attacking itself quietly? My opinion is that it's not safe for anyone with celiac to eat food prepared in a floury kitchen, whether they feel a reaction or not. So I can look on the bright side and say my sensitivity is like the canary in the coal mine, letting me know there's something dangerous going on at a very low threshold. While having this conversation I definitely had to remind myself to breathe. I quietly said, Oh no, I'm not going to eat for five days, am I? But there's a cold kitchen separate from the other kitchen, so as long as I don't mind cold salads and such, which I don't, I should be okay. And I'll be bringing lots of food with me, too. Like I said, they're willing to work with me, and I feel better for having called ahead and not being surprised when I arrive to learn about the simultaneous baking. This way I can come prepared.

And look how far I've finally gotten on Azami, after eleventy-fifteen false starts:

I'm done with the side lace panels and now it's just stockinette for a while, which, one hopes, I won't mess up. After pulling it out the last time--I'd gotten as far as the top tier of the lace panel but I'd forgotten to switch from garter to stockinette--I decided the size I was making, 35.5", looked very big around, so I went down a size but decided to eliminate the waist shaping. My entire shape has changed since I stopped eating gluten and started gaining weight. It's good I'm not underweight anymore, I just have to think a little bit more about what flatters me, since my body is different now. I'm still learning how to outfit this new shape.

So that's a skimming recap of May thus far, because, of course, not all of life is bloggable. How's your month going?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weekend Links

I've really been enjoying Feeling Stitchy's new series on Portuguese embroidery. I'm one-quarter Portuguese--my paternal grandfather was born in the Azores. But I don't have a sense of Portuguese heritage, like I do with Italian (which comprises my other 75%). I never even heard my grandfather speak the language until right before he died. To learn more about the country and its traditions through a craft that I personally love is making me very happy.

Quinn shares some thoughts about what gets in the way and how we react to it.

My daughter just loves this version of Feist's song.

I like this poem, A Prayer for the Capable, so much that I printed out a copy and taped it to my kitchen wall so I can read it whenever necessary.

Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day is May 21--that's this upcoming Monday! I'm not participating this year because hello, I've got enough going on in May for two months, but if you have time to blog hop next week, you might find something wonderful!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dinoskirt

Remember the girl's dinosaur pants? I promised her a skirt, too, when it got warmer. This is the second skirt of the week, made the same way as the first.


She likes it even better than the pink flowery one. The girl loves color--the more, the better, all in the same outfit, please! I love how easy and quick it is to make a skirt for a three-year-old. It's so absolutely satisfying to take a flat piece of fabric, cut a rectangle, and with a bit of sewing and some elastic, have a garment just a short time later. And since this skirt used less than a half-yard of fabric, it cost about a dollar. (Love that bargain loft!)

I'm linking up with the creative folk here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sewn: Simple Girl's Skirt

I've been liking the process posts by Maegan at Madeline Bea. I typically enjoy the process of making (current knitting project excluded; please don't ask), but I don't always take photos of each step, of course. Following her lead--and I hope she doesn't mind!--I was mindful to document the process of making my daughter a new skirt Sunday evening and Monday morning. So here is a photo-heavy post, with a few more words at the very end.












The fabric was $1.99/yard in the bargain loft, and I used the simple skirt tutorial from MADE. While the general rule of thumb is to cut skirt lengths parallel to the selvedge, I wanted to keep the big flower panel complete. It's actually just a bit on bottom of the fabric, but once cut to little girl skirt size, it ends up being the majority of the skirt. Since I had the selvedge at the hem, I just folded it under to make things easier for myself. (If I find it's flipping up later and showing the white edge, I may fold it under and sew it once more, to hide it.)

I do have a picture of my daughter modeling the skirt, but she told me I couldn't use it. As soon as my kids are old enough to ask, I do. So that's why the last photo is of the finished skirt on a hanger.

I decided to post daily photos of the phoebe nest--as long as the weather cooperates and until the phoebe begins to sit--over at G+ here. My profile and those posts are public, so you should be able to see them even if you don't have a G+ profile yourself.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weeekend Blather

This post is kind of all over the place, but I did warn you in the title. First, I finished my headband:

That's the full-on shot of (mostly) all the embroidery, plus some naked toes, because hallelujah for naked toes weather. And here's the artfully arranged shot, using my new(ish) forsythia bush that I bought after turning the car around when I passed the garden center because I just couldn't go another day without my very own forsythia. That's when it was blooming yellow, a month or so ago. Now it's got some new green leaves, so I hope that means it's going to survive despite my plant curse.


There was a catbird nearby chittering at me the whole while, but I didn't get a picture of him. I do have another photo of the phoebe nest. Thursday morning it contained one phoebe egg. Friday morning it contained two phoebe eggs...and one cowbird egg. Cowbirds are nest parasites, which means she lays her eggs in other birds' nests and lets them raise the babies. Unfortunately, the host bird's chicks are often out-competed and die. But wait, it gets better. Friday afternoon, there was only one phoebe egg, and no signs of what happened to the other one.

This is what the nest looks like today, Saturday:






Two cowbird eggs, one phoebe egg. The phoebe doesn't sit on the eggs until she's done laying them. I'm fascinated with all of this! But guess what--when the phoebe began building the nest, she started one down the slat a bit which she then abandoned--perhaps it didn't feel a secure enough spot? The bottom of it is just the wood of the deck slat, and it's not built up as much. But the cowbird laid eggs there too!


These cowbirds just lay 'em wherever they can, I guess. When I looked closely at the photo (which, again, I'm taking by reaching the camera up there and hoping for the best), I noticed the bottom egg looks like it might have a hole in it. It's like Mutual of Omaha, Backyard Version out there. I love it. (Except I'm hoping we get some successfully hatched phoebes, since my kids are watching this unfold, too.)

I want to do the nice thing and wish all the moms a Happy Mother's Day, but I think it's kind of a bogus holiday. I really wanted my kids, and I don't expect them to fall all over themselves thanking me for doing a job I willingly took on, nor do I want them to be all nice one day a year and then become entitled brats, and really I have it pretty darn good all year long and, anyway, I think it's a weird holiday. The first Mother's Day after my first child was born, I felt like I should be doing something for him. You know, Hey! Thanks for making me a mama, kiddo. I still feel that way.

So instead I will just say, I hope y'all have a great weekend, no matter who you are.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Loop'd

Over and over again, I have to learn that I can't control everything, no matter how tightly I clench my jaw and will it to be so. I can't control the badly timed fevers, the lingering coughs, the inevitable decision to delay that which has already caused quite a bit of anticipation anxiety. I've never been very good at going with the flow; the unknown and wiggly and tentative don't fill me with excitement but instead inspire an urge to make orderly lists in tightly controlled, neat printing with a smoothly flowing pen on a crisp page in a brand new notebook. It's not that I can't handle open, unplanned time, or that I always need to be busy--that's not it at all. I just don't like the uncertainty of out of my hands.

I'm trying. I really am. And when I forget, life reminds me. Amy, you gotta relax. Some things, you can't control, so you just gotta let it happen however it's going to happen.

Meanwhile, I've been embroidering those loops, a free-wheeling design drawn with a washable fabric marker on a piece of denim destined to be another headband.

You can click to make this bigger.

It's not done yet. Simple, loopy stitching.

Oh, and the phoebe nest under our deck has one creamy, beautiful egg in it so far. I can peek at it from above, through the deck slats. Later I saw mama phoebe resting in the nest. This makes me so happy I don't even have the words.

Linking up with my creative space, which has a brand-new shiny home.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Like A Fish Out of Water

My challenge to myself for the month of May, which is hectic and contains some stressy bits, is to remember to breathe. But I haven't been doing too well with that; I've been feeling sort of gaspy. Like a fish out of water. So I painted one.


Over the course of a few days, in bits and pieces, which is the way I usually manage to create anything. Isn't that true for everyone, though? We all have to carve our time out. This is on a 12"x12" canvas. I think this is only the second time I've painted on canvas (the first being that little tree). I hand them over to the kids without thinking twice--these are just craft store canvases, not at all expensive--but I don't usually think of them for myself. Well. I wanted a canvas for my fish.

Painting him was fun. In some places, I used my fingers. I got paint on my sweatshirt. I wasn't thinking about breathing, or not breathing, at all.

A few people have asked if I'm beginning to get excited about Squam, which is only a month away. No, not yet. I don't have the head space to think about it yet. I have to get through some Pretty Big Things this month (non-bloggable, which means, usually, kid-related, as it does in this case), and much of my to-do-before-Squam list doesn't actually pertain to Squam. When I get back, the kids will be heading into their last week of school, so I want to make sure everybody's bathing suits are sorted and replaced as necessary so we're ready to head to the beach with no delays. We have a family event the weekend after I return, which means kid outfits have to be tracked down before I leave; a week isn't enough time to order church-suitable clothes that fit my slim boys. And so on.

But I think this is a good thing. I think, for me anyway, it's good to view Squam as the next thing coming up, as part of my life and not something outside of it. It's part of a continuum of things I'm doing for myself, starting with a two-day printmaking/bookbinding workshop last year. I'm just as excited about the two-day mixed media class I'll be taking at RISD at the end of June. And the online workshop I want to take in July. When I get through the hectic bits of May, I can turn my focus towards getting ready for Squam, and when I return, I hope, I won't feel let down that it's over but renewed and looking forward to what comes next.

And now, I'll be getting back to breathing. And making dinner. Wishing you all peaceful weeks, and if that doesn't happen, I wish you a few carved-out times in which to do something that makes you feel less gaspy.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Knitting + Some Birding, Too

{I announced the giveaway winner in that post--congratulations again to Naomi! My son has a fever but as soon as I can get out of the house during the PO's office hours, it'll be on its way!}

Friday night I did some clearing-the-decks knitting, getting the current, almost-done project out of the way so I could start a new one.


I finished the Branching Out mitts from Coastal Knits. I used Cascade 220 for these, which is a worsted weight, not the called-for sport weight, so they're a little off, but I thought they'd be okay, considering the total number of cast on stitches is only two less than what I cast on for my favorite worsted-weight mitt pattern (Evangeline, of course). These are still a little big on, though. (No cables pulling them in, of course.)


And the thumb is funny. Pouchy, almost. But it looks that way in one of the photos in the book, too...I probably should have adjusted it a bit for the heavier yarn...although I think partly it's that the gusset starts right after the cuff, instead of a few rows up, like I'm used to. You know what fits your own hand, you know? But even still, I'm happy enough with these gloves, and I love the purple against the light grey.

I was clearing the decks, of course, so I could begin Azami.


Which I did, Saturday night, several times. Don't ask. I think I've got it now. (ETA: Nope, I frogged it again.) The yarn--I'm using the called-for yarn, Valley Yarns Southwick--is very soft but loses its twist easily and then it's just a bunch of strands. Sigh. I do like wool best for knitting with.

I wasn't the only one making things this weekend. Friday I noticed a bird flying back and forth under our deck. I didn't see anything there when I looked, but Saturday morning I saw some vegetation, by Saturday afternoon it was definitely nest shaped, and this is what it looked like Sunday morning.

The orientation of the photo is funny because I basically just stuck the camera up there and clicked blindly. The nest is built on a crossbeam underneath the edge of the deck. I'm pretty sure it's a phoebe who's building it; I've gotten just glimpses as she flies back and forth, but she looks phoebe-like, and the nest site is consistent. (The rest of this post is about birds, so you can skip it if it's not your thing!)

The birds in our yard are making me so happy. This is the first year I've put out a feeder; the advice in heavy deer tick areas is not to have a bird feeder because it draws mammals into the yard, and they bring ticks. Well, we have ticks in the middle of the grass where they have no business being anyway, plus I hung the feeder off a tree on the edge of the grass, near the scrubby, figuring it would make the birds feel more comfortable if they didn't have to leave the shelter of the trees. The result is that we are seeing more of the birds that we hear every year. If we want an even closer look, we still need binoculars, but this is the first year I've seen, for instance, a red-bellied woodpecker. (No, it's belly isn't red. Don't ask me.) I saw a pair of downy--or maybe hairy, I can't tell them apart at that distance--woodpeckers on the bird-feeder tree, too. The towhees like to walk around at the base of the bird-feeder tree or sit in the branch and sing. And the white-throated sparrows (Oh, Sam peabody peabody peabody!) are at the feeder all the time.

This is in addition to our usuals: titmice, cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, and nuthatches, who visited the feeder all winter, too; the goldfinches have packed away their dull winter feathers and replaced them with their bright yellow ones. They travel in a mob, flitting and chasing each other all over the bushes. Mrs. and Mrs. Cardinal visit the feeder together. The veerys (veer-veer-veer) and woodthrushes (eee-o-lay!) are back, but deep in the scrubby, where I can only hear them, not see them (yet, anyway--maybe I'll see them this year, too!). There's something that sounds maybe like a worm-eating warbler, but I'd like to get a look at it. My younger son likes the teakettle song of the Carolina wren best, and the catbirds are back, mewing away.

I don't know what it is about them--but whenever I'm near a window on that side of the house, I look towards the feeder. It feels pretty special to catch a glimpse of these creatures going about their business and deigning to do so where I can see. When we're waiting outside for the school bus in the morning, the birds provide a raucous, cheerful soundtrack. I don't mind hearing them when I'm still in bed (or the barred owls at night, either, and I'm hoping the whip-poor-will comes back, too, they're so cool to hear at night). The birds are part of why I love where I live, and loving where I live is a big part of who I am and what inspires me.

Do you watch the birds? Do you have any favorites?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Trees Follow Me

{There is still time to enter the giveaway--and be sure to check the comments; some wonderful poems have been shared there!}

Look what Karen sent me, a surprise just-because postcard!



Thanks for the trees, Karen. Perfect.

Remember the little blue canvas from the last post? It was destined for an experiment:



I wanted to try embroidering right on painted canvas. Because of the wooden frame, I could only embroider in the middle, so the buds on the edges are painted on. Here’s the back so you can see what I mean.

Haven't neatened my floss ends yet...
If I used a larger canvas, I’d have more area to work with, but then the French knots wouldn’t be in scale. Like I said, experiment. My mind will churn on this a bit more. Some of the French knots are wobbly, because I had a bandaid on my left thumb. Makes it hard to keep a good tension on the knot! I nicked it Sunday while stamp carving (I know better; I was being stupid) and then the next day I sliced it while opening a can of tomatoes. Whoops.

This is about the extent of my creative output for the beginning of the week, except for some knitting and two patched knees. For the second patch, I attempted to make an iron-on patch using the heat-n-bond. Alas, as I should have anticipated, the short-cut method did not work at all. I hoped it would, as I was patching jeans and it’s hard on the hands to sew through two layers of denim, but seven-year-olds are even harder on the knees of their pants, and the iron-on patch was half off by the time he got home from school. I’ll run it through the laundry and then patch it properly, with needle and thread.

May is hectic around these parts. It usually is, but this year, even more so. My goal for the month is to take one day at a time, breathing all the while. Amidst everything else, I need to lay the groundwork for leaving for five days in early June. With that in mind, I ordered yarn to make Azami, which I hope to bring to Squam to me—finished, preferably, but if not, I’ll work on it there, too. I may shift into more knitting than anything else this month, as it steadies me and helps me remember to breathe, when I might forget.

How is May looking for you?

Lots more creative people here.