Sunday, May 17, 2015

Taking shape

I didn't do a huge amount to my back garden last year because I wanted to see what bloomed when. This year, I'm ready to start tackling it.

This has meant digging out copious numbers and varieties of weeds, which is a never ending task. But today I started on the "Big Clearance" project. Even though there were predictions of all-day storms, it's been a glorious day in my little corner of Central Illinois. 

Step 1. Buy appropriate plants that will attract bees and butterflies and some good ground cover plants. 

Check. Got those last weekend. 

Step 2. Clear out the horrible complex of bulbs. They're so compacted that they don't even really flower much. I've got several areas of compacted bulbs that need to be cleared out. 

The first area of attack is about 4x3ft. Out of that small section, I filled 2 heaping wheel barrow loads. Not a little wheel barrow, either. 

That's one load.

One area cleared. 


Next, add good garden soil and mix into area. 


And finally add the plants. 
Two different types of lavender, which really seems to like other similar areas in my yard, some Columbines, milkweed , some sage and several other things. 

Getting an area that looked like this:
And make it look like this:
Is very satisfying although very hard work. No telling how long those bulbs had been growing and they didn't want to go!

But I will get them prepared to give away so others can enjoy them. I may even transplant some of them in other sections of the yard. But in a way that will make both me and them happier. 

Friday, May 1, 2015


Spring is about all things becoming new again. In the spirit of spring, last night I found this.
It's a metal box I got one Christmas that I found was generally perfect for tatting projects - long enough for crochet hook and deep enough to hold most balls of cotton and sturdy enough to protect the shuttle. 

Inside I found a tatted doily project is forgotten about. 

That's the pattern and this is how far is gotten.

Fourth round. The second round was the hardest and I don't have far to go so now it's a new project that's on my list for this weekend. Now that I've got the split rings thing down, it will go soooo much faster.

That gives me simply 3 projects for the weekend. 
1.  Tatted doily 
2.  Bobbin lace miniature flower for necklace

(Magnified view - I'm now in the second half of the 3rd flower). Working with yellow Gutermann's silk thread. So yummy, I can't even tell you.
3.  First installment of Rohn Strong's mystery knitalong shawl where I'll have to make my mind up between a 2-ply merino/angora handspun in white (I have 300+ yds but will need to spin more) or a single-ply Blue Faced Leicestet spun from a gorgeous Frabjous Fibers roving in reds/oranges

Hard choice to make. I may just have to do 2 of them!

Monday, April 27, 2015

I like subtle

Out of the Robyn Spady weaving workshop, I picked 2 of the samples I like best and decided to weave enough for a little bag.

The sample was using my overshot threading and a swivel treadling that I found fascinating. With this pattern, which uses 2 colors for the weft (in my case, blue and natural - the same color as my warp) you make the pattern by alternating the shuttle with the blue and the suttee with the natural. However when you start with the natural first, you get a different but similar pattern. 

Here's what I mean:
I love how the pattern changes so I did the front of the bag with blue first, then added a basic twill treadling for the bottom and the white first pattern for the back. I finished off with a couple of different twill variations for the front flap. 
The flap looks wider because I haven't done the lining yet. Once I do the hem around he flap and the handle, it'll all work. 

Here's a better look at the patterning in the flap. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Braided Tatting

Yesterday on Facebook I saw photos of a couple of projects made with strands of 'split ring' tatting that just fascinated me. 

One was a bracelet made with 2 different color strands woven together. Since I'm on a mini-tatting spree I had to try it. 

First things first, though.  A refresher course on making a split ring. All that means is that instead of using a single thread and working the ring all the way around, you use 2 shuttles wound continuously and work part of the ring wi the main shuttle (making the flip like you would normally do) and then you work the other section of the ring with the second shuttle (without making the flip - in other words, the foundation thread remains the thread from the first shuttle). You also work it forming the stitches backwards. It sounds way more complicated than it really is. It's not beginner stuff but it's not that hard when you get the gist of it. 

What you end up with is something like this…
You get a cool textural effect that then becomes your palette to use size of rings and color combinations to make all sorts of cool things. I want to try this with chunky yarn to make a scarf. Wouldn't that be cool?

So I learned something new and whittled away a whole evening all at the same time!  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Robyn Spady

Robyn Spady absolutely rocks!  I joined with Weavers Guild of Peoria for a weekend workshop with Robyn. Not only did I get to learn more than I ever imagined and be provided with the excellent resource that is her workbook and presentation, I stayed in the same house being hosted by the hostess withe the mostest, Jennie of Hopewell Weaving.

What a delightful weekend. I don't often use that word but it's the one that fits. She's got some really interesting projects going and fingers in some fascinating pies. You can access some of her resources at Check out her 50 favorite weaving things blog (she's on about 46) and more. 

The main hung I learned is that you can use a single warping to weave a number of different styles. Each person had their choice of 3 warpings - periwinkle overshot, huck lace or rose point twill (I think it was rose point…anyway it was a twill). They we wove the same treadling and got to compare the variations. 

It was so fascinating!  I used the overshot warping. Here are some of my samples. 
I'll get some better photos when I finish the warp. Right now I'm working some longer repeats of my more favorite samples and I've got probably another yard of warp. 

I'm so inspired that I may make a weaver yet!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Ahh Spring

Now that spring is finally here and the eternal yard work has begun, I give you…
I had an idea this weekend for how I could crochet a bird house. I used the Mexican thicker nylon crochet thread. I used to watch my friends in Mexico crocheting doilies with the thinner nylon thread but I'd never used it before. I used a size G hook and single crochet for the base and changed to double crochet for the body. Really easy make but I'm not sure the birdies will like it. I've hung it out on the front porch where most of the little birds hang out. They try to nest under my awning so we'll see. 

Heard a woodpecker tonight in the back. I think that's the first time I've heard one in IL. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Just so I don't get bored

Or why did the chicken cross the road. I must have a pathological fear of boredom. I had weavers all around me but I was busy. I had the knitting and the crochet and the spinning and the etc. I was pretty successful at resisting the siren song of weaving for quite a long time. But then came the first loom. And then I got a rescue loom and then another (they needed a loving home and someone who would love and protect them.) And before you know it, you're in. You don't know how you got there but you realize there's no way out.

So I've been fairly busy lately with the knitting and the spinning and the bobbin lace. So why in blue blazes am I sitting on the couch at almost 11 at night resting from having warped a loom?  And why is that not the only weaving project on the loom?  

You may remember this little project that I started winding warp for back in November, I think. It was an ugly thread that I was just going to use as a throw away to sample with that then got paired with this beautiful cotton flake that make a purse out of a sow's ear, as it were. 

So now I'm almost finished warping a table loom for an upcoming workshop in the Peoria area. 

So I go back to my original question. I wasn't twiddling my thumbs by any stretch of the imagination. Why in the wide world would I feel the need to take on something new like this?  

Maybe it's just because it's there.