Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Into Summer

A blizzard in mid-April, very cold weather into mid-May, then suddenly 90, "feels like 103".

June so far feels like reliable, balmy summer.   The garden is far from ready, but I've been working many hours a day (with lots of breaks), and things are shaping up.

The vegetable garden is usually first on the list, but this season it will be fully planted last.

I dedicated a bed to herbs last year, but they did just so so, and weren't convenient for cooking.  This year, most are on our mini-deck, which is always sunny and hot, just as they like it.  They couldn't be more convenient for recipes.   They're very pretty as well, and that spot hasn't looked so good in years.










After innumerable seasons of having my peppers do nothing or get eaten if they do start to grow nicely, I put those up on the deck in pots too.  Surely the squirrels won't look for them there.

Last season I had all my pots in the side yard and vegetable garden.  It just looked like a jungle, somehow.   Run through the Jungle!!


This year they're mostly in the perennial area.






































I'm using my nice fencing, finally, both as a backdrop for hanging plants and a place to hang my few hanging wire baskets.  I like looking from the lush perennial bed beyond to the fence area.





















I purchased a wide variety of coleus for the front.  The small bed is prone to rabbits, burrowing beasts in late July/August, and poor soils with a hearty weed population.   Fresh dirt, mulch and big pots will see it through the season, I'm hoping.














I always put geraniums in my swans, but decided this year I don't really care for geraniums and in went some nicotiana which really suits it well.



Every year I look for fun and interesting pots.  Most places I've visited this year have really ugly brown and red earth colors.  If they're pretty at all, they're glazed ceramic with no drainage holes.  Why sell a pot with no drainage holes?  Almost as bad are the pots with a tray attached which holds water and dirt and becomes slimy pretty fast.

Some of my clay pots are getting brighter colors and I found some nice stencils at Joann's which I'll use to paint hopefully charming little pictures.   I'm using acrylics for outdoors. They're taking three coats, depending on the brush used rather than the paint.  I started with foam brushes which are smooth but don't cover well.  A regular little brush was better, a Crayola small brush better yet.  Last I tried a brush from my paint brush horde (in case I ever paint a wall).   Crayola for the win so far.  I'll see about more and bigger ones if they're the best.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

WIP Wednesday: Caron Cakes Faerie Cakes and Super Saver Minty Big Blocks

I saw a picture of a project on  the Left in Knots blog of a charming hat pattern:


 https://www.leftinknots.com/home/2018/1/16/snow-drops-slouch-hat-free-crochet-pattern



I loved the colors so much I looked to see what the yarn was.   Ah, Caron Cakes Faerie Cakes, a very sweet green set.   By chance, I happened to have some, but just a few cakes.  Nearby sat some  Red Heart Super Saver "Minty".   They looked perfect together.

I made squares that were a bit large (center and four rows of Faerie Cakes, one row of Minty).   The color just unfolds so beautifully, and the Minty frames it so well.






My first cake made 15 of these large blocks.   I have four of the cakes.  So, I'm thinking  I'll make all the Faerie Cakes squares, then make a set of solid Minty squares to go around the outside to frame it.  I think the size will be just right.

I hadn't looked closely at the Faerie Cakes to see that the color runs are different in each cake till I went to take pictures.




 That really won't make any difference at all.   I love seeing the colors play out as I work.  I kept mine in order as I made them, so you can see on my first cake the way the variations played out.  That Minty really unifies the squares.  I can't say enough good things about these yarns and how pretty they are. Sigh.





I'm going to finish this,  but for the future when I get a Caron Cake, I'm going to check for an accompanying Super Saver color.  The Caron Cakes are about $8.00 each, which I find to be expensive.  This is why you want to watch the Michael's adds like a hawk.   Pro tip, hahahaha.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

February Is National Embroidery Month

I was all ready to work on the Stitch A Day Challenge that I saw last year, sponsored by DMC and Gulash Threads.   The challenge looked like this:



So far, DMC and Gulash Threads don't seem to be doing the Stitch A Day Challenge for 2018.  (Insert Sad Face).   I'm going ahead with last year's challenge.

Naturally I remembered Pink Only was the first thing to do.  So I bought all that Pink Thread yesterday (tossing in a few other colors, by chance).






This turned out to be a good thing.  As I was looking through my kits that I could do,  I found this lovely lap quilt I had forgotten about.


Problematically, though the kit provides all the thread you need, it comes in a rather monstrous tangle.




You need to sort it into colors--and those two golds looked identical to me until I saw them in a nice spot of sunshine, then I could see one was lighter.

Look at the Pinks.  Fairly distinctive, but it is a bit of a guess looking at the chart and the thread and determining which Is Pale Pink, which is Light Pink, which is Pink, which is Dark Pink.  Luckily, the chart also gives what I'm hoping is the DMC thread number.



Since in this case I now have a fair few Pink shades I can match them pretty well by holding them up next to a bit of thread in its nicely labeled wrapper.

My plan is to keep sorting the colors onto the little thread holders provided, then do an inventory of my thread collection, and get it all nicely labeled.

My thread collection consists of thread I've purchased over the years, and mom's stash.  I have quite a bit, but as you can see it is in no order.  On the plus side, I probably do have a few of the specific thread types the Stitch a day challenge asks for, such as a Neon color, and a variegated one.


I'll need to sort into colors, then note the DMC numbers and go from there.

Speaking of colors, DMC offered a set of new colors in a huge gold box around the holidays last year.  It sold out immediately, but I watched for the restock and pre-ordered.  Really soft lovely colors.  There is room in the box for at least another whole row of thread.   All my pinks could be in there...








In preparation for this month, I pulled together all of the tools and kits I have acquired over time.

I love my little embroidery scissors so much.  I've tracked some of them down after seeing them on various crochet and embroidery sites.





I feel like I could use more intriguing hoops, but this is what I currently have.  They sure don't use the metal ones anymore.





I'm ready with tracing paper.






I've been admiring all of the embroidery I'm seeing on pretty colored fabrics.  How cool that I stumbled upon adorable little "fat quarters" at Joann's right along the wall below the cotton fabric (which is apparently a nice fabric to embroider on).









My love of pens and pencils extends to various pens to put the patterns to fabric. Who wouldn't want to try the "disappearing ink" one?





I find I like the pictures in kits, but the towel material they use is very flimsy.  They will be pretty, but impractical.  I have many little pattern transfers from "Aunt Martha" and "Sublime Stitching" that can be used on "flour sack" blank towels from Walmart:





And I recently found these nice towels from DMC that will look pretty with flowers or robots along the bottom.



Needles needles needles.   Needles in a needlestack!  It has been so long that I worked on my embroidery that I couldn't look at my odd collection of needles (some from mom of course) and figure out which to use for embroidery.   It just lists that there's an embroidery needle in the pack somewhere.





I had looked up information about embroidery needles to refresh my memory:

The wonderful Mary Corbet has this helpful article.    https://www.needlenthread.com/2014/11/hand-embroidery-needles-how-to-choose-them-use-them.html


The John James Needle Company has this one I liked as well.   https://www.jjneedles.com/needles-guide


Still while I was at Joann's I thought I'd get a nice fresh pack of needles that I knew were for embroidery.   But all I could remember was they had big eyes and sharp points.  That was also true of a few other needles.   I looked for the word "embroidery" on a pack and got two, one just because the needles were gold and I'm a fish.


If I ever sharpen up about needles, somewhere along the way I found this needle holder which looks useful for storing and identifying them.




I was hoping one of the kits I have would have an array of stitches that I could do on said kit for my Stitch A Day but most use three types at most.









I suppose this is where "samplers" come in.  Early on when I first was trying to learn embroidery, I tried an alphabet one.  I found many of the stitches confusing, and the overall project boring.  I have sort of a horror of "samplers" now.  Maybe there's one out there with dragons or something I'd like better than the alphabet.

It seems like I have a lot of stuff, but I've been accumulating it for over ten years, and it all fits into a small bin, so it certainly isn't taking up too much space :)

I'm ready, right?   If I manage to do some or all of the challenge stitches and colors, I'll put them in a post at month's end.  Wish me luck.

Happy stitching.