Mom’s Best Dress

When asked to describe my mother’s best dress in a journal prompt I was hard pressed to remember the last time I had even seen my mother wearing a dress.  How could I describe her ‘best’ dress when I could not even picture her wearing one?  The best I could come up with was at my wedding thirty five years ago.  Thinking all the way back through my childhood I could only picture her in pedal pushers, the Jackie-O stretch pants and later on, blue jeans.  I recalled that we had worn dresses to church on Sundays but I think she might have given those up long ago.

I headed on over to her house yesterday on a dress quest.  I first asked dad if he could remember the last time he saw mom in a dress and he couldn’t.  Then I asked mom and she said, “Hmmmmmm….” so we looked through her photo albums to see if we could find  a photo of her wearing a dress because she insisted she once wore them a lot.  Not only did we hit the jackpot in that regard but mom enjoyed describing the dresses we found to me- both the colors and fabric – in great detail just as if it were yesterday.  Because the photographs were in black and white, I found myself surprised when she told me what color the dress was.  Being an excellent seamstress, my grandmother had made all her dresses for her.

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Here is a cute shot of mom taken from behind as she is getting in the car.  She said this dress was a light BLUE.  We both liked the way the sleeves were not set into a bodice but was all one piece with the bodice.

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Mom is sporting a PURPLE sundress in this photo.  She said, “I really liked how I felt when I wore this dress, I felt pretty.”

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I was most surprised by the description of this ensemble mom wore posed on the steps.  She said the pleated skirt was a sparkly silver graphite that reflected light.  I imagined it to be like some of the Kaffe Fasset fabric I’m using in a quilt, awesome fabric because depending on how the light hits the color is different.  Mom said she thought the sweater was probably fuchsia.

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But Mom’s best dress, the one that was her favorite of all time was the one in the above photo.  The under skirt was a pink pencil skirt.  The overlaying skirt was a gauzy brown sheer fabric and the bodice and bowtie were also brown, probably satin.  By the way, that is yours truly that she is holding and I forgot to ask her what color I am in.

I enjoyed the time spent with mom reminiscing and splashing these black and white photos with color.  Had I not gone on a mission to find a photo of mom in a dress these photographs would have been forever etched in my mind as just black, white and gray.  Mom says she thinks she stopped wearing dresses because my dad told her she looked better in pants but I’m not so sure about that.  I think she stopped wearing them because she loves the comfort that pants provide.  She is just a casual kind of gal, my blue jean mama.

Saturday Spins

It is a bit of a dreary morning.  The thunder started around 1:00 in the morning and I knew it did because Brownie, the farm dog, does not like thunder.  Nordoes she like me to sleep when it thunders so I just went ahead and got up to brave the storm with her.  She calms down if I turn the television on so we watched Midwife until 3:30 am at which point I quietly lay my head on the couch pillow so as not to clue her in and fell asleep.  This is a good day to spend in my fiber room.

Gaillardia Fibre

I took my spinning wheel on my recent trip and finished half of the Gaillardia fibre sitting in my cousin’s art room.  I have a fibre room.  She has an art room. The Cheviot is a little rougher than I am used to and it is not spinning smooth to my preference but I think it will be fine.  This first half of the fibre was split into narrow strips so the color repeats are faster and more blended whereas ………

Gaillardia Fibre

The second bobbin is being spun in long color stretches as fractal spinning dictates.  The first part of my morning was spent spinning the aforementioned bobbin.  The second half of my time I worked on winding my recently plied silk blend onto the niddy noddy. There was quite a bit.

Spruce Dragon Fibre I haven’t measured it yet but I’m guessing it will be close to 400 yards fingering weight. Spruce Dragon Fibre

With the other matching skein I have a lot of yardage. I originally bought this beautiful blue fibre to go with it and it will be the next spinning project on my wheel when the Gaillardia fibre is finished.

Spruce Dragon Fibre

Maybe a Color Affection? Maybe a Cladonia? Maybe a Wurm Hat? Have any two-color pattern suggestions for a fingering weight yarn?

The Teal Mission Gate

I drove my mother down to visit our cousins in the Texas hill country a few days ago. The highways were lined with bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush and Indian Blanket.  People were about everywhere plopping their friends and family down in fields of flowers for portraits.   The land was as so green that it reminded me of the first time I saw Ireland.

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My cousin is an artist and her home reflects her artistic flair.  Her home is not the only thing that reflects her ability to touch something and make it beautiful, her back yard is a haven.  There are things to look at tucked here and there throughout her yard but the one thing I really noticed on this visit is that TEAL seems to be her signature color.  She splashes TEAL everywhere.

Kim's Teal Chair

A TEAL chair is tucked in a corner by the fireplace.

Kim's Teal Garden Signs

TEAL garden signs painted and just about ready to go outside in the garden.

Kim's Teal Garden House

A few boards painted TEAL in the greenhouse.

Kim's TEAL Hens

A TEAL chicken tucked under some monkey grass.

Kim's Teal St. Francis

A TEAL St. Francis of Assisi tucked amongst clay pots from Mexico.

But my absolute favorite is a TEAL mission gate  surrounded by Austin stone that my cousin had made alongside her hubby.  What talent!

Kim's Teal Gate

They used wooden floor boards and salvaged the iron grate from another fence.  The bell once belonged to her husband’s grandmother.  The ability to create something like this amazes me.

Kim's Teal Gate

Kim's Teal Gate

Kim's Teal Gate

When I left to go home, as always, I felt inspired and creative. The first thing I did when I got back home was to pull out some yarn and start on a cowl using this lovely Malabrigo Arroyo that is pretty tealish.  

Allison's TEAL cowl

And, it was no wonder that today, when I went to my local quilt shop, The Needle Niche, to pick fabric for a quilt that a certain someone has been begging me to make that
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I just happened to be drawn to TEALs so I splashed neutrals throughout.

Allison's TEAL Party Mix

My creative juices are definitely flowing again and I’m ready to get going on a Lisa Hartman modern quilt.

Allison's TEAL Party Mix

What can I say? TEAL.

Missed

Rarely does a Saturday sneak by without time spent up in my fiber room.  After a decade of spending Saturday mornings with vivacious fiber friends I find myself lonely when I wake up on that day.  I’ve been away from Colorado seven months and I still miss these ladies.  One of them died suddenly a couple weeks ago so today was especially solemn for me as I remembered her sagacious nature.  The feel of fiber running through the fingers was a soothing way to work out some nostalgic memories.

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One of my Colorado friends gave me a parting gift of some Cheviot she had solar dyed.  She is a clever friend always experimenting with fiber and has a superb set-up for dying yarn out in the brilliant Colorado sun.  Months before, when she brought this solar dyed roving to a fiber show-and-tell, I was smitten with the exquisite colors.  I don’t know if she remembered how I loved it when she gifted this to me but I was pretty jubilant to be its recipient.

Cheviot Sheep

Cheviot is a fiber I had not spun with until today.  Cheviot sheep find their origins in the border areas between England and Scotland.  My Field Guide to Fleece says they are very active sheep and need herding dogs to keep them in order.  My resource also said that people who raise Border Collies will use Cheviot sheep for training them.

But before I could dive into the Cheviot I had some unfinished business to tackle.

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I had to finish up plying the last bit of fiber I had on my wheel.  I am glad to have accomplished this feat because this has been a long, lengthy project.  The next step for this baby will be to put it on the niddy noddy, then soak it and put it into a braid.  That will have to wait until next Saturday though but since I’m anxious to spin the Cheviot.

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I fluffed out the roving in an effort to align the fibers and make it easier to split into more manageable sections to spin.

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Fractal spinning is my go-to for most hand dyed fiber.  After dividing the fiber in half, I then took each half and split it again.  One I left alone  and will spin it as is onto the first bobbin.  The other half I split into six narrower strips.  They will be spun one after the other onto the second bobbin. The two bobbins will lastly be plied together.

As I prepped the fiber the colors made me think about the gaillardia wildflowers that have been blooming on the property.

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Wondering if the colors were the same, I took a little break and with pruners and a flower basket in hand walked down to a big patch of them to compare the colors.  They were dazzling in the noonday sun and the colors were indeed very similar.  I gathered some and headed back to start spinning.

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What say you?  Shall I name my project Indian Blanket (gaillardia)?

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How to Use Bobbles to Stand Out

How to use bobbles to stand out in a crowd? Put them on the back of a baby sweater! Yesterday Michelle Hunter revealed an absolutely adorable ewe on the back of the mystery baby sweater I have been knitting.

Finished are the two sleeves, such tiny little arms … only 6-1/2 inches.

Adorable Ewe Sleeves

And out come the bobbles with the second mystery clue, lots and lots of bobbles to round out a great big ewe on the back of the sweater.  I’m about half way through the back and thought it time to take a bobble break to encourage you to jump right in to this fun mystery knit-a-long.  We are not only learning how to knit bobbles but we are also tackling.

Adorable Ewe Back

My tip for knitting bobbles:  The nature of a bobble produces a hole right under the bobble.  It will usually be diminished by blocking but I like to put a little bit of insurance in my knitting in case it doesn’t.  Whilst knitting the backside, tighten up the stitch on either side of the bobble.

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The April KAL Adorable Ewe Baby Sweater is free and Michelle, as always, does an excellent job teaching.

 

What No One Tells You About the Master Knitting Program

There are many key benefits to enrolling in the TKGA Master Hand Knitting Program but what no one ever tells you is that it is an epic formula to overcome the dread of seaming your knitting.  I will be the first to admit that the program has massive benefits, too many to list, but for me, it has been monumental to no longer dread the finishing process of putting together a sweater.

I won’t deceive you, going through the program sometimes seems like a mammoth task, one I occasionally wish I could just quit.  I will set it aside for several months at a time and think I won’t finish but then I remind myself of how much work has gone into it thus far and tell myself I need to cross that finish line.  It is well worth the effort.

Swatch 19  I finished the last swatch last week, swatch 19 although I am quite certain I will re-knit a few of my swatches before I mail my submission.   I made an inset pocket!  I’m not sure I will ever knit an inset pocket on anything in the future but it sure was fun to knit.  I’m definitely a process knitter. Icy Pink Vest

This week I am working on a book report and I’ve started one of the three projects required in Level Two, a vest.  The book I’m writing a report on is Seven Things That Make or Break a Sweater.  It is a great little book packed with information on techniques that if not done properly will do just that – make or break your sweater.  The vest I have chosen is Arenda Holladay’s Icy Pink Vest.  The original pattern was knit in tweed which is an unaccepted fiber choice in the program so Ms. Holladay has re-written the pattern with a more appropriate fiber.  Apparently, so many knitters were using this pattern in the program that the rewrite was to avoid knitting the vest and having it rejected because you used a tweed.  The reviewers need to see all your seaming, how you pick up the neckband and check for gauge issues, tweed makes it more difficult for them to do so.

Icy Pink Vest

The program was revised this last year for procrastinators like me.  There are time limits:

  • Level 1 – 1 year
  • Level 2 – 18 months
  • Level 3 – 2 years

Now you can still take your time if you want to but you will be charged a fee every time you download a new revision after the time limit.  I’m glad they have done this because it was just enough to get my rear in gear again.

What to Do With Sixty Four Acres

It was just about a year ago that it dawned on us that we were probably going to have to move down to Texas and take care of the sixty four acres we inherited.  After trying to sell it for three years we had no other option, it needed maintenance.  What I didn’t know then was that I had flowing in my veins an inheritance that was rooted in the soil.  My grandfather was a farmer as the generations before him and my grandmother planted flowers on any bare patch of grass she could find. Zinnias

The first inkling that I had this love of dirt inside of me was when, after throwing out zinnia seeds there were suddenly zinnias popping up out of the earth.  Something was unearthed in me that day.

Pear Tree

Today is the first day of spring and it has most certainly arrived in East Texas.  My pear trees are blooming and my dad tells me that with the amount of blossoms on each I will have an abundant crop.  I will harvest those pears and make some pear preserves as my grandmother used to make.  And, I will spread those preserves on biscuits using my grandfather’s recipe.  He made the best biscuits ever.

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I thought about my grandmother today and her love of planting flowers.  I looked out over the many acres out there at my disposal.  A blank slate so to speak.  I thought about that first packet of zinnia seed I threw in the ground last September and I had an idea flicker through my mind.  What if I planted rows and rows of zinnias out there with my garden.  I pictured it something like this:

Zinnia

Zinnias are supposedly easy to grow.  Growing zinnias is something I can do with part of this sixty-four acres.  A blank slate painted beautiful with colorful zinnias.

farmersmarketflowers5-of-6I will fill blue mason jars with zinnias and they will adorn my tables.  They will adorn the tables of my friends, too.  The idea is growing on me and I like it more and more.8287372143691bc10659717a6bb872c0

Yes, I like this idea and I think it would have made my grandmother smile.