Monday, May 31, 2010

Peonies in bloom for Memorial Day!

When I was a young girl I remember that my grandmother, mother and aunts were always anxious if it looked as if the peonies would not bloom in time for the Memorial Day bouquets that they would need for the family gravesites. They would be so happy with this year's showing of blooms in our garden. So in honor of them here are pictures of our peonies.

We have twelve peony plants in this row along the fence. I believe there are only two duplicates. Peony blooming time is my absolute favorite event in the garden.

The scents of these varieties are varied. Some remind me of the old standards from Grandma's house, some are very spicy, and others are so delicate you have to concentrate to smell them!

Sunny side up!

Just this bit, because it is a day to honor those who serve and have served our country. A young man I know upon returning from his deployment to Iraq was heard to say that every smart soldier prays for peace. So it seems to me that the best way to honor any soldier is to wish for, work for, vote for, and stand for world peace. Do your part for peace.

Peace . . . . .

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summertime, and the weaving is easy!

I am trying something different this summer. We have this great screen porch and I have a small 4 harness table loom, seems like a perfect partnership. This was my first loom, purchased around 1980 (Wow . . . that sounds like a long time ago!). I have woven many things on it but in later years I have used it almost exclusively for rag mug rugs or coasters.

These denim coasters and other rag versions were a mainstay in my inventory for years, sold at art fairs and in my shop. They are easy to weave and a great project if you have just a few minutes here and there or limited concentration. That sounds like the definition of summer weaving!

I do not have room in my new studio space for this little loom and its stand so I have decided to make this my porch loom. I will use it in the screen porch all summer and weave up a supply of coasters. I am trying to design a cover to keep it dry and free of dust when not in use.

Weaving outdoors will be good. I haven't done that since my frame loom days!

Wish you could join me . . . . .

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gardening, it's in the genes.

I love to be in the garden, from the first pale green sprouts in the spring all the way through their promise of flower, color, fruit or seed. I think I have loved the idea of "garden" always, and I know that comes to me through my genes and from my childhood environment. So many of my memories of home center around gardening or preserving the food from those gardens or watching the changing color-scapes of the flowers as the summer progressed.

My clearest memories of my maternal grandfather are of him in the garden and of an afternoon he killed a garter snake there with his hoe. My dad's father, Grandpa Oscar, had a garden in his backyard, too. I remember my uncles helping him grind the horseradish that grew there and the strong smelling jars of the white pulp that were shared with all.

I still cannot eat sweet corn without thinking of Mom and Aunt Bonnie cooking, cutting and freezing dozens of ears of corn each summer. Or as kids, helping to pick up potatoes from the freshly dug rows of potato plants in the extended family garden. Enough potatoes to last until the next year's crop was almost ready to harvest, if we were lucky. I can hear the ping of canning lids sealing as the jars of tomato juice cooled on the kitchen counter. And I won first place at the Burt County Fair with my Celosia flower that I raised in my own little corner of my Dad's vegetable garden.

A couple weeks ago Patrick and I were in Nebraska with my folks and he took these pictures of my 81 year old father and me in the garden. We were picking asparagus from the patch that has been there for as long as I can remember and Dad was showing me all the plants in his "downsized" garden this year. The asparagus was amazing. But I will treasure these pictures always as this is where I come from and this man is the gardener in me.

Thanks Dad . . . . . .

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brave Stitching

First of all, I have to show you some of new additions to the beautiful blooming plants in the gardens this weekend. It was a warm and sunny two days here which we all needed, especially the plants.

I love all the changing color in the garden. I can't wait for each new stage as we move through the weeks of summer.

This stitched piece is a good example of how used materials and little pieces collected in the studio can be inspiring. I love stitching on paper and combining materials. This is on a recycled piece of cardboard, from my favorite breakfast oatmeal I believe. I really like the very bare brown color of this kind of cardboard, it is warm and unobtrusive.

I am often pressed by things happening in the days of someone in the family to work around a phrase that speaks to me in that particular instance. BE BRAVE - so simple but just what is necessary sometimes to face what lies before us!

Looking back at my life so far, I wish that I had been more courageous, pushed myself more, ventured out of my comfort zone a little further. I still have to remind myself -- BE BRAVE.

Go for it . . . . . . .

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

To finish or not to finish

I inventoried all my unfinished projects last night. I am a list maker and it has always been my habit to prioritize my work from a list. However, when I see this one I'm not sure it was such a good idea. It looks a bit intimidating. I thought it would help to actually put my hands on all these unfinished pieces and look at them again with fresh eye. This is often a good tactic as most of these pieces remain unfinished because something about them does not feel right. Some change drastically when I go back to them, while others just need a little change of direction and they come together quickly. The failed pieces are those that never feel done. No matter where they go it is never quite what my mind's eye had planned. I seldom part with these but maybe I should.

I particularly love going back to a beading project. I am a slow beader and take long breaks from the work on any given piece. Most of these are not large pieces but I always feel refreshed to go back to a tiny little bottle and put on the final touches after thinking on it for a few days, or weeks!

It is my intent to pick a project and set a completion date for it. I will try to work my way through the list in between work on my current projects. Can I do it??

Can I do it? Maxi doesn't think so!

We'll see. . . . . .

Monday, May 10, 2010

Take me out to the ballgame!

Patrick and I went to Twins baseball game at the new ballpark. This was the second game that we have seen together here at Target Field. Patrick is a lifelong baseball fan and it is so fun to share this with him. There is just so much energy in this space!

We arrived early so that we could check out the pro shop. Of course, we couldn't get out of there without a great Twins hooded sweatshirt for Patrick and a Twins fleece blanket. We were glad to have both as the temperature dipped into the low 50's after dark and there was some wind. We stayed cozy though!

The Twins played the Kansas City Royals. It was really a fun game to watch and the Twins won!

Our seats are on the 3rd baseline, a couple of tiers up. We have a great view of the field and the big scoreboard. There is lots of great food and though there is a broad selection for a baseball venue I have a hard time eating anything except a hot dog. It's just about tradition!

The skyline view right in front of us is fantastic - especially as it gets dark. What a great place, what a great time!

GO TWINS. . . . . . . .

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sock it to Me . . . . always knitting socks!

Sock knitting is my take-along project. It is a nice compact bundle to tuck into my work bag or to take in the car. (I can knit in the moving car without getting carsick even though I get nauseous from reading a single paragraph!) This green variegated is my current pair and I love the way they are knitting up. Though they are wool, they are quite light weight so I hope to wear them yet this spring.

My friend, Anna Karena, who taught me this sock pattern, told me that once you know how to knit socks you will always have a pair in the works. This does seem to be what has happened. I have settled into a routine of making a pair for each family member in rotation.

Cute toes, but Celia needed socks!

This is the most recent pair for daughter Celia - teal and hot pink being one of her favorite color combinations. Aren't they fun?!!

I should branch out and try some new sock patterns but this one makes such a great sock, I am hooked. All of our socks are made from the same pattern - just a great variety of yarns.

Any ideas for a new pattern to try next . . . . .suggestions?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Follow my progress!

This piece has just begun the transition from this sketch in my book to fabric and stitching. I did some late night stitching to get the heart in place after setting the woven nine patch on the backing.

It is very relaxing to sit at my worktable when it is so quiet. It feels like a stolen block of time, stolen from sleeping time of course, but well worth the loss of 30 minutes of rest.

I like the beginnings of the color combination. And again, hearts are a motif that resonate with me. I suppose some see these as cutesy or everyday but I am drawn to them. They convey so many meanings and relate back to many familiar references. Here, of course, I have used the "follow your heart" command. But how many of us can really say that we are able to make the choices that would take us down the path our heart would choose for us?

This nine patch is small, measuring only about 4 inches. I think it will call for a border, maybe a handwoven stripe or some checks, and then some subtle stitching patterns. We'll see.

Follow my progress. . . . . . .