Sunday, May 24, 2020

Silk and cotton saved

Now we're having fun. Thanks, Liz, for reminding me that we are not knitting. It doesn't matter if the pieces are two to four feet. It's all good.
I can remember gnashing my teeth for want of just six or seven inches of that certain green I was using. 

that stitch

Beyond the cross-stitch that my grandmother tasked me with when I was five (with these same, maple hoops) I'm self-taught. Pretty sure I never invented anything that didn't already have a proper name.

I call this stitch the wrapped rope, which is likely something I lifted from a sailing tutorial.

It's a simple way to make a stitched line show up better, cast its own shadow.

Here I'm using three strands of DMC cotton and a single strand of metallic machine thread for a little sparkle, all four threads doubled and knotted. The main stitch is the simplest split stitch.

Go slow if you fool with that metallic stuff. It heats up with too much friction and tends to snarl.

When I'm taking a curve, I've learned to make the stitches a little bit smaller to preserve the line. Sometimes I draw the letters on the cloth with a pencil. Sometimes I wing it. Making the decision to STOP and back out a stitch that didn't sit right is a moment to moment thing. You'll be glad you did it.

Once you have your line, wrap it by sliding the need under each stitch at a 45-degree angle in the direction of the curve. Try to not catch the cloth underneath. There's little resistance, so this part tends to go quickly but snarls always lurk, so take each one slowly. Admire how cool it looks.

Sometimes I cut the thread down to just three strands of DMC if the letters are small or space is tight and I want to reduce bulk.

Play with it, see what you like, what you don't.

If you have questions, I'll watch the comments and get back to you.

It's pretty much finished except for a little punctuation and getting turned into a little pillow. I'd love to find a feather pillow to fit it.  And some herbs to stuff inside. A dream pillow.

I've been floundering lately, so I've cast this circle for myself.

Asked and answered.

My bad

 The last thing I did here was promise a stitch tutorial. I took a clutch of pictures that turned out crappy.
 Then, LIFE, and boy, am I out of practice and shape for being Nana! It's disturbing how much that skillset (and the flesh) has deteriorated since BC (need I explain?)

No excuses, unless you count sloth & ennui.

And where do I get off lecturing a five-year-old on the dangers of uttering the words "I'm bored" ?

In the first picture we are parked across the street from a construction site where, right at the edge of the road, a squad of excavators and dumptrucks were frantically laying waste to the countryside for who knows what. They were trenching and laying yard-wide pipes, building mountains, climbing them precariously, then knocking them down - so something huge. We were both fascinated for about 20 minutes.

I don't know what I would have done without the assistance of his uncle. Colin is passing through a second child/teen hood with the video games, et al that he and his brother did without when they were kids and such stuff out of reach, and thank goodness.

Monday, May 18, 2020


I know y'all must be sick of seeing these by now, but this was yesterday. Today they are gone. I haven't looked yet but there was a pretty heavy rainstorm in the last few hours. I hope the wind didn't knock the vase over.

Salem and I were waiting for a friend to arrive. After much sweat, swearing, and soil stabbing, the irises have all been rehomed to make room for my annual extravagance of annuals and anything else I can coax out of the dirt from seed.  Note demon Baily at 3 o'clock preparing to raid our tranquility. 

Earlier in the day, I continued the studio rummaging turned up actual elastic, both quarter and half-inch, and a bunch of small shreds that had been bundled together with what intent I don't
recall. I do remember that Timeless Treasures check was once a two-yard cut. It made me dizzy to look at then and now. This is all that's left of it.

work continues here. LESSON. I should have done a mockup on paper instead of scribbling directly onto the cloth. The words and lines are crowded, and the letterforms are too studied, but it's growing on me.

the last glorious hurrah.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Dirty Threads

Yes, finally.

Not these. These are mine. As you can see, I've been very generous to myself. I may need a bigger lunchbox.

Your threads are here

Friday, May 15, 2020

pagan offering

Only these few blooms this year from both peonies. I think the soil is tired and needs some help. There is also a tree trying to take root up there that needs ousting. It was 80 today and the flowers were beginning to lean over and explode.

The birdbath/watering hole sits in the center of the crape myrtle grove up by the mailbox. It's maybe 20 feet from the road.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

pink fire

I've been missing pink, too. Paw pink, sunburn pink, flirting pink, cotton candy pink. In the whole toolbox, there was only one.

Next dye run, I'll attend to this, but with caution. Dyeing with the intent of pink usually ends in a bloodbath.  Pink is a color you have to sneak up on. Cajole. Nab. Comfort and hold.

The peonies at the mailbox garden will peak in the next few days.

I'm going to cut, arrange, and display them in a unique way. Can't bring them inside, the scent is just so powerful this year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

dirty thread

Thanks to everyone who's come looking for Dirty Thread.

I'll be posting a few more sets tomorrow here.

There will be more coming up as soon as it warms up outside here in GA.

If there's anything special you are looking for, colorwise, email me. I'm sorry that I still can't ship anything outside the US.

Friday, May 08, 2020

psycho spring

I shouldn't complain about today's all-day rain and cold. Others in the north will see their baby plants go under a blanket of snow that could stick around long enough to kill things. 

The rain set in and it got so dark, I had to stop stitching. Going has been slow on this one. Deliberate.
It became a "sleep with the cats" kind of day.

Yesterday was as perfect as the weather gets in Georgia. Clear, dry, sunny with just enough breeze to carry the scent of Confederate jasmine if you're lucky and Bradford pear trees if you're not. Nice enough to decide that a ride with my co-pirate to the carwash would be a cool thing.

He was just so glad to see me after a long day of home school with his friend Mattie and her Mom. There's a basket on the seat next to him full of his things- small toys, books, a journal, and a set of markers - all things he chose himself that live in my car. He held the basket on his lap a moment, stirred things around, and said, "My friends."

He was fast asleep ten minutes down the road, didn't even wake up when we drove through the carwash. Back at his house, I parked in the shade and let him nap a while in what must have been the blessed comfort of familiarity.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

the less than festive dyefest

I described this small batch of threads to a friend as "hinky", that is, odd. Colors were not as expected. Conditions were right but I'm thinking that several of my colors are failing - old or suffering from my casual storage technique.

Lessons, that I should have remembered from previous misadventures in dyeing. I should have gotten some tattoos.

DO NOT WASH ITEMS WITH SOY WAX  RESIST IN WITH THE OTHER CLOTH! Yes, everything has a slightly greasy feel because I forgot that my hot water is not really hot enough. All will have to be rewashed at least once.

NEVER wash woven or crocheted cotton items in with damask!!

The French Market bags are ruined. Functional, but ugly as hell and the soft thread has left lint on everything. Lint nicely stuck down to everything with a gloss of soy wax. Nothing that a lot of elbow grease won't cure. The majority of these cloths will be headed for the scrap basket.

Monday, May 04, 2020

in the negative

Or so the test results report. I am relieved. At the same time, we are going to continue life pretty much as we have because we live in a shithole state full of very ignorant people. I will NOT die of stupid.

One concession, one big change, is that I will be getting to spend some time with Charlie. A picnic is scheduled for tomorrow!

I think children have suffered more than anyone from this isolation. You can explain a microscopic danger to them, but the chain of consequences that might result from one person's thoughtless behavior is something I wouldn't want to frighten a child with. They have so little control over their lives as it is. 

I've missed him and his silliness so much.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Now, we wait.

We were turned away from the testing center in downtown ATL because I didn't have photo ID. I misplaced my drivers licence the same day I voted early.  My renewal is in October so I wasn't all that concerned. 

When we got home from the city, I went to the DMV online and was able (because they changed the rules) to buy a replacement without taking an eye exam in person.

We found a county office that was offering free tests, no ID required. Took a long drive on a beautiful day, endured about ten seconds of unpleasantness. The Georgia International Horse Park was swarming with police and military presence who organized the ten minute appointments with all necessary safety rules for both patient and providers.


We had our name and DOB checked at five seperate stations, and were on the way home in about fifteen minutes, including a drive thru Mental Wellness checkpoint where a perky, masked nurse asked "How you doin' hon? Y'all doing okay?"
Southern hospitality at its finest.

Results by email on Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

moving on

I don't usually wash the table moppers until the end of the dyeing season, but these two have been on the deck boards for a while.

Bird poop, dirt, leaves. Just leaving them hanging over the railing in the rain didn't help. I was surprised at how much color stayed.

The greenish one is a couple yards of airy, cotton gauze. I think it's what some people call Harem cloth. The warm one is an old worn, damask tablecloth, thin and fragile.

A few more rounds on the dye table and they will be going into the scrap basket.

Words again. Messages.

A solution to laying out text came in a dream. I needed a way to keep order without marking the cloth. A disappearing grid. Easy. Creases ironed in, then a temporary line of running stitch. All will be resolved.

Paying the price for rushing into this one. I already don't like the font. Two letters in. Time to pick out and think about it for another night.

I took my car for a spin today. Checking the battery and tires cause it's been sitting for a week. I think.
 I have a COVID19 test scheduled for tomorrow morning. I'm more interested in an antibody test but that may be weeks away.

Stuff is tasting better so I made a killer lasagna. I have not lost the touch.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mending, mourning.

With a little time and space I can write about this past weekend. I spent most of Sunday mending this poor denim shirt that would probably be happy to retire to the  ragbag. Another pocket repair.

Late Saturday night I found out that an old friend--distant in both time and years--passed away just last week.  I had the choice of believing he died with his family around him, his wife of more than half his life holding his hand, or the terrible alternative of our current experience.

This sad news, missing my own distant family and friends, cut off from those who live close by--all stewed together to drop me into a well of misery. Arms length, I know I was grieving for everything all at once.

I let the sadness have its way, gave it space to thrash and moan until it was exhausted like an overtired toddler.

Now, there's laundry. Dishes to wash, rugs that need vacuuming. A work schedule that has to be adhered to (in gratitude that I still have a job and income). Best, there is cloth, thread and dye to use up and stories to work on.

Provincetown, Cape Cod. '69

Friday, April 24, 2020

a week's worth

This time, I got to pick from what was left because I had no specific project in mind.

Dirty Threads are on the way, some went Tuesday, FLOWER went today. I have no idea how long the mail takes these days. Let me know when stuff gets there?

I'm looking forward to the next run, but it's going to be a while. Raw materials of this sort are not considered essential.
The view out my kitchen window one day this week when it wasn't pouring rain. I think it was Wednesday.

Our lawn is so lush it will be a shame to cut it. Makes me wish for sheep. I would plant it all to flowers and veggies, but there's barely any direct sunlight.

I'm going to do some research to see if I can get more information about this tablecloth before I turn it into a robe. The patterns are unique and I've seen a lot of damask tablecloths in my time messing with the cloth.

rolling with the cloth

Back in the studio.
The more things I find, the more I'm missing. These lazy log cabin blocks are ready to be assembled into a top, but I have no batts and probably nothing large enough to back it with.
I really don't want to do another curbside order with HoAnn.  And who needs a quilt at this time of the year anyway? I'll build it, then it can wait for the second act.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

unplanned excavations

 It started off with Salem trying to jump up onto my desk in search of cat cookies and bonking her head on the pull-out armrest. She allowed me to pick her up and accepted a soothing cuddle complete with jet engine purring. She is not generally demonstrative.

After a minute, she decamped to the chair at the back of this picture. It has been piled high with large, rolled up art quilts for a while now and covered with a terry robe and cat hair. After a minute of circling, she barfed right where she usually nests. Hasty cleanup ensued and all the quilts were moved to the bed.

Very fittingly, this one was at the top of the pile. "Big Bad Voodoo Daddy" was an homage to the dear departed Voodoo.  Been some time since I got carried away like this.

 After all the quilts were moved, this small throw remained. It's in pretty sad shape.

I started experimenting with repairs some time ago, but, as it turns out the repairs have not much to hold on to. It's as if the original piece is evaporating.

5x5 feet give or take, I crocheted this some time in the early 70's. I remember where I worked on it because it was not very portable.
The 12 ply cotton string was rescued from the post office where my mother worked. When the old post office moved to the new building, several giant cones of packing string were headed for the trash. Not on my watch!

It was Macrame time, but I never learned any of those trendy moves and tucked it away until cold weather brought out my crochet craving.
 You can try, but sometimes, there's just not enough to hold on to.

Monday, April 20, 2020

the finds

Shockingly, that Romeo Y Julieta cigar box turned out to be empty. I've always loved cigar boxes to the extent that I never took them for granted, especially wooden ones. The cheap, cardboard sort were not to be trusted with treasures.
The wooden one, icons unto themselves. This one has already had a repair. I glued a strip of cloth over the paper hinge that must have been torn or disturbed. I love that soft, satisfying "thunk" sound when you let the lid drop. This being 420 day, I know exactly what I'm going to be using this one for. The other is home to a set of Berol colored pencils. I haven't used colored pencils for anything since I was in grade school, so I have no clue or memory of the source for these. People send me stuff. I send thanks and stuff gets filed. Sort of.

I rummaged in the fiber closet a while to see what I may have to use for my own Wind Robe project. It's a beauty, but at 72" square, it may require more cutting and fitting than a bigger cloth would. I want this robe to hit mid-calf and have plenty of space inside it around me. There's one on eBay that I have my eye/bid on. We'll see what happens there.

This will probably get incorporated into that robe. That and lots of other smartass remarks. Planning ahead for a muslin lining.

In other strange and wonderful finds. I so loved Firefly that I have never seen the last disc in this set. I was hoarding it! The time has come.

Addendum. I went to the post office today to ship Dirty Threads. You would think, by the number of cars in the parking lot, that they were giving away cases of toilet paper. I took a hard pass. I'll try again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

the long weekend

Too long. I've been letting the days get away from me in unproductive ways. Making things is not always a good thing. But, I'm out of string. I made all the masks I can stand for a while.

I was sitting at the machine, debating whether to get up and wander in circles when my eyes fell on that little double stack of IKEA drawers. What was in all those drawers?

Surprise, surprise. I did NOT get rid of all my machine thread. Big and little spools and cones of King Tut cotton quilting thread. Bottom line bobbin thread, actual bobbins - the finicky special ones just for my Janome. I remember buying three packages of them from a little quilt shop that been closed and gone a long time.

While looking in the closet for the good quality quilting fabric, I found a crazy log cabin waiting to be finished. Loud, fun.

I did what I could with Baily judging me from the ironing spot. Will you look at the chaos?

He just gave me a good laugh. He stands on the vanity, drinks from the leaky tap then looks longingly at the bathroom window and then at me.

I'm trained, so I know he wants to sit in the open window so I open it. It's two stories up, but the screen is tight.  He made the bold leap, settled on the ledge and the sky split open with lightning and thunder. He fell back into the trash.

Silk and cotton saved

Now we're having fun. Thanks, Liz , for reminding me that we are not knitting. It doesn't matter if the pieces are two to four...

Play it again Sam.