Late Fall Colored Placemats

To my mind, Fall has two sets of colors – early Fall when everything is bright and sparkly and late Fall, when the colors are weather-worn and dull. I know many people don’t enjoy late Fall or Winter, but I do! It’s so nice to be indoors and making. (The current trendy name for creating, or crafting, which I do dislike.)

I said I was not weaving rag items for a while, but I have various guests coming who will enjoy a weaving demo and one in particular who is staying long enough and might enjoy weaving a runner or some placemats for herself. I have changed things up a bit though – I’m making some finer ones. I enjoyed the 8/2 cotton that I used for the dish cloths, so I sent for these yummy Late Fall colors from Halcyon Yarn. The color is off a bit – the tube that looks grey is actually a paper bag sort of brown.

Late Fall placemtas

With a finer warp, I need to use finer strips of fabric, so I have been cutting them 3/4″ wide. Here is placemat #1 woven and hemstitched.

Late Fall placemat

I am writing this on a cool, cloudy morning, hoping for some more rain. When I came upstairs, I pulled this cat bed out of the closet and I see Jasmine has already claimed it. I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are!

Jasmine's basket

Fiber & Cats

When looking through my digitized slides and photographs the other day, I came across a bunch of silly cat pictures… If you have cat/s, you know that they love fiber and must be in the center of it all, supervising or testing. For you cat lovers, here are some of our kitties over the years including a bit of history of my life creating textiles…

These are the kittens we called Big Boy, Little Boy and Caraway. We brought their mother, who was hugely pregnant, in from our apartment complex parking lot and she had these 3 before we’d even decided what to do! (Kept Caraway, and gave away the other three.) This is vintage 1970’s fiber, showing a latch hooked rug of my own design as well as a wool coiled basket. The basket was appropriated by Sassafrass (below) and never was completed.

Three kittens

And here is the very naughty Sassafrass, who was the first kitten we adopted who survived, sleeping on some wool shawls that were just off the loom. She was the Queen Bee for 19 years! She took it upon herself to nip every kitten we got after her in the ear – a sort of a I-guess-I’ll-let-you-stay marking.

Sassafrass on a shawl

We’ve had many cats who like to sit on the loom on whatever piece is in progress. This is Caraway on my first set of looper rugs. She was always a tiny girl because her mother was so malnourished.

Caraway & looper rug

Basil was one of our dearest cats. He was a stray who wandered to our back door one cold November night and was one of the most affectionate cuddlers we’ve ever had. He is napping on a Peter Collingswood double corduroy rug in progress. Yow – whatever was I thinking??? It was a gorgeous rug but how was I planning to keep it clean with four cats? I made it to replace the latch hooked rug and it only lasted a few years until it was just too catty. (That dragging the rug on new fallen snow business didn’t work for cleaning this rug.)

Basil on double corduroy rug

Widget is sitting on the diningroom table in Shanghai, China (a poor scan of a poor photo!). On the wall behind her is one of my entirely hand-made quilts. The pattern is called nosegay and is a favorite of mine. The plain colors were dyed to match the printed fabrics, which you cannot see. The shiny bits are buttons. Widget was a wonderful cat and was good company for me (along with Schminky) when we lived in Asia. She lived in three counties and three states and spent 17 years with us.

Widget

Jasmine just likes to be in the middle of whatever project I am working on.

Jasmine quilting

Gizmo is  more of an equipment and procedure guy. He likes to get in things and sleep in them. This is a rug hooking frame!

Gizmo framed!

He also likes to make sure that I get my dyeing recipes done correctly and clean up well after I’m done.

Gizmo dyeing

This last picture has nothing to do with fiber, but I had to include it. This is Kascha, our only dog, sleeping with Schminky, her best friend. Schminky grew up with Kascha and we were fairly sure that she thought she was a dog. Kascha would run after the frisbee and Schminky would run after her and they would end up in a flying heap as Kascha tripped over her. Most nights they slept together. It was a sad day for Schminky and Peter and I when we had to give Kascha up before we moved to Asia. Schminky was never quite the same.

Kascha

I know many of you have animal helpers and couldn’t manage without their aid. I hope you’ll add a comment or link to your post of animals and fiber in your life.

It’s Santa Central!

You may remember that last December I went to visit friends and relatives in Pennsylvania and while there, I made a Santa with my niece and her son. I wasn’t in love with him but I didn’t have much time to find a pattern and try it and wasn’t sure what they might be up for. At the time, I looked at a lot of online patterns and ordered a number of them…just in case.

I got a text from my niece a few months ago asking about a return visit. I said no a few times, but then she bent my arm – I really have trouble saying no to her. I got out the patterns last month and sorted through them. I am not a dollmaker nor do I really like sewing 3D items like teddy bears. However two patterns from Sweet Meadows Farm on Etsy seemed do-able.
So here is what my great-nephew is going to make! This Santa is one of A Few Good Men and here’s the link to the pattern. He looks funny at first with his necked body.
Necked Santa
Then most of his body is painted. It is a Primitive type pattern, meaning that lots of coffee staining is involved and there were directions for sanding and rubbing cinnamon on the body. I opted for a less distressed Santa and used the brush strokes to make him looked used.
Santa body paint
 He looks difficult, but as I am no doll maker (yet!) I can tell you that he’s not. The part I worried about most were his eyes. I did not do as the pattern suggested, which was embroidering them, but drew the eyes on with colored pencil as the pattern maker suggested for another Santa pattern. His fleece beard is needle felted on and that was really easy too. I fiddled around with his hat a good bit, as I did last year. I realized they bother me because the Santas do not have round heads so the hats sit on them oddly. A bit of stuffing fixed it to my satisfaction. I did rather enjoy drizzling coffee on his trim to make it look old.
Santa face
I have been sewing Santa bits the last few days and Jasmine has been helping to make sure that all the supplies I need to take get into my suitcase! It will be a relief to get this all packed up and my Santas hung up. I must admit that for one week, I drove each day to Hobby Lobby, Joann’s or Michael’s to find what I needed! I also did some shopping on Etsy for fleece for the second Santa’s beard. Wait until you see him!
Jasmine helps with Santa
I am just in love with him and had the best fun creating him. Here is his “beauty shot”!
IMG_5519

Starting Some Hand Quilting…

Several people have asked what I’m up to, in the creative department. Not much, is the answer. I am still fussing with the house and my studio and can’t quite get down to being the creative me again. But that doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing. I can’t have idle fingers. ;-D I have unpacked lots of boxes in the studio and the Livingroom Rug Quilt has surfaced. I really like it and want to get it done. Turns out that a quilt guild I recently joined has a show coming up in the Spring and that is a great deadline to get me working on the stack of tops I have.

Livingroom Rug Quilt found

Hand quilting is really on the wane. I have been to three quilt shows this Fall and in this area of the country I expected to see more hand quilting. I love to hand quilt and haven’t done it in a while. After looking at this top for a bit, I have decided to hand quilt it! I can see some eye rolling, but here’s my reasoning. I don’t want to do an overall quilting design. I didn’t carefully piece all these geese and points to have a design go over them. I want to quilt around each shape. My machine quilting skills are such that this is a very tedious exercise. Frankly, it’s easier and quicker for me to hand quilt it and so I am. {As I am working, I see that more points than I would like have been nipped off. The circular geese are not easy to sew. Maybe I won’t enter it in the show….}

LPQ hooped

I was working on the Halloween Grandmother’s Flower Garden, but I’ve put that away until another trip. Parts of it are still portable.

Halloween GFG progress

Well, I know someone who always approves of hand quilting!

Jasmine quilting

A Cat’s Christmas in Illinois

Wow – we forget every year how much there is to do between Christmas and New Years! A good vantage point is under the tree on the fairly new tree skirt.

Jas & tree skirt

It is seriously fun to play on the bed in crunchy tissue papers and bite the stockings on Christmas morning. If we have enough energy we rip the paper in shreds which Peter and Debbie find for months. We always want to nap after breakfast and the excitement of playing on the bed wears us out!

Sleeping puds

The big no-no is fooling in the new wrapping paper bin, but we so like to make Deb yell!

Gizmo & paper

Boxes….there are still so many boxes this year! Trash Day came at an inopportune time, so until next week there are loads of choices. Like Goldilocks, we move from carton to box to find the one with the new purple sweater or the toasty fleece tucked inside.

Gizmo's box

After Christmas there are generally projects to do, relating to gifts we assume. This year it’s been the installation of an Apple TV device. After Peter cleaned the very dirty cabinet, we had to make sure all the cables were connected to the proper ports. Of course it’s the boys who are good at such things.

Cable check

Being attentive, hanging around and looking adorable is important around mealtimes, at Christmas or any time of the year. They might forget to feed us after all!

Attentive

When one gets weary of exploring, snacking on turkey and the looking cute thing, bliss is sleeping in the heater bed! This was purchased for the other cat, the very old Widget who liked heat to ease her arthritis. Neither of us youngsters “need” to get in the heater bed but we love it!!!!!!!! Whoever doesn’t grab it for the night has to go upstairs and sleep on Peter’s side of the bed because he turns the electric blanket on.

Jasmine in the heater bed

We sure hope you’re enjoying Christmas week as much as we are.

Jasmine & Gizmo

Fun for Cats!

I know there are a lot of cat lovers out there, and this post is for you!

We have had cats since we got home from our honeymoon! Neither set of parents would agree to having a pet cat and we both decided we loved them, so we rushed off to the SPCA as soon as we were settled in our new apartment. Sadly, our local SPCA could not afford distemper shots for the kittens and little Smokey Topaz lasted about 10 days… Sassafrass came next ( and was around for 19 years!) and then another kitten, named Juniper, again from the SPCA and again had distemper … We had 9 cats at one point (a mother we rescued had kittens in my closet!) but tend towards 2-4. And depending on where we live, sometimes they stay indoors or sometimes they are allowed out.

I know that vets say the healthiest cats and most long-lived stay indoors, but I have always felt that it’s wonderful for cats to be outdoors, with all the sights and smells and noises. When our cats have been allowed outdoors, we always tried to get them inside for supper and then didn’t let them out. Bad things, indeed, happen at night when the predators are out in full force.

We now live in a neighborhood where only stray cats are outside; there are lots of people talking on the phone and driving faster than they should on our dead-end road plus we have a small yard, so Jasmine and Gizmo stay indoors. When Jas was little and we opened the slider door for her, she would stay there for hours, looking at everything and chittering at the squirrels. I felt so badly, but of course the problem is that you cannot reason with cats to make them stay in their yard! Then I found what we call The Tube. When we first put Jas out in it she was so excited, she kept running from end to end, bouncing off the netting! We had 2 sections for her and then when we got Gizmo, we added two more. The down side of taking animals out in any way is the flea meds; they are so expensive but they do work.

The Tube is really called Fun Run Outdoor Cat Enclosure. Each section is 62″, so the cats can roam around a bit. You unzip an end and zip it together with the next end and that makes the run. It’s made fairly well, though you might notice that some areas are sewn together. The first two sections that we bought had good, sturdy zippers but the second ones did not, so I have taken string and sewn them together. If Jas gets bored and starts pawing at the bad zippers, she can get them undone and then it’s a merry race around the yard trying to catch her.

Another reason I had to sew certain areas was because of a squirrel. One day I went outside and a squirrel had gotten into The Tube. The dopey thing didn’t realize that it could get out and was busy chewing holes in the netting! I had to darn the holes shut, so now when we let the cats in the house, we try to remember to zip up the end to keep out silly animals. A few more tips – I don’t leave the cats alone in it. It would be so scary if a dog (or coyote!) happened by and they were trapped inside. When the lawn services come to nearby yards, the noise of all the equipment really spooks Gizmo as well. Another tip – monitor the weather. Jasmine loves to bake, but Giz is a black and white long-haired cat and gets hot in a hurry. I make sure that part of the tube is in the shade so he has a cool spot. If I see him panting, he goes in the house ASAP. I usually go outside with them during lunch. I eat and then do a crossword puzzle or some stitching. We’re all happy.

“Nothing like a nap in the sun” says Jasmine! Have a happy long weekend…… ;-D

P.S. This is an edit – Garden2day left a comment which reminded me – Jasmine & Gizmo are declawed on their front paws. Perhaps a cat with claws would be able to make a hole and escape….