Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Readers of my blog will know that I participated for about half the year in sharon b’s Take It Further Challenge.  However, with the cross-country move and especially being back in the pulpit again, I had to drop out.

Today I found that Sharon has a new challenge for 2009 that I might be able to manage.  It’s called Stitch Explorer and will involve a new stitch or style of stitching each month.  I don’t think I’ll try to do projects per se, although that certainly seems possible.  I think I’ll try to do a sampler instead.  I can’t tell for sure from the rules, but I think that will qualify.  Something to keep my hand in stitching while working, studying, and playing with other fibers and fabrics.  

I’ve been focusing a lot on knitting lately and need something to pull me back out into the wider fiber realm.  This should do the trick.

The picture for today is of some beautiful orchid plants that I gave my staff members for Christmas.  I hope they enjoy them!



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I have a few more of my hexagons to show today.   This one could be my favorite.  But it’s really hard to decide.


I love the way the center turned out on this one:


I think Kathy’s blocks were my favorite at the workshop.  Here’s the fabric she started with.


And here are the blocks she put together during the workshop.


Aren’t they cool?  She’s going to set them with a wonderful bright orange sort of variegated orange dotted fabric that looks fabulous with them.  I know it’s a strange description, but trust me, it’s a great fabric.

I had hoped to get to a fabric shop yesterday (Wednesday is my day off) to audition star point and background fabrics for my quilt, but that just didn’t happen.

I did, however, finally get to The Woolery in Mufreesboro, NC.  I understand it’s one of the largest suppliers of spinning and weaving supplies in the US.  It was my first visit (except for the one I tried when it was closed) and I found so many cool things.  It was sooo hard not to pick up some more roving, but I’ve not spun what I have yet. 

I went especially to pick up a copy of Jaqueline Fee’s The Sweater Workshop because I want to do her sweater stitch sampler for practice before I start a sweater for John later this year.  Sadly, everywhere I have looked for this book has turned up no copies.  Again, there were none.  But I’ve ordered one for when the copies of the new edition come in.  I hope it will be soon.

I couldn’t resist purchasing something, though, so I got A Dyer’s Garden by Rita Buchanan.  It’s about growing and using plants for natural dyeing.  I’m not sure I have enough or the right space for growing plants for dyeing but I think it would be fun to try.

While at The Woolery I talked to Jenny about classes and am hoping not only to get into a beginning spinning class, but have marked my calendar for a Dyeing with Plants class for October.  

WHEN will I find time for all this?  I don’t know, but I will somehow.

Jenny showed me an amazing wet-felted rug from Kurgestan ( not sure of the spelling) that is all hand made and stitched.  I wish I’d had my camera.  She used to travel there to do workshops on natural dyeing to help people there recover the craft.  I am looking forward to learning more about these rugs from her when I take her dyeing class. 

Funny thing.  Yesterday I had 414 visits on my blog.  I can’t figure out where they’re all coming from.  I had over 200 the day before.  Prior to that my average was around 70 a day, since I’ve been back online. 

If you’re new visiting my blog, if you wouldn’t mind, drop me a quick comment to let me know how you found it.   

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Summer Flowers

A member of my church made two beautiful bouquets of summer flowers from her garden for our worship service today and she gave one of them to me.


They are so beautiful.  I got to enjoy them all during worship and am continuing to enjoy them now at home.

To get myself motivated to do some hand quilting I’m posting a picture of a table runner I designed and taught to some friends in Virginia Beach a little over a year ago.  It’s all hand pieced and will be hand quilted.


It’s one of those UFO’s I forgot I had.  It will make a nice small piece to work on that won’t be oppressive in the end of July to August heat. 

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A TIF Sabbath

I’ve decided to take a July–seventh month sabbath from the Take It Further Challenge.  I was behind checking the assignment this month and I’ve had absolutely zero inspiration with respect to either the color palette or the theme.

I guess I shouldn’t say zero, because I read something last week that gave me some ideas and I was going to go back to it, but I have searched in vain and cannot find it, nor can I remember what it said. 

I tried doing some doodling/sketching to try to get some ideas flowing but just couldn’t come up with anything reflective of “Halfway Mark”.  I’ve even checked to see what other people are doing, although I usually wait until I have at least a start so as not to be influenced.  But not too many people have posted any results so far.

I have come to the conclusion that my halfway mark is a sabbath month–a time to rest (or cease/stop as the Hebrew means) from TIF projects.  

I did get one doodle that I like and think has potential, although not for July TIF.


I’m sure I was influenced by the Knock-Out roses that are blossoming so profusely alongside my screened-in porch as I was sitting there watching and enjoying some much-needed rain on Wednesday evening. 

Fortunately I took these pictures on Wednesday morning before the rain battered the blossoms.  A ruby-throated hummingbird thought they looked pretty good, too, and flew over just long enough for Mishka to see it and scare it off from behind the screen. 



I think this doodle could be a nice monoprint with embroidery embellishment.

I’m going to keep working on getting my workroom in order so that by the time August rolls around I may be more prepared for the next TIF project.   

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I’m trying to get some planning in early on my Take It Further project for June and I found a couple of good websites for blackwork designs.  You can see more of my idea for this project on yesterday’s blog post.

Elizabethan Blackwork has lots of great patterns.  It appears the site hasn’t been updated for a while, but that doesn’t really matter because there’s a treasure trove of designs that are available for anyone to use. 

Another is an article with pattern designs by Heather Rose Jones on

Egyptian Blackwork.

The third good one I found with great possibilities for fill stitches is Fill-in Patterns from Sixteenth-Century Blackwork Embroideries.  On this site you can click on the pattern and find out the design source.  Pretty cool.

These should give me plenty to choose from, and also help me out with following the right path (or track) in stitching them, as the first two give instructions for stitching and analyzing patterns.

Here’s just one example from Fill-in Patterns:


Blackwork, incidentally, for those who don’t know, is done with a double running stitch on even weave fabric.  You have to figure out your pathway before you start so you can basically stitch every other stitch, turn around and come back and fill in the skipped ones, resulting in the design appearing the same on the back as on the front.  It sounds easy, and sometimes is, but not always, especially with complex designs such as floral borders.   

Blackwork was popular in the sixteenth century on collars and cuffs where you could see both sides.  It used to always be done in black, but now we add color for a whole new dimension.

We’re buried in boxes right now and I figured it wouldn’t be much fun to look at a picture of a bunch of boxes so, instead, here’s another iris in our garden:


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In spite of the high winds we’ve had in Taos lately, I’ve been able to get in a little knitting in the garden.  Our garden walls block some of the wind, and the light is wonderful for seeing small stitches and true colors of yarn.

I’ve gotten to the heel flap on the first of the socks I’m making for John with Interlacements Tiny Toes yarn, but my camera battery conked out before I could get a picture this morning.  I’ll have more finished to show tomorrow, anyway.

I’m also making progress on my Branching Out alpaca lace scarf.  The perfect project for garden knitting.


Next to one of my garden sitting and knitting spots our first iris of the season has opened up and it’s gorgeous.


We haven’t known what color any of our iris are since they were put in a year ago in April, and by the time we arrived in June they were already finished blooming.  So we’re having fun guessing what colors we have this year.  We have only a week left, so I’m hoping more will open before we have to head back to Virginia.

This morning a Ravelry knitter from Lawrenceville, about 18 miles from Emporia, contacted me, so I know I now have at least one knitting friend ready and waiting for me when I get there.  WhoooHooo for Ravelry!

We’re off this morning to explore a new mountain bike trail.

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OK.  I admit that I am woefully behind on my March TIF project.  But I’m pleased that it’s just a little past noon and I’ve already met today’s goal of getting all the pieces cut out so I can start piecing this afternoon.  So I’m giving myself a pat on the back, even if I am still basically behind. 

I still use the old-fashioned method of cutting and piecing because I just get more consistent results.  Here’s how I’ve proceeded so far:

1.  Once I decided on the simple tessellation I drafted the pattern and made plastic templates.

2.  I traced around the templates on the back of the fabric for all the pieces I needed and then cut them out, eyeballing 1/4″ seam allowances.  The traced lines will be my stitching lines.  I goofed and cut a couple of pieces out backwards (with the template reversed), but they’ll be ok.  I did an experiment many years ago on marking techniques and markers and learned that pencil and colored pencil lines erase out nicely from fabric with a soft white eraser.  DSCN1716

3.  Then I laid all the pieces out until I got them in the order I want.  I have now discovered that the blocking boards I recently made for my knitting make great “flannel” boards for my quilt making.  I don’t know if the pieces will hold onto the muslin quite as well as with flannel, but so far they’re sticking pretty well.DSCN1715   

4.  The next step will be to hand piece, yes, repeat, hand piece these pieces all together.  I really like hand piecing and it gives me the precision that my perfectionist personality craves.  Plus, I like to sit and piece while watching old movies.  I have The Joy Luck Club on tap for tonight.

I think I’ve mentioned before that this is going to be a small table runner.  I think it will be about 12″ x 30″.   It will be hand quilted and I’m pretty sure I’m going to add additional embellishment with embroidery and beading.  Hence, it will not likely be completed by the end of March.  I also mentioned before that I have hand-dyed all the fabrics for this piece.

I’ve decided to call this piece “Primrose Path.”  I love the minute detail that you see when you closely study primroses.  I’ve been thinking about primroses ever since I watched this audio slide show by plant expert Sydney Eddison.   I love primroses, but I don’t think they will grow in New Mexico, so I’m looking forward to getting some next spring in Virginia. 

My White Flower Farm Spring 2008 Garden Book (catalog) arrived yesterday and I’ve been oooing and ahhing over all the beautiful things in it.  My Taos garden is beautiful, but with xeriscaping you just can’t grow the same kinds of things you can back East where there’s a lot more precipitation.  We’re not strictly xeriscape because we use a little bit of drip irrigation, but once all our plants are established they won’t need it as much. 

Off for a hike on a new trail we learned about yesterday.  We’re going to scope it out for mountain biking.       

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