Sunday, November 6, 2016

What's New !?!

Someone recently asked this question on Facebook:

"does anyone read blogs anymore?"

I do.  I know I like to see what others are up to.

"what type of blogs do you read?"

The ones that are about things I'm interested in.

Over the years, my interests have changed.  I have done various crafts and arts.  Quilting.  Sewing.  Weaving.  Spinning yarn.  Making cards.  Photography.  I've also cross stitched, made holiday crafts, and lots of things along my life. I am, after all, 60 years old.

I have crafted ever since I can remember.  When I was young, I would go through the fabrics in my mother's stash, and I would make purses.  My parents didn't have much interest in me. They didn't buy me a lot of clothes.  They didn't buy me purses.  I was lucky I had dinner most nights.  That's neither here nor there, in this context.

My father worked for Kodak, when it was still in existence in Rochester, NY.  He'd bring home the end rolls of paper.  I spent HOURS using that paper in various ways.  I'd color.  I made patterns for purses.  Painting.

I also somehow talked my way into buying supplies to make candles.  I loved making candles.  The outcome was always so rewarding.

I embroidered my bell bottom jeans.  I patched holes in the clothes I had with other fabrics.  I used iron on patches.

I loved art class more than any other class in school.  I learned to weave, basket weave, and lots of other crafts.

I always wanted to earn money by doing something with my hands.  I guess I didn't know at the time, that there are colleges for people like me.  I'd have loved to go to a college that I could have tried my hands at all sorts of arts and crafts and maybe I would have found the one thing I would do the rest of my life.  However, that's not what happened.

So through the years, I've done many, many things.

I think the most rewarding so far, is weaving. I'm very proud of the clothes I've woven.  I'm also very proud that I CAN weave and make clothes, without patterns, that I can wear.  Some haven't been so successful.  Some have.

However, making money out of them, hasn't happened.  People are NOT capable of understanding why something might cost $225.  The work that goes into a jacket is not simple.  But, you can buy a jacket at a store for a lot less.  Yes, but it's not one of a kind.

I've recently been mulling over whether to give up my business license.  Because it's a dream I've had for SO very long, it's very hard for me to do that.  I'm struggling.  However, we have to pay taxes on everything I've bought wholesale, but haven't sold (mostly fiber).

The thing is, I don't know anymore, if I want to be tied down to the loom, sewing machine, and spinning wheel like I used to think I could be.  I have way too much to do in my life, and life is getting shorter day by day.

My most recent love is playing the Native American Flute, or, Native American Style Flute.  What's the difference, you ask?  Well, the difference is, a Native American Flute is a flute made by someone that is Native American.  The flute therefore, is Native American.  If the flute is made by someone that is not Native American, is not a member of a tribe, or okay'ed by a tribe, then they cannot claim a flute to be Native American.

I own 3 flutes, and I've been playing about 7 weeks.  Yep.  You read that right.  Seven WEEKS.  I have been very blessed to be able to pick up a flute and play fairly well.  I have a LONG way to go before I'm really good.  I play from the heart.  I do not play written music. I play what feels good, what comes to me to be played.
This is my first flute. It's a flute in F# made by a Native American, Raymond Wells, also known as Rainbow Walker.
This is a small flute, great for beginners, with a breathy sound, and right on key.  GREAT for beginners, and inexpensive.  $59 plus shipping.  This flute is made from cedar but he has other wood he can make flutes from.
This was my second flute. It's from a flute maker named David O'Neal, who is from NC.  He makes beautiful flutes out of all sorts of wood.
This flute is Curly Maple, with turquoise inlays, and black ebony wood for the hummingbird and surrounding each inlay.  It's not only gorgeous, it plays beautifully.  It's in the key of G, mid-range.  It has a clear, clean, crisp sound.  This is my "happy" flute.  David is not Native American so this flute is a Native American Style flute.  This flute wasn't cheap.  It was $340 and the flute stand was $80.  All totally 100% worth it.  I bought this flute in person, so it picked me and I picked it.  David came to Virginia to the Crozet Art & Craft festival in the fall, and although they have the same festival in the spring, he doesn't attend the spring festival.  Probably a good thing for me.  I can see me buying another flute from David!

This is my third flute.  This flute is in the key of low D. It was offered to me by Raymond Wells.  He had made it for a woman's hands.  It's very hard to find a low key flute small enough for women to play.  Raymond knows how to make them.  This flute is very mellow, breathy, and is good for somber playing.  I really like this flute.
This was me at the lake on a windy day.  Note the hair standing up!  As you can see, my hands are not very far apart and the flute isn't very long.  If you go on YouTube, you can search Native American Flutes and tons and tons of videos show up.  You can see how huge some of the flutes are!  A dream of mine is to one day be able to play one of those beautiful, deep, huge flutes - but you can see in the photo above, how short my arms are, and short stubby fingers I have.  I have a pretty good stretch for a short chubby old lady, but there are certain things I just cannot do!

I hope I can continue to play these beautiful instruments.  I was asked if I am Native American. I am not, nor do I claim to be.  However, you do not have to be Native American in order to play the flutes!

We have a flute circle once a month in Orange, VA, at the Orange Art Center.  It's on the second Friday of the month, at 6:30 p.m.   It's just getting off the ground, and we have some work to do in order to get it going as a true circle.   However, I have high hopes for it to grow and continue.

So, this is my newest passion. I'm still weaving and spinning yarn, knitting, and sewing.  I am having fun, feeling retired, and enjoying a beautiful Fall season here in Central Western VA.  The leaves are more colorful than they've been in years, in fact, more colorful than I ever remember here in VA.

Not the best picture, but so much more beautiful in person.
That's it for now.  I will try to post more often.....if there's even anyone out there checking in.

If you read this, thank you!

Always,
Martha

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pink Scarves....continued

Someone asked me about the dark pink at the hole in the long scarf.  On Ravelry, it seems, the favorite is the long one with the hole, that has the cotton warp, and the variable weft with ribbon, cording and yarn.


Here is a photo of that hole close up - with dark pink yarn on one side, and light pink on the other. 


This is a fun and easy technique.  You weave on one side with one yarn, and on the other side with another yarn, leaving the space in the middle (or there about). 

The fun part about this weaving is that there are NO rules.  I don't try too hard, because when I do, I don't usually like the outcome.

Today, I plan on winding another warp, but this one will be with finer threads, and I think I'll weave with finer threads as well.  I haven't decided yet if it will have the variable inclusions, like the ribbon yarn (seen in the close up photo above - it's that dark yarn below the hole, with other bits of color in it), or if I'll make it all fine yarn.  I'm leaning toward a fine yarn scarf - something cool and light for summer wear.  I have a feeling our real estate agent, who started me on this path of pink scarves because she asked for a pink scarf (she's a breast cancer survivor), will lean more toward the lighter, airier scarf.  It's her style. 

Thanks for checking back with me.  As always, take care.
Martha


Pink Scarves....continued

Someone asked me about the dark pink at the hole in the long scarf.  On Ravelry, it seems, the favorite is the long one with the hole, that has the cotton warp, and the variable weft with ribbon, cording and yarn.


Here is a photo of that hole close up - with dark pink yarn on one side, and light pink on the other. 


This is a fun and easy technique.  You weave on one side with one yarn, and on the other side with another yarn, leaving the space in the middle (or there about). 

The fun part about this weaving is that there are NO rules.  I don't try too hard, because when I do, I don't usually like the outcome.

Today, I plan on winding another warp, but this one will be with finer threads, and I think I'll weave with finer threads as well.  I haven't decided yet if it will have the variable inclusions, like the ribbon yarn (seen in the close up photo above - it's that dark yarn below the hole, with other bits of color in it), or if I'll make it all fine yarn.  I'm leaning toward a fine yarn scarf - something cool and light for summer wear.  I have a feeling our real estate agent, who started me on this path of pink scarves because she asked for a pink scarf (she's a breast cancer survivor), will lean more toward the lighter, airier scarf.  It's her style. 

Thanks for checking back with me.  As always, take care.
Martha


Friday, July 29, 2016

Moved In

We've been moved in for about 6 weeks now....however, it hasn't been easy.  Lots of things went wrong with this house once we moved in.

I will not go into detail because it is just too much and too boring.  Instead, I'm getting back on track with my weaving and other crafts, in the basement I now have all to myself.  It's sort of like having a house to myself!  It works for me!

I finally got started on weaving again, once I had my basement studio settled.  It was a great relief for me to get back to it!  I really missed it, since my weaving stuff was some of the first stuff I packed up back in May.  Or was it April?  Gosh, all I know is, it was a long time ago!

Here are three new pink scarves that I have woven.  I wove them on my rigid heddle loom because it's easy to warp and easy to do small projects on, although I do wish I had another small floor loom to weave on.  My arms get tired on the RH loom!

I took lots of pictures so I could share my method of warping and one of my favorite new tools which is a hack of a pot lid holder I got from IKEA (I actually bought two of them!).

The loom with the pot lid holder at the other end of 2 tables - an old dining room table and a small IKEA table at the end, turned sideways.  It makes the perfect length scarf (I haven't measured....if someone wants to know, I'd be glad to measure).


Below is the pot lid holder that I spread out - you can adjust it as tight, or loose, as you want to.  It's all metal and the pegs are smooth and you can clamp it onto the (IKEA) table very easily.  This is one large plastic clamp.  This way, the warp spreads out and is more evenly spaced.  When you use one single peg, as you move across the heddle, the yarns will be different lengths when you're done.  This way, your warp is more likely to be the same length. 


When I'm done warping, I detach the RH loom from the stand, and I set it on the table. I start winding the warp onto the back beam, while it's still attached to the pegs on the other end.  I use my hand to make some tension.   

I use small, vinyl blind slats that I cut to lengths.  There are some that are the same length as the width of the loom.  Then I have some that are just wide enough for the scarves I like to do.  These are the shorter ones.
As I'm winding, the loom moves along the table, and below you can see where it's almost up to the pegs (pot lid holder hack). 


When the loom catches up to the pegs, I then lift the yarn off the pegs.  To be safe, you should do a loop in your yarn to keep it from falling through the reed, but because I had so little yarn, I didn't do that (therefore, no photo).  I just hold it and walk back to the stand and set the loom on the stand, and tighten it.


Below, you can see where I use rubber bands to hold the dowel that is the rear rod, in place.  This way, my tension when I tie on, is the same all the way across.  If the rod is drooping while I'm trying to tie on, it gets complicated.  I don't like complicated. 


Below you can see where the yarn and ribbons are either two in a slot or two in a hole (most of them).  Because you need one in each slot and hole, you have to move the ones that are two to a hole or slot, to the hole or slot next to it. 



Below you can see where there is one yarn in a slot, and one in a hole, the width of the heddle. 

Once this is done, you can tie onto the front rod.  Again, I secure with the rubber bands so that I can ensure the ties are even across.




Below is where I tied onto the front rod.  I tie on and then I check to see if the tension is the same all across.  When all are tied, and the tension is the same, it's time to get weaving!


Weaving!
As you may be able to see above, I only used 2 ribbons in this warp.  The other yarn is either acrylic with sparkle (the dark pink on either end), eyelash yarn (I only had enough to use one length in the warp in the center), and light pink cotton yarn.  Each scarf is completely different.

The scarf above is warped with Peaches and Cream cotton.  I used ribbon, ribbon yarn, cotton yarn, tencel, and cording in the weft.  It gives it lots of texture.  It was interesting to weave with these items as weft as I've never experimented with these before.

The scarf above is warped with mostly ribbon and cording, and ribbon yarn, and cotton yarn in a couple of places. Mostly ribbon and ribbon yarn though, and that was fun!  I really like it. I had a slight problem when I warped the loom though - I hadn't warped it in awhile, and it seems when that is the case, I tend to warp it backwards.  So I lost some weaving length in this scarf.

Above is the third scarf I made.  I used ribbon and yarn in this, with a bit of eyelash yarn.  This is the scarf I wove from the warp I show in the photos at the top of the post.  This one I wound on the correct way and I used cotton in the weft.  I love the fringe in the scarves with the ribbon warps.

All three scarves are fun to wear.

Why pink?  Because the real estate agent asked me for a pink scarf.  I am going to weave a few more, because I have a ton of pink all of a sudden. I went a little nuts buying pink once I was asked to weave a pink scarf.

The real estate agent is a breast cancer survivor.  She was diagnosed with the BRCA gene.  She made the brave decision to have her breasts removed and have reconstructive surgery.  Many of her family have died from breast cancer, before the gene was discovered and the options were available.

I have a lot of pink choices and plan on making many more of these scarves and am hoping they sell well.  Support the boobies!

That's about it for this blog post.  I need to get another scarf warped, and keep weaving!

Thanks for checking in and reading. I always appreciate it.  I love good comments too, so please, feel free to comment.  :-)

Always,
Martha

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Keep On Keeping On

I can't believe it was April when I wrote my last post!  How the heck did that happen?  Here it is, almost the end of May.

Some things have changed.  We are still moving.  However, we won't have that view that I posted about in that lost post, which is here.

When we had the inspection done on that house, we found out that it has just been treated for mold.  It actually happened between the time we put in the offer, and the time of the inspection.  The fact that the selling agent hadn't informed our agent of this fact, when we made the offer, sort of threw us for a loop.  When I heard the news of the mold, even though it had [just] been taken care of, I decided I couldn't live in the house comfortably knowing there had been mold, and not knowing how long it had existed before it had been taken care of.  Since I already have a lung disease, I knew I'd be constantly worried about the house, and the effects it would have on me.

We looked at a LOT more houses.   We put in an offer on 2 more homes, and for one reason or another, they also fell through.

We went back to a home we originally looked at when it all started.  It sits on the tenth tee of the golf course.  I wasn't (and still am not) thrilled about that.  However, it's the only house with the layout closest to what I was looking for.

I have a friend who continually told me, "You can't get everything you want in one home."  I started to fall into the belief myself.  It's probably true, unless you build a house from the ground up.

Are there some things I'll change about this house?  Yes.  They are cosmetic changes.  I will paint some walls.  I will change the kitchen out for a more modern one.  The kitchen appliances, floor and counters, all need updating, as well as the washer and dryer.  I am hoping to have that all done within a year.  It depends on how quickly we can sell the farm though.  

Packers arrive on June 9.  Delivery is the 10th.  Then lots of work on both houses.  Clean the old one and get it photographed.  Clean the new house and get it all organized.  I take my time.  Hubby wants everything done in a day.  That ain't gonna happen this time.

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend.

Remembering those who have defended our country, and lost their lives over it.
To most, it means sales and deals.

Thanks for stopping by. I'll try, really try, to post more often.  Not having my crafts (everything is packed!!!!) to depend on for something interesting to talk about, has been hard.  I'll never pack all my crafts first, ever again!  Of course, I hope not to move ever again either!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Change ~ And Moving On.............

Change is in the air.  Things here at home are discombobulated.  In an uproar.  A mess, for sure.

I finally decided that we need to move, and I'm not backing down on this one, this time.  The time is right.  It's necessary.

Right now, there is too much work here for my husband to keep up with.  5.6 acres isn't a lot, but it's more than what is easy for him right now. I'm no help because physically, I am a mess.  My shoulder is pretty bad and the pain is constant.  I don't know [yet] what's wrong with it, but it's not easy doing every-day things like cleaning where I have to reach, or use pressure.  My knees are a mess and kneeling is virtually impossible with my right knee, the one I've had two surgeries on.  I can't lift a pitchfork, I can't push the wheelbarrow, I can't do much with the horses.  We don't ride anymore, the horses are pasture pets.  Bridget can't be ridden because she just has too many physical issues, like a grade 5 heart murmur and Suspensory Ligament Disease.  She will be 26 in May.  She's a Tennessee Walking Horse and she was my first horse.  Then DH wanted to ride her.  So I gave her to him.

Bridget is the light colored (Strawberry Roan) horse in the above photo.  Blue is the dark horse behind her (he's a Blue Roan).

Bridget continues to hold on and be stubborn. You see the green grass (and weeds) they are eating?  That is something that gives me guilt.  Where we are moving, the horses will be in dry paddocks and won't be able to roam around much.  They are used to having around 4 acres to roam on, and they won't have that at the new stables.  The upside is, the new stables take full care of the horses, and if we want to, we can go on vacation and someone else is taking care of them.  That's something we can't get out here.

At the new stables, there is a nice barn with huge stalls, a couple of riding rings, and a battlefield where horseback riding is allowed.  It's not a bad deal.  Except that DH is having a really tough time giving up the care of the horses.  I can understand that.  He's done it a long time.  However, it's also very demanding, along with having to get rid of all the leaves from all those trees in the pastures, every fall when the Oaks let go of them.  There is SO much work involved.

We both turn 60 this year.  Egads!  How the heck did that happen????? DH had his birthday.  Uneventful as he likes it to be.  Me?  I turn 60 in May.  Which is approaching quickly.  I know, it's all a matter of mind over matter, right?  But truth is, we are both feeling it.  DH spent 20 years in the Army, was a Drill Instructor for four years.  It was all very hard on his body.
Sorry for the crooked photo, it was scanned and I did a poor job of it.
He hasn't changed much in the last 35 years.

He doesn't smile for photos.  Still.  That look of disdain is the one I usually get when I point a camera at him.  Ha!

So, as I started this story, I started saying how I'd made this decision this is the time to move.  It's really difficult for me to explain, but I'm going to try.....something, or someone, is pushing me.  I've had this feeling since my brother passed away.  Call me crazy, but I know he left this human life way earlier than he ever wanted to, and I do believe he is pushing me to do things that I have wanted to do, but have backed down from, time after time.  I tend to back down from decision-making, and I finally figured out why. I am not a confident person.  I may come across confidently in person, but I really am not.  I doubt everything I do.  I doubt my decisions.  I'm not good with responsibility.  I am not good with putting my foot down and saying "this is what I need/want and this is how it's going to happen."  Because of this bad habit of mine, I will say I want to do something a certain way, then I back down, and decide that it's not going to be right, or work, or that maybe I'm wrong.  Plus, the responsibility is on me if it goes wrong.

I also don't earn the money around here.  That's what DH is good at.  Me, not so much.  I'm a lot better at spending it than making it.

So, we went to look at homes on a complex called Lake of the Woods.  It's a really beautiful complex, it's been around since the 70's I believe, and it's close by.  It's actually about 25 minutes from here, but that makes it 25 minutes closer to the kids and grandkids.   All very good things!

We will be making almost as big a change going from the farm, to the complex, as we did when we came to the farm from a townhouse on a postage size piece of land.  We will be going back into the land of Homeowners Associations and neighbors.  We have neighbors now.  The ones we have now, shoot guns, set off fireworks, start fires that catch on our leaves, and are generally a pain in the butt.  With an HOA, we don't have to worry about that, hopefully.  It's not ideal.  However, it IS something I'm willing to deal with.

We put an offer in on a house.  The offer was accepted.  We go on Thursday for the home inspection.  Barring anything that is fatally wrong with the house that the owners won't fix or we can't accept, and the appraisal comes back without us having to pay more, then we are in.  The government has ruled that the finance companies must take 45 days to close on a house, so here we are, waiting....we can't close till 31 May.  I hate being in flux.  But, the powers that be have decided that's how it's going to be.

It's worth it.  Look at the view from the front porch.

Yep, that's a lake view.  A spring time lake view.  Isn't it beautiful?

The house will need some updates, and I will do that over time.  I will NOT, however, wait forever like I did in the townhouse, and like I did here.  We are finally getting this floor replaced.  It's SO ugly.

I will have pics when the new vinyl gets put down.  My daughter thinks I'm nuts to put vinyl down, but this is a farmhouse, and vinyl will be easy to care for.  Besides, I'm not sinking a bunch of money into a stone floor when we are selling.  Update, yes, expensive, no.

Well, I need to get my office packed, because the next step is to get the first floor painted.  That happens next week and I'm trying to empty as much as I can out of the rooms that will be painted.  It will make it easier for the guys that are painting.

I hope your life has something new and exciting in it every day.  I also hope that if you have an angel in heaven that is helping to push you in the right direction, you listen.  It's for your own good.  I know my brother is helping me through this and that he is watching over me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

An Artist.....Struggling

I don't consider myself a struggling artist because I don't consider myself an artist who is taken seriously.
I am an artist, who has trouble taking myself seriously, and who struggles.   I struggle with self confidence.  I struggle with the idea of being a "real" artist.  I struggle with the fact that I don't specialize in one media, or one type of artistry.  I jump hither and yon, wondering what to do next, thinking up all sorts of crazy ideas, jumping from this project, to buying supplies for the next project, when I already have 10 projects in the making.

It's like being a Jack of All Trades, Master of None.  Sigh.....................................

It's like photography - I love the photo above. I know, it could use some work.  Heck, it's an iPhone photo.  But this photo shows me the horse and the person at work, the relaxed nature of both, and the luck that we have, of having a super duper farrier (we only trim feet, we don't shoe).

I haven't taken any classes for photography (or most of my other hobbies/work-related stuff I do).  I could get SO much better, if I put time, energy, and money, into classes.  But I don't.

Today I went out.  I needed to be out.  It was 70 degrees, and sunny.  It's March 1st.  It was 70 degrees!  How sweet!  It's not going to last......oops, look, squirrel!  Yep, that's how my brain works.  Okay, so I went out.  I really didn't have a set plan of where to go or what to do.  I did a couple of things then went to the quilt shop.  Yeah, I didn't NEED to go there.  However, I woke up thinking about some fabric I'd seen in another quilt shop, but had walked out without...........silly me.  So I thought, I'll just check it out......

Well, they had some - and I mean - some - of the fabric.  I took the end of the bolt (a bit over 2 yds) of one of them, and I got 2 yards of another, and a yard of the third.  I also found some perfect variegated thread to use when quilting the mug rugs I hope to make out of this fabric.  I paid good money for good quality quilting fabric to make mug rugs.  Am I nuts?????   I should be making a quilt, a wall hanging, something pretty out of this.  But, I love this fabric and thought it would make beautiful mug rugs.  However, I have to remember to practice making a mug rug out of other fabric first because I haven't made a mug rug before.  I have all these ideas inside my head.....

 
 I haven't woven in a few days....or maybe by now, it's been a week?  I was on such a roll.  Now, not so much.

I was trying out some key fob ideas.  Some of them came out okay.  Some, not so much.  I'm learning.  I'm learning what works, what doesn't.  It's tough to watch something you want to do very badly, not come out. All I think about is wasted supplies, then I get frustrated and feel like a failure.  Today, I decided, it's a learning experience.   I'm NOT a failure.  I'm learning.   So I gave myself a break, and tried a couple of things, and found out what works and what doesn't.   Cotton belting/webbing works.  Nylon, however, does NOT work.

It helps if the webbing is actually straight to begin with.  That off-white webbing on top - yeah, it's NOT straight by any means and getting it straight while being "floated" in the hoop - meaning, nothing is tying it down  - is a PITA!  Good Lord!  So it is not going anywhere.  I will try again with some smaller letters.....  I did give the purple one to a friend who has dealt with breast cancer.  I wanted to do the cross, ribbon and heart in different colors, but I messed up with the sewing order, and blew it.  She liked it anyway.  At some point, I hope to get good enough to sell them.  I don't know how long that's going to take me though!

I also struggle with knowing when enough is enough, as well as not knowing when to keep forging ahead.  It's complicated.

I have a quilt on the wall that is ready to be sewn.  I also have the king size quilt that is all pieced, but without a long arm machine to quilt it on, I am stuck (in my head) about just sewing straight lines on it, on my machine.  That's the decision I've come to.  Now, I have to move the big machine downstairs to the basement, onto the heavy dining table we have down there, so I can support and spread out the rest of the quilt.  I just can't get motivated to DO it.  More sighing.

So, I need a good, swift kick in the behind to get these projects finished, or started, as the case may be.

At some point, I want to be productive enough to sell.

At this point, I'm not - yet.

Off to feed the dogs, make our dinner, shut the windows because a cold front will be coming through tonight, bringing rain and colder temps.  Today it was 70 degrees and just gorgeous.  Tomorrow, not so much.

Thanks for stopping by.
Take care,
Always,
Martha