Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Sunday, April 20, 2014

HAPPY EASTER ~ Little Levi

We welcomed the day with our final babies -- Leah's twins.  She had one really big boy and this little runt.  His name is Levi.  Farmer Girl is currently feeding him with a syringe.  He came for a visit and pranced around our front yard, sniffing the grass and dried up leaves before retiring to his sleeping box... He is truly a little miracle.

From Our Family to Yours
Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Is it Springtime?? The Sheep Think So

Here are the newest members of the flock.  Let me introduce you to Max.  He is the new son of Marlena.  Marlena's  is one of our registered sheep and has fleece in a gorgeous grey color. (Which reminds me.  I have loads of fleeces that need to be washed!)   Although his coat color will change over the upcoming months, he is quite a site with his black and white spots!

Marlena had a little bit of a rough time after having these two.  I am not surprised, since her twins are pretty large.   This is a photo with Max a few hours old.  Little Max's fleece colors remind me and Farmer Girl's Grandpa more of a goat than a sheep. LOL

Luke has to check out all of the new arrivals.  So Farmer Girl took Max's sister Macey over for introductions.  Macey wasn't the least bit afraid.  Max, on the other hand, is a ball of energy.  Holding on to him is a chore.  The introduction was to quick for photos.  I have NEVER seen a lamb with such energy.

Hopefully, this is a sign that warm temps are coming to Northern Illinois finally.  I have fleeces to get out and wash and am going to try my hand at creating some roving. :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vintage Hummingbird Quilt 74 Year Old WIP

For those of you that are new to the Hollow, the story behind these Hummingbird's can be found here.  They were a project that I knew would have to wait for my knowledge of quilting to expand. 
During the fall of last year, I took a day to try and figure out the geometric measurements of the octagon that would be needed to put these little guys together.  Seems easy right?  It nearly drove me nuts.  I remember being completely frazzed, walking away, and vowing to make the little Hummers into plain square blocks.  But after having a cup of tea and clearing my head, I threw common sense out the window, along with my ruler, and began sketching the pieces with transfer paper.  The ruler was used as a straight edge to clean up the design and in the final stages to make everything square.  My pattern was designed with hand stitching in mind, keeping with the style my Great Grandma ended with on July 4th of 1940. 
Below are the final sketches that I found in a binder last weekend.  Let me add that they were untested sketches.  No fibs here dear friends... It took me a minute or 20 :(  to reacquaint my mind on how I thought this pattern would work.  During the trial run of assembly, there were quite a few stitches ripped out trying to understand the order of construction.  My frustration was eased by imagining how different the world must have been when Great Grandma was constructing her pieces to this quilt... A quilt unknown to her that a Great Grand daughter would be destined to try and finish.  I couldn't help to also think of my Grandma, and how blessed I am that she kept these little pieces of cloth safe over the years. 
Have I ever told you how much I love to hand sew?
I truly do...
I am so proud to show you a peek at my progress!  It is as if my hands are being guided by generations. 

There is a long way to go, but I am so ready for this challenge.  A little hand stitching here and there calms my soul.  The timing feels right for me to venture into this quilt.  I intend to work on this one a few hours a week and take my time enjoying the process...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sweet Meadow Farm's Prim Easter Bunny Finished!

I hope that everyone had a Merry Pi Day on 3/14!  We celebrated the mathematical constant at our house with a slice of cherry.  After telling my co workers about the dessert planned for my family, my branch manager pulled out a huge apple pie that she had stored in our break room freezer.  Instead of pulling a 10 hour shift, I went home for a few hours and did some baking! LOL  So... my team at work got to celebrate with a slice of  heavenly apple pie! (For her generosity, I brought my manager a piece of cherry back, since that is her favorite! ;) )   We were talking about next year's plans, since the date will be 3/14/15 and that will account for the first 5 digits of Pi.  I am thinking that we should all bring a different pie and spend the day sampling!  LOL
I finished my darling little bunny from the Sweet Meadow Farm's pattern.  She is every bit as cute as I imagined.  Thank the heavens that she is prim, since my skill level is perfect for that style! ;)  ** Oops... the remnants of the Pi celebration are in the background! :)

She is complete with genuine feed sack bloomers.   It would be fun to do a bunny with all feed sack clothes.  For this little girl, the dress fabric was dipped in coffee, and it gave the wee outfit a wonderful vintage look.  One lesson that I learned was not to fold the fabric over a hanger to dry after dipping.  The coffee settles on the cloth that is resting on the hanger and leaves a dark line.  But if you dip the affected pieces again, squeeze them a few times while in the coffee and finish by hanging them with clothes pins; the lines will go away... Lucky for me!

Her colors go well with my living room walls.   I would like to make her a dark little boy playmate and some wool Easter toys.  It would give her arms something to do.  Now, I am off to look for another project that needs completion!

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend! :) 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sweet Meadow Farm's Prim Bunny

A few years ago, I picked up the "Simply Bunnies" pattern from Maureen Mills of Sweet Meadows Farm. (Maureen was the designer of the gingerbread girl doll that I purchased for Christmas 2011, during an online craft show (here). )   My desire was to purchase more of her finished dolls.  But since my searches came up empty handed, I decided to check out her patterns.   Yikes!  You should see her sweet little dolls.  I left her site with three patterns ordered.  :)  Quite the big dreams here, since my experience in doll sewing is ZERO.  After receiving the patterns, I really enjoyed looking, reading and filing them away in my "to do" drawer.  Sound familiar? ;)
The bunny pattern was calling to me last summer, so I broke out some muslin hidden in my "hope that its needed someday" stash and created some bunny body parts.  Unfortunately... not long after completion, the parts were put in a tub and forgotten about.  :(
As you can see below, this little darling was rediscovered last weekend... just in time for Easter.  What had I been afraid of?  Time to break out and have a little fun.  I made some stain from instant coffee  (It was pretty light... Makes me wonder if brewed coffee would stain a bunny darker?)  and began wiping the body down with a soaked sponge.  It took a few coats to get to the final shade.

Painting the eyes was reminiscent of my ceramic days... sigh... with my  paint caddy getting to see a little action! LOL  Then, I was surprised to find that Maureen uses my favorite colored pencils for the detail work... Prismacolors.  They are another item that hasn't seen a whole lot of daylight in the past year.  The whole process is so addictive!  My mind was buzzing with possible dye methods and assorted shades of pencils to use on future bunnies. :)

Below is how she sits right now.  Tonight, the assembling will begin.  Then, my Easter fabric will get a once over for an outfit.  The coffee stain will come in handy to give the fabric an antique feel to it.   This whole project has been amazingly fun.  I love the excitement of tackling something new, and Maureen's designs are definitely newbie friendly...  Trust me!

The eyelashes are very prominent on this little one, so a dress will be constructed.  My mind is already imagining a dark little boy playmate.  I think that I'd better start experimenting with some natural dyes!  :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Finished Tumbled Rocks

This past year was like a whirlwind of events.  I am concentrating on slowing things down a little around the Hollow and completing some projects.  Below is some photos that were on my camera from last summer.  These are the rocks that I was tumbling... remember that? ;)  The whole process was quite the adventure, since yours truly didn't read books on the topic. 
All of the stones lost mass as the grit wore away at their jagged surfaces.  In this experiment, I found out in a "hands on" way the lessons of tumbling.  The yellow and white stones are Citrine.  As you can see, they tumble and polish beautifully.  They can go through a regular tumbling process and stay somewhat predictable on their shape, losing a 1/4 to a 1/3 of their mass.  If you look at the upper right corner, the tourmaline and amethyst can be seen.  They lost very little mass in the tumbling process and turned out equally as well.  The moonstone in the upper left corner suffered very little surface loss but never really achieved a smooth finish. :(  Will definitely have to be getting some books on the subject to correct this problem.
While tumbling all of these stones, the most important of all lessons is to take out the stones with surface fractures and reserve them for another tumble.  Upon completion, many of my stones had  internal fissures.  My personal thought is that fissures add to the mystery of the stones.  They give them a rustic inner beauty.  With the rough cut bulk stones that I purchased on Ebay and my vast inexperience,  I was fortunate to have several nice finished pieces.   

Remember all that gorgeous Fluorite that I had?  Most of it disappeared in the tumbling process. Yikes! Upon more research into the subject via the Internet, my suspicions were confirmed that it is a softer stone.  I proved this with my little pile that is one over from the Citrine on the left.  They came out with a frosted appearance like the moonstone.  But they still are very pretty. :)

On the bottom left is the Labradorite.  It will be going into the tumbler again.  I will be doing some major reading on this rock.  They lost very little mass and were pulled out after the second tumble, due to all of the surface cracks.  The lot definitely needs to go back to the rough grit until their exterior surfaces are smooth.

I really did enjoy diving into this process of rock tumbling armed  with little knowledge.  Normally, my method is to research a topic to death.  This time, I decided to just enjoy the process.  Here are some things that I did learn: 
1.  Get a Cheap Strainer to clean the rocks.
2.  Take out the rocks with surface flaws after the second tumble.
3.  With Chicago Tumbler,  buy a Lortone belt that will not break!
4.  Clean your rocks outside over a large bucket or pot.
5.  Be careful where you dump the rinse water.
6.  Keep a notebook with times and pointers.
7.  Be Patient with the Process!

This summer will definitely find me tumbling again, and I look forward to wire wrapping a few of these to make pendants.  My son is a wonderful jewelry maker.  His attention to detail is absolutely amazing.  Hopefully, he can teach his Mom a little about the craft!  ;)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Disappearing 9 Patch Quilt & A Little Free Motion Quilting

Hello everyone!!  It is so nice to be blogging again.  Thankfully, my son's laptop has not had as many updates as mine.  So far, blogger's system is tolerating my posting from here.  I hope that this will hold out long enough for blogger to finish fixing the problem...

I have not been idle this winter.  Do you remember my first quilt?  Shouldn't be too hard-- I have only worked on two.  LOL  Well, the plunge has been taken to quilt it on my own machine.  The preparation began on the batting... My choice was a thick wool blanket.  I was terrified of bearding, so a layer of cheesecloth was added to each side.  Let the pinning begin! 

The large safety pins were purchased at a discount store.  They are huge.  I bent them to make the sandwiching process easier.  To be honest, my finger and knees were sore by the time it was completed.  My cat sat up on the couch watching the whole time! ;)

It is hard to see, but the center was finished with a simple stitch in the ditch.  (Well simple for someone that is NOT a newbie! ;) )  The process was a lesson in patience for me.  Not only was I trying to get use to this big bundle of a quilt (the blanket was really thick) , but my need for speed was smacked down a few times.  Synchronization with the machine is definitely a necessity to get a nice smooth line.  With it being my first pieced quilt, there were a few flaws here and there to work around. ;)

Then came the free motion quilting.  I could have easily lost my patience over my own inexperience.  First thing learned-- the need to get the pressure from the foot right. My batting was soooo thick.  It was a shock how much it needed to be changed.  Second--  Sit higher than normal to have a birds eye view of my work.  When sitting at normal height, I found myself pulling the quilt causing an unfortunate needle break.  Third--  Never blame the machine.  Yours truly broke two needles by putting them in backwards.  I didn't even know that they could be put in backwards! LOL  That one cost me 20 minutes of hard thinking.  I just laugh, thinking back about it. 

I really had a blast fumbling my way through quilting.  It was something that I never dreamt I could do.  It seriously felt good to practice at a new art.  Hopefully, the future will find me perfecting my technique, but this quilt will always stand tall as being my first of everything in the quilting world.  My pride over floweth on this one.  It means the world to me.  Now, the next decision is the choice of binding.  I hope to have it finished by the end of the month! :)