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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rutledge, Missouri & Maquoketa, Iowa Flea Market Finds

Mr. Hollow and I have been trying to get some traveling in on the non-rainy weekends; although, they are few and far between! ;)   The summer is speeding by so fast.  Our intentions are to get as much running in as possible before the cold weather is upon us again. The amount of rain has us at a slow start this season,  but it has also made us more grateful for the sunny fun filled outings. 
Maquoketa, Iowa had their annual flea market at the fair grounds.  The morning was beautiful and overcast.  The blessed cloudy skies gave us a break from the hot and humid July temps.  The indoor venue had a lot of antique vendors .  I was surprised to find a wonderful display of Alfalfa feed sacks (9 to be exact) and a few Fulton heavy duty sacks.  The wonderful lady was only asking a dollar a piece!   I just love the sage green against the cream of the feed sack cloth. :)

An outdoor vendor had a stack of woven soybean sacks.  I have been on the search for ones like these that have a tighter weave and strong coloring.   These should do nicely for a pattern that I have been working on. 

The rainy weekends have been relentless in these parts.  Mr. Hollow and I decided to take an overnight trip to check out the Rutledge, Missouri flea market.  Believe it or not, the weather man was predicting rain. :(  We took some time off from our jobs and went anyway.  I am so glad that we did, since the weather was absolutely beautiful!  Here are a few of my finds from the trip...

My first purchase at $2.00 was for some pie tins.  As you can see, they are marked Lucille's pies.    They will go great with my small collection and will be special to me since Lucille is my maternal grandmother's name.  :)

The same vendor had a trunk full of medium sized plastic letters for a dollar a piece... some red and some black.  The red ones would lite up fairly easily.  Mr. Hollow picked out ones to spell our last name twice and then enough to spell my son and his fiancé's first names.  Yes I wrote it, fiancé.  My Farmerboy has gotten himself engaged! 

This looks like a muffin tin, but it is actually straight sided for small cakes.  It is from Chicago and heavy duty for industrial sized ovens.  I had thought of having a friend cut it down for me, but a few other ideas for it have popped into my head.  This piece will remain uncut, until I can be sure... Hmmm. ;)

I love handmade rag rugs.  There is a local dealer that I purchase them from.  You cannot beat their durability.  This one is a long runner, and the photo does not due the apricot color justice.  The vendor was such a nice man to chat with.  His array of rugs were simply breath taking.  He even had some made from white chenille bedspreads!  If it weren't for my black cat, they would have been mine.  Absolutely lovely!!  This one is a strong couple of yards long, created from an acrylic bedspread.   It was the best $20.00 that I spent on the trip. 

It was so nice to visit a new area and have a relaxing trip and break from the work routine.  This past week, I have been taking the time to reorganize my studio.  There are a lot of projects building up that need to be worked on.  I guess, I can thank the rain today for keeping me home! ;)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Vintage Bucilla Alphabet Quilt ~ WIP

Here is the progress on the vintage Bucilla Alphabet quilt.  The colors are so funky bright, and the little characters are charming.  They really should have kept making this quilt.  It is such a wonderful starting place for newbies to embroidery.  I have been stretching my knowledge with this one.  I inadvertently screwed up the pattern by using the outline stitch instead of a backstitch around the main characters.  Funny thing... My Mom was certain she used the outline stitch when she made my sister's.  Talk about channeling the past! ;)
E is for Elephant...  Very exotic looking isn't he?

F is for Frog... I was so proud of how the satin stitch worked out on his eyes!!

G is for goose...  His beak looks a little weird due to the hoop being just removed off it.  :(

H is for Humpty Dumpty (in progress)...  Is he still popular?  LOL

These character quilts are so fun, but I really need to reduce my stash!  With my million other interests, it will be hard to complete them all.  Plus, I really doubt Farmerboy is going to have that many kids! LOL

Thursday, June 25, 2015

An Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel

May was such a crazy month at work for me... So much to do!  I really do not mind being busy, since it makes the hours speed by, but there are certain months that are just insanely busy...  May is one of them.    As a reward for my perseverance, my "I so want to have Someday" wish list came out, and I picked a dream item to splurge on.  
Sensing that I was up to something, Mr. Hollow waited for the lightening to strike.  When the box arrived, all he said was, "Please don't tell me that you bought a spinning wheel."  "Okay," I said.  "But I did. :)"  He shook his head as if in disgust and walked away.   Of course, I knew secretly he was intrigued...  I think... ;)

The box, with New Zealand markings, sat in our living room for a few days, since I was still pretty tired at night.  Then, it was time for assembling.  Just me, a disassembled spinning wheel and a numbered instruction list with parts that I have NEVER heard of before.  Needless to say, it was not a pretty beginning.  Mr. Hollow walked by a few times... spying on my lack of progress.  Two more passes later,  he couldn't stand  it a minute longer and grabbed the straight blade screwdriver out of my hand and took over the build.  After some bickering, assembling, more bickering and an inspection of any parts that I had worked on by myself, the Ashford Traditional spinning wheel was finally together.  Mr. Hollow insisted, even after my objections, on using the lime green poly cord included with the wheel.  I still think, the combination of fire and the challenge of melding two plastic ends successfully had something to do with his insistence. ;)

It was late, and I was beat when we finally completed the assembling.  Mr. Hollow spun the wheels a few times to check the mechanics, while I brushed my teeth and headed for restful slumber.  Not very exciting sorry to admit... But the morning welcomed a new day  and within it a beautiful spinning wheel.  *sigh*   I could not have be more pleased. :)   

Forever the optimist and a firm believer in building my wings on the way down,  I watched a few videos on YouTube pertaining to the Ashford Traditional spinning wheel.  I then sat down in front of this beautiful wheel, confident in my ability of having great hand/eye coordination ( Unfortunately, forgetting the fact that I also need  to coordinate my foot as well :( ), and made my first attempt spinning roving from Farmerboy's ram James.

And you know what I found out?  I am sooo not a natural at this!  In fact, I am not very good at all. LOL

Honestly, learning most new things in the realm of art has generally came easy to me.  Narcissistic?... maybe...  but true.  But this piece of Americana, whose predecessors are older than time, has quite easily taken me down in the first round.  This simple machine will definitely be my lesson in perseverance and  patience, and I am currently enjoying every single minute of it!  :)

 I will end this post with my first feeble attempt at spinning James' Shetland wool.  Also, a simple proclamation that if heaven allows and the creeks around here do not rise and wash us out from all of these torrential rains, there will be a two ply ball on display in my studio representing my intro to spinning fibers.  :)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Flea Market Finds

I had made a promise to myself, following the "cabin fever" moment in my life, that I would go to a flea market a weekend for the spring/summer.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature is toying with me... It has rained almost every weekend since! :(  For the most part, Mr. Hollow and I have been lucky in the fact that we could still attend most of the venues.  The luck does not extend to my new running shoes... It's been pretty muddy out there!;)
There were lots of flea markets on Memorial Day Weekend.  Many of those were welcomed in with rain.  Even though the weather was alternating between rain and mist, we headed off to a small venue on Sunday.  The weather held off long enough for finding some treasures!  :)  Here is my small haul...

To my hubby's dismay, I found a couple of boxes.  My new resolution is to be ultra picky and replace some of my shoddy ones.... Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!  ;)   These are in such nice shape and the Ripley's box has the addition of some nice handles.  The card file is a neat piece with a little bit of damage.  My first thought was to have Farmerboy repair it but, looking at it now, the missing corner doesn't really bug me.  It will be so handy for housing my design ideas that I sketch and describe on note cards.  The price for the bundle was $20.00.

Forecast this weekend ... RAIN! LOL

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kildare Hand Crank Sewing Machine ~ EBay Business Review

This weekend has been littered with Spring rain showers.  So, what better time to rearrange my sewing area?  As I moved around machines, boxes and notions, it occurred to me that I neglected to introduce the newest member of my sewing machine family.  This is a Kildare hand crank sewing machine that was made in England.  This little beauty was purchased on EBay after a trip to the Baraboo Gas and Engine Show.  The Women's Center always puts on a wonderful exhibit for visitors of the old hand cranked Singer machines.  (It just fascinates me to watch a machine function without electricity.)  Right then and there, I decided to "gift" myself a new machine.  Thanks to EBay seller rjones9500, this Kildare arrived at my house and has been an absolute pleasure to spend time sewing with. 

The machine was packed extremely well and did not take hardly any time in transit.  I was very happy with its appearance and performance.  Although I must say, it took me awhile to get use to being coordinated enough to make it run! LOL

The decals are just stunning and that is what sold me on it.  Pretty superficial huh? LOL  I know most quilter's preference is for the Singer brand (I almost went that way), but this one's overall appearance just called to me.  I will confess though... I conversed with the seller via email about his opinion on this brand versus the Singer.   In his opinion, the only difference was parts availability between the brands.  Singers are so much more abundant.  So, I'll take my chances! ;)

This past weekend, Mr. Hollow and I ventured out between rain storms to the Pec Spring Fling in Pecatonica, Illinois.  The Winnebago Fairgrounds host a large flea market.  The weather was kind to us.  Other than muddy shoes, we had a fantastic time.  So much to see!!   A vendor in the last indoor building had two treadle sewing machines... *sigh*  I do believe that Mr. Hollow was holding his breath as I inspected them, but he shouldn't have worried...  Okay, maybe a little! ;)   They are still available today, since I left them behind.  They appeared to be in a little rough shape, and I am NOT looking for a project.  But the secret is out, Mr. Hollow has now been informed that a treadle is the last machine on my wish list...  Well, I am NOT sure it will be the next or the last.  But for right now, that is the plan! :)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Christmas Cactus Update & Gary's Back!!

Remember the Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti cuttings that I was rooting back in the beginning of March?  (Click Here to Revisit)  Over two months and a whole lot of newly found patience later, I am proud to show you the new little plants.  The pot below houses 5 little transplants. If you look at the two center cuttings, there are some wee little segments growing.  The older Christmas Cactus variety seemed to root a whole lot faster than the Thanksgiving variety.  Trust me on this one, I was watching very closely....   Can you hear the stress in that statement? LOL 


One of the Thanksgiving clippings has a nice sized segment growing.  Once it got started, the new growth has had rapid development.

I know, I know... Patience is a virtue.  This little excursion was packed full of that lesson in life.  It really has been such a fun experience for me.  I only lost one of the clippings... Pretty good average.  :)  The only thing that I would have done different-- I would have planted  a bunch of clippings in one larger pot that they could grow for a few years in.  Other than that, I would call this a successful adventure.

How about a little Mother's Day surprise?  I got home from work yesterday and look who was waiting for me out in the pond...  Gary the snapping turtle!   He was all muddy.  Mr. Hollow spotted him first when he arrived home shortly before me.  It appears as though Gary had just arrived to his summer digs.   I was so excited!!  For three years in a row, this little guy has appeared in the Spring and disappeared in the Fall.  He is a true wonder of nature.  I couldn't have asked for a better kick off to Mother's Day weekend.  :)

To All The Mom's Out There 
Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sources for Dyed Wool ~ Etsy and Ebay Business Review

It has never been a secret from all of you that I absolutely LOVE wool.  What is it about this wonderful renewable resource that calls to me in its various forms?  I will never know. It has me under its spell, and I really do not care. :)   I mourn the days gone by... Does anyone remember the days of thick plush felt made from 100% wool, the norm in those days, that was easily found and not an expensive oddity?  My Mom made us all Christmas stockings from a current pattern (which at the time was the 1960's) and used felt to construct them.  She still has those stockings.  They of course would be considered vintage now! LOL  But the felt of the day was thick dense 100% wool.  It stood up through many Christmases that saw pounds of fruits and candies 'come and go'.  (Although one of my sister's still has a piece of candy melted in the toe of hers! ;)
Where is the quality of yesteryear?  As I stated earlier, wool IS a renewable resource.  Why is it such a rarity?  Why does it cost over $22 dollars a yard to find quality wool by the yard to dye?  Let's not even discuss felt again... I mean the current quality of wool felt... you know that usually has 35% wool content, IF you are lucky.  I made myself and two of my sister's sets of stockings fashioned from the same pattern that my Mom used back in the 60's.  I searched high and low for 100% wool felt in the appropriate colors.  The finished products paled in comparison to the 1960's group.  They are thin, only trusted for display in my house and have felt embellishments that colors could not be found in 100% pure wool... :(   It really bugs me.  Sorry about the rant, but I just needed to throw a few questions out into the blogosphere.  It relieves my mind a little.  Now, onward to my post...
Penny rugs are one of the most creative and unique forms of hand stitched decorations.   Spanning back to pioneering days, it was a great way to protect tables that were not sealed from candles that could run.  Plus, they were just simple decorations that played in well to having pieces of fabric that were not big enough for any one item.  With circles being a primary motif,  the tiniest pieces could be cut into circles drawn from using coins as templates... Pennies included... Hence the name. ;)   I especially love it, because it is a kind of "anything goes" craft, involving artistic imagination and hand needle crafting.  How can you top that?  The little rugs feed well into my love of salvaging wool from thrift store items as well.  :) 
There has been a Halloween drawing in my sketch book that begs to be turned into a modern day penny rug.  After much thought, I decided the main piece of wool should be dyed.  (A hobby I have not tried... yet. ;) )  This is where Etsy and EBay come in.   Thanks to some very talented fiber artists, I have the beginnings of a gorgeous dyed stash, created with Dorr wool.  The first two colors are courtesy of Gina from Across Generations.  (Click on her name to visit her Etsy store.)  I marvel over the various colors that emerge in such a copacetic way on her fabric... breathtaking!  Then the next two pieces are from Frances at Sun and Wind Farm.  (Click on her name to visit her website.  She also has an Etsy store.)  The depth in this ladies colors is nothing short of spectacular.  The range of her colors is extraordinary.  I hope that I live to see her full span of colors folded in stacks inside one of my hutches.  *sigh*   The last four colors are from Petit Violet.   (Click on her name to visit her EBay item page.)  The colors literally spring from the wool.  They are based on a more basic one color application, so they are "jump off the wool" vibrant.


Each store packaged their wool attractively and shipped in a timely matter.  I was very impressed.  Their shipping was fair, as well as pricing.  One must keep in mind the size of the wool that is being purchased.   It seems that their main customers are rug hookers, but the sizes are equally as friendly to penny rug creators.  As far as appearance, it is simply a matter of design.  Pricing might give some new wool purchasers an enlightening moment; but when you consider that Dorr wool can sell upwards to $22.00 a yard retail and these are hand dyed "ready to use for that special project", I think their prices are more than fair.  Plus keep an eye out,  I hesitated and missed a wonderful sale at Sun and Wind Farm.  I am hoping to catch it the next time around! :)