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

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! :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Flea Market in Maquoketa Iowa

After a long winter, we attended our first flea market of the year on Sunday in Maquoketa, Iowa.  The wind had a little chill, but the sun was bright with a little punch of heat to it.  Honestly, adrenaline kept me warm.   (Maquoketa offers a large indoor flea market, along with an equal in size outdoor venue.)  Let me tell you...  It was such a nice feeling to be out rummaging again! :)
My first purchase was two enamel storage pans with lids.  The vendor wanted $24.00 for both, which was not out of line for the extremely nice shape that they were in.  Of course, this is a flea market and haggling is a necessity, so I offered him $20.00... and now they are mine. 
As everyone knows, China makes repops of these pieces now... Imagine that?  LOL  Do you know one sure way to tell you've got an original?  Carry these puppies around an outdoor flea market for about an hour.  The weight suspended from the bag handles was cutting into my fingers something fierce!  Nothing flimsy about these vintage babies.  Or should I say endearingly to our knock off providers, the Chinese care a whole lot more about the wear and tear on my arm than my forefathers! LOL


The following purchases were my first finds, but my last purchases from the outdoor venue.  (I was absolutely NOT going to entertain a trip back to the vehicle that early.  And they were both located at different venders, so I didn't want to start leaving purchases here and there.)  The first is a staple of mine... One of my various obsessions... The glorious wooden nail keg.  Makes me a little sad for days gone by but very happy that they are still around.  This one still had the top with the chunk broken out laying inside.  It is a nice larger size and will be great for housing my gourds or baseballs that are awaiting paint.   Asking price - $17.00.  Haul it away offer and purchase price-  $12.00.  Score!!   Have I ever shown you my collection of these that house my various sized gourds in the basement?  I will have to get some pics to show you.  ;)

The other item is a Coca Cola wooden bottle crate.  My true love is for the dividers.  I own a Pepsi one that came with original dividers and a milk flat that Farmerboy made the divisions for.  They are absolutely great for hanging on the walls of my studio and holding various art supplies.  I spent a little more than usual, but the Coke advertisement was neat looking.  (Says the girl who doesn't drink pop except for special occasions!)   Asking price - $12.00.  Haul it away offer and purchase price $10.00.


As we were leaving the inside section of the flea market, I noticed some ladies that set up in a room off the entry way.  They were a happy go lucky team.  Don't you just love people like that?  What reason does a vital human being have to be grouchy for?  I mean REALLY?  Unfortunately, their wares were not in the best location.  I think, they were overlooked being away from all the action.  Mr. Hollow was ready to make tracks, but this shopper made a beeline into their area.  Look at these extra heavy feedsacks!   Oh, the possibilities... The ladies were such a cool vending team that I didn't even haggle.  I purchased the lot of 6 for $18.00, which I must add is a great buy.

After the second trip to the car, Mr. Hollow was contemplating a trip back into the outside area.  I told him that I would go inside to finish looking at the feedsack ladies wares.  (I felt that Mr. Hollow made me go too fast the first time... And of course, my intuition was right! ;) )  Upon a return trip to my favorite vendors of the day, I found these two vintage feedsacks.  They are wonderfully soft and beautifully muted in their colors.  The green is just lovely.  No haggling on the price... $2.00 for the one on the right and $3.00 for the one on the left.

Okay, this item was super tough to photograph.  It is a quilt cover that was made out of old feedsacks.  Some of the sacks have printing still showing on them.  This baby is huge and the feedsacks are in great condition.  PLUS, there are two big panels that make up the front and back... We are talking a lot of useable fabric.  It was hanging on a rack with some aprons.  I honestly have never seen anything like this before... A treasure trove of feedsack fabric that looks like an open ended duvet.  Asking price -  $10.00.  Haul it away and purchase price - $8.00.
This was my last purchase before I ran off to find Mr. Hollow.  It was my shot in the dark purchase.  The ladies had a cutter quilt folded up in an old plastic zippered bag.  The asking price was $7.50.  I really did not feel like taking it out of the bag and decided to take my chances with a $5.00 offer that became the accepted haul it away price.  After getting it home and washing it, I decided that it was a worth while purchase.  It originally sported a star pattern which has blown out in most places.  The blue background pattern and white base is in wonderful shape with hand quilting.  I could see appliqueing over the stars for mini quilts to line baskets... Hmmmmmm.

Or since the back is in such nice shape, using that as the backdrop for some handy work... Some quilt angels perhaps or pile of table mats...  I will have to do some research and thinking on this one.  This worn out quilt is destined to be something great again... I just know it. :)

We had such fun for our first outing.  I am thrilled with my finds, as was Mr. Hollow with his.  If this is any indication how the year will be, we are going to have a blast!  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Easter Cactus and Prayer Plant ~ Review of EBay Store Hirt's Gardens

My Easter gift to myself this year arrived from Granger Township, Ohio.  They are the most beautiful beautiful plants courtesy of EBay seller Hirt's Gardens.  I will admit that I was a little surprised to see that they were packed with Styrofoam popcorn holding them in place, but the photos don't lie... They made it to my house in great condition.  ;) 
My first purchase... a lovely Easter Cactus (Told you that I would get one!) had only two small loose joints on its arrival that I took off and placed in soil to root. The color of this Rhipsalidopsis  is the most gorgeous shade of Orange.  It arrived in a 4" plastic pot for $7.99.  The color reminded me of Easter egg dye.
Note:  I purchased a bunch of $2.00 distressed looking ceramic pots from the Dollar Store to be new homes for the travelers.  Seriously... How Can You Beat That?


This is how it looked Easter morning, and it was the perfect choice to brighten my day. :)

My other purchase was a Prayer plant.  I can remember my Mom having one of these when I was little.  They are the most amazing plants.  As you can see in the photo, the leaves are like any ordinary plant, but...

at night, they all rise in prayer...  Pretty cool isn't it?  

The Prayer plant arrived in a 4" plastic pot for $5.99.  Three plants arrived in a Priority Mail box (the Shamrock plant was part of the order) for $7.70 shipping.  I could have ordered more for the same shipping cost, so I think that their shipping was and is very fair.  They have some good deals in their store.  There are some items from Hirt's Gardens that are not available at my local greenhouses.  So, they will definitely be seeing another order from me soon!  :)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Surprise!

I already had a post ready for Easter, but the Easter bunny had other things in mind for us and our ewe Lego.  She birthed two beautiful lambs in the wee morning hours.  Liam and I had to check them out.  They are really pooped out in this photo and were only semi dry.   Quite a stir for the barnyard on this gorgeous Easter day. 

Lego is such a terrific Mom.  This is the second Easter in a row that the flock was blessed with healthy twins.  The smallest of the two is a little girl and is next to Lego in this photo.  She is completely black and has tiny little tight curls.  To honor the day, she has been given the name Lily.

Here is a photo of her twin brother.  He has some odd white markings on his face... Kinda makes him look like X-Men's Wolverine.  Don't you think?  LOL   Keeping in the "L" names and inspired by the season, his name will be Leif.  I know this photo makes him look big, but he is so small... Our little Spring Leif.  :)

Luke the Llama was humming intermittently while I was there.  He gets nervous like a new father.  He does not want anyone getting these little ones excited.  Here is a photo of him sniffing Lily to make sure she is okay after I touched her head.  He kept edging me away from the pen.  The little lambs are not even remotely frightened of his big face in front of theirs.  It is so amazing how Luke bonds to his flock and with each lamb at birth.  They are all his family...  Such loyalty and an inspiration to witness.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sheep Shearing Time

It is sheep shearing time.  Marlena  is peeking through the feed bin, watching the sheep shearer at work.  Her coat is one of the most beautiful variegated brown fleeces that I have ever seen.  While she was waiting her turn, we had Luke (the llama) outside the barn.  He was absolutely beside himself with worry.  I tried to keep him distracted in the beginning, but he could hear the rams bellowing from inside the barn.  

Our little ram Max trotted out like a big puppy but did not like the sound of the clippers.  He eventually came through it unscathed and a whole lot lighter. :)  The photo lacks clarity due to the fact that I didn't use a flash.  I thought it might frighten Max.

Isn't he handsome?  He absolutely loves to be petted and stands up on the rungs of his stall for attention.  He was one of the few that looked better for having his locks sheared.   He soaked up all the attention he could after his date with the clippers! ;)  It is hard to tell from this angle, but his horns are black and white.  They remind me of Cruella DeVille:)

Well, I have 9 fleeces that need to be skirted and scoured.  It will be exciting to have a few new color mixes to add to the collection.  The drum carder is currently hard at work creating roving out of last year's haul.  I will be listing some of the excess in my Etsy shop for those that might be interested.