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

Sunday, June 8, 2014

He's Back...

To be completely honest, the beginning of summer has kicked off in a slightly stressful way for me with too many "to do" lists and sad happenings in our community.  Just when the pressure started to get tiresome, look who decided to show up in our pond... Yep, it's Gary.  (Read about his first arrival here.)  Our snapping turtle from last year made the trek again to vacation with our family for the warm months.  His arrival made a huge bright spot in a dark couple of weeks for me.  I thought it was appropriate to celebrate our reunion by sharing a hot dog. :)  

Isn't he handsome?  Here he is peeking out from behind a pond lily for his close up...  or a chunk of hot dog! ;)

Enjoy the little things in life.  For one day you will look back and realize that they were the big things.  :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cleaning a Shetland Fleece

After watching several "How to" videos on cleaning raw wool, I have two of Farmerboy's Shetland ewe fleeces washed.  The tension going into this project was edging towards high, since my experience has always been in felting wool... And I certainly did NOT want to see that for an outcome with these.

Is my way the right way?  Or better yet, is there a right way?  All I can tell you is that happily the process below worked for me.  NO felting!! :)

Here is the raw fleece from Lego.  The first task is to remove as much vegetation as possible and to "skirt" the fleece.  Skirting the fleece is removing any animal waste aka poop.  I was lucky.  The gentleman that sheers the sheep does a quick skirting prior to bagging.   The little pile to the top of the photo was all that I pulled off. :)

*NOTE*  I was in for a surprise on Lego's fleece.  Ever since I have known her, I thought she was a cream colored sheep. ;)

Here is a photo of my fancy processing equipment:   4 buckets, some original Dawn dishwashing liquid and rubber gloves.  Total cost was 7 bucks-- thanks to the local Dollar Store. ;)   All buckets are filled with my hottest tap water to help soften the lanolin for the Dawn to remove.  The first stop for a hunk of fleece is the bottom bucket that is mixed with a generous amount of Dawn.  The second bucket has a little Dawn mixed in.  The third and fourth buckets are a clear water rinse.  As long as the water in all the buckets are kept hot, the wool will not have a temperature change and felt.  In each soak, I would squeeze and rotate the wool in the bucket.  At the end of a soak, I would squeeze as much water out of the wool before depositing it into the next bucket. 

**If you notice a color change, that is because this photo was taken while washing Ariel's fur-- not Lego's.  ;)

Here was my surprise with Lego's fleece.  It is a beautiful white with blue gray and black.   I had to change the water in the buckets several times with her fleece.  The lanolin was so heavy and held the dirt so well that she appeared to be a completely different color. 

As you can see, I used an old clothes rack to hang the fleece outside.  The clothes pins came in handy to secure the fleece in the breeze.  Fortunately, the birds weren't taking an interest in the potential nest building materials! :)

Here is Ariel's fleece.  It is a lovely brown with a gauzy grey/white.  I am not sure if I will mix the colors in the roving or separate them.  It almost has a cobweb appearance to it while hanging. 
The next fleece will be Brick's.  His fleece is a wonderful cinnamon brown.   I will be anxious to see how it washes up.  Each fleece will get its own mesh laundry bag.  A cheap holder at $2 a piece.  They will be staying in them until I decide on a drum carder to process the wool with.   I must admit... I never thought doing the wash could be so much fun! :)

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!  :)