Spring Is In The Air~ (trite~ but true!)

What a difference in a weeks time!  Not a speck of fog this morning when Pascal and I left the house!  According to my computer the temperature was 53`. I still needed my jacket ~ over a sweater & a sweatshirt,  but the air was noticeably warmer than it was earlier in the week.  We haven’t been to Heather Farms in a few months. In the winter when it rains it gets too muddy.  Besides being muddy, it’s not the best time to go, as most of the geese and the ducks have gone elsewhere,  and hardly any of the plants in the gardens are blooming-  buts that’s Winter.

Springtime at Heather Farms is always spectacular, and an ideal place to bring the camera.  I am so looking forward to getting new photos  for my notecards-  Hmmmmm-  it’s really NOT actually spring yet. But it FEELS like spring.  I look over at Pascal who’s looking out the window of the car.  Do I turn left & go to town for a walk, or do I turn right and head for Heather Farms~? I really, really, don’t want Pascal to get muddy. But it’s been two weeks since we’ve had rain. How muddy could it be now?

I turn right. We’re going to Heather Farms!!

We have about a 20 minute walk down a paved road before we actually get to Heather Farms and I’m happy to see along the way that there are several clusters of paperwhites ~ and even a few early daffodils, in full bloom;  Spring was in the air!  

Arriving at the path to Heather Farms we stood at the top of the hill for a few minutes, surveying the fields and the canal below us ~   The crisp early- morning air seemed so still~ and so quiet!  The ground definitely was still wet, but if didn’t look too muddy. Okay, Pascal! Let’s go!

We had just barely started down the hill when I heard the familiar sound of geese squabbling.  All right! Surly I’d get some pictures today!  Rounding the curve in the path, we arrived at a clearing beside the pond that the geese & ducks have made their beach. This morning,  with the exception of the ducks swimming in the canal, the pond appeared empty. But the beach was packed~ packed with geese! Mating season must have begun. The beach reverberated with squawking, reminding me of a political convention.  One goose would get right into another’s face,  squawking & nipping  with wings extended,  until the other goose backed away. We stopped to watch “the show” for a few minutes. I was anxious thinking that Pascal would bark at them and disrupt everything, but he didn’t make a sound; in fact, he looked bored~  so after taking a few quick pictures, we moved on.

On the opposite side of the path, just a bit beyond the noisy beach, it was quiet except for the light sound of water splashing. The canal at this point,  was overgrown with reeds  so at first I didn’t notice the pair of mallard ducks floating among them. Getting closer I saw a large white shape-  Excited, I reached for my camera. At first it was hard to tell what I was looking at, as all I could see were two stick-like, long legs extending from a large, white, headless body-  The head was buried under the water, but I had an idea of what it was. Last fall I was lucky enough to come across a beautiful, graceful bird, the Snowy Egret. Standing alone on the beach that today was populated with geese, it looked so elegant & magnificent set against the backdrop of trees in their fiery red orange & yellow, fall-leaf attire.  This, I discovered, was the origin of the splashing sounds I was hearing.  When the egret lifted his head from the water, he started a strange sort of stamping “dance” in the reeds. With one of his large feet he’d stamp the reeds continuously, now & then submersing his head below the water. The stamping must have been a way to make insects, or whatever he was eating that was in the reeds, come out so he could catch catch them in his mouth! I took several pictures of him but he seemed to be in constant motion so it was difficult to get a good one.  I  feel rewarded to have finally gotten this one good picture of him~   We walked just a bit further down the path , and there,  standing directly in front of us was a beautiful mallard duck. He stood very still as if he were posing. “Click” – gottcha!  It may not have quite been Spring yet, but it was definitely in the air!                                                                                                                                                                                     

I’m excited to add these new photos to my growing collection for new notecard sets to be added to my shops soon. Last week was a busy one, but I was able to complete and list my fifth lamb, Amelie~ and I listed two new sets of note cards,  Glistening Orange, and Bench of Poppies.  I’m currently still working on the baby blanket I’m knitting for my grandson who turns 1 this week.  I haven’t worked on a dress since before Christmas. I thought it would be a nice break to work on my knitting and notecards and while I love doing both of those,  I hadn’t realized until a few days ago, how much I miss working on my  dresses, so this afternoon,  guess what I did!  I cut out a new dress! All that I know right now is that it will be a size 2 and it’s a beautiful shade of light, light, pink.  Mainly I need to concentrate on finishing the blanket,  but if I have a dress all pleated; ready to smock & embroider, I may just be able to work on it a bit this week too.  I’ll let you know~ Have a great week!

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It’s Spring!

Pretty Tulips 2010

It’s Spring!!  Here, in Northern Ca. we ‘re experiencing the full tempestuous effects of Springtime.;  blue skies & billowy white clouds with temperatures approaching 70,   giving way to gray-sky windy days with temperatures in the 50′s, punctuated by rain storms-   and back and forth the weather shifts like the moods of a young child. Today with Daylight Savings Time,  I gain an hour of daylight to work in the garden, which is great because there is so much to be done to clean-up after winter & get ready for planting new flowers for summer.

*****Geese Today the sun is out and the temperature is perfect for working in the garden~ 63`. Pascal and I took a  long walk to Heather Farms this morning,  past fields filled with mustard flowers blowing in the light breeze. The air was filled with sounds of geese squawking and as we followed the path around the curve, we came to the spot of commotion. The pond was filled with geese & ducks, as was the small beach. They all seemed to be out this morning, like us, enjoying the beautiful weather.

My plan was to come home after our walk, write a blog post and  get to work embroidering my new dress so that hopefully Pascal & I could go out at the end of the day & work in the garden. A good plan, it sounds easy enough~  And it would be if my eyes weren’t constantly returning to the window, to the sunlight outside, to the flowers blowing in the breeze and the birds collecting twigs to build nests. Suddenly it becomes so difficult to be inside working!!

Reluctantly I avert my eyes from the window reminding myself that with Spring comes Easter, now just a few weeks away, soon to be followed by summer. Then I feel excitement about implementing my new smocking and embroidery ideas for the coming season. Right now my shop is filled with hand smocked dresses that are  hand embroidered  with bunnies, chicks, ducks, lambs and of course lots of flowers,  making them perfect for Spring and Easter . Here are my two most recent additions:Rosebud

I Am A  Lamb

In addition to the smocked & embroidered dresses, I thought it would be a great idea to embroider infant, onepiece bodysuits. I now have two of them in my Etsy shop, website, and 1,000Markets shop. Like the dresses, these are ooak. They are not only perfect for spring, but perfect for Easter as well, with 2 bunnies on one,  and a little yellow chick on the other~

IMG_2307 copy 1 **Flowers For Her Hair

I am excited for you to see all of the cute  handsmocked & embroidered clothes for little girls that I have in my 3 shops; Etsy, Rabbit Whiskers, & 1,000 Markets.

Spring dominates my notecard sets, as well. There are an abundance of cards with beautiful photos of spring flowers of all kinds as well as scenes of spring, such as the mustard flower field that I passed on my walk this morning. For anyone who loves spring & spring-related items, my shops are a must see! I hope you will enjoy browsing !

And now I’ve gotten excited to get to work on my latest dress. I’m going to put a spring scene on it~ perhaps the garden that I can’t yet plant outside! This dress is going to be a size 2 and it’s on purple & white gingham! Come peek in my shop in about a week- a week 1/2, and you should  see a brand new addition displayed!

Happy Spring to you!!!

Mustard Meadow

How Hot Are Your Squirrels?

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So how hot do you think it was today?

When I went down the hill to get the mail at 5:00 P.M. it was 103`!

Walking back up to the house I heard a little rustle in the tree and out of the corner of my eye thought I saw something move. I stopped for a second to look and this is what I saw. This little guy had slung himself over the tree limb and just lay there in the hot shade. He didn’t quickly run away like he usually does,  instead,  he lay there watching me & Pascal- who was either  too hot to bark, normally he totally “loses it,”  or he was pretending not to see the squirrel so  he wouldn’t have to bark~  It’s a rare occasion that Pascal forgoes an opportunity to bark-  That’s how hot it was!

I quickly put Pascal inside and grabbed my camera, feeling pretty certain the squirrel would be exactly where he was when I left him~ and he was!  Normally he and I are enemies, as he gets even more delight in digging up my garden and unplanting my flower pots, than he does lying on a shaded tree limb on a hot day, but today, with the heat on high, we seem to have called a truce. I actually felt sorry for the little guy. I could say he posed for me, but I can’t give him that much credit.  He did lay there and silently stare-  or was it glare-   at me while  the camera clicked back at him. Mission accomplished!

Too hot for me, I left him, hangin’ out on the tree, (probably mapping a new game plan for my garden,  once it cools off-)  and went back in to join Pascal in front of the fan. Having finally finished my baby dress, I needed to figure out what I want to make next!

Simply Irresistible

This is the dress  I just finished~  the one that I started too long ago-  I wanted to make a plain white baby dress for summer. Some people gasp at the thought of a white dress for a baby, but if you stop to think about it, what difference does it make if it’s white or any other color; if it’s going to get dirty, it’s going to get dirty. Whatever shows up on white will also show up on light pink, blue, green or yellow; all of the classic baby colors.   Actually white has an advantage over the other colors when it gets dirty because with white, you can usually bleach out a stain, whereas with a color, you don’t have that option.

So~ I wanted it to be white and I wanted it to be intricate and soft, but appear simple and elegant. Most of all I wanted it to say, “baby!”   I’m happy with the results and I hope you like it too. The smocking on the side panels is a double wave design that’s easy for the eye to follow, yet at the same time,  notice the gathers the smocking has created. They add the degree of intricacy that I wanted the dress to have. The central panal,  smocked in a white diamond design, gives a nice background for the brown hand embroidered bunny to stand-out against,  and the blue bow tied around her neck,  ties-in the blue smocking from the side panels. The white, diamond design of the smoking holds the background flat.  To add dimension, I hand embroidered several  flower stalks in both baby-blue and white that give the scene a 3-dimensional effect.

To me this` dress says,  “Baby”~  it is baby-fresh;  soft & delicate, feminine & sweet, and most of all, like every baby~  totally unique!!

Beware! Garden Giants

Dahlia~ giant

Life is full of surprises~ and of course,  being their nature, you never know when or where they are going to pop up!!  With my latest surprise I literally mean, “pop-up!”   Like this,  above-   the first, and most visible thing to see in my garden.

A few weeks ago I received a call from my mom saying  she had bought a large bag of Dahlia tubers, but hadn’t enough room in her garden to plant them all, would I like what she had left? (I have become known as the one to ask if someone has a plant to get rid of , because I can’t refuse them.) I have had a few dahlias in pots for several years and they do very well, so the thought of adding a few more , pleased me. Sure! I’d take them! Did I say a few more? That was my first surprise-

The bag of tubers I was given was about 95% full! I think my mom planted all of 2 tubers! Oh my gosh, I thought, when I looked into this very large, very full bag. Where am I going to plant all of these, and,worse yet, when am I going to find the time to plant them?

Somehow I managed to find a way to get  80% of them planted, (so far.) Most of them came up immediately, but many had already started sprouting in the bag; impatient, I guess. My first flower to open is the one  pictured. I watched the plant’s leaves grow from large to larger. The flower stems seemed to shoot up  4 ” per day!  I never saw small flower buds. I looked one day when I didn’t think the stalk could get much taller, and there was a fist-sized flower bud!

These were definitely not the same variety of dahlia that I have been growing. It was only a few days after I noticed the flower bud, that it began opening. It took a full week to be fully opened as you see it today, but I measured it a few days ago when the outer petals were fully opened and the flower looked huge already-  It measured 6 1/4″ in diameter. I’ve watched it opening the rest of the week, and almost can’t believe what I’ve seen.  These flowers are probably comparable in size to some large sunflowers. I measured the flower again today, now that it is fully opened. It’s 9 1/2″ in diameter!!  I wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it is definitely spectacular-  Most amazingly, today the second bud on this plant is almost to the 6 1/4″ diameter that the first one was a few days ago, and two more buds are at slightly lesser degrees of development, but within a few days, depending on how long this first flower remains,  there will be 4 gigantic monster flowers in my garden- and that’s just on this first plant! My second dahlia to bloom is pink with a light yellow center and is halfway opened right now and showing signs of being equally as huge as my first . And I’ve just spoken of the two dahlias that are the furthest along. There are many more, some in the process of emerging and some beginning their flower stalks.

It shouldn’t be long now before I will be typing from somewhere deep in a freakin-tall, monster-dahlia-forest!

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I said in my previous post that I was going to talk about my second set of note cards, but I’m going to save that for next time. Before I go, I want to give you a sneak preview of the baby dress, (size 1,) that I’m working on and hope to have finished and listed,  soon~  (provided I have no more “free-plant” offers to distract me!)                               IMG_9858 copy Coming Soon!

***One last note~ Please excuse the little “spill” into the margin at the beginning of my blog.  My blog was updated to the latest version and we encountered a problem that we hope to be able to correct soon!

A Few of My Favorite Things

#423 A Few of MY Favorite Things

I know. It’s been way too long since I’ve updated my blog. I have been working on this dress called, A Few of My Favorite Things and I’ve just finished it.

Making this dress has been the strangest experience! I felt as if a magic spell had been cast over me and I wasn’t able to put it down.  None of my other work, including a blog update,  got done. I was sewing until 1:00 A.M.- mainly because I wanted to see what it was going to look like.  I kept thinking, Oh I’m almost finished- might as well keep sewing so I can see-

You’d think by now, after having made close to 450 dresses,  I would know that what looks like just a small area  to finish, can take hours- sometimes days. You would also think that after making so many dresses, the thrill of seeing another one would have worn off. That most definitely wasn’t the case with this dress.   There is so much tiny, intricate detail sewn into this scene, that what seemed like it would take minutes to do, in fact took hours-  For example, if you look at a tiny head of cabbage, it seems like it’s so small, it should take only a few minutes to make one.

What happens is that yes, the area is small- until you picture the width of two strands of thread. It is the width, or thickness, of two strands of thread that has to fill that “small” cabbage space- a width probably about the same size as the width of one of the letters I am typing right now. In comparison, that cabbage space suddenly seems quite large. It takes lots and lots of stitches to fill up that small space- but then, it takes even more stitching to make it look like a cabbage.

If you look closely, you will see that the cabbage is stitched initially in a deep purple thread. Layered over that base is thread of a lighter purple shade to fill-in, and accent certain spots, giving the cabbage depth and more of a leafy look.  Layered on top of the two purples is some white stitching to better define the leaves. What initially looked like it might take a few minutes to complete, in fact, took a whole lot longer- There were many parts of this scene that required multi-layers and many hours, like the cabbages. But I can also say that although I felt  captivated by this dress, I thoroughly enjoyed creating it! I have just finished cutting out my next dress, again a size 4. This dress will be pink and I hope to get started on it this afternoon. I’m looking forward to working on it, but I do hope that I won’t be so captured by this one and will be able to work more realistically  on it, accomplishing other things in my life that need doing as well-

Last week Pascal had another grooming session which again inspired his “groom gloom” attitude and that reminded me that it has been my turn to talk for way too long. The next post is Pascal’s turn, so be sure to look again soon. I know there is a lot he wants to say!

With a Twist of Pink I don’t know what the weather has been like where you are, the past few weeks, but in nothern Ca. last week we had yet another week of beautiful spring weather and I was able to get some photos of the trees in beautiful full bloom. I’m not certain, but I think these trees on the left are plum trees, and the one on the right is a flowering crabapple-  Isn’t it gorgeous? This week it has rained all week which is wonderful because we really need the water, but I’m very happy I was able to catch photos of the trees before the rains came, because they probably knocked most of the beautiful blossoms off~                                                **Flowering Crabapple

A Morning Walk In Two Perspectives part 2

Mustard Flower FieldThis photo looks so beautiful and peaceful~

And it truly was that morning, however one essential element to this scene is missing in the photo; and it was the  element most dominant to the scene. Because of its nature, you can’t see it here. The clouds, the trees, the grasses, even the tiniest mustard flowers, were vibrant with the discordant shrieks of geese and ducks, combined with the clear, high, trills from the meadow filled with red-winged blackbirds.

I stood there for a few moments trying to take in the sounds, sights and scents of the magnificent scene that surrounded me. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a loud display of bird sounds in a single place before. It was as if one-hundred people were all speaking at once, as loudly as possible,  each in a different language! To get an accurate view of what Pascal and I really saw and heard that morning, imagine what that would sound like, then, holding that in your mind, look at the photo again!

Besides loving to get out and walk in the fresh, early morning air, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I find that walking is an excellent way to clear my mind. I also find these walking experiences, the sights, the sounds, the scents-  are the best fuel for inspiring design ideas for my dresses.  Almost all of my dresses  have flowers on them, and a growing number of them have entire scenes, such as you see on this dress- These scenes I’m sure, derive from our walks.

Gathering Flowers In the Country

And then I think of Pascal. He was there too, experiencing the very same scene~ only in a very different way- from a very different vantage point~     IMG_8640 copy

Pascal's perspective

Pascal's Viewpoint

I think it was the poet, William Blake, (but I could be mistaken,) who wrote about the beauty in a blade of grass~ Pascal’s perspective?  Great things going on in that little pup’s mind!

Air Time for Me

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So, to steal a few minutes back from Pascal~

In my last post I wanted to give you a preview of the dress that I’m working on, but, as I explained then, Pascal has this way of dominating my thoughts, hence my blog! Since I’m ready to sew the dress pieces together, I thought I could still give you a bit of a preview.

The photo on the left, underneath this first picture is a view of my working area- Notice how neatly organized everything is? This “mess” is totally typical and necessary to my dress designing/making process.

IMG_8355 Next to the dress front you will see a picture torn from an  old calender. I like to have a picture to look at while I work. I especially like to look at these old calender photos because there are always so many things going on in them; lots of mini stories within the whole. I find them great for sparking story and design ideas. You probably won’t notice any correlation between the picture I am looking at and the work on my dress, but in some undefinable way, what I have stitched was probably remotely related to a thought about something I saw in the calender picture. At the very least, I love looking at these pictures when I work.

I think it’s probably very similar to another “necessity” while I work, and that is that I must always have classical music playing. You definitely don’t see Beethoven anywhere in my work, but believe me, ( I know this sounds funny,) but there is a very strong influence of classical music in my  work. Somewhere in my mind these “necessary” elements merge and produce what you see when you look at one of my dresses.

The last photo is the other photo that I had intended for the preview in myIMG_8346 copy last post. At that point I was about halfway finished with the smocking and embroidery, as you will see if you compare this photo with the one at the beginning. I cannot yet refer to the photo at the beginning as being of the finished front. It may be, but I won’t know that until the dress is completed. Often while I am putting a dress together, I’ll see that maybe it would look better with an additional row or two of smocking- or I’ll see a change I want to make in the scene. Sometimes I assemble the dress without wanting to change a thing. Right now I think I’m finished with the front, but we’ll see~  I plan now,  to begin sewing the dress together. This normally takes me about two days, so hopefully, in 2-3 days I will have this size 2 dress listed for sale. You will be able to find it on my website, as well as in my etsy shop .

* I apologize for the gaps in the text. Everytime I insert a photo it creates these gaps, and I haven’t been able to fix them back again~

Attitude!

Attitude

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Attitude-  That requires an explanation for which there are two probable causes.

The first, which you may already have noticed, is that today Pascal spent the first five hours of the day at the groomers. He looks great, doesn’t he?

He doesn’t think so. Pascal hates going to the groomers. Pascal hates even having his hair brushed. Ask him. If it were up to Pascal, he would prefer to continue only seeing the lower twenty-five per cent of his world-  He doesn’t mind that he walks into things because there is so much hair in his eyes he can’t see where he’s going. He doesn’t  mind his ear tassels dipping into his dinner every night because they’re too long to stay out of his dinner dish~

Today is a repeat. Every five weeks when we return from the groomers, he lies at my feet while I sew, looking like,-  like Snoopy lying on top of his dog house (only Pascal lacks the dog house!) This attitude really works! Every time I look at him I want to bend over backwards to restore myself to his good graces.

The second explanation for the attitude, and I think today both explanations apply, is that whenever I get deeply involved working on a dress,  he can’t stand that the dress receives more of my attention than he does. He will suddenly rouse himself from his lying-down- pouting pose, as if he’s just had the most wonderful sudden inspiration.  He sits facing me and stares until I acknowledge him. I can feel his little eyes on me as if they are burning holes where his stare sits.  Acknowledging him  I’ll say, “What? What do you want?”

Bingo!  those are the exact words he craves. As soon as I say them, he turns himself around 90` and sits as close as he can to my chair with his back facing me. That is my cue- “I have a great idea! Pet me! I need a back rub!” Of course, those are just the words I’ve been waiting to hear. My sewing gets relegated to my lap so that, my hands free, my attention now HIS, I can restore myself once again to the position of “favorite person!”

Once again I sat down to blog with the intention of telling you about the new size 2 dress that I’m working on. I was going to give you a preview. I’m not sure quite how it happened, but once again, Pascal stole the show- (“attitude” can have the most unpredictable effects!)

A Drippy Rainy Day~

IMG_5716A drippy, rainy, day! What’s a guy to do on such a day? And that’s how Pascal occupied himself all day!

Today the rain didn’t let up even enough for us to take a short walk. I was surprised to realize that Pascal wasn’t the only one disappointed at not being able to go for a walk . I would have thought I’d be delighted for a day to stay inside instead of having to go out in the cold so early in the morning. At first I didn’t mind too much. I thought,  great! I get a full, uninterrupted day to get a lot done. As the day progressed I really noticed the difference a morning walk makes. The exercise energizes me and clears my head so that my thoughts flow freely- I kept looking over at Pascal peacefully sleeping- and I understood it. That was all that I felt like doing, too- The difference being, I couldn’t lie down; I had work to do. All day it felt as if everything I did, I did in slow motion!

Last night I finished my latest dress but still had the socks to do this morning before I could take pictures and list it. Because my dresses don’t usually photograph well inside, I like to take the pictures outside~  but outside the rain was falling hard & fast. I thought, o.k. fine, I’ll get the listing ready to go except for the photos.

I was lucky and later on in the day was able to catch ten minutes without rain, allowing me to take a few pictures outside. They aren’t the best because I was rushing to take them before everything got rained on, but they’ll have to do for now~ So yesterday it took me all day just to list my dress! I had to list it in my etsy shop as well as my website so that involved re-sizing two sets of pictures, but still-  All day?

I think it didn’t just FEEL like I was working in slow motion, I WAS working in slow motion!