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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Happy New Year!

~*~ For some reason, the large photos at the beginning of my posts are getting distorted. Until I can resolve the problem, if you click on the photo, you will see it the way it is supposed to be. ~*~

Happy New Year!!! Our first day of 2011 has brought rain~ lots of it!  I love rainy days & couldn’t be happier! It’s a wonderful way to begin the new year. So far, this winter has brought us a good amount of rain; hopefully enough to ward off the possibility of a drought and water rationing this summer.  Already the hills have turned a deep, lush, velvety- green that promises beautiful photographs for this season’s  note cards. 2010 was a good year, bringing the addition of two baby boys to the family. On January 26, my daughter’s third child, Colton, was born; a little brother for Grace & Sam. Then two weeks ago, on December 17th, my son & his wife had their first baby, a little boy, Henrik! With the new babies my attentions went to knitting, one of my very favorite things to do!

I knit a sweater for Colton, finishing it just weeks before his birth and I’m about to begin knitting a blanket for his first birthday. When my son & his wife announced that they were expecting a baby boy I decided to knit a blanket for him. Though I’ve been knitting since I was twelve, I’ve always chosen a pattern to follow. I have never tried  making my own design before. I started Henryk’s blanket from a pattern that I chose, but when I got to the middle section of the blanket,  I began getting different ideas about what I’d like to see in the middle of the blanket. I realized that I didn’t have to stay with that pattern , just because I’d started with it, I could actually do whatever I wanted to do with the blanket, and so I  ventured out to create my own design. I had a great time creating my own blanket. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I would love to start knitting baby blankets for my shop; blankets that, like my dresses, would be my own designs & creations and would be, like all of my handsmocked & embroidered dresses, one-of-a-kind! It took a month to knit Henryk’s blanket, so I’m not expecting to be able to make many blankets, but when I can find the time to work on them, I would like to be able to have at least one for sale at all times. Knitting Henryk’s blanket really whet my appetite for knitting. With Christmas quickly approaching, I decided to knit scarves for gifts for family members this year. I enjoyed doing that so much that it wasn’t long before I found myself thinking that I’d like to be able to knit scarves to sell in my shop too.

While looking through knitting patterns I came across  a pattern for a toy, knit lamb that I thought was adorable, and so I knit one for Henryk based on the original “Fuzzy Mittens” pattern.He turned out so cute & while I was knitting him, my mind was racing ahead to different ideas & variations that I might make to this pattern. I am currently finishing one for Colton for his birthday, and then~ yep! I’d love to knit some more to have in my shop!

And so, the new year is going to bring lots of new items to my shop!  My handsmocked & embroidered dresses, were  joined last year by my photographic notecard sets as well as by a few, one- of -a- kind, hand-embroidered onezies . I recently added a new hand-embroidered  onezie outfit to the shop & this year and plan on adding more. As soon as I am able to knit them, I’m very excited to be adding several handknit items in 2011~ baby blankets, scarves, knit lambs~ and whatever else I feel like knitting!

And last, but definitely not least, I’ve resolved to make a very concerted effort to post in my blog no less than once a week. I know I have a bit of a dilemma here, in that everything I’m planning on making requires a substantial time commitment. I don’t yet know where or how I’m going to be able to find the time to do everything~ and that leads me to say that surely 2011 is going to be a year of challanges! I thought I’d add a few pictures of some of the knit things that I’ve mentioned here so you will have an idea of what kinds of things you can expect to be seeing in my shop over the coming year!

Here’s to a wonderful 2011 for everyone!


Pascal And His New Sweater

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Sew? I haven’t. I’ve been knitting Pascal a sweater-  For the past ten years I’ve been knitting Pascal a sweater! So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I finally finished it last week. Ten years to knit one little dog sweater is, well, at the least, a long time—–  but it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. It’s not like I’ve been working on it non-stop for ten years & just finished. This is what happened.

I actually started the sweater eleven years ago, and it wasn’t for Pascal. It was to be for the dog I had before Pascal, a schnoodle named Shadow. Shadow lived to be 18; a long life for a dog, but not long enough for his sweater to be a reality.

The first winter that I had Pascal I thought,  it’s cold and we have a long winter ahead. I should finish the sweater I started for Shadow, for Pascal! I pulled the bag with the beginnings of Shadow’s sweater in it, out of the closet. It was indeed a beginning. I’d knit only about 4 inches of the back- and that was it!  I had started the sweater on a whim, thinking it would be a good way to use up left-over yarn as well as help Shadow stay warm during the cold months. I had never knit a dog sweater before, but I decided that I didn’t need a pattern to make one- it couldn’t be very difficult-  I measured Shadow’s back and started knitting.

When I picked-up the beginnings of Shadow’s sweater a year later to finish it for Pascal, I had nothing written down to follow- I hadn’t even left myself notes.  I hadn’t gotten very far on it for Shadow, so I measured Pascal, and continued knitting-  for a few days. I had planned to knit the sweater in my time off from  hand-smocking & embroidering the girl’s dresses I sell. As the days passed I got busier & busier with my dress-making and never seemed to find “time-off” for working on the sweater. After weeks of dusting around it, I finally put it back in the closet to wait for “time off”. Each succeeding year I’d pull the sweater enthusiastically from the closet telling myself- and Pascal-  “O.k.! this year- soon- I’m going to finish your sweater!

But every year the same thing happened-  although each year a little bit got added to it. This year when I pulled it from the closet I realized that all I had left to knit was a small portion of the underside and the two sleeves. THIS was going to be the year!~! Pascal was going to find himself toasty-warm in the middle of a new sweater!! This time I put my sewing aside to finish my knitting. And finish, I did! Twice, actually!

Here is a photo of my first finish~ (Notice, he’s smiling~)

IMG_1407 I couldn’t wait to put it on him once I got the pieces sewn together. Interestingly, he seemed to be as excited to try it on as I was. As I slipped it over his neck I saw right away that the neck was too wide. Four inches too wide! Hmmm…….

I made a tuck on each side with my hands to see how that would work. Perfect! I slipped it back off his head so that I could figure out how to make a permanent tuck on each side & still be able to easily stick his legs through the sleeves. I needed something that I could open & close~ like a tie-  Aha! I’d crochet a tie, make a tuck again at each shoulder & tie it shut! That worked perfectly. If Pascal were a bit concerned about having a bow on each shoulder, he didn’t show it. He actually seemed very pleased with it. In fact,he did something he never does; he sat there willingly and posed while I took pictures.

The more I looked at him the more I was aware that something just wasn’t quite right. Pascal’s sweater from the front, looked more like he was wearing a pair of pants. It wasn’t yet quite a sweater, it was a “pantser”. The neck of the sweater looked more like the waist of a pair of pants. His sweater needed a turtle neck!  I took his sweater back off, picked up my knitting needles and started knitting again~ Two days later Pascal had a full-fledged, turtle-neck, soft warm sweater~  It was everything we both had hoped it would be! I pulled out my camera and once again, Pascal did what he never does; he sat still and posed, looking very proud~  the perfect model!

Pascal in car going to park in new sweater!

IMG_1457 Pascal at the park in new sweater