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!

1

Hey~ The Gate’s Open!

~*~ 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. ~*~

Sunday morning and lots to do~ and lots to procrastinate over!  “Come on, Pascal, let’s go for a walk!”

We go for a walk almost every morning. Besides being good exercise,  I find it a nice way to get my mind going  for the day and get things sorted out, , especially if I’m feeling overwhelmed- which is how I felt this morning.  I grabbed my camera and the dog and walked out the door. I’d rather have my camera with me even if I don’t use it, than find myself wishing I had brought it.

It was pretty foggy out, so I didn’t really expect to have much of an opportunity to use it,  but as we started up  the country road I couldn’t help but notice the interesting and beautiful effect the fog was having, masking everything in an ethereal cloud of dampness and quiet. Wondering if I could capture some of this strange beauty with my camera,  I began clicking away, noticing how the branches of the trees  that were in close range  appeared strong and dark,  like out-raised arms holding the fog at bay; in contrast,  trees in the  distance appeared soft & frail, their outlines blurred in the fog.

I was surprised to see how much of a start the spring grasses have had already. We’ve had a lot of rain so far this winter, but I hadn’t expected to see the grasses getting long so soon.  Damp with the morning fog,  they looked almost  florescent-green against the foggy-gray backdrop of sky. The countryside had acquired an entirely different “attitude,”  much as a person’s mood can be affected by  weather changes. This “attitude”  I was seeing was one of great beauty and I was indeed happy that I ‘d brought my camera!

Leaving the fog outside with the trees,  I had a better sense of which project to work on today. I have been so excited about knitting little lambs. I just finished my fourth one and listed it on my website and in my Etsy shop and I’ve started knitting a new lamb~   

After my walk, knowing I was going to work on my lamb today, I was excited; couldn’t wait to start;  but first I had to get the last of the things I’d been procrastinating over, finished ;  writing my blog post!!

And I’m off to knit! Have a great week!

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!


Say Baaaa!

“B”stands for Bark– and it also stands for “Baaa”~

Say Baaa

To Pascal and I the distinction is pretty clear, but you’d be surprised at how many people are surprised when Pascal “Barks” instead of “Baaas”-  Really!

Over the years, we have been asked so many funny questions~ If I could only get Pascal to say “Baaa” when we’re asked, it would be wonderful! I keep working on it, but so far, Pascal’s clinging to his  “Bark;”  loud and proud!

If only-   Here-  just the other day is a wonderful example of how perfect it would have been  had Pascal responded, “Baaa”-

We were driving home, ( Pascal buckled into his seat belt in the front passenger seat,)  and  stopped at a traffic light. My window was open just a crack; just enough for the nearby sound of laughter to slip in and grab my attention. Looking in the direction of the laughter,  I looked up into the truck that was stopped beside me. The woman next to the window was looking directly into my car at Pascal and I could see just the top of the driver’s head as she craned her neck amidst her laughter, to see over her passenger and into my car as well. I smiled, (their laughter making it impossible not to,) and the first woman motioned me to roll down my window . I did, knowing full well what was coming~

“Is that a lamb in the front seat with you?” she asked. They were still laughing, but I could tell they both were serious about their question.  As has happened so many times in the past, all of these deliciously fun answers began competing in my mind………. pick me! pick me! Just as I was about to tell “the big lie,” Pascal decided that he’d answer the question himself~  “Bark! Bark”   That made them laugh all the harder! “We thought you were driving around with a lamb in your front seat!”  The light turned green and we continued on our way,  their laughter echoing in my ears.09

I tried once again-  “Pascal, say Baaaa”-  He looked at me-  “Pascal,…… Baaa!”  I looked at him, he looked at me,………

“Bark!”

In my last post I mentioned that I intended to add notecards to my shop. I now want to officially announce that they are here!!! To begin with, I have two series of cards, the first is called The Language Of Flowers and contains sets of 4 blank, white notecards and envelopes, measuring 5.25″x 7.25″. Each card is mounted with a different, glossy, 4″ x 6″ photograph taken by me. Each card in a set is a different card, and each set differs from the other set, so be sure when you look,  to look at all four cards in the set. I have many more sets made up, waiting to be listed, so be sure to keep checking to see what I’ve added- This is the kind of picture you should expect to see in the series, The Language of Flowers~Standing Out in a Crowd

The second series is called Notes From Rabbit Whiskers. These notecards are basically the same as the first series, except for the subject of the photographs. To anyone who knows the handsmocked, hand-embroidered girl’s dresses that I make, these might seem a bit familiar~  and very unique!

The next series is one that I  haven’t composed yet, but will very soon, so keep looking! This series will have sets with photos of beautiful scenery!

I Love making these cards and can’t seem to stop. I’m very excited for you to see them, so please come and enjoy! They are listed in both my website, and my Etsy shop!!!

Work In Progress; A Peaceful Ending

#419forpost copy

Good Morning!

As you can see from this photo, I finished the dress I’ve been working on! On January 25, and 27, I posted photos so that you could see how such a scene develops.

The scenes on my dresses are always a combination of smocking and embroidery. Smocking is wonderful for covering large flat areas, such as in the pasture, the hills, and the sky and for creating interesting  design patterns by varying smocking stitches.

Everything else in the scene is embroidered. I like to use embroidery because it allows me to add texture. Figures such as the lamb are almost three- dimensional. Tiny details like facial characteristics, become much more defined and realistic when they are embroidered. Embroidery allows me to work with thread almost as if it were paint.

As you can see in the first photo, (from the post of Jan.25,)  Peace sort of blends into the background, as does the little bird in the tree above her. When I encounter that problem, a little “landscaping” usually solves it.

By the time of the second photo, two days later, I had embroidered lots of flowers and grasses surrounding Peace and she becomes more visible. At this point, the scene looked kind of pale and blah. It definitely needed color to perk it up and bring it out, so I added some bright, orange-red, flowers, and a bright- green line at the edge of the pasture defining the pasture as well as adding color. The Magnolia tree with the bird in it, seemed to be lost in the background as well, so I filled the entire area behind it with blue sky.

Once the scene was completed, I returned to the smocking across the bottom and top of the scene, to see how it might better be  “framed.” I added four additional rows of smocking to the bottom, using the pale yellow of the main smocked pattern, a row of white, and then finishing with a row of the same bright yellow that I used in Peace’s flower garland. The last row of smocking in bright- yellow,  finished the scene off nicely with an additional touch of color.

Later, once I put sleeves on the dress, I was able to use that same bright yellow to trim the sleeves and button placket and tie it all together!

Progress Report~ Spring just around the corner

09A Lamb Named Peace/ a work in progressWe’re getting there, Peace and I! I thought you might enjoy seeing an update of the dress I’m currenly working on. I was able to spend the majority of the day yesterday, working on my dress, and by last night, felt as if I’d made progress. I’m hoping by tonight to be able to say I’m ready to start sewing the dress together, but we shall see!

I just returned from taking Pascal on our morning walk. After a brief spell,(four days,) of minor amounts of rain, Spring has returned and everything is resplendant with sunlight! We had perfect walking weather- in the 50′s. It felt cold to start off with, but with a quick pace we warmed up quickly and the air felt wonderful! It was a nice way to begin the day. Walking by pretty gardens and fields filled with rich-green long grasses,  felt as if I were walking through the scene that I’m embroidering on the dress pictured above.

I carry this scene home, my mind filled with thoughts about the scene growing right before my eyes, and I feel eager to get to work!

Before I go I thought I’d leave you with a few “spring-like” images to hold in your mind today, especially if you are one of those people who have been looking at snow for so long, that it’s almost hard to imagine that the time is close when you too, will be walking in the warmth of the sun,  through flower-filled garden scenes.

Spring OrangeBits

The Sunny Side of the Street

Forty-two degrees out and windy!**Please can I have a drink Pascal and I choose the sunny side of the street to begin our walk this morning. At first it felt freezing, (I was glad I had put Pascal’s coat on.) But as soon  as we got a good pace going it felt wonderfully exhilarating!!

As I have mentioned before, I like to clear my mind when I walk and let the new ideas flood in. As this issue of the CPSIA law that I have spent so much time worrying about, was departing, and since we were “on the sunny side of the street,” I thought I’d leave the link to one last encouraging piece of information that I picked up in the etsy forums last night. It’s just a short paragraph, but it suddenly put things into perspective for me and I now know which direction I want to take- Take a look! It is very good information to have for those of you who, like me, are struggling with decisions!

I mentioned in an earlier post, that I now have an etsy shop as well as my website, where I sell my dresses. I have found, within the etsy site, some of the most wonderful shops of handmade items from all over the world. I plan to soon periodically feature some of these outstanding shops and their products. This will be happening shortly, so check-in and see. I think you’ll enjoy what you see!

Finally, I mentioned that I’m working on a new dress and I talked about it a bit in my post called, “1/20/09 -A Lamb Named Peace.” I mentioned that it is a size 3 and will have a lamb on it. “Peace” is happy to now be standing in her field of smocking, watching hillsides, grasses and flowers, blossom up around her. I’ve given her a little bird in a tree for company while she waits for me to complete her scene. I thought you might like a glimpse of “Peace” and to see what a work in progress looks like. Once I am finished, you will have an idea of how it looked in transformation. Have a great Sunday!

A Lamb Named Peace; New work in progress

IMG_7563

1/20/09 & A Lamb Named Peace

I’m sure you must have felt it too-  the exhilaration of waking-up this morning  and feeling,  for the first time in way too many years, proud and happy to be  American! I have a strong sense of liberation.To finally be free from the Bush regime; free to be an American without feeling ashamed of it.

I find it such a liberating feeling to no longer want to hide the fact of my nationality. I hadn’t realized how powerful the feeling of shame over my identity had become, until I woke this morning feeling strangely, wonderfully, different; light, like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Thankfully, it truly had!!!

Working on the picture part of my dress today,  my head fills with thoughts about the new era that began this morning. Yesterday I wrote about having to pull out all of the embroidery I had done on the scene of my new dress because I didn’t like it. Today was totally different-  I sat down to work and ideas seemed to pour from my fingertips.  Usually I consider it bad luck to divulge what I am putting on a dress before I’m finished with it, but today I feel like there will be no bad luck, so I’ll tell you~  I have almost finished embroidering a little lamb, which will be the main “character” of this dress. Because she was born today, this historic inaugural day, I’m going to name her Peace in honor of President Obama, our representative for world peace and freedom-

In honor of this special moment in history, I’d like to include a photo that to me, expresses the feelings of liberation and hope that President Obama brings to the world. Look deeply through the window of cattails, into the clouds reflected on the calm of the pond.****Picture Perfect.jpg Look at your reflection and~  what do you see?