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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Work In Progress; A Peaceful Ending

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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.

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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

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CPSIA…. Think About the Children

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I love children too! I have two grandchildren of my own who I love dearly and want them to have the very best, illness- free lives, possible. I would be devastated if they were to get lead poisoning. I don’t think you could find anyone involved in the business of “handmade” who doesn’t want to see children protected from everything that could be hazardous to their lives. I don’t want children to get lead poisoning either. It must be stopped. But enforcing this law is not the way.

As the law now stands, it has the potential to create an infinite amount of hazardous avenues in our children’s lives. Think about it.  Thousands and thousands of shop owners and creators of handmade items for children will have to go out of business once this law is enacted because the vast majority of us cannot afford the exorbitant fees required to get each of our items individually tested. The children whose medical expenses, food, shelter, clothing, and other expenses necessary for a child’s support, are currently being met with income from their parent’s small business, will suddenly be left “out in the cold, “deprived of all   necessities.Income for the majority of small business owners, currently is used, at the very least, to supplement living expenses.For many, income from their “handmade” business is the sole source of support for the family.

Think of the thousands and thousands of children whose parents are suddenly going to find themselves jobless~ In today’s economy, their unemployment is not likely to change soon. How will these children be fed, clothed, have roofs over their heads, medicine, and all of the other things children need?

This well-intentioned law is going to backfire with disastrous results for our children! It HAS to be prevented from happening Feb.l0! In an effort to support the fight against this law, I phoned Congressman Dan Lungren’s office yesterday after reading on etsy that his aide was looking for stories about the impact the CPSIA is going to have on the lives of small business owners. I spoke to Alexandra who wanted our stories to give to Congressman Lungren so he can help  fight  this law when Congress meets.

Alexandra made the very good point that the this law was written in reaction to the lead found in children’s toys that were being imported from China. That is the problem that needs to be addressed. Restrictions need to be put perhaps, on children’s items imported from China, as opposed to every item a child under 12 might come into contact with. As she so well said, the CPSIA law is the equivalent of someone getting badly injured or killed in a car accident, and the government, in an effort to ban future car accidents, says that  all driving will be banned.

Please think about the impact this law is really going to have on children. Is this really what you think is the best way to solve the problem of lead in toys imported from China?  If you don’t want to witness the effects this law will have, not only on small business owners, but on our children then please help in our fight to prevent this laws enforcement. Write letters. Spread the word to everyone you know.

Do you know,  as of today, most people haven’t even heard of this law– yet it was passed a year ago—yet it’s scheduled to be enforced in a little over TWO weeks!!

Think of the children…………….

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Swimming Against the Tide

We, (Pascal and I,) started today with an early morning walk downtown, where virtually everything was still locked except  Starbuck’s and Peets. Rain had been forecast and I was anxious to get a walk in before it began. Pascal doesn’t like to get even his feet wet, so it was, either we went early before the rain, or not at all.

Downtown is very nice at that hour. There’s not a lot of foot traffic and it’s relatively quiet, if you discount the sounds of passing cars- and for me that’s pretty easy to do once I start looking into shop windows. It’s never long before I’m lost in thought.

This morning,  still feeling “up” from yesterday’s historic inauguration, I felt energetic and was able to keep up with Pascal’s pace for a change. As I looked into store windows I could feel the beginnings of new dress ideas percolating in my mind. Forty-five minutes later we concluded our walk and happily, I had two new ideas for future dresses to jot into my notebook. I thought about them as I worked on my dress today and am really excited to try them. That mood carried me through the day and I even felt encouraged that the CPSIA problem would soon be resolved~  until tonight when I started reading the etsy forums.

Someone from the etsy staff posted a message about how it is more important than ever to write more letters to Congress urging them to postpone and reconsider this law and then he put in a link, which I will post as well, revealing some sickening news that popped the bubble of hope I have been living in. After reading this I felt very sad at the thought that I may never be permitted to try the new ideas that I had been so excited about all day, and sad that I started realizing that it could really come to pass that I will no longer be able to make the little girls hand-smocked dresses that I have been making for the past 32 years- very sad to realize that everything I’ve worked so hard to create and around which, my life has revolved, could very soon- Feb.10- all be taken away~

I am printing the link to the article for you to read, in the hope that maybe you too will support us and write your Congressmen; swamp them with pleas to reform this terrible law that they never should have approved in the first place. If you want to know what this law is really all about, I posted a link to an excellent article from Forbes magazine in my blog on Jan.17 titled “CPSIA Update”.

Swimming Against the Tide

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