Friday, May 28, 2010

Designing Thoughts

Yesterday I mentioned cutting skirt panels. I went a bit crazy on it, as I was going through a bin of sweater parts I've had for a while and didn't know what to do with; now that I'm making skirts I have something I can do with the parts that aren't big enough for a whole pair of mittens or a hat. That's a happy thing. : )
So here's a skirt made from yesterday's endeavors. It is a skirt all in and of itself, but it was also a dry run for a skirt that someone has ordered. I needed to know if I could make it the size my customer wants, and if not, what to change. I'm totally inept mathematically, so I can't design a formula that will tell me what size to make the panels. I have to do it by trial and error - which is not tragic, since the trials net me skirts that can go in my booth and my etsy shop. Sigh...certainty would be nice, though!

I filled up my scrap box again, so I will have to make another dog bed. (The scraps not big enough to make something of turn into stuffing.) I don't think I have a sweater big enough for one right now! The puppy belongs to the Boy, and is wearing wrist warmers that he requested I make when the puppy was more a part of the Boy's life. Used to be that puppy went everywhere the boy went. Not so anymore...more sighs.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

One Week Till Market Season Begins!

I've spent the last week trotting between the washing machine and the clothesline with wet sweaters. This is the last of the bunch from what Carol sent me, and what a treasure trove that was. So many cashmere sweaters!

It's one week till my first farmer's market, and that will begin a whole weekend of shows for me. I've spent months eagerly anticipating that day...and now I'm feeling like a hamster on a wheel about it! There are so many things I want to get done before then, and it feels like I will be so busy that my life will end on June 3! Not so. One day at a time...

I've been making lots of things - bags, cutting panels for skirts, and yesterday, it was slippers.
If you'd like to see one of my skirts modeled by a lovely new college graduate, go see Rabbits Eat Quilts. Her daughter is one of my Second's best friends, and she got a skirt for a graduation gift.

Here's my latest needle felting project. He's a sharp-shinned hawk.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm Back

After a few nervous days, I'm so grateful to be back here on my blog. Last week I got a virus/spam email that I didn't handle well, and Google deactivated my gmail account and removed my blog until I could show them I'm not a spammer. Fortunately they have ways all set up to do that, and I now have my mail and blog back. I could have dealt with setting up a new mail account, but losing my blog would have been really hard. I've put in a lot of time here, and it's how I communicate my show schedule - I'm really grateful I don't have to redo all that work!

Speaking of work, here's a photo of me taken by Duffy Schade at the Art For Nature's Sake show in Glastonbury. It was a lovely, sunny morning, perfect for sitting out and working on a bird. I've got my fiber bags on one side of me, and my bird guide on the other.

Here's my latest addition to the bird collection: a chipping sparrow. To me, they sound like a sewing machine. See what you think by listening here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Morning of Working Outdoors

We've got gorgeous weather today, so I took advantage of it and spent the morning working out in the yard, and washing and hanging the mountains of laundry that got added to the mix when the college student returned home. To her credit, she's done a lot of it herself, but I had to take advantage of the sunshine today. So I washed laundry, mowed the lawn. Hung laundry, thinned the hostas. Washed more laundry, mulched the peas, raspberries and finished mulching the garlic. Hung more, and did the trimming. There's so much more to be done!!! Hedges need trimming, veggie seeds need planting, bare spots need seeding...but I'm grateful to have accomplished what I did.

While I was out there I could hear the goldfinches twittering away. (And the sparrows, catbirds, starlings, purple finches, swallows...)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'm Having an Inordinate Amount of Fun Making Skirts

Maybe I'm going a little overboard here, but I think these skirts will sell. I've sold all the skirts I originally made, and these are way more fun than those were. So now when I'm cutting up a sweater into mittens or hats or whatever, I'm also cutting skirt panels and making stacks of panels for later assembly. This is the first one to be completed in this fashion, and I like the zaniness of all the patterns next to each other. It's a size 4-6 little girl's.

My next challenge is to design a skirt to be a specific size. I think I can, I think I can! (The story of the Little Engine Who Could was one of my favorites when I was little.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Waste Not

Today is Food Waste Friday at Frugal Girl. I've really been encouraged not to let food go to waste since I've become part of her community. This week I had a banana that was threatening to get too brown and spotty (I like them at the just-yellow stage) and I ate it for a snack before it could languish on the counter. Rice is another thing that tends to sit in our fridge for too long, but yesterday I added it to a salad, so no food waste for this week!

On the waste not front, here's a skirt I made for little girls, entirely out of scraps. It's all cashmere, so it's super soft, and I love the way it's swingy. I love being able to use all of a sweater when I'm making things! (if you'd like to see more like it, you can visit my Etsy shop).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Meet The Fall Guy

May I introduce you to The Fall Guy? More politely, I'd introduce him as a Green Man, fall phase. He's my third in a series: I have a spring maiden, a green man and now the Fall Guy. Hopefully, sometime I will make a Winter man.

I'm really proud of myself that he is done today. I've been making him for Nature For Art's Sake, this weekend at the Glastonbury Audubon Society, and it's not Friday night with me up till all hours...I've done a bit of growing since the college days!

Here's a close-up of his eyes - they are the part that people always are drawn to.

These guys are so fun to make! Hours and hours of work, though. Each leaf is felted individually and the face is sculpted onto the background of a recycled sweater before I start attaching the leaves. Nothing is sewn - it's all needle felted.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Catching Up on Sewing

I've been working hard on the Fall Guy (his pic is a little later). Every once in a while when I have a few minutes, I'll cut out a pair of mittens or wrist warmers, or a cell phone pouch. So they build up into a pile on my work table until I have a chance to sit down at the sewing machine.

Here's a pile of stuff I've cut and it's waiting to be sewn. Mostly it's pot holders and coasters.

Here's some more that's cut. You can see how organized I am (NOT!).

This is a pair of slippers I've sewn and they are waiting to be felted.

And here's the Fall Guy. He's not done yet, though the best part of the work is done. I'm not ready to show him full-face yet.

I have a half-hour before supper, and no one else is around, so I'll be cutting some more out...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Two New Skirts

I'm not going to write a whole lot today, because it finally stopped raining, and I want to get some yard work done...but here are a couple of new skirts I made this week. The one above is for little girls, and the one below is for big girls.

They're both topped in cashmere for comfy-ness.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Food Waste Friday

Another week of no food waste! It's easy not to lose things in the fridge when the fridge doesn't have a lot in it. When we keep leftovers in reused containers it's hard to see what's in them, but when we're looking for food for lunch and we need to eat, the containers get opened!

For a frugal approach to gardening see my blog post about gardening.

It's just one month till the market season begins! I hope to see some of you at my farmer's markets!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Frugal Gardening

I love this time of year when the garden is really coming alive. I want to share with you some of my "easy" "frugal" gardening techniques.

It all actually starts in the Fall, when it's leaf raking time. When I rake the leaves I store them in a caged bin in the back corner of my yard.

I"m always amazed at how many leaves I can store there. I always have to dump the leaves, then climb up on the pile and stomp them down, but that's actually fun, it's so springy and bouncy. My leaf bin is about 4'x4' and the pile probably gets up to 4 or 5 feet tall.

At that same time of year it's also time to plant next year's garlic, so I prepare the planting bed with compost that's been breaking down all summer, then plant the cloves of garlic.

Fast forward to the time of year we are now in, gorgeous May weather, when the garlic is up and growing.

See the green stalks of the garlic, and among them, little weeds starting to happily sprout up, too? Years ago I read a book, an old one, called "How To Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back". The author's premise was that if you mulch thickly, you won't have to spend hours weeding. Here's where those leaves I raked last fall come in. I tuck them around all of the plants growing in my garden.

Here's where I finished yesterday when the thunderstorm rolled in.

I got most of the bed covered. There are a lot of benefits: almost no weeding (any weeds that are able to pop through the mulch are very easy to pull out); I need to do much less watering, as the leaves keep moisture in; it's much easier to rake and dump the leaves in the bin than to bag them and have them sit out front for weeks, waiting for the town to come pick them up; and it's all free fertilizer. I also use the leaves for my flower beds and as food for the compost heap.

Here's how that works.

This is my composting area. It's a spot about 10 feet long by 4 feet deep in the back corner of my yard. I used all salvaged materials to cage it in, except for the fence posts I bought at the hardware store. There are 3 sections.
This one is on the far left, and it's the compost that's been working since last fall. I'll empty it onto my garden beds within the next month.
This section is on the far right. It's the raw bin (not pretty). All of my kitchen scraps get tossed here all winter, as well as my bunny's poo and bedding. When I empty the finished compost bin on the left, I will layer this stuff with leaves from the leaf bin (the middle section) into the bin on the left and it will cook all summer. Come fall, I will put it on the garlic bed and begin a new pile with all the plants that get pulled out of the veggie garden. And the cycle will begin again.

It makes so much more sense to use what is mine for free (all those leaves and kitchen scraps) than to have the town truck it away, and then have to pay for fertilizer!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ladybugs Popping Up All Over

Earthstock yesterday at Tunxis Community College was a fun festival. Lots of environmental booths, good entertainment, nice people to meet...the weather was good, and I even had time to do some felting outdoors, which I enjoy. Mr. Mottled Sheep was one who got finished. I made "ghosts" (which is what my husband calls the white forms of my critters before they get their colored feathers or fur or what have you) of chippies and ladybugs, too.

A couple of ladybugs got finished this morning and they wanted to show you what's going on in our garden. The peas are up...

the starwberries are covered with blossoms...

and the lettuce has sprouted. I haven't seen any real ladybugs out there yet!