"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Webs and Beads

This is an update on two projects I am currently working on. Actually, the lace shrug is done, but the spiderweb vest will take a lot more time. I am having a ton of fun doing it, though, and even my husband was impressed enough yesterday to remark on how how much he liked it. It has been raining for two days, so in between house and barn chores, I have had lots of time to work on this, and it has been a great way to use up bead odds and ends left over from other projects. Still looking for the perfect spider to put in the middle when the web is finished, but I know I'll find one eventually.

So far I have used pearls and beads of various colors and sizes. What is hard to see in my photos (again, taken indoors on a dark and rainy day — and yeah, I need a way to fix that problem, I know), is that I have started sewing tiny, sparkly white rocailles in the spokes of the web, and on some of the ladder threads. I tried very hard to get them to show up in my spotlight, but wasn't very successful. The web is made of embroidery thread — two strands doubled for the thickest spokes, two strands single for the next size down, and regular quilting thread, doubled, for the finest. At this point, it is all done in backstitch. Even the beads are sewn in with backstitch.

I have lots more work to do on this, and lots more beads and things I want to add, so it looks like leaves and maybe flower petals have gotten caught in the web.  I am also going to add bugs tangled in it. Like I said, I am having a lot of fun with this vest, and keeping a sense of humor over the design. I am also getting a lot of listening in on my collection of books-on-tape and CDs. Mostly classic murder mysteries by Ngiao Marsh, Georgette Heyer, Ellis Peters, and Elizabeth Peters with a bit of James Lee Burke thrown in for atmosphere. Love his books. 

These last two photos are of the fine line of beading I did around the edge of the lace shrug I dyed with avocado dye. It is really hard to see, and is only a single line of beading, but it adds just a bit of weight, and sparkle when the light hits it just right. This project is done, as the lace is old and fairly fragile, and wouldn't take the weight of adding beads to the body of the piece. But I liked the way it turned out, and enjoyed the dying process with the avocado skins, so will try that again on something sturdier.

 The line of beads ( in case you really can't find it) is where the lace trim and the old lace tablecloth meet. Two purple beads to one rose pink bead sewn on with doubled quilting thread. In these photos the shrug looks almost peach colored, but in real life is a soft, antique rose pink.

That's the latest....hope you all are having a lovely Spring.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Drunken Spider Vest

This is the start of a pretty major embroidery and beading project, based on a photo I saw on Pinterest. Someone created a huge spiderweb strung with pearls and crystals. My first thought was, it would look awesome on the back of a jacket or vest. I had a denim jacket, but alas, it was stretch denim and wouldn't work for this project. Back to the Goodwill. Luckily, I found this cute little short-sleeved number for only $5.99.

I hated the funky roll-up sleeves. 

I didn't really want a collar on it either. It was also a bit tight across the back, so...off with the sleeves and collar. Then I took out my handy bar of soap and marked the spiderweb lines on the back. This spider isn't too particular about how her web looks, mainly because I wanted the design to be pretty free-form. Not sure just how a spider would get drunk...unless it had snacked on one too many flies that had been drinking out of someone's beer mug, but oh well.

The web design will get more complicated and crazier as I go. These lines are the foundation. I am going to find a plastic spider or maybe a spider pin to put in the center of the web, and then add a few plastic bugs as well. I might even wrap some in floss so they look like spider snack food hanging in the pantry.

Ooo, or I could even find a little picture of Vincent Price and sew him into the web, with a word bubble over his head saying "Help me, help me!" LOL

So, there is the start of the Drunken Spider Vest project. This one should be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring Flip-Flops

I bet you thought I meant those funny, must have flip-flops that I personally love, and live in all summer. Nope. This is how I grudgingly deal with bi-polar Spring weather.

As Mother Nature flip-flops between Winter and Spring—one day it's dark, pouring rain and only 44 degrees, the next it's bright, sunny and 72 degrees—my schedule flip-flops in tandem with Hers.

When it's nice, I'm outside working in the yard and garden, clearing out all the dead winter wood and brush. That's when I discover just how many gophers have taken up residence since last summer. In this year's case there are so many holes it looks like someone did several strafing runs over my garden firing 27 mm rounds. I also had to take an inventory of how many plants I lost due to the mini ice age we had back in December. So far it looks like the succulents on the front walkway suffered the most attrition, and I may have lost the star jasmine in the big pot by the terrace steps, but the verdict is still out on that one. Robert and I also decided to eliminate the whole back side of the fenced garden, as it is slowing collapsing into the creek, and it would be way too expensive and labor intensive to shore it back up. Since that section also is in the shade most of the day, then in the afternoon is subjected to direct sunlight and intense heat during the summer, it's a pain in the butt to find something that can grow in those two extremes. The last thing I attempted was hydrangeas, and they have struggled. I may pot them up and put them in the shade on the deck. When I attempted to grow them anywhere else in the yard, the deer ate them to a nub. Yes, anything planted outside the fenced garden has to be deer proof.

The other thing I do when the weather is nice is work my horses. We just got a new one for my husband, who had to retire his old gelding, Apollo, who is now around 25 and looking his age. He just didn't have the stamina for the kinds of horse activities we do. The fact that the vet told us he has arthritis in all four legs, but especially in the hind, just sealed his retirement fate. So, now we have Strider, a seven-and-a-half-year-old Fox Trotter, who needs a lot of work, since his previous owner didn't ride him much. And just last Sunday we learned that he doesn't like going into a trailer. He loaded fine at his previous home, with his first mom leading him in. When we tried at our place he balked, pulled back and broke the tie-in, and we spent two hours working with him to finally get him back in and to stand quietly, then back out nicely. It's going to take many more sessions like that before we go anywhere, since I won't travel with a horse who won't load and unload easily.

Here is a photo of Robert on one of his first rides on Strider. My mare, Delight, is giving Strider the stink-eye as they go by. I think Delight is still secretly hoping Strider will go back where he came from, and she and Apollo can have their privacy back.

With the weather flipping back and forth, the biggest issue we have with working the horses is the bad footing. We have forest clay soil, and despite the varied ways we have tried to augment the ground to make it more workable, it eventually gets too slippery and sloggy to do anything faster than a walk. That's where things are now, which is pretty danged frustrating when the sun is shining and you really want to get some riding work in, and the most you can do is putz around. Not that there aren't a lot of things you can teach or perfect at the walk, but it does get tiresome after about a month. But I battle on, do what I can, and grit my teeth every time it rains and makes the ground even more slippery.

On days where it's dark and rainy, I work on projects inside, or, as I did the other morning, I go into town. Sometimes to run errands and visit the library to replenish my stash, or in this case, I trolled the Goodwill then went next door to JoAnn's Fabrics. It turned out to be fortuitous timing, since I found a few nice things at the Goodwill, and JoAnn's had all their jewelry supplies on sale for 40-75 percent off. I came home with two T-shirts to make another bolero, and a denim short-sleeved jacket for another project I have in mind, which I will go into more on my next post.

Here is a very dark photo (remember, I said it was a gloomy, rainy day) showing the treasures I came home with, all piled on the coffee table in the living room, which at the time was the brightest place in the house. I bought the patterned shirt because the color and leaf design reminded me of William Morris wallpaper. It was the first piece I found, and I figured the chances of finding a color to match it would be slim to zero, so I went poking around looking for a good contrasting color when I found the other T-shirt, which matched the color of the patterned one exactly. That was a lucky find, indeed. 

This lovely little hoard of goodies, shirts and findings, cost me under $20. The only thing I didn't think to get (my mind was in jewelry nirvana at all the things on sale) was some embroidery floss to match the dark green in the patterned shirt, since the binding on the bolero will be out of the solid aqua.

Oh gosh darn, I will have to go back to JoAnn's again. Life can be such a trial.