mini mat

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I have had a recent obsession with creating small area rugs.  Hooked, knit, and most recently braided.  For this door mat, I began with 300 yards of a more thin piping cord than previously used(12/32″), divided this into three equal parts, and used a similar dying technique first attempted here.  Once dyed and dried the three colors of piping cord were braided together.

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Initially I wanted to use this braid to create a traditional braided rug sewn in rounds to create a larger round rug.  My first attempt was not a success and the growing disc began to look like a conical Asia rice paddy hat.  Stylish yes, but not the mission of the day.

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And so…enter giant knitting needles.  After casting on only 7 stitches, a simple Stockinette stitch was worked up.  From this project I learned that it is not conducive to sit close on the couch with my man, using the three-foot home-made knitting needles.  He had to duck and cover a few times, but thankfully no blood was shed, which in my mind is a great success.

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For the amount of braided yardage that this little mat is made up of, I was surprised how small the finished product is.  It is an appropriate door mat, but looks a little on the small side, and makes me giggle a little when I step on it.

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a-tisket a-tasket a little knit basket

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Lately, I have been using leftover yarn on smaller projects to clean out the old stash and make room for some new.  This Country Yellow cotton by Lily was an ideal yarn to use on this knit basket.  Casting on 19 stitches and working up five squares of 30 rows in seed stitch, created this basket.  After completing the five squares, they were stitched together to form a box.  It is a stretchy little box, and is happily serving as the new home for the growing pile of fabric selvage edges I am collecting.

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rainy day bee install

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Our package of bees arrived the other day.  It was of course the darkest, rainiest, most gloriously lazy of days.  One where bees and beekeepers alike, stay indoors and enjoy the warmth of companionship in the comfort of their own homes and hives.  One where our other thriving hive of bees dared not leave their cosy home after hearing news of a perilous doppler weather report, for fear of wet wings.  But this rainy day would be different for some less fortunate bees.  This wet afternoon, a package of bees would be installed into their new home with the help of a pruney-fingered assistant.  The ill-timed storm was aggravated by the fact that this blue ribbon bee keeper had not made any syrup to feed them or even checked out their home for vagrant squatters of the rodent or insect variety.

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And so, in the rain of the day, after the suggested recommendation that these 20,000 bees sitting in a shoe box sized container, were in fact both hungry and in much need of a bathroom break, the install was in order to move full steam ahead.  I did not want to be  considered a negligent parent to these new buzzing beauties of mine.

Now, where did I put my smoker and what surprises would I find in the hive?!…

Wax moths of course.  These unwanted little creatures did a serious number on the beautiful drawn wax  the bees worked so hard at creating last year before they failed to thrive and slowly died off.  Thinking that the frost of the winter would keep them at bay was a mistake that I do not plan on forgetting the next time around.

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Smoker lit, veil placed on head, and bees ready to make the move, I waited out the storm for a break in the rain.  Though the break came, it did not last long, and these resilient little bee friends of mine had a less than graceful carry over the threshold.  Twelve hours later, with plenty of sweet syrup given and a bit of sunshine outside, they seem to be recovering quite nicely.

The Maine Honey Exchange is an incredible local resource for backyard beekeepers in Southern Maine.  They offer classes, seasonal bee packages, local honey products, and even can extract your bee’s honey come harvest time.

spring has sprung table runner

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For me, springtime and sewing go together like Piglet and Pooh, red pepper jelly and cream cheese, and flowers and honey bees.

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Fresh fabrics, more sunlight, and a slight breeze blowing through the house, all create a pretty prefect afternoon for me and my loyal sewing machine.

I have been fanning through a number of my favorite sewing books lately to get ideas for a dining room table runner.  With the seedling planting of the past few weeks, my yardage of thick burlap has been calling out to be used, as have the yellow prints in hues reminiscent of daffodils and forsythia.

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For this runner, I altered an idea from the book I Love Patchwork: 21 Irresistible Zakka Projects to Sew, by Rashida Coleman-Hale.  She has a pattern for a fabulous sewing machine cover which uses thin strips of brightly colored fabric and linen combined in a simple and lovely way.  I used this as a jumping off point for constructing a wide, one-dimensional table runner.  Substituting the linen for burlap made this runner a bit more thick and burly (pardon the pun).

The prints used for this project are from Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern line, as well as Snow Flower by Dena Designs.

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carrot and coconut chutney

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The recipe for this chutney was found in the book, Well Preserved; Small Batch Preserving for the New Cook by Mary Anne Dragan.  The verdict is not quite out on how we will be using this new addition to our pantry.  This chutney is a deliciously unique and interesting combination of fruits and spices.  Incorporating a mix of citrus fruits, coconut, carrots, and spices, it is a sweet and fruity delight.  We recently mixed a jar with mascarpone cheese and spread it over olive oil crackers.  It is a beautifully rich color of orange and I believe it would make an incredible addition to a sorbet.  There is a perfect touch of fire to this recipe with the use of chili flakes which gives just a hint of savory to this sweet spread.

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There are a number of unique preserving recipes from this book which I am itching to try out including a Rosemary and Red Wine Jelly and Honey Lemon Jelly…ooh la la.

Pike Place

Photo by Lou

Photo by Lou

I recently finished this Pike Place cardigan by Berroco.  It was fun and exciting to knit a sweater on straight needles, in manageable sections.  That is until I realized that once finished, the sweater needed assembling.  My past sweater knitting experiences have only included top down knitting on round needles where once completed, the sweater magically is bound off in one ready to wear piece.  Voila!  Not the case with this knit, which resulted in five parts starting at me in a very Humpty Dumpty manner.  But lo and behold, with minimal curses uttered under my breath and a few cups of highly caffeinated coffee, the pile of parts began to look like a sweater. I didn’t need to enlist the help of all of the king’s horses or all of the king’s men either.  Phew.

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Photo by Lou

Photo by Lou

 

I altered the pattern to continue the seed stitch around the cuffs, waist, and neckline to keep with the pattern of the front button placket.  I used half ball buttons which were covered in a spring fabric.  This sweater is a great place to use your fine and fancy buttons.  The pattern picture shown here displays buttons with various pieces of sushi printed on them.  Rad choice indeed.

The yarn used was Oats in Vintage Chunky by Berroco.

flying

She dreams of violets, and lilacs, and of learning how to fly…

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There are aviators in my family line.  Men of adventure.  Men of chances taken.  Men who would fly for their country, for their families, and for their honor.  They would leave behind what was known, who was familiar, and where they lived, to fly.

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They would miss out on some things; a holiday, a birthday, a milestone in their children’s lives, but they would see and learn things unimagined.  They would amaze and instill wonder with stories told after a return home.  They would entertain.

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My dad flew.  Often gone long enough for my young memory to forget just what I was waiting for out on the tarmac in my Sunday best.  I would watch the approaching people, all in similar green flight suit attire, with shaded glasses, and clean tight haircuts.

“Is that him?” I asked my mother at one such moment, feeling that in our game, who spotted him first, loved him more.

“No,” my mother would say. “That, is him,” motioning in another direction to a different tall approaching man. And in that moment, upon this much-anticipated return, she would win.

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I flew today.

It was an introductory lesson.  Hopefully the first of more to come.

I am thankful for patient teaching, for having the company of my courageous girlfriend (Captain Carey), and for the blessings of a clear day with birds soaring outside and butterflies fluttering inside.

I flew today, and though it was a plane with only two seats, smaller than an average American vehicle, traveling over a small plot of green earth, for a short time, I loved it.

I loved it for me, and for my father, and for his father.  I loved it for adventure, I loved it for chances taken, and I loved it for giving me a glimpse into the proud purpose and past vocation of the patriarchs in my family.

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