Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
To see the bright beagles spread over the lawns;
To welcome the sun, now returning from rest,
Their mattins they chant as they merrily quest.
Then hark in the morn, to the call of the horn,
And join with the jovial crea,
While the season invites, with all its delights,
The health-giving chace to pursue.
Well, this was a very different meet than the last Thursday meet I wrote about, and not very much in keeping with the sun-filled verse above. We met at a misty Oakland Green. The field was small, and since the corn's been cut and turned under, the pack was a little slower in finding a scent. Still, we were on our way and I was breathing deeply. And then. We went by Dr. Marion's and two of his family's horses jumped a coop to follow the field. So there was a long period of cowboy/cowgirl work to get the loose ones contained before we could be on our way again.
Then, almost immediately as we moved off, it started to really rain. The whole time we had been out, the cloud ceiling had been slipping down in the sky, until it felt like it was sitting on our shoulders. But then, from the clouds, steady rain. Most of us headed for home. Something about this fixture this year. It really rained the last time we met there, in October. I didn't get quite as soaked this time.
Still, it was beautiful. I always think that the damp in the fall makes the colors more clear and bright and crisp, set off as they are by the dark black branches of wet trees. Until next time.
Monday, November 2, 2009
On Halloween day, lucky Henry got to see both sets of his grandparents and his great-grandparents. We ate North Carolina barbecue on a Virginia back porch and went to a baby party to see our buddies, baby Raggedy Ann and the Cowardly lion. There were many trick-or-treaters to greet at the door, and the weather held out long enough for baby H to visit all of the important neighbors. I think having a baby really enhances my experience of the changing seasons and the holidays. Something about the wonder in his eyes prompts me to experience everything anew.
And, sweetly bedappled, forbodes a fine day;
The hounds are all eager the sport to embrace,
And carol aloud to be led to the chace.
Then hark in the morn, to the call of the horn,
And join with the jovial crew,
While the season invites, with all its delights,
The health-giving chace to pursue.
We had a great day's cubbing from the Glebe a couple of Saturdays ago. We began the day with a viewing-- the youngest riders saw him first across a hilly field. We lost the pack a little bit in the middle of the first run, but recovered nicely and covered a lot of ground. Up Mount Gilead and then down to the swinging bridge through vineyards. Back through the bottom to Askari's, where we ran through fields of wild mint, that lovely scent wafting up from fleet hooves. Crossed the Goose more than once, wading at one point, pony riders picking up their knees. Even on a less-than-eventful day, this is a sport that makes me feel alive and connected. Beautiful day.
The verses above come from a very old book that my mom put in my Christmas stocking several years ago. I don't know anything about it, except that it is a book of songs titled "Roundelay, or the New Soren, a Collection of Choice Songs including the Modern," and was published by Sondon, and "printed for W. LANE, Leadenhall Street", maybe in London? It's about a quarter of the size of a piece of typing paper (trigesimo-segundo, or thirty-twomo size, google tells me) and bound in leather. There are many other verses to this song, and many other songs about the fair sport of foxhunting, so you may see more here in the future. I wish I knew what tune this song might have been sung to!
Monday, September 14, 2009
present moment, beautiful moment
Thursday, September 10, 2009
So there couldn't be a better time for a new floor quilt. Papa calls them H's "activity mats". This one measures about 40" by 47". I wish it were a bit bigger, but I love its bold pattern. Later, I hope those zigs will become rivers and the zags roads and mountains. For now, H wads the quilt up with busy knees on his way across the room or allows me to drape it over his head for a game of peek-a-boo. He examines the patterns and fabrics in the quiet moments before naptime, and every so often he actually pops his thumb in his mouth and lays down his head, ever so briefly. Good enough for me.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The last thing I made for the larder is those little jars of pizza sauce you see in the middle. We've recently started a Friday night homemade pizza tradition, so those should come in handy. I got the recipe for this sauce from the Ball book.
The stash is building and I love seeing those bright clean jars stack up. I'm itching to pressure can some Brunswick Stew next, but we'll see if I get any time over the next couple of weeks. I think some multi-colored quart jars would look just dandy next to my current jar soldiers, protecting my family from winter hunger. I'd be interested to hear what other folks have canned or preserved recently.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Suddenly, the signs are all around us that summer is over. I'll sleep with the windows open tonight, and breathe deeply.
(These are some unrelated crafts that have been completed lately. Top: The Baby Sophisticate sweater done up in Dream in Color Classy held double. I made the six to twelve months size and it's already kind of snug around the middle. Oh well, still cute. Bottom: A wee wonderfuls kitty made for Cousin Hannah's third birthday.)
Monday, July 6, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I think what has made my heart heaviest about this terrible event (besides of course the facts and the violence) is that this was a girl who lived her life to the fullest, cheerfully true to herself always. Her positive attitude and peace with herself drew others to her.
The last few mornings, I've woken early, before the baby, to the sound of birds. Lots of them. Talking to each other, greeting the new day. And then the baby chirps from the next room and I rise and we start all over again.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Horses At Midnight Without A Moonby Jack Gilbert
Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.
Our spirit persists like a man struggling
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
H has worn these almost constantly, though, with a long-sleeved onesie and booties on cooler days and solo on days like yesterday, which was hot and humid. They're nice and washable, and don't require ironing since they're so small. The twill pony-print one was a lot easier to make than the seersucker; it was easier to line that curved bodice seam up with the stiffer hand of the twill. These taught me that I need to work a little on my buttonholes. Even with the "automatic" feature on the machine, it's easy to make them too big. I need to learn how to make bound buttonholes-- I think they'd make these that much nicer. (Also, from Mom, useful information on how big to make the buttonholes. Apparently the rule is to add the diameter of the button to its thickness to determine the size for the hole. Good information to know.)
I already have fabric picked out for a couple more of these in the next size up. Maybe gnomes and baby wale corduroy.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
What brand and model do you have? My machine is a Bernina Virtuosa 153 Quilter's Edition.
How long have you had it? I (with much help from my mother) purchased the machine in late 2001 or early 2002, secondhand from a Bernina dealer.
How much does that machine cost (approximately)? Bernina doesn't make this machine anymore, but it ran about $2700 new. I paid about $1750, if I remember correctly, for an almost brand new machine. The woman who bought it new had turned it in for an even spiffier model soon after she purchased it. I've seen this model on eBay for $1200 - $1300 recently.
What types of things do you sew? I have sewn almost everything with this machine. I think the strength and sturdiness of a Bernina its greatest asset. I've done quilts from start to finish (piecing, quilting), clothes for me and my family, handbags, slipcover projects, a fair group of fake fur and fleece items for the horse and his equipment, paper for greeting cards and paper piecing, and much more. This machine has even sewed double-thickness split cowhide to heavy-duty Carhartt insulated coveralls (not that it was a walk in the park, but the machine came out unscathed). Basically, if you have the right needle and the right foot, with this machine the sky's the limit.
How much do you sew? I sew whenever I can, up to two hours a day after the baby goes to bed, but I've been known to sew a weekend away with two twelve-hour stretches.
Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name? No name, but I really do love this machine. It's quality.
What features does your machine have that work well for you? I like the automatic buttonhole feature. The blind hem stitch is very handy when time is tight. The adjustable feed dogs and the stop-needle-down feature see a lot of use. The bobbin is incredibly easy to wind and replace. The computer screen is not complicated. It simply displays the choices I've made with the buttons on the machine's face.
Would you recommend this machine to others? Absolutely. Without hesitation. It's such a strong and versatile machine that I don't see myself needing another.
What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine? I learned to quilt in college on a vintage Singer Featherweight that belongs to my mother. It did everything I needed then; it sewed beautiful rows of straight stitching. I made quilt blocks and stayed up late making dresses for beach week.
When I first got the Bernina, it was probably more than I needed. More functions and buttons for someone who really only knew how to sew in straight lines of straight stitches. But now I use almost all the features, and I can really do whatever I want to do with it. I think it's important to look for a quality machine above all else. Look for something that doesn't intimidate you but that does a little more than you think you'll need. I've grown as a sewist because of my machine.
Do you have a dream machine? Have you seen this new Bernina 830 that supposedly costs $12000? I haven't seen it in person, but I've ogled it on the computer more than once. Although I'm definitely not into the machine embroidery stuff, I'm a loyal Bernina user now, and this machine seems to be the only one with extended neck space. That's the one thing that I wish my machine had: a longer neck so that I could quilt larger, bed-sized pieces with ease on my home machine. There's a fair amount of wrangling to quilt a twin size piece now. Oh, and it'd be way cool to have the automatic scissors to cut the threads at the end of a seam. And a bigger bobbin. But I can't see spending twelve grand on a sewing machine!
I look forward to reading about other peoples' machines this month.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I love this afghan, though. It's mostly Lamb's Pride Worsted, and is almost all scraps. I did have to buy a couple of skeins more in the dark brown color that anchors and borders the blanket, but I'll use the scraps someday, some more knitted toys, perhaps? I used a G hook, and the finished size is about 58" square. I was going for 60" square, so pretty close, right? I just couldn't make myself crochet one more round.
I got the idea and the pattern from the Purl Bee.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
the new quilt-along
that is at
the old red barn co
that you probably know
one too many
the quilt looks delicious
and so clean
(with apologies to William Carlos Williams. Follow everyone's progress here.)
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
When Henry was born, we got several "minkee" blankets as gifts from friends. They are very very soft, but they lack personality. I know that's probably because they often need to be replaced and the simpler something is, the easier it is to replace. But. I made this little guy when I made this quilt for my friend Katie's son. I had a few extra blocks and I cut them down from half-square triangles into these hourglass blocks. The quilt measures about 11 inches by 13 and is batted with bamboo, which makes it very drapey and not at all stiff.
Henry is currently a fan of grabbing things, and this quilt has been in his crib ready for grabbing since about three weeks after he was born. It goes with us on most car trips and in the stroller, protecting his chubby little legs from the sun. I know I can't force this little quilt as his lovey, but he does seem to like it now, rubbing it on his face to soothe himself in the crib, sucking his thumb all the while. And I love to see him snuggling with this little quilt that I made him.
Friday, May 22, 2009
It measures about 36 inches by 43 inches, and sports my normal stippled quilting. Each patch of the nine-patch blocks is 2.5 inches finished. There are a few different white fabrics in the quilt, some Kona bleach white and some white on white prints, because this is a true scrap quilt. Everything came out of the bins.
Everything, that is, except the back, which I love. It's a green and white print of tiny train tracks complemented with the yellower-green leaf print. Initially I had planned on doing a green binding as well, but I'm so glad I opted for the dark brown Civil War repro print. There are tiny light brown leaves on it, and I think the dark color does such a great job of setting off all that white.
The baby boy has been using this as an activity quilt. When we went to our mothers' group, he rolled around all over it, and he spit up on it at least once during Mama/baby yoga. Thus all the stippling. I love dense quilting like this on a baby quilt because it can be thrown in the washer and dryer without a thought. It's getting softer and softer. I hope the boy will grow to love this one as much as I do, in all its crinkly goodness.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
I made this itty bitty baby dress from the made by rae pattern for our friends who welcomed a little girl thirteen days ago. We went to visit them this weekend and I simply could not believe how little baby Claire is. I can't remember when Henry was that small, even though it hasn't been that long at all. Whew! I'd better keep my eyes open.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I was going to call this post "Bluebird Day", but I think it's early yet for those brilliant little ones. Birds we did see yesterday at the farm:
- A juvenile bald eagle on the "eagle tree" in the hill field
- Full-grown bald eagle on the same tree earlier in the morning
- A pair of loons. The male stood on the dock with his wings held up as if to give his mate some privacy while she took her morning dip in the pond
- Many many jenny wrens with their cheerful upward tails (many many jennies!)
- The ubiquitous Canada geese
- A hawk (probably a broad-winged hawk?) carrying bits of lunch
- A skittish robin
- A pair of rock pigeons nesting in the machine shed
And although no photograph can capture the all 'round huge spinning beauty of the great wide open on such a beautiful spring day, the photo above does a poor job of trying. My baby was awake and alert for our entire walk yesterday, his eyes wide and searching from his stroller. I think maybe he'll be a country mouse like his mama. I hope so.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Luckily some of the sweetest moments also occur in the middle of the night. I don't speak to him, since we're trying to get Henry to sleep better and longer, but the baby snuggles up on my chest and buries his dandelion-fluffy head under my chin. After some warm weather last weekend, the past few nights have been very chilly. Perfect for the Kicking Bag for Babies, a free pattern on Ravelry. I used just over two skeins of KPPPM that my brother thoughtfully gave me last Christmas. The warm wool makes this baby even more cuddly there in that dark room as we rock and rock and rock. This bag used to swallow this baby whole, but now he's filling it out more-- he grows and grows when I'm not looking.
I'm hoping that the weather will turn warm again soon and Spring will be here to stay. I'm ready to get this kicking baby out into the fresh air. (And to take some photos with natural light again.)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Standards have been lowered slightly (This morning, I was eating a blueberry waffle that I made and froze in the first weeks of H's life when he was sleeping a lot. Since the child wants to be held constantly, he was in the Baby Bjorn, riding high on my chest. A droplet of syrup fell on his tiny, downy head and I licked it off without a second thought.), but we're enjoying each other.
I have been missing my crafting time, however. I've been dreaming up elaborate quilts in my head, quilts that I probably won't have time for in the next eighteen years. And although the dreaming is fun, I'd love to get my hands on some actual fabric someday soon. I'm trying to institute the solo afternoon nap, for baby only. In the meantime, there are two crafty products in the photo above. The heart onesie is probably the only thing I've finished since H was born. I whipped it up in about seven minutes on Valentine's Day as H's (and my) gift to his papa. Yay for scraps of quilting fabric and interfacing!
The crumb quilt that the baby's lying on is another story. I finished the piecing and quilting several weeks before he was to be born, but since he surprised us and came almost three weeks early, there's no binding. Luckily, in this view you can't tell. More about that little quilt when it finally has some edges-- maybe in three years?