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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Green Knitting, Green Monkey

This monkey is GREEN because he has been made from two mismatched, handknit wool socks. A dear lady gave us a dozen or so pairs of wool socks she'd knitted for her now-departed husband, to pass on to the clothing bank we work for and at. However, there were four stray socks, and even very destitute people like to have their socks match just like everyone else's do.

What could I do with those four socks? I could always use them for dusting and polishing, but I wanted to give them a more dignified task than that. Knowing and honoring the work that had gone into them, I wanted them to be seen, not stuffed into my ragbag.

I had made many sock monkeys, but none from handknit wool socks, and so this little guy was an experiment, as is much of what I do. I wished that there was more contrast in color between the two socks I used for him, but there wasn't, so I tried edging the "shirt" he is wearing with turquoise, and I was happy enough with the result.

This picture is a bag of yarn of various fibers, all gleaned from unknitting/frogging (rip it!) items from rummage sales/ thrift stores. It takes a little time, but can't be beat for the price, which is usually a dollar, sometimes much less than that, for each garment. I highly recommend doing this and will continue doing it myself.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Several Evenings Project

A very kind lady, when her husband passed on, gave us several pairs of handmade socks she'd made for him. She wanted them to go to the clothing bank and they did and were snapped up very quickly. However, there were a few socks w/o mates and I wondered what to do with those. I decided to use them to make sock monkeys, which are a favorite thing of mine to make. The first one is close to being done--I'll post a picture when he's done. He needs earsl. I may have to knit those. I knit some to make his arms long enough, too, from yarn I unraveled. I love a challenge, and I love to recycle and reuse,; I like the phrase "reprised materials," too.

The Sewing Machine I Won by Accident

Oh, boy! I did it again!! I mean, I WANTED it, but I thought when I offered the seller half of what he asked, I'd get a note that he OK'd it BEFORE I actually bought it. Nope! That's not the way it works; if you offer them less and they accept the offer, it's YOURS.

I'm not SORRY! It's a lovely little Spartan, not much bigger than a Featherweight, but weighs about twice as much!! I have a "thing" with old sewing machines, can you tell?!

Screamer's Cute Baby Has Shoes

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Screamer's Cute Baby (sounds like the name of a dog with a fancy pedigree, or a race horse!!!) now has feet and a pair of shoes. Not just ANY shoes, mind you, but VINTAGE baby shoes--the kind I wore when I was in three cornered pants. I watch garage, rummage, and estate sales for these shoes, mainly for my vintage dolls, but also for the dolls I make. My friends make pretty art dolls but I make funky weird dolls that make people laugh. And I laugh right along with them!

The reason he is called Screamer's Cute Baby is that his face is made in a manner similar to Screamer's, but Screamer's head is a bottle gourd and Baby's face is a hollow plastic ball. But you can see a slight similarity between the two. Soon he will have hands, and then I will call him done.
Well, back to cleaning off the kitchen table; I'd take a picture of it BEFORE but I'd be too embarrassed. I DO have some pride, ya know!?!

Planting Sweet Potatoes

You can buy the slips, but why buy what you can make yourself? You take a sweet potato and put four toothpicks, equally spaced, around its "waist." Then put it in a jar of water, so that only half of it is in the water--the toothpicks will keep the top part of it OUT of the water. I painted my jar black, but you could just wrap it in aluminum foil--roots don't like light.
Soon, the potato will start to have little green sprouts. When they are about two inches long, take the potato out of the water, and carefully cut the potato to separate the spouts, but don't separate the sprouts from the little hunk of potato that it's growing from. Plant each "slip" in a pot of soil and let it grow until it's time to plant it outside--after all danger of frost is over.
I'll post a pic of mine when it spouts--stay tuned.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Planted yesterday, Mar 27, 2010

It may be too early to plant in SW WA state, but we shall see. A couple years ago I waited and waited to put my geraniums out on the porch; finally put them out near Mothers' Day, and guess what!? It froze and they died. Kaput! End of the geraniums I'd kept inside, tripping over them, all winter. S*%t! I may have just as well let them freeze in November!! Of course, I COULD have listened to the weather report and brought them in for that night. It pays to pay attention!

Anyway, yesterday I added spinach to my crops that might freeze. I planted them on top of my second year hay bale. I tried hay bale gardening last year and wasn't really very impressed. Some things did OK on them--peas and kale seemed to do OK. Other stuff, not so much. One hay bale is flat, out of the four that would fit in our little pickup. It's about four inches high now. When I plant on it, I will have to construct one of my ingenius (!?) little fences to keep the dogs off it. Now they just run wherever. In fact, Poki was on TOP of the bale I planted yesterday WHILE I was trying to plant it. You wouldn't know she had two badly broken back legs in November!!

I also planted a lot of lavender seeds yesterday in those little peat pellets that swell up in the water. I am hoping to get enough (and permission from the gallery's landlord) to plant a row of them on each side of the sidewalk leading into the gallery. It's already grass-free along the side walk, and I think a row of lavender on each side would look really nice--and lavender's perennial, (here) so it would be a one-time planting. I had lavender in a couple pots that did fine all winter in my backyard. They are both in the ground now. I'm lucky they did OK. Things in pots freeze quicker than things in the ground. I am a lazy gardener.

DH trimmed an evergreen tree and a deciduous bush Friday, and so I am having him cut the evergreen boughs to put on my blueberries, and the bush branches into little chunks to put on the walkways in my garden. It keeps the weeds down and they eventually biodegrade. Hopefully that won't add too much acid to the soil--I never test it (too lazy) so I won't know til something refuses to grow. I have compost to add, too, though, so hopefully everything will work out. I like everything that comes out of my garden to go back in, as much as possible, and am trying to get to the point where I don't have to buy bags of potting soil, manure, etc.

A friend gave me horse manure last year and another is going to give me some this year, so I get that free. I want to build a three part compost bin this year. The Master Gardeners had one at the fair last year; it was made of 98 cement blocks. Let me tell you, if you are a gardener in a wet climate like ours, cement blocks are your best friends! The wood raised beds we built not all that many years ago are completely falling apart; now I use cement blocks to make my raised beds. You can move them to enlarge your bed if you want, and ten years later, they look as good as the day you purchased them. I put them with the holes in the blocks vertical and then I can fill the holes with soil and plant flowers in them. Looks very nice and some flowers thwart the ever present slugs. Marigolds, I think. I've started some of them, too.

I moved a dark green container into the greenhouse; will fill it with water and hope it will radiate enough heat at night to keep the greenhouse from freezing. It's not heated and is made from that wavy fiberglass, which doesn't have insulating properties. I hope to eventually replace that with some of the more modern material that has air spaces for insulation. I am grateful for my greenhouse, though; one of my son's friends that owed us some money, built it for me. This is just my second spring to use it. I tried growing tomatoes in it, to see if they'd winter over, but it wasn't very successful. My tomatoes just don't seem very happy in containers. I think perhaps they needed more fertilizer. I tried the upside down ones, and wasn't very impressed with my results from those either. This year, my tomatoes will just grow in the ground. I COULD just dig a hole for one or two in my greenhouse's floor--it's dirt with crushed gravel on top. Wild blackberries sometimes show up there. I might try that this year and see what happens. Gardening for me is just one big experiment. Stay tuned. I hope I have successes to report, as well as failures!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Food Inc.

The documentary film Food Inc is being shown on the program POV (Point of View) on PBS on April 21 at 9:00 pm. I've seen this film twice and will watch it again. It is well-worth watching, IMHO. Did you know it is AGAINST THE LAW to criticize a food?! (Remember Oprah and her comment about hamburger? She only was able to win the lawsuit because she has enough money to fight the beef industry. You or I would not be able to win.)

Even the mother whose child died of ecoli could not tell the makers of the film how she had changed her eating habits since her baby died!!!! And she is still working to get Kevin's Law passed. This law will allow the USDA to shut down plants that are producing contaminated food products, which you'd think they should already be able to do, but, unbelievabley, can't.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Knitting Two Socks at Once, or I Must Be Crazy

I saw, in a knitting book I bought, directions for knitting two socks at once, one inside the other. It seemed impossible, but the directions were there, and I HAD to try it! When it comes to skills I already have, I hate to think there is anything that someone else can do that I can't. This method is challenging to say the least. You knit the cuffs for each sock separately, put one inside the other, and then put the stitches for both on your needles (I use two circulars, usually, but I've also used the old way of three double pointed needles, with the fourth to knit with), alternating one stitch from one cuff and one from the other, until all the stitches are on.

You purl the Near sock stitches and knit the Back sock stitches; if you get mixed up, the wrong stitch joins the two socks together--NOT GOOD! I have taken the stitches off the needles and restarted three times, but I think I can do this. If I run my hand around between the two socks each time I finish a round, I can feel if I've made a wrong stitch, and if you find it right away, it's not hard to fix it.

SO, stay tuned. One thing I learned is NOT to bring this project to my knit group--there's too much going on there what with conversation and all, and this is not a project where you can get distracted and still be OK--at least I can't. Send good knitting thoughts my way!

Doc Martin

Doc Martin mini marathon April 1, beginning at 8:00 p.m., PBS, Channel 9, Seattle. They are showing the last three episodes of last year's shows before the new season shows begin on April 8. For those of you outside of the Seattle area, check your local PBS listings. Both LaMont and I LOVE Doc Martin, so if you tend to like what I like and have never watched Doc Martin, give it a try. (Warning: watching Doc Martin may become habit-forming.)

Planted More Today, March 26, 2010

Today I planted ten pansies and two nastursiums in the two gallery flowerbeds, and some edible pod peas, too. That way, folks walking by or visiting the gallery can munch on them. Came home and planted peas in my own garden. I haven't planted them this early before, so we will see how they do. My goal in gardening this year is to extend my gardening season by planting both early and late.

Bought a couple different tomato plants from the Hoquiam Farmers Market when I was there getting my weekly eggs. One is a yellow one and the other is called Sweet Baby Girl, I think. My problem is that I forget which tomato plant is which, once I get them outside and into the ground. I tried some tomatoes in containers last year, but my tomatoes in the ground did so much better that this year I will put all of them into the ground.

I am also removing the rocks that we put along the fence, lo those many years ago. Water would collect along there and that's why we put the rocks there; it seemed like a good idea at the time. But now I am planting flowerbeds there, so little by little, I am removing all the rocks except those VERY close to the fence. Tedious work, but a little at a time isn't all that bad.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Out in the Greenhouse

I went out today and planted some of the thousands of marigold seeds I harvested last fall. Hopefully, they will do OK out there. My greenhouse isn't insulated and it has been getting near freezing at night, but in the 60s during the day.
My little tomato seedlings are growing in my kitchen, in my garden window, and those that have been there the whole time are doing wonderfully. The ones that were in the living room for awhile are not doing very well; I moved them into the kitchen window with the others and hope they pick up.
I gave away several small houseplants earlier this week to a FreeCycler. I can't stand wasting anything, so anytime I accidentally break a stem off one of my plants, or if I have to prune them, I put the stems in a brown bottle of water and root them; soon I have too many little plants for my window, even though it's big. So I am pleased to give the little ones away. I like having plants, but there is a limit to how many I can keep!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Screamer's Cute Baby, my latest doll

This is my latest doll; he's not quite done yet. His hands and feet are yet to be made/attached. He's cloth and his head is made over a hollow ball--first Paper Clay, then knit cloth, then it's painted and sprayed with a clear coat. He's about 18" tall. His body is fabric, stuffed with polyester. I like him!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daylight Savings Time

I HATE Daylight Savings Time! I hate my clocks being tinkered with twice a year!! I hate having jetlag w/o the vacation!!! My Grandfather Nelson, in his later years, refused to change his clocks, and the family just had to remember he was on his own time all the time. I plan to do that, too, but I'm not old enough yet to be THAT eccentric....or AM I??!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bids for Cici


Cici is a little Colorado girl who suffers from brain damage after a choking event at the age of 11 months. About three times a year, an auction is held by friends and supporters to help raise money for her alternative treatments (hyperbaric chamber, etc.). There are many very nice items there, so take a look. 100% of the money goes for Cici's treatments, and they are helping her make progress, a little at a time.

Busy Day

Tuesday is our day to work the afternoon shift at the Clothing Bank. Today, I was the only one in the workroom where we unpack and hang/fold clothes; usually there are four of us. Luckily, it was pretty "caught up" and so I was able to deal with the one large donation that arrived shortly after we opened. However, later more donations came in, so there will be plenty of work for the Wednesday crew--wouldn't want them to have nothing to do!!! Ha ha.

The clothing brought in today was VERY nice, clean, folded neatly, and in shopping bags--shopping bags are a bonus, as we can pass them on to the clients; they're so much nicer than our usual plastic grocery bags (but it's nice we have them and can recycle them). Such nice clothing is a pleasure to unpack and hang, knowing that it will be much appreciated. The clothing we give away most are tee shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and pants--those are what I like the best, too, so it doesn't surprise me. We give out a lot of bedding and blankets, too.

The clothing bank has been gifted with an Apple computer, so now, I am researching software available that be could used to keep track of the clients and the clothes, etc. they each get each year. Right now, all this compiling is done the old fashioned way, by counting the sheets, number of items, number of children served, etc. at the end of each year. The only reason we keep this information is that it is required when we apply for grants. We have to pay utilities and heat the same as everyone else, so we need cash at times. We also buy new underwear and socks. It would be very nice to find a program that would keep track of all this information for us, but I'm not totally sure such a program exists; I'm hoping it's out there somewhere and have about four companies to check , info I got from a book at the library.

Today I also found an address (two actually) for the wife of one of our WA state Fallen Heroes. So I was able to send a card to confirm her address and the wonderful ladies who are making the Home of the Brave Quilt for her will be able to deliver it. I have been the WA Coordinator for Home of the Brave Quilt Project for over five years now; finding addresses of families is the hardest part. When my back is against the wall, I pay $1.95 for information to an online search place; that's what I did, today. It's worth it, to be able to mail or deliver a quilt. Sometimes I still don't find the address, but often I do, and when that happens, I'm a Happy Camper!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lovely Day in SW Coastal WA

What a great day outside: partly sunny and 53 degrees. Warm enough that if you have a long sleeve shirt on and are moving about, you don't need a jacket. The dogs and I spent an hour or so outside (time flies out there); they barked and ran around and I put the stuff waiting for the compost bin IN the compost bin and rolled the EcoComposter to a new location before it killed the grass under it.

We've had several rainy days and I have a sneaky way of dealing with stuff bound for the compost bin--I set it (in covered containers) outside on the roof over our basement steps--it's right by the backdoor and is SO HANDY for setting stuff there bound for the compost, recycle, or garbage containers when it's too nasty to go out in the yard. One must, however, be somewhat diligent about moving the stuff to its proper place when the weather is OK. It can pile up and that's not good.

I checked on the rhubarb (it looks good), looked for slugs in all the right places and doused them with ammonia/water, 50% of each. This time of year, there are lots of baby slugs out there, and if you get them now, you save yourself from the 30 babies each that they will each produce. Of course, you never get rid of them all, but at least you can cut down on the population and minimize the damage they do.

I am eager to make a three part compost bin I saw at the Master Gardeners' display at our local county fair last summer. It took 98 concrete blocks. Right now my compost containers consist of several garbage cans (with holes in the bottom and lids), a couple bins made of chicken wire and attached to the (cyclone)fence, a compact dome-like one sold by our county, and the ball-shaped EcoComposter I got last summer from Costco. I couldn't roll the EcoComposter on the stand they sent (free at that time) with it, except when it was empty. So right now that is laying up against the house while I try to decide what to do with it, and I just push the ball around the yard to turn it. Only problem with that is that if you leave it too long in one place, it will kill the grass. Of course, the compost will finish quicker if you roll it daily, but that just doesn' t happy in this rainy climate. I roll it when I can, not in downpours.

I don't know if I mentioned this earlier or not, but I rented two garden plots ($10 each) in the town adjacent to ours and I will grow my potatoes there this summer. I can ride my bike over there on sunny days, and on rainy days I won't need to water them, so that should work. My garden plot in my backyard is only about 15' square, and raspberries and thornless blackberries take up a lot of that room. I have blueberries, too, and they grow around the dogyard fence.

Everything in the backyard has been added since my kids grew up--before that, the backyard was theirs alone. I've got flowers on the shady part since most vegetables like sun, and it's nice to see flowers bloom. I've added them slowly, over time, as plants can be expensive.

I do a lot of rooting of sprigs of other people's and my own plants-use a brown bottle full of water and just stick them in and add water every day to keep the bottle full. I've also experimented with putting the same sprigs in damp perlite (sometimes I put rooting hormone on the tips). With both of these methods I've had successes and failures. I take what success I get and the failures, too. My husband says I'll get arrested for absconding with sprigs from yards I see, but I don't think so. Obviously, I wouldn't take a sprig from a struggling small plant--only from big established plants. Last week I took a sprig from a lovely groundcover plant at a church where we went to a rummage sale. I hope it roots as it has lovely lavendar flowers and was already blooming in early March. I like that; I'd like to have something always blooming, but I'm not there yet.

When we walk, I often carry a plastic bag with a wet paper towel inside, and a pair of small scissors, for the purpose of gleaning sprigs to root. It's an inexpensive way to get more plants; technically, I suppose you should ask before clipping, but I usually don't, unless someone is out working in their yard. Often, my friends give me plants--Carmen gave me a bunch of Peony roots in the fall, and I've planted them around my yard and put some in containers for Habitat homeowners. Like everything else, I always hope for the best and that everything will grow and nothing will eat it, dig it up, etc.

Weeding Out

A fellow FreeCycler wants fabric scraps and I'm going to use this opportunity to go through my fabric and give her what I don't need, don't have room to store, and don't have enough time to use. It's very hard for me to part with fabric, and I tend to keep any scrap bigger than 1" square or longer than 3/4" x 2". (There ARE projects that use scraps this size; google "garbage can quilt" and see.) But, I HAVE to pare down my collection, as I'm running out of room and my fabric is taking over the house.
I have until next Sunday to get together what I'm not going to keep. Wish me luck! I'll definitely NEED it!!

Recycled Project

I am big on recycling, in case you haven't noticed. Anyway, our doll club in Pierce county is doing a project using a styrofoam wig head. One of our members saw one at the FiberFest that had felt adhered to it, and she wanted to do one, too.

I had planned to use felt on mine, also, but when I went to find it, I found a felted sweater first (I look for them at thrift stores), so I used that instead of felt. I worked on it all day Saturday, until I was almost sick of it. I had planned to give her jewelry on Sunday, but got sidetracked with other things, so will try to get started on that today. I like her and now I want more of those styro heads to do more.
I am suggesting to the co-op art gallery that we have a show next fall featuring art using repurposed material--we might draw a totally different audience for that kind of a show.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More Good Things

Well, I must say I'm on a roll. Not only did I (1. )buy a new rhubarb plant and plant it (in an old tire, so it is above ground level and will drain well--I think my last one drowned), but (2. )I signed up for 2 garden plots at the Community Garden in our neighboring town. Ours doesn't have one, shame on our city government.
I am going to plant only potatoes in my two plots, an idea given me by a friend who did that last year (Thanks, Jenny!). As a non-res, I didn't know I could rent plots there, so I'm glad she told me that, too, and I'm glad I signed up and took that task off my Things I Mean to Do List--it's pretty long, and now it's a little shorter. Yay for me!!!

Did a Good Thing

I was thinking the other day, how badly I would feel if my computer crashed and I lost all the pictures I've saved of old dolls, doll patterns, and my own dolls. So I copied those files to disks this morning.
Now I'm going to save my best photos to a disk, too. We are all at the mercy of our computers and we never really know when the next computer disaster is going to strike! So, do yourself a favor and save your best stuff to disks, so you'll have them, just in case!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Living Room--big sigh!

I am still working on it, and it IS getting better, but it is NOT done yet. I wish it was!!!

Yet another doll in progress

This is the second face for this doll; it is very heavy, as I actually added more Paper Clay and cotton knit over the FIRST cotton knit over Paper Clay face. This is also the second painted face, but at least an extra layer of paint doesn't add much additional weight.
I'm going to add a bag of sand to the body, to compensate for the heaviness of the head.

Changed my Mind on that Doll's Face

I decided I wanted that last doll to be a child and not a lady, due to the proportions of the body. Now, I think this doll is a boy! I like him better now.