Monday Musings

I won at knitting chicken!!

Remember how Friend L had challenged me to a knitting duel? She totally caved.  She groveled and bowed to my awesomeness, and withdrew her challenge.

No, what actually happened was that she looked at her personal WIP, crafting, and life and made decisions.  She decided that, while playing with me is fun, and the project and experience would be fun, the product wouldn’t be something she needed/wanted.  This isn’t to say that we won’t do something else in the future.  But this wasn’t the time nor project.

All I can say is “Thank the Baby Jesus”.  Past Me is a mouthy thing that doesn’t tend to back down (yes, yes, Present Me is like this, and Future Me will likely be the same).  We were in a class, I was high on excitement, my friend came up with a terribly hilarious idea (or I did…did I mention I wasn’t thinking straight?). We played a short round of chicken, and then agreed to make a traveling cap neither one of us was likely to ever wear.

The silence on the subject afterwards was welcome to me.  I took it to mean that it was forgotten like any drunken bet should be.  The fact that it was fiber, not alcohol that fed our drunkenness didn’t matter.  And then she just had to throw down the gauntlet.  I could say I didn’t want to embarrass her in front of the internet, but we’d all know I’d be lying.  A: I have embarrassed many people on the internet (usually myself, but I’m people!!) and B: I’m not that nice.

I picked up the gauntlet.  I didn’t have drunkenness to blame for still thinking it was a hilariously awful idea.  As I have gotten older, I have found that an idiotic teenager still lives inside of me.  And sometimes, I hope she never dies.  But seriously, what was I going to do with a traveling cap??? *And* I couldn’t find a selection of colors I could knit into an ombre effect, so I was going to have dye the colors myself.  I mean, if I’m going to do something idiotic, I might as well do it right…right?

Did I act all mature and tell my friend that while the idea is great, this execution may not be the best one? Do you know me at all??? Of course I did no such thing.  I just kept playing chicken.  Now, in my defense, there are a lot of positives that still would have come out of that experiment. For one, I’ve never tried dying an ombre, so that would be interesting. I still haven’t done a Franklin Habit pattern, and I’m dying to try one.  His is not my usual style, so it would take something this ridiculous to try one out.  And if the downside is a traveling hat I won’t use, well, I could sell it, or give it away, or…worst case, unravel it, and do something else with it.  So, it wasn’t *hugely* idiotic.  I’m telling you, as I teen, I was pretty boring.

What really happened is this: My friend felt terrible about having to back out of something we had agreed to.  I did not, however, feel terrible.  Again, I was super grateful.  July, in our household, is the month of Never Ending Things To Do.  They are (mostly) enjoyable, but they are legion.  Since we have numerous birthdays, we also have out of state, and out of country visitors.  We need to be available whenever possible for hijinx.  What that means, though, is that now that July is over, I have to wade through the half assery that Past Me left.  As stressful as all that is, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this project at all. I still wouldn’t have backed down. I’d have stressed and fretted trying to figure timing out with this and mundane things like laundry.

I am so proud of my friend for honestly looking at things and making tough choices about what to cut out.  I need to be better about that myself.

Scrap-urday

For what it’s worth…

In high school, I was a *bit* of a drama nerd. One of the plays I was in was called The Curious Savage. I played Lilly Belle, the spoiled socialite. It was the closest I ever came (or ever will come) to being part of the upper class. It’s a wonderful play about what makes a person “crazy”. One exchange from the play has been coming to me a lot lately.

Hannibal: And did you know that the human body has only twenty cents’ worth of calcium in it—five cents’ worth of iodine, twenty cents’ worth of phosphorus, and –well—even at present high prices—nobody is worth over a dollar and a half.

Mrs. Savage: So you only value me at a dollar and a half?

Hannibal: Never. You said “worth”. Your value is inestimable.

The Curious Savage by John Patrick

I can still hear the disappointment in April’s (playing Mrs. Savage) voice when she thought she was only valued at $1.50.

This question of worth and value has been plaguing me as I’ve been trying to price my work.

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Usually, I subscribe to the philosophy on the right, which I’ve stolen from the internet. However, over time, I’ve been asked to sell some items for various different events and functions.

I have to admit, I’m usually very Hannibal-like. Many years ago, FIL and I got into a slight amount of trouble one Christmas. We were given a limit on how much to spend for our Christmas exchange.

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My FIL made me this beautiful laminated cutting board (I don’t let Poopie use it, I can’t trust him to only use one side). I made a pair of socks for a cousin. We were told we “cheated” because our gifts were worth more than the limit. However, neither of us spent *any* money on our gifts. The materials were scraps off from other projects we had done.

I had made many things before for close family. Many of my family are crafters. So while handmade is appreciated, it is also more expected. We never learned how to determine the worth of the items in dollars and cents. It’s like that meme says–either free, or no go. Basically, it’s putting a dollar amount on love. We were also poor, so we weren’t ever going to spend money on something we could do ourselves, so it’s not like we had an idea of what *other* people were willing to spend for the same/similar item.

Which leads me to my Other News. I was invited to participate as an artist at the Second Annual Rejected Art Faire (I’m assuming it’s going to keep going). I am so excited about this project as a whole and will surely bore you in future blogs about it. There are so many lessons to be gleaned from this event!! We’ll have an arts vs. crafts discussion at some point. As well as discussions about rejection, perceived failures, the downfalls of perceived success. Who knows what else I will milk this thing for.

Right now, though, we are going to look at value and worth since I need to figure out pricing structures on my items. Let’s take Poopie’s Cookie Monster (featured image). I want you all to realize that I have re-stuffed him 2x. I have no idea at all where his stuffing goes. One of the times I fixed him, I tried to put eyes back on him, and believe it or not, he looked way creepier. So, Cookie is still blind. Defining value vs. worth is difficult because they are in each other’s definitions. For ease of understanding, Dear Reader, I will just use definitions based on above. Worth is the dollar amount. Value is the intrinsic amount. So: W orth = W ealth and Value = Values.

Take Cookie (don’t really, we’d cry). We will talk about worth first, because that seems to be easiest (I’ll show later on how it’s not). Cookie is literally worth nothing. Even if you found a Cookie monster collector, they wouldn’t want him. However, I know without a doubt that if the house were on fire, Cookie would be the first thing saved, even before me. There are many reasons why Cookie is so valued. However, those reasons don’t translate to dollars and cents. So, his value is truly inestimable. For more on this subject, I highly recommend reading The Velveteen Rabbit. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s at any library as well as retail outlet.

In the past, I’ve crafted as gifts. I think I’ve talked in less specific terms about how the Value of those gifts were mismatched. Take a sock for example (I make a LOT of socks, so this is easy). The cost of making a pair of socks for me is this: 5-30.00 for yarn (depending on the yarn used and if I find a sale). If I’m hand knitting, then we won’t count the cost of the needles because they are amortized over many projects–so, we’ll assume that it would end up being a wash. However, with hand knitting, it would take me say 10 hours, (an hour a day for 2 weeks = 14 hours) which is crazy fast–I’m sure it’s way more. Minimum wage in Oregon is 10.25/hour. That means that I should get 100.00 in labor. But we all know that’s unrealistic, so lets say it’s only 5.00 an hour. Even *significantly* devaluing my labor, this pair of socks is 55.00. Ok, I rarely “hand knit” a pair of socks anymore. I use a Circular Sock Machine (CSM). That brings my labor time down to 45 minutes to crank each sock. But I still have to close the toes by hand, so I’ll say just 15 minutes for finishing a pair of socks. We are back to an hour. Lets not devalue my labor quite so much. Lets say minimum wage is appropriate, and not argue that (though I could). So the time is less, but the CSM costs $2,000. I have NOT made anywhere close to 2,000 pairs of socks. But lets say I do, that’s still $1.00 a sock. So, conservatively speaking, with significant devaluation of myself (by way of my labor), not taking into account any overhead or profit (yay capitalism), a pair of my socks is worth:

$5.00 yarn, $10.25 labor, $1.00 machine, which is still $16.25. Again, this is the product only, this does not include the marketing/selling costs (booth costs, time in a booth, web hosting fees, I could continue to go on and on)

I go through all of that not necessarily to show you how awesome I am (though I am awesome), but to continue this conversation of value and worth. A pair of socks made for a gift is worth $16.25, but what is it’s value? That is in the eye of the receiver.

The cousin listed above found the value to be much more than that $16.25, that’s why I got in trouble. For that cousin, the fact that I made it gives the item more value than it’s worth. However, Thing 2 doesn’t find the fact that I made something to be of any more or less value than the item’s worth. She would much rather I spend $1.00 on a store bought pair of socks for her. She values them much more than socks I make. For whatever reason, they fit her values better than the socks I make. I’ll be honest — for a long time, this hurt my feelings. To be truly honest, this still hurts my feelings. I do not make her socks any more because of the value mismatch. The purpose of giving is pleasing the recipient, so it behooves me to give what is valued by the other person. Not necessarily what I value. My feelings have been much better since I stopped trying to foist my valuables onto someone who prefers something else. We are both happier: she gets what she wants, and my feelings aren’t as badly hurt.

So, we come to the pricing of my work. The general public much better aligns with Thing 2 when it comes to value vs. worth of a handmade item. So we have to price accordingly. However, many in the public still don’t understand how much they are devaluing labor. I’m not even talking about intellectual, emotional, or creative labor. I’m talking about just the manual labor. Others who work in the previously listed fields can go into much more detail on their concerns. I’ll just say that if a maker of goods has such a hard time valuing their work, how much harder is it for a maker of ideas, feelings, and/or services?

I have been to events with vendors and heard people scandalized at the prices of some things. In fact, I see it in Facebook groups as well. Or they don’t understand how something which they believe takes fewer materials could be a similar price. Well, maybe the labor is the same? For example, if I get into making shorty socks, they’ll probably be the same price as “regular” sized socks (20.00 for inquiring minds). Why? because I can still only get the same number of socks out of a skein regardless, and because the most difficult part is the shaping, which I will still have to do, so, the savings in labor is minimal, and as we see, I’m already devaluing my work left and right to make it marketable.

We have all done it–we’ve discussed pricing of someone’s work in their booth, or just outside of it. Guess what…they can still hear you. The question for you shouldn’t be how much it cost them to make it, but rather, how much would it cost you to make it?

One year, BIL and SIL thought they would make gifts instead of buying. Part of it was Christmas ideals, and part of it was honestly cost saving. Do you know what they found? They ended up spending at least as much money, and far more time making things than buying pre-made things. I’m not sure how all the other recipients of their gifts feel, but I can tell you, regardless of what the dollar amount they spent on making my gift, the value is inestimable to me.

So, why would you spend $20.00 on handmade socks when you could spend $1.00 on store bought? It depends on what you value in a sock. If you want a barrier between your foot and your shoe, then buy the $1.00 sock. But, in doing so, don’t tell an artist/crafter that their wares are not worth what their price is. But, if there is something in the socks that matches your values, then by all means, buy them. And if you cannot afford them, let the maker know how pleased you are that they are making things that match your values.

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Bring it!

Friend L, who first inspired my blog writing, has re-vamped herself and her blogging.  She can now be found at On Pens & Needles.  I have updated my sidebar to reflect this.  You may wonder at my posting on a Tuesday.  I do not normally do so, as this is the day Poopie and I set aside as date night.  However… I’m making an exception tonight. And let me tell you why…

Last week, L asked if I would like to start walking with her in the mornings.  I agreed (I must hate myself).  She makes me get up at the butt crack of dawn…5:30, and I proceed to hike over hill and dale to the tune of almost 3 miles.  This is after spending all weekend working in the yard.  And…to be honest, I’ve done very little excercise-wise in several months.  I only bring this up to point out that L has kicked my ass.

Does she feel bad about this? Who knows.  What I do know, though, is that I found out last night…along with the rest of the world…that my DEAR FRIEND has thrown down a gauntlet.  I have to wonder about the timing.  I am weak from lack of sleep.  All my muscles are screaming at me.  And this is when my supposed friend decides to throw a mental challenge my way?

I tell you, with friends like these…

So, in future walks, L and I will be hashing out the details.  In the meantime, please enjoy the pattern, and Franklin Habit’s words: Lady’s Travelling Cap.  The featured image was stolen from Knitty.com.

Wednesday In Progress

Still alive!

I am back after an unexpected hiatus. There are many reasons for this hiatus. I had vacation, which was a mixed bag, and I’ll probably talk about it later, once enough time has passed to make it funny. We came back from vacation to find that the furnace has died. As my Gpa would say: D-E-D, dead. Our April has been colder than usual. And I had no furnace.

Those of you who have chosen to follow me on Facebook (La Tejedora Crafts) or Instagram (La Tejedora Crafts) may have seen a picture of the fire in our fireplace.20180417_090754.jpg  So, I did have *some* heat. However, one of the things I love about my house is that when we had four human sized people in the house before Things 1 and 2 moved out, the acoustics were such that it didn’t really *feel* like we were all on top of each other. Funny thing about air, whether it’s transporting heat, or transporting sound, it reacts pretty much the same. So, my house was mostly an icebox.

It wasn’t helpful that Poopie’s job is now 5 days a week from home, and I had 14 days straight working from home during this time (yes, including weekends).  Despite me waking up to the shopping list in the featured image from Poopie last month, we are both still alive. Honestly, the biggest kerfuffle we had was over fire building.

When we go camping (most often with my MIL and FIL), there are two camps (lolol puntastic!) when it comes to the philosophy of fire. It so happens, in this case, to run down gender lines, but I am unaware of it being necessary to be gendered. My FIL and Poopie like refined, restrained fires. They are very good cooking fires. What they are not, however, are good heating fires. When camping, either FIL or Poopie will get up and make some anemic little fire, and cook us yummy food, which we have to eat bundled up in 17 layers of clothes because the sun has barely made it over the horizon (I may have taken some poetic license with the imagery, but seriously, it’s freaking cold in the mornings). The rest of the day is spent with the two camps vying for control of the fire. Every time FIL and Poopie leave the camp on some adventure, MIL and I, who have stayed behind to read and relax (because—vacation!) load the fire with a bunch of wood and get warm. When FIL and Poopie return, they stifle our glorious fire and tame it. I told Poopie that it’s like they are afraid the posse will find us. Spoiler alert…there is no posse. Imagine all this playing out at home, with just Poopie and I.

The most hilarious part about these differing views of fire is that they are in direct opposition to how we tend to feel about almost everything else in life. MIL and I tend to be the more practical ones, while FIL and Poopie tend to be the wild, untamed, unrestrained ones.

So, work and dealing with furnace quotes, and deciding which furnace, and whether to add AC, and, and, and all conspired to make blogging much lower on the prioritization scale.

HOWEVER, I still took some pix, I tried to make the pages easily searchable in both Facebook and Instagram. Both are La Tejedora Crafts. So, even if I wasn’t blogging, I was still thinking of you Dear Reader. Please do check out one or both of those pages and follow me there.  You get more pictures than just the blogs.

20180417_181227.jpgToday is Wednesday. Which means Works in Progress. I have been working on three, count them, three memory quilts for forever. I finally got them done, and the recipients have them in their hot little hands.

They are my first foray into T shirt quilting, which was quite satisfying.20180417_180431.jpg I learned a whole lot about quilting doing these, so expect to see pictures in the future as I need to demonstrate future thoughts. The loved one who passed was clearly an Oregon Ducks fan, so I chose the colors accordingly. The backs are yummy minky in colors which align with the recipients. I am absolutely sure that when I was asked to do these quilts, the expectation was that I would have a simple blocked quilt with everything the same size.

I try to have my work be individual, and fabulous…one could say Santabulous. So, of course, I went overboard. It was a lot of work, and took a lot more time than I would have ideally liked, but I’m very pleased. My MIL told me they were ugly. I’m going to assume she meant the colors, and not my workmanship (she’s an Oregon Beavers fan).

Lots of little changes have been happening for me and my household during my hiatus, which will need to be accounted for. May involved another vacation, and other work related garbage. Somewhere in this hiatus, there is also Other News. Which I will get to in a later post.

I’m still working on being gentle with myself.  I think it will be a life long endeavor.  WIP’s are things that I tend to beat myself up about.  Things that I don’t get finished for whatever reason.  Falling down on the blogging “job” is also something I’m working at not beating myself up over.  This is all a learning process for me. You might say that blogging is also a WIP 🙂

Thank you for your patience. I hope it was worth it.

This Must Be Thursday

On felting

Taking a vacation to warmer climes is an almost universal goal during winter.  Until you are on said vacation, and your body rebels.  20180326_074959.jpgHere we are in 85+ degree weather, and my brother caught something awful and has been making equally awful noises all vacation.  I have caught something similar, which I’m unfairly blaming on him, and making similar, yet distinctly different sounds.  Not only did we go from 45 ish degree weather to 85 ish degrees.  We went to about 200 feet in elevation to about 3000 feet.  To top all that off, it is *still* cane burning season where we are at, so ash is falling like rain.  OK, the ash isn’t *that* bad, but it’s not that good, either.  We also went to the coast, back to normal elevation, but still super hot.  All this means is that our bodies are shocked, and feeling abused.  I’m willing to take the trade off, though for the time and experience.

Last week, I talked about stretching our work (or ourselves, for those of you who like analogies).  I’d like to continue on that theme a bit by talking about shrinking.  Or, better said, felting!  Actually, fulling (yes, please, hear that in the most supercilious voice you can muster).  Felting and Fulling are both the same process.  Felting is with fiber, while fulling is with fabric.  It’s a small difference, but could be important…I’m sure…I just don’t know off the top of my head when.  I’m just going to call the process felting for ease of understanding, as the message is the same, regardless.

When one shocks fibers, they curl up into a fetal position, and grab on to all the friends they can.  This process is enhanced if you agitate and beat the fiber.  When done unintentionally, or without a plan, this creates a mess.  But, when done with intention, beautiful things result.  Even better (worse), they aren’t always predictable.  This, I believe, is the inspiration for all hazing-type organizations.

We have probably all had the experience of the sweater that shrunk in the wash, and been devastated.  The fibers have been subjected to hot temperatures with agitation, and shrunk up, they have also clumped together with the other fibers in the piece and joined together into something completely different from the original work. You, Dear Reader, are probably trying to figure out why on God’s green earth anyone would *want* to do that on purpose.  Especially with my less than elegant explanation of the process. It sounds violent, doesn’t it?

In the right hands, intentional felting can create beautiful art. In fact, needle felting has come back in the fiber world.  Go to any fiber show, and there will likely be a booth displaying this type of art.  In fact, a high school friend of mine needle felts zombies.  She also does more mainstream stuff. In case there was any doubt…mine are not the right hands.  I have every confidence that I would create an unholy mess.

Felted (fulled) fabric is thicker, which makes it more air and water tight than un-felted fabric.  20180328_155810.jpgIt does lose elasticity in this process; as well as stitch definition.  But, because of this, we can have felt hats (think Stetsons).  Once again, whether or not something is desirable depends on your purpose.  I know I drive people crazy when they ask me what the “best” yarn is.  I don’t know, what do you want to do with it?  So, a blanket which has felted may be something awesome–if you lived in the Arctic.  Or something  awful, if you lived here, in El Grullo.  That being said…the warmest blankets *EVER* come from here.  Ask Things 1 and 2, if you don’t believe me.

When Poopie forgets, and throws actual wool articles into the laundry, and they felt up, he no longer is able to use those items as he wanted.  But, they don’t have to be lost causes.  The hat that no longer fits him is now a smaller, warmer hat for someone else.  Even his socks that he somehow manages to felt (even though literally no one else in the world can get those brands of yarn to felt) get a second life.  If nothing else, I cut them up into squares to keep my needles on in my tool kits.

While there are patterns out there for fitted things which need to be felted in the process, I haven’t generally used them.  Felting is not a science, so much as an art.  While science is involved, there are so very many variables, that I don’t know that someone can actually, honestly make exactly what they set out to make. I know for sure I cannot.  So, I keep my felting for things where it doesn’t matter so much–like bags.

For those who don’t know, I love second hand shopping.  Even with my yarn.  Yes, you should take precautions for moths, but the trade off is usually worth it to me.  Anyhoo, many, many years ago, I purchased a particular bag of yarn.  In the bag were several partial skeins.  The problem with partial skeins is that they do not always come with ball bands, so you never know what they are actually made of.  I made a classic blunder.  No, not getting into a land war in Asia, but close.

There was a group of yarns that was just different colors of the same yarn…and one of the partial balls still had the ball band.  It looked like it should be a good felting yarn, so I went about making a simple bag.  I would do the body of the bag in the blue, which there was the most of, until it was done, and keep using the partials up in stripes.  I would make horizontal slits by casting on/off to make the handles.  Finally, I would felt up the whole thing to make a sturdy handbag.  The felting would have the added benefit of “hiding” the jogs in the colors

I brought my bag with me to my knitting group for however long the actual knitting took up.  Each time, DeAnna would sigh over it.  She all but pee’d on the thing to claim it.  I can’t say for certain she didn’t.  Once the knitting portion was done, I threw it in the wash.  I pulled it out, and saw what my carelessness had wrought.  The top part of the bag turned out exactly as I had hoped.  The bottom….not so much.  Apparently, while many of the colors were the same yarn, the blue was not.  I had not tested it to see if it was wool.  It felt and looked the same as the other yarns, but it was not.  Well, DeAnna wanted it so badly, she could have it.

DeAnna LOVES the bag in the featured image.  The felted portion is sturdy, and the unfelted portion grows, so she can carry a little, or a lot in the bag.  I’m not going to lie, when I pulled the bag out of the wash, I was super disappointed.  However, DeAnna was not. This bag is felted where it counts, and elastic where *that* counts.

There are pro’s and con’s to everything.  It’s what you do with the characteristics that matter.  There are also trade offs for everything. 20180325_151235.jpgThis ash that is aggravating my sinuses is the same ash that clears the fields for more cane which sweetens the coffee I’m drinking right now.  The elasticity of knitting gives way to the sturdiness of felting.  Try not to be too afraid of a little hot water and agitation.  While there’s security in knowing exactly what you’ve got, you may find there’s a different security in the hardiness of having made it through the hot water and agitation.  Like so many things in life, it’s about finding the right balance for you.  Maybe the balance is more felt, maybe it’s no felt, only you can decide.  I can’t say what the “best” balance is for you.  I don’t know…what do you want to do with it?

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

The lovely (as well as irritating) thing about the written word is that you don’t get tone of voice.  So…is that “ah” a scream of frustration? rage? or a sigh of contentment? Yes–all of the above. Vacations are wonderful things–once I get there.  However, the getting there can be a bit…much.  I committed to writing once a week, but I didn’t commit to which day.  I’ve been super good about getting something out on Mondays, but as you can tell, I missed this Monday.  Because I was getting ready for our annual jaunt to Mexico.  Which leads me to today’s post.

The topic will likely elicit a similar scream from you, Dear Reader.  We are going to be talking about (dun dun duuuun) blocking.  Blocking is the act of wetting a piece of fabric (knit, crocheted, woven, etc…), pinning it into shape and letting it dry.  There are many different schools of thought on blocking.  My position on blocking is an ever evolving one.

20180320_173823.jpgMonday night, instead of writing to you, I was blocking a present for one of my many (many) aunts.  I love that my shawls look like birds.  You may or may not be able to tell that I just do this on my living room carpet.  I use thin rods and a whole bunch of T-pins.  A. Whole. Bunch.  Seriously, there is no such thing as too many T-pins.  If you ask yourself “should I put a pin here?” the answer is yes.  20180315_190916-e1521830751162.jpg

The left side of the shawl is showing the beginnings of blocking.  See how far I stretched out the top? You can also see the lack of definition on the scallops of the lace.  20180315_191659.jpgThen, I pull the lace out.  I make sure to pull the yarn as far as it will go.  I catch each of the points in the rod to make strong, consistent points for the finish.

Some people block pieces of projects to help make them consistent in size.  A myriad of flaws can be hidden in the blocking.  The problem with this, though, is that if there is a lot of difference to make up, it will come out in the wash.  After washing, they’ll return to their original sizes.  And then, you will have a mess.  So, blocking only goes so far in this manner.

Shawls are, so far, my only approved use of blocking.  As you can see, the side that isn’t blocked is kind of a mess. 20180315_191650.jpgYou can’t see any of the definition that makes the piece beautiful.  You may not even be able to see the full potential.  It takes stretching the piece beyond what you think is possible to bring out its full glory, like the featured image.  20171015_092732.jpgThere is, however, always the possibility of going too far.  But, I maintain it was going to break anyway, and it’s best to know now than when I’ve come to depend on it.  Besides, if it’s never blocked, it never has a chance of being what it’s supposed to be.

Many things have to go through a similar process. We temper steel to make it stronger.  Similarly, the delicate lace is only truly able to shine once it has shown how very, very strong it had to be.  Even the “failed” shawl will shine.  Maybe in a different form (definitely in a different form–I REALLY hated that pattern), but it WILL shine.

Blocking can teach us so many things:  True beauty often comes after testing.  We can often handle more than we think.  We need to be aware that while we can try to fit with something not meant for us, eventually, we will come back to ourselves.  Finally, we have to remember just because we weren’t meant for something doesn’t mean we aren’t meant for something else.  So, don’t be afraid to stretch!

Monday Musings

Unexpected Treasure

This blog thing is hilarious to me.  I usually have an idea of what I want my next blog post to be about.  Often times, it involves me texting/calling folks and asking them for pictures of stuff I’ve given away to show you.  But, my non-existent ADD comes out to play, and something else invariably pops up right before posting, so I end up with a bunch of 1/2 done blog posts, which I’m sure I’ll get out later.  This does NOT AT ALL reflect my normal creative process.  Pay no mind to Poopie’s frantic gesticulating.  He has no idea what he’s talking about.

In my defense, I have finished some of the previous blogs.  For example, Recuerdos was hanging out for a month or so, until the PERFECT opportunity to update and post arrived.  This also happens in my normal, day to day life.  I just have way more space to spread out IRL vs. on the inet.  So, the newest shiny subject is gardening.  I have a half done post about something else I was going to do tonight, but this weekend was faboo for the gardening aspect.

I chopped up my fruit trees.  20180310_114005.jpgI have no idea what I’m doing.  That’s a bit of a stretch…I have SOME idea.  I’ve taken a couple classes from the Master Gardeners.  But, ideally, someone would come to my house.  Blindfolded, of course…I don’t want anyone knowing where I live.  They would tell me: cut here, because this.  And: cut there, because that. It’s hard for me to do spring cutting.  I feel bad about curbing growth.  Logically, I know I’m directing growth, rather than curbing..but still.  Last year, I didn’t trim back far enough based on conversations I’ve had with others who espalier their trees as well.  Fun fact, that is not the same thing as espadrille.  This year, we’ll see if I have let the pendulum swing too far the other direction.

Roses, I’m good with.  Contrary to popular belief, they are hardy suckers.  My mom showed me how to chop them up but good.  They keep coming back just as strong as ever.  As does the hydrangea.  Poopie doesn’t seem as concerned with the roses when I chop them up, but the hydrangea usually makes him worry I’ve gotten too exuberant.

This year, I won’t be able to participate in either of the seed exchanges I know about in my area.  Seed exchanges are soooo cool.  You show up, maybe with seeds, maybe empty handed, and you go home with seeds that you can turn into plants.  Or…sometimes, you get bulbs, or starts for different plants.  This year, even if I were able to have attended one or the other, I wouldn’t be able to really do seeds, as I’m going to be gone for almost two weeks in the middle of seedling time.  Which is fine, I end up starting way too many plants, and overwhelming myself.  I’ll just buy seedlings this year. Meanwhile, I’ll send a bunch of seeds (see featured image) to one of the exchanges.

But, I still need to get my plots ready.  20180310_114029.jpgI came out early enough that the weeds aren’t too crazy.  Plus, I got to see my volunteer kale.  I do a pretty poor job of fall cleaning.  I can tell you it’s because I am letting the nutrients go back into the soil.  And that may be true, but I justify it by seeing my volunteers the next spring.  If I had done a better job of clean up, the kale and the chard would be gone.

Let me tell you my favorite volunteer story.  I periodically try to grow potatoes.  My success is…questionable at best.  So one year, I *DID* do a good job of fall clean up.  I pulled the last of the potatoes out of the bin, and put the tops in my home composter. My outside composter only gets garden stuff. No weeds.  It doesn’t get hot enough to kill seeds.  The next spring, I’m be-bopping around the yard, just puttering, and notice what looks like potato leaves coming out.  I don’t think much about that.  20180312_191048.jpgIn the warmth, and the nutrient rich environment, some clippings get what appears to be a surge of growth, but nothing happens with them.  Fast forward to the end of the season.  I open up the bottom section to pull out the composted stuff, and out spills a bunch of potatoes.  So…I go to the kitchen, get a bowl, and gather them up.  I decide to try out a new potato recipe with those potatoes.

Apparently, Thing 2 had been watching.  When I served the dish, I told Poopie how it was made, and Thing 2 asks “are those the potatoes from the garbage?”.  (She was such a pleasant teen)  Yes.  Yes they are.  To this day, that dish is called “garbage potatoes”.

This goes to show you that the difference between serendipity and adversity is often a matter of perspective.  Her garbage was my treasure.  My father in law grows blackberries….on purpose. I am forever cutting back blackberries.  20180312_190903.jpgLast year, this whole area was blackberries.  The poor lilac has been overrun. Even weeds express this dichotemy…Did you know that dandelion roots can make a dye for yarn? The leaves make a different color; and the flowers, still another.  Poopie spent a lot of time pulling out scotch broom as a weed (it IS in invasive species).  But a couple of years ago, I made him bring me home a bunch to dye yarn with.  I gave that yarn to L.  She’s on vacation, so I’m not going to make her send me a picture of it for you.