Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rhinebeck 2016: New York Sheep and Wool Festival

hand-dyes drying at the fairground

Thanks to my work with Windy Valley Muskox, I had the opportunity to visit rural New York in October.  Famed and celebrated fiber gathering, New York Sheep and Wool, aka Rhinebeck almost defies description, there are just so many facets.  What I can tell you is that if you go, you'll definitely see fiber and yarn and sweaters, knitters, fantastic local food, yarn-related celebrities, and absolutely people knitting.  





And animals; you will definitely find animals!  

You can see more of my pictures from Rhinebeck here.
I would also recommend Glenna C's account here, and this fun video about Rhinebeck Sweaters.

Friday, November 11, 2016

artist: Susan, painter

Third in my artists and craftsmen series.
Some weeks ago, my friend, artist Susan Schmitt, allowed me to spend a morning with her, observing and photographing her as she painted, her inspirations, methods, tools and techniques.





With a fresh bouquet of flowers from the garden as inspiration, she transformed a piece of white paper into a lovely expression of summer beauty.  She explained to me that different projects require levels of time and emotion investment.  Some are "show dogs," and some are like a family dog - sometimes a person admires piece but it is not the right investment for them, but everyone should be able to live with art.  Susan draws, carves, stamps, paints, subtracts, redraws, and works til her vision comes together.  She creates everything from printed cards and journals to one-of-a-kind dolls, too.   




She journals with watercolors - sometimes, while her husband is driving!  


Also, Susan is in my knitting group, and has the most adorable grandbaby, so she's a well-rounded lover-of-beautiful-things.  One of the aspects I like most about her work is choice of subjects.  She has a series of cards / illustrations called Women I Might Have Known.  Whenever she publishes a new one, she posts a story on her blog about them.  


And she gives good life advice, but you can't buy that on her site, I'm just lucky to know that.  

Susan is also on Instagram:  susanschmittart.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

musings about the passing of time

A bush full of marigolds: 

When you're young, "old" people will tell you how fast time goes by.  And when you're a new parent, people will go on and on about how this stage "won't last forever" and you should cherish it all, even the annoying parts.  It's just amazing, though, how many things will not fit into the time I have.  

It strikes me how much more I get done in a span of time if I turn off all social media and email.  

I have been accused, more than once, of being completely out of touch with what's "in," and of being old-fashioned.  Tone of voice aside, it's not the insult it was meant to be.  The more life experience I have, the more I begin to see the value of quality over quantity.  Frankly, there are so many more valuable uses of my time than racking up a high number of Friends, which, let's face it, are actually Acquaintances.  

If you wonder, here are some of the recent experiences causing my musings: finding out why someone hasn't been speaking to me for two years; a classmate being diagnosed with breast cancer; being taken for granted; being cherished; a seemingly minor decision with lasting consequences. 

But I'm still here, and life goes on; there's still Truth and time for forgiveness.  So here's to paper books, candles that have time to burn, homegrown tomatoes, handwritten letters, handmade gifts.  Yes, Anna, it's time for Christmas crafting :)

And yes, it all goes together.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hmmm... Really.

My husband was flipping through a magazine and absentmindedly stated, "I already know what my 'spirit animal' is."  To which my youngest asked, "What is a spirit animal?"
Dad:  "Oh, it's an animal you identify with."
Youngest:  "OoOOooh.  Mine's a sloth."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11 - Fifteen Years

The buzz around schools these days is that the new kids coming up through high schools are the first class learning about 9/11 from a historical point of view, as opposed to a personal point of view.  I don't know, it's still personal to me, and I don't see how that would mean nothing to my kids.  I guess we're not talking about it much anymore.  Time for some remembering.  



Thursday, September 8, 2016

artist: Marilyn, knitwear designer

Continuing my photo project on artists and craftsmen, allow me to introduce you to Marilyn, of Black Water Abbey Yarns

Marilyn and I were introduced by mutual friends (who knit) and since then, I have had the opportunity to photograph some of her beautiful pattern collections.  Marilyn distributes high quality wool directly from Ireland, so it is no surprise that many of her patterns feature elegant cable work.  




Through the process of photographing her work, I have had the opportunity to get to know Marilyn as a person and an artist.  As she travels to yarn and fiber shows around the country, Marilyn sells not only her own beautiful yarn and patterns, but also a selection of items such as cards, soap, and pins, from small-business artists.  In other words, she is helping the creative women around her, too.  Whenever we meet up to transfer projects, I walk away from our conversations feeling newly inspired.  

I am pleased that Marilyn agreed to let me shoot a bit of her creative process, including swatching, designing, knitting.  She had some wonderful colorwork projects on needles while I was there; I look forward to seeing her next round of finished pieces.


  



Find more of Marilyn's patterns on Ravelry here.  See my ongoing project of artists and craftsmen here or here.  What sort of artist shall I seek out next; have any suggestions?  

Friday, August 12, 2016

quick garden update


Quick.  The tomatoes are terrific.  If you use tomatoes for anything, they are so much better fresh.  I keep picking the peppers before they have a chance to change color.  The tomatillos are taking over, I don't know what to do with them!  We've done green chili and tomatillo sauce.  I planted them for salsa, but that only uses one.  Suggestions?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pear Butter and Other Canning

While perusing my canning cookbooks, I came across some pear recipes.  In the end, the one I used was online, here.  My boys were skeptical of the star anise but we made it once as-written and it is pretty great.  And we wondered, are there other kinds of anise?  I went and got more pears for another batch (and pictures, of course!)


I made more peach preserves.  It's the easiest thing to come by in large quantity, a box of good peaches, and a crowd pleaser, definitely.    I used my favorite recipe as previously posted.


And lovely strawberry... preserve.  Jam?  I'm not sure.  Poor strawberry stuff, no spices; just lemon and sugar - and I used all the lemons.  I ate that strawberry after the pictures, and it was delicious.


I'm thinking that these would all be perfect for a tea party, and perhaps I should make some lemon curd.  Have you made lemon curd?  I'll have to look for a recipe unless you can suggest one...?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 2016 Garden Report


As you can see, the garden is doing its job.  I'm not sure I've done mine, but considering I only planted two thirds of the garden, and we had two hail storms early in the season, we're going alright.  

We had a couple of rounds of snap peas - one of my favorite things.  I intended to plant more but I'm thankful for what we had, as they are so much better fresh than store-bought.   



Currently, we have a daily allowance of tomatoes - perfect for throwing in salad or fajitas.  There is nothing like a fresh-picked tomato.  Soon, we'll have some big ones ready for salsa and marinara.  The tomatillos are taking over - how did I not know this would happen?  Their lovely little lanterns are fun, though.



I wish I had planted corn, potatoes, onions.  They seem like no-brainers but since they don't come in pots, I did not get them done.  What should we plant next year??

Monday, July 18, 2016

hot air balloon rodeo, Steamboat Springs

We decided to track down a hot air balloon festival this summer, and spent the weekend in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  This beautiful little town has good food, beautiful hikes, friendly locals, and a yarn shop!  What more could you ask for??  

We watched balloons from sunrise to sundown, seriously.  I am going to mostly let the pictures do the talking but wanted to point out two things.  The "rodeo" portion of this festival is when the balloon pilots attempt to touch down on the surface of the lake.  I think most of them managed it without any problems.  You can see the yellow balloon with the flowers is still dripping as it rises.  Also, out of twelve hand-painted balloons in the world, there are two in this crowd!  They are the circus balloon and the cowboys.  

To see more, including a time-lapse video (my first attempt at that,) you can check out the whole set here.  













Wednesday, July 13, 2016

artist: Jessica, quilter

Like many crafters, I have lots of projects in the works.  One of my current projects is a personal little photo essay, if you will, on artists and craftsmen.  This involves finding such people, and then convincing them they should be photographed.  (This has proven a little more challenging than I had expected.  I think many artists have a difficult time sharing or explaining their process.)  The idea for this project came simply from my appreciation of all the people I've encountered over the last five or ten years who, like me, enjoy making things with their hands.  I've met everyone from dyers and spinners to car fabricators, wood workers, painters, and more.

Of course, I am not the first person to think of this.  Check out the Craftsman's Legacy for a fascinating video series on everything from handmade clocks to long bows.



I'm working a little closer to home, though, with Jessica, a quilter.  Jessica heard about my project through a mutual friend, and inquired over email whether I had photographed a quilter yet.  I had not, and we made a date.  

I showed up at Jessica's studio expecting to snap some pictures and chat a few minutes.  However, as often happens, I really enjoyed the visiting, getting to know a little something personal about another human, and craft.  I stayed a couple of hours while she answered all my questions about her process, her inspirations, her own projects.  Jessica teaches, and quilts for hire; she has an extensive fabric stash, which comes in handy when students need just the right contrast.  After I'd wandered around taking pictures, she said, "I saw you found my reds."  Did I ever!


I also loved her thimble collection, which reminded me of a dear friend who was also a thimble collector.

Amazing blocks and quilts poured out of piles, racks and boxes: blocks just pressed, and blocks to be pressed; and bobbins and fat quarters, quilts on walls and quilts on chairs... blocks on tables, ready for assembly, and fabrics auditioning for the next quilt.





Jessica encourages all her students to make or contribute to a Quilt of Valor.  


After teaching students to piece blocks and quilt tops, they often ask her to do the quilting on her longarm machine; she showed me her queue of upcoming pieces, and gave me a demonstration.  Beautiful work.  To be sure, I walked away inspired.  Perhaps my quilting muse has returned after all these years.  Hmm... to be continued.  Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your beautiful work, inspirations, and smile!



For more pictures of Jessica and her work, you can look at the whole album here
For more on my series of craftsmen and artists, check here.

What inspires you?  Do you find you rub elbows with makers in unexpected ways?  

Monday, June 27, 2016

June in pictures

A weekend with my favorite girl, including a tea party, dance recital, and swinging at the park: 

Here and there in downtown Denver:

...including Denver Comic Con and lots of fascinating cosplayers.

The best date-week with my husband, whom I just adore to the moon, with breakfast at a cute little diner in the Berkeley neighborhood, Kyle's Kitchen; we loved the mismatched mugs.

While the kids were away at camp, I had a little photo session with another artist-craftsman, Jessica, a quilter.  I was definitely inspired by all her beautiful work.  Just maybe, I will get back to quilting sometime soon.

Wrapping up the month with a beautiful wedding in Longmont.  Perhaps more on that later?