A Chane of Scenery

There’s nothing like different scenery and a change of pace.  This week we are at our “happy place.”

  
 My morning coffee with the shore of the South Carolina coast. 

 Only hours after our arrival I felt a calm and peace wash over me.  Our beloved city of Charleston is close by and we will be dining there nightly.  Charlie and I will be reminiscing over the days of our youth.  I vividly recall my feeling of excitement and the butterflies in my stomach as I visited him during his Citadel days and our early days as an “item.”

    We have imparted our excitement of this area to our daughter, Dana.  She has a natural attraction for all things beach.  But she ,as well, is drawn to Charleston and its southern charm and hospitality.

To get everyone to switch gears we listened to Pat Conroy’s, South of Broad, on the drive.  Both Charlie and Dana bit the hook and are enjoying the book.  Charlie and I have read most of Conroy’s books….Hmmm, I even devoured his cookbook which I need to dig out when we return!

   We look forward to our week here in this beautiful area to rekindle the magic of the low country!  And yes, I brought a basket of hand sewing projects for the porch overlooking the ocean!

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A few finishes and some new beginnings

First finish….our Washington Capitals hockey season is over.  They lost in game 7 in the second round of the playoffs.  Like birds in a cage, Charlie has covered them up until the fall.

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I finished my hooked footstool in time to exhibit in the Virginia Rugfest show.  It was a photo finish…completed the night before the show.  It’s one of a pair, the other one will wait until the winter.  Wool is hot to work with so it’s a good cold weather project.

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Our nephew Tim and his wife Kasie are expecting their first child in July.  Her name will be Jamie Mae and there was a baby shower last weekend.  I wasn’t able to attend but happily had 2 completed projects I sent for gifts.  The first is this little apple hat.  Maybe they will have her photo taken with it.

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The big gift was this Goin’ to the Fair hooked rug.  It’s a good size, 17″ X 55″ by The Old Tattered Flag, one of my favorite online wool / hooking connections.  The baby room decor is  farm animals so I thought this would fit in and perhaps be something Jamie will enjoy as an adult someday.  I finished the edges of the rug with wool covered cotton cording.  The wool was a stripe, cut on the bias, and I joined the edges like I join quilt binding.  Although a little cumbersome it worked like a champ and gave it a beautiful finished look.

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On to the beginnings….I was fortunate enough to get my apple blossom walk at the farm this year.  What a beautiful beginning of the next harvest season, the delicate sweet smell of the blossoming trees and the distinct humm of the bees in the orchard doing their job so we may reap the rewards in the fall.  This is one of my favorite times on the farm which brings calm and joy into my life.

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The photo with me is finding a coveted wild morel mushroom in the orchard.  As a child we always spent time each spring picking these delights which I wouldn’t eat.  How crazy is that!?  What I would give for Mom’s breaded mushrooms fried in butter served in a sandwich!  We only found one that day…and to be truthful my nephew, Justin, discovered it then said, “Here Aunt Karen, I know you want to pick it.”  Just a little nugget which brought back a flood of memories.

This is my favorite photo of the day, looking down at the farmhouse from the orchard with the mountain in the distance.  Then look what I did to it using an app, Waterlogue.

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Preset Style = Vibrant Format = 6

Waterlogue takes a photograph and turns it into a watercolor painting.  Maybe I should begin painting again…this could inspire me….just what I need, yet another project!

At the Williamsburg house, we have started a new front yard landscaping project. Scrubby trees were removed, old tired shrubbery pulled out, outlines for new beds drawn, estimates for landscape lighting and new irrigation.  It’s time for a facelift to the landscaping that will highlight the French country look of our house.  I should have photos of a big reveal in a month or so.

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Spring has Sprung

Williamsburg is blossoming and we are enjoying some spectacular weather….until tomorrow arrives with April showers.  It has been wonderful to spend some time outdoors and we are planning a front yard landscape redesign.  It’s all in the planning, approval and estimate phase but we look forward to beginning soon.

I did have a somewhat productive beginning of the year.  It was a wooly winter with lots of wool dyeing in the kitchen – the entire set of Karen Kahle’s wool recipes – both books!  I have lots of great vintage colors.  And 3 wool hooking projects completed or nearly so.

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Karen Kahle’s

wool recipes

The first completion was a rug for a dear friend, Gale.  She has certainly had her ups and downs over the recent years and she has helped me through my ups and downs as well.  In our discussions we often came back to one word or idea…

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My recent completed project will likely be a one of a kind creation…my pantry rooster.

IMG_0872For a little guy it sure took a long time to sew it together.  The pattern from Ma’s Bells called to hook one side of the rooster then sew a plain piece of wool fabric to the back.  I did that several years ago with a sheep and thought I should have hooked both sides.  So I hooked both sides of the rooster.  The issue is, when you sew the two pieces together, especially at inside curves, the backing and stitching show.  As I sewed the pieces together with upholstery thread I would hook a row of wool over top the stitching line to cover those areas.  Not too difficult at first, but as the piece is sewn together it becomes increasingly more difficult to hook.  I would sew a few inches then need to walk away for a while.  It is one of a kind….unless it’s like childbirth and you forget about the ordeal to get the desired result.  I put my rooster on an old bed spring…isn’t that just too cute?!

My final wool project is still in the making…it’s a footstool…a pattern and kit that I’ve had for 6 years or more.  In decorating this house my decorator friend recommended purchasing 2 footstools.  Of course, why purchase when I had two on my to-do list.  The first stool is hooked and now I’m staining feet, covering the footstool with foam and batting and  getting ready to sew the sides.  I’ll show you progress as I put it together but for now here is the hooking.

IMG_0805I purchased this pattern from Cindi Gay and over the years she has designed many, many footstool patterns.

As for spring in The Vineyards…many things are blooming

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Saucer Magnolia

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Baby turtle about the size of a quarter

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The monster fish have returned.

We listen to owls, frogs, woodpeckers, and just last evening I saw a hummingbird working the fragrant beauty bush by the deck.  It sure beats this scene!

IMG_0751And last but not least…our beloved hockey team, the Washington Capitals, are in the playoffs.  It’s time for the red Chucks to come out and to debut the larger, louder, and more improved cowbell!  Let’s go Caps!!

IMG_1077Certainly can’t forget the new furniture in the Caps viewing room either…it just arrived, still getting the room put together.

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New sewing room additions

Honestly, I don’t ever know if I will feel totally settled in this house.  It is big and beautiful but the second floor still lacks pictures on the walls and I must admit things are still in boxes waiting to find homes.  I won’t even speak about the 3 car garage with no cars in it!  Ugh!  As a military family it’s a deplorable situation. When active duty it would normally take 6 weeks to settle into your home but as a retired military family we have never had this much time to unpack.  So why rush?  I am definitely taking my good sweet time.

I made a few additions in the last week or so to my sewing room, or what Charlie calls my playhouse and our daughter refers to it as “Mom’s sweatshop.”  One of the attractions of this home was the unfinished attic space on the third floor.  Immediately upon seeing it for the first time, the wheels inside my head started turning,  a smile came on my face and my dear husband read my mind.   This is what I saw:

IMG_1892The truth – this is phase 1 of the renovation…all the of the floor and ceiling joists are reinforced (an unexpected speed bump), HVAC duct work is in position with preliminary electric work and framing in place.  The finished livable space is 1000 square foot, or the size of the first house Charlie and I purchased in 1983 Dalzell, South Carolina.  It was 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, in a neighborhood were we met our first lifelong Air Force friends, Bill and Cynthia.

5587 Whisperwood Drive, Dalzell, South Carolina

5587 Whisperwood Drive, Dalzell, South Carolina

Four months later I moved in…but not comfortable yet.  When I have it looking “good” (i.e. presentable)  I’ll give you a peek.  For now you can see the 2 latest additions… a retractable design wall and another new sewing machine.

IMG_0681I LOVE these double doors into the attic storage space…our contractor’s wife suggested these and she knew what she was talking about!  But in a space with lots of half walls I needed a wall space for a flannel design wall.  I googled retractable design wall and yes, I found it!  Honestly what can’t you find when you search the internet!?  Yes, I probably could have rigged something up similar but why reinvent the wheel?  I ordered an unfinished frame and painted it Kilim Beige like the rest of the room (and house – I embraced a monochromatic paint scheme).  Now I have my flannel design wall that rolls up when I need to put something in the storage space.  It’s perfect!

IMG_0682And now I would like to introduce the new “baby”…Juki.

IMG_0664Primitive Gatherings ran a special holiday sale on these on Dec. 24, $100 off plus free shipping.  So Merry Christmas to me!  It arrived last week and I set it up and started playing with it yesterday.  I placed it in my new Koala sewing cabinet (Happy Birthday to me!), dropped the feed dogs and started free motion quilting.

IMG_0666This is NOT a fancy machine…many sewing machines today are going for $5,000 and up.  I’m serious!  These are not for me!  My beloved Bernina is now close to 20 years old and still running like a champ.  I have used it hard so to increase its lifespan I’ve added Juki to the mix.  Juki is not fancy….straight line sewing only, all metal and mechanical, no computer…just a workhorse.  To get to know Juki I’m doing Lori Kennedy’s (theinboxjaunt.com) Mystery Quilt Along.  I’m already behind but plan to catch up this week.

I have several new recipes to share but afraid that will be another post…the playhouse awaits and I have much to do!  Have a great week!

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Almost a Christmas Finish

In November I happily tagged along with my husband on a lovely business trip to Germany.  As he worked during the day I would explore the local German communities and when I found myself with some down time I did handwork.  Three handwork projects were carefully packaged for the trip along with a book, that I still haven’t finished reading.  I did manage to complete the applique and embroidery on this wool Christmas mat by Primitive Gatherings, Lisa Bongean.

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IMG_0639IMG_0638It’s nice to finish another project even if it wasn’t totally complete until after the holidays. Christmas 2015 it will make a debut.  This project began nearly 2 years ago in a class I took at the Quilt Odyssey in Hershey PA from the project designer, Lisa Bongean.  Lisa’s creative talent and ability is nothing short of amazing and she has an incredible business, Primitive Gatherings.

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At the end of a rigorous day of stitching, Karen and Lisa Bongean, Hershey, PA, July 2013

Hmmmm…what will I work on next?  There are plenty of options waiting for me in my “playhouse.”

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The Martin Meadow – A Christmas Finish

On my to do list since January 2013 was a quilt intended for my nephew Tim and his young bride Kasie.  The quilt was inspired by fabrics and a pattern I found on one of my favorite online quilt shop destinations, The Country Sampler in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  The fabrics reminded me of my childhood days playing in the meadow in front of what was then my grandparents house.  The Holstein dairy herd grazed in the meadow that had a lovely, calming stream passing through it.  This quilt was made with those memories and specifically for Tim and Kasie since they have decided to make that home their own.  So this was their Christmas gift, a quilt called “The Martin Meadow.”

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The Martin Meadow, 63″ X 74″

 

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Quilt label on back.

 

I included this short explanation in the gift bag as well:

    Dear Tim and Kasie,

   Here is the story behind this quilt that I made especially for you. Several years ago I found these fabrics and they immediately reminded me of the meadow at my grandparents house (John A and Gladys Martin), the house where Tim was raised. I spent many hours as a child playing in the cows’ meadow in front of this treasured family home. Wild buttercups, forget-me-nots and watercress grew there. I anxiously waited for the sign of spring by the daffodils and narcissus in the meadow and the crocus and grape hyacinths planted by my grandmother. I would bring my school friends there (Nancy, Kathy, Sharon, Linda Grahl) and wearing rubber boots we would play in the stream. We would very carefully (to not get splinters in delicate areas) straddle an old fallen telephone pole to get from one side to the other. Those are cherished memories that I carry with me…memories that all children should be so lucky to have.

      Now that you all have decided to make this your home, I wanted to share those memories with you and know that more cherished Martin memories will be made in that beautiful home and family property. I hope you enjoy this quilt that I made with those warm and grateful thoughts of my childhood.

 With much love,

Karen

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A new app

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A photo of our house decorated for Christmas using the picturesque app. I may use this for next year’s Christmas card. The app is pretty cool.

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