September 30, 2009

My Sugar And Spice Project...

Today, I'd like to give you a couple of hints about my next project. I'm working on my own pattern - my own design - and the completed items will be for sale on my website. I'm really having fun putting this together, and these are just the first steps.

A little bit vintage, a little bit "granny", a little bit sugar and spice, and a whole, big helping of girly! Are you getting the picture? Are you even a bit curious? Do you think you have an idea what I'm working on?

I'll be showing more components in the upcoming days. All will be revealed before you know it! Now if you're local and you've heard any scuttlebutt about this...pu-leezzzz don't spill the beans yet.

I'll be in the studio working on my creations and I'll be back soon with more hints...
JoySignatureBROWNSM

September 29, 2009

Texas Acorns...

The first surprise package of acorns arrived from Fort Worth, Texas today. Thanks to Dee Dee of Dee Dee's Craft Spot. I was pretty excited when I saw the package in my mailbox, but can you believe the special envelope I found inside? Dee Dee, I suspect that you crafted this envelope yourself, and I think it's great.

When I opened the envelope, I found these beautiful acorns waiting for me. I'm getting an education with this project. I'm finding that acorns, like people, come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I have never seen acorns in this color and shape before. Another thing...I guess I thought that, coming from Texas, the acorns would be huge. (Isn't the saying that "Everything is bigger in Texas"?) These are small, almost tiny, mahogany-colored acorns. I love 'em! Don't you agree, they are very cool?

My call for acorns is going to be more fun than I ever imagined! I'm excited in anticipation of all the different and equally fabulous acorns that I know are coming my way. I'll be sending out a little package for Dee Dee yet this week. Thanks so much for sharing some of your East Texas acorns with me!
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Don't forget to go over to Dee Dee's blog and say "hi" from me! And if you're interested in sending me some acorns from your fair state, please just send me a message through my email link in my left sidebar and I'll get my address to you. You'll receive a little gift from me for your trouble.

September 28, 2009

Quilt Top Accompli'...

Brynwood Needleworks - Garden Magic Quilt Top (pre-longarm)

I finished my quilt top on Sunday. It's a perfect size for our queen-size guest bed. I'll still need to sandwich the top, batting and backing together, and then I'll be able to mount it onto a frame and do the machine quilting. Last stage will be binding, and my goal is to have that step (and then the quilt) done very soon.

For anyone interested, this fabric line was called Garden Magic from Blackbird Designs for Moda. I really like the quaintness of it. Sweet flowers and patterns, along with a nice selection of colors, but not too girly that a guy would be offended. Oh, the fabrics are very soft, too!

Handsome is particularly smitten with this quilt-in-progress. He thinks the finished quilt will make a comfy cover-up for an occasional afternoon nap. I think he's right.

So, I'm feeling very accomplished for this week already. Let's see what reveals itself as the week progresses, shall we?
JoySignatureBROWNSM

September 27, 2009

Nine Patches And Sashing On The" Go"...

Saturday was a busy, productive quilting day. I really had fun and accomplished a lot. I really love the time I spend creating in the studio.

Remember those four patches that became nine patch quilt blocks? Yesterday, I added sashing and assembled them into my basic quilt top. I still have a second sash in a different fabric to attach, but the "bones" are there and I'm tickled with the look.

I used my Accuquilt Go© Cutter with the 2 1/2" strip template to cut the sashing. If you haven't seen or tried the Go© Cutter, you can't believe how cool it is. Instead of having to rotary-cut fourteen strips the width of the fabric, all I had to do was cut the fabric with my scissors narrow enough to sit on the cutting template and run it through the Cutter. I did three folded layers, 44" long on each pass. This way, each pass yielded nine sashing strips. I was finished in a jiffy!

After cutting the 2 1/2" strips, I then sewed together rows of four blocks separated by sashing. My last step for the day was to sew each completed row of nine patch, sashed blocks together into my basic quilt top. I ironed at each step to be sure that my squares would line up nicely.

I wanted to take a photograph for you so you could see my progress, so I laid the quilt top on the carpet in our living room and ran to get my camera. When I got back, my "little helper" decided she should be in the shot, too. This is what I saw upon returning to the living room. I guess it has her stamp of approval, and it's not even finished!

I'll be working on it again today, and I'll take more pictures so you can see how far I get. You can also see more progress pictures in my "What I'm Sewing Now" Flickr album in my right sidebar (the title here is a link, too). I think that next time, I'll lay the quilt on our bed. Less chance of a certain someone getting in the shot!
JoySignatureBROWNSM

September 26, 2009

Williamsburg Cardi Completed...

This is the sweater I worked on while Handsome played beautiful music in Williamsburg. It was on our trip that I realized I hadn't purchased the trim yarn along with the original yarn. Usually, I'll purchase all my supplies at once to be sure that I have everything (just in case I don't get to the project before the yarn is sold out). I was just a little nervous that they wouldn't have what I needed, as I had purchased the yarn last spring.

I ran up to my favorite yarn shop (The Spinning Wheel) in Sarasota yesterday and was greeted by (owner) Klara's sweet smile. We hadn't seen each other for a while, so a too-short but nice visit was in order, too. One of the things I love about specialty shops - other than the fact that I used to own one - is that they always recognize your face, love to know what you're working on, and when you ask if they have such-and-such for your project, someone jumps up to get exactly what you were looking for. She still had my trim yarn in stock - but only one skein in black. Whew! That's all I'd need.

I paid for my purchase, hugs were exchanged all around, and then I hurried back home to crochet the edging on my cardigan. An hour later I was finished! Handsome was kind enough to snap a photo for me so I could show you what it looks like now.

I've tucked up the sleeves in the picture. I think they're too long (they fall below my wrist line), so I will have to adjust their length. It will involve cutting the cuffs off (that's right, I said "cutting"). I'll cut the sleeves shorter than my desired finished length, and then I'll be grafting on new cuffs that fall where they're more comfortable for me. For now, "tuckage" was in order.

I'm really happy with the results, and I think I'll just refer to it from now on as the Williamsburg Cardi. What do you think?
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September 25, 2009

Today, A Rabbit Pincushion Tutorial For You...

I recently had a comment left in my blog by my new online friend, Michelle (Shell) May. She's Razzy and Sugar's Mama over at Tales From The Raspberry Rabbits blog. I love visiting and reading her posts. Razzy and Sugar are both so sweet and Shell is a wonderful writer.

She had seen one of my completed pincushions and said that I should have a rabbit pincushion. I agreed, so while I was in my studio today, I decided to re-purpose a rabbit planter into a new pincushion for my collection.

I've put together my process in a free online tutorial for you. Just go to my Flickr album titled "Rabbit Pincushion Tutorial" (catchy title, don't you think?) and I'll show you what I did. I made the album title a link in this post for you. If you'd like to make the same rabbit planter into your own pincushion, there are a number of them listed up on eBay.

Let me know what you think. I think Razzy and Sugar would be pleased.
JoySignatureBROWNSM

September 24, 2009

An Old Lab With A New Obsession...

Amidst ironing and housekeeping and an appointment with a new doctor yesterday, there was also time for a little play.

Kes comes from a long line of hunting blood which began long before both her grandmothers, Bryn and Raven. Her father, Morgan, spent many days afield with Handsome, and Kes was no slouch in the field either. Good hunting bloodlines in our retrievers have served us well in the field, but now, when it would be nice to just relax in our pool, that drive and desire has turned into a good, old-fashioned obsession.

Recently, Handsome was in the pool store making sure our pool water quality was up to his exacting standards, when Chris (our pool expert) told him about a toy that her dogs adore. So, as soon as Handsome left the pool store, he went over to Petsmart (is it Pet Smart or Pets Mart? - Sorry, again I digress), and he purchased one of those toys. Here's the result...
My soon-to-be twelve year old Labrador retriever stands at the glass door to the lanai and fairly whines to be let out to fetch this new toy. Instead of the sinking Kong toy, she now knows that this one will float. As a result, she launches herself into the pool...repeatedly. She makes us laugh out loud with her persistence. She loves this darn toy to distraction.

I know how she feels. To love something so much that it occupies your every thought. It makes you fly through the air. It makes you reach further. It makes you feel younger. It makes you happy beyond measure. With it, you're the best you can be - and better than you ever dreamed.

For Kes, it's a floating toy enveloped in red canvas. For me, it's the man I've loved over half my life. Six feet seven inches of intelligence, humor, music, love and patience. For me, it's my Handsome husband of nearly twenty five years. I know exactly how Kes feels.
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September 23, 2009

Another Sweet Surprise And My Next Project...

I was so wonderfully surprised today to receive another gift in the mail! I recently participated in a stitch marker swap with some of my grandma friends. I knew that my swap partner had been burned before and so I wanted to make sure that she was really pampered this time.

I found out that she collects tea pots, so I found a special one for her in an antique shop in Wisconsin, and then I found the perfect little tea cup charms to make her stitch markers. I added a few other little goodies for her, and then sent off her package anxiously anticipating her reaction. Of course, I was not disappointed, and neither was she. Her posts in our group were above and beyond complimentary. I was thrilled that she loved all of her gifts.

She went out of her way to thank me on our site, so you can imagine how surprised I was to open an envelope from her today and find a perfect tiny sock she had knitted and made into a key chain for me! Isn't it just the sweetest thing? I really love it. How lucky am I? Thank you again, Fran. How thoughtful and kind of you.

I finished my sweater knitting. Now I have to assemble it, and then crochet the edge on the body of it. I'll photograph it to share with you yet this week. I just wanted to show you what I've started as my newest (knitting) project.

Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton in a dreamy, sky blue. A shawl pattern by Mac n' Me. No rush to finish. It won't take long to knit. Moss stitch for eight rows, then the first and last eight stitches of each row in moss stitch with the rest done in stockinette stitch. I want it to be a lovely warm wrap that I can toss over my shoulders on our cool Florida winter nights. You can always track my progress in my "Currently On My Needles" Flickr album.
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September 22, 2009

A Finished Pincushion And A Gift In The Mail...

You may remember the sweet little porcelain basket with two birds and a rose that I purchased while vacationing in Wisconsin. I knew when I saw it that I would repurposed it to be pincushion for my studio.

Yesterday, I played in the studio between loads of laundry and this is what I came up with...a soft pink felted wool, which I then embellished with tiny pearls and buttons. So, what do you think? Did it turn out the way you thought it might? Do you like it? I'm always open to friendly critiques, you know. When we travel, we always have the post office hold our mail. No sense piling it up in the box or having a neighbor or friend collect it for us. Anyway, I went and got a basket-full this morning and there was a silver box nestled in with all the bills and catalogs.

I saw that the box was from my Michigan friend, Marion. Oh, I just knew this was going to be good! I couldn't wait to get home to open the package! I left the basket with bills for Handsome to sort and I sat down to open the box. I wasn't disappointed, either. Marion made a lovely little card and in it was a note to explain what she'd sent.

Marion had sent me an assortment of beautiful glass eggs that were made just for me! She makes the most beautiful lampwork beads, too. She had made some into stitch markers for me earlier this year. I just adore them!
Now, I have these beautiful egg-shaped beads. They are eggs in blues, tans and a lovely caramel color. Aren't they fabulous?!! I don't know yet what I'll be doing with them, but I want it to be really special...to honor my friend and her generous gift to me. Thank you so much, Marion. I'm really looking forward to your visit and getting to spend time together.

Huge hugs from Florida to you!
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September 21, 2009

Acorn State Of Mind...

Without realizing it, I have started yet another collection. I even surprised myself on this one!

While I was in a rest stop in Southern Wisconsin, I absentmindedly picked up a handful of acorns. I had been walking Kes and stretching my legs. I looked down and there they were just waiting to be picked up! Acorns.

Then, I came home and took a few new photos for blog headers that I'll be using seasonally. Like the one with the rose-covered white heart in my previous header, I photographed special items hanging in one of our oak trees that is currently laden with acorns.

I know a few branches are going to be taken down as they're hanging in Handsome's way when he mows the lawn, so I picked those acorns off the tree before they disappear. More acorns.

Last week, while searching for the flock of sheep in Colonial Williamsburg, I tended to look more toward the pavement than I usually do. Cobblestones. Possible turned ankle. You get the picture.

Again, I notice acorns - this time under the oaks that line Duke of Gloucester Street. Without looking like a "nut job" (pun intended), I started picking up acorns. Most of the acorns I picked up in Williamsburg were green, so I won't have any trouble distinguishing them from the others. Green acorns.

I'm going to purchase a new display frame or some cool jars so that I can separate the acorns by state. If I find jars, they won't need to be large, but I'll look for something interesting, with clear glass, so I can see the contents. Let me know if you have an idea for display. I'd love to know what you think might be a good way to show them off.

So, now I'd like to put out a call to my readers...Do you have an oak tree in your yard (or near by) that has acorns this season? Would you like to send a little ziplock bag of them to me? If so, please send me an email and I'll share my address with you. (Just click on the "Click Here to Email Me" link over in my left sidebar. See it? It looks like a little postcard. It's right under my little "Welcome" bird.) I'll also send you a little gift for your trouble!

I think this could be fun. If you agree, I'll look forward to hearing from you. I'd love to see how many states I could add to my collection, courtesy of my wonderful readers. I'll keep you posted as I receive acorns - where they come from and who sent them to me in a new Flickr album in my sidebar (Acorns By State). Even if you live in a state for which I already have acorns, don't worry. I'll add them to what I already have, and you'll get a thank you gift!
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A quick reminder that I posted up a music player in yesterday's post so that you can listen to one of Handsome's Dixieland performances with Maggie Worsdale. I'll add more audio clips as we receive them, and have posted another player at the bottom of my blog (in the center) so you can check back in the future to listen to those new clips. Thanks!

September 20, 2009

Please Don't Talk About Me...

As promised...a little music for you.
This is Maggie Worsdale performing Please Don't Talk About Me
with the Williamsburg Consort Dixieland Band.
Handsome is in back on the drum kit with a cool solo!
Just click on the start arrow on the Music Player to hear the ensemble.
Turn up your sound, sit back and enjoy!



JoySignatureBROWNSM

September 19, 2009

Consort Photos And A Sweater Update...

I just had to share a few photos from the
final days of the Williamsburg Consort week with you.
First, Handsome in his Consort uniform...
Handsome played in a separate Dixieland Ensemble comprised of Consort members. They performed at a local nursing home, where they were warmly received. A few of the residents even got up and danced!
They also performed for the other musicians at two different receptions, and warmed up the crowd coming in to watch the America Alive Concert featuring the entire Consort on Thursday evening. That concert was held at the high school in Williamsburg and they performed to a packed house!
One of the guest soloists was a talented trumpet player named Ken Watters.
I've made his name a link to the Watters brothers website so you can read more about them.
(But don't go away yet!)
See Handsome in the percussion section behind him? Yup! That's my guy!
The female soloist of the evening was the incomparable Maggie Worsdale.
She and Ken performed the showstopper "Cornet Man".
Beginning with her walking onstage in her outrageous outfit,
to the interplay between her and Ken -
fully supported by the Williamsburg Consort -
they nearly brought the house down.
Here's a link to clips of some her music on her website.
I apologize that I don't have concert music to share with you yet. We'll be getting a dvd of Thursday evening's performance very soon. I promise to post a link to this particular number featuring Ken and Maggie as soon as it arrives, so that you get the essence of what you missed!

Finally, I am currently completing the second sleeve of the sweater I started on this trip. I'll be putting it together over the weekend and will model my finished piece for you early next week.
Friday we were on our way home to Florida. We settled into a brand new La Quinta in Pooler, Georgia (about 10 miles from Savannah). We'll be home later today. We're already planning our trip back to Williamsburg next year. We had an absolute ball - and I wish each and every one of you could have seen the performances on Thursday. Makes my heart full just thinking about it.
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September 18, 2009

Images Of Colonial Williamsburg...

Images captured on my last foray into Colonial Williamsburg
- and back in time.
It was a wonderful trip to an area located in the heart
of the birthplace of this great country.
Fabulous music made. Concerts have all been played. Time to head for home.
JoySignatureBROWNSM

September 17, 2009

Soft Noses and Wooly Butts...

I woke up yesterday morning deciding that nothing else mattered except listening to Handsome rehearse...and finding the Leicester Longwools.

Well, I had been told the day before that they were in a pasture behind Wetherburns Tavern. "See the red building?", I was asked. "Yes", came my reply, as I apparently gazed upon the wrong red building. I then proceeded down Duke of Gloucester Street and turned in the opposite direction. How do I know this?

I later returned to our hotel room, bummed that I hadn't found the sheep. I sat down with a bottle of water and decided to look through some new postcards I had and, what do you know? There's an image of Wetherburns Tavern. "Hey! That's not the red building I was looking at!".

So after eating breakfast with Handsome and listening to an hour of rehearsal, I exited the hotel to make my way to Colonial Williamsburg and those elusive sheep. This time I knew which red building I was looking for and if the sheep were still there, I'd find them.

I walked straight to Wetherburns Tavern, and this time I turned south. Guess what I saw? You've got it...
OK, look closer...
Can you see what I see? Could it be?
Hurray!!! It's the Leicester Longwools!
Singing my own refrain of "Heaven...I'm In Heaven"
Sheep Heaven, that is.
I spent the next hour alone with these lovely animals.
Of course, I wouldn't forget to take my camera so that
I could share them with all of you!
You can click on the mosaic and it will take you to my Flickr album of my favorite shots of the Colonial Williamsburg flock of the Leicester Longwool sheep. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
JoySignatureBROWNSM
You can learn more about the Leicester Longwool breed by clicking here. You can learn more about the Williamsburg flock by clicking here. Alas, I knew there would be no lambs to photograph, as they are only born in the spring of the year.

Oh, one more thing...You may have noticed my new header. When walking through Williamsburg this week, I saw a garden with TWO pomegranate trees heavily laden with ripening fruit. I always think of my mum when I see a pomegranate. We've both loved eating them since I was a kidlet. Just peel and eat. I can't imagine a better image to welcome Autumn.

September 16, 2009

In Search Of The Leicester Longwools...

I told you I'd be on a mission while in Williamsburg...to find the Leicester Longwool flock in Colonial Williamsburg (it's pronounces "Lester"). So Tuesday morning, I traveled down Richmond Road and into another century.

I started on Duke of Gloucester Street.
This is a view of the Palace Green with the Governor's Palace at the north end.
No Longwools here...
Then I was told at Prentis that the Longwools
were grazing behind Wetherburn's Tavern.
No Longwools there, either...
So, I tried to be creative and search the backstreets of Colonial Williamsburg.
I looked in paddocks and pastures and even lovely manicured lawns.
Still no Longwools...
Not in gardens...
Not down quiet and picturesque lanes...
No Leicester Longwools to be found.
What I did find was their beautiful and soft yarn. I was thrilled to find it. Half my mission for this trip complete. The woman behind the counter had told me where the Longwools should be grazing, but alas I didn't find them yesterday.

My Wednesday goal will be to find the flock. I'm going to "time travel" again in search of the elusive sheep. I'm not going back to the hotel until I find them.
JoySignatureBROWNSM

September 15, 2009

Practice, Practice, Practice...

Many rehearsals in anticipation of concerts to be performed on Thursday.
They already sound great - Perhaps I'm biased? I think not!
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