Tag Archives: birds

For the birds

I found this in the yard.

yarn litter

It isn’t mine.

[Sniffs and tilts head upwards] I don’t do acrylic.

But in all seriousness, don’t leave this shit out for the birds.

Yes, I know you feel like you are helping your little feathered friends (even though your cat might be killing them too) and seeing a nest with brightly colored bits brings a little puff of joy to make your earnest heartstrings quiver and sing, but really you are polluting our fine earth.

Yes, creatures feathered and furred like to help themselves to our freshly washed fleeces and fluff drying in the yard, but there are millions of us knitting and crocheting and weaving away, and millions more children overseen by overly smug adults providing hands-on enriching [cheap-ass] “craft” projects, that there’s just too much of this stuff knocking about out there now.

Birds have happily had sex and hatched eggs for millennium without our plastic scraps lining their nests – in fact, they are some of the oldest beings on this planet and no doubt preferred life without our smokestack shenanigans and DDT dirt.

This bit of blindingly colored yarn will not break down, biodegrade or otherwise become safe and tolerable in our lifetimes – not to mention it’s already been rejected by the neighborhood birds here and would likely wash down the sewer into the river which drains into the ocean.

If you really feel the need to contribute something to nest building and you are in an area starved for plant diversity, consider the following instead:

Clip your dog’s (as long as it isn’t treated with pesticides, or your own if it’s also chemical-free) hair outdoors.

Leave a few puffs of undyed fleece behind on wash day.

Leave the spiderwebs under the eaves for a few days.

Let a few of the weeds stay and go to seed – hell, I’d like a milkweed bed myself…

And if you must, only very occasionally leave behind a snippet of yarn, make sure it is 100% wool.

And keep in mind too, rodents love the soft stuff just as much, if not more, so you are really contributing to the nesting behavior of rats and mice – do you want rats and mice in your home? Or Squirrels in your attic? Chewing on wires, pissing in the walls, and leaving potentially disease-ridden poops in your precious darling’s cereal bowl?

Otherwise stuff those scraps in toys and pillows and draft snakes and pincushions and pet beds (or give them to someone who will).

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Filed under gardening, home, knitting, recycling, spinning, weaving

Feeling peckish…

I hate most fabric marketed to babies, or rather their keepers, since perhaps babies would really just like giant boob prints, but most of it is just pathetic and timid, too cartoonish, sometimes oddly and vaguely religious, too pale and sickly pastel, and just plain ugly (however I do like some vintage baby prints).

But this one caught my eye a bit ago, and I knew about an upcoming wee one that needed a sewn item.

woodpecker-fabric.com

(Michael Miller fabric, pic from fabric.com)

I don’t make many things for babies now – at first I made many things because I only knew one.  Then more people started having them, and then the first one got a sibling, and I couldn’t keep up, or the charm wore off, or they started to blur together in a drooling blob and I couldn’t remember what I’d made and for whom.

(My apologies to all of those second children out there.)

So I whipped up a little quilt for the wall, but it could still be used as a quilt.  I had a grand idea of massive three dimensional applique with crazy depth and perspective, but in the end I kept it simple – a bit of applique birds and leaves and machine quilting.

woodpecker quilt

I had to buy thread again too – you’d think I would have learned from the last time I moved and couldn’t find it…

But the paint is drying in my new studio room at the moment, and next will be a freshly sealed floor (and then it has to become the bedroom for a while while I work on that room) and then I’ll be able to unpack allllllll of my sewing things!  So I see that day not so far off in the distance now.

But back to woodpeckers – I’m a fan of them.

I like their almost jungle-sounding call.

And their rat-tat-tat drilling (as long as it isn’t the house).

And though I don’t like that they damaged our lovely Magnolia, I’m fascinated by the pattern that they made – almost as if the tree had ripped out stitches…

woodpecker damage

…or machine gun fire.

woodpecker damage with moss

Maybe the yard is run by Woodi Peccaroni, the ancient don of the fermented tree sap bootlegging era…

 

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Child stitchery (not in a sweatshop)…

On a trip to visit my folks (I won’t say home because they tragically (for me) sold it some years ago) earlier this summer, I finally found this little fabric picture that used to hang in my bedroom.

Birdscene

The scene is one I drew, and drew quite often as a slightly obsessive little sh*t, and at the dumbsh*t age when I didn’t comprehend that the sky wasn’t just up there and therefore depicted it as a stripe.  So let’s say I was four, or should four-year-olds understand how the sky works?  So maybe I’ll say three…  Regardless, my mother deemed my “Bird In Flight to Nest” precious and decided to turn it into a sewing lesson.  I’ll say that it was my first, but I really don’t know.  She cut out the pieces, sewed the margins on the machine, and gave it to me to applique.  I do clearly remember getting somewhat bored or frustrated with it, and it is also quite clear that she finished it for me and then added a few embroidered embellishments.  I don’t know if this took place in the span of a day or I abandoned it for some time and she got tired of having it only partially completed for weeks or months.  I also don’t remember if it was during the one truly massive blizzard of my youth (though I think I was down with the chicken pox then) or in the leisurely long days before I had to go to school.  Either way, it was something I did as a child wherein my hands and mind were engaged (and it wasn’t so traumatic that I didn’t want to do it again).

Birdscene-det

This was before the recent cringe-worthy days of fashionable “upcycling.” Smack in the 1970s when fuel crises, a renewal of the back to the earth movement, thoughts of Silent Spring, and the birth of Earth Day were kicking around.  My parents left their urban home to escape air pollution, overcrowding, and to grow wholesome organic food on a few idyllic acres.  We were also broke-ass poor, so recycling old clothes into craft projects was both a necessity and entirely practical – how many thousands of years have we just used what we have and then used it some more?  Why should this now be a trendy buzzword to help sell our crafty stuff?  Convince the buyer that her materialism is ok because it’s upcycled and therefore she is a conscientious fabulous person?

Fabric is fabric is fabric… and is infinitely re-usable.  Sometimes the perfect print is on a bolt, sometimes it’s a pair of pants… you’re not special for using or buying either one.

But back to the picture.

The components are:

Sun:  I assumed the terrycloth sun was salvaged from a much abused towel, but my mom said it was leftover fabric from some shorts she made for my brothers as small children in the 1960s… I’m not sure I’d like terrycloth shorts… they seem so, absorbent?

Tree trunk:  Yep, that’s my dad’s old tie – gotta love plaid neck wear…

Sky:  Leftovers from a quilt my mother made for me of yellow, green, and blue gingham to match my wallpaper of the same colors (only the wallpaper also had puke tones in it too).

Flowers, eggs, bird parts:  Felt scraps – who didn’t have random felt scraps lying around?

Nest:  Burlap feed sack – we lived on a little farm with little animals and a pony.  Food for them came in burlap bags.

Bird:  This is an odd denim/oxford cloth hybrid that was probably clothing in its former life.

Grass, leaves:  We can’t remember what these scraps are from, but I wore various homemade calico skirts, shorts, halter tops (remember, 1970s over here) and dresses.

Background:  This could have been leftover paining canvas or material for rustic curtains.

And even though this turned into a rage against the preciousness of upcycling, it was originally meant to be a rage against not teaching children how to sew or make bread or brush animals or do anything constructive with their hands.  Yeah, there are a few schools that teach such things, but as a whole we’re becoming such boring dumb-asses with our iSh*t.

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Filed under quilts, recycling, sewing, Uncategorized

Cutter please come home

I bought a shiny new rotary cutter a year or two ago.  I’m pretty sure I even bought extra replacement blades.  It was during one of those mega-sales at the big box store and back when I had a bit more cash to burn.  I cannot find it now.  I have an old tiny one with a dull blade that sits unused in my sewing box, so I went to purchase new blades for it.  But then I didn’t because they are so inexplicably and maddeningly expensive.

So I continue to search for my lost one.

I have several boxes marked “art supplies.” So far, it has not been in any of them.  Instead I’ve found some other useful things.

Found-birds

A box of faux cardinals.  I have some bright red roving [red rover, red rover… ] in my stash that I got unenthusiastically in a grab bag.  I think I was thinking of making cardinal-themed art yarn out of it.  I don’t think it’s a great idea.  I still might make it one day.

Found-dyeDyestuff.  I just knew I bought Kool-Aid a few years ago for yarn dying purposes, but hadn’t been able to find it until now.  And yay, I have greens, blues, and darker red now!  And the henna – why not try it on wool?

Found-teeth

Yeah, I had a couple of wisdom teeth extracted (and one quite violently) and had to keep a souvenir.

Found-bath

And since I don’t have a new real bathroom, I can play with this vintage/antique? dollhouse set.  I forgot I found it at an antique store just a couple of years ago as well.

The box should have been labeled sh*t from a couple of years ago but not including your rotary cutter.

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Filed under dyeing, home decor, sewing

New England travels – much hiking, some fiber time…

We spent a much extended holiday weekend (turned week and a half) in the White Mountains last week.  N is hiking all of the “4,000 Footers” and I am choosing a few as well, but preferring to collect mountain ponds and the smaller lesser-trod peaks and loops.  On the few days when he’s up at an ungodly hour to hit the trail solo, I’m groggily but happily thinking about my chunk of knitting time free of any electronic, human, or stuff distractions.  We usually rent cabins when we go to the woods and hunker in among the trees, only going out to hike or get ice cream and this time was no different, though we encountered extreme plan-changing weather and were greatly distracted by plagues of bloodthirsty mosquitoes.

The only times when I’m truly and massively productive is when I have the ability to only work on a handful of things and I’m in a quiet place, save for bird yells and other nature song.  So spinning wheels, sewing machines, computers, phones (I don’t even have a “smart” one to begin with) and boxes of neat sh*t stay at home and I just bring along some balls and needles.  Good times.  I’ve been sweating over a shawl that I’ve been trying to design (more in a future post) and have been trumped several times over by reversing the pattern and some simple math for increasing and decreasing.  I just can’t get my brain to have an ‘aha’ on this one, but I finally worked out the left and right main portions and just need to figure out the ends and center now, but I might need yet another week in a sylvan sequester to finally conquer it.

New England-new pattern shadow on wall

Here is a shadow tease of some sample bits in worsted.  It isn’t earth shatteringly different or unique, but I haven’t found anything quite like it yet out there, so I’d like to offer the pattern for sale at some point, or at least get the whole damn thing worked out so I can knit it in the special yarn for which I’m itching to work.

New England-new pattern shadow

Part of the time we were there was downright frigid so I took my favorite old cardigan.  I patched the elbow hole with a mini-skein of Pigeonroof Studios handspun.  I love the colorway but don’t know what it is.  The patch is a little heavy for the thin sweater and looks a little bit like an eyeball, but it is a comfy cup for my elbow.

New England-elbow

I also finished a test knit that I love from a designer who makes fabulously fun patterns but it will not be released until next year.  I used Quince & Co. yarn for the first time which I’ll go into further in next the post.  N and I had a fun photo shoot with it utilizing the river and the the cellar’s stone wall.  In addition, I brought part of the cotton blanket and my latest Lacy Baktus along, but didn’t work much on either one.  The power went out on our last night there, so I was able to do a couple of feet of a blanket strip in the dimness since it was white.  While making the test knit, I learned to do applied/attached icord, so now it is a consideration for trimming the blanket – it will depend if I end up wanting a couple more inches of border or not.

New England-Mt Hale

But most of the time was spent on the trail.  We had to cancel our hut reservations for the first two days due to total white-out of freezing fog and snow.  When we finally got out, it was a slippery sloshy wet cold mess and made for some hiking misery on my soggy-ass part since I lacked good/newer waterproof gear (N thankfully hooked me up with a new jacket later on).  The first hike was up Mt. Hale and luckily the sun had returned, but you don’t see the bitter winds (or my bad attitude from having clumps of wet snow eggs plomping down from the trees and onto my head, down my neck, and penetrating my duds – I was wearing wool of course, so hypothermia was kept at bay despite the soaking).

New England-Mt HedgehogBut in just a day or so the weather turned gorgeous and we had a lovely time on Hedgehog Mountain, but then the next day the weather became stranglingly humid and sweltering in the 90s, and hiking became soggy again – this time from the inside out.  After that, I preferred to put the needles down and just sit in the cold river right outside our door.

New England-river

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