Friday, August 29, 2014

Lemons and knitting

Even though I grew up in a place where citrus was just taken for granted, I mean doesn't everyone have an orange or grapefruit or lemon or lime tree in their backyard?, I didn't really think about how it grows when I was a kid. I just remember picking the oranges off  the tree in the backyard, pulling out the end where the fruit attached itself to the stem, squeezing as hard as I could and drinking all of the juice out of the orange. Pretty good when you played outside most of the day to quench your thirst and get some more energy to continue whatever you were up to. 
These days I do have an orange tree in my yard, but it hasn't produced any fruit yet. I have a lemon tree as well in a planter pot out back. I don't know if the orange tree will ever fruit. It never has in 9 years. I don't think it's ever blossomed either; a key factor in getting fruit really. But the lemon tree, remember last year's lemon curd topped cheesecakes at Christmas time?  Oooooo, yummmm just looking at that. 
This year I didn't baby the lemon tree in Spring. We had a cold, rainy spring and it put on lots of blossoms, but I couldn't keep up with the wind and rain that knocked a lot of the blossoms off the tree. In July we had two maturing lemons and then the tree put on more blossoms, which surprised the heck out of me. I didn't know they did that. Then, more wind/rain and oh well, one more lemon growing. I was thinking okay, three lemons this year. But, hold the wagon Betsy in the last week we have a plethora of flower clusters being manned by a squadron of bees and it looks like we'll outdo last years' harvest by more than twice as much. 

 The bees are funny to watch. They're so busy. They were rather annoyed with my picture taking, but they never threaten us in any way. They're rather slow fliers and if they get kind of close you can just swat them away. The blossoms smell so sweet; really lovely. If you look closely in the photos you can just see all the little green swellings at the base of the flowers that the bees have worked open. 
Will try to keep you up on how they progress as we go along. I did a bit of research yesterday and it seems smaller citrus fruits like lemons, and limes can bloom up to four times a year if it seems like there will be time for the fruit to make before hard frost. This planter with the lemon tree in it is out by the big pond in back and when DH backwashes the pond he feeds the fish effluence into the planter. The lemons really prospered doing that last year. I feed that to my basil as well. 
On a knitting note. I have knitted another watch cap, since the last post about Ms. M's hat and mittens, for DH in a superwash tweed that I have had in my stash for years. We both liked it so much, and I have so much of it, I decided to make a more fitted version of Ms. M's  Tea Party Top swimsuit smock that I knitted earlier this summer. She will be able to wear it over a regular top and leggings once cold weather returns. I've only just started it, but it's knitting up nicely so far. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mittens to go with Hat

A very quick knit, hat and mittens for Ms. M, and used up most of the cake of Cascade 220 for the set: 
 When I showed them to her she said, " Cool." ☺ Pattern is Another Pair of Mittens by Heather Mees.

Note to self: must put Monkey proof lock on Poirot style magnifying glass as some Monkey Queen's are prone to pinch things of that sort.☺☺


Friday, August 1, 2014

Late July Random Things

I've had a few things going on this week. Ms. M and I had our birthday this past Sunday, and I received a lovely gift and card from LQM.....squeeeeee!!!!!:
Fifi Frog

The frabjous, felicitous, fabulous Fifi Frog was gifted to me by the marvelous, magnificent, Monkey Queen HRMonkey LQM. Thank you so much LQM. I love her. And if that's not enough, and it isn't☺☺☺, a spectacular birthday card loaded with cakes. Lots and lots of cakes. Yummmmm.♥
I have Fifi Frog sitting on a high shelf in my office where, hopefully, Ms. M won't be likely to spot her because I know she'll be asking Nonni for her froggie. Truly thank you again LQM. I love Fifi and my card.

And, in knitting news, I have cracked out the needles again and sped thru a ribby hat for Ms. M. She really likes her hats. She has quite a few of them. I knew she would have outgrown some of the hats she had last winter, and hats are a great Summer knitting project; fast and not too much fabric in your lap.

I used some Cascade 220 that I have in my stash. It is my go to hat pattern; 2x2 ribbing all the way up. The pattern is Vintage Knits Ribbed Watch Cap. I have some wool leftover and have cast on a pair of mittens  for her to go with her new hat.
Lastly, I am still working on a couple of artwork canvases, slowly, like moving at glacial speed, or the speed of government, and I had asked DH to see if he could get me some cancelled stamps on eBay. He did win an auction for cancelled stamps, and when I started looking at them there are some really cool old ones in there.

From right to left are:
King George V, Edward VIII, King George VI, and QEII.
I think it's cool to see these.

And it seems to me that some Monkey Queen has run off with my basil? I'll be expecting some pesto anytime now.☺

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Knitting Project

I found a cute little pattern to knit for Ms. M from Lion Brand: Tea Party Top.
Swimsuit Cover-up for Ms. M
I decided, since it is Summer and Ms. M and her Momma like going to the pool, that she should have a knitted, cotton cover-up and this pattern would be perfect for it. Instead of knitting the top part in Garter Stitch I continued in Stocking Stitch all the way up. I also knitted the pattern in-the-round, dividing the front from the back after the decreases. I knitted the back a half inch longer, after the decreases, than the front. This pattern is knitted from the bottom up. I knitted the straps according to the pattern, but I don't like them at all. They seem bulky and are actually too short to tie. I'm going to rip them back and, I think I'll do a braided strap. This project was a quick knit really....if I would have been interested in knitting it quickly I mean. It took me forever though. I like this pattern enough I'm going to cast-on another one in wool for her to wear over a long-sleeved top and leggings when cold weather returns...right after I knit A Simple Baby Pullover for her new brother who will be born this October. ☺☺ 

Ms. M will turn 2 this coming Sunday, which seems kind of amazing that it's been 2 years already. She's a big girl now, with tons of personality:


Update 7.24.14:
Finished the straps and tried it on her. It's big on her, but she likes it. Modifications for future reference:
Don't knit any front straps....hold strap stitches on dpns or other stitch holders; knit back 2" longer than front; 5" straps in back to fold over and 3 needle bind-off back straps to front stitches on holders.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A basket of basil

    Just thought I'd share the flavor of the Summer from Chez SQM:
 Basil.....gobs of it! Love, love, love basil....everything about it and, DH makes the most delicious sourdough focaccia with parmesan cheese and basil....Yummmmm☺

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Struggling it out on paper

     The internet is a fine tool for research. You can find anything you can think of, and even things you'd have never thought of on your own. It's what I do when there seems to be a mometary lapse in mojo. Although the 'momentary' lapse in mojo seems to have lasted a couple of years now. 
     I still knit. I love knitting. There were a couple of years there where I was knitting up to 4 projects at once. There seemed to be a collective energy, and an intense desire to learn techniques and amp up the skill level, for about a year and a half. But that all dwindled away. I ask myself how much of it was the collective energy of knitting along with others. I haven't found an answer to that question. A lot has changed in my microscopic life in the last two years. She'll mark her 2nd birthday this month.
     I know having our granddaughter, and keeping her at home with us for the first year and a half is partly where all the mojo went; didn't have time or energy for anything else. I was glad to do it though; to give her a solid, loving foundation with people she can count on to get her started. She's at nursery school now, and I have more free time again. 
     I was pleasantly surprised when my painting/collaging/mixed media desires popped back into the forefront in April. They'd been absent for 8 years to the point where I looked at the supplies I have and asked myself if I should keep them. I wanted to paint, draw doodles, colour with markers, make little journals, etc... as fast as I could, and then, the energy and ideas dried up again. Frustration. 
     I still knit. I know I said that already. And I still paint. Everything feels there's something to say and I can't find the words to say it....just blank space. 
     Recently we had guests and we were all discussing things that inspire us, motivation, and the discipline to keep going. Someone said music is their passion. That they turned it into their business and it killed their passion. I said, no, the passion is still there. That person has moved away from the business end of their passion and can now return to it as they remember it. I also said, for me, sometimes I just have to sit at my work station and put paint on paper, or get out a pattern, some yarn and needles and cast on. It is the discipline of keeping on doing the thing we're passionate about even when the mojo doesn't seem to be there at all that is part of the passion I think. And I think it is believing it will come back...that it isn't gone forever.
     I know I've let some of the things I'm passionate about go because of the struggles of life. I don't want them to be gone forever though. I pretty sure wanting them back is part of them coming back. I do want that passion back....that thing I took for granted in my youth, that my age and experience has tempered. I like the idea of age and experience tempering the passion. I see it like banking a fire. You don't want the fire to get out of control, and you don't want it to go out so you bank it with experience.
     I still knit because even though my needles aren't smoking, and if you've seen one little shawl or kerchief or scarf you've seen thousands of them, I don't want my skills to diminish. I don't want my love of knitting to return to me where it feels like I'm starting over from scratch again; the same way with the mixed media/painting/doodling. Although I haven't spent as much time or learned as many techniques in this passion yet, it is something I want to devote time and energy to; something I love. 
    Coming full circle to the first sentence of this post I've started drifting away from the internet except for some research or watching video tutorials. Sometimes I've found so much on the internet I've been paralyzed into inaction by having spent so much time on here. 
     Today I was thinking about how much I used to read years ago. I ate books...gobbled them whole in one sitting. I read all the time from when I was a kid. When I was a kid you could find me, most of the time, draped over some piece of furniture with a book in my hands. Later, as an adult, I would read a book thru in one day, then get another one. Somehow I let that go, and I want it back. 
     So, today I got a book that I've had for almost twenty years down from the shelf, and I started to read it. And I went to the art supply shop and got some better quality paints and canvas boards. It's a start. Heart open....waiting for the mojo to return. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mixed Media Journal #1 page 4

A couple of things I really like about art journaling are scraping paint across backgrounds with old credit cards, and Zendoodling. I like trying new techniques, but I can really relax into a more meditative place with painting backgrounds and Zendoodling. 
New page: 
Acrylic-paint, gesso, stencil, Zendoodle, Copic-marker,tissue-paper, ink, rubber-stamp
 I have a few favorite Zendoodles, particularly Betweed, seen here in red/orange/purple, and Hollibaugh, at the top. There are others I like as well, but I find I use these two in most of my doodling. 
I thought to try adding a top layer of tissue paper that has been stamped, but I hadn't tried the technique before and I was concerned the clear gesso I wanted to use would make the marker ink I coloured the circles with bleed. I gave it a try with the tissue paper and stamp in the lower left-hand corner. I sprayed the tissue paper with pink and orange spray ink, then stamped the ranunculus stamp over top that with Archival ink. I applied the clear gesso to the back of the tissue paper and it did make the spray inks blend together, but I don't mind the look. I applied clear gesso over the tissue paper after it was on the page as well. 
I like how it turned out.