Monday, October 31, 2011

all souls moonday

My family gathered yesterday for our version of Day of the Dead/All Souls Day. We created a family altar with photo-decoupaged candles and more photos and mementos of loved ones gone on. I enjoy skulls and skeletons but they can't be on the family altar, they are kept separate. The twelve of us watched football, crafted, cooked, and ate some of the favorite foods of our beloved dead. Part of our tradition is to release something from our lives that we no longer need or want. We write it on a piece of flash paper and one by one we light it and whoosh, it's gone. Then we have chocolate cake.

Today is a waxing moonday in Capricorn, appropriately affecting the skeleton, knees and skin. Work-oriented Capricorn helps us to be focused and persistent -- its vibe might just be the perfect jump-start for this new week.

Lots of clean-up to do here...

Friday, October 28, 2011

snowball fringe

This denim feather is for Jude's Magic Feather Project -- its fringed edges inspired me to fill in one side with more threads. As I was stitching, the snowball bedspread came to mind...

I bought it at a moving sale about 15 years ago. As I recall, it was marked $20, I offered $5. It turned out the older lady selling this full-size "snowball" bedspread had also made it many years prior. She said she had spent dozens of hours making it and her best friend had made one at the same time. We settled on $10.

It looks like she first hemmed a large piece of cotton and then pulled 10 strands of multi-ply cotton yarn in and then out again an eighth of an inch away. Every two inches over the entire surface. There are no knots anywhere, the bulk of so many strands holds each snowball in place. From the looks of it, I'd say it was probably more like hundreds of hours.

I should've given her five times the asking price. At least.

Happy weekending to you. xo

Thursday, October 27, 2011

bulbs in, bulbs out

bulbs in::daffodils with a little quartz crystal to cheer on the daffodil deva and also enhance this feng shui bagua. It seems the helpful people and travel area is somewhat lacking.

bulbs out::marguerite sweet potato vine, ipomoea batatas. I was cleaning out patio pots and out they popped, so round and rosy. Guess I'll try to save them following these instructions from NDSU. I wonder why they are so drastically different in shape. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth comes to mind. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

soap cozy scrubber

A bar of soap in a knitted woolen cozy. As it's used, the cozy shrinks and felts into a nice little scrubber.

Making these could be addictive. The free pattern is here and is easy to adjust for soap size. I haven't actually tested one yet but they're so cute, it probably doesn't even matter!

Monday, October 24, 2011

moonday dye-pot: oak leaves

three-fold wisdom of the tree
leaf: wisdom of change, ever releasing
branch: wisdom of growth, ever reaching
root: wisdom of endurance, ever deepening
(source unknown)

There's a huge oak tree on a property adjacent to us. When we first moved here, I was slightly annoyed that I had to rake up the leaves. But then things evolved (both me and the garden layout) and now the oak  leaves fall directly into garden beds to enrich the soil. This morning I gathered some to make a dye-bath. None of the references I checked had much about oak leaves but quite a lot about the acorns and galls instead.

Released oak leaves about to change wool and cotton...

Today is a waning, nearly dark, moonday in Libra. Light and airy Libra helps us in the areas of balance and fairness. It also helps us to bring beauty into our lives on some level -- our homes, our work, our reading, or even our clothing. The body parts affected now are the hips, kidneys, and bladder making good hydration something to keep in mind.

The moon's waning energy to let go is still strong. I'm wondering how to apply the wisdom of the moon and the leaf to my life. It must be within me, too, to know when to change and what to release.

Friday, October 21, 2011

a bee moon

A bee moon on eco-dyed shantung silk for flying dreams. I've forgotten what the silk was dyed with and haven't started a dye journal yet. None of my dyed cloth is labeled, I'm very sorry to say.

I think about our honeybees day and night. When it was hot, I worried they'd overheat and sure as heck, I'd find them sticking their little rear ends out fanning like crazy to ventilate and regulate the hive temperature. Now that the nights are cold, I worry much more because they must maintain a hive temperature of 94 degrees F and that takes a lot of energy. So I feed them special concoctions and am learning about making bee patties and bee fondant or just dumping sugar in. And trying to buy extra capped honeycomb from other bee people but no luck so far.

I check them at least ten times a day. They are constantly being robbed by other bees and wasps so I go out and close up the entrance a little more when I see that going on. I use a twig to break up fights because a wasp will tear a honeybee apart. Then I go back in the house because I know I'm not seeing the half of it all.

When my husband walks in the door, I update him on the bees. At dinner, I update him some more. And probably before bed-time again, I lose track.

We're still deciding on what winterizing technique to use. At this time, the plan is a layer of wool batting topped with an insulation cozy. A few straw bales, but not too many because we don't want to attract mice. And a space blanket when and if we have below-zero temperatures. But this can all change at any moment depending on what new information I uncover.

And that's what's going on here. Happy weekending! xo

P.S. I feel like I should add here that this hive is small in numbers because these bees had swarmed late in the season and were only moved into the hive on July 18. Being small means less bees to forage and less bees to prepare for winter. Also, less bees to defend their honey supply from robbing bees and wasps. Next year will be different. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

a nice little knitted basket

The homestretch of the soft basket. About 70 degrees outside, crickets and birds singing, golden leaves a'swirling, the dogs rumbling (really just playing but we call it rumbling), and a cup of tea. It was something.

A nice little basket. This yarn, Blue Sky Alpacas worsted cotton, is such a pleasure to knit, I'm sort of sad to be finished. But only sad until I start thinking about my next knitting project, and then it's back to happy again. Just enough mania to keep things interesting, you know.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

green vases

The day has come. The weatherwoman says so. Today is the eve of the first light frost. The difference between a light frost and a hard freeze is a matter of seven degrees Fahrenheit and then how long the temperature is sustained. A light frost is below 32 F and a hard freeze is below 25 F for at least four hours.

With the moon also waning, this is a good day for the third Fate's work as the Cutter -- gathering the rest of the green tomatoes, collecting herbs, and cutting bouquets of flowers. This is about the only time we have an abundance of flowers in the house. I love old-fashioned green vases. Since florists have turned to painted glass, they're hard to find.

Monday, October 17, 2011

moonday weaving -- grapevine and bindweed

Every year about this time, I cut, gather, coax and weave grapevines into a wreath. It's become a ritual, just me and the grapevines, no forms or wires or embellishment involved. I read that the third Fate, the Cutter, picks and cuts the threads of life, clearing away the old ones that tangle us and hold us back. I do the same for the grape plant. And then I weave them.

The smaller the wreath, the harder to weave such thick vines. So I called upon bindweed to fasten the four quarters of the little wreath. Bindweed has given her beautiful golden color to my cloth in dyeing projects. And now her strong wiry tendrils hold these robust grapevines in place. What other gifts might there be? Might I learn to welcome this hardy, persistent plant, after all?

Today is a waning moonday that is also a day of change from Gemini to Cancer as the ruling planet. Cancer is a water sign and water represents emotion. Emotions rise to the surface more easily now. These deeply personal feelings are often held at the very core of our being and sometimes they've been so suppressed we are not even aware of them. This is a time to allow them -- to feel their power and then release them. If it's painful, maybe visualizing the third Fate cutting these emotional tangles we've discovered would be helpful. I really like that there is a moontime and moonplace to honor and listen to this part of ourselves.

The sign of Cancer rules the area from the lungs to the gall-bladder and all the organs in between. As the moon is also waning, this is a good time to lessen their load, specifically the liver's, by eating and drinking alcohol more lightly. Did you know the liver performs over 500 functions in the body -- I find that so amazing. 

I plan on being a liver lover these next few days.

Friday, October 14, 2011

take it further: capiz shell chandelier

Another take it further from last weekend. I feel a little funny showing this -- it is after all in the bathroom. But it hangs over the bathtub and I'm over the moon about future soaks under this capiz shell "chandelier" that my husband gave me last Yule. We're a little slow.

 Before. If you can't say something nice . . .

After. Fits right over the recessed light. On a dimmer, even. I am so ready for cold weather.

Happy weekending! xo

Thursday, October 13, 2011

out of the dye-pot: elder/bindweed

An elder leaf dye-bath was begun quite a while ago, around the time in August that Grace took out her first batch of elder cloth. This cauldron doesn't have a lid so the water level varied with the rains and was mostly on the dry side.

 Checking it after a few weeks, it first appeared that nothing had happened.

But there were actually some pretty interesting markings. Then I decided to re-dye with bindweed -- mostly because I have so much, you know.

Back into a different cast iron pot, one with a lid this time. I collected a pound of fresh bindweed, added water to cover, brought to a boil, and immersed the cloth.

The lidded pot sat outside for at least another month. When I took the lid off, I was immediately taken back to childhood farm memories, cattle specifically, if you know what I mean. Our herding dog loved it -- the smell, the taste, everything -- she ever-so-slowly tried to steal a particularly tasty piece of cotton.

The underlayer of plant matter was still green. And notice the bindweed is still growing nice and healthy through that sundial base.

Bindweed transfer a lovely golden hue. There's hardly a trace of the markings from the elder dye-bath though.

My hands smell really, really bad.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

green tomato moon

Today's Aries full moon has officially been christened green tomato moon. I've never had so many green tomatoes before. I adore their color. Lately, I've been looking for ways to eat them that I adore, too.

Half of tonight's full moon feast is in this basket. I once heard at a garden lecture that, traditionally, green tomatoes were cooked and reds were eaten raw, or very lightly cooked. Going along with that idea, I'm going to bake these with basil, thyme, and some other seasonings until they are melted down.

Fingers crossed. A beautiful full moon day to you. xo

Monday, October 10, 2011

heady moonday

It's been getting pretty nippy at night lately. I'm extremely concerned about our honeybees being warm enough, nourished enough, healthy enough, etc. I can only describe all the information out there on how to winterize the beehive as a bee babel. Some wrap the hive in tar paper, some with children's sleeping bags or those survival space blankets; most think our hive doesn't have enough honey stored for the winter so we'll need to feed all winter long, but how, what and when is unclear; one person told me to take off the top deep, another said to put it back on. I've even learned that bees only like alpaca wool as an insulator and not regular wool.

Trying to decide on all this could give a person a real headache. Finally someone told me to do what feels right, that it's like raising children, they're your children and you get to decide. I like that because we did okay with our kids.

While I haven't totally figured out the bee thing, I do know how to warm up our living room -- with afghans crocheted by my mom. She actually didn't really like seeing them used while she was alive because she wanted them to stay nice and we had a houseful of kids. But she's gone now plus I'm sure she feels differently about it wherever she is.

Today is a waxing moonday in Aries and tomorrow we'll see the moon grow into total fullness. I'm still taking things further and purposely putting off tasks best done under a waning moon like sorting, pruning, and cleaning. Putting off that type of work makes me feel a little guilty until I remember that I'm living in accordance with the moon. There's a moontime and moonplace for everything.

An Aries day is one of action and movement, but projects started now could lack staying power if we're too impatient and quickly move from one thing to another. To me, it seems like a good day for brainstorming or stream-of-consciousness exercises because that's exactly the kind of energy you need -- where your mind doesn't get fixated on one particular thing and your imagination can soar.

The parts of the body influenced by fiery Aries are the head and upper face. It's thought that headaches are more common during Aries days because of the flurry of impatient thoughts about what we can or should be doing. Banging our heads against the wall might apply! Drinking plenty of water to balance the heat of Aries and avoiding migraine triggers are some good preventatives.

I need to go brainstorm with those honeybees now!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

take it further: stitch & doodle

Day 5...stitch further

Color wanted to come to the party, I guess. Last night everytime I reached for more gray thread,  I came up with other colors -- green, purple, orange, green again. Okay then. Those bits of color and a few silk organza mosaics change this piece. In a good way, I think.

Day 6...pumpkin doodle

It is what it is -- a fake pumpkin and a black sharpie.

See you moonday. xo 

Friday, October 7, 2011

take it further: in the garden

Day 4...set up the cold frame

I took it further in the garden -- the cold frame is in place again. I like that it's nice and level and exactly due south. Swiss chard, spinach, and a lettuce blend have been sowed and a small pot of rosemary was sunk in the ground a few inches. I may sink a few more pots of various plants to see how they overwinter in a cold frame.

The marigolds are to decorate our Day of the Dead altar. Every fall I try to save a few marigold plants, not always successfully.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

take it further: porch pillows

Day 4...fix the porch pillows

Last fall I blatantly copied somebody's porch pillows in blog world. If they were yours, I thank you for the idea. I used one of my husband's old shirts from the 80's, that crazy blue plaid, and some corduroy I had from when my kids were young.  They're OK, but too plain.

So this morning I sat on the swing in the backyard and started taking it further.

Syncing with the energy of the growing moon (75% full today) feels nice.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

take it further: dye-pot...and zucchini

Day 3...leave the dye-pot be

My intention was to pull the cloth out of the dye-pot this week, but now I've decided to leave it be until the full moon. Leaving something be is sometimes taking it further. In the case of the dye-pot, it is anyway.

This planked and preserved zucchini isn't really a take-it-further project, it's more of a try-something-new. "Plank and preserve" sort of sounds like a war effort. Maybe I'm thinking along those lines because The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows) is on my mind. I'm a latecomer to read this book, I know, but from the title I had mistakenly assumed it was in the potato-queen-finds-true-friends-frying-green-something-before-dying genre -- and frankly, I'm tired of that.  But wow. It is so much more than I ever imagined.

Back to planking and preserving. WELL PRESERVED: recipes and techniques for putting up small batches of seasonal foods by Eugenia Bone is another good book. First, Eugenia instructs how to preserve a food (and not just fruits and vegetables), and then includes several recipes using what you've just preserved. This is my second go-'round with Eugenia  having also made her Grape & Walnut Conserve. What lured me in on that one were the recipes incorporating the conserve -- Concord Grape Walnut Tart and Fried Grape & Walnut Ravioli with Chocolate -- oh, and another one using the conserve over baked Brie. Moan. 

The planked and grilled zucchini is layered with seasonings, and topped with olive oil. This project is only for the short-term and requires refrigeration to avoid the dreaded botulism bug but I don't think we'll have any trouble using it up in 10 days.

Now that I think about it, preserving food is the epitome of taking it further, isn't it?

Also posted over at Food Renegade.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

take it further: knitting

Day 2...break knitting inertia

This morning I worked on one of several languishing knitting projects, a soft basket from More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. Techno met handmade. I forget knitting terms and always need to look things up. Sitting with the ipad made this so easy to get going. The instructions to Cable CO threw me. Threw me off the project completely, sometimes one little unknown brings things to a complete halt. So I looked it up. A turning row, never heard of it before, but there it was. Then there was slip 1, is it purlwise or knitwise? Easy to find that one, too, it's purlwise.

This soft green basket is growing -- I'm taking it further, in sync with the moon as she grows into her fullness.

Monday, October 3, 2011

half-moon day

Today is a waxing half-moonday in Capricorn. Every night now, we'll see this half-moon grow a little more into her shining fullness. It's a good day and week for us to grow into fullness, too, being this is an ideal time to make progress on anything we wish to take further.

I made a list with the heading take it further and realized when I was all done that I had seven items listed. So today and for the next six days, I'll be working on one of the items on my list. They're not huge things, but it's good to give myself this nudge when the planets and the moon are aligned just right.

Today I took it further on two cloths. The red sun became red sun flower and will be hung again. The other is the centerpiece of flying dreams. A moon was appliqued and outlined. See, not a big thing, but something, nonetheless, that helps me to stay connected with this project.

Look at that sweet little dandelion flower, it rained last night and there's a few out there this morning.

Capricorn days are ambitious, work-oriented, getting-things-done kind of days. The body influence is on the knees, skeleton, and skin where there can be a noticeable effect from overdoing -- and where problems in these areas are well-treated now, as well. Knee problems are almost epidemic these days and many of us are seeing the results of that running/jogging craze. Craze, for me, is a good word for it, hardly ever enjoyed doing it, must've been crazy, and it went on for years. So I watch it now but so far, so good -- these days I am just a dog-walking maniac.

Is there something you want to take further?