Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Back to (somewhat) normal

Phew! Hubby is finally home and getting better inch by inch. If the attending physicians had had their way, he'd still be there for at least another week, but one of the great nurses got a different doc to weigh in and he's been released on his own recognizance (Ha!) with a Rx for more antibiotics and the promise to lay low until he's truly ready to resume work.

Meanwhile, I started (actually re-started as I abandoned my first attempt to begin again with a smaller hook) a new project. Just a little sneak peek here as it will be Christmas gift for someone special. Colorful in the extreme and will be purposeful as well when it's finished.

I love what one can do with a few balls of cotton yarn and a little hook!

Oh, and I also ordered a huge pile of yummy Berroco Vintage DK yarn to make us a lovely ripple blanket for our queen-sized bed. That is going to be a very long-term project. Can't wait for the stuff to get here so I can get started!

Have a great, creative, and warm day. (It's on the verge of snowing here, can you believe that, SNOW in MIssissippi?!)

2:10PM: edited to add: Well, so far it hasn't actually snowed here, but it's very bleak and cold. Not far north of us in TN there have been up to about 5 inches of the white stuff. Will have to wait and see what happens tonight.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Best Laid Plans ...

We've been getting so excited about taking a nice trip back to Florida to see our son and my mom in law for Thanksgiving ... and with no regards to that plan at ALL, my poor hubby's system decided to rebel. Had to take him to the ER early this morning -- to make  along story short,  he's been admitted to the hospital with diverticulitis.  Poor guy, he's a hurtin' unit. Poor Jason & poor Mom.

Looks like it's going to be  a lonely T-day for us all.
Will update here when we know more, artsy craftsy stuff on hold for the forseeable future.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Art in My Mailbox

 In my mail yesterday afternoon, I received a package containing a beautiful work of dedicated art. It is the 2012 Farmhouse Greetings Covered Bridges Calendar. The artist, Linda Cook Devona, was a classmate of mine in high school whom I rediscovered recently on Facebook.  We didn't exactly move in the same circles back then, but were always friendly and shared quite a few classes. At the time, I was totally consumed with acting in plays, my infatuation with my boyfriend(s) and running around all over creation doing way too many activities. Linda, I presume, was happily drawing and preparing to go to art school. She was very sweet and seemed somewhat naive to me ... in hindsight I can now see that I was scattered, she was focused. I wish I'd had her "stick-to-it-iveness,"  rather than dropping out of college and never achieving my degree. What I can say now is that we still share our love for art and the natural world. I'm so happy we stumbled upon each other again!

Memories. Linda and I were in the Mrs. Lester's senior art class together and I particularly remember the time when we were all assigned a project using acrylic paints on canvas. I can close my eyes and see the bright colors of Linda's  work which was a farm scene with a large and very cheerful rendition of a cow. I didn't quite get it at the time - why in the world was she painting this bucolic vision? Now I know. The girl that I knew then became the woman who now, many years after achieving her dream of getting a BFA from RIT, can draw the most intricate and detailed renderings of country life -- landscapes and barns, farmhouses and gardens, flora and fauna ... well, it's just amazing. My friend and art class buddy, Mark Robinson, and I were always a bit miffed that Mrs. Lester paid so little attention to us and seemed to only have eyes for Linda's work. I guess the lady knew what she was about, since it was her star pupil who produced the lovely calendar I'm poring over right now. It's obvious that she spent countless hours making the ink drawings for this publication;  I can't say how much I admire her level of dedication.
Linda's  illustrative abilities and attention to detail make viewing the 12 months of covered bridge art a joy. Each page features a different bridge from locations all around the northeastern U.S. and many also have beautiful drawings in the surrounding borders that enhance the central image. One can look at each page over and over and keep discovering tiny details that are just a delight. I think my favorite has to be November (above). It's such a lovely bridge, and the borders are filled with drawings of leaves and tiny birds and squirrels in the corners. Fabulous!

Thank you, Linda for sending me such a treat for the eyes, and for allowing me to post these little scans of your drawings. I hope many, many copies of this work find their way into peoples' homes and hearts, just as it has mine.

All images copyright 2011, Linda Cook Devona.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rain. And a Pillow

Rain. I'd promised myself I'd go out for a walk with my camera this morning, but Fate has intervened with blowing rain. I'm not quite over a cold I've had for a couple of weeks, so won't even chance it. Stinkin' rain.

So another little Show and Tell then, right? Along with crochet, I've had my hands into another type of needlework this fall. Here is an almost finished work in progress - Swedish Weaving, also known as Huck embroidery, on monk's cloth with cotton yarn. This will be a standard size bed pillow cover. That is, once I find the right fabric for the back and decide on how to finish the edges. What do you think? I've pondered making it a welted pillow or would some sort of braid or cording be better? Decisions, decisions.

And here's a close up scan of the pattern.

I love this particular stitch pattern because it looks like little leafy shapes. I have a massive love for leaves, love to stitch them and paint them ... I do a lot of floral and nature inspired paintings and it's always doing the leaves that makes me so happy. Odd, isn't it? Oh, yes, the blossoms are beautiful and I love them ... but all those amazing shades of green (my favorite color) in the foliage just makes me swoon. I'm a leaf nut.

Well, I got up ridiculously early today and still haven't had my morning cappucino yet. Time to turn on the coffee machine and get crankin' on that foamy milky caffeine-y goodness.

Maybe it willl stop raining this afternoon...

edited at 1:27PM - well, it stopped raining but is still windy and brrrrrrr cold. So, at times like this what does one do? You guessed it, it involves calories and lots of 'em. I made an apple pie.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hurray for Crochet

Crochet has become an obsession over the past year or so. I’d not had a hook in my hand for quite some time, so it felt good to revive an old love and now I’m finding so much inspiration online that I think it will stick with me for a good while longer. My mom taught me to do all the basic stitches way back in grade school. I remember the very first thing I made was a little triangle mesh shawl. That was followed by granny squares and motifs of all kinds, we sewed them all over everything back then. It’s fun to see them come back into popularity again, as they always seem to do. Over the years I’ve crocheted afghans, bags, pillow covers, and a multitude of dish cloths & scarves. Perhaps one day I’ll even try a sweater – never been brave enough for that.

One of my new fave blogs to visit is Attic 24. Written by Lucy, a young UK crochet artist with a passion for color, it is a real treat! I used her pattern for a granny stripe blanket to make the rainbow baby blanket on the right below:

And here’s a corner of it: (Sorry, but the colors are not quite right here. The camera flash is making muck of it all and I wasn’t able to edit these photos as well as I’d like.)

Draped over the back of the chair is a ‘circles in squares” blankie, and below that are four squares of a nine patch daisy granny baby blanket in progress. Again, colors aren’t as pretty as in real life, but you’ll get the general idea.

Little blankets are so much fun to make, I’ve been going crazy with them. I have a few ready to mail off to Project Linus, and perhaps I’ll attempt to sell some of the others.

I’ve got a pile of scarves done (I’ll have to take pictures outdoors when I get a chance – the colors are too beautiful to photographic inside.) And I’m teaching myself to do tapestry crochet. Here’s my first attempt at that, a little birdie basket:

I used inexpensive cotton yarn to make it and it’s fine, but a little bit floppy. I will try again with a thicker rug yarn and see if that will be sturdier. I modified a pattern by Carol Ventura from Crochet Bags on the Go for the birds. She is the guru for all things tapestry crochet and shares her knowledge freely.  Wonderful lady! I think I’ll try to graph out some gingko leaves (love the shape of them!) and use several colors for my next project. Stay tuned for that! ;-)

I have many more things to post, but I’m a little under the weather today, so will call it quits and be back tomorrow.

I am proud that I have made an entry for day two, ha ha!

Have a happy, crafty day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Yankee in the Delta

The idea of launching an arts and crafts journal blog has been on my mind for a while now. Honestly, there’s been so much angst involved in starting that I don’t know if I’ll manage it or not, but here it is: my first post.

Why am I here, ready to put my words out into the ether for all (or none) of the world to read? Simply put, I am in a major league rut and this is my way of making a grand stab at digging myself out. You may wonder how I arrived here, rut bound (ha!) and in need of a tunnel. I shall tell you my story, little by little, day by day. And within this grand saga, I plan to share my artsy-craftsy doings and perhaps write an occasional review of one of the how-to books I’m constantly buying. I hope you’ll enjoy my musings and share yours with me once we’ve gotten to know each other.

Allow me to introduce myself. My full given name is Joan Lizbeth, hence “JoLiz” for brevity and blogging purposes. Most of my friends call me Joan or Joanie, one cherished Navy pal has tagged me with “Joaners,” and my dear hubby usually hollers “Joan Liz???” plaintively when he’s in need of something only I can provide. I’m a middle-aged SAHM, (that’s “Stay At Home Mom,” for the uninitiated) currently living in rented digs after 12 years of happy homeownership in the Florida Panhandle. I’m also a freelance watercolor artist, amateur photography buff and scrapbooker, beaded jewelry making nut, and needle crafter.  After a series of Murphy-esque events, 6 months ago I was transplanted to a very small town, smack dab in the center of the Mississippi DELTA. I capitalize ‘delta’ because that is how the natives refer to this area. “Welcome to THE DELTA!” Cotton fields surround us on all sides, the food is almost always deep fried, and the landscape is very, very flat. Last but not least, I am the proud mama of an incredibly smart, scientifically-minded son who is toiling away in his senior year at college. I miss him like crazy.

 No, I am not a southern belle, probably the farthest thing from it. Born in upstate New York, I have lived in numerous places all over the USA and in a couple of other countries. Our stint in Florida was the longest we’ve ever stayed anywhere. A military veteran, I have plenty of experience moving and resettling, meeting new people, and learning local customs. Some places have taken a bit more effort than others to break into, but I’ve always kept at it and ended up with wonderful friends and enriching experiences. *sigh* The DELTA is proving to be a very hard nut to crack. So far, not a single neighbor will say hello or even smile in passing. Not one child showed up at our door to collect tricks or treats last night. Therefore I now have 7 pounds of Halloween candy to dispose of in some fashion. (Dear Lord, please not by way of my already fat laden thighs!) The folks here, apparently, are just not interested in some nomadic Yankee woman who has plopped down in their midst without so much as a by your leave. Will I eventually penetrate their defenses? Time will tell.

Normally I would set about making new acquaintances by joining the local watercolor society or enroll in a class or two to find like-minded arts and crafts enthusiasts. Unfortunately, not a club or a class seems to exist anywhere within driving distance. I am flying solo. A blog now seems just the thing to keep my creative juices from drying up and perhaps a way to make some new, albeit virtual, friends.

So there we have it, an introduction. Phew, this isn’t as easy as some veteran bloggers make it seem, now is it? I fear my initial entry sounds rather melancholy. Not my intent at all. I promise to change the tone henceforth to that of a hopeful and happy, crafty, fun-to-read journal. I absolutely LOVE to make things, record photographic memories, and am truly passionate about painting my colorful, quirky vision of the world. It is my sincere hope that as time goes by friends and fellow craftsy folk will want to check in here to see what I’m up to and make a comment or two. So, tomorrow I will share some more photos of some of my current projects and get on with it!

Welcome to the JoLiz Journal Please stop by often. xoxo