As I've mentioned before, I love Sundays. It's the day of the week that you don't really have any pressure to do anything but then again, there's a ton of stuff you should be doing. You wrestle with the fact that you'd like to put your feet up and hook or punch all day, but there is also a long list of things you'd like to do as well.
There's the stuff you want/have to do, especially this time of year.
Like getting the porch up and running....we have a cement floor on our porch and the last two years we have "stained" it. I put that in quotes because though it claims to be stain, it's not. It chips and flakes so we end up having to redo it every year. We are looking at other alternatives this year such as the new granite grip, or an acid stain. I'll keep you posted on that. I have had a love/hate relationship with the power washer over the last few days as we've spend a lot of time on the porch together.
Then there are the garden beds. They must be raked, weeded and mulched. (that sure is a big pile of mulch waiting to go in the garden beds)
Lilies of the Valley are starting to pop up.
The herb garden must be planted. We do herbs, a few tomato plants and a couple rows of lettuce, nothing big, just enough to say we did!
The shop entrance needs to be cleaned and prettied.
...and if you have the energy you might do a little baking....
..and then just when you do take a few minutes to sit and hook you realize that it's time to make dinner. Here is a design I am hooking. I found this treasure of an antique rug last year in New Hampshire and have had many requests to make the pattern available so I decided to hook it in a large #10 cut. I am really loving this one.
Mom has hooked 3 rugs in the last month (the other 2 I have not debuted yet), but this one, oh my.....It is just gorgeous. It was adapted from an old wooden butter mold. My Sister hooked this a few years ago and hers is just lovely. I've been wanting to do that pattern for some time. Mom outdid herself with the colors for sure. This design will be up on my punch needle frame next.
So, as I write this at the end of the day I feel the fatigue of the day settling in. My hook and that old hearts rug is calling. I hope you all had a wonderful, creative and busy Sunday.
I just made up that term "breathing day", but for me it's so appropriate.
We have had a very long winter. It wasn't especially snowy, though we did have our share, but it was just so long! Today is April 22nd and it is what I am affectionately calling "breathing day". It's not always this date, it's usually earlier, but everyone will know what I'm talking about, for sure.
For me, breathing day is the first day of the year when you can walk outside with no coat on and not feel chilled. It is the day of the year when you feel hope that, yes, maybe Winter has come to an end and Summer is just around the corner. Your body almost tingles as you see things coming to life under piles of leaves, old growth or even snow.
Here in upstate NY we really only have three seasons: summer, fall and winter. Spring does seem to miss us. If it does appear it is usually very short, only a month or so. I'm not talking about the dates on the calendar. I'm talking about those days where it's balmy outside and the snow melts slowly, over a week or so. We have cold and then warm, there really is no in between.
So, today, in only a t-shirt, I walked around the yard.
How will I decorate the back porch this year?
Yay, the climbing hydrangeas we bought at the base of the pergola made it through the long winter. Those buds are beautiful!!
Oh boy, lots of work to do in this yard before we host our "gathering of friends", but that blue sky is sure a welcome sight.
This is the reason we bought this house. The porch!! So many good times have been had on this porch, as well as some rough times, heavy conversations and fun entertaining. This is a serious section of our home. Many nights are spent on the swing that will soon make its way back, hanging from the rafters, with a beverage in hand. I love our porch and this time of year, though it looks a bit rough, I know that it is filled with great promise. How should I place the furniture....I should get some new lanterns.....should I use grapevine along the top? I just love the possibilities every year.
I was finally able to empty the window boxes of the winter greenery and sweep away the winter dust from the front door. Again, the possibilities, what kind of water feature will we do this year? We need a new sign, what flowers to plant in the window boxes. It's the same thing every year....the planning.....but it never gets old. I love it!
Peonies are peeking through!
Lots of pick up to do....things that should have been done last year but time ran short before the first snowfall.
Buds on the lilac tree. We trimmed this tree down considerably because it was being covered by another larger tree and was not getting sunlight. I think it's trimming will help it this year and hope to see lots of blooms.
Yes, I love breathing day. It's amazing what the warmth, sunlight and promise of a good summer can do for the soul.
There's something about starting a new project that just makes your heart go pitter patter.
As a punch needle designer I often times will just stop in the middle of whatever I'm doing to draw something out. That's mostly because of my age.....if I don't write it down it may never come back, lol, but sometimes it's because if I don't get it out it might also nag at me and cause me to lose sleep. Yes, that has happened.
Some designs are better than others. Some designs are my favorites and other, well, just eh. But every once in a while there is one that just makes your heart skip a beat.
Lenny's Garden is named for my Grandmother Lenore. Unbeknownst to me (my mother tells me) my Grandfathers pet name for Mamie (what we called her), was Lenny. Grandpa always had amazing vegetable gardens. He was really quite a man, very talented. Things you never know when you are a young child. Grandpas are just grandpas. But, my Grandfather had amazing gardens, was a great cook, an accomplished wood worker and as I am adult and look back, was madly in love with my Grandmother. I remember him always giving her a kiss and buying her random gifts. At the end of Grandpa's vegetable garden, my Grandmother, Mamie, Lenore....or Lenny, always had a large section for her flowers. Mamie loved flowers and every year they would travel to the Boston Flower show. So, with that, when this design was coming to life, I wanted to call it Lenore's Garden, then Mom suggested "Lenny's".
I'm always filled with excitement when I see the empty pattern in front of me. Color planning was relatively easy because Mom had already hooked the Hooked Rug Version. Sometimes I punch the design first and she goes from my colors and vice versa.
I thought the vines, stems and leaves might be a bit tedious, but they weren't. It was fun to see them take on life. When I do berries I punch 3 to 4 times quite close together. Berries never look good until you start putting the background in.
When I first put this design on fabric I was trying to keep it within the 8/10 inch size but I just wasn't feeling it so I ended up enlarging it to a nice size of 8 x 16 inches. It does extend over the edge of my punch needle frame but I've never had a problem with loops pulling out. The trick is to simply be gentle and make sure to pull to the outside of the frame lifting out and up to get the punched portion off without hurting the loops.
When I am trying to color plan a design to be similar to the woolens that my mother has chosen for the hooked rug, it can be difficult sometimes. I have a color palette for my designs and the threads I use sometimes don't match a plaid wool that Mom may have used. She used multi colored woolens so I needed to come up with threads that would resemble those woolens. When this happens I sometimes will combine two different Valdani colors. When I punch with Valdani #8 perle cotton, I double thread it through my medium tip. I pull the strand from the outside of the ball and from the inside of the ball and thread both strands. This idea means that I can easily mix two colors by using just one strand of each.
The outer blue/green edge of the scallop edge below is the end result.
My mother used our hand dyed Maple Sugar and Honey Wheat woolens for the background in her rug. It's a mix of very warm tan/gold colors so Valdani's H205 will be the perfect color for my background.
In this piece it's very important to punch up close to the subject matter. The stems, leaves and most importantly, the berries need the background punched right in close so they will take shape. When I punch background I go around the subject matter 2 to 3 times, then move to the outer frame or in this case, the scalloped edge and punch around that 2-3 times until eventually the inner subject matter and edges meet, then it's all about filling in.
You can see below the point at which the two parts meet and then filling in was done.
And here's the right side. How beautiful! I'm afraid I do not have the finished product to show you just yet. You'll have to visit our website in about another week (or facebook) to see it finished.
I did think though that you might like to see how the punch needle design and punching process happens. All of our designs have a personal story to them. Here's Mom's hooked rug....a beautiful tribute to her Mother I think.
Two months since I last wrote, wow! Honestly, my blog suffers the most since I entered the addictive world of facebook. I find it's easier to keep in touch with everyone that way and I post there several times a day. It's easy to snap a picture of happenings around here or a new product and instantly get it out to those who keep track of us on facebook. Sadly, my blog suffers, and honestly, that makes me sad because I've had my blog for many years and it has always been comforting to sit and write. But, I can only do what I can do.
May is usually the beginning of our slow time here at The Old Tattered Flag, but it seems that there is just not a slow time anymore. I'm not grumbling, trust me. I am humbled every day that I get to do what I love and that people anxiously wait for the next design. We do keep on our toes!
So, I do what I can. We are now in the midst of getting our yard in order for summer. Though we did not have a bad winter, the temperatures have not exactly been perfect for a day of yard work. And, the rain! We've had so much rain. But eventually, you tweak away at things a bit at a time and you start to see things take shape......much like a new rug or punch needle pattern. Here are some pics I snapped after a long day of yard work yesterday....
I know many of you don't go on facebook, so I'll be posting some of our new designs soon.
Have a great Sunday afternoon....I'm going to go play in the dirt some more...