Friday, October 30, 2009

10 Minute Challenge Update

I have such good intentions about posting things on this blog…and somehow the days zoom by and it just hasn't happened. Ah well, there are no blog police….are there??

I have been faithful with the 10 minute hooking challenge since starting September 21. A lot has been accomplished over the past month! I've posted "Rufous" – this is a piece I hooked last April in honor of my sweet weiner dog that passed on August 2008. Upon finishing, I couldn't find any yarn that would even remotely match the background for whipping. The background was an "oddball" piece I picked up at Friends by the Sea and I had to stretch just to have enough for the hooking – nothing left over for finishing. And it's an odd blue – rather turquoise in most light. All the yarn in my stash and at our local yarn shop clashed terribly so I rolled up the hooking and tucked it away. This past week I decided to make another trip to the yarn store and this time they had some wool that at least coordinated with the background. So my challenge minutes were mostly spent finishing this mat. It's about 14X14. I did all the dyeing for the fur…

Also got most of the hooking done on "Perfect Harmony" and am posting a closeup photo of one of the girl's hair. This was a fun piece and I hope to get the finishing done on it this next week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10 Minute Challenge

Here's this week's progress….once I got started on the border, it went pretty fast. Now I need to redo some of the clothing and give a few kids some hair….almost there!

Homemade Udon

The other day I dragged out my old pasta machine and we made udon. Udon are thick Japanese noodles, usually served in a broth. We love 'yakiudon' – fried noodles with veggies. This time we served our udon in soup with inari and tempura shrimp. Yummy!

I made my own noodles for years and during this sabbatical time it has been very satisfying to return to these activities that feed my soul (and my tummy). Later in the week we made spaghetti with fresh herbs from the garden. Life is good

Apples, Apples, Apples

I grew up with apples…we had a small orchard in our backyard. Apple trees are great climbing trees. My best friend, Mary Grace, and I used to climb up in the tree and discuss the secrets of life when we were in grade school. But these trees…they produce a lot of…well, apples. And you have to do something with those apples. As kids, it was our job to pick up all the apples that had fallen off the tree and put them in buckets…ewwww, those were some stinky apples in hot, humid Illinois. I have two older (much older <ggg>) siblings so they constantly tricked me or threatened me into picking up the most apples.

Mom made the best apple squares – using lard! – and Dutch apple pies and of course, applesauce. One of my favorite memories is from kindergarten when she came to my classroom and helped us all make applesauce. I was so shy in kindergarten that I never spoke a word out loud so it was a memorable day for me to have the reassurance of my "mommy" with me, even if it was just that one day. In fact, I just recently came across the big thank-you letter our teacher/class wrote to mom.

So here I am now in a house that has an apple tree right off the back deck. Every year I make a few Dutch apple pies and then we pick up the rest and pile them up for the deer. This year the tree produced the most beautiful, biggest apples it ever has in over ten years. Being on sabbatical, I decided to return to my "past life" and made applesauce. Ahhh, the smells and tastes of childhood! And yes, there was still a wheelbarrow full of apples left for the deer, with more on the tree.

It is so satisfying to me to pick the fruit or vegetables and then can or freeze them for the long winter nights ahead. I've missed that over these past years I've been in Oregon. This year, I have pureed squash to freeze for making soup later, made pesto, blackberry jam…and now applesauce will go on the shelves. A taste of childhood. A taste of the past. Satisfying indeed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Primary Colors

Sir Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram of colors in 1666 and countless scientists and artists have studied color since that time. For some reason, color theory stymies me. Maybe I just have a block about it – sorta like square roots and stuff like that. As soon as I start reading about primary, secondary, tertiary, complementary, analogous --- my eyes glaze over and my head screams, "I just want something pretty!"

A good "color sense" and some rudimentary knowledge of color theory goes far in designing rugs or quilts and especially in dyeing. I remember the first time Leota (the dear woman who taught me how too hook) pulled out a huge poster board with little snippets of color pasted all over in a circle and suggested that I memorize it. Hey, I just wanna make pretty rugs!
This week I wanted to dye some primary colors for the border of "Perfect Harmony" rug. I have lots of eight-value swatches in my stash but seem to be short on larger pieces of basic colors. It's difficult for my head to wrap around the concept that dyeing a piece of yellow wool means I have to pull out not only a yellow dye, but some red and blue dyes as well. April from Red Jack rugs calls yellow, red, and blue the "magic colors". I like that!

Imagine…all the colors in the universe can be created from just these three colors! Every beauteous shade and hue is a result of a unique combination of these magic colors. Each one of us is an individual, shining our light in different ways, beautiful and unique to ourselves. And yet, when it gets right down to it…we are all made up of the same magic qualities. I don't know how you might name the three constituent parts of ourselves – mind, body, spirit? Love, imagination, faith? Doesn't much matter…as Hans Hofmann said, "It is not the form that dictates the color, but the color that brings out the form."

Anyway….here's what the dye pot yielded last week (along with the two pics above)…

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

10 Minute Challenge - Week 2

Here is progress after the second week of participating in the 10 Minute challenge. I am just squeaking by with wool for the sky - I have some much darker and lighter values remaining. I am realizing that I tend to use mostly middle values in my hooking. I've noticed that the #3-5 values always get used up first and I have lots of 1, 2, 7, 8 and some 6 leftover (a swatch is generally dyed with 8 values of a specific color formula). Yesterday was spent dyeing primary colors for the border...more about that later!