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Monday, November 3, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

My post today is my part of the Around the World Blog Hop.  I was invited to participate by Kay Pennington, a talented Special Ed. teacher in Bakersfield, California.  She blogs at Quilted Time Posts, one of my favorite blogs.  I started reading Kay's blog when I began learning to quilt just a few years ago. I was awed by the fabrics with vibrant colors and the techniques she uses to make her award winning art quilts.  They are very unique so it's always fun to follow as she progresses through the making of each one.  If you appreciate quilting I'm sure you'd enjoy her blog, too.
1.  What am I working on?
Once in awhile I run across a crochet pattern that screams "This is it!"  I really enjoy quick projects that come with a big dose of instant gratification, and this one has just that.  This free dishcloth pattern is quick, has lots of texture and actually looks something like its namesake. Zinnia.

The best part is they are useful. They can be used to wash dishes or as a washcloth.  They stack well and never need folding...yay!

Look at all that color and texture.  They look good just laying around, too.  It's a great pattern.  Go ahead, make your own fun stack of cloths.

The colors I used for the cloths were inspired by this photo.

2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Actually, questions like this never cross my mind.  I just make whatever I like.  Remember these dryer balls?  :))

3.  Why do I create what I do?
My projects either make me happy or are useful in some way.
Dyeing yarn for one of the cloths.
4.  How does my creating process work?
It varies with the project.  Sometimes I use patterns, other times I just wing it.
Speaking of winging it, yesterday Goodman and I visited a birding park in our area.
More info on the park here.

Here's a photo of the barn at the entrance replete with a bluebird barn quilt.  Love that barn quilt.

Monday, November 10, Tanya Breese who blogs at Around Roanoke will continue the blog hop.  She has a daily photo blog that features beautiful pictures that range from nostalgic to what's-happening-right-now.  I hope you'll visit her blog and see what she has to offer on Monday.
Have a great week, Y'all!
Shared at The Art of Home-Making Mondays, The Backyard Farming Connection, Good Fences

Sunday, October 26, 2014

In the Garden and A Quick Handknit

We are vacillating between chilly and summer-like weather here in the foothills.  Winter usually sets in here sometime in December. This is bee balm that bloomed in June.
Bergamot, bee balm, horsemint are all names for Monarda didyma
I've been piddling in the garden beds a bit and gathering herbs for wintertime use.  This is the common herb mullein that I dry then use as a remedy for chest colds and coughs in general.  It works - true story below...

Several years ago Goodman and I both had the flu at the same time. It was rough to say the least and ended with really bad congestion and a wracking, seemingly endless cough.  A Cherokee friend told me that Native Americans had used wild mullein for centuries to help rid themselves of lung congestion.
Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
I had some on hand, so I immediately brewed us a batch of tea and added honey and lemon for flavor. Even though he was coughing his head off Goodman was doubtful it could help and wouldn't try it. A few days later he had to see a doctor and take a round of antibiotics. Ahem, I did not. ;)  Within hours I was better, and the cough was gone completely in a few days.  I'm convinced it's an uncommonly good herb to have on hand.  Nowadays, we both have a cup or two of mullein tea when we get a bad cough. I use 1-2 teaspoons of dried mullein per 8 ozs. of boiling water, let it steep for 15 minutes then add honey and lemon to taste.  Disclaimer:  I'm not a doctor so see your physician for any serious medical condition.
Sidenote:  The leaves of the mullein plant are large and very soft;  hence another name for mullein is Cowboy Toilet Paper - just sayin'.  o.O

I found a silly fox in my strawberry bed...

It somehow escaped from the hangin' tree in the backyard.  (Okay, it didn't really escape.)  If you'd like a quick-to-knit, fun scarf pattern, this one is it.  The free pattern is here.  Just scroll down the page at the site for the English version.

The June-bearing strawberry bed that I started anew back in the spring produced over eighty runners! (Yeah, I counted 'em, lol.)   I've rooted and potted some of them to make a few more beds for next year.  

We planted carrots this year for the first time.  Gardening experts say keeping the seeds moist for the first few weeks to a month is the key to germination.  I did that and, lo, they are growing.  I let them get to the size you see here then planted garlic between the rows of carrots.  By the time the garlic needs more room the carrots will be long gone giving them plenty of room to grow next season.

Okay, that's a wrap for this week in the foothills.  Leaving you with a photo of the cool split rail fence at the entrance of Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Talk to you soon the Good Lord willin'.

p.s.  Next Monday I'll be participating in the Around the World Blog Hop.  If you're not already committed and would like to participate please let me know, and I'll send you an invitation.
Shared at The Art of Home-Making Mondays,  Good Fences, FarmGirl Friday Blog Hop

Monday, October 13, 2014

Spool Pin Doily Pattern

I've been crocheting spool pin doilies for my vintage Singer sewing machines. 

These little doilies are quick to make and do a good job of replacing the felt pads that are normally used. eta: The pad (or doily) keeps the thread spool stable so it doesn't jerk when you start sewing which causes the thread to wrap around the pin and break.

This one is the really dark purple from the first picture, but I had to use the flash on my camera, and poof - it washed the color out.

I'm a throwback from another era, methinks. Give me these any day instead of those felt disks like the one in the center here.

This gold crochet thread from JoAnn's has a metallic strand in the twist looks good on these old black machines.

 I made these 2 to 21/2 inches in diameter.

If you'd like to crochet a spool pin doily for your own vintage sewing machine here's the pattern I came up with for the blue one.

Blue Hydrangea Spool Pin Doily

No. 5 crochet thread
2.25mm crochet hook (or whatever size you like to use with crochet thread)

Ch 5, slip st tog to form ring.
Round 1.  Ch 4 (serves as first dc and ch1), *dc in ring, ch 1, repeat from * until there are 12 dc, slip st in 3rd ch of beg dc. (12 dc)
Round 2.  Slip st to ch after first dc, *ch 4, slip st in next ch, repeat from * to end of round, slip st in ch space beside beg ch. (12 loops)
Round 3.  Slip st to middle of first ch loop, *ch 4, slip st in next loop, repeat from * to end. 12 loops
Round 4.  Slip st in loop, *sc 4 in next loop, repeat from * to end.  (12 loops)
Bind off and weave in ends.

For picot edge variation on the last round:
Round 4.  Slip st in loop, *sc 2, ch 3, slip stitch in first ch, sc 2, repeat from * to end.  (12 loops)

Copyright © 2014 Toni in the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Treadle Sewing Machine and Tennessee Sorghum

One of the last blooms of the summer on my pink hydrangea.  I'd been putting coffee grounds on my hydrangeas so the blooms would be blue or purple, but I've stopped doing that since I noticed the one I put the most on didn't bloom at all this season.  Oops, live and learn they say.  Better pink than none then.

 In my last post I mentioned I'd been looking for a treadle sewing machine, and find her I did at an antique store near us.

 They are getting hard to find so I was glad to get one in pretty good condition.

She's a very basic 1926 Model 66, but I'm a basic sort of seamstress so I think we'll get along well.   

In this photo she is still very dirty and without a few necessary parts like a belt and spool pin, but she's clean now and new parts have been installed.  I really wanted to have a machine that doesn't require electricity.  This one fits the bill beautifully.  I'm still learning to treadle efficiently, but I'm really enjoying the learning.

Have you ever seen one of these? They smelled like a perfume when we first found them then slightly of an orange scent after a day or two. I'd read about them in books, but I had no idea what they were until we were out driving one day and found them in the roadway.  They are the fruit of a small tree that was popular with Native Americans and also early settlers, the Osage Orange.  Native Americans used the wood of the tree for their bows because it would bend just right.  Early settlers planted them profusely as hedges for cattle as they have long thorns that discouraged wayward cattle from leaving their homesteads.

This is our turnip greens bed and much fuller and nearly large enough to pick now.  Love them greens.  One of our favorite meals consists of turnip greens and country ham on biscuits.  Can't wait.

Yesterday Goodman and I took a 2-hour road trip to Muddy Pond, Tenn.   I wanted to get a jar of fresh sorghum, and a family there makes it the old-fashioned way which is fun to watch.  I took pictures with my cell phone, but they are not good.  I'm posting this youtube video from Tennessee Crossroads so you can get a good tour of our destination.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Another Singer Domestically Speaking, Of Course

Moss Rose
Goodman and I were browsing our favorite local antique store yesterday, actually looking over a treadle cabinet that I was considering for my hand-crank 1915 machine,  when another browser walked up and began talking about the old portable Singer his mother and grandmother had used years ago.  We listened and found out he had inherited it, and that it was stored in the CRAWL SPACE of his house.  Argh, a damp, dusty, buggy crawl space in no place to store a sewing machine, but on with the story.  He said he had no family members that sewed, but he wanted it to go to someone who'd use it and appreciate it and then offered it to us for only $35.  He knew its worth full-well, but his emotional attachment to the machine and wanting it to be used seemed to be his guide for selling it to us.  We finished browsing the store and met him later at his house to pick it up.  I didn't get a chance to try it out first - he didn't know us from Adam's house cat so he brought it out to the driveway, we paid him and left with it.
Here's a look at how the case looked before cleaning:

At first the wheel wouldn't turn at all (usually a sign that the motor is frozen some way or other) so Goodman sprayed a silicone lubricant into the grease openings on the motor casing and let it set until the motor was saturated.  It took a few hours of waiting, but the motor turns and is working smoothly now.  This is an after cleaning photo... it was covered in grime when we got it. 
Grease holes are the silver upright cylinders on either end of the motor casing.
While Goodman was busy with the motor I looked the machine up on the Singer site and found that it is a 1928 Model 99-13 portable.  It's really too heavy to be carrying around at about 30 pounds, but that's how they billed it back then.  It was a 3/4 sized version of their Model 66.  Here are some ad plates that the Singer Company used to advertise this machine back in the early 1920s.  (Click the pics to see them better.)

  Someone at the Singer Company must have been a birder.   Love. that.

Here's our new girl all cleaned up but not quite ready to sew.  The tension needs adjusting, but that should be done soon. 

 The finish is in pretty good shape except for a 1-inch spot on a corner of the base that is a bit rusty, thanks to that "crawl space", no doubt.  Not a big worry though.

Several attachments, 6 bobbins and the original manual were in the cubbyhole in the base.  Love the gold trim on old Singers.  The Singer Co. even named each set of decals for their machines.  This set is called "Filigree."
The main reason I really, really love old Singer sewing machines...  They will last forever if you keep them oiled.  Recently my second-hand, but still pricey Pfaff 2170 sewing & embroidery machine bit. the. dust.  I'd had it only 4 years.  It will cost $800 dollars to fix it.  I don't think we'll be paying that to fix it as there's no guarantee how long it would work then, either.  Obviously buying it was a costly mistake.  And it's not even cute enough to use as a doorstop whereas the old Singer machines are.  I have two other vintage Singer machines if you'd like to take a look at them:
A 1915 Hand-Crank Portable Model 15 and a 1953 Model 301a .

In my search to identify some attachments I found this clever gif depicting the interlocking twist that keeps us sewists in stitches. Brilliant.

What's for dinner - a copycat version of Red Lobster's clam chowder and cheese toast.  Lip-smackin' good, it was.  Wishing y'all a wonderful week.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Passionflower For A Good Night's Sleep

Have you tried passionflower tea for relieving stress?  Studies have shown that a tea made from the leaves of the passionflower vine (passiflora) promotes relaxation for a good night's rest.  Studies have also shown that using passionflower as a supplement improved symptoms of menopause such as sleeplessness, depression, anger and headache.  It's a nervine so do not take it if you're already taking a prescription sleep aid.  Also, pregnant or nursing mothers should not use it. There are a number of different species, but the lavender one below is the correct one to use, not the blue variety.  The vines have tendrils and will climb if there are other plants around to give it support. If not, they grow along the ground. 

The leaves have three lobes and are the part you want to pick for the tea.  I use a teaspoon of dried, crushed leaves per cup of water. Use two teaspoons per cup if using fresh leaves.  Bring the water to a boil then pour over and steep the leaves for 15-20 minutes.  I think the tea is more palatable when cooled slightly with a spoon of honey stirred in.  Goodman and I have both tried the tea recently, and it has helped us relax and sleep through the night.

The fruit is an edible antioxidant.  I well remember eating them as a child.  Pick them as the color begins to lighten and let them ripen to a yellowish color.  As always with any wild plant be sure you have identified it correctly and consult your physician with any concerns you may have.  

In the garden:  Here's a little trick for producing tomato plants very quickly.  Take cuttings from the plants you already have and root them in water for a week or two.  

You'll be surprised how fast the roots grow.  

 After rooting in water place the cutting in soil in a small pot for another two weeks.

 By this time the roots are well developed and ready to plant in the garden.  This is a great, inexpensive way to keep harvesting tomatoes until frost.  Also, mix a tablespoon of epsom salt into the soil at the roots to help the plants develop a healthy structure and guard against blossom-end rot.

A goldfinch takes a moment to ponder what a nice summer we're having.         

Have a great week, Y'all!
Burgundy Stella d'oro lilies after a recent rain

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

In The Good Ol' Summertime

What a summer!  I looked to the right...

 And then to the left, and June was gone before I knew it.  O.O

It must have been a blast as all I can tell you is it was full of blooms and warm, lol.

There's a new/old sewing machine in the house.  I'd been on the lookout to find this particular model for quite awhile.  She's a 1953 model 301a Singer, and she will sew lightweight leather and heavy-ish fabrics with no upsets.  I found her on Craigslist in a town nearly an hour away, but it was worth the drive, a good find.  The cabinet is handmade and very solid if not all that pretty. The first drawer held several treasures...

 It contained a buttonhole attachment with extra templates, a zigzagger, all manner of extra feet, bobbins and manuals for everything.  Someone had taken very good care of the machine and it's accessories, and I am thrilled to have it.

Any guesses what this might be?  I had no idea how to use it at first.

 It's a...

You just pull the ring shaped handles up and out to the sides and load a stocking or sock using the spring to hold it,  then place the whole thing under the sewing machine needle and sew up any holes. How it works is you just move it back and forth until the hole is filled with stitches.  I thought it was totally cool after I found out how to use it.

 Our second-year hydrangeas are growing beautifully. Coffee grounds are helping to keep the blooms blue.

 These little bugs were eating the leaves until I sprayed them ...

With a combination of 1/4 cup dish liquid and 16 ozs. water in a spray bottle.

Our Lavender Orpingtons are fully grown and producing chicks.  I've even sold some at a good profit.

This is Stubby; I thinks she's going to be a hen.

Our Buff Brahma hen is setting and very moody.  I'll just back out quietly...shh.

 I found this American Elderberry growing along the fence line and hope to transplant it to a more convenient spot in the fall.

  We had a birthday celebration on the Star of Knoxville Riverboat last month.

We lunched and enjoyed the ride up a stretch of the Tennessee River.

Hope you're all having a great summer.  :)
The little needle book from the fifties was also in a drawer of the machine cabinet. 
Shared at The Art of Home-Making Mondays, The HomeAcre Hop, Green Thumb Thursday, FarmGirl Friday, The BackYard Farming Connection