Category Archives: Handmade

Simple Gifts

“Simple Gifts” is a Shaker song written and composed by Elder Joseph Brackett in 1848. The song has been adapted and rearranged many times by musicians since then.  I find it wonderfully haunting and lyrical, and felt as though I wanted to learn to play it on my dulcimer.  My version is played “by ear” and adapted to my own style of strumming.  Here are the lyrics (to verse one):

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Research shows me that the references to “turning” in the last lines are identified as dance motions for traditional participants, and by the time the music has ended, everyone would’ve ended up back in the place they once started. There are other verses, too.  You might want to check out this lovely song on your own.

Farmer’s Market Season is over for the year, so I’m able to get a lot of work done around the house.  I spent time in Egarden this past weekend, cleaning out overgrown weeds and saving flower heads for seeds for next year. And a recent wind storm gave me a BUNCH of sticks in the grassy area between the house and the alpaca pasture. I’ve collected them to use in the fireplace soon, but for now, am also making some of these.  They will be used for flower vases or other decorations.

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I spent time cleaning out around a fig bush, from which I harvested figs for making jelly.  But I also cut out and saved…..kudzu vines!  I’ll let them dry out, then soak again to weave into baskets or wreathes.

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Simple gifts from nature. Seems like so little, but really, they have the potential to be so much more.

Happy Creating!

 

 

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Fruits…no…The Vegetables of Labor

Although it’s been several months since I’ve posted anything on the blog, it’s not because things haven’t been busy out here on the Farm. AND I’ve heard it said that if you can’t be busy doing something, try to do something that’s worth writing about.

I’ve been doing both.

Egarden has produced a lot of Lemon Balm, Chocolate Mint and other herbs. I’ve spent an awful lot of time researching those herbs, learning how to process and dry them, and making teas.

Springtime came and went and the alpaca received their yearly haircuts. That means I have fiber. LOTS of fiber! I don’t know how I’m ever going to catch up if I try to process all that fiber on my own, so I’m considering sending it to a fiber mill and having it turned into yarn for future projects. I’ll still have plenty to spin and some to sell.

And the first of the garden produce has been coming in. We gathered blueberries and blackberries and made jelly, too.

The way I see it is this….Every day, I will look for balance in the things I’m trying to do, whether it’s creating words or images on a page, making music, growing or preparing food.

AND when I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished, I will remain thankful for those things that I AM able to accomplish. Whatever doesn’t get done may be there tomorrow. Or not. And either way–it will have been a good day.

Happy Creating!

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Finding a Niche or Writing a Resume

I update my resume every once in a while, but this time, I’m having a really hard time narrowing down WHAT I do and HOW MUCH experience I’ve had in doing it.

I need help.

For one thing, I don’t want to put anything in there along the lines of, “has been doing this since _______ (fill in the blank with a year) because I’m thinking it sets a date that might be older than the person reading it. I don’t want to offend anyone, especially if I’m trying to get freelancing work out of it. Neither do I want to put in anything that might allude to my age as “being older than dirt.”

I know, I know….there are circumstances which are designed to protect a person from AGE DISCRIMINATION, but I really don’t want to take any chances.

So I’ll go for factual information, with a twist of humor thrown in. One of my last bios reads along the lines of “has experience in Traditional Handcrafting skills which enables her to travel undetected between the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries.” I’m hopeful that should cover for me for at least 200 years.

If you’ve been taking the time to read this blog, and maybe any of this information has meant something or could be considered useful as I revise the resume, I sure would appreciate hearing about it in the comments section below.  Thanks.

I’ll see you along the Creative Journey.

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Catching Up and Time Travels

I have issues with time–both in the here and now, and with the past and present. I can get creatively busy and forget how much time might have passed. Going from the house to my barn studio, I’ll travel from the twenty-first century back to the nineteenth century if I don’t take my phone.

(I’m still wondering if that’s some Time-Warp-Thing.)

Since it’s rumored that a picture is worth a thousand words–I’ll share a few photos and see if they SHOW what I’ve been doing:

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Every day can be a creative day!

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New Fiber Friends

I LOVE to be creative with fiber, and would like to welcome these new friends to the virtual farm.

Here’s a little bee, 2014-06-26 15.26.22
a colorful chicken,

peep, peep! bwak, bwak!

peep, peep!
bwak, bwak!


and two alpaca finger puppets.
Hum?

Hum?


Mmm...hum....!

Mmm…hum….!

I made these little finger puppets to take to our local Farmer’s Market. They’re crocheted from handspun alpaca fiber and some wool blends. I go to the Farmer’s Market to visit with local farmers, shop, and demonstrate handspinning.

These finger puppets are a result of creative inspiration from living out on our farm. They ARE a lot of fun to play with, and I must remember I am WORKing, I am creatively WORKing….!!!

Happy Creating!

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Practical Application(s)

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies strength. Whoever loves much can accomplish much, and what is done with love is well done.” (Vincent Van Gogh)

All right, I’ll admit it….I love to do a great many things. Every once in a while, creative distractions lead to something else. Which leads to something else. And then to something else. If I’m not careful, I get scattered in SO many directions, I face the possibility that nothing could get accomplished!

I’ve been like this for as long as I remember. Yes, I’ve done research over the years into why this happens and when I discovered it was one of the natural characteristics of Creative People, I breathed a sigh of relief. Ah, that explains it, I thought. There are others who do that, too.

Straight Backed Chair

Straight Backed Chair


The practical applications for all this is that I can do a lot of useful things. In my quest to learn about Homesteading and Appalachian homecrafts, I’ve taught myself how to repair chairs. I have a fondness for straight backed chairs. (I have no idea why this is so.) On junkets to flea markets or antique shops, I’m drawn to them like a magnet. My latest project has been to repair the bottoms of a variety of chairs using a paper rush as well as an older handmade footstool using seagrass for the seat. When I got the footstool twenty-something years ago, it was woven with cornhusks which had been twisted and woven for the seat. I talked with the craftsman about his work and he shared a few tips.
Footstool with seagrass seat

Footstool with seagrass seat

It’s the end of May now and garden is mostly planted, except for a few things I wanted to start by seed. I’ll transplant those when they get a bit larger, too.
I classify all of this as “research” and move on. I know it will give authenticity to my characters as I work on (a variety of) writing projects.

Yes, I do. Thanks!

Yes, I do. Thanks!

Happy Creating!

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Hark!

Handmade angel

Handmade angel


November came and went. Fall was beautiful out here on the farm. I stayed very busy with the animals, working out in the barn when I could or inside the house creating handmade items for Christmas gift-giving. Many wonderful hours have been spent in front of the fireplace– knitting, sewing, spinning and with a cup of hot tea or coffee. Yum!

I’m happy to report that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I imagine my studio space is more than a little bit messy and I THOUGHT about taking a photo, but no…that might reveal too much about my work habits. I try, really, to keep things organized but it just doesn’t happen. Honestly Santa, I try to be good, I really do.

What’s that you say? Wait a minute….Santa’s laughing….Ho Ho Ho! Admittedly he thinks the idea of a clean workspace this time of year is very funny indeed.

I’d love to see Santa’s workshop.

Maybe, just maybe, my space looks a lot like his.

Happy Creating!

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Old Dogs, New Tricks

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Yes, I’ve heard that old saying too. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Supposedly to be an explanation of how it’s easier to teach something new to someone younger. That expression has been around since the 1500s, and quite possibly just as inaccurate then as it is now.

To my way of thinking: it depends on the dog.

From time to time, I try to teach myself a few new tricks. I like to think I can knit and am mostly self-taught when it comes to that. There’s something oddly self-satisfying about the repetitive hand motions which accompany knitting, crocheting or hand spinning. While researching hand spinning, I came across a general statement about how Gandhi used spinning as a form of meditation and if he did, I understand how that works. My mind is clear, yet focused, and I can use that time to allow the most amazing creative thoughts to develop. Multiple points of view(s) are explored, plot points developed, dialogue planned, characters fleshed out: when I use that time as a technique for writing, it frees my creative consciousness to go to a whole other place. I’m not just spinning or knitting. I’m WORKing my brain! If I knit while riding a recumbent bicycle, I’m working my body as well. (Before you ask, the answer is yes.)

My friends who knit socks are encouraging me to give socks a try. So I’ve watched them, watched videos, knit and UNknit the same sock multiple times. The sock has to fit my foot and calf, right? (Yes) But it will go in a shoe, so does it matter if the toe is all the way closed? (Yes) Turning the heel part of the sock is a whole-other-matter. And you need two socks that sort-of match to have a pair of them.

My creative path to making socks is evolving. I can make two fairly good “tube” socks, with no heel. I am learning to knit from the toe-up and I enjoy having made my own double pointed knitting needles out of wooden dowel sticks. Granted, my work looks like a tiny porcupine with all those needles sticking out of it but that’s not what’s important. Just like those messy first drafts, I am working it out. Even if I have to unknit later, even that will have taught me something about the process. I will learn to knit a heel; short rows seem to be the way to go. There are SO many ways to knit a sock.

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Looks like a toe has begun to form, doesn’t it? As I keep going, maybe the rest of the sock will appear.

As I keep writing or drawing, I’m fairly certain the ideas will come together, too.

I’d show you a photograph of one of my dogs, but she’s not in the mood to pose for a photograph. The offer of extra kibble-bits just won’t do it.

The dogs suggest I come back later. They’re wise to me.

I think I’ll go knit. Or write. Or draw.
Happy Creating!

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