Monday, May 26, 2008

Knitting calms my soul. Especially the simple patterns. The repetitive nature and the act of just being. I enjoy thinking about the thousands of women in the past who created countless numbers of cherished blankets, afghans, scarfs, socks, and numerous other gifts of love. It has been awhile since I actually sat down and really worked on any knitting projects (and there are many of course). When we went up to the farm in Michigan I had to bring a craft project that was portable and not too detailed. I've been working on a baby blanket for my niece, Giada, since she was born on April 13th. My goal is to have it, and a little cap, done by the time she is Christianed on July 6th. I decided to fore go anything too frilly or lacy as both of my girls tended to like the simple blankets best. As infants, neither one of them liked how their feet would get stuck in the holes of the lacier blankets. With that in mind I designed this blanket with a simple garter stitch border and a seed stitch for the body of the blanket. It's about 24" wide and will be about 30" long when completed. The stitch marker is handmade by Melissa Zinkosky. She owns DeZigns in Chelsea Michigan. I bought them at the Spinner's Flock meeting in April. The craftmanship is beautiful, a gift to myself. The yarn is wonderful! Debbie Bliss Baby Aryan. 40% acrylic, 12% cashmere, and 48% merino. I'm hoping that Giada will think it's wonderful too.
Yarn has a way of speaking to you when you hold it in your hands (if you are a knitter, crocheter, spinner or felter you will know what I mean! Fiber like Shetland screams I will keep you warm, baby Alpaca whispers let me cuddle with your little one and Cashmere coos about being soft and pretty on the skin.

Knit scarf burgundy
Originally uploaded by cshella
I love earth tone colors and softness. This yarn has both of those qualities! It is 45% silk and 55% cashmere. I knitted this small scarf based on a fish bone pattern for a much longer scarf. I just wanted something that would look decorative, not really keep me warm. As much as I would love to try a large intricate lace project I find that improvised shorter projects are the ones that I am most readily able to accomplish.

Flower in film grain
Originally uploaded by cshella
I have been visiting the Inspire Me Thursday website lately and it has motivated me to do some more playing around with my Photo Shop program and digital collage. This is a picture of a Rhododendron in my front yard. I like the color of the pink/purple flowers. I edited this in Photo Shop so that the image looks like film grain (very small grain). This is going to be the first layer, as I build layers I will post them. I have no idea what I'm going to do next with it but I'll keep you updated!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Long walks, Playful days, and a little hidden treasure...

We returned from the farm Wednesday evening (yes, we decided to stay another day) and we are all still recovering from all of the activity and fresh air. You see, being at the farm is like being in a place that is not of this world. Spotty cell phone service, no wi-fi or internet service, no lap tops, not even a chain coffee shop. True, one exit down the high way and there is a small Tanger Outlet Mall and a Super Walmart, but other than that there is nothing. And it is wonderful! We have eighty acres to play in the middle of no where and it is truely God's gift. We took long hikes with the girls and the dog (the dog of course found the muddy swamp every time). Andrew and Fiona flew a kite on a very chilly windy day. Fiona had never flown a kite before so the cold and the wind didn't bother her in the least. We built camp fires, toasted marchmellows and went to bed way past our bed time. It was what I hope will be fond memories for years to come. Finally I found a little hidden treasure for myself. I was looking in the front bedroom closet for an extra blanket when I spotted what I thought was a crocheted blanket. It wasn't, it was a crocheted pillow case and this dainty pretty afghan was folded neatley inside. I pulled it out, placed it on the bed and fell in love with it! Where had this been all this time? Andrew and I have been married ten years this fall and I had not once ever seen this afghan up here. I called my mother-n-law and she knew about the afghan. Apparently, my husband's grandmother had bought something called a daisy maker (probably circa 1980?). She made this afghan with the daisy maker and promptly put it away to keep it clean. I would love to try to make a variation of this afghan but I don't really know where to start. I will have to research this. I think it is beautiful and plan to hang it on my living room wall (once I figure out a way to safely hang it). I may need to convince my husband to paint the living room now...

Originally uploaded by cshella
Oh if this barn could talk! I would love to hear its' stories! My mother-n-law has pictures of this barn dating back to at least 1952. The landscape has changed over the years: at one time there was a wooden overhang on the left side of the barn used to store wood and feed cattle, at the other end of the barn there used to be a big pile of cow manure! Lots of people have come and gone, lots of changes have taken place, but this barn has stood through it all. The inside is very large, the beams used to hold the barn up and to build the roof are made out of whole logs! It is the grand master of this beautiful place and it welcomes us graciously with it's grand presence.

Three trees 2
Originally uploaded by cshella
I love these trees, they are black walnut and beautiful. This is looking east over the nearest field, there are actually two more fields beyond this one. When we are lucky, we get to see deer crossing this field over to the southern field next to it. There is a large swampy area in that field which is always full of water, the deer and other wildlife cross through the farm to get to it. I like to stand by these trees and just look out over the fields and ponder things. It tends to clear my mind of all of the clutter and I can actually feel myself breathing slower. My father-n-law planted these trees about ten years ago and they have grown exponentially since then. I look at them as a symbol of nature's tenacity.

A bit of Whimsy on the Farm...

Equipment copy
Originally uploaded by cshella
There is a small area of brush and old tractor equipment just to the east of the orchard. It's kind of like a tractor/farm equipment graveyard. I find it to be a most interesting place. I like to take pictures of the old equipment and think about what it was like up here when old rusty parts were like new. Fiona and Alexa decided that this piece of equipment needed to be embellished with a bit of whimsy and added some dandelions.

Apple blossom
Originally uploaded by cshella
The fruit orchard has always been one of my favorite places on the farm. It has lots of shade, lots of birds, and smells wonderful in the Spring and Fall. This apple blossom was actually on a tree that was not in the orchard at all; most of the orchard trees have bloomed already and now have leaves . This tree sits on the north east corner of the property at the intersection of two dirt roads. There are a couple of trees like that at the farm, nature just naturally spreads herself out. We don't get to taste to many apples from this tree however, as the deer usually beat us to the apples!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Trip to the Farm...

Alexa and Fiona June 2006 090
Originally uploaded by cshella
" To work with to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth."
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

My family and I are leaving this morning for the farm and will be coming home on Tuesday. I will have lots of farm pictures upon my return. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A place to catch my fleeting thoughts...

"When, at rare intervals, some thought visits one, as perchance he is walking on a railroad, then indeed the cars go by without his hearing them. But soon, by some inexorable law, our life goes by and the cars return."
-Henry David Thoreau-
I really like Henry David Thoreau's writings. This came from his essays on nature and is titled "Walking". I take this quote to basically mean that as people, we should take note of everything. If you like something that you see, take a picture of it. If you have an idea, or a creative thought, write it down. Our thoughts are fleeting and things will move on. I have been journaling since I was a junior in college. I probably have 8-10 journals that I have filled. They are filled with everything from my deepest thoughts to passing ideas for craft projects. Last week I filled another one. I started to journal in a lab notebook my husband had lying around the back office. The other day I finally embellished it. I used some left over scrapbook paper, some stamps, and some charms. I also added some wire and beading to the spine just for fun. I have been feeling a little overwhelmed with motherhood in general lately so I decided to add the quotes from the mom's group I had attended last fall. One of the coordinators of the group had printed out a bunch of different scripture quotes that we could use as meditation, I aged them and put them on the journal. I find them peaceful and quieting to read and look at. I hope you enjoy the rest of your week: if you are in an area that needs more rain I hope what we have gotten here in North Central Ohio the last several days comes your way. Even though it is late, I am going to try to finish my bunny project for my friend Jan tonight. I want to mail it out this week! Cassie

Monday, May 12, 2008

A belated Happy Mother's Day

Originally uploaded by cshella
I hope all of you moms out there had a wonderful Mother's Day. I hope that if you are not a mom yet I hope you got to tell your mother, or another woman that is a mother, to have a great day. Fiona made me a very lovely gift in preschool that I will have to post here soon. My original plan was to post a digital collage that I have been working on for my mom. But ah the best laid pans... Something was not working right with my Photo Shop program: I would go to alter an image (on a new layer) and instead of altering the image the program would flatten all my layers, or it would get stuck and I would want to use a brush and it would think I wanted to move a layer around. I finally just turned off the computer and gave it a rest. I will try again later today. But for now, enjoy these pictures I have taken. The first three were taken at my husband's grandparent's farm up in Michigan. The last two are just a couple of places at my house that are still untouched by dirty little hands and muddy paw prints...

Farm door
Originally uploaded by cshella
I love old barns. This is a picture of the side door on the barn up at the farm. As you can see by the different colors of the wood, the door was added at a much later date. I like the contrast of the very rich brown door up against the worn grays and reds of the barn. If they could talk to each other I'd imagine that the barn is telling the door all of the farm's secrets of the last fifty years...

pink flowers copy
Originally uploaded by cshella
This is a small pink wildflower that grows in the fields on the farm. This was taken in early spring so their were not too many of them in bloom yet. I had to share this one with the little bee gathering his pollen. I cropped this photo in Photo Shop and added the filter that makes the colorful center. I like to play with adding color to black and white photos. The beauty of a program like Photo Shop is that it allows me to do this and yet still have a copy of the original photo.

green glass

green glass
Originally uploaded by cshella
I have a small collection of green depression era glass. I like the soothing color of the jadite green, I find it peaceful. The small pitcher on the left is not old, it is Fenton circa 1996 but it still looks really nice on the window sill.

mason jars
Originally uploaded by cshella
Saturday morning, before the rain started on Sunday, I took this picture of some mason jars in our kitchen. It was early in the morning and the sun was bright and sharp. I love how light, shadow, and the sun can make ordinary objects, literally, into works of art.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Gift For Me...

"A daughter needs a teach her that ignorance is not an excuse for anything. To teach her not to let pride get in the way of discovering new things. To teach her to experiment for the sake of testing her own assumptions. To teach her how to focus her mind in the midst of distraction." From the book Why a Daughter needs a Dad by Gregory E. Lang
My dad refinished this 1950's typewriter stand (it had been sitting under the basement steps for the last twenty years!) and then gave it to me. I was so thrilled! He told me that when he was working on it he thought it would make a good stand for my sewing machine. I have no designated craft space (although my husband is working on it) and when I have to sew, I have to get the sewing machine out of the closet and set it up at the dining room table. Now however, I can set it on this wonderful cart and wheel it around without ever having to actually put it away. My father and I have always had such a great relationship. My mom is great too but we definitely went through mother/daughter rough spots when I was a teenager (I'm quite sure that at times I made her life really hard). My husband, Andrew told me when we first started dating that I was the first girl he had met that had such a great relationship with her father. Shortly after Fiona was born, Andrew told me that he wanted to have the same kind of relationship with her that I have with my dad. As a woman, to have a dad you can put on a pedestal is one of life's greatest gifts. I know Mother's day is coming up but I say go hug your dad today! (And hug your mom on Sunday!) Cassie

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What a lovely bit of Spring...

flower branch with rain drop
Originally uploaded by

"And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air (whence it comes and goes, like the warbling of music) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for that delight, than to know what be the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air."
From Of Gardens by Sir Francis Bacon 1561-1626

The older I get the more I love Spring. I found a book that I've had for a long time but couldn't remember where I had put it. It's called "The Fragrant Garden" Edited by Sheila Pickles. It is full of poetry and prose about spring and flowers. And it's aromatherapeutic, it smells really pretty! I am still working on my felted bunny project and will have more pictures later. But for right now I thought it would be nice to show off these lovely flowers growing around my house. I know it is such a cliche but I don't think enough people stop to look at the simple beauty around them. If you don't look, you'll never see it! Have a really wonderful day. Cassie

Dafadil 2
Originally uploaded by cshella
Fiona picked this dafadil and told me I had to put it inside on the dining room table. The morning sun was coming through the window and I couldn't resist taking it's picture!

Originally uploaded by cshella
This beautiful pansy was just beckoning to be photographed...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bunny Fluff!!

Isn't that just the cutest little bunny outline? My original intent was to get quite a bit further on this gift than I did last night. However, Angora wool is very fine, and I had to use twice as much wool as I thought I would to needle felt him. So he took a bit longer than I thought. Then I was going to get up at 5:00 a.m. to finish him (I do so love getting up early while the house is still very quiet) but when you have a four year old and a two year old the best laid plans are all too often foiled. So for now, all you will get to see is this little peek. He is very soft and I do wish you all could touch him! When this project is completed I am going to give it to my good friend Jan Vanden Hout. She is the owner of Critterville Woolery in Hudson Michigan, spinner extraordinaire, rabbit whisperer and an all around good person. Jan spins beautiful Angora yarns that I will have to show you on my next post. I really don't like to use the flash on my camera if I don't have to so I will photograph her yarn later today when the natural light is at it's brightest. Jan taught me how to spin Angora wool (although mine looks nowhere near as nice as hers!) and she taught me how to care for my two rabbits. She has about thirty Angora rabbits of her own and everyone of them is exquisitely cared for! She is just a great person and I wanted to do something nice for her, so this project, when it's done, I'm hoping will brighten her day. It makes me feel so good to know that one little act of kindness can really make such a difference in some one's day. I can't help but to think how much nicer the world would be if we all practiced this!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

This wonderful creature gives me a wonderful gift...

The Farm June 2006 080
Originally uploaded by cshella
This will be short tonight (I got a big shot in my foot today and it's still kind of sore!) but I will leave you with this lovely thought... People are not the only species to give gifts. This is JoJo, she is a wonderful, loving Angora rabbit who used to live with me. She now lives with a very good friend of mine in Michigan whom for now I will just call the Rabbit Whisperer. (You will find out more about her soon.) She not only raises these beautiful creatures but spins the most beautiful yarn from their wool. JoJo is very proud of her wool and is quite happy to share it. Along with other fiber bearing animals such as Sheep (to many kinds to name tonight!), and Goats, Alpacas, and Llamas. THIS IS WHY I LOVE WOOL!! It is amazing to me that these beautiful creatures unconditionally give us their incredible wool to use year after year. All they ask in return is a good loving home, food shelter and friendship. My gift for this week is something I am making for my friend the Rabbit Whisperer, and I will make it with some of JoJo's wool. Check in later to see what it is. Many Blessings, Cassie