Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Don't miss The Vermont Quilt Festival June 29 - July 1, 2012

"Honey, I'm Home" by Hope Johnson, Shelburne, VT 2009

I've been busy as a bee and almost forgot to tell my readers, The Vermont Quilt Festival is this weekend! It is an annual event for me since discovering it several years ago. For more information visit their website : Vermont Quilt Festival  or call 1-800-872-0034. Definitely rearrange your schedule to take it in!  You won’t regret it!!

Close-Up of "Honey, I'm Home" Quilt was started in 1986 and completed in 2009. Honeybees are rendered in correct proportion to each other and have physical characteristics particular to the queen, workers and drones. The wings are made of silk organza and hand embroidered with Sulky thread.

WHEN: June 29-July 1, 2012 (Fri-Sat 9 a.m.-6 p.m.) (Sun 9 a.m.-3 p.m.) Special awards night June 28th

WHERE: Champlain Valley Expo, 105 Pearl Street, Essex Junction, Vermont (This site is air-conditioned making it a comfortable event regardless how hot the day might be.)

COST: $12 adults one day; 2 & 3 day passes and discounted group rates also available. See their website: Vermont Quilt Festival 

This event is a big deal! It will be a feast for your eyes to be sure!! It is New England’s oldest and largest quilt event!! Exhibit entries come from all over the US, Canada and abroad. Featured are Special Events, classes with experts in the field, appraisals, awesome vendors and vendor demonstrations.  Don’t forget your camera, but respect their photography rules of personal use only and if posting to websites crediting the artist(s) is critical!

Do plan on wearing comfortable walking shoes, or rent wheel chairs for those with walking issues.  I take the day before and after to rest up for and after the event! Plan on taking the whole day if you can. If you can’t, the entry fee is still well worth even two-three hours of viewing pleasure and be sure to pack a small snack in your bag. There is a food pavilion to sit a spell, rest your feet and re-energize yourself! It is amazing to me every year that I seem to be like the Ever-Ready Bunny when it comes to this show!  It is so delightful that your body won't cry, "Enough!" until you collapse in your car to return home!

This event alone, is enough to stimulate your creativity for the entire year!  It will make you proud to see what is privately created by infamous folk artists like yourselves!  Of course famous quilters will be there too! Don't miss it!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

And Now...

The Brycer has come and gone and I have pulled materials for my next projects.  I have decided to first finish 72 pairs of fleece socks for this winter’s craft shows.  I like to think of it as my “factory work”. When the kids were young and needed chauffeuring to different activities, I tied fishing leaders for a time. There would be dry spells with no work when I would fret and worry and then lay out on their poor ears a line they repeat to me to this day, "If I'm not here when you get home from school, I've gone to the factory!" I must add that they learned my Scarlet O'Hara drama well and the re-telling of this story along with creating their own dramas comes back to haunt me!

I never did go off to the factory, except to do flu shot clinics when we would simply go to vaccinate the workers with their flu shots for the year.  I did get a peek at factory line production however, and found something appealing in repetitive sort of work.  Perhaps after being a nurse and a special educator, I thought it would be fun to assemble something and count how many I had done, for I was never sure if I could count on my students to really make it to grade level in their reading and there were days that I wasn’t sure that progress of any sort was being made.  The same for my nursing days; despite great treatment plans I would inevitably end up reading about one of my patients in the obituaries.  And parenting, suffice it to say doesn't always guarantee predictable results either.

So in short, there is something quite satisfying about making fleece socks.  They are bright and colorful, fun to cut out and touch their softness, bright colors and prints and still more fun to stitch them up and count them when I am done! At last, satisfying factory work right in my own home.  

Stitching socks is but an interim job however.  It is a "warm up" exercise for what is to come next, as I sketch out variations of a new project and design patterns that I can hardly wait to try out!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Brycer is Coming

We have a house cleaner named Bryce.  His name has become synonymous with “clean” so much so,  that we also use it as a verb, as he is coming to Bryce the house.

A reminder that Bryce is coming is also a threat and the dread spreads as it means that we all have to do our part to de-clutter and pre-clean before he gets here. Many times this means starting days before, picking up our piles and returning everything to its place.  We can be glad that he only comes once a month and stays only a few hours at a time, though we truly enjoy him and love his effect on our house. We are just not neat by nature!

The day before Bryce arrives began like many others, putzing a bit, and attempting to put order to the house.  It could almost be a lazy day as I have been feeling rather uninspired.  I started pulling books and patterns off the shelf and before I knew it I found myself with my notebook brainstorming and sketching furiously as one idea threw me to the next. I resisted running to my shelves in the basement to start pulling fabrics out and putting them together. The voice in my head that says "Jane, you have piles of pre-cut projects... you should be sewing" was quickly stifled, as my excitement and involvement in the creative process grew.

And then it hit me: Bryce will be here tomorrow.

So I make nice neat lists of what I envision these new projects will become and I resolve to do the laundry and continue putzing at clearing the clutter so that he can find the floors and the counter tops to clean.  I will join his cause for anther day, anxiously awaiting his visit and once it is over, let the living and mess making begin anew!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Tomato Is Born

While my readers patiently wait for me to learn the computer part of getting stuff up and into my store on Etsy, as well as entering my own blogs, I want to tell you why my large plump tomato pincushions are one of my favorite pincushions.

This is a true story and was written many years ago after we had moved from Denver, Colorado to Orwell, Vermont.  We were seeking a less stressful way of life, though little did we know that we were simply trading our stresses.  Leaving behind city ways, rush hour traffic, a job with good benefits, and cross bussing our kids for the purpose of racial equality for greener pastures literally, a rustic farmhouse and all that went with it, long beautiful commutes and many wonderful stories.  We are still in Vermont, but have since moved a couple of towns away, to a college town, where we have the best of both worlds.  We aren’t quite so rural, have some of the cultural opportunities that we had left behind, and are but twenty minutes from a small city that offers us what city folk need, jobs and a few more amenities than found at our local mom and pop small town shops.  Life is good!

The Tomato Farmer

I had no clue that I was to become a tomato farmer when we decided to move to The Old Wilcox Farm.  We had come from the city and were excited about our new life.  Not wanting to appear too green at country ways, I moved into the garden just as I had moved into the old farm house.  I first cleaned out the garden and then filled the space.  The garden was so huge compared to anything I had known in the city, that it didn’t matter what I put in it.  My only goal was to fill it.  I only wanted to appear to be a real country woman.  I found nothing wrong with buying my produce at the supermarket.  Besides, we were renting and our landlords should be made comfortable with our care of their house and land.

To my surprise I found pleasure sitting out on the ground in the garden playing in the dirt.  The garden overlooked the lower barn, pastures, and orchard, all surrounded  by woodland, a view that was breath taking.  The other advantage of this endeavor was that no one else was interested in joining me.  It appeared to be too much like work for my girls, and it soon became a place of refuge, a haven of my own.  It was a quiet place, with no bickering or demands.  Pulling weeds, I came to realize, was also therapeutic!  With every weed I pulled, came satisfaction, like eradicating evel from the world.  I filled my mind and heart with the spacious country view and air, so healthy and beautiful, so natural and right.

Then I got out my old seed box, full of seeds that I had dreamt of planting, for I had always been a farmer in my heart.  It was late enough in the season that I couldn’t be faulted if nothing came of my endeavors.  And so I pulled weeds and planted by seeds.  Although I had many seeds, I found that there was still three fourths of the garden empty when I had finished.  Needing more therapy, I then decided to fill the rest of the garden with the small tomato seedlings growing wild to the side of the garden.  They were the result of my landlord cleaning out her root cellar.  She had thrown out her spoiled produce from the harvest of the year before.  Then I planted and planted and planted the small tomato plants that I later counted and counted and counted.  There were ninety-five in all.

The rain came along with sun, and then more rain and sun and my seeds grew, though the real success were the tomato plants.  They grew and grew and grew!  At last our garden had become the envy of every gardener.  We not only had impressed our landlords, but any who came to our farm visit or work.  We hadn’t a clue what we were doing, but the garden became our joy.

The little plants spread and grew into tomato trees.  Their fruit was bountiful and voluptuously large. Though squeamish about bugs and worms, the tomato plants became like pets and I found myself picking off tomato bugs.  Forgetting that I didn’t have my garden gloves on, I would pull off gross, disgusting intruders.  They too were fat and healthy, like the fruit they wanted to feast upon.  I was not about to have my little pets violated.  I would be their loyal protector!

I still had not realized that I had a tomato orchard and was a true farmer!

I defended my crop and was becoming a real country woman, complete with dirt beneath my nails. Though my produce had true monetary value, for they were not just beautiful, but organic as well, I invested my wealth in our landlords, and neighbors and gained the respect and acceptance of our local Vermont village, not usually open to “flat-landers” like ourselves, though we had come from the mile-high city and our mountains bigger than these wonderfully green hills.  Tomatoes were given away by the bag and box full, along with our bumper crop of pumpkins.

 At Christmas, I received a special gift of honor from my landlord, a true tribute to my tomatoes, that then filled my pantry shelves as well as filled my freezer: a lovely ceramic tomato dish.  This is not just a dish to me, but a true trophy to commemorate my days of being a tomato farmer.  With it came a note saying it reminded her of my tomatoes, that were like none she or I had ever seen before.  I must give credit where it is due, for they had been hers and were no ordinary tomato plants.  They were the largest and beefiest tomatoes and I was a real tomato farmer!

This story is dedicated to Debbie K. of Bar Harbor, Maine, our landlord and friend.  It was by her country garden inspiration that my first tomatoes grew and now my over-sized, plump tomato pincushions.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First Showcase: Vegetable and Fruit Pincushions

My pincushions will be the first items to be showcased in my ETSY shop and specifically my fruit and vegetable pincushions.  In my small rural Vermont area I am known as The Pincushion Lady.  My pincushions are made of re-felted wool blend felt or 100% felted wool.  Most, except  the mini pincushions and some designer pincushions, are tightly hand-packed with crushed walnut shell to keep your pins and needles sharp.  They are bright and colorful, and I have it on good authority that they delight both sewers and non-sewers alike for they are as decorative as they are functional.

My fruit and vegetable pincushions are the first category of pincushions that I am bringing to my viewer, though do keep watch for I have many other variety of pincushions to follow.  I have flower pot pincushions, mini pincushions, biscornu pincushions, penny rug pincushions, and also some that I call my designer pincushions,

My fruits and vegetable pincushions are fun and colorful whether displayed and used singly or grouped together . I always forget what is considered a fruit and which a vegetable, but when I looked it up, the definition doesn’t seem to help. If it has seeds it is considered a fruit, but none of my pincushions have seeds, and yet many are definitely fruits. So however you think of tomatoes, and pumpkins, know that they are as colorful and fun as my plums, pears, apples, and oranges!

The traditional tomato pincushion is one of my most popular and comes in different sizes ranging from the 2 pound over-sized variety to the mini-size of only ½ ounce.  The mini-sized are filled with polyester instead of the crushed walnut shell filling.

My pumpkin pincushions, likewise come in large, medium or mini-sized and all make nice fall decorations, and will last season after season or use them year round.

My customers requested smaller pincushions, as my initial pincushions were designed for serious sewers like myself that like to keep many projects going and use many pins. I now offer medium sized and smaller pincushions learning that many sewers follow the rule to never sew over their pins, and consequently don’t use as many pins as I do. Whichever size you prefer, please note that there are hand crafted needle books to go with my pumpkin and tomato pincushions making for a duet that will please any quilter or crafter! Strawberry needle books are sized smaller and are lovely and useful added to whatever fruit you select.

One young customer pointed out to me that my strawberry needle books also make great little books to keep your pierced ear rings in, by simply poking your wires or posts through the soft wool inside.  Decorative stick  or lapel pins can be safely kept in the top flap.  The larger needlebooks could be used for the same purpose.

These are only the first of my pincushions to be showcased.  Each item is listed singly at this time as each of my creations are uniquely different.  If an item is sold out, know that I will quickly replace it as soon as I can.  Items can also be special ordered by contacting me. I am learning as I go how many are needed to supply my local shows and my internet market.  Thank you for shopping at Little House Home Arts Etsy Shop and do come back to see my other variety of pincushions as well as other creations.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

At last…

With the latest show behind me, I am at last able to start posting items for sale in my Etsy shop. I am so excited to be bringing my creations from my home in Vermont to yours.

I tell everyone at my sales that the fun is in the stitching, but I remember too well the days when I only had time to dream of making hand-made heirloom items, as I was too busy working and caring for my family and today life seems to be faster than ever! If, however, you have the time for the joy of making your own items, I will be featuring my patterns and kits as well.

Being retired, I now have time to create unique, one-of-a-kind hand-crafted pieces of art that are both personal and functional and range from primitive and traditional to more contemporary in style and design.  

I plan to post items for sale after showcasing an individual category of my work on my blog.