Filet Gumbo and Filet Crow

What a nice day it was, through a bit nippy. So much got done that I felt like a paragon of efficiency. The Red House is ready for the next visitors, I got a fun custom sweatshirt from the talented Kimberly of Side Hustle Shirts (photo later), and I enjoyed a really special time with friends at lunch. That was the gumbo part.

From where I had lunch I could almost see our place. It’s over the far ridge.

Community is important, and with all the restrictions easing, it’s been a real pleasure to enjoy time with friends and meet new people to expand my community. It was very sweet of our friend Linda to invite a few women over for lunch today. It felt both special and normal at the same time. It’s healing to me to feel part of a group again, and I can’t wait to do more of this, like people used to do in the before times.

And the gumbo was so good. I need to eat that more!

Of course, it’s always good to be home with one’s spouse and his fancy mustache.

As for filet crows, I finished the little filet crochet curtain I started a few days ago. It was fun to do and I figured out how to do a bigger project with other yarn. The key is extended double crochet, which will make the squares more…square. You add an extra loop to make the stitches a tad taller.

Rectangles, not squares.

As my coworker said today, it looks more like a pigeon than a crow, since I did it left to right rather than top to bottom. But, since it’s cotton, I can block and starch it to stretch it a bit.

At least you can tell it’s a bird.

Most important is that I enjoyed making this. It came out the right size to be a curtain in the tack room, too. Sadly, I used up five of my eight skeins of fancy Rowan organic cotton, so I can’t make a pair!

Tomorrow I’m starting a smaller scale filet crochet project, which I hope will get it all out of my system and I can go back to knitting. Since the temperature blanket I designed uses many colors, I’ll wait a bit to start it. Why? It’s time for another road trip! Talk to you from the road tomorrow!

You Can Certainly Fill an Empty Day

Welcome rain showed up overnight and throughout the day. That made us all happy but sure changed our plans! I had worked really hard to arrange to get the farrier to do the horses’ feet in time for me to then get to lessons for my two horses.

I need a manicure

The rain (and car trouble for the farrier) ended that careful plan, so when I finished work, I thought I’d have lots of time to think more thoughts about my next craft project (which I designed for about an hour while trying to get to sleep last night). But no.

That’s no lie!

I ended up doing practically every one of those things I’ve been meaning to get around to! Boom! Future horse stuff scheduled. Boom! Internet access at the Red House secured (guests coming soon!). Boom! Eye doctor appointment rescheduled, since the horse stuff conflicted. Boom! Packed for an upcoming trip. Wow, I’m flexible and a change management whiz!

When I finished packing I was treated to the sun coming in to light up my purple glass.

I wrote up all sorts of instructions and did a bunch of Master Naturalist work (it takes me almost as long to write up meeting notes as a meeting takes!). I guess I need more rainy days that keep me inside and away from those tempting horses and the wildlife.

I ran out to see this tiny sliver of setting sun. Ahh.

Yesterday I wrote so much about, of all things, a pretty weed, for the Master Naturalist blog that I didn’t blog here. I didn’t have much to say anyway, since I was upset at current events and annoying people. You might enjoy learning about henbit dead nettle, though, so check it out.

It IS pretty and chickens love it.

Back to crocheting a bird and not watching the news.

Trials and Triumphs with Crochet

As you are probably aware, I’ve been on a crocheting kick for about six months or so. It’s nice to take a break sometimes, even though I’m still a knitter in my mind! I did finally finish the rug or afghan I’ve been working on and wanted to focus on what I learned from my first mosaic crochet project.

Finished product — only took two months!

First, I love mosaic crochet, as long as it’s in the round. Doing it back and forth requires cutting the yarn on every row. Nope. That’s not gonna happen. I look forward to trying something else, maybe a little less chaotic, in the future. I always like techniques where you gradually build up a pattern, because wanting to see how it comes out keeps me going. That’s why I like fair isle knitting, mitered squares, entrelac, and lace.

Edging

Second, I’m happy with the sturdy fabric I ended up with, because it can be used in more than one way. So, I’ll consider this one a triumph.

It is a good pet comforter.

Third, the negatives. I ended up having to use two shades of black (one actually charcoal gray) and in my zeal to make the project a little larger chose accent colors without enough contrast. Oh, and the yarn with the long self stripes should have been managed in a more disciplined fashion. There are a few awkward bits of color in there. Nonetheless, it’s a cheerful thing.

See how some look black and some have splotches. Not ideal.

Now for the trials. I didn’t have a new project set out for an immediate start (I want to do a temperature blanket using mitered squares for high and low temperatures of the day but haven’t picked yarn or colors – I made a small one for the Tempestry project a few years ago but seem to have neglected to upload it to Ravelry). What I did have was some organic cotton yarn that had been sitting in its original box for many years, probably close to 30 now. It popped up when unpacking stuff from my old house and was nagging me.

So, I thought to myself, hey, I want curtains in the tack room. I could make curtains out of this rustic-looking stuff. All I have to do is wind it up, find a pattern, and go. I could do filet crochet! It’s a thing that gradually builds up a design and is lots of fun (it uses a mesh to make images).

This photo is from the excellent Interweave article linked above.

Yeah, right. There aren’t as many filet crochet patterns out there as I had hoped, and of course my ancient books full of patterns are still packed up. I also think I searched when I was sleepy. But that’s okay, I eventually found a free design of a crow, which fits rather well, since the Hermits’ Rest has a murder that I enjoy watching often.

Oh, if only mine ended up looking even vaguely like this, I’d be happy.

I was ready to go! However, that lovely Rowan California Cotton that has a lot going for it is not lovely to wind up.

See, it’s ll natural.

I put the first hank on the swift and started to wind it. That was an absolute disaster. The hanks are rather large, so the swift ended up very high. It simply would not wind, even if I tried to lower the yarn with my hand. I ended up having a real mess to rescue the first hank that included cutting it in half and dealing with oh so many knotty areas.

Sad little balls of yarn

Luckily I’m creative and have helpful family members to give me ideas. I ended up dragging my aluminum step ladder into the office and attaching the ball winder to it. Ta da! The heights worked out much better.

It’s working!

I’m pretty sure I wound the rest of the skeins of yarn in less time than I did the first one. That was a little frustrating.

Here you can see the ladder better, and evidence of my love of clutter.

Then I started to do my project. Of course, I had to add to it. There are now checkerboards on the ends, which look all right, I guess. I also decided to crochet the crow from end to end rather than from bottom to top as was suggested. I think that means my crow will be a bit more squished and look more like a robin or something, due to filet crochet squares not being actually square.

The right side shows the branch beginning. Yeah, not so great.

Well, I’m the only person who will care, since very few people go into the tack room other than me. Maybe it will be a tablecloth instead. It turns out the thing’s pretty big. Most filet crochet is done with crochet cotton, not DK weight yarn, you see. I have a feeling I’ll be trying something else to fulfill my filet crochet itch, a project that makes me appear more competent!

Let’s hope I have enough yarn.

PS: Just to let you faithful readers know, I have come up with some ideas to make the blog more interesting again, so stay tuned. I will get my blogging mojo back!

Thursday in Pictures

Almost done! Black finishing border next.
Young pond slider checking to see if I’ve left yet.
Explorers
Sparrows inspecting my dressage markers.
I bothered a huge fire ant colony by moving an upside down feed tub.
What a beauty.
Pollination process
Flies are also pollinators.
Sunset
Start of the final edge
He makes everything good.

This week has exhausted me. I will be more wordy tomorrow, maybe.

Happiness Is Birds and Beasts

This is an interesting part of my life. Outside of me, things are challenging. Inside of me, I’m feeling better than I ever have. I wish I’d learned to focus on what I can influence and let other stuff go much earlier in life. But I think only experience teaches us how important this is and helps us do it.

Vlassic is a great role model. Really lives in the moment!

I had a lovely day. Birds made me so happy, just watching them. I watched the resident great blue heron looking for food in the new pond and wondered if there are fish in there now.

Then I just watched our sparrows traveling from tree to tree, and was really impressed at how many bugs a mockingbird got while I was getting the mail. That bird was busy, and it seemed very pleased with itself.

The beast that made my day happy was Apache. We had quite a productive day. We’ve been working on cantering after jumping and in the round pen. He’s really improved since our last lesson. He was a jumping fiend today and did his cantering exercise in the round pen the best he’s done so far. He has figured out what I want him to do, and he actually seems proud of himself.

I’ve got skills.

And we had a fun ride, too, with improved skills and encouraging calmness when we went out to ride around. Things that used to be hard are getting easier, and his demeanor is so much calmer. Y’all, I keep saying this, but I’m still blown away at how much better things are getting between us. We’re a team!

See how calm I am. I’m tired from all that cantering.

I know I’m feeling good when I get goofy. For the past few days I’ve been doing arts and crafts at the horse pens. I’m making a decorative weaving with the strings that hold hay bales together. Well, that’s re-using a waste product, right?

So far, it’s mostly warp.

I’ll need more string soon, but that’s okay, since they need more hay.

Sure, some grass is here, but it’s winter, Mom!

You know, having a calm and peaceful part of my life took a lot of work. So I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it.

Crafty Crafting

It’s nice to be back to normal. Life here is just fine, working hard, playing with horses, and enjoying new plants as they return each season. No complaints.

Shepherd‘s purse is back!

I’m glad I’ve relaxed about a lot of things, like caring about people’s opinions of me, trying to lose weight…etc. One thing I’ve also let go of is trying to be perfect in my crafts. I always used to beat myself up over mistakes. Now I just go with it.

I’ve been putting a very bright border on the mosaic rug I’m working on. About halfway through, I realized the first row should have been the orange color. Shoot. But I just kept going. Now that I got to the end, I got crafty.

The example, with slip stitch embellishment at top.

I decided to add some embellishments in the right color and I think it looks cute! I’m just slip stitching, and I think it looks correct from a distance and interesting up close. I’m going to add another border repeat in two other colors. Then poor, patient Rollie will finally get their Christmas gift!

Here’s to crafty crafts and embracing imperfections!

Rug Making

I finally got all the squares for the rug or thick blanket I made for a Christmas gift sewn together. That was not easy on my hands and arm, because I used a twisty joining stitch, the same one I’ve been using, but tighter. I’ll be glad for a break from that!

Así feared, the dark squares didn’t work out.

Yeah, I knew the dark purple would not contrast enough. But up close it looks all right. Maybe the recipient will put furniture on that one corner.

And some of the multiple colored ones look funny.

I did learn a lot about the mosaic technique, though, and I sure enjoy it. Look how cool the back looks.

Spirals!

I like the technique so much that I decided to make a mosaic border in two of the brighter colors. It will look like a Greek pattern. Here’s the chart.

I think it will end up cheerful and useful.

In the meantime, here’s the sunset.

Day is done.

And here are horses who thought they’d escaped but foolishly ran back into the other pasture. Silly beasts.

Rural Excitement

Lots of excitement here in rural Milam County today. Mostly good! This morning I got ingredients and made bean soup to use leftover Christmas ham. It was great. No photos. We ate it.

It made me feel on top of the world, like this hill climbing muddy-hooves guy.

I then ran into the mobile office bedroom where I laid out the squares of the blanket or rug I made for my son’s partner’s Christmas gift. I almost got it done in time!

One possible arrangement

The squares are very thick because it’s mosaic crochet. I enjoyed making the squares! I may do a mosaic border, too.

Happy mosaic star.

After a delicious sopapilla coffee and gossip with my friend at Cloud 9 Coffee, I got the horses ready and went for lessons. What’s exciting about that? I DROVE! I successfully pulled the horse trailer to lessons. I wasn’t even nervous, just cautious. I’m so proud of myself becoming more independent.

I was your precious cargo!

The lesson was just as successful. I’m making so much progress, even with Drew and his teen angst. Today I got to deal with his decision that he was done, and I lived! There were also moments of calm and learning. We made a square, turning on the forehand or something like that. It was hard. I DID IT.

When I was done, Tarrin explained how he should be acting. He’s getting there.

My big excitement was riding Apache today. He had us laughing as he tried to avoid trotting over poles. He had us gasping in amazement when he did the corner thing at a trot just like he’d always done it for years. We both were coordinated! I used my aids! I moved him around. It felt good.

I kissed him.

His reward for good work was getting to go through the cowboy curtain, which doesn’t intimidate him one bit. In fact, he seems to like draping the hanging cords across his face when he went through, like it felt good. It made me laugh.

Tarrin said he deserves a blue ribbon

It was just a great day for the spotted one. He even dealt with a scary new trash container like a pro. (It’s behind me.) We are becoming a real team.

What’s this?

More excitement happened on the way home. On our way out we saw a water leak. On the way back it was still blasting away. I wonder if people lost water pressure?

Boom

The final excitement of the day was the sunset. Gee whiz it was a spectacular way to end the day. Colors were everywhere in every direction.

Happy exciting Tuesday from rural Texas.

Community Holiday Joy

Maybe residents of our small town are sick of hearing about it, but I’m gonna say it again: Cameron is like a new town this season. I’m so grateful to all the folks who have worked so hard to turn the town around over the past year, especially everyone on the Chamber of Commerce Board. Just wow.

Honest, the square is gorgeous when not captured through car windows

There are lights everywhere this year, unlike before, when it was a few sparse displays on some of the more chipper businesses. This year, wow!

Even this building looks good!

And check out tonight’s fun event at the new Venue, the Sip and Shop.

Look at this beautiful building and the beautiful vendors!

I had so much fun hanging out here with my friends and seeing what the vendors (some of whom also are friends) had to offer.

Beautiful decorations and snacks

I got some wonderful things, you know, to support local artists and bakers. Or for fun. My favorite thing is my hat. It has a bird on it. Pamela had a hat, too.

It was just a beautiful night, and the Venue looks so beautiful! I’m so proud of the work everyone has done on this project. I admit one team member is my kid. The new staircase is awesome and the new bathroom wallpaper made me so happy. What a great project the team has completed!

Sometimes I feel alone and like an actual hermit. But events like this, where everyone is so kind and welcoming, make me feel a part of something. We even tried to recruit our jeweler friend, Mary, to be a Master Naturalist. Community peer pressure! That’s holiday magic, right there.

I got this gorgeous piece of labradorite made into a pendant by Mary. The copper backing is stamped with an “om” stamp. It’s very special.

When we get down on our fellow humans, we need to remember how communities can come together and support each other. I saw so much networking, generosity, and fellowship tonight that I couldn’t stop smiling.

So much smiling! And sweets!

That, too, was a holiday miracle. Now enjoy some friends and vendors who made Cameron, Texas magical tonight.

Oh, Germs

My strep symptoms are NOT going away as fast as I’d like. Oh well, it rained off and on all day again, so I couldn’t have done much other than work, anyway. At least I didn’t have to talk much.

Since I took no pictures today, let’s play spot the snapping turtle from last week.

Other than thinking about project lifecycles all day, the highlights of my day were finding some snow geese in the sky and having a good talk with my dear friend, Mike. He reminded me once again that he will listen to me. Of course, when I’m all overwhelmed with negativity, I never remember to call my support network. Maybe my first tattoo should say

Remember your true friends

Tomorrow should be a good day with sun and true friends and horses. Come on, antibiotics, kick in! Back to Starburst: the blanket.

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