It's Sew Jen{aissance}

8:59 PM

Here are a few of our current Hoop Art offerings!

Apple Tree

Work in Purple



Loving Pink

Embellished Flower

Copper Patina Bead Tree

Victorian Style Silhouette


Turn a Cat Litter Pail into a Planter

12:35 PM

Sometimes it works out perfectly that something that might otherwise be considered a piece of garbage will actually solve a lingering problem.

Such is the case with these cat litter pails. They're made out of hard plastic, and normally I keep them out in the garage pending some use before I throw them away after a few months. But in this case, I had an immediate use for these buckets, so they went straight to the back porch where we have our container garden.

This is my poor catnip plant. Usually when I buy a catnip plant the cats get to it and eat it before it has a chance. This one has lasted for 4 years now and has spread into any pot where I might have reused the dirt elsewhere. Last spring I had combine the bulk of the spreading plant into a 1.5 or 2 gallon pot where it grew happily and kept the cats stoned all summer. This year, though, it has outgrown its pot and looks sad every morning as displayed in the picture above. Not only is it pot-bound, but this thirsty bugger just isn't getting enough water.

The same holds true for Lobelia. I got her just this year, but I'm unfamiliar with growing this flower so I put her in too small of a pot. She gets very thirsty and there just isn't enough volume in the pot to hold enough water.

I got a trimming of this plant from my mom who got a trimming of this plant from her dad. My mom calls it a sedum, but even when Googling sedum I can't find a picture match. If anyone knows exactly what this is please feel free to comment any info. Apparently, this plant wasn't doing well in Wisconsin where my grandparents are, or they had a storm that knock it out or something. Well, it's flourishing here in Tennessee. It was a sick little 2-root trimming when my mom gave it to me, and now it's getting bigger than the pot I put it in.

I have some leftover spray-paint cans in the garage, so rather than look at cat litter labels I decided Jen told me to paint the buckets so they at least they didn't say SHIT ROCKS on the side.

3 buckets - I had green, light blue, and red spray paint. These only took a few hours to fully dry.

I used a 1/2 inch drill bit and drilled drainage holes into the bottom. When planting, I tend not to put rocks over the holes at the bottom because it tends to block drainage, and I've never had an issue of soil loss. I used a pliers to remove any bits of plastic still clinging around the holes.

I started with the catnip plant by filling the bucket up only quarter way full of dirt because of the size of the root structure of the catnip plant. I want to leave at least a one inch rim at the top of the bucket for proper watering.

This thing was so pot-bound it was said. Some small black ants were also using it as a home and food source, so I gave it a good spray with Pyrethrin based insecticide as well. Needless to say I won't be giving any nip to the cats within the next couple of weeks not only because of the poison but to give the plant enough time to recover from shock.

I centered the root ball in the center of the bucket and filled in the sides with dirt. As I was filling, I was reaching my hand in to make sure dirt was getting deep around the root ball so there were no air pockets. I then filled the rest of the bucket up with dirt until there was about an inch or so rim remaining.

The sedum's root ball wasn't as large as the catnip so I had to use more fill dirt. At the rate this thing is growing, though, I'm sure all of that extra dirt will be put to good use. I didn't fill this one up nearly as full with dirt, but I will as it grows.

Next up was the Lobelia. Unfortunately, I was running out of potting soil so I planted this a little deeper than I would have liked.

Lobelia is very delicate and I was a little rough packing the dirt in around the roots. I'm sure after proper watering and a day of sun she'll perk right up.

So there we have it. Happier and thriving plants and I didn't have to spend a dime on new pots.

In fact, I have 3 empty pots now for something new!

Let's not forget the sleepy garden gnome who gets a brand new napping spot. Although he doesn't protect against ants very well, he seems to be a good luck charm for the catnip.


Flea Circus

8:46 AM

At first blush I'm sure you're wondering why I'm going to blog about a flea circus.  Luckily for all of us, it's only a metaphor for what goes on in my brain. ha!

I'm so inspired by all the amazing crafts I see on the internet between the 200+ blogs in my rss feed reader to the innumerable swatches of eye candy on Pinterest,  that I want to own one of everything.  Then I think, "I bet I could figure out how that's made and do it myself".  This thought is the dangerous one. That's the one that gets my mind jumping hither and thither like a flea, sampling some of every crafty thing out there without really concentrating on one.

It's not always a bad thing to jump around because by trying new things I learn which I'm good at and which are better left to professionals.  Some fall in the middle where I can fake it well enough to at least get the decoration or pretty sparkly eye candy I was looking for in the first place. 

These past few weeks have had me back in the crochet saddle, having put down the embroidery briefly. I was putzing around on Pinterest when I came across a pin of a crochet flower done by Annie Design.   Her shop is beautiful and I was so inspired I became determined to learn how to properly read a crochet pattern and make a flower.

I had been foiled by those dang patterns before. They read like some kind of alien language.  This time would be different though, right? All that "ch 6  slst to join, ch2 *dc2 into ring ch2 hdc1 into first ch* x12" blather was going to make sense, dammit!   After hunting down online tutorials and practicing following the patterns, I was indeed able to make flowers! WOO!!!

Here's the eye candy!

Layered Flower using DMC Cotton Floss - Orange Tones

Layered Flower using DMC Cotton Floss Pinks & Yellow

Layered Flower using Simply Soft Worsted Weight Yarn

Layered flower size difference

For the Floss flowers I used a size B 2.25mm (US) crochet hook. The strands tended to want to separate, well, because they're intended to when embroidering. I used a  size C 4mm (US) crochet hook for the yarn flower and had some issues with the yarn separating there as well. I have to wonder if it's because the yarn is really old, or if I just chose the wrong kind of yarn. (Simply Soft is a medium weight, size 4 yarn, which I had used previously to make a baby blanket so it was in my stash.)  You can see in that last pic how different the same pattern turns out based on the size of the yarn/thread used.

Here is my effort using sock yarn:

Fuzzy Sock Yarn from the MIL
I loved working with the sock yarn; it just flew through the hook and didn't give me a single bit of trouble. However, it makes for a fuzzy looking flower and tends to want to curl in on itself. I might iron it down if I decide to use it in a project.  My MIL gave me this teeny tiny ball of yarn and I'm sad to have gone through it so quickly.  Apparently it was the remainder of my brother-in-law's hat.  Yay for scraps! :)

Here I've discovered the use of cabone rings!

1" and 1/2 " diameter plastic rings with single crochet around.
This will take some practice on my part. I don't quite like the way the interior of the ring looks like the yarn is doubled, there on the bottom part. I'm not sure if I did too many stitches or if that's just how it's meant to look. Must research that.  These have a gazillion uses, some of which will include jewelry and embroidery! ;)

Here are my efforts using Perle Cotton by DMC:

Yep, that's a butterfly!
These were using Perle Cotton size 5, color 4200 which is a lovely variegated selection of pale and bright pinks with even a touch of peach and orange. The pattern I found for these flowers listed them as being for barrettes. They are an appropriate size for that, but you'd want to layer them or put a bead in the middle to cover up that gaping hole.

Speaking of gaping holes.. get ready for another flea jump.  I mentioned on facebook that I was finally learning to crochet in the round and a friend of mine said once I could do that I'd be able to do Amigurumi.  Ya know, I've always admired those cute lil crochet critters.  Huh!  Time I figured out how to do one whilst I have these crochet hooks out!

Right! Let's get a bunch of Amigurumi books from the library and figure out how to do these now that I can read a pattern.  Oh wait. That gaping hole we were talking about is not good for Amigurumi because the stuffing will fall out. Hrm. Well, better learn to do the "magic ring" technique! Yea. No problemo.  Here we go!

After a couple of dozen tries and several knots of yarn later, I am back to embroidery. I haven't given up on the magic ring, I've watched about a dozen video tutorials on how to do it. I either have a learning deficiency or these people are from some other planet that allows them to do things with their fingers that my human hands cannot.  I will eventually figure it out.  My MIL has promised to work with me on one and knowing what a pain the bottom it's going to be I will try to take photos through the process to share with you.

What I learned:

1. Crochet patterns aren't as hard as they seem as long as you read them start to finish before beginning your project.
2. Crochet charts are evil and I've put off trying to learn to read them, maybe forever.
3. Cotton Floss is not very forgiving and you have to be very careful not to let the strands separate or it shows.
4. Cotton Floss is fussy about being undone and redone and will more often than not separate on you. When this happened to me, I started over with a new piece and cut my losses. (Literally!)
5. Sock yarn is a joy but makes for fuzzy flowers. I am sure there are similar yarn weights with less wool in them that would be less fuzzy. Finding them is on my to-do list.
6. The magic ring is as elusive to me as the One Ring was to Sauron.
7.  When you're at the point where you want to scream and stab someone with your crochet hook, stop your current project and start another; like this:

Belle Ruffled Spiral Scarf

Yep, I made this while watching Jurassic Park on the Family channel. I started just as the T-Rex was eating the lawyer out of the port-a-potty and finished up during Jurassic Park III when Michael Jeter was left for bait.  The yarn I used was Lion brand Homespun color 338 Nouveau, which I also got from the MIL. (She has moved on to using specialty yarns, like those hand dyed by Llamas and spun from grass by monkeys.)  The pattern instructions were very easy to follow (this being a beginner level pattern) and was free to download.  I found it quite amazing that looking on Lion's website at the actual Homespun yarn color Nouveau I would never have guessed it would look like what you see above.  It's described as having chocolate, grey, and tan.  Maybe they've changed the dye lot? I would never have purchased it as it's shown, that's for sure.  But it did turn out to have lovely colors.

Now it's time for me to get back to my beloved embroidery. For a final sneak peek, here's a taste of what will be coming to our new shop on Etsy!

A Celebration of Purple

Our Potted Garden - June 1

1:53 PM

Yellow African Daisy
Over the past month the garden has really taken off. Less rain and more sunshine has done all of my plants wonders. I ended up losing a few plants from too much water with all the rain, and now the survivors reach for the sun's rays.

I've harvested a large ziploc bag of basil already, and it looks like I'm about to get more.

Beefsteak Tomato
I've got only 2 tomatoes so far, but I anticipate more fruit in the coming month.

Oregano and Boxwood Basil
My herbs have been very slow to grow except for the past two weeks.

3 of our 4 cats love this stuff. I think I need to upgrade to a larger pot.

I'm going to need a bigger pot for this thing, or maybe I'll stick it in the ground where the lawnmowers won't get it.

For some reason the squirrels and raccoons like to punish my chives when there's no food in the feeders. These add an interesting flavor to my homemade pizza.

Jen hates dill. I'll have to find some recipes that have subtle use of it so maybe Jen will change her mind about it. She hates curry, but I've used tiny amounts of it in dishes which have been acceptable (delicious!). I'm not a big fan of food smothered in curry either, to be honest, but it can add so much to a dish when used moderately.

The Gerbera had a very slow month. We brought it home from the store with beautiful flowers, those died off and then it seemed to go dormant for awhile. Now the buds and flowers seems to cycle routinely. There are currently about 7 flowers with more buds on the way.

I'm thinking I'm going to have to transplant my Lobelia into a bigger pot. It's a thirsty plant and I can't keep it watered.

Mint with Verbena in the background
I have to figure out harvesting times for the mint. It seems to be growing in cycles, and I have to figure out when to get usable leaves.


bell pepper
I'm hoping that by putting 3 plants in one pot I can pot-bound these to make the fruit grow faster.

Purple African Daisy

Roma Tomato
I have 2 'maters so far!

This has a slow start but is now starting to take off. Soup this fall!

Thanks for reading! - TKN

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