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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Victorian Lattice Lace

I've been working on a table runner and a lace edged pillow case in various patterns of Victorian Lattice Lace and decided to design and work up my own pattern.  As Halloween is coming I took my inspiration from there.  One word, I can't draw.  My pattern designs never end up looking like what they are to other people, but I always know what I mean.

Lattice lace is a design made up of open and closed squares that are crocheted using single, double and/or treble crochet and chain stitch.  The shaded areas are double or treble crochet and the open areas are the corresponding number of chain stitch.  Given this I printed out graph paper (as it is nearly impossible to find it in stores now) and drew the design on the graph paper then colored in the lines.

You see what I mean about drawing

I decided to use double crochet.  The material is size 10 cotton crochet thread and a size 7 hook.  If you don't do a lot of crocheting you don't know that as the number gets larger the hook and thread get smaller.  Here is the hook.

I first did the Jack-o-lantern then the words as this piece is worked from the bottom up.

Looks OK, but I wanted a smoother edge and a more halloweenish color.  So, I added a border.  The v shaped stitch is called a lacet stitch and it is worked over two blocks.

Into a dye bath of yellow onion skin and, voila...

I'm very happy with the way it came out.  Stay tuned for more designs.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blueberries, peaches and raspberries...Oh My

This has been an amazing season in the North East for blueberries.  I don't remember one this long.  The first time I went blueberry picking was at a small farm and I was just looking for enough to make some blueberry muffins for friends who were coming to see my new place.  It was a bit difficult as my walker doesn't do heavy undergrowth that well, but it was also fun.  Below is my haul and the muffins.

Well, then my sister calls and says "you are coming berry picking with me".  OK.  The place she goes has blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and peaches.  We went for blackberries, which were not ready yet, and blueberries.  I decided I wanted peaches too.

I decided to do the blueberries in a light syrup (1 part sugar, 2 parts water) because I want to use them later for baking.  I got three quarts of blueberries.  I then turned to the peaches.  Preserves, that sounded good.  Well, you have to peel and pit the peaches for preserves.  So, into boiling water for a minute they go, then into a cold water bath.  Most of them just slipped out of their skins, some I needed to take a good paring knife to get the skins off.  Then cut in half or quarters to get the pit out.

Dice them up, and into a large pot with sugar and some pectin (I used powdered).

Boil for a few minutes and into half pint jars.  A word here on canning jars.  I tried the Mainstay jars as they were a dollar cheaper and there were three more jars in the box...never again.  I had a few that didn't seal and that has never happened with Ball jars.  I'll stick with the Ball brand thank you.  I had a few peaches left over from the preserves recipe so I put them in a quart and a half jar with a light syrup.

Then my sister calls again.  Can you tell we come from the same family.  This time we were hunting the elusive blackberries.  I don't like blackberries, but said I'd help pick for her if she would help me get more peaches.  I wanted to try a Honey Spiced peaches recipe.  What the brat (yes, she is my older sister by a year and a half) didn't tell me is that blackberry bushes have HUGE thorns!  Yikes...several scratches on my legs and arms later we had a good haul of blackberries for her and more peaches for me.

The Honey Spiced Peaches recipe I have said to leave the fruit whole.  Well, all I could think of was trying to pit them after they have been in a honey syrup for several months...slippery.  So I decided to pit them.  The spiced part is whole Allspice, whole Cloves and Cinnamon sticks.  The honey syrup is 2 parts syrup to 1 part sugar.  I used pint jars here.

Off to the PYO farm again, this time for raspberries (the second crop was ready) and more peaches for more Honey Spiced peaches.  I also picked a small amount of blueberries as I want to make a blueberry cheese tart for Labor day

This time the peaches were persnickety.  I had to peel a lot more with a knife and they were more difficult to get out the pit.  Oh well.  I got five pints of peaches done.

The raspberries were for raspberry/jalapeno jam.  Five cups of mashed raspberries, three and a third cups of sugar and three jalapeno peppers, one and a half seeded, the other one and a half seeds and all, diced.  If the scrapings from the pot are any indication this came out fantastic.

I would like to go out for more raspberries for regular raspberry jam.  I'm done now until apple season kicks in.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Victorian inspired Lace and Linens

I know, it's been a long time since you have heard from me.  Well, it's been a rather rotten year so far.  Since last September I have been through a host of medical and personal stupidity.  Thankfully, the personal stupidity is winding down and the medical, well, let's just say I'm not letting it sideline me the way it has previously.

I haven't been idle even though I have had to cancel most of my vending appearances.  I have created a new line of Victorian inspired Lace and Linen items.  I absolutely adore the Victorian era for their lace and their almost manic need to embellish everything from handkerchiefs to pillowcases and towels.  I hope you all feel the same way, especially when you see what I have to offer.

Here is the first of the line.  It is a Lattice Lace table runner done in a Hearts and Roses motif.  The runner is 29 inches long and 12 inches wide.  I used an Ecru cotton thread.

I am so very pleased with the way it came out.  Please let me know what you think.

My next project is an embellished pillow case.  I chose a Spider Web Lattice Lace pattern.  It's not finished yet, but below are two repeats of the lace.  I'm using a white cotton thread and a very small crochet hook (size 9).  If any of you are crocheters you know as the numbers go up the size goes down.  I like the way this is coming out.  Stay tuned for the finished version.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy crocheting lace.  It's challenging and the results are just beautiful.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The saga of sweat stains

I did the wash post New Hampshire Renaissance Faire and out came my favorite white pirate shirt (I've had it since the 80s, it used to be a work shirt) and one of my favorite gray/blue chemise with nasty rust sweat stains around the neck line.  Grrrr.  One of the hazards of doing renn faires is sweat on natural fabrics.  Sometimes they come out in the wash but sometimes...well, a picture speaks louder than words.

This is the neckline of the chemise.  The white shirt looked just the same.
So, I went researching.  One pin on Pintrest said that 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide mixed with hot water would take care of any stain.  I soaked both shirt and chemise for 24 hours.  No love.
OK...next to try is Oxy Clean.  I used one scoop and hot water as recommended and did a two hour soak.  While it did brighten the white and the gray/blue, the ugly rust stain is still there.
While I was at the store picking up the Oxy Clean, I saw this.  It's Carbona #9 Stain Devil.  They have several solutions that are specific to certain types of stains.  It's $3.35, but cheaper than replacing the shirt, if I could even find one like it.  While the shirt and chemise were soaking in the Oxy Clean I looked this up online.  It has enzymes in it and the Mavin of Housekeeping, Martha Stewart, recommends enzymes for removing sweat stains.

Here is the white shirt...nice and clean.  I could see the stains lightening as I applied the solution.

Now, a couple of words on this saga.  Both articles are cotton.  Both were destined for the dye pot if they couldn't be cleaned.  I used an entire bottle of Carbona on just the white shirt.

Here is my recommendation for getting rid of these stains.  First, DO NOT DRY the cloths in the dryer.  This will set the stain and you can kiss it goodbye or shove it in the dye pot.  Second, try treating the stain with Fels Naptha laundry soap.  While this didn't work on these particular stains, I have saved many an article of garb or regular clothing doing this before laundering.  Third, a good soak in the Oxy Clean did brighten up the colors, so I would do this first then give the article a good hand scrubbing with laundry detergent or Fels Naptha laundry soap.  Lastly, if all else fails, I will try the Carbona Stain Devils that is specific to that stain.  For sweat or rust it is #9.

Now I'm off to the store to pick up a few more bottles of Carbona for the chemise and a tunica from GNEW last year.

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Hampshire Renaissance Faire is over

What a record year it was.  Honestly, the crowds were huge...even on the first weekend where the weather wasn't so cooperative.  It was an amazing run.  The Three Maples committee did a great job at pulling everything together.

The Primrose pirates had so much fun performing.  We really enjoyed playing with our guns and the crowds seemed to like us.

I have sold out of one size of snoods and almost sold out of two more sizes.  I have three princess hats left and sold out of the sparkly purple wish bags.  I also have three commission jobs to get done.  I told you it was a record year.

I have a lot of work to do to restock for my next event...Stonemarche Palio in Contoocook NH the weekend of June 14th.  So...off to the races again.

Here are a few pictures of my booth at NHRF.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Some new items for New Hampshire Renn Faire

I have some new items I'm going to be selling at NHRF.  First are earrings.  I have four pair.  I just found these hangers interesting and I was able to find some that looked like they should have been pairs.  Here they are.

The second new item is worry beads.  These are made of Tiger's eye beads and celtic knot hangers.  Tiger's eye is supposed to bring calm and serenity.
They are hand knotted between each bead and are on a doubled cotton string.

Lastly, I've been playing in the kitchen again.  I read somewhere that purple/red cabbage will turn things a lovely soft blue.  I took the outer leaves from the cabbage, cut them up and simmered them for 30 minutes.  The two white snoods and the ecru lace mitts went into a alum mordant simmered for 15 minutes.

Here is a picture of the finished product.  The lighting was off, I'll try to get a better picture later.  The baby blue around the edge of the snood is the color they came out after an eight hour soak.

 Today is setup day at NHRF so I'm off.  Hope to see you there.

Friday, April 19, 2013


I'm sorry, I'm a bad blogger.  I have been going through some personal and medical issues that have sidelined me since September of last year.  It's been a bit tough.

That isn't to say I haven't been crafting.  I have made Christmas gifts and a few custom pieces.  I have also built a new website.  Go to fairelywellmaid.vpweb.com and take a look.

Faire season is upon us.  Between the Primrose pirates, my new pirate crew, and vending I am going to be very busy.  New Hampshire Renaissance Faire is first.  It is May 11, 12 and 18,19 in Kingston NH.  I will be vending as Fairely Well Maid and preforming as a Primrose Pirate.  Come down and see us.  The faire website is http://www.nhrenfaire.com

That's it for now.  I will be posting more often, I promise.