The Old Tattered Flag

Sunday, April 22, 2018

It's "breathing day"!

I just made up that term "breathing day", but for me it's so appropriate.  
We have had a very long winter.  It wasn't especially snowy, though we did have our share, but it was just so long!  Today is April 22nd and it is what I am affectionately calling "breathing day". It's not always this date, it's usually earlier, but everyone will know what I'm talking about, for sure.
For me, breathing day is the first day of the year when you can walk outside with no coat on and not feel chilled.  It is the day of the year when you feel hope that, yes, maybe Winter has come to an end and Summer is just around the corner.  Your body almost tingles as you see things coming to life under piles of leaves, old growth or even snow.

Here in upstate NY we really only have three seasons: summer, fall and winter.  Spring does seem to miss us.  If it does appear it is usually very short, only a month or so.  I'm not talking about the dates on the calendar.  I'm talking about those days where it's balmy outside and the snow melts slowly, over a week or so.  We have cold and then warm, there really is no in between.

So, today, in only a t-shirt, I walked around the yard.

How will I decorate the back porch this year?  


Yay, the climbing hydrangeas we bought at the base of the pergola made it through the long winter.  Those buds are beautiful!!


Oh boy, lots of work to do in this yard before we host our "gathering of friends", but that blue sky is sure a welcome sight.


This is the reason we bought this house.  The porch!!  So many good times have been had on this porch, as well as some rough times, heavy conversations and fun entertaining.  This is a serious section of our home.  Many nights are spent on the swing that will soon make its way back, hanging from the rafters, with a beverage in hand.  I love our porch and this time of year, though it looks a bit rough, I know that it is filled with great promise.  How should I place the furniture....I should get some new lanterns.....should I use grapevine along the top?  I just love the possibilities every year.


I was finally able to empty the window boxes of the winter greenery and sweep away the winter dust from the front door.  Again, the possibilities, what kind of water feature will we do this year?  We need a new sign, what flowers to plant in the window boxes.  It's the same thing every year....the planning.....but it never gets old.  I love it!

Peonies are peeking through!

Lots of pick up to do....things that should have been done last year but time ran short before the first snowfall.  

Buds on the lilac tree.  We trimmed this tree down considerably because it was being covered by another larger tree and was not getting sunlight.  I think it's trimming will help it this year and hope to see lots of blooms.

Yes, I love breathing day.  It's amazing what the warmth, sunlight and promise of a good summer can do for the soul.
Have a good Sunday everyone!
Until next time......

Monday, April 9, 2018

A beautiful new design and tribute....

There's something about starting a new project that just makes your heart go pitter patter.
As a punch needle designer I often times will just stop in the middle of whatever I'm doing to draw something out.  That's mostly because of my age.....if I don't write it down it may never come back, lol, but sometimes it's because if I don't get it out it might also nag at me and cause me to lose sleep.  Yes, that has happened.  
Some designs are better than others.  Some designs are my favorites and other, well, just eh.  But every once in a while there is one that just makes your heart skip a beat.

Lenny's Garden is named for my Grandmother Lenore.  Unbeknownst to me (my mother tells me) my Grandfathers pet name for Mamie (what we called her), was Lenny.  Grandpa always had amazing vegetable gardens.  He was really quite a man, very talented.  Things you never know when you are a young child.  Grandpas are just grandpas.  But, my Grandfather had amazing gardens, was a great cook, an accomplished wood worker and as I am adult and look back, was madly in love with my Grandmother.  I remember him always giving her a kiss and buying her random gifts.  At the end of Grandpa's vegetable garden, my Grandmother, Mamie, Lenore....or Lenny, always had a large section for her flowers.  Mamie loved flowers and every year they would travel to the Boston Flower show.  So, with that, when this design was coming to life, I wanted to call it Lenore's Garden, then Mom suggested "Lenny's".  

I'm always filled with excitement when I see the empty pattern in front of me.  Color planning was relatively easy because Mom had already hooked the Hooked Rug Version.  Sometimes I punch the design first and she goes from my colors and vice versa.  


I thought the vines, stems and leaves might be a bit tedious, but they weren't.  It was fun to see them take on life.  When I do berries I punch 3 to 4 times quite close together.  Berries never look good until you start putting the background in.  



When I first put this design on fabric I was trying to keep it within the 8/10 inch size but I just wasn't feeling it so I ended up enlarging it to a nice size of 8 x 16 inches.  It does extend over the edge of my punch needle frame but I've never had a problem with loops pulling out.  The trick is to simply be gentle and make sure to pull to the outside of the frame lifting out and up to get the punched portion off without hurting the loops.  

When I am trying to color plan a design to be similar to the woolens that my mother has chosen for the hooked rug, it can be difficult sometimes.  I have a color palette for my designs and the threads I use sometimes don't match a plaid wool that Mom may have used.  She used multi colored woolens so I needed to come up with threads that would resemble those woolens.  When this happens I sometimes will combine two different Valdani colors.  When I punch with Valdani #8 perle cotton, I double thread it through my medium tip.  I pull the strand from the outside of the ball and from the inside of the ball and thread both strands.  This idea means that I can easily mix two colors by using just one strand of each.  


The outer blue/green edge of the scallop edge below is the end result.




My mother used our hand dyed Maple Sugar and Honey Wheat woolens for the background in her rug.  It's a mix of very warm tan/gold colors so Valdani's H205 will be the perfect color for my background.



In this piece it's very important to punch up close to the subject matter.  The stems, leaves and most importantly, the berries need the background punched right in close so they will take shape.  When I punch background I go around the subject matter 2 to 3 times, then move to the outer frame or in this case, the scalloped edge and punch around that 2-3 times until eventually the inner subject matter and edges meet, then it's all about filling in.  


You can see below the point at which the two parts meet and then filling in was done.  


And here's the right side.  How beautiful! I'm afraid I do not have the finished product to show you just yet.  You'll have to visit our website in about another week (or facebook) to see it finished.  


I did think though that you might like to see how the punch needle design and punching process happens.  All of our designs have a personal story to them.  Here's Mom's hooked rug....a beautiful tribute to her Mother I think.



Until next time.......



Monday, March 12, 2018

A very special prize

As you may know, we returned from the Searsport Hook-in, in Punta Gorda just two weeks ago.  I've been wanting to write about this since we got back but life gets in the way and I have not been able to find the time to properly write about it.  
So, prior to leaving here for the hook-in, I saw on Searsports facebook page that they were raffling off two rugs, one hooked by Polly Minick and one by a woman named Barbara Brown.  
Here is what Searsport wrote about Barbara's rug: *I have since learned that Diane Stoffel is the one who helped in adapting the pattern to a Halloween design*

"Originally this rug was a tapestry type design from Fraser rugs. Barbra Brown started the rug a few years ago after having it redesigned into a Halloween design by, I THINK Gail Dufrance. (I will check on that fact and fix it.) to say Barb loved Halloween was an understatement!! When barb died the rug was about 1/3 done. Polly Minick worked with us on getting it into as many hands as we could to complete it. Chris here at Searsport hooked about 1/2 of what was left to do. And bound it off. The money raised will go to an animal rescue group in Arcadia, Canine Cast Aways, where Barb lived and Semper Fi wounded warrior fund. This is a large rug, 50x70! "

What an amazing raffle and tribute to Barbara! From talking to the ladies we learned that Barbara was loved and I'm sure that finishing the rug was a great form of therapy for her friends in dealing with their grief.  As you can see above in Searsport's comments, the rug was adapted from a pattern as Barbara loved Halloween.  It really is quite an amazing piece of folk art and a true labor of love.  
The hook-in was a 3 day event and the drawings were held at the very end of the last day.  Mom and I always buy tickets for the raffles, not so much hoping to win, but because we like to donate to the cause and the Canine Cast Aways and Semper Fi fund are both phenomenal organizations.  Mom bought a couple tickets and I bought quite a few.
When it came time for the drawing, Chris, the mother part of the Searsport team came over to Mom to have her draw the winning ticket.  Well, the thing is, Chris is quite tall and Mom is not, plus she has shoulder issues so I could see that when she reached her hand in the bag that was being held up that it was killing her shoulders.  So, Mom pulled a ticket and Chris handed the ticket to Julie and Julie says...."and the winner is...Carol......De..co....teau".  Yup, Mom drew her own name!  A moment of awkwardness ensued as, first her name is hard to pronounce, but at the beginning of Julie saying it, Mom knew, because that's how everyone pronounces or tries to pronounce it.  I believe my mother looked at me and said "shit".....yes, she has a bit of a potty mouth.  Julie and Chris looked at us, we looked at them, there was slight applause, then laughter.  Mom says her knees buckled when they called her name and you can see in the picture below that she just can't believe it!


Just check out the amazing detail in this rug.  Every time we look at it we find something that we hadn't seen before. Halloween couples on each side, pumpkins, spooky cats, skeletons, witche's, fall leaves, poisonous apples, graveyards, a spooky night sky, so much to look at!!









To the Searsport ladies and all the ladies who finished this beauty, Mom would like you to know how honored she is to own this rug.  The fact that it has such a beautiful back story makes it even more special.  This is a treasure and she is very grateful.  She has proudly shown several people the rug and told the story.  She wants you to know that this rug has a good home and will be appreciated for the labor of love that it was.

Until next time.......

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Searsport Hook-In

 Now that the vacation was over it was time to go to work.  My family flew home as they all had to get back to work and Mom and I pulled the trailer over to the West coast of Florida to Punta Gorda.  The Searsport hook in was held at the Port Charlotte Convention center and it was a lovely venue with an exceptional, very friendly staff.  Julie and Chris, the owners of Searsport were amazing and ran the event like the pro's in this business that they are.  It was a nice relaxed atmosphere and all the attendees had smiling faces for a solid 3 days.  

So it was time to get to work and set up our booth.  We had to do it without our roadie (or my husband) and, well, it was hard......but I think we did ok!




When time permitted I walked around to see the wonderful goodies the other vendors had.  Check out this gigantic rug that Betsy from Heavens to Betsy is working on.  I don't even know how big it was but it was huge.  She had only been working on it for two weeks!!!  She was using torn strips.  


Hi Eric (from Heavens to Betsy)


Attic Heirlooms from Maine, Trish Harriman

 Two Old Crows from New Jersey, Jeannine Happe

Anne and Nancy from Visions of Ewe, Michigan


Nancy Jewett from Fluff and Peachy Bean from Vermont

The Beeskep

Our hosts, Searsport Rug Hooking



My Sister's booth, Folk For All Seasons

Prairie Road Designs, Kansas

Several of the vendors gave free 1/2 hour demo's of a certain topic.  I talked about Punch Needle finishes and Mom did Color planning.  She purchased a pattern from Searsport and she, my sister and I all chose a color palette for her to show.  

Hook, hook, hook

I have to say, the best part of a hook-in for Mom and I is actually getting out from our day to day work and actually meet the people we see over the computer screen.  We met so many people here in Florida, from Donna's sweet smiling face, Ellens bear hugs and Tammi, what a sweetie.....when she heard that we hadn't had breakfast she showed up the next day with these cinnamon rolls.  You really can't imagine the warmth we feel when we leave a hook-in, having met so many friendly ladies that enjoy what we do and our silly antics.  Thank you ladies for saying hello to us!

Nothing gets 'em going like a colorful Valdani rack.

 Beyond those windows was the ocean!  What a beautiful view and again, a great venue and staff. 

The night before we headed back home we ate dinner right on the beach and I snapped this picture.  What a great picture to look back on to remember such an amazing week.


Until next time......

About Me

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog. I am married and just entering the second phase of my life as a Army retiree's wife. My husband and I did 25+ years in the Army. He is now officially a retired Colonel and has just entered the civilian workforce and I am happily settled in our 1830 Stone house. I (along with my Mom) operate www.theoldtatteredflag and currently we are building a small shop in the back part of the house. We live in Northern NY, right near the Canadian border. I have two handsome sons and 2 puggles. Life is busy for us, but I wouldn't have it any other way.