Small stitching on Sunday: a mug rug

I’ve been wanting to try a technique that I’ve admired for awhile: a combination of machine applique and embroidery.

009So today I pulled out my bins of fabric scraps and got busy. Luckily, I had a few scraps of Wrenly left over from a quilt I made last year. The Wrenly birds were perfect for fussy cutting the windows.007It’s called a mug rug, which is an unlovely name for such a lovely thing. Basically, a mug rug is an over-sized coaster. Something pretty to put your coffee cup on, great for personalizing your desk at work (or at home).

012This one is 6.5″ square…a good size for holding a cup.

006The pattern is from Jenny at Elefantz.She makes lovely things.

I’m very happy with this little project. I experimented with a couple of other mug rugs, here, but this one definitely shows improvement in my technique. Yay!

008Next time I’ll quilt the back ground before adding the applique. Stay tuned! Do you have a special mug rug or coaster that you love above all others?

Posted in applique, Crafts, Creativity, Embroidery, Stitches | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

The Yukon Scarf in Amethyst (…to ETSY or not to ETSY, that is the question)

Introducing: The Yukon Scarf in Amethyst!

scarf3This particular scarf is 44″ in diameter and 5″ wide and loops twice around the neck (as shown in the photo.)

I think that if I’m going to knit things to sell, I’d like to help them stand out in a very crowded market by giving each pattern an individual name. I’ve decided to call all of the moss stitch infinity scarves the Yukon Scarf. I’ll then differentiate them by colour. Thus, this infinity scarf is The Yukon in Amethyst.

scarf1Right now I’m experimenting with different weights of yarn and different needle sizes to see what combination I like the best.

knit 1This one was knit on 6.5mm needles and the weave is quite dense. A larger needle will give it a looser, more open weave. I have one more skein of this, so will try that next and then compare the two.

I see some very expensive scarves for sale on ETSY that look to me like they are made from inexpensive yarns that I recognize as the kind you can buy at WalMart. Now, I’m not dissing WalMart. But here’s a question for you: Do shoppers care where the materials came from? (I’m asking legitimately, not sarcastically.)

scarf2Would it make a difference to shoppers if I advertised that I support local small business and purchase all my yarn at small independent yarn shops (like Intwined Fibre Arts in Salmon Arm, or  the Itsy-Bitsy Yarn Shop in Whitehorse)?

Of course, the more specialized you get, the more you pay for your materials. And the more you pay for your materials, the less profit you make.  For instance, I paid $20 for this particular skein of very high quality Peruvian fair-trade yarn. So already, the price to the purchaser has gone up to whatever my time is worth on top of that.

Where is the line between making a good quality product you can be proud of  and also earning enough $$ per hour to make it worth the work? (the eternal question of all artists in all genres.)

scarf4I haven’t even gone onto ETSY to see what’s involved in opening a store, let alone figuring out what to charge for my scarves. One thing at a time.

Thoughts? And if no thoughts, what’s on your needles today, eh?

Posted in Colours, Crafts, Creativity, Knitting, Stitches | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

35 years ago today

weddding-1A picture speaks 1000 words. Happy 35th Anniversary, my beloved husband!






35-Collins croppedKelly & Nita Collins December 2014kiss…we still do.

Posted in Blog Categories | 10 Comments

Best Friends Forever (got a lotta lotta hip hip hip)

It was right around This Exact Day in 1979 when I pushed open the door to my dorm room and said hello to my new roomie on moving-in day at Western Washington University.  We have been bosom buddies ever since. There is nothing that we can’t say or talk about with each other.

How blessed we are!

Paula & me 1She drove all the way up here so that we could spend the weekend together and celebrate 36 years of friendship. Happy Anniversary, Paula! My heart is so full!

Nobody says it better than Lucy and Ethel:

Posted in Friendship | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Something Purple on the Needles

I’ve been in the mood to knit, but not anything overly complicated. So I rummaged around my stash and found this beautiful skein of  purple fair trade Peruvian wool that I bought years ago.  I’m going to knit a chunky infinity scarf with it.

knit2It is 98% merino wool…so soft!

knit 1It feels lovely in the hands. :)

I don’t need another scarf, so I think I might sell it. I’ve never sold anything I’ve made before, but I’ve been looking at prices on Etsy, and I’m thinking of opening a store of my own.

Posted in Colours, Knitting | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Gardening in a Sundress: Retired in the Shuswap

Warning: my beautiful pictures have posted upside down again. I do not understand. sorry for the discombobulation…I hope you will enjoy the post anyway.

The early morning air is cool when I step outside and stand for a moment on the front porch. I’m savouring the start of the day, before heat drives me inside to take refuge under the ceiling fan.


Noticing the flower pots are thirsty, I uncoil a bit of hose and turn on the tap. Water wand in one hand and coffee cup in the other, I douse the containers before moving on to the small raised garden where zucchini hang off the vines and nasturtiums tumble over the side. The sun is warm, but not too hot to stand under yet, so I uncoil more hose and move along the perennial bed, admiring the plants that I put in when I built the bed last year.

IMG_0033I need to research August-blooming plants because there isn’t a lot of colour in the perennial bed at the moment But, I note how each plant has grown and imagine how it will look after another two years pass. I remember reading that a perennial bed takes three years to mature. It won’t be until the fourth summer that it will be in its full glory.

IMG_0041I wander down the length of the bed slowly until I reach the friendship rose, a Blanc de Coubert Rugosa that I brought with me from Whitehorse. I call it the friendship rose because years ago, three of us (Kim, Candy & I) used to get together at each others homes over the summer for tea and a garden tour. We’d admire the progress of our gardens, dream over seed catalogues, plan for the next year. Sometimes we’d go out for lunch or visit a garden center. One time, on the spur of the moment, we all bought the same rose bush. Kim and I have remained in touch, but I haven’t seen Candy in years. I wonder if she still has hers? Sadly, although it is a zone 3 plant, the Yukon is not the ideal climate for a Blanc de Coubert, and my poor little bush just barely survived. It hardly grew larger than it was the day we bought it. Kim’s rose has fared equally poorly. When we moved, I couldn’t bear to leave it behind, so I dug it up and brought it with me. In two summers, the rose has already doubled in size.  A little bit of the Yukon in Sunnybrae. :)

Mine isn't in bloom at the moment, so here is a picture I got from the internet.

Mine isn’t in bloom at the moment, so here is a picture I got from the internet.

I water the friendship rose and move on to the blueberry bushes and the rhubarb. This end of the yard is still in the shade, lovely and cool. I see weeds. Oh, the bane of my existence! Beautiful green leaves that display dainty blue flowers in the spring. Foolishly, I encouraged them last year. Now I know better. And daisies, too. Back in Whitehorse I used to chastise Mr. C. when he’d mow them down in the side lawn. I worked so hard to encourage them to grow. But here! Here they grow everywhere. They take over the bed like a cuckoo bird pushing its host’s eggs out of the nest and leaving behind its own to flourish in the rich soil.

IMG_0050I march to the garage. Put my empty coffee cup down and don my gardening gloves. Three-prong hand-rake in hand, I march back across the lawn, drop to my knees and start digging and pulling. Inch by inch the area around the blueberries bushes returns to black soil. I move down the bed, leaving the shade and entering the sun. Under the lavender, more baby daisies are hiding, just waiting to grow up and assimilate the brethern. I yank them out.

IMG_0048A wasp buzzes by on its way to breakfast at the hummingbird feeder and I swat it away from my ear. I think, “here I am, weeding the lavender in the sunshine,” and I can feel myself smiling from the inside out. Did you know that lavender propagates by the root? I didn’t. I don’t think lavender grows in the Yukon, so how would I know how it propagates?  Lo and behold, when I lift the lavender to pull the weeds hiding underneath, I find lavender spikes coming out of the ground more than six inches from the parent stock.

After a while I sit back on my heels and take a little break. My back is sweaty. My head is hot. In only an hour the sun has gone from pleasant to brutal. I stand up and brush the grass off my knees. Suddenly, I realize that I’ve been gardening in flipflops and a dress.

IMG_0032This fact makes me smile, because back when I worked at Yukon College, I used to fantasize about my retirement. One of the things I wanted to do was learn to sew my own dresses. Another thing was to go out in the mornings and water the garden with a hose whenever I wanted to (not just on Saturdays & Sundays during July).

Well, here I am, this morning. I’ve just come inside, to wash the grass stains off my knees with a cool washcloth. to scrub my wrists and arms, and wash the sweat off my face and neck. And I am wearing a sundress that I made myself.

It’s pretty awesome.

Posted in early retirement, garden, Just Write, retirement, Shuswap, Summer, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments