Homesteading Blues


If anyone ever told you, or you read somewhere, that starting a homestead was easy, they lied. At least in my case I have not experienced anything easy about it. It was my husband's idea to move here, (Blue Ridge Mountains of East Tennessee), in our 50's. The property he purchased is all wooded, mostly steep ridges, not something I was interested in because of a lack of any flat place to build a house or grow a garden. "I'll build you the house of your dreams" he promised. Well I have been here almost 4 years now and the spot where he sais he wants to build the house isn't even cleared yet. At first there was no driveway, no water, power, plumbing, cell service, or internet.

Where am I living? In a camper, on top of a mountain, in the woods while my studio and house contents have been sitting in several storage units for the past 3.5 years. Yeah, not happy. We now have a well for water, we did hook up to the grid for now so we have power, we just got the septic in place two months ago, internet installed a couple weeks ago, (satellite being our only option which sucks even when it's working), still no cell signal which will most likely never change.

What do I do all day? Absolutely nothing, with all my studio contents in storage I have nothing to do but clean, do dishes, do laundry and play with new grand baby when I have him. I don't know about you but for me, doing my crafts is therapy, It's what puts me in a happy place and state of mind. I was in Gatlinburg a few weeks ago and picked myself up a Mountain Dulcimer, never played one before but I do have a Hammered Dulcimer in storage. The Mountain Dulcimer is small enough to keep in my camper and I have been playing with it to help pass time.

I used to love going camping on the weekends during summer months but now that I'm camping full time I look at it a bit differently these days. For example, I wonder sometimes if I were to go away for a weekend and visit someone with a house, what would that be called? Housing? Honey I'm going housing for the week-end, lol !

I wasn't surprised when I was finally able to log into to my account here and found that I had lost nearly every follower, A big thanks going out to the two that are still here! I am truly grateful to you both.

On the bright side, now that I have some internet service I can finally start posting more often, I promise I'll try to keep it interesting and add photos next time.

I hope you're having a good summer and you're staying cool.
Signing off from my mountain top.

When The Kit Arrives

 Up to this point I have been showing you the finished pin keep if the month but this time I thought I would mix it up a bit and show you what it looks like before I get it started.
As you can see in the photo above I get a card containing brief instructions and the patern pieces drawn out for me to trace and transfer for cutting the wools they preselected for me. The front of the card has a color photo of the their finished model so I have an idea how everything is supposed to be put together. I'm not going show that until it is done In the next post so you can see that they will look similar but different because they don't supply the threads and embellishments to finish the piece. My challenge for each month is to use up these little extra elements from my stash instead of going out and buying new to match the fabrics they sent. This self imposed challenge is a pretty good way to exercise the creativity as well as busting the old       stash.

Well that's it for this post, I have to get busy on this piece for the next post so thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderfully crafty day.

Cute As A Button

This is my newly finished  pincushion for the month of March, yes I am still behind and playing catch up but isn't this one a cutie? The black fabric on the far left that was in my kit had yellow and red patterns on it, you can see a bit of it there but the white circle dots were all yellow and I used cream colored DMC floss to make tiny little french knots and I think that looks much better. None of the embellishments come in the kit, just the wools and fabrics for the front and back. I like that because it forces me to be more creative by using up what I already have in my large stash of random stuff, like buttons and bits of ribbons to small for larger projects and beads like the one I used for the crows eye. The threads or DMC floss I have to supply can be tricky sometime because I never know what color the fabric in the kit is going to be until it arrives but so far I have not been forced to go shopping for a matching color, did I mention I have a really large stash? I haven't always used the recommened color but I think they have matched up close enough so far.

That's it for this post, thanks for reading and watch for April's pin cushion coming up next time.

Moving and Catching up

Moving is a lot of work! All our previous moves have been military, the easy way to move. They send a crew of packers out one day to pack out the entire house then send a moving company on another day  to load it all up on a truck and badda bing badda boom your done, easy peasy and all thats left to do is clean the empty space. This time however the move is all on us and it feels like it will never end. As I write this I am sitting in an almost empty house and I am taking a break from taking down old wallpaper and prepping walls for new paint. We won't be fully and completely done with this move until July. Needless to say it has been difficult to keep up with this blog in the process but I have been able to steal a few moments here and there to work on my pin keeps however I am still behind on them.   The last one I posted was January, I did finish the one for February and posted it on my FB page but didn't have the time to write the blog post so here it is below.
I am almost finished March's Pinkeep so I will hopefully get that one posted this week. Then I have to catch up April and May so if all goes well I will be caught up by the end of May.

This move is different in every way from all our other moves not just the packing out and loading up part but the biggest thing is we don't have a house to move to. What we are doing is living out of a large camper off the grid until we build the house of our dreams. The off the grid part is part of the reason keeping up with this blog has been difficult, no power means no internet and the cell service is pretty much non existent in the location we chose to move to so it makes things a bit more challenging. I must say though that being up on that mountain is so peaceful I don't really miss all the electronic age stuff because spending less time online means more time to be creative, at least when this moving process is finished.

I will post more about the move and crafting later but for now I have to get back to work.
Thanks for reading and please let me know you stopped by.

On Pins and Needles

Let it Snow
This year I subscribed to "Year of The Pinkeeps", a block of the month club from Primitive Gatherings and this is my finished pinkeep for January. The kit came with the pattern and wool felt to complete the project but did not come with any of the threads to match the wool or the embellishments like the snow flakes or mittens and buttons, I was thankful to have had all I needed in my stash.  I also added a few elements not listed on the original pattern instructions, like the words on the bottom, Let it Snow, the lace trim and the weighted bottom to make it stand upright. Also, instead of using the called for fiber fill, I used some sheeps wool I had that was two short to spin, using seconds off the wool carder is great for this.  I also added some lavender buds and a few drops of lavender essential oil to the wool prior to stuffing so it smells great!

Thanks for reading and watch for February's pinkeep.

The Twelve Months of Smocked Christmas Ornaments (Jan.)

This year I am going to make one Smocked Christmas Ornament each month until December. I will use the same pattern for each ornament but challenge myself to make each ornament different by making variations in bead placement, fabric and thread choice, as well as using different final finishing techniques. The ornament pictured above is my first ornament for this series. The pattern is from SAGA and can be found here . When you get to the web site you will find the instructions on the right hand side by clicking on a photo of a pine bow with the words "Smock a Long instructions" printed on it, this is a pdf file and if you also follow their blog link, (listed on their site), you will find photos of each step.

I am a member of their Facebook group for the smock a long and I am amazed at how many different ways this one pattern was used to create beautiful Christmas tree ornaments, no two were alike and that is the inspiration behind this series of blog posts. So I hope that you will enjoy these posts and that someone out there reading them will also be inspired.

Thanks for reading and happy smocking!

Another Busy Year Over

Well I am really bad at this blogging stuff, at posting new material anyway. My last post was in Jan of this year and here it is Dec 31st  already so that is only 2 posts for this year including this one, that's horrible but I suppose thats why I don't have any readers either, LOL! This year has been a very busy one but I am not going to use being busy as an excuse for not posting because hey, lets face it, we are all busy right? I also won't use the excuse that I was living off the grid for 4 months of this year without internet service because in all honesty I still had occasional cell service and could have updated through the blogger app I have on my phone so that is why I just said I am really bad at this blogging stuff, LOL. I am also not going to promise to be better at posting in the new year because I have made that promise before and it didn't work so, I'm being honest here. You will either like the occasional read or your won't, either way is fine with me and up to you. So on with this post…..

In picking up where I left off I had a wonderful time at Notforgotten farm. I totally drove there in the wrong car, should have taken the truck. My Beemer z-4 didn't like the bumpy dirt road so I had to go really slow. When I got there I was greeted by the most enormous Great Pyrenees I have ever seen, he was nearly the size of my car and that is no lie and he was also the most friendly. I was very sad to hear of his passing a few short months later due to an illness but it was such an honor to meet this gentle giant. It was January so it was cold and when I went into the shop it was toasty warm by way of a small wood stove, very cozy and inviting. I went there to learn how to make a traditional hooked rug so I walked around the store for a bit till I found the right pattern. Choosing was very hard because the shop is filled with so many beautiful patterns. I wound up getting two actually, one was just a pattern printed on linen and the other was a kit with the wool already cut and ready to go so the only other thing I needed was the right hook so I picked up one of those too. I had a wonderful day sitting around the table having hot cocoa, making new crafting friends while learning a new craft, I'm "hooked" hee hee hee. Do to traveling this year I have not had a chance to get back there yet but I will soon.

This year I also learned how to smock and did some heirloom sewing in that process. I have made 4 ornaments and one smocked Bishop dress and matching bonnet. This of course also meant buying more equipment I didn't already have like a shaping board and smocking pleater but hay and artist can't have too many supplies right? I only have a few crafts left on my to learn list, it's kind of like a bucket list I guess. Left on the list is bobbin lace making, tatting, and weaving on a floor loom oh and stained glass window making, almost forgot about that one and its not unlike me to add more to this list as I cross off.

In other news our family has purchased some acreage in the Smoky Mountain foothills of TN, that is where the off the grid living comes in. Its raw land so there is a lot of work to do there. In our last trip there we did get power lines underground run all the way to the top, about a 1/2 mile, where the house site is going to be, that took a week because we did all the digging ourselves with the help of a rented track hoe, two actually, we quickly learned the first one was too small so we had to get a bigger one. We moved our 5th wheel camper to the top so it now has power that until then was running off a gas generator which meant frequent long drives into town to get gas. Because the current road is still a primitive one and too muddy to drive heavy trucks on without getting stuck we have to park the vehicles at the bottom and 4-wheel up to the top which makes it interesting for hauling the groceries back from the store. There isn't a clean spot on the 4-wheeler and I have been hit in the back of the head a few times with flying mud while driving it so I have to have a change of clothes, one for mud and one clean set for shopping in town. No water source yet, that is on the to do list for our next trip, getting a well dug and septic, up to this point we have been trucking in water using a tractor to get the water tank up to the top, making lots of memories there. We have discovered that we have coyotes and bear, also lots of wild turkey and dear. This year I am trying my hand at making my first Buck Skin from a deer Nate shot while we were there, I'm not going to show pics up to its current state cause it is pretty gross and messy and might turn some stomaches so I'll spare you all the gory details there. Also apparently it doesn't snow much there, just rains and that's why all the mud so Nate and I had a little fun one day having a mud ball fight, we were already muddy anyway and he threw first sooooo, sorry no pics of that.

Anyway back to fiber stuff! The plans for our new property include a studio for me!!! Yay, I am so excited about this and so should you because that also means you can come and visit and bring your fiber crafts with you and there will be plenty of room! I may also start teaching some fiber classes, the possibilities are endless!!

View from where the house will be
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and that you all have a happy and healthy fibery new year!