Sunday, August 31, 2014

Globe Thistles at The "New" Old Homestead Project

As I was wandering around the new old homestead (our newest Project or should I say "Adventure") I came across these wonderful Blueish-Siver Globe Thistles. I had never grown this flower or even seen them before. I had to look them up to identify them.  I do remember seeing the tall thistle stalks earlier in the season and I thought they were Scotch Thistle.  
Oh but the Globe Thistle has far more presence.  They are magical the way they interact with the light.... they are gorgeous really!   4-5 feet tall...  and irresistible not to go to them and cup your hands around them, a visual delight and a touch sensation....  and quite inviting to the insects as well.

But luckily they are Deer resistant.. and I have found that to be true because with as many deer that come on the property every single day ~ they do not touch them. So I am also guessing that most plants that persist here must also be deer resistant. Yes!

The distinctive slightly hairy, prickly thistle leaves of the Globe Thistle... that the deer don't care for.

Globe Thistles adrift in the hayfield.  They were so beautiful I couldn't stop taking pictures of them. 
What a wonderful surprise they were!   I love them.

*info on Globe Thistles: Here and Here

Gwen Buchanan and John Ackerson at Desideratum and The new Old Homestead Project.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Making a Groovy Kind of Shirt

 I love sewing and I had this length of fabric in the stash cupboard.
I wanted to make my son Max a shirt but I didn't have a pattern.  I took one of his shirts that fit him comfortably, checked YouTube and got the basics of making a tissue paper pattern.  
You just  lay out the shirt you already have on tissue paper on a pinable surface, carefully isolating each section of the shirt.. the sleeves, cuff, yoke, front, back and facings on tissue paper...then use pins to map it out around the seams... then draw along the dots around the whole shape... pay attention to the straight of the grain...  add seam allowances (5/8") and voila you have a pattern.  Well it wasn't quite as fast as "Voila" but just stay with it and you will get a pattern. and once you have it you can make as many shirts as you want from it.  I made two ... here's the first one.. the groovy one.
 I forgot to take a picture of the actual process of making the paper pattern but here are the pieces pinned onto the fabric and cut out.

Here the pieces are turned over...  
Max and I thought it would be cool to combine several colors and patterns in the same shirt... so why not have a little fun. The fabrics were quite fine and slippery, so the shirt will be very lightweight. The red and black print was a remnant from the fabric store. The black print is recycled fabric...  so is the gray print used in the cuffs. 

This is a 1977 Kenmore Convertible Freearm, model 158.19471, all mechanical,  that I recently brought home (second hand... super good deal or I wouldn't have got it)...and  after oiling and lint removing, it works amazingly.   I highly recommend this model.
 I wish I aged this well since 1977!

***I will do a post soon on my vintage sewing machine collection that sort of just happened over the last year. It's a long story... but I will post pictures of all the "girls" one of these days soon. Old sewing machines are the best!

 This is the inside of the back, which was cut on the fold. It is a fitted shirt so there are two darts in the back to give it shape, kind of hard to see for the busyness of the pattern. 
We made the yoke of the black print fabric on the inside...

 and the same color fabric on the outside of the yoke. I love lined yokes and they finish a shirt well and make the shoulder stronger.... and since the whole shirt is hanging from the shoulder, you want it strong.
 That is the collar at the top of the picture.

 I like clothing that is finished on the inside as cleanly as it is on the outside so I made Flat Fell Seams on all the seams.  It makes sewing clothing by hand that much more worthwhile.  I LOVE flat-fell seams.  They take a little longer to do but you will never regret the durability, strength and feel they add to a garment.... and they look nice.
 The above pic is a close up of top stitching the back/yoke seam. If the shirt was on inside-out you would never know except for the buttons.

 Here it is finished with the buttonholes and buttons.

Here is Max giving it a model.   It fit great and he really liked it.

 Since this shirt turned out, we found another length of fabric and cut out another one.

This time the contrasting color will just be on the inside.
This time I made the front button facing in a contrasting color and so a glimpse of it is seen when the collar folds down.
The fabric has a sheen so it was difficult to get the same lighting in each shot when I took the pictures.  I'm marking for the buttonholes in the bottom right pic.
 The upper left shot is the cut made for the sleeve placket.. then the finished sleeve with attached cuff. The machine does pretty good buttonholes. I was pleased with it.  There is a button on the placket of the sleeve too.
 Doing the buttonholes always makes me nervous as they run right up the front of the garment and if I wreck this last feature I have wrecked the whole shirt, so I always go carefully and slowly on this.. and sew with my fingers crossed and my teeth clenched a bit.
...using tailors chalk to mark the Buttonholes... it wipes right off with no staining.
All Done. I like it.

and incidentally, the second shirt went much quicker.  I started it one afternoon and finished it the next... so it doesn't take long to sew a shirt.

I am going to look for more fabric in the cupboard... John needs a couple shirts too.

***Note:  Flat-Fell Seams  (as it would take a while to describe a flat fell seam I have linked to this bloggers step by step... great pics of the method).
Thanks for visiting!

Gwen Buchanan at Desideratum Art Studio in St. Martins, New Brunswick, Canada.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Wild Grapes at the new Old Homestead

 Wild Grape Vines are found in the warmer parts of New Brunswick, along riverbanks, along hedgerows and forestland.

These vines are growing up an old white Lilac.

 The vines climb up many of the trees that grow along the property boundaries. They are reaching for the sun.

 Thought I would take a stem  to examine a little closer.

 Cluster of the flower before it opens waiting to be pollinated..... unfortunately, I was not at the old homestead during the open flowering stage to get a picture. This was taken in June. 

 Love the delicate tendrils and the finely toothed edges of the leaves.

I ate a leaf, as I read they were edible... it tasted just like a tangy grape... very much so and it was good.
So much so that I had to get John to sample one and he agreed.
There is wild food growing all around us.
We (North Americans) become so used to going to supermarkets and thinking that is the only safe food.. silly...  I want to do more foraging.
Courses in edible wild foods should be taught in schools to make people aware of their fruitful surroundings... that would also make them more environmentally aware and protective of the planet.

 Grapes as they were forming in late July... really growing. The leaves had grown to hand size.
 Some of these vines are very tall... maybe 50'... hard to tell the exact length of them as they wander and climb over and across and up and through and on and on....  They make a nice shady place underneath on a hot summer day too.

  This old Ash tree had a large limb break during the July Hurricane. We didn't know at the time that it was loaded with grape vines but when I was photographing this Hairy Woodpecker, who paid no attention to me, by the way, I discovered that it was loaded with grapes.... see them up there silhouetted in the leaves... too high up for me to gather but I'm sure they will make much appreciated food for the birds in the fall.
Obviously this Ash tree was dying (prob. from the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer that is wrecking havoc on the survival of this species) for a while by the way the woodpecker was enjoying himself.  Everything in Nature has a part to play... we will leave the large broken branch there as long as there is no safety hazard ... but not a worry as there would be no damage in that spot if it did eventually fall.
Until then it makes a great screen between us and a neighbouring property. They prob. appreciate it as much as we do.

Wild Grapes... free for the gathering.  At the moment each grape is between 3/8" - 1/2" across.
I'm excited to see how they develop... if they get bigger... if  they turn purple... when to pick them, before or after a frost...
This is exciting to me as I have never had a place where grapes grew before.  I tried growing some a couple of times in the past in St Martins but the vines withered and died... probably never helped that, the spot I chose was the place the dogs decided they liked to sleep... this new old property in a different area of the province with a different climate suits them very well.

I have read that wild Grapes are quite tart to eat fresh but make great jelly, juice and wine.
I'll see if I am able to get some before the wildlife.  I'm looking forward to it.  A nice surprise to find at the new Old Homestead.

Found this info:  on Vitis riparia
and this:  on edible wild food, Riverbank Grape

Gwen Buchanan for Desideratum, at the Old Homestead, New Brunswick,Canada