Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities.

For more than sixty years I have studied, collected, repaired, and bought and sold antique dolls. They have been back ground music in my life at every stage, sometimes louder, sometimes subdued, but always there with me. To see only the posts about dolls on this blog, click the banner on the right titled Dolls for My Red Cape. Keep clicking “Older Posts” to see more. Some of the posts featuring rug hooking are gathered under the banner For Cathy. From time to time items are offered for sale under the banner “O’Neill’s Antiques” which was our shop name for many years. ~Edyth O’Neill

Saturday, July 25, 2020

We called it a Victory Garden when I was a little girl.

When I was a child during World war 2,  my step father taught me the pleasure of vegetable gardening.  That has not left me, though my ability to do much now is diminished.  Happily I saw a YouTube clip featuring a different type of inexpensive raised beds and I think they will work for me now.  Accordingly I am searching for another bench or two sturdy small outdoor tables to raise a couple more Rubbermaid storage bins up to a height that I can tend well.  My daughter Beth furnished one this morning and you can see how that works.  They will not be bad looking once there are green things filling them and flowing over the sides.

There are holes drilled for drainage. It takes a lot of soil to fill these! A winter garden planted this fall will be snow peas, broccoli, beets, spinach and lettuce.

My cherry tomatoes have been loaded, currently all picked. They will be quiet till cooler nights return, these do not set fruit till nights are below 70 degrees.

There is a rain barrel in the back.

 There are three sitting areas in the yard, one in the front yard has chairs and tables and another big wooden swing. in our current covid time,  my only company happens outside in the yard.  Below is Granddaughter Hailey in the front yard last week.  Grandkids are the greatest!

A tip cut from one of the tomato plants this morning will make one to plant for fall tomatoes as soon as little roots grow in the water.  A farmer is always thinking about the next crop.   e

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Love of Wool is a Rabbit Hole

One friend I have enjoyed many years went all the way down this rabbit hole.   She and her husband bought a small ranch so she could raise her own fine hair goats and fine wool sheep. She showed her fleece and her spun yarn and her knitted pieces in the county fair and won awards over many men who had generations of experience producing mohair and wool.  A great yarn shop followed and for some years was a gathering place in the Texas Hill Country for spinners, knitters. rug hookers  and more, of course I am referring to Stonehill of Fredericksburg Texas.  Long ago closed now but still missed.
It was at Stonehill I had a chance to taste of the weaver's joy just a little bit.  As a rug hooker  I often said in my next life I hoped to be a weaver.  I consider Rug hooking, a form of free hand weaving, creating a beautiful surface without linear constraints.  It is akin to other off the loom weaving.
Any and all of the textile crafts, spinning, dying, knitting, weaving, quilting and of course rug hooking have always appealed to me.  Any can be a life time pursuit.   I learned to crochet when I was 16, making sweaters and caps and vests and purses all of wool yarn, I have never been interested in crocheting with string.    
From Stonehill I bought yarn and borrowed a simple triangle loom and wove several shawls.  I am trying to see if I can do that again.  I ordered more than a dozen skeins of beautiful colors but when they came yesterday I was disappointed that over half of the yarn is much finer than I anticipated.  I do have the option to return it right away, but I will try one skein to see if I can weave with two strands enjoyably or not.  I have collected two groups of color, one purple and one bittersweet.  The roving you see needs to become lumpy art yarn, which may or may not happen.  I have a number of skeins left over from past projects.

In the center of this picture you can see the commercially woven plaid I am inspired to take off from.

I may remove the camel colored one or keep it as a highlight.

With these strange days of confinement because of covid, I am entertaining myself with different textile projects.  One is to finish a hooked rug of the Texas flag, to be used as a wall hanging for my great grandson who loves history.    Last evening I finished dressing a tiny wax faced doll,  English about 1840.  This type of doll is called a Mad Alice!  

 Just about every level surface in my house has a project in progress on it.    Stay safe, e

Thursday, June 18, 2020

June is peach time in the Texas Hill Country.

I visit my favorite peach stand a little way out in the country about twice a week, keeping a tray full of ripening peaches and tomatoes in my kitchen for as long as possible.  Other than going to that open air stand where all of us are wearing masks, and a few drive though window transactions, I do not leave home at all these weeks.  Happily I have many interests and enjoy my home and yard.  Company here means sitting outside, keeping a distance, everyone bringing their own cool drinks.   I love this!  My shady yard has three seating areas and they are all comfortable.
My friend Penny came by today with this poor little rescue bear and said she was throwing him away. Penny has moved into a tiny house so it is a life change. I think there is a basket somewhere here that he can sit in and look out of. With his roughly recovered feet, leaking straw, loss of embroidery and loosely hanging ear my snobbish little Steiffs want nothing to do with this bear. But who could turn him away? Not me. I have bears because they make me smile and this elderly bear can still do that. I am about to the stage where I too need a basket to peer out of in this wild time.

I have painted some this spring and that is always absorbing. I enjoy my many dolls and sew for them a bit. Living with the collection that Jackie and I put together over many years is pleasure in itself.    

 But something else has caught my attention lately.  As posted here back in January, my sister went to the estate sale of a collector friend in Houston and one of the treasures Sis bought for me there was some handspun  wool, dark natural in color and with interesting texture.  These beautiful skeins  have brought back how much I love the feel of wool in my hands.   I kept feeling of them and admiring them and finally last week I bought a simple upright loom like one I used many years ago. At one time I wove several shawls on a 7 foot triangle loom borrowed from Dorothy P.   The weaving is literally hands in, over, under, fingers in the wool, as you go. There is no mechanical heddle to lift the sheds.  I want to experiment with a very textured nubby blend of yarns and have ordered a rainbow of yarn on line. 

 Placing a large loom out of the main walkways is not too easy in a small home.  My son Carl modified a big painting easel (of which I have far too many!) to hold the heavy loom.

  Above see the big brown skeins that caused all this!

This blue plaid shawl is one I wove years ago, a very conventional pattern in lovely Shetland wool.

My great granddaughter weaving at age 9 in what was then my living room. Bailey is 22 now, not many young women can say they learned to weave from a great grandmother.   We have all spoken so many times about how working on textiles has been a comfort to women forever.  We stitch so much into our needlework.  Turning tears and trials into beauty is the way I think of it. Our lives are sunshine and shadow, and worth every minute of it. There are house fires and death and separation and then there are grandchildren!  And gardens and lasting friendships.   I am  grateful for a long life.
Stay safe my friends.  e

Thursday, March 19, 2020

For the Love of Crewel Embroidery

Once I had a great stash of Paternayan crewel yarn and could turn out wonderful pieces with the patterns of Erica Wilson and her classic book. I went on to design some of my own and loved the craft.  My hands were 40 years old then , not as they are at present.   A friend with a magnificent 36 inch wooden doll recently made the doll  a beautiful skirt of crewel and I admired it.  Here is the doll with a length just pinned around her.

 My friend gifted me with yardage of this stunning fabric to make my own doll a skirt,  and then some! What a joy to open that package!

I think I should make a skirt for myself!

I surely have the jewelry for it.  This color is really my signature red.

 The 5 strands of blood  coral are old, a gift from my sweetheart husband. The bracelet and rings I have had from 1968 and the squash is something I bought just last year.    The linen shirt is good with it all.   I am not sure when I will be stepping out of my house again to wear it. What a time this is. 

But it is an entertaining thought. I wear very long skirts, but am now a short person, at  5 ft tall, when I was 5 '5" . I think there is enough for the doll and me too!   Enjoying just looking at it.
   What a treasure from a generous friend.
Art in its many forms can bring light to a gloomy time!  e

Monday, February 24, 2020

Painting the Capilla in Contrabando

 Yesterday was a pleasant day of painting.  The subject this time is a little Chapel in Contrabando.  I saw a photo of it by my friend John Hoyt, a friend who graciously allows me to paint from his images. Then I googled a bunch more of that small town beside the Rio Grande.   I decided that when Cheryl comes to visit next month we will go and paint there for two days, in the big bend park.  Alas that is not to happen!  Reading more I learned that Contrabando was never a town, only a movie set built about 1985.  So it was just an illusion, not really real.  Then the river rose in flood and after a few more years  the chapel and all but one building were bulldozed and taken away, so more of a dream than ever,  visible only on the screen in Lonesome Dove and a dozen other western pieces of make believe.  How do I convey that sense of ephemera, for the little chapel only seen in memory or a dream or when the moonlight makes it almost visible again?    

The whole western mystique evokes the view of a time that really never was as we remember it in folklore.  I do not seek reality in my painting though it is representational. It represents a private internal response to what I see or think I see.   

  Frank Tenney Johnson painted so many western nocturnes. I am studying his palette for moonlit scenes.  

Here is the image from John Hoyt.  To see more of the buildings and surroundings, google Contrabando movie set.   Another photographer friend, Rey, has promised to share some shots he took of Contrabando. There were many appealing  little adobe buildings to paint there, I wish I could go back in time to paint there for a few day, but photos will have to do.  

blocking in,   

I will leave it on an easel in the kitchen, there are always little touches I want to make. e

Friday, February 7, 2020

Attending an estate sale by phone, 200 miles away

This was an unusual day for me, and such a pleasant one thanks to my sister Judy and her husband Jim, who  sent pictures from an estate sale in Houston today.   The great home, which I visited years ago was featured in A Simple Life with an article by Helen Pringle and pictures  by Jill Peterson. 
This was in the Special Issue 2012, The Home and Garden Issue.

This lovely house is the former home of a member of the Bell Ringer club I have enjoyed for years, as we have collected together, gone  to shows in groups, shared our homes several times a year and have had such great sisterhood.    I toured the house with Jack many years ago when around sixty of us gathered in Houston for a three day party.  Our hostess made this an unforgettable  afternoon for us as she welcomed us into this fantastic house and collection.  I don't really have enough superlatives for it.  Now the collection has had several sales as it is gradually being dispersed.  Judy attended the first of these sales a month or so back  and took a number of photos of large furniture pieces as well as some smaller items. Even after hundreds of other people had made their choices,  there were still  smalls for me to enjoy today.      I was most interested in the spinning and weaving items. 

When I alerted Judy about another sale happening today, she and Jim took me with them by phone and it was such a nice experience. I have been house bound and ill for a while,  better now and ready for a gentle adventure.   Here are pictures that she sent,  (Thank you Judy and Jim!) and then we will see what I bought!  Not much  lighting in the house today made photography iffy.  

 Hard to see much here but these old carders.   Judy just took fairly random shots till I showed excitement about something.
   I bought the yarn.

For some insane reason I love yarn winders, have bought a ton of them in many styles. I no longer live with one but miss them! I spotted tape looms in the bucket, new but useable.  So bought those.

 I would love to have grabbed all the baskets. A girl can't have too many baskets.

 Above is a little chair I selected.

   I bought the tiny one on the left, but the center one was the buy.  I have 7 or 8 that size and cannot use many more!

 Ah this is for me.  Condition is not strong, but graphics are sweet.

My check out pile.
I like the high back curved settle, but cannot use any such these days in an overfull small modern house.
So Judy and Jim checked out for me a woven coverlet with leaping deer, two large skeins of handspun Shetland wool, three new tape looms,  and two small chairs, the more primitive of which is likely not period, but will be sweet with my bears or cloth dolls.  I remember Joan's love for the old pieces and will love them forward with her.   We are but custodians for a little while.    The yarn and the new little looms speak to how women of today still practice the crafts of our sisters long back.    An amazing day!  e

Post script, now the coverlet has reached me by mail, here it is spread out to enjoy in the living room a little while, It will of course later go on the bed in the Front room done all in indigo and white.

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