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. ~Edyth O’Neill

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

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