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30 March 2016

Spring is Springing!

Spring is definitely in the process of springing, here on the farm!  Flowers are blooming, trees are leafing, birds are nesting, pollen is flying, allergies are exploding .... I love the color and the sense of awakening that this season brings, but I'm not fond of sneezing!

The pear tree (left, above) is in full bloom, as is a sapling redbud tree (right, above) that himself found in the side yard when he weeded out the young locusts.  Redbud is one of my favorite trees; I once saw a garden where a pine tree, a redbud, and a Japanese maple were planted together, and I thought it was gorgeous.

The maple tree by the front porch is putting out its seed pods.  When I was a kid, we called them "helicopters" because of their whirling movement as they fall from branch to grass.  My grandkids call them helicopters, too, which makes me smile.

Best of all, my lilac bush is getting ready to bloom!!  It sits by the front porch, just opposite the front door, and the scent of  that bush when the sun hits it ... it's intoxicating.  Lilac is such a wonderful, springtime scent.

Spring is springing indoors, too.  I decided to start some seeds indoors this year.  I've never had much luck with this.  In years past, I've overwatered and killed the seedlings.  When I finally got the knack of just enough water (after several years of either overwatering or forgetting to water at all), one of the cats ate everything that had sprouted -- thankfully, nothing was poisonous.  This year, our two remaining cats have no interest in vegetation, so I decided to start poppies and hollyhocks indoors.  I don't think every little peat pot will be a success, but I'm hoping to get some transplantable seedlings for my effort!

Can you see the "true" leaf coming out
on the hollyhock plant?
I apologize for the grainy photos.  I really don't like the camera feature on my new smartphone, and I didn't want to drag out the digital SLR.  In fact, I'm considering trading in my Nikon D-SLR for the new Nikon point-and-shoot model.  Changing lenses didn't bother me in my younger days, but with my thumbs affected by arthritis and my grip not as sure as it used to be, I hold my breath every time I attach or detach my zoom lens.  Plus, the weight of the camera bothers my neck -- another complication of middle age and arthritis.  

In yarn-y news, I wasn't very productive since our last chat.  First came two social events that I attended with the spouse (two words -- dress shoes -- evil, tortuous creations!!).  Then the allergies threatened to cross the line into sinus infection; I think they actually may have, but I've been eating tangerines like a fiend, and maybe the vitamin C scared the infection away.  Then, whilst still dealing with allergies, both the man and I were hit by a 48-hour stomach bug.  I actually slept on the couch in the daytime.  That never happens, unless I'm sick or terribly run-down.  Yesterday found me feeling a bit more like myself, so I took the opportunity to finish the Dala-inspired African Flower horse for my friend, Jayne.

It never ceases to amaze me, how the same pattern made by the same person can come out differently every time.  Jayne's little horse is very coy and demure in her expression, whereas mine was full of mischief!  She went into the post today, and should be at her new home by the end of the week.  

I added two small braids to the mane, one on each side, and attached a bow that matched (as closely as I could) the blue in the African flowers.  Then I dressed up her tail with a larger bow in the same color.  The pattern is Heidi Bears's "Fatty Lumpkin, the Brave African Flower Pony" (see the link under my Patterns list to the right), and the yarn is my old standby, Knit Picks's "Palette" wool fingering yarn.

Talking of palette and seedlings reminds me of something I wanted to share with you.  A few years ago, when I was quilting, a friend introduced me to the website of Design Seeds.  Design Seeds takes a photograph, isolates predominant and complimentary colors from the photo, and turns it into a color palette.  It will probably make more sense if I show you one of the photos they uploaded today:

©Design Seeds,
Obviously, they don't include every color in the photo; they limit it to 5 or 6 that seem to be the key color elements of the image.  The truly great thing about their website is that it is searchable!!!  You have two options for searching:  you can use the color sliders to set a color, and look for palettes that have similar colors; or you can search by theme. 

©Design Seeds,
Say, for example, that you want to knit a pair of socks, crochet an afghan, or make a quilt inspired by autumn.  You can go to their website and click on "autumn" under "search by theme" .... and then sit back and lose track of time!

©Design Seeds,
There are 8 palettes per page, and you can easily get lost in the colors as you scroll through the pages.  The photo above shows just two of the palettes from the first page of the "autumn" theme search.  I especially love the fact that they're not giving you "standard" palettes.  Neither of the palettes show above is the traditional orange-red-brown autumn palette, but both are unmistakably autumn in tone.  Another neat feature is the "see similar colors" function.  Say you like the cranberry red in the top palette, but would like to see it with other colors.  Just click the color swatch under "see similar colors", and you'll be taken to other palettes that feature that color, or one very similar.  Jessica Colaluca, the brain behind Design Seeds, also writes a blog (The Season's Yield), in which she discusses color, inspiration, and different aspects of the artsy-craftsy life.  There's also a link where you can learn how to submit your own photo, which might become a future Design Seeds palette!

 You can follow Design Seeds on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  But beware ...... it is VERY easy to ignore the passage of time, whilst perusing these splendid colors.  You'll be amazed how much time you'll spend saying, "Ooooooh, that would make a fabulous [bear, blanket, pair of socks, afghan, sweater, hat, scarf, bag ....]!"  I've put a link to the Design Seeds website in my link list on the right of this page.  In fact, I'm thinking about making another African flower animal (my friend Carrie is now working on the sheep, and it promises to be splendid!), so I might just go and spend a few minutes looking for a palette.  Only a few minutes ... not several minutes ... or an hour ... or all the time until dinner ........ ;)

Thanks for stopping by!  As always, if you have questions, comments, photos to share, pop 'em into the Comment section below.  You can follow me on Facebook and Pinterest (although I'm slower than Christmas about updating Pinterest, I'm trying to be better).  And if you have friends who also love playing with string, invite them to join us -- it's free, fun, and I promise we won't talk about politics!! :D

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