Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Peeps 2019

Peeps 2019

We have peeps!


I ended up getting 10 Barred Rocks and 10 Light Brahmas. We’ve never done the Brahmas before and it’s always good to try new things. The Brahma adults are white with black feathered markings on the head and the tail. Right now, all the chicks look the same. It’ll take a couple of weeks for their big chicken feathers to come in.

“Get chicks” is done and crossed off the list.

I got to town yesterday and it was 42 degrees and I thought, “I’m too warm!” so I ditched my coat and ran around in shirtsleeves. I saw kids on the playground at school in shorts. If it really does get to 60 on Thursday, it’ll feel like summer.

The husband’s phone has been ringing endlessly. All the homeowners want to get their concrete jobs underway and they are all jockeying for position in the schedule.

Spring happens slowly, then all at once.


I am going to complain again about embroidery kits and patterns.

A couple of years ago, one of the husband’s relatives sent me a very cute chicken pincushion kit. I am embarrassed to say that it’s not yet finished; I had gotten frustrated with the directions and put it away. I went looking for it a few weeks ago—I’d like to get it done—and it wasn’t where I thought I had filed it. I figured it would turn up eventually. I unearthed it yesterday morning while moving some things around in DD#1’s bedroom, AKA one of my sewing rooms.

When a project doesn’t work out, or stalls, or grinds to a halt for some other reason, it’s a tendency of makers to assume that it’s their fault. Maybe they lack the required skills. Maybe they chose something way beyond their ability. Maybe they didn’t understand the directions. As a knitting instructor, I often had to remind students that sometimes, a project doesn’t work out not because they, the knitter, are lacking; sometimes the fault lies with the instructions. It’s ironic that I have to keep reminding myself of this fact whenever I work on an embroidery kit. I am pretty skilled in all things fiber arts. The fact that I am having trouble with some of these projects is more an indication of the poor pattern writing in embroidery patterns than any ability I’m lacking.

I pulled all the pieces for this pincushion out of the bag. The first thing I noticed was my lousy choice of background fabric. I am pretty sure it was a piece of Kona. I looked at the pattern. Where I would have given a list of suitable background fabrics, the pattern says only, “From the pressed background fabric of your choice, cut…” Kona would work, yes, but something like wool, flannel, or linen would work much better. Why not give a list of options? (Also, this was a kit—the kit contained everything but the background fabric. Why not include that as well?)

I’ve got enough extra supplies now that I decided to start over with this project. I pulled out a piece of linen, interfaced it with the same sheer interfacing I used on the wool penny sampler, then got out the transfer paper and transferred the lettering from the pattern to the fabric. (There were no instructions on how to do that in the pattern, either, other than the suggestion of a light box or sunny window. I used the instructions from my tablet of transfer paper.) The only guidance given on thread was “embroidery floss,” (how many strands?) and no indication of needle size. If I were going to write a comparably-vague pattern for knitting a hat, it would look something like this:

“Using yarn of your choice, cast on 100 stitches and start pattern. Work until hat is a suitable size and decrease for top. Bind off.”

Wool yarn? Cotton yarn? What weight—thin? thick? Needle size? Straight needles, circular needles, double-point needles? Gauge? Specific cast-on or bind-off technique required?

See what I’m getting at? Arrrggghhhh.

I sat and embroidered the lettering after dinner last night:


Now I can add the wool felt pieces and embroider around them. I’ll get this finished and put together and start using it.

I can only guess that embroidery designers assume that anyone taking up an embroidery project has a base of knowledge that doesn’t need to be supported within the pattern. And maybe I am being too picky, although I don’t think so. Perhaps I just need to become an embroidery pattern designer. (I am not serious.)

I’m off to tackle today’s list and watch the snow melt.

Straddling the Seasons

Straddling the Seasons

Changing the View Out the Window

Changing the View Out the Window