Pat Hardie - Altered Art Studio

Adventures with artquilts, fibres, neckties and 2 very fine flatcoat retrievers - Gypsy & Reo

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Freeform knitting/crochet

After all the disasters I thought you might like to hear about my next experiment - 'scrumbling' aka freeform knitting/crochet. To see some wonderful examples of this artform, go to

I can't imagine a better way to use up all the leftovers from knitting/crochet projects. Only I don't knit. Well, OK I do but never seem to finish whatever I start. So I too have some yarn, in fact a goodly quantity and especially since I bought 4 garbage bags full at the Salvation Army last fall. This is mostly mohair and not the easiest stuff to work with particularly if you're not very adept like me. Anyway, I followed the instructions for a few fragments as given in Jenny Dowde's Freeform Knitting and Crochet. Aside: Yes I know it does seem a bit odd that I bought a book on how to not follow patterns.

Last night I spent several hours stiching the bits together. That was easy, but then one has to take care of all the ends from changing yarns so often. Now that's a pain. But now the question is - what to do with this piece? I could use some suggestions.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

End of story

Thought you might like to know that we are now safely home. Unfortunately disasters awaited us, 3 of them and all in one day.
After travelling of course there are many loads of laundry to be done. Cut to the chase - after about 4 loads (front loader so not that much water) and the drains were making funny sounds. Fortunately there was no overflow inside the house, but I flipped the breaker in the main fuse panel to shut off the sewage pump just in case and laid down many towels in front of toilets and shower. Frozen pipe between septic tank and filter bed. Wearing coveralls and big rubber gloves I thread the hose which is connected to the hot water tank into the offending pipe to begin the defronst de-ice process. While the plumber was assisting Al outside, Leila upchucked the lining of her stomach necessitating a trip to the vet and hence to doggie hospital where she stayed for 3 days. Don't know what she ate, but there has been a bit of an outbreak in the dog population with similar symptoms. She is now home and fine. Our last bit of bad luck was Al slipping on the ice covering the lawn. The next day I finally persuade him to have his wrist x-rayed. Soft tissue damage only - elevate and ice the wrist is the advice.
So now it is Tuesday, many days after our return and I think all is well. Well almost as I await my SAS postcard to tell me my winning quilt has been received in North Carolina which was the reason we returned home over a week early. I really don't want to imagine what would have happened if we had returned on schedule - septic system better or worse?
March break here has been absolutely fabulous if we can overlook those minor inconveniences of not being able to shower or wash dishes or... The ice is almost completely gone from the river and I predict that for the first time in almost 20 years we will be able to cross the lake to our cottage on Easter weekend. I'm going. Anyone want to help put the docks in?

Natchez Trace

Our last campsite after driving Natchez Trace.

I saw these creations along the shoreline of the lake. The hole is over the width of a thumb and at least a foot deep. No insects were around, so I have no idea, perhaps a wasp.

Natchez Trace
"The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway commemorates an ancient trail used by animals and people that connected southern portions of the Mississippi River, through Alabama, to salt licks in today's central Tennessee. "
"The heaviest use of the Old Trace was from 1800 to about 1825 by men, known as "Kaintucks," who floated down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and returned north on foot. But the stories of the Old Trace reach far beyond the early 1800s. They include Mound Builders, Natchez, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians, preachers, bandits, slaves, soldiers, settlers, and even Meriwether Lewis."
I kept seeing these bright spots in the pine trees and finally in the Mississippi Craft Centre parking lot I got to see them up close.

The tourist information centre is quite lovely. I love this shot of the women's washroom. The closest stall appears to be really leaning. I'm sure it is not, but then ...

The building is quite lovely complete with gas lights.

Then out came this woman wearing the wildest green & white striped pants I had ever seen. I chatted with her and asked questions about her outfit. She was very informative although the information had no meaning to me at the time. When I asked if I might take a picture I was told that it was against county regulations. As I only wanted a picture of the pants, I asked if a rear photo would be allowed. Can you imagine my surprise when I read what was on the back of their tops!!!!

Our patient dogs.
I probably spent over an hour in the Mississippi Craft Centre that now represents artisans, crafters, artists from over 19 states. They are housed in an architectually designed building that incorporates a gallery, large gift shop as well as studios for working artists. While chatting with the woman manning the shop, I met Rhonda Blasingame of Jackson MS. She just happens to subscribe to Quilt Art, an Internet artquilter forum. More amazingly she actually knew me from my postings. She made my day by giving me a quick 'show 'n tell' of her pieces. Check her out at
The display in the main hall was beautifully done. I took some pictures (with permission). I hope you enjoy some of the pieces as much as I did.

This is a hooked rug from inside the shop. Who cannot smile upon seeing these kitties. I'm now wishing I had bought it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Mar 9 - Vicksburg, Mississippi

Bridge over the Mississippi, overlooking the Ameristar Casino

Vicksburg National Military Park

"The National Military Park commemorates the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg. The city’s surrender on July 4, 1863, coupled with the fall of Port Hudson, LA, split the South, giving undisputed control of the Mississippi River to the North. Over 1,330 monuments, a restored Union gunboat, and National Cemetery mark the 16-mile tour road."

Illinois Pantheon - dedicated in 1906

"Stone Mountain (GA) granite forms the base and stairway. Above the base is Georgia white marble. There are forty-seven steps in the long stairway, one for each day of the Siege of Vicksburg. Modeled after the Roman Pantheon, the monument has sixty unique bronze tablets lining its interior walls, naming all 36,325 Illinois soldiers who participated in the Vicksburg Campaign. The monument stands sixty-two feet in height, and originally cost $194,423.92, paid by the state of Illinois."

For the last several days of our travels we saw many of these trees in bloom.

Ground covers

Who else, but Ulysses

"145 of the largest and heaviest cast iron tablets and markers (such as the one shown here), which were then melted down and used in the construction of military supplies and equipment [during WWII]"

USS Cairo (pronounced cay-row), pictures of which I managed to delete

Go here to learn all about this ship and its role during the Civil War as well as its amazing discovery in the river and the subsequent raising.

There are over 1300 memorials, markers & plaques. Surprisingly not all states are represented.

Union soldiers are buried here - over 17,000, making this the largest in the States.

Vicksburg, the city sits on the Mississippio river.

This particular casino has a very nice RV campground with bus service to the casino. Apparently one gets a complimentary breakfast.

The downtown area is being refurbished. I love the ironwork balcony railings.

Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of The Attic Gallery and my only stop in town.
"Attic owner, Lesley Silver, has operated this treasure trove for close to 30 years & is one of Mississippi's foremost experts on folk art" - Marlo Carter Kirkpatrick - Off The Beaten Path - 2001. An absolutely amazing find. If I had know about this place, I would have saved my gift dollars.
Little did I know that I would visit yet another wonderful place along the Natchez Trace.

A ten minute drive outside the city is Margaret's grocery store, a most amazing assemblage of trailers, block walls. The story is that the Rev. promised his loved one that he would create a wonderful retreat. The drive back was most interesting as we followed a school bus discharging its passengers, some of whom walked to little more than a hovel for a home. At times it seemed that every 10th building was a church.

March 8th, Sunday - Louisiana to MIssissippi

Louisiana, America’s wetland for sure. Woke up at 6:30 feeling very damp. Outside everything is dripping. Daylight saving is now in effect. We’re on the road by 7am – fastest yet. As we leave, I realize that we were in the less desireable section of the park. I vow to be more assertive and ask for better. And pay more attention to the ratings in Woodalls.
The fog lifts slowly to a clear sunny day. I10 has been paved with a layer of asphalt over the concrete. No more lump-d-dumps, very smooth. Two years ago the drive was painful.
Lake Charles. The city’s skyline is dominated by the petro-chemical industry. The usual bungalows are sitting on cement slabs, some with bars on windows and doors, mobile home parks and water catchment areas. We’re in alligator country. First big up-scale casino, Coushatta, where the parking lot is crowded with cars and stretch limos at 10am. Are they gambling or sleeping? The railway line continues to follow us north up #165 to Alexandria. South bound lanes of the divided highway are closed. Road construction is another big employer.
Forest Hill, roughly 25 miles south of Alexandria is nursery country with
over a hundred retail & wholesale container plant businesses. Spring is definitely here; azalea & camilia are in full bloom as well as magnolia. Roadside grasses are green and full of wildflowers – mostly white at this point.
As we travel north the price of gasoline is slowly creeping upward from the lowest of $1.57 in Mercedes to an average closing in on $2.00. One station still advertises $3.25. OK I admit it is closed, but is a good reminder of where we were not that long ago.
Our campground for the next 2 nights is River Town, just a few miles south of Vicksburg. The office is closed with an accompanying sign saying ‘full’. Upon further investigation the camp manager shows us a sheaf of registrations to arrive soon. Gasline construction crews have to stay somewhere. She then allows that this is her first day on the job and we can have the only site available, a back-in near the road. I figure she has yet to figure out what is available and what is not as there must be over 15 unoccupied sites at the moment. A hand coloured chart or Excel would help.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sat. March 7th- TX to Louisiana

No pictures today as we drove, and drove, and drove, the journey being mostly uneventful. Saw an interesting way to backfill railway ties though. Following #77 up through the King Ranch the State is building what looks like a new line. Railway ties are concrete and roughly 12" apart. Should be a smooth ride for sure. Anyway a giant backhoe was perched on top and straddling two railway box cars Guess there were about 20 of these cars filled with gravel. Apparently at one end was the ramp to get it up there.
The next most interesting sight was an egret rookery seen while speeding by on the highway. I figure there were at least a hundred of the birds sitting around the pond.
Just when I was congratulating myself on sticking with #59 going straight through the heart of Houston, we encountered a sign - I10 closed at 610 (the beltway around Houston). Tons of vehicles were getting off to take the 610 south and then east. Now I know why. Figure we lost an hour there with the detour.
Our day started at 7:30 and finished at 5:30 with only stops for gas. Now that's hoofing it for sure. We are now just over the state line in Louisiana, near a town called Vinton, about 23 miles west of Lake Charles. V RV Park is the name and while I don't recommend it (Woodall's gives it no rating and says it is remodeling although we don't know what), it is good enough for one night. And of course the wireless works or I wouldn't be posting this. I'll take a picture of our site tomorrow.
The dogs finally got a bit of a run with the bike on a gravel road. Not great with my skinny tires, but it worked just the same. Dogs are a bit hyper of course after 8 hours, so who can blame them.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Catch of the day

Rendez-vous with a Red Head. Of course I mean a parrot, the red-crowned parrot, of which there are several flocks that hang out in Weslaco. Our campground is actually in Mercedes, east of there. No matter, as soon as I got the pamphlet on where in Weslaco to go to see them, I heard them 5 min after getting home one afternoon. They are loud for sure. At 12-13" these birds can be seen flying in masses like clouds and then landing in a tree or two. These fellows were seen in the morning having announced their presence loud and clear, a kind of cleeoo, cleeoo then ahk-ahk-ahk.

The last 'catch of the day' on our last day here in Llano Grande Lake Park was of course to be seen at the dog park. This pond was first conceived as a reservoir for irrigating the orange groves that surround this park. After a petition from the campers, the owner agreed to turn it into a dog park. It is probably the best you can get in that respect. The whippets were not real swimmers although one of them would actually go into the water. Everyone knows each dog by name, but not necessarily the owner's.
Of course Gypsy and Leila gave the whippets a run for their money on ground. Gypsy was surprisingly fast by comparison, but more agile in trapping the ball. When we returned to the camper I hosed them down just in case and then parked them in their X-pens to dry off.
Hitching up the car and trailer went surprisingly well - a record if I were still to be keeping track. Sure hope we can manoeuvre off this cement pad in the morning. I am proposing an angle thereby avoiding the drag on the skids (metal bars that hit the ground first thereby protecting the main frame of the trailer). The concrete bears evidence of our push up the slope to park the trailer 2 weeks ago.
Tomorrow we are off, headed for Vicksburg but of course it is more than one day's journey so who knows where we will land for the night.
Until the next post,