Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Hollyhocks and Beatrix

Nothing says "country garden" like the old fashioned Hollyhock. Watching these wonderful plants beginning to bloom in my gardens thrills me to bits! I planted seeds last year and watched the little plants slowly taking hold; they actually stayed green over the winter and continued to grow.
  Dwarf Hollies have been blooming all week long.
 And the full size Hollies are just beginning to open.

 I've been thinking about this girl for quite a long time.
I have made small, simple versions of sheep, but this one needed to be distinctive and exceptional to represent  Beatrix, my 12 yr. old Shropshire sheep that I lost last year.

  I could see her in my minds eye with her gentle full face, very wide nose, soft dark eyes and a perpetual smile on her face...

I look at this  face, and I do see Beatrix.

 I wanted her to be on the large size, and chose to use a full body armature that would make her close to 16 inches tall.
 She looks like an alien in this picture...
 I wrapped and wrapped her body and limbs with wool shorn from Sophia,  and then covered that wool with core wool.
  All the while, the wool needed to be needle-felted into place.
It  required SO much wool to get her some bulk, but eventually, she was built up enough that I could begin to use the good wool to create her top coat. I carded White Alpaca with Merino wool together to make a beautiful pearly white
 My real Beatrix was never this clean.

She smiled at me the whole time I was poking her with the needle...my Beatrix was never that good-natured.
It was difficult to felt with the armature underneath, I kept hitting the surface with my needles and had to poke the wool sideways.The next time I make one of these, I will use a different kind of armature.

I worked on her for many days, trying to build her up...

She still looks quite skinny for a sheep, but we had a solution to that problem...
Have you ever seen a sheep AFTER it's been shorn?
They are VERY slender...
Such a special lady needed a fine bonnet, and I am a milliner to little creatures
I love making hats
and frocks for country ladies..

She also needed Hooves; for walking the meadows and villages, one needs good footwear.

I made an extra set, just in case.
 Dried, sanded, polished and applied!
 We tried several baskets before deciding that this soft meshy one would be lightest for travel, and still hold a lot of wool. 

  The red felt bonnet was just the right color to set off her features to best advantage
The antique millinery flowers are of a soft flock-like material.

 Her calico bodice with antique pearl buttons... to match her pearly wool.

Her Shears..... now you know why she is so slender...

I'll take 8 oz of wool please.
I think I love her....

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Doll and Teddy Bear show coming in June

I had to learn pretty quickly to put together a full page ad for a Doll show. 
We were informed that our ads for the show were required immediately if our work was to appear in their show catalog. 
That was news to me. I had to whip something up pronto!
 This was the best I could come up with in just a few hours:
This will be the first doll show in which I've participated.
 It is the
 International Doll and Teddy Bear Show
 in Asheville, N.C. on June 23-24th
 Apparently, the exhibitors are coming from as far away as Russia. Have you ever noticed how many incredible doll artists are Russian?!
It promises to be an interesting event......
I may be in over my head.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Merry month of May in the Frontyard Garden

May truly is the Merry Month! 
This is proven to me every time I walk out into the garden, greeted by the newest gathering of wee sprouts, abundant rose blooms and primrose and the unfurling leaves of the Hosta.
The expanse of garden here in the front yard, began as a small corner of plants surrounded by lawn.

As the years went by, the garden grew and grew to the point where the lawn was "no longer".
.This is a Cottage garden, it is chock full of a tremendous variety of native plants, wildflowers, roses, perennials and annual seeds. It will take on a new look every few weeks, as some plants fade and die back and others come into full glory and height.
 Half of the garden lay in full sun, the other have in full shade... it is a tricky feat to make things work out properly.
 The long stone wall containing the Garden from the backside (actually, this would be the front side since it faces the road) is anchored by my picket fence corners on either end, which are connected by a long piece of Cattle panel.  The cattle panel fencing serves as a trellis for climbing roses and honeysuckle and a support for tall plants like Hollyhocks and Joe Pye.
In front of this stone bed, runs a stream, which travels the full length of the property, you can just make out our VERY OLD wooden bridge in the picture below.


Stones are a huge part of all the Hopalong Hollowscaping around here.. 
I never purchased a stone, but I have dug them, dragged,hauled them and planted them in every single garden bed.
 I worked for about 2 days cleaning out all the miscellaneous plantings in the raised stone bed...it was a messy conglomeration of too many plants. I removed all but the Daffodils and planted 10 small size Hostas all in a row, and a border of liriope which will only get about 10" tall. I don't like to hide this stone wall behind plants... We worked too hard to gather these rocks and put up this wall.
 There are 9 distinct gardens here in Hopalong Hollow...
 Hope you don't mind seeing all of them before the season is over!

Chicken wire is ALL IMPORTANT around here.... my chickens like to garden in all the wrong places! The wire will be removed once the plants take hold.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Little Sewing Machine

 When I was just a small child, my mother had a sewing machine which fascinated me. She would allow me to sift through the box of attachments that were contained in a compartment inside the sewing machine box. I would sit at her feet going through her box of buttons while the sewing machine whirred and hummed as she created curtains, aprons and pillow cases on the pretty little black machine with gold lettering and scroll work
and a decorative embossed medallion that I loved to touch.
The machine was a Singer Featherweight, her model was from the 1950's. I later learned to sew on that machine. I stitched most of my own clothing designs in high school and used the little Singer until I flew the nest. I don't know whatever happened to the machine that was a part of my childhood, but have longed to own one ever since.
Because of a very dear friend, I now have my own 1951 Singer Featherweight Machine.
We happily "traded"; I got this marvelous little machine, and she got one of my Hopalong Hollow Folk. 
I think I got the better half of the barter and she thinks she did.... so we are both pleased.
 Her husband serviced, oiled and cleaned up the little hummer and it sews like a dream.
 I looked up this model after a reader commented that THIS machine was a Centennial model, celebrating 100 yrs of Singer. My research  found, that in 1951, the machine cost $149.50.
 This machine is so small, it actually looks like a toy or a child's sewing machine, but it was one of the most popular machines Singer ever produced, from 1933 through 1968.
It looks delicate, but it is a real workhorse!
 I don't  know of a quilter or serious stitcher who doesn't own at least one  Featherweight, or is at  least aware of them.

I'd been using my 1898 Red EYE Singer to sew my critters and their frocks for the last few years. I love it, but it has no light, no reverse and is SO HEAVY to carry I am forced to stay in the studio to sew. 
  I don't want to stay in the studio to sew.... I like to work in the kitchen. I can carry the Featherweight to any room I like!
 Look at the difference in size! I told you it looks like a toy. 

The Lord of the Manor just couldn't believe anything worthwhile could actually be sewn with such a miniature piece of equipment....
 But I showed him a thing or two....or three.

  Thank you dear Deborah for the trade, love you!

 To learn more about the history of the Singer Featherweight visit this site:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Rabbits .....

Mr Twigs Halifax is knowledgeable in the field of bees and fungi. It seems an odd combination of interests, until you learn that he is also quite a fine cook, his specialty being wild Chanterelle and Portobello Mushrooms sauteed in a rich Honey-n-Herb Butter sauce....
His own recipe, of course.

Twigs is often joined on his early morning mushroom-hunting forays into the woods, by
the ever so lovely Miranda.

She doesn't give a whit about mushrooms, but has a certain vanity and fondness for "showing off" her many hats;
As they walk thru the woods, she enjoys the admiration of the chipmunk, squirrels and woodpeckers chattering from the treetops about how very pretty she looks today.
"What? this old thing? I only wear this hat when I don't care WHAT I look like...." 
Miranda always brings along an empty basket, just in case Twigs discovers a large cropping of Shaggy Mane Mushrooms and runs out of space in his back-pack.

 Miss Emmaline, prefers to stay in the garden, tending the herbaceous borders, the strawberry beds and
experimenting with every new seed she can lay her paws on.
She is so anxious for her seeds to come  up, she tends to be bit overzealous with
the watering can.

Nothing makes her squeal with excitement quite so much as seeing  new seedlings
popping up, where, only last week, there was nothing but mud.

Emmaline has a special corner in the garden where she grows the herbs that Twigs Halifax uses in his Honey-n-Herb-Butter Mushroom sauce.

She's grateful that Twigs manages the bees... for she simply has no time for gathering honey,
but does enjoy their constant buzzing amidst her Petunias and Bee Balm.
  All in all, these  Rabbits make a pretty good trio.
 Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We know Spring has Arrived in the Hollow when...

We know Spring has Arrived in the Hollow when:
 you need a  really good perch to be on the lookout for  "the CRANE".

  and when the Mistress turns you loose in the strawberry beds
 leaving you to cultivate the earth to a fine, granulated and perfect soil.
In fact, everyone on the farm is cultivating.

 You know spring has arrived when Mathilda tries for the umpteenth time to hatch the dozen or so eggs for whom she has so carefully prepared an ivy nest .
(I Hope, this time, they hatch for you sweetheart!)

 In early Spring
the Wisteria is incredibly laden with blooms and the hypnotic buzzing of the bees,
as the heady fragrance fills the garden.

 It took 8 years for the Wisteria to bloom like this.
This plant was the reason the Lord of the Manor built the huge Pergola.  It worked!

Spring  HAS arrived  when the seed packets overwhelm me.... How can I plant all this stuff?
 WILL I plant all this stuff?

Well, Spring MUST be here for sure, "the CRANE" has arrived!

How do you recognize Spring at your place?