Monday, March 23, 2015

More than two weeks went by? Really? Where did they go? In that time I did shop inventory, set aside – with many sighs – some of my favorite stuff for de-stashing (email me if you’d like the current list with photos) and worked on projects.
One was to make a shawl out of a buttery acrylic chenille yarn. I crocheted it, with increases in the middle at every pass, increasing on the end on alternate rows. The result looks odd when it’s flat but fits wonderfully over the shoulders and across the body… And it is really pretty! I made 14 more Seneca Santa hats, and I’m not going to bore anyone with more photos. But I WAS pleased with the results – I’ve got about half the promised Seneca Santa contribution for the year on its way. With luck I’ll exceed my goal. But I’ve had to put that aside for the moment.
One major project was shop related and took more than 24 hours (thankfully NOT in one single endless day). You see, several years ago I bought five industrial-sized skeins of cable cotton yarn from a mill in Canada. I’ve always loved this sort of yarn for its resistance to bearding and pilling and the gloss of its many plies. But the more than 3 and a half pounds to each skein was daunting, and I let myself be daunted for several years until I dived in and skeined it. The skeining took about an hour per pound. A John Grisham book on tape helped pass the time – skeining is about the most tedious work in the universe. Then, research into dyeing in quantity. Then I dyed it and I LOVE the results. They look pretty sharp in the shop, too. Some of it was even sold before I labeled it! Each new skein is 110 yards. I have some sample skeins I’ve got to knit really soon. Partly because it’s always a little disappointing to have only one photo to show for such a very long project! But don't those skeins look tempting, and springlike and summery? We have to start thinking about warmer weather, easier days...
Two skeins got very tangled; a friend offered to untangle, so I counter-offered to make her something of her choice in exchange. She wanted some of these potholders, so I went to work using up some of my crochet thread stash. I love crocheting these, they’re delightful to make as well as useful. She chose the blue and green ones – even though as I ran out of blue and green yarn, I added a grey stripe to one of them. I started with a chain of 26, which made these smaller than some, but useful for taking things out of the oven or grabbing a frying-pan handle that’s gotten hot on the stove. The pattern for this is here http://www.mielkesfarm.com/diagonal_hotpad.htm
I had to do shop inventory so I could complete my pre-tax work to pass on to the accountant… and I noticed I had a bunch of single skeins of bulky yarn. Which became fingerless gloves. They stretch over your hands and your thumbs stick out the gap you create as you knit. The pair at the far left are already sold. More are in progress, but this is the harvest so far…

Saturday, March 7, 2015

More weather. Of course. And this prevented my delivery of the doc’s socks, which I’d been diligently working on for several weeks. And had not yet posted because they weren’t finished. The back-story is that every time I take Bill to any doctor, they’ll always check his ankles because of his congestive heart failure. Which tend to be decked out in socks I’ve knitted for him – after 15 years, he’s got a sizeable wardrobe of them. His primary always remarks on this, sighs wistfully and wishes aloud that someone would knit a pair for him. He’s a great doctor, so when I found this sock yarn, it seemed to have his name on it. Over time, it became the socks I’ll give him next week – because a flash blizzard, which fortunately stopped at about 2 inches – which, come on, we didn’t need – sent me home early. They're seen here photographed next to my sleeping and oblivious cat, who is also warm and cosy.
I’ve been spring-cleaning my studio, and of course one way to do it is to use things up. I’d been saving tea-pot and tea-cup and general tea-themed fabric for a long, long time, and its time arrived. Voila – a tea quilt.
Once upon a time, there was a bag of silky wool roving, that hadn’t been around ALL that long, but was preying on my mind. I spun some of it and made it into an awfully heavy hat, which was the first thing to sell at last fall's crafts sales. I spun the rest of it one evening a month or so again, then thought about it for a while. Eventually decided to knit it into a shawlette, a shoulder-warming larger-than-a-collar enterprise that went moderately quickly and has a definitely homespun, cosy touch. I can see this as a great place to showcase a shawl pin.
This was finished mid-February but not given away until just a little later. It’s a scarf I knitted and turned into a cowl for a handsome grandson of Bill’s. (All Bill’s grands are gorgeous).
The socklets were started last summer – but I finished them on the plane to Florida and wore them there on a day that turned out to be too warm to need them. But I’m looking forward to warmer spring weather, snow-melt and all that good stuff – so they’ll be timely for the season.
Lastly, in the studio cleaning, I finally re-discovered the blanket I’d begun and not-yet finished for a spring baby. A friend just had a girl, so it’s going to my about-to-be-great-friend, the Princess Jillian. Jillian, if you’re reading this – and I wouldn’t be surprised if you are! - it’s a pity you were born in such cold weather, but at some time, you might appreciate a lighter blanket than the ones you need now when you’re not cuddled next to your beautiful mother… and it will come to you next week. Weather permitting, of course. It’s supposed to be better weather this coming week – I’m waiting to see what happens with the huge, heavy ice-dams at our gutters. But I did see a sign of hopefulness this morning outside a church I passed, “This, too, shall melt.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I fully intended to post once a week but something happened – for the second time this year, I got really, really, stay-in-bed-and-shake-with fever sick. This wasn’t quiet time – I was also coughing nonstop. This was actually the continuation of the first bronchitis which began the day after Christmas. So it while it might not be the longest-running bronchitis/cold/flu/bronchitis in the annals of medicine, it IS the longest continuous illness in the history of me. Despite the weather (this is an essential part of the seasonal "find the firewood" game) and the other stuff, I did get a few things done. This was done earlier in the year, but since it’s now on its way to being delivered, by the person who kindly held up the blanket, I can post it. It’s a baby blanket made for an expected-in-early March baby boy. I backed the navy blue velour with fleece (a corner is folded down so you can see the other side) then quilted the two together with spirals. It will be machine washable – and warm. And because both the fleece and the velour are wide, should be useful past the newborn time. This tatted doily, a re-creation of an 1867 pattern by Mlle. Riego, took about 25 hours to create. Near the end I almost panicked, sure I’d run out of thread. Thankfully, I didn’t, but it was close. This is for an article about Riego for the bulletin of the International Organization for Lace, Inc. (I’m the tatting editor). I was very pleased with the way it came out. One of the dumbest things I did this year (so far) happened on a day I was trying to get a tatting proposal finished. It was snowing hard, I’d just started the second round of antibiotics, I was feeling really sick – and my computer died. I slogged through two feet of snow to the car, carrying bits of my taken-apart computer, a pocket full of "Fisherman's Friend" lozenges and a roll of toilet paper for my running nose, drove to town to the computer repair shop and got it fixed, got the proposal complete and sent off and went to bed. This is one of the proposed projects – a tatted amigurumi angel. I like her a lot. Now it’s time to stop complaining. I went to teach at a wonderful new tatting conference – in Florida – with some of my favorite people, at the perfect time of year for a little sunshine. The amulet bags are something I’ve been working on this year, they’re fun to tat and you feel like you’ve done something interesting and significant. I also designed these “Knot More Sunshine” earrings (they’ll be in the May Tatting Times) for the conference. And, because I knew I’d be coming back to winter – inadequately dressed in most respects – I started and finished this alpaca cowl, which was fun and easy knitting on size 9 needles. The yarn was dyed with indigo; I traded during the last crafts sale of the season – a pair of mittens for this skein of yarn. I think we were both pleased. And it’s true – alpaca is warm but not itchy. And I love the color. I finished it in Florida and wore it home. Where I’m continuing to need it. Of course.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Quick update - the purse rings are now sold - the doll heads are still available!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Twice in the past week, I've had to play "find the car" (under a foot or so of snow) also "driveway roulette" - "Yup, you got DOWN the driveway, want to take bets on whether you'll be able to get UP?" But while it was blizzarding, I got a bit of stuff done. Okay, would you believe 15 knitting bags? (or lace supplies bags, or spinning bags, or crocheting bags or even overnight bags.) I occasionally dump out all the crafts stuff from mine and use it when I travel, because it's squashy, so it will fit anywhere. They're mostly for the shop, and to take along to fiber events and the occasional crafts sale. One is definitely too weird - darn it, that will have to be mine... (As if I minded). They're lined, so they take a while. But they're all fabric, and I discovered they do well in the wash. Here's a sample - doesn't the red one on the left look like tatting shuttles? (for more information on these, look at the gracefulartsfiberstudioyarnshop page on FB)
This is the one that's mine. Red isn't usually my color, but I feel a certain affection for this collection of orphan scraps of tapestry. By the way, I've got a bunch or other orphan scraps up for grabs - meaning for free if you pick them up, or just for the postage, if you want them delivered (whatever I can stuff in a flat-rate envelope). Just let me know.
And because I'm often knitting or crocheting with someone else in mind, I've made a few more Seneca Santa hats (I made six this week, thanks to my friend Sarah who gave me some bulky acrylic yarn in pretty colors, but I'm sure you've seen enough of those for a while) and finished this shawl. It's for my friend Sylvia, who is no longer able to knit and has given me a lot of her exquisite yarn stash. I started out not liking this color much, and ended up loving it. It's a silk and wool blend, and it was a dream to knit. This is getting mailed to Sylvia soon, but I'm 99% sure she isn't reading this blog, so Sylvia, if I'm wrong, please be surprised when you get it!
Finally, trying to keep to my new year's resolution of de-stashing some of my personal hoard of crafts supplies, these are items that want to leave home and go where they'll be loved and used by another crafter. These are the first installment... 5 pairs of bamboo purse handles, 9 pairs of plastic rings and D-style handles - 14 pairs total, $12 + shipping. Porcelain doll heads in two styles and different sizes. About 10 of the blonde sleeping angel style, 10 of the 3 1/4 inch tall brown-haired lady (closeup shown in an unfinished gold dress) and about 24 of the same style but 2 1/4 inches tall. $1.50 each plus shipping or all for $50 plus shipping. 2-3

Monday, January 26, 2015

Trying to keep track of work in progress would be scary. Really. I’d hate to even try to guess at the number of projects that pot along, while some even get finished. I’m trying to crochet at least one Seneca Santa hat a day this month, so here is this week’s crop. Had to get more yarn out of storage – and here’s another scary thing – there isn’t a huge amount left. Enough for this year? Maybe. But I definitely need more, and where it’s going to come from is currently a mystery.
For years, I’ve stockpiled a batch of rug wool. Quite a lot of it was orange, so a few weeks ago I dyed it a few other colors, then took four skeins out of shop stock to round out the colors. Orange, as it turns out, happily transforms in the dyepot into purple. There’s enough left over in the shop now for maybe two more rugs. These three are now, thankfully done. I’d like to sell them – I don’t need four of them (there’s another I did earlier on the back of the studio rocker). Nice warm fun crocheting them – they move fast with a size M hook and turn into substantial rugs. Not instantly, of course – these were in progress for about three weeks until winter storm Juno meant they got finished tonight. You can't see that they're actually pretty large - about 3 feet by four feet or so. As soon as I came up from the studio, there came a furious knocking at our kitchen door and two snow-dusted young people made me an offer I couldn’t refuse on clearing my driveway with their snowplow. Of course, it’s too dark to see what sort of job they did, and – another "of course" – it’s still snowing, so tomorrow it will need to be done again!
Yesterday I finished this quilt – it’s a disappearing 9-patch and it’s going to disappear to the Humane Society in another week or so, for their Mardi Gras silent auction. Can you see the cat theme?
I like being snowed in. Projects get started, projects get finished. Today I kept a promise I made to myself and began writing poetry again. I’ve been thinking poems in my head, but the past few years, the weight of fiber projects and the various other responsibilities in my life – I don’t even want to think about revisiting the almost-year-long slog of refurbishing my daughter’s house, just sayin’; and the article writing I do for the papers… well, the poetry fell out, and I need it, and I’ve felt the lack. Here’s part of the poem I wrote today, trying to get it to print here like a poem just doesn't seem possible, so look for those line breaks! – - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The colors grey out of the day and the snow keeps falling// Silently piling in the hedgerows and the margins of the road// I reload the woodstove// cover you with a blanket,// whisper in your ear// when you wake up, the water will be boiling// but it will not yet be spring.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

When I looked at what I’ve accomplished this week, I felt a little let down… In sheer numbers, there isn’t as much done as I’d hoped. For instance, I’m only 9 hats along towards this year’s Seneca Santa goal of 100 … then again, this means I’ve got 47 weeks to work on the other 91, so that’s not so bad. Let me tell you about these hats – they’re fun to make, and they don’t take too terribly long to crochet. Then again, if you try to do more than four of them in a day, trust me – your wrists will hurt! I’ll start out with two strands of knitting-worsted weight acrylic yarn. You can – as with the blue/multicolored hat at the top/center/left – use one solid color and a bunch of strategically arranged scraps (I tried to crochet them in a sort of rainbow order). I use a size K or L hook, chain 2 (making the first stitch very loose) and then alternately single crochet and double crochet into that first chain stitch, until I’ve got at least 9 stitches (should be an uneven number). Then pull that first CH stitch as tight as possible to completely close up the hole, and crochet a double and a single crochet into each stitch around for a while – you’re crocheting in a spiral. When it looks just a little larger than child-head size (which will happen soon), crochet around for a while without any more increases) with a single in the double below and a double in the single below… you get it. When there’s a little more hat, if it looks too small, crochet 2 increases here and there (they have to be paired to maintain the pattern); conversely, if it’s too big, work some decreases, similarly paired. Keep crocheting until the hat is long enough to cover a child’s ears, maybe even allowing a little fold-up ease. Finish with a round of reverse single crochet – but make sure it’s stretchy - cut and sew in ends. What’s that stuff sticking out of each hat, you ask? I’m combining efforts with a world-class mitten-maker, so after I’ve used some yarn for a hat, I tie the hat to the rest of the skein for mittens. Big skeins get two hats. The complicated framed tatted doily is Randy Houtz’s design, called the “One Path Doily” because there’s only one round, which is an odd term to use when you consider the finished product is a square. I used size 30 thread, ecru with my own HDT in a complementary color; the thread size made it only about 5 inches across. I liked that the forms in this doily were quite different from anything I’d seen before. After a whole lot of thought, one of the tatters in our group chose two highly contrasting colors for hers, and it’s also stunning. I chose pink for my model patterns for Tatting Times, the February 2015 issue. Getting that finished this week should count for a whole lot of finished projects. On the left is my “Dancing Angels” edging, and you can see a partial angel in the upper right, under the small doily/coaster. Today it left for the printers; next week the finished copies will leave for their new homes in four different countries. You won’t see pictures of my house-cleaning in progress (which has to start in earnest tomorrow, now that Tatting Times is done) but then again, that’s a project that’s never finished!