Tuesday, August 11, 2015

after a bit of time...

It’s hard to get back to a blog after so much time away, but I’ve wanted to be here, I’ve missed doing this… Just that I was doing so many other things. You know how into every life falls an obsessive love affair, the sort that means you’ve got to spend every spare moment either with your beloved or thinking of that person, longing to be there, touching, dreaming… So it’s been with the “Monster Doily.” (sorry, Bill, but I see you every day!) I dreamed about it for quite a while before beginning it, bought the perfect thread, agonized over choosing which colors to use, dyed thread an apricot color that was going to be eye-poppingly wonderful for the center and the 10 semi-circles that looked like mini-sunset, and absolutely beautiful with the greens… but it didn’t work. I seem to be temperamentally unable to dye totally solid colors, so I had to begin again. Multiple times. The plan was to finish the doily for the state fair. Whose early-August deadline seemed far-distant at the end of May. About 150 hours later, I was starting to think, okay, I’ll just get it to a good stopping point, surely I can do that by the deadline. When I turned it in, my monster was 24” across, but I’ve only done row 13 of the 18 rows. And my fingers were finished for a while! Let’s face it, those rows get larger and take longer as you progress outwards. I do plan on finishing, but not until it’s back from the fair (assuming it was accepted).
I also entered this shawl, the yarn spun from a Wensleydale-Teeswater blend on my new wheel, then dyed by me, and knitted using the “Eight Triangles” shawl pattern – though if you count, you’ll see there were actually nine triangles. This shawl project was also the product of multiple starts – the original one I’d planned to enter suffered an awful mishap – I’d carried it with me to Bill’s dental appointment, and when I replaced it in the car after he was done, apparently one of the balls of handspun yarn rolled out of the car unbeknownst to me. The image of my Honda obliviously driving away while a ball of beautiful handspun unrolls in its wake tickled the funny bones of my more sadistic friends. So I had to start over. The one thing that helped enormously was that I had the opportunity to knit onstage at the beginning of the theatre season, when I played “the audience” in a historical melodrama. I wasn’t onstage knitting long, and as stage manager, I had a gazillion other things to do as well, but I noted long pauses in my master copy of the play and knitted like mad at those times. And I was truly amazed that I could keep track of my knitting even while I was also trying to keep track of reactions and lines.
This sweater is another that I spun and dyed and knitted. I blended the colors in this yarn as I spun, which I really like doing, and I think it worked. This is infant sized. Now I’ve got to wait for the results of the judging, whether my stuff was accepted and how it did. And this baby surprise

Sunday, May 3, 2015

April was a blur of tatting events – our own Finger Lakes Tatting Group’s Tatting Seminars in the Finger Lakes, and then on to Spokane for the Shuttlebirds Tat Days. Both fun – although “fun” seems a lame word for a chance to meet with extraordinary and amazingly talented people whose scope of creativity starts with tatting and balloons out to a range of disciplines and abilities.
Here’s what I taught at Lodi – Sand dollars and rainbow trout. One of the fish shown is a coelacanth, a once-thought-to-be-extinct fish discovered in the early 20th century to be quietly minding its own business off Madagascar or someplace.
Our own April gathering is traditionally preceded here by an intense month of house-cleaning, studio-cleaning and other preparations. Thread dyeing is part of things. [Which itself is preceded by skeining, counting and sorting, and followed by cooking (the thread) rinsing, drying. labeling and packaging.] Also working on the various projects one last time to be sure they worked. Also shopping, cooking, planning, spending time on the phone with people who had either just decided to come or just decided they were unable to come as planned.
A whirlwind of tatting and people and moving things around… and then more whirlwind on the other side of the country, and finally back home… with this year’s third bout of bronchitis, this time accompanying a cold. Which Bill caught, getting sick enough to require an ambulance ride and several days in the hospital.
Not able to think about much else, I worked on assembling and quilting a summer quilt. This one is for a fundraising auction our synagogue will have in two weeks. I’d done the quilt squares some years ago, and there they were, all trimmed to size and ready to go together. Which was the work of a week, and glad I am to have finished it. We liked it enough to have put a reserve bid on it ourselves. Look how green it suddenly became around us! Daffodils are in bloom across the yard, the garden is started, I learned to trim raspberries the other day so now those are in order too. We've started spending every moment we can outdoors. We've waited for this nice weather for a long, long time!

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