Wednesday, January 1, 2014

No matter what else happens, December is getting-ready-for-the-holidays time, and I’m happy to say that by Christmas, almost all projects were complete, and presents wrapped. The infamous Spiderman afghan (infamous only because it took so long to make and I had to stop from time to time to let my hands recover - and at those times couldn't do anything else) which can be found here stitchnfrog.blogspot.com/2009/07/superhero-dream-catcher-afghan.html uses more than two pounds of yarn and took about a month.
That left Bill’s socks still to be made – and part of one still needs to be knitted.
I’ve been finishing projects, too – I came upon this partially-started one. It was an “I love coffee” needlepoint – but I don’t actually love coffee. I tolerate coffee – far preferring tea. So the “cappuccino” on the bottom became “Earl Grey” and the “Latte” at the top became “Chai;” I turned “I (heart) Java” into “I (heart) tea;” and I’m going to stick green tea in someplace. This needlepoint is 4.5 inches by 7 inches, which turns out to be 31.5 square inches of needlepoint. Which doesn’t look like much when you’re starting, but is actually, stitch by stitch, enough to remind me why I usually spend my needlework time doing something different. Did a little more on the needlepoint between starting this entry and now…
The “different stuff” included dyeing a few threads. I offered our group a handkerchief challenge before Christmas, and it was time to take up my own. But the linen hanky didn’t completely inspire me – it was the same color as the snow that keeps falling outside. One dye experiment later, it’s a psychedelic reminder of the summer of love. I suspect the edging for this had best be in some solid, staid color. Because 2014 arrived before I finished writing this – or to be precise, before I finished taking all the photos – I made a few January resolutions. They included sewing a tatted motif onto a book cover
(I think this motif was in Tatting Times about 9-10 years ago) and really, it looks a whole lot better than it does in the photo! and getting more done on my Civil War reproduction quilt.
The seven sisters motif was done before I penned this resolution, but I did get two easy blocks done today – “Neighbors” and “Empty Spools” and I’m working up to something harder within the next day – maybe one with curves.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This has been a pretty full teaching year – and thank you everyone who’s been patient with me! I promise to be better at keeping up with things. I do, I do! There’s been a lot going on, so I really do have a lot to say. In the second half of the year, I taught in Amherst NY (Buffalo), Chelsea, Michigan, Salt Lake City Utah, and Cambridge Ontario (Canada) with a lot of great things going on in between, so I’m going to try to catch up in stages. At home there was a lot of writing work and the occasional glitch – like the two months when everything in the house seemed to break down needing either repairs or replacement, from the kitchen faucet to the light over my desk, bathroom appliances, the wood stove… well, you get the idea. Even the cat became extremely ill and seemed to be ready for that last ride to the vet – and then bounced back. So did most of the appliances; except another one that suddenly needs an expensive, more special replacement, through no fault of its own. In the shop, I got into a reclaimed-yarn dyeing project with my friend Sarah, who designs and makes gorgeous sweaters – all to be mailed away to the poorest people she can find. She’s shy about her ongoing good deeds and intentionally held everything up over her face. For the garden, I made five trips to my neighbor’s farm for a generous supply of sheep poop, and things burgeoned and grew, apparently loving the cooler, often rainy weather.
Of course, Bill's beloved flowers bloomed their little hearts out. Everything did well except the tomatoes, but we had lots of sauce still in cans from the previous year. The freezer became so packed with goodies there was, a few weeks ago, literally no space to put anything. We’ve started digging into our food stash and now there’s just a little room. I spent weeks, it seemed, processing stuff, including (if anyone’s hungry) enough eggplant for about 6 pans of eggplant parmigiana. We’ve finally gotten in the last garden stuff – two bushels of beets and about half a bushel of parsnips. I emptied and spread the contents of last winter’s compost bin and we’ve begun the one for this winter. (The summer bin is waiting to be topped off so it can simmer along until next spring.) There were a few funny surprises in the garden. I planted the squash twice because the first batch didn’t come up consistently – until it started raining and then the seeds that had been lurking underground had a change of heart. Some of the potatoes we planted that were not specifically seed spuds must have been irradiated because they lay there like rocks.
Another friend, also named Sarah, gifted me with tomatillos and jalapenos and I made quite a bit of salsa verde. This was my introduction to the stuff and I discovered I really, really like it. Every fall I’ve written quite a lot about wood and photographed the woodpile, which I don’t have to do again, but trust me, it’s gorgeous. I stacked most of it myself, with a little critical guidance from the old, wise one. And then I drove the old, wise one – twice – to the Cleveland Clinic where he got a new pacemaker and a better outlook on life. He came home and promptly began planting more flowers for next summer.
I produced – ahead of schedule, a new booklet of tatted star patterns called “Twinkle, Twinkle.” That was the result of a LOT of tatting, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it all! Besides that, I’m particularly pleased that I won’t be struggling with cold weather, winter flu and a book at the same time in 2014. This is starting to sound like a Christmas letter, but it’s not yet Thanksgiving, so the year’s not over.
So you get to see part of the woodpile anyway. What can I say? It's that time of year. And good things are happening in the yarn shop. I did a bunch of dyeing… this is some of it… for sock yarn and a bulky that’s great for hats and fingerless mitts. And I made a facebook page for the yarn shop https://www.facebook.com/gracefulartsfibersyarnshop?ref=hl At the moment, I’m in pre-craft-fair production mode, so I leave this tale for the moment for the studio below where more things need to happen!

Friday, April 5, 2013

One week until the Finger Lakes Tatting Conference in Lodi. Our theme is stars! Last week I finished sewing stars from across the U.S. and Canada on the quilt and quilting around them. When I was almost done, an envelope with more stars appeared. Here is our Starry Night quilt – you can see almost all the stars. It’s hard to count them all, but Bill and I estimated there’s about 135 tatted stars on the quilt – that’s a rough estimate. Could be a lot more or a few less. I'm sorry that you'll have to tilt your head to see the quilt properly - the strip of sky which should be at the top is the clue you're looking for. Can you see the Big Dipper? The quilt will be auctioned off Saturday, April 13 at 7 pm. There’s a reserve of $250 on it, and we are accepting good-faith bids from outside our group – contact me with your phone number where you can be reached if you want to join the bidding at the time – or you can put in your high bid and you just might win! All the money from the quilt will go into our scholarship fund, to enable more tatters to attend the conference in the next and following years. Wish you could be with us! actually, we could probably fit about six more people though shhh! don't tell our registrar - she's already done a lot of hard work on the event and she thinks we already have a good number of participants. But we all know there's always room for another...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It’s snowing again. How can this be when the ground temperature is actually well above freezing? Bill explained this to me and it makes sense, sort of. “Upstairs” is colder. This does not explain to my satisfaction why the white stuff is actually sticking, but… whatever. Indoors, there’s a whole lot of tatting going on. Unfortunately, the camera’s focus is a little dicey, but for a rough idea, here’s the scholarship quilt in progress. Ten days ago, on a Saturday, we had a mini-quilting bee. The picture is blurry, but the real quilt which, thank goodness, is currently in the hands of our best quilter, is gorgeous and getting gorgeouser as more tatting is added. So I went back to work on tatting samples for various classes I’ll be teaching later this year. This is the continuous Catherine Wheel Star for the Finger Lakes Tatting Seminars in Lodi in April. Then in late May, more stars are coming to Spring Fling in Michigan. Even more stars than you can see in the photo. And then, in August at IOLI, there will be a sampler class. The beehive at the top is because the sponsoring guild is the Beehive Lacers… and there are a few little tatted bees among the flowers. For re-tatting, I’m thinking of using some size 150 cordonnet -I’d have to dye it first in small bits, but the idea of making a mini-sampler is appealing… I’ve got one more set of samples to do for these classes. Ideas are drawn out, they just need tatting. There were two spinning meetings in the past two months. So I’ve done a little handspun, but I haven’t yet had time to do anything with it. On the left is the most recent project, handspinning beaded yarn; on the right is the handspun plied with an interesting nylon novelty yarn. Once I get my plumbing straightened out – oh yes, there are two minor plumbing crises, one a particular problem because it involves the potty, which has not responded to conventional treatments, and in this small house, when it’s snowing, alternatives are not easily come by – then some dyeing will happen. Until then, life will be just a bit more complicated. It’s not a great time for this to happen – but I was trying to imagine a good time for plumbing issues to occur and frankly, I was drawing a blank on this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just over 10 days ago, despite winter, a group of lacemakers warmed Saturday and Sunday with thoughts of lace. I traveled to the Lost Art Lacemakers weekend in Lafayette NJ to stay with a wonderful lacer and beader (I wish I’d taken some photos of her bead work, it’s truly spectacular) spent a day vending and another day teaching a class. Before I went, I did some thread-dyeing – these are the new colors before being skeined and sorted into individual bags. The class was oodles of fun. Nidia tatted for the first time that day – a fast study who progressed from “How do I wind the shuttle?” to “How do I read the pattern?” in a matter of hours. In fact, before the class was over, she’d progressed onto her second UFO – with promises, of course, to finish the first one. Dorothy and Linda looked like they were getting to be friends and changed seats to better chat while they were tatting; Barbara looked entirely happy. You can’t see two other class members or me, but then again, I was taking the photos. Drove home through what started as snow squalls and ended as an astonishing, though localized, blizzard. The week had a few more flakes in store for us – and a thankfully minor medical emergency (apparently un-diagnosable, but now somewhat better), both of which led to a lot of time spent tatting. Here is the Lodi Star, which I’ll be teaching in April at the Finger Lakes Tatting Group’s Tatting Seminars in a 3 hour class. The one we’ll do has the blue beads which make a strange pattern of their own; it uses my wandering wheel technique of continuous Catherine Wheels. This is the first prototype of the Field of Flowers tatted purse, a beaded bag attached to a cute metal frame. The one we’ll do will also be just a little smaller. The “we” in this instance is those taking the workshop the first weekend in May, when I’ll be teaching in May for the Amherst Museum Lace Guild, near Amherst, which is a really pretty suburb of Buffalo, NY. Just a note here: the first time I went was a year when the Buffalo winter had held a lot of snow… this winter has not (thus far) been quite that snowy, but I’m betting the result will be the same – one of the most brilliantly green spring seasons ever seen. Now back to the Valentine sock marathon, before returning to the tatting factory.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I’ve done something I’m not exactly proud of… because I was otherwise good. And because it was time. After finishing the doily book, which will be picked up from the publisher tomorrow – and in the process, learning a huge amount about the differences between tatting cotton of various brands and ages… (Shameless plug here – I’m really pleased with the way the doily book came out. If anyone wants a copy of the doily book, please email me at threads@empacc.net – cost is $10 plus $1 shipping… and yes, I do take paypal.) This below was the raw material for the cover.
And finishing projects I’m teaching next weekend for the Lost Art Lacers – please note, the background color is really black, not brown, and the thread is a beautiful vivid variegated green/blue that got totally washed out by the flash, but these are five original hearts, a few of them as-yet unpublished…
and realizing, partly thanks to concentrating on all those tatted hearts that Valentine’s Day is coming, I started yet another pair of socks. Those are the ones in brown that have a couple of wooden needles in them. They’re actually brown and blue. This is the fourth pair in progress. My only excuses are that they’re not for me – and it’s kind of an experiment, making socks for Bill that aren’t red. I’m trying to broaden his horizons a bit. The one that’s just a footling was begun about a year ago; the sparkly ones were begun about 9 months ago, and the one that’s just a blob of blue was begun last month because I was trying to show someone Dani Rotach’s hybrid innovation of beginning socks at the ankle with a provisional cast-on, knitting the foot and finishing with the leg. All the socks in the photo are done that way. I should be soooo ashamed. I’m not.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

You’re never prepared for snow. Cold, blowing, piling-up, coming-down-in-sheets old-fashioned blizzard-style – well, that’s what winter is supposed to be about, right? That was the woodpile a few days ago, already significantly reduced from September, but before I took a broom and snow-shovel to the question of how I'd get more wood indoors. And winter is at least partly why we gardened like crazy all summer, laid in supplies of everything we could run out of (of course, forgetting tea and oatmeal) made pots of soup and made sure there were plenty of wound shuttles, projects-in-progress… oh, excuse me, that’s me. All Bill really needed was his Kindle with the wireless connection so he could get his online edition of the New York Times, which he seems to read in entirety.
Diligent tatting, interspersed with some knitting brought the doily count up to five finished ones before 2012 ended…. A sixth was finished today. And two dishcloths, which I really like and are quick and fun to knit (the pattern can be found here) http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2012/12/knitted-honeycomb-dishcloth-1.html
Six more to go – that’s doilies, not dishcloths – until I’ve got enough for the booklet… though I’m not sure how many will actually fit. I’ve got three more in progress, including a small one I began today. Ginny’s got one and Kathy’s got one. And there’s a good supply of books on tape for the repetitive parts. For the third year in a row, Bill was sick on New Year’s Eve. This year he shared a touch of flu with me too. We were probably the only people under nine who were asleep last night before 9:30. Despite missing a much-looked-forward-to party, a lot of sleep seems to have helped. As for New Year’s resolutions, I’m happy to report that I made only one last year – that of putting my house on a diet – and kept it. Not so you’d notice, but I do. I’m not saying what my resolutions are for this year – this year there are three – but this time next year we’ll know if I kept them too.