Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snowy Day

Yesterday it snowed all day, episodes of squalls, spitting snow, ice pellets and straight up-and-down white-outs, laying down layers of hazard and keeping us strictly indoors. This morning we have not yet gone out to survey the driveway and paths, which were less than ideal previously – we have not seen bare ground in more than a month! So it was definitely time for a mental health day and an opportunity to finish a few more things and, why not? Start a few others.
The doll in the middle of the photo taken on the chair was begun in 1983 for a crochet book I wrote and sold – that never got printed. There were a few unfinished projects from that book that still needed to be photographed before the book went to press, and as we know, that didn’t happen. This project was tossed into boxes, found at intervals and tossed into different boxes. She finally got finished yesterday. Like me, she’s become more substantial than she was 26 years ago, particularly in the lower half (she was constructed top down, extemporaneously) and she seems to have also changed eras – well, so have we all. To her left, elbowing in front of her, is a diminutive grape basket, a present in kit form for my birthday several years ago, from a talented basket-maker who doubtless thought this would be an easy project.
To say I was all thumbs trying to weave it is understatement, in fact, I could have used a few more thumbs. The instructions had cheerful directions like “weave 20 rounds with fo” I had barely a clue as to what THAT meant. By the time I got to “lashing the rim,” it didn’t seem like further punishment would help much. I may have invented several basket techniques a veteran of this craft would surely cringe at. It is the intended decoration that gives this basket its name – it isn’t supposed to be large enough to hold even a small bunch of pinot noir. But I think it would be a dandy place to hold spare shuttles as I liberate them from tatting projects as they get finished.
Last – though this took up most of the day – are the two brown balls of Shetland/alpaca wool spun while I listened to news programs. This is only two ounces, but spun finely, there’s a LOT of hours in it – at least half an hour and closer to 45 minutes in the plying alone. Then it was wound and re-wound to divide it neatly into two balls of roughly equal size. Are those knitting needles peeking around behind one of the balls. Well… um… yes. I did start another project. And true, I have not yet finished the third pair of socks. But I worked on them during Bill’s dental appointment on Monday, and at writer’s group Monday night, and Bill’s got another dental appointment – a long one – next Monday, so the end is in sight.

The quilt is for sweet Tanya, one of the youngest tatters in our group. She’s received it, so I can show it off now. It was started three years ago, one of those projects where you know the general intention of it, but don’t know quite why you began. When Tanya recently shared some good news, I knew it was for her, and finishing it became a pleasure. I’m not a great quilter, but every now and then something comes out really well, and this was fortunately one of those times.

Friday, January 23, 2009

January's Hat Harvest

The photo is a partial "list" of completed projects from the first part of January. There's a common thread - most use more than one yarn held together. The fuzzy yarns seem to be improved when they're joined to other, heavier, more substantial yarns - even other fuzzy ones; the little socks are a combination of a light knitting worsted and an acrylic sock yarn I bought on a whim at the dollar store. Using the pinky stuff with brown meant it would work for a boy.
I finished a few other things before and since taking the photo - not seen are a pair of socks destined to be mailed to a friend, another pair of fingerless mitts that hid out, camera-shy, while I planned to take the photo; another scarf, a lot of tatting, experiments and finished things that wound up in Tatting Times, a bit of clean-up here and there.
Many needlework blogs end up sounding self-congratulatory - "Look what I did! Look at me!" - but these few finished things are such a drop-in-the-bucket of the started, currently still-incomplete projects. I finally got the courage to count how many sock projects remain unfinished - I believe the number is currently four pairs, because two are now finished. (And that's just socks - I'm not yet ready to mention the multitude of tatting, crochet and other knitting projects "in progress" - but often not making any progress at all!) The past few days I've worked on knitting the pair of socks I began on Christmas - it's very fine yarn and still very, very far from finished, though I've been carrying them around with me. Knitted while I listened to the inauguration, even knitted at the restaurant when we went out to eat. And I've just barely turned the heel on the first sock. Some things move slowly.
These little socks were fun - I used size 5 needles, 28 stitches; it was more a matter of applying myself to the project of making sure they got done than taking time for them. And last Friday I had the satisfaction of seeing them on the little feet they were made for. You're looking at youngest grand Caleb, chocolate cake in one hand, determination to figure out my Louet hatbox spinning wheel uppermost in his mind. He alternately declared "Gramma, I WUV you!" and took, "I love you, Caleb!" as the starting gun for going back to have another try at stomping the wheel into submission. For the moment, the wheel won.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Keeping to the resolve... so far

Four finished projects are shown here - a fifth remains invisible. The two red scarves were knitted to use up yarns I discovered in my stash that needed using. More red projects are planned, but I needed a break so there's one on my needles now in shades of turquoise. Today my "twin" Wendy came for lunch, but I first dragged her to the stash and demanded she pick three yarns so I could knit her Christmas present. The result was the green scarf (there are also threads of purple and black in that) which looks smashing with her newly auburn hair. She left wearing it, layered with the black scarf she'd worn in. To the right, on the pinker of the red scarves is a Beaded Romanian Point Lace project designed by Canadian bead designer Brenda Franklin. Brenda taught this class at the Fringe Elements Fall tatting days last September, which always has a non-tatting class or two. Her instructions were superb, and I'd wanted to learn this form of lace, so I took her class when it coincided with a free period, and got the project partly finished. Brought it back and dropped it on my desk, where it sat tantalising me through the fall. I don't have a very large desk, so it seemed a good idea to begin the New Year by taking at least a few things off it. I finished this New Year's Day. It's very beaded and fairly heavy. I'm afraid if I hung it up as the ornament it's meant to be, the weight might pull it out of shape. For right now it will be packed away with the instructions for a few others of her designs, to be (maybe) tried at a later date. Maybe. Not shown in the photo is the disastrous felted bag project. I've made quite a few felted totes this year - at least eight others, but this one behaved like no other felted bag. It started out wide and long and felted narrower (as expected) but also longer than its pre-felted state. This one looks rather like a wooly pillowcase folded in half lengthwise. Only the handles came out as planned. I'm now considering how to finish it - turn it into TWO bags, perhaps? Line it and quietly give it away>