Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It happened! The sweater got finished, with about half an hour to spare. That time got used making a gluten-free Kentucky Derby torte. (And yes, it seems to have been enjoyed – I saw the youngest guest wearing a big smile and a lot of chocolate!) The yarn plus pattern had a LOT of give, so it turned out more like a shawl with sleeves and buttons. Bill took a photo of me with his (and my) favorite lily, right before I left to go to the garden party…
Which turned out to be indoors, because every time our hostess thought of setting the tables outside, the thunder started up again. It’s been a rather boisterous summer for thunderstorms – no sooner do I turn on the computer to look at email than it begins booming again and wisdom suggests shutting everything down and disconnecting the modem.
There is something truly, truly lovely about a garden party, and something especially lovely about this one. Simple sandwiches elegantly presented, well-dressed ladies, including Mary, sister of the hostess, who wore an extremely soignee dress she’d sewn herself from a vintage pattern (I’m guessing 1950s) though the fabric was a hot pink background with lime-green roses outlined in black. She carried it off perfectly, and claimed it was easy to sew. For her, of course.
Everyone wore hats; we sipped Earl Grey tea out of dainty china cups, and the flowers on each table were magnificent. It was definitely the party of the month, well worth finishing the sweater for.
Meanwhile, inspired by the summer 2009 Cloth Paper Scissors studio issue, I’m taking a hard look at my own studio and starting to go through things with a critical eye. It’s an interesting issue – not just the magazine, which is inspirational, but also the question of workspaces. Do they inspire? Are they easy to use and clean up? Do they mire us in the worst sort of creative bog? I think it’s time to take a closer look at this space and see what’s necessary – or not.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Realizing yesterday I had only three days til the garden party, the knitting continues. The back and one front are now done, the second front is in progress. Now it’s just today and Monday… But I paused to try a gauge swatch for the mohair, deciding it will have to be some sort of cardigan; and to finish a crazy-quilt tatted pincushion, started a few weeks ago. This is the first prototype of a class I’m teaching more than a year from now – I had to finish it and photograph it to give the organizers an idea of what I meant. Not entirely sure it’s glitzy enough – I meant it to have a tatted charm, and I think some of the tatting on it might be too big. Of course there will be more crazy-tatted experiments unfolding eventually … but meanwhile, back to the knitting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ask and ye shall receive… in this instance, an invitation to a garden party, even though I didn’t ask very loudly! Also, I don’t think the person who invited me read that entry – it just happened! So yesterday I spent several hours finishing the sweater back.

Now all I need is two fronts, a marathon of sewing things together and darning in the little ends, two sleeve bands, two front bands and the shawl collar. I’m afraid real work is going to get in the way of a speedy finish, but I’ve got a long book on tape to contribute to some slow-and-steady progress. The garden party is next Tuesday afternoon. I’ve been told to wear a vintage-looking dress and a flowered hat; white gloves will be provided. The sweater (if finished) would be perfect. I wonder whether I could cultivate an attitude of languid, to fit the mood of the occasion. I suspect in order to finish this sweater though, that could be counterproductive.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Inspired – mildly – by the New York State Fair competition booklet, which really should have many more tatting categories to reflect our huge enthusiasm for tatting! – I decided to finish a mohair-spinning project started when? Last summer, maybe. The goal was to spin enough for a sweater. Some of the spun mohair was markedly differed from other skeins – the ones I spun while Bill was in the hospital look neglected next to the others. But here’s the batch dyed and waiting – for a previous sweater in the queue to get more finished. Said previous sweater is a short-sleeved, slightly fitted cardigan I plan to wear to a summer wedding (if the weather justifies the need for a sweater) otherwise for the sort of garden-party events I hope to host or get invited to that never seem to happen. Anyway, I can dream!
Finishing the spinning and dyeing is part of the way there. I suppose I could always enter the skein competition – but I hope to have a sweater to show instead. There’s 21 ounces of the good stuff – and about 4 ounces of the too-loosely-plied handspun I’ll have to find another use for.
Am I getting de-railed by other projects? I was quilting for a while, trying to use up some part of my stash, and sewing like mad but not apparently getting very far along. And for the past week I’ve been doing something a bit different, about which my patience or attention is close to the end. And of course, there’s also work – which for me is a potpourri of choices and subjects. After three articles on the subject – the third currently in the works – I’ll soon be halfway to being an expert on foreclosures in the Finger Lakes (NY) area. A few nights ago I gave a wine talk on “How to Taste Like a Highbrow” for a library "Women In Wine benefit." I was astonished at the amount of research and re-writing, not to mention rehearsal, I needed before the big event. And fortunately, I had a pleasant, kind audience who said they really liked the talk. Came home and Bill said it had gone magnificently. That’s one worry off my mind for the moment! And a very different talk – one about tatting – to prepare and give next month that should hopefully provoke a lot less anxiety.

But first, there was a very big hat project. In the past eight days, I’ve made 47 little toppers for Seneca Santa. Admittedly, the bulk of most of them were done on the knitting machine, but they had to also be hand-finished, sewn up and in many cases, matched with the gorgeous mittens made by my friend June, who prefers knitting mittens to hats and seems to produce them almost magically. Last Sunday we sorted yarn, hats and mittens. We gave each other a pink challenge (notice a pink theme going on here?) and split up a pound of pink yarn. I got six hats out of it, I know June will probably not get 6 pairs of mittens, but after matching them with some of her other mittens, there are four hats waiting. There’s a gold hat bottom right in the photo – June had one of those mittens knitted before we finished sorting and matching last Sunday. There’s also a pale yellow one matched with a pair of June’s yellow mittens, unseen at the bottom of the pile. I started crocheting multiple strands of vaguely yellow yarn into a hat, then June said the started project looked like a potholder, so I pulled it out and re-did it by knitting it on size 15 needles. Now it’s airy and stretchy.
(Seneca Santa is an area charity providing Christmas gifts and warm winter stuff to needy area children. Last year we saw 269 hat and mitten sets come through the studio; but one of our most prolific mitten-makers died this past May after a long illness, so we think we’re in danger of having a lot fewer sets to give this coming year.)