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!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thought it might be time to revive the blog because I’ve made a lot of resolutions for this year. That is, if you consider resolutions and intentions to be the same, which in some respects, I do. A few years ago, I resolved/ intended/ AND carried through on the resolve to get rid of a lot of my stash… and within a year, somehow had a whole lot more. I’d say “through no fault of my own” – but of course, I was… um… materially involved. This year, my approach will be a little different. I will FINISH PROJECTS. Yes, really. Doesn’t mean I won’t start new ones, but I will also finish what I begin, including much that’s already been begun. And I’ll be keeping track. You are welcome to keep track with me, and please do share your own success stories.
So for the year’s first completed object, here is an afghan, which I was given four or five years ago, maybe longer ago? as uncompleted pieces. The crocheter, who had done a beautiful, consistent job at creating the squares, had apparently declined to either work in or sew in the ends. There was an odd number of pieces, and no indication of how they were meant to go together. So after some thought, I sewed them together in the pattern you see here – and crocheted a border, and carefully washed it (a few of the colors ran just a little). This past Sunday, it was raffled to benefit our local fire company’s expansion fund. It netted $68 for the fund, not as much as hoped, but not too shabby, either.
Sunday was preceded by Saturday, when I was a vendor at an area wool day. I’d dyed a lot of roving to bring, and it occurred to me right before the show that it might be nice for potential customers to see how the roving spun up, so I took two colors and spun them into yarn, just enough, I thought, to knit these fingerless mitts. Which I did.
Today I had to take Bill to the doctor, and grabbed the fuchsia yarn, plus some similarly colored mohair. Some years ago I’d started knitting a bag I intended to felt with the fuchsia, but stopped midway through. I pulled that out and started the hat while we were waiting. Finished it late this afternoon.
Meanwhile, while visiting with friendly family who dropped in, I picked up this ball of cotton (sugar and cream) I’d gotten some years ago as an uninteresting ecru, and then dyed in these slightly more interesting colors. Several months ago I came up with my own pattern for crocheting sturdy washcloths – here it is. CHAIN 30 SC in 3rd CH from hook. *DC in next stitch, SC in next stitch, continue from * across That probably leads you to finish with a SC. If it does, CH 3, skip first stitch, *SC in next stitch, DC in the one after that, repeat from * across. If you ended with a DC, then CH 1, SC in that first stitch, *DC in next stitch, SC in next stitch, continue from * across. You get the idea. You’re making a single crochet above the DC in the previous row, and a Double Crochet above the SC in the previous row. Continue until you’ve got a square. If you run out of thread, a rectangle is almost as useful (though maybe less useful as a gift). Optional: SC around the whole square, and /or crochet a round of reverse SC around the square. Three or four of these, tied up with a ribbon and some interesting soap are an appreciated present.