Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Now for the persimmon paintings that I also promised. Due to physical restrictions I couldn’t get farther back from the nook wall nor could I get it in decent daylight. The flash made the turmeric-coloured walls a bit more orange than they really are and even Paint Shop Pro couldn’t fix I without distorting everything else. But trust me when I say I love my paintings! They go absolutely perfectly in my kitchen. I’m so happy!
And lastly my mermaid doll who is benefiting by a deadline where her in-progress picture has to be posted to the Beaded Art Dolls Yahoo Group website by March 1st. Yes, I know she doesn’t have many beads on her yet, but trust me when I say that what she does have took me many hours of work! The next deadline for her totally finished state isn’t until May 1st and I’m thinking we can make that ok. What I’m liking best about this process is that doll beading is very freeform. You can have an idea about what you want to do, but by the time the beads are being chosen and stitched on it starts to take on a life of its own and you kind of lose whatever real control you thought you had. It just kind of happens. My theory is that the doll is influencing you all the way into what she wants to be. It’s not really up to you. You kind of surrender yourself to the materials and she (or it could be “he” but it’s more often “she”) appears out of the chaos complete. Right. I’ve been working too hard on it, haven’t I?
Monday, February 27, 2006
Let’s see — what’s been happening in Damselfly’s Pond? We had a fun Dye Day on Saturday with 5 intrepid newbie spinners. We painted both white and grey yarns and rovings in brilliant colours. I demonstrated overdyeing with some brightly variegated sock yarn that I had several small balls left over from another project. (Remember the toddler hat and poncho set?) It’s nicely “fall” coloured now and will make nice socks combined with another plain colour. There was a little kafuffle when some people couldn’t remember which rovings were theirs but all was sorted to everyone’s satisfaction. I really enjoy these classes but I was pretty tired on Sunday.
I might have been tired Sunday but we still went on a little walk and T-Man bought me a new SD card for my Palm. Oh yeah — Geek Alert! To explain, an SD card is a teeny little memory card that is used in a number of different devices such as some cameras and PDAs. I already had one for my old Palm but it was a very low capacity and wouldn’t hold much. The new one holds a gigabyte of data so now I can fill it with music and podcasts, plug in my earphones and use my Palm like an MP3 player. So cool! No, I do not have an iPod and although it can’t hold as many sound files, my T/X is actually much more versatile. Even though I try, ya just can’t have everything, eh? I did my 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer this morning while listening to Marie Irshad and all my favourite podcasters celebrate KnitCast’s first birthday. Now that was a geekfest for sure! They discussed podcasting equipment and software and how each person had gotten inspired into creating their first podcasts. Even though I have no desire to emulate them, I was intrigued by the dedication they show to continue doing this on their own time and often without any financial compensation. Just their own impetus and the appreciation of their growing number of listeners. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I really enjoy listening to podcasts because they are so personal and the enthusiasm comes through loud and clear. And it really doesn’t take all that much experience or equipment to do it so the door is open for just about anybody who wants to participate.
Today I was finally working on beading my poor nekkid mermaid doll. I have to post an in-progress photo on the Yahoogroup (and here as well) by Wednesday so I was hoping to get at least some embellishment on her. I'm not planning to cover her completely so it shouldn't take forever to complete. Her fabric is hand dyed and looks good on its own. So far she has a seaweedy hip belt and a few tail scales. More to come.
Friday, February 24, 2006
The date in the corner originally said 2002! Here it is on my studio floor after final blocking:
And the rest of the specs:
Begun: January 2003
Completed: February 24, 2006 (finally!)
Finished size: 56.5” long by 18.5” high
Backing: primitive linen, 60” wide
Wool: natural Dorr wool (from Highland Heart Hookery in Halifax, NS) hand-dyed in 14 colours by me with washfast acid and Telana dyes. #8-cut.
Hook: Primitive hook made by Cindy Hartman
Whipping: Quebecoise 2 wool yarn, one strand each black and navy blue
Binding: natural cotton dyed green with Procion MX
Mounting: wood carpet nail strips
This rug is meant to be used as a headboard for my bed. It took much longer than it should have to complete because I completely ignored it for about 2 years! I finally got inspired to finish by visiting the Silk Purse Gallery show of the local rug hookers recent works. The words are based on a lyric from a Beatles song (though I accidentally got “me” and “you” reversed!) The comet is Hale-Bopp from 1996/97 and based on a real photo specially colour-enhanced. The moon is inspired from those times when you can vaguely see the outline of the whole circle when only a sliver is lit. The stars are deliberately primitive. We had to move our bed lamps slightly on the wall to accommodate the rug. I guess I should have thought of that when designing it but I tried to make use of the full width of the linen without cutting it. The stuff is too expensive to waste. I hope it inspires a good night’s sleep for both of us!
It feels so good to get something off the UFO list that’s been there for so long. That was a biggie. Next!
Tomorrow I have a Dye Day with my last beginner spinning class. I’m all ready for them with yarns and rovings and dyes and notes. Whew! Bring ‘em on! We’ll make some rainbows together.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Notice my Japanese thimble. It’s plastic and leather and I like it much better than a metal one. The needle doesn’t slip as easily and my finger doesn’t get so hot and sweaty. I tightened this one up a little by running another thread through the holes where it’s tied and tied it tighter still. I have very small fingers! I don’t usually use a thimble unless I have to push hard on the needle. I don’t enjoy poking holes in the tip of my finger. I do find it takes a little while to get used to it every time. I keep wanting to use a different finger instead of the one with the thimble on it. It’s much more comfortable for this type of stitching than trying to do it barehanded however.
Steady Reader Susan (hi, hon’!) left a comment that she’s recently started to do bobbin lace. Of course my other Faithful Commenter, Melanie (hi, Nanamouse!) is a really wiz-bang lacemaker. Too bad you dears couldn’t get together on this, but you live too far away from each other! (You'll have to meet at my house some day.) It really is a lot of fun and I hope you’re enjoying lacemaking, Susan. It’s like weaving but with threads that can change places from warp to weft and back again, eh? They also don’t necessarily have to be perpendicular because you make the loom with the pins as you go along! I love to watch the different areas of cloth in the lace: plain weave (cloth stitch), triaxial/mad weave (half stitch), and leno weave (whole stitch) are merely the beginning. It gets more complicated from there, intriguing enough to keep dedicated people going forever it seems. I’ve enjoyed lacemaking myself in the past but I haven’t done any at all since I lost most of the feeling in my left forefinger 4 years ago. I just found it hard to pick up the bobbins, but I’m probably dexterous enough now that I’ve learned to live with my slight handicap. I was thinking for awhile there I’d have to learn to throw the bobbins palms-up European-style instead of plucking them gently English-style. Didn’t appeal to me much though. Maybe one of these days I’ll get back into it, though nothing too complicated — perhaps a little Torchon. Right now I’ve got enough things on my To-Do list to keep me very busy for several lifetimes.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
With a perfectly good computer at home, why would I want a PDA you might ask? Well just for starters it’s a phone/address book, to-do list, several shopping lists, a knitting (or other) pattern book, a note pad, a clock, a calculator (with conversions), a calendar/datebook, a word processor and spreadsheet, several novels, a bunch of games, an MP3 music player, and a photo album. Plus it could (if I had the right cell phone and paid for the service) send and receive emails and surf the Internet. All this and much more in a device that’s only 5” x 3” x 1/2” big.
Sounds good but how do I use my Palm in Real Life though you might also ask? Some scenarios, all true. I’m in Chapters and I can’t remember if I have that issue of Handwoven magazine, so I look it up in my Palm. In the Fantasy/Sci-Fi department of the book store, I look in my Palm and see that I’m looking for the final book in a good series so I search on the shelves for the author’s name. I’m heading over to a friend’s house and can’t quite remember her street number so I look it up. I missed the bus and I don’t have my easy knitting with me so I play several games of Solitaire or Taipei while I’m waiting for the next one. I get to the grocery store and run down my shopping list, checking things off as I go. I’m at my birth mom’s and need to know the code for her to open the gate to get into the parking lot and the other code at the main door to get her to buzz it open. Neither code has anything to do with her phone number or her address and I’m lousy at remembering numbers. I’m ordering something online and want to use T-Man’s Amex for the purchase. He’s got the card at work so I look up the number in my Palm in a password protected file. I’m at a slide lecture and want to make notes in the dark. The screen is lighted so I can see what I’m writing. I’m eating lunch with DD at our favourite sushi restaurant and want to split the bill and figure the tip. (I’m lousy at math.) I’m at the flower show at VanDusen Gardens and want to make a note of the exact variety names of the interesting plants to look for at the nursery. I’m sitting in a boat while T-Man is fishing, knitting a complex lace scarf and need to check row 9 of the pattern.
OK, you get the picture! Remember I’ve had 6 years to get used to integrating a Palm into my life. Now I can imagine some new scenarios. Somebody wants to see a picture of my granddaughter for instance. My new Palm already has lots of them at different ages! I could even make a fancy Powerpoint presentation on my computer and put it in my Palm to bore people with. Ah, the new possibilities.
FYI, My Loyal Readers, WiFi is a wireless local area network system that you can access with the right hardware. You also need to be in a “hotspot” where there is a WiFi network running. There are starting to be more of these in public places like airports, cafes, and hotels or you can set up your own. (You can’t access a secured hotspot though without a special key code.) Using an open WiFi network you can access the Internet and send and receive email. A home system can let different computers talk to each other or a printer or other peripheral without wires. It’s not something I really need right now though. Especially when I would need a different ISP service and a new email address if I wanted to use it. Shaw is accessible through cable only — no dialup available. If I traveled more it might be worth it, but I’m pretty much a homebody.
Bluetooth is yet another wireless method of connecting devices. You can have an earphone that connects to your cell phone, a cordless phone that connects with its base, or have a Palm dial out through a cell phone and modem to access your email account. I can’t use this system either because of the same Shaw problem above and because my cell phone doesn’t have Bluetooth. However, Palm has a third wireless connection method with infrared which I can use. I can beam files from my Palm to T-Man’s Palm for instance. We already did that when I had a fun game on mine that he didn’t have. You have to be close together though so the narrow infrared beam can go straight. If I had an infrared-capable printer, I could send files to print. Mine isn’t though. See, I don’t have all the bells & whistles.
So maybe I’m a Lot Geeky. Who knew? I thought everybody knows this stuff since there’s a lot of people who know a heck of a lot more than I do. Enough tech-speak for today. We’ll see what subject I’m onto tomorrow. Time for some more high fibre content?
Monday, February 20, 2006
There are a few differences to the way it works but it’s not that far off what I’m used to so it feels quite comfortable. My old rug-hooked “Palm cosy” is a bit snug on it, but it’s better than getting it damaged in my backpack. Eventually I’ll likely make it a new cosy that fits better and doesn’t look quite so tatty. The only thing I don’t like about the TX is the so-called “cover”. It’s a flimsy fake suede thing that doesn’t even fit properly. An afterthought, I’d say. Luckily it doesn’t really need it though I’ll keep it on to protect the buttons on the front from getting pushed accidentally in my pack. Otherwise the Palm cosy itself needs a hard section over that area. A jock strap for PDAs! What an image.
What I do like about my TX (besides the colour — did I mention that?) is the ability to have the calendar, task list, and contact list sync with my MS Outlook on my computer instead of to the Palm desktop software. I could even sync email but that’s just a bit much for the memory in my case so I’ll keep that on the desktop. Syncing with Outlook saves me from having to enter everything in two different places. You can also put Word and Excel files, PDFs, photos and MP3s in the Palm. There’s a microphone jack so you don’t have to use the tinny little speaker. Unfortunately the sound files only go on the expansion card (which is my old teeny one) so I can’t get my podcasts on it because they’re too big. And iTunes rips files to a different format than MP3 so I’ll have to re-rip to the right format if I want to listen on my Palm.
The features that I probably won’t use (apart from email) are the WiFi and Bluetooth connections. For starters my USP is cable and doesn’t have a dialup entry. My mobile phone doesn’t have Bluetooth capabilities either. And I don’t really care apart from maybe looking something up on the Web occasionally when I’m away from home. I’m not away that often or for that long so that I can’t wait until I get home.
I found a program or two that doesn’t work properly with the upgraded OS but nothing I can’t live without. I have a bug or two to work out still. The sync cable is a bit flakey for one and works better if I plug it into my USB2 port and hold it carefully steady while it syncs. My old Palm had a solid cradle which held it comfortably so they cheaped out that way on this one. Ya wins some, ya loses some. OK I know everyone’s had enough of my new toy. Tomorrow we’re back to your regularly scheduled program. Or not. It’s up to me, now isn’t it? Right. Off to bed with me.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Backing up a bit, yesterday we went to a real artists’ studio and picked up our new paintings for the kitchen. The artist is Judith Fairwood (plug, plug) and she’s The Ninja’s mother-in-law but we treated this like we were real paying customers instead of family. Actually we paid her more than she asked! As a new graduate from art school, this was her first commission so she underpriced herself, especially after the lovely framing job so all we have to do is hang them up. Here’s the picture she took in her studio:
Of course T-Man joked that maybe we should have discussed eggplants or tomatoes or something else instead of persimmons. We do love these though. It was so much fun to work with an artist and to get something that’s both hers and a little bit our own input. The paintings are done in acrylics on wooden boxes which fit into the wooden frames. The frames are also painted with acrylics to coordinate with the medium-dark oak furniture in our kitchen. Now I want more real art in my house. It’s so cool!
Since I'm feeling somewhat lousy today I haven’t done anything more on my rug, but I did cast on for the second tabi sock. The first one is partway down the leg and I don’t want it to get too far ahead of number two. I want to be sure to do both split toes at the same time so they come out the same. I’ve done mitten thumbs and glove fingers but never tabi sock toes before, so this will be a first. I'll reveal the whole scoop when the time comes.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Whipping right along on my rug binding — I’m halfway down the second long side. My old body (well, maybe not-quite-so-old, just wimpy) is protesting the unusual arm movements so I’m slowing down even more. Meanwhile I’m working on The Ninja’s tabi socks and reading my email and blogs. And the T-Man is wearing his new socks to work today. They fit him abso-damn-lutely perfectly! I’m so good, I scare myself. Notice how I don’t mention the Other Pairs of socks that were started and got hung up? Obviously I’m attempting to avoid them. We won’t mention that Jay-thing today.
This afternoon we get to take possession of our new set of paintings for the kitchen that we commissioned from our daughter-in-law’s mom. She’s a really interesting painter who chooses ordinary subjects with a different perspective. Our set of 6 foot-square pictures are all about persimmons from a bunch of different angles. I’ll take a picture when they’re finally in place on our kitchen wall. That may not be until sometime on the weekend.
I hope I’m not starting to take this lovely sunshine for granted! Not after over a month of nothing but rain and gloom. It’s cold out today though with a wind, so I might not be sitting on the deck later when the sun comes around.
In the “You Probably Don’t Need To Know This” file: I’ve just used my fine Sharpie pen to redraw some of the letters that were wearing off my computer keyboard. This is a relatively young computer so I have no idea why the letters should wear off this soon. Maybe I use my computer more than most people? Nah. It’s a manufacturing flaw I tell you. I never managed to wear the letters off so much on my previous keyboards. (Spilling tea on them is another issue.) I’m not going to go complaining to HP though. It’s not like I ever really look at the keys or anything! Wonder how long Sharpie will last?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Only a day late, but I’ll be giving him his new socks this afternoon. Currently they’re drying on the sunny but quite cool deck after their little finishing bath. Here’s the stats:
Begun: January 22, 2006
Completed: February 15, 2006
Yarn: 2 balls Sisu, 80% superwash wool/20% polyamide (nylon), Col 1480 Lot 3037, 3 plies really dark grey and 1 ply white, hand dyed in Lanaset/Telana dyes.
Needles: 2mm Clover Takumi dpns, 2 sets of 5.
Comments: Cast-on 68 stitches, 2/2 rib for 30 rows. Leg 6-1/4” more (9” total) before the slightly longer-than-usual flap heel (with one extra stitch picked up plus extra corner stitch for slightly higher instep). Foot 8-1/4” before toe decreases, decreased down to 24 sts. I used the “anti-ears” corner decreases to make 20 stitches total (10 top/10 bottom) before grafting toe. Finished foot is 10-1/2”. The bits of yarn in the picture are what was left over!
The “anti-ears” method is where you have your stitches ready to be grafted on their top and bottom needles, then you take each of the four outer stitches over the one next to it. This reduced the tip of the toe just enough to avoid that poking-out effect that can happen at the corners of the grafting.
If anybody is bothering to keep track of these things, I’ve completed a total of 13 pairs of socks in 2005 and 2 pairs so far in 2006. I was supposed to be starting a new class of sock knitters this evening but it’s been cancelled without enough students. I’ll be starting a new pair of socks anyway but they won’t have to be demo socks — they’ll be my first pair of tabi socks with a separate big toe for The Ninja. Plus I’m determined to finally finish the Jaywalkers that I started ages ago. They just aren’t “mindless” so I have to pay attention to them. Can't knit on them while reading or watching TV because I make too darned many mistakes.
On the rug front, I’m still whipping around the perimeter. I’ve discovered it takes more than half an hour to use up 2 yards of yarn. My shoulder is feeling stiff and my fingers are getting sore so I have to take it a little slower. I’ve turned my first corner this morning though. Second corner (sort side!) coming up. That makes me almost halfway around.
With T-Man sick this week, we didn’t get to babysit our granddaughter so we missed her latest trick. The news is she can finally walk on her own! Took her own sweet time on this, didn’t she? She’s 18 months old. Even her preemie dad was walking by 14 months. She just wasn’t willing to let go until she felt secure in her ability. It’ll be interesting to see how this trait carries on into her life, doncha think?
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
I finished the hooking on my Dreams rug and am now in the throes of stitching the binding. This is actually a complex and time-consuming process but it really makes a difference in how professional the rug looks and I’m sure it contributes to its longevity. First I machine-stitched 2 rows of straight stitching around the edges, with the first row 1/4” from the last row of hooking and the second row 1/4” from the first. Then I went over those 2 rows again with wide zigzags. This stitching stabilizes the edge. Next I folded the linen fabric toward the back of the rug over a cord and basted it all in place. The corners are neatly mitered. The next step — which is the one I’m currently working on — is to use a doubled length of wool yarn to whip over the cording through the backing to cover up the linen completely. I used one strand of black and one of navy blue together to mimic the night sky background in the rug. The wool yarn I’m using is Quebécoise, a Canadian-made 2 ply 100% wool. It takes a lot of stitching to go around the rug. About 1 foot of doubled yarn only goes about 1” along the edge! Obviously, when you’re done hooking, you’re not done the rug yet.
Next I will need to stitch the wide cotton binding strip on over the remaining linen backing. This finishes off the back really nicely. Lastly, I need to put a label on. I didn’t do that on my first rug, Leaves, that I did four years ago. Maybe I’ll make 2 labels when I do this one. Back to stitching.
Happy Valentine’s Day to those who don’t think this is a holiday that's just a huge Hallmark grab at your pocketbook and calculated to make singles feel bad about themselves. We don't go over the top with this Valentine thing, but since I’ve had the same sweetheart since I was 17, I make sure to tell him how much I love and appreciate him as often as possible. [Cue the cupids and the violins.] But I believe that Valentine’s Day isn’t just for sweethearts but truly for anybody you care about. [Cue the floaty hearts and the sparkles.] However, I’m hoping for Purdy’s Dark Chocolate Hedgehogs. He’s not home yet so there’s still a chance.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
It has 3 plies of very dark grey and one of natural white. I call that a ragg wool especially when it’s in natural sheepy colours. I wound one ball into a skein and popped it into a little dyepot to come out looking like this:
To match this perfectly:
Luckily, since I couldn’t remember exactly how much Lanaset/Telana dye I’d used for the first two balls, I just went with my instincts and it worked! I have to admit that I cheated slightly by having the red and black dyes already mixed up due to a long-ago error in volume. (Those evil decimal points just want to trick you sometimes!) So I didn’t have to measure minute amounts of different dye powders, just a single quarter teaspoon. Oh, and the other 3 balls? They will stay undyed and become the tabi socks for the Ninja.
Our Spectrum dye study group had a lovely day yesterday eating and chatting. We didn’t get a lot of monoprinting and stamping done but what was accomplished was really nice. I just worked on my rug though. I didn’t bring any fabrics to stamp on, naughty me. It’s not like I can’t do that at home. I have all the stuff and the workspace if I suddenly get the urge. It's the eating and socializing that counts!
It’s not so sunny today. T-Man has a cold so we cancelled our outing for today. We were going to take his mom out for a walk on the river seawall and to late lunch/early dinner at the Westminster Quay, but it’s been postponed until he feels better. Didn’t want to pass germs onto his mom. Hopefully my immune system is up to the task of escaping this one. But you never know. Meanwhile I don’t get my fish and chips! Darn, I had my heart set on all that greasy goodness and now I have to cook something healthy instead.
Friday, February 10, 2006
And this is how far I got:
And now I have to cut some more strips with my trusty Bliss:
Good thing I dyed extra fabric after I realized that I was going to run out of green. Now I have way too much but that’s ok. Who knows — I may have trees or grass or something in my next rug. Just in case you were wondering why this particular rug (wall hanging, actually) has this particular colour palette, I have to admit that my bedroom walls are dark green and the floor is kind of brick red (cheap vinyl flooring). The dresser and the shelves are red cherrywood-coloured (not real cherry though). It’s not as dark in here as you might think because the ceiling, door, and window frames plus the handwoven curtains are white. Red and green tend to be a theme in my house, at least on the main floor, but it’s not at all Christmasy due to the particular shades of red and green that I like. Think bricks/chili powder/red sandstone and fir/hemlock forest with some turmeric/gold and a smidge of lighter dusty green. So you can see the reds, golds and the green in the rug, along with the slightly dingy white of a lot of my house trim. The sky in the rug is completely off the colour scheme, however the blue-violet (as I’ve discussed in past blog posts) is present up here in my study/studio area and outside on my house doors. Since I dyed all the colours in this rug myself, I got to use my favourites! I love the uneven look of mixing different mottled strips together. It gives life to wide boring areas like the sky and the border. And the blue-violet (I almost typed blue-violent, which it is!) is the hint of “poison” or spark that punches it up. That particular dye is Lanaset (or Telana) Violet and it’s just brilliant. The fabric is pure wool flannel from my mail-order supplier Highland Heart Hookery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Anne has the best price for natural wool at $25 a yard for 3 or more yards. That sounds pricey but this is Dorr wool which is kind of the Rolls Royce of wool fabrics for hooking. Another supplier I’ve purchased from who’s closer to home is Sage House in Chemainus, BC. I’m happy that good Canadian resources exist (even though most of them are in the east) since rug hooking is similarly popular on both sides of the border.
Tomorrow is the monthly meeting of my dye/surface design study group known as Spectrum. I need to make a potluck dish because we likes our lunches! We’re supposed to be doing some more monoprinting and rubber stamping but I wonder if they would mind if I brought my hooking? Maybe I’ll bring both just in case I feel inspired to play along for awhile but then feel uninspired. Sometimes I can be a bit of a rebel. Must be my Scorpio sun sign or something.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Still plugging away on the rug. Now that I’ve started, I can’t stop! I want to complete this soon. I want to check it off my UFO list. (Though I keep adding more things, so the list never gets any shorter!) I’m heading toward the bottom right-hand corner and wishing I had a proper hooking frame with gripper strips. The hoop just doesn’t keep it properly taught with such a small area to hold onto. I’m ending up working on the corner with the backing loose. Maybe I’ll try the Nova Scotia method of wrapping the rug around my thigh to give my hook something to pull against. And yes, Mel, I do need an auger! Hence the honking big Hartman hook. The linen was supposed to be “primitive” weave but I think it would be somewhat easier with a #6 cut. I’m skipping a lot of threads to keep it from being too tightly packed which makes bubbles in my flat rug. When I started this rug I didn’t have a #6 cutter head for my Bliss, but now I have one, plus a #4. (I doubt I will ever go skinnier than #4.) I’m just not experienced enough as a rug hooker to get the finer points sometimes though. Like I’ve said before: rug hooking is easy to get started but takes time to master. Your Damselfly is just a dilettante.
Speaking of "dilettante" — I got this book a few weeks ago. I had a flirtation with making books a year or so ago. Books made from paper. Books that somehow I can never write in. Pam Sussman's book shows how to make art books from cloth, like teeny little book-shaped quilts. I still have a weird aversion to making "art" pages, but I'm seeing some more practical uses for these techniques. And maybe if I worked with fabric for awhile I might be able to learn to make book pages that serve no practical purpose except to just be. Or go back to working with paper. Fabric is so much more forgiving and looks better when it's funky and imperfect. Plus I have an awful lot of fabric swatches that I've been creating with my Spectrum study group: monoprinting, dyeing, rubber stamping, shibori (tie-dye), katazome (resist paste), etc. Maybe they would look better if they were cut up and reassembled into something? Plus lots more embellishments added. I want to learn to Free Motion Stitch with my machine. I want to learn Coptic Stitch to attach signatures together. I want to loosen up and layer and collage and paint over and stitch on top. I need to just start.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
You can run dowelling through binding twill at the back and either hang it like a picture or have wall brackets and hang it like a curtain with finials on the ends of the dowel.
I like the second option. That might work ok. We’ll discuss it more when the time comes. Also Mel mentioned about using a pencil-type hook. No can do, hon’! I love my big ol’ primitive hook. (It’s a Hartman for those who care about such things.) It fits in my hand comfortably and makes the hole nice and big for my loops. Remember, I’m using an 8-cut (which is 1/4” to those who don’t speak hooker-ese). Not skinny little 3 or 4-cuts. Ya need some power to get these suckers through the linen backing! However, apart from needing a little neck massage, I’m not in too bad shape today considering I did about 3 hours of hooking yesterday. It’ll be less than that today though! Sorry no pictures yet.
The sun is out and it’s windy. Feeling definitely spring-like out there. So I cleaned my oven! Maybe I’ll go for a walk when T-Man gets home. Who knows when the sun will shine again?
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I had an interesting experience today and I forgot to take a blog picture. Duh! A gentleman brought over a very old briefcase charkha. This is a spinning wheel for cotton with a spindle instead of a flyer and 2 accelerating wheels so that it has a very high ratio. It folds up in a wooden case. I have a book charkha myself, not so old but also from India. Harvey said that he had spent quite a bit of time in India and this charkha came from Gandhi’s ashram and may actually have been used by him! It was missing some pieces but I was able to get it to spin. There were some cotton punis tucked into their own little compartment in the briefcase. Though I didn’t want to take off the ancient cotton that was already on the single spindle to actually spin on it and I could have used my own cotton roving. It was actually quite exciting and I could tell that Harvey was moved to see that the wheel would actually turn and could conceivably produce cotton thread again. Score one for Damselfly — I’m one of the few spinners around who actually enjoys spinning cotton! At least enough to know how a charkha works!
OK, you’ve got to check this out! Scroll down to the bottom of the page. This is Jonathan Bosworth. I’ve never thought of playing a book charkha like a musical instrument! This is so cool. Jonathan makes the most wonderful charkhas in the world. His attaché charkha is the only other spinning wheel that I’d really like to own. I’ve spun on one and it’s a dream! Maybe one day. His spindles are really nice too though I think the shafts are too short. Just me.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Then we stopped in at the Silk Purse, the West Vancouver Community Arts Council studio gallery, for the rug hookers’ exhibit. The old house that was donated by the original owners to become the Silk Purse is right on the water in an area where the seawall doesn’t extend through, so you have to walk down the road right by it. It has a studio space and a little gallery area and a deck that’s only feet from the beach. The exhibit’s theme was “Tea and the Art of Hooked Rugs” though not every piece had the theme in mind. There were some spectacular pieces, including a couple that had been published in Rug Hooking magazine publications. There were also some fun pieces including a hooked “cake” and of course a tea cozy. We were just in time to enjoy some Murchie’s tea and coffee and some delicious goodies while we perused the exhibit and chatted with the hookers. (No, not THAT kind of hooker — these ladies are textile artists and many of them are my close friends!) Even T-Man enjoyed a lovely time.
Of course, seeing all those hookers hard at work inspired me to get back to work on my “Dream” piece that’s been languishing for quite some time. This is what it looks like at the moment.
See, it’s almost done! This is going to go on the wall behind our bed which has no headboard. It’s supposed to inspire sweet dreams, get it? I’m not quite sure how to mount it securely but I know the T-Man will figure something out. Now that I’ve got a picture of it to look at, I’m rethinking the upper left-hand corner with my L in it. I think it’s too obvious. Luckily hooking is really easy to pull out. Almost as easy as frogging knitting! Notice the comet? That’s my old buddy Hale-Bopp. I loved that comet! And we often get the moon shining in the high window over our bed. Just last night there was a half-moon smiling in as we went to bed. And of course the stars. The words come from an old Beatles song. Uh-oh, I just realized I got the “me” and “you” reversed. It’s staying that way. I’m going to have to change the date in the corner though. Ought-Three now needs to be Ought-Six. See how long it’s been waiting, poor thing? Will. Finish. It. Soon.
For those who haven’t tried it, rug hooking is really simple to get started but there’s enough to it to keep your interest for a lifetime. All you really need is a backing fabric (burlap or linen are standard), some wool fabric (or yarn) strips, and a hook. It helps if you have a frame or quilting hoop to support the work but there are plenty of hookers who don’t use one at all. I’ve been using a simple hoop with no stand and haven’t yet sprung for a nicer frame, but I might one of these days. I did buy a Bliss cutter to simplify cutting even strips. I’m pretty sure that cutting many strips using an Olfa cutter and mat was the reason my pinched nerve happened 4 years ago. Too much pressing down with my left hand so that the ruler wouldn’t slip.
Coming from a fibre point of view, I find some of the hooking conventions just a bit odd. Such as dyeing using teeny tiny measuring spoons (down to 1/128th of a teaspoon!) and recipes using a huge range of pre-mixed colours to dye “swatches” which are little pieces of wool fabric, usually in graduated shades. An other alternative is to haunt flea markets and thrift stores for wool skirts and jackets that can be recycled. I haven’t yet found anything that’s 100% suitable wool — it doesn’t get cold enough here and people want clothes they can machine wash. I bet the hunting is better in the colder parts of North America! Rug hookers can take classes from certified “McGowan” teachers who can help choosing the right colours for a particular rug pattern. Many of these patterns were designed by professional or semi-professional designers, past and present. Me being the rebel Damselfly that I am, draw my own pictures and use my skills developed from decades of dyeing yarns and fibres to dye most of my wools without any recipes. Of course, my hooking style is a funky bright modern wide-cut with maybe some minimal shading which is somewhat at odds with either the traditional “primitive” style or the “shaded” style in narrow thread-like wool strips. The latter are much like paintings and so detailed! Of course there are many other types of rugs in between these two extremes and lots of people have a distinctive style of their own. Rugs can be practical on-the-floor or hanging-on-the-wall art or it can even be 3-dimensional such as the afore-mentioned tea cozy and cake, or a foot stool, holiday figure, or purse. See what I mean? Simple — but not. I already have lots of other hooking ideas to try.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Started: February 1, 2006
Finished: February 3, 2006
Yarn: handspun 2-ply sport-weight from Aurelia rovings, one ply each of Boysenberry Glitter and Tamarillo. Took almost one full Louet bobbin.
Crochet hook: Clover size F – 4 mm.
Pattern: “Ruffle Scarf” free on-line pattern from Caron here.
Row 1 – Turn, ch 1. Sc in each ch across.
Row 2 – Turn, ch 2. 2 dc in each sc across.
Row 3 – Turn, ch 2. [2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next dc.] Repeat across.
Row 4 – Turn, ch 2. [2 dc in next 2 dc’s, 1 dc in next dc.] Repeat across.
Row 5 – Turn, ch 2. Repeat row 4.
Row 6 – Turn, ch 2. Repeat row 3.
End off yarn. Bury ends.
Comments: This scarf went pretty quickly even though each row got longer and longer. Because my handspun was significantly finer than the called for yarn, I more than doubled the length of the initial chain. I also used a finer but probably heavier by weight yarn. (Handspun is often more dense than commercial yarn.) I added an extra row to make it wide enough. I love the effect of the curly ruffles. Now I have a set that looks great with my burgundy fleece jacket.
I have discovered that although I hold my yarn the same way for both knitting and crochet, crochet uses different muscles. My shoulders are feeling the effects of this last week’s marathon sessions with a hook. I’m going back to knitting socks for a bit. Just for the rest and the chance to catch up on my blog reading. I still want to make some felted crochet balls for The Sprout. But I need a break first.
Well, it seems as if the podcasters do have some little electronic birdie that tells them when somebody mentions them! This time I got a comment from DG, highly polished and competent hostess of CraftyPod. Hi, hon’! I haven’t had a chance to listen to more of your episodes, but I will very soon. Even if I’m not much interested in decoupage you did a great job of describing how to do it. Most impressive. Can’t wait to see what else you’ve got to talk about.
So I can see that big light in the sky is turned on today. We’re off to go for a walk on the north shore seawall and then to a gallery to see an exhibit of rug hooking — plus my favourite tea company is offering the liquid refreshments! More later.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Now that I’ve listened to About Time, I can speak with some confidence. Whit Larson’s podcast is great! (Yes, she’s a she. It's short for Whitney.) It was a bit disconcerting to start with one that was talking about Things Christmasy, but the next two are really good. Because the interviews are done over the telephone the volume is a bit spotty but it’s surprisingly clear. She includes a Pod Purl in each episode and the Robert Service poem in Episode 2 gave me a lump in my throat. Made me wonder why pretty much all I remember about him was “The Shooting of Dan McGrew.” I give this one a thumbs-up. Oh wait. Damselflies don’t have thumbs.
Obviously I’ve been out there hunting down podcasts to listen to. Another one I just found, although it’s not new, is CraftyPod. I know why I missed it before — it’s listed under Architecture in the iTunes store. Sheesh! She needs to get that fixed! Sister Diane is very professional, though I find the musical breaks a little annoying (but that’s just me). Mercifully they’re brief. I’m not a big fan of the words “crafting” or “crafters” but I guess it’s less intimidating to regular folks than “art” or “artist” since most people think you have to be Vincent “One Ear” van Gogh or Salvador “Cockeyed” Dali to be an artist. Not so, my friends! “Artist” is in your mind and your heart, not somebody else’s. Sister D even speaks in her first podcast about the fact that everyone should make things. Just do it. It’ll make you happy.
Another podcast that I listened to for a few episodes is Annie Smith: Quilting Stash. There are lots and lots of episodes but I’m not really a quilter (clothing and art quilts once in awhile maybe, but not regular bed quilts). Her focus is appliqué and that is sooo not-me. It seems quite good though if you’re into that kind of thing. There are other quilting podcasts as well.
OK, so who’s going to step up to the plate and do a beading podcast? Or a weaving one? Podcasting is such a new thing that there is plenty of opportunity for those would-be broadcasters with a niche focus to get out there and do it! Nope, it’s not going to be me. I like to type my thoughts. Told you about my little microphone problem, didn’t I?
So what have I been doing whilst listening to merrily podcasts? (Love that word “whilst”. It’s so British.) I’ve been crocheting up a storm on my latest project, the Ruffle Scarf. I used this free pattern, but because my handspun yarn is finer than that called for I had to more than double the number of stitches I started with. I also added another row of dc’s to make it a bit wider. I’ll post the full pattern tomorrow when I’m done and can get a photo. It’s quite heavy in comparison to a knitted or woven scarf but I love the corkscrewiness of this one. It was much easier to make than a pattern I saw for a knitted version. All that shortrowing and turning...ick. Hopefully I’ll still have some colder weather left to wear it in. Although it is starting to look more like spring around here all the time. Yes, the rain stays the same. But my snowdrops are almost out! See?
I’d show you my purple primroses but they’re so pathetically slug-munched that it’s too sad. I’m going to have to start thinking about my veggie garden and planting seeds in my indoor seed-starting area (a counter with grow-lights in the basement) soon. Flats of teeny little green things just fill me with maternal pride and joy.
P.S. The theme for this post is (Words Wearing Braces)! I seem to be full of asides today.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
As for blogs, I’ve discovered a not-so-new one that I haven’t explored before. Mason-Dixon Knitting is two friends in different parts of the US who alternate on their common blog. They are as funny as Yarn Harlot! Didn’t think that was possible. I’m going backwards in the archives. So far I’m reading October 2005. This leaves me with feelings of inadequacy. I can be Amusing occasionally but I know I can’t be Funny. I guess I’ll have to settle for Possibly Interesting To Some.
And as for podcasts, there are a couple of good knitting ones and a fibre one. I’m sure there are others on esoteric subjects like politics and pop culture, but I tend to stick with the ones I can understand. Podcasts are like audio-blogs and are just as personal. Note that I don’t even have an iPod. I do however have iTunes which is pretty much the gold standard for fetching and playing your podcasts. Of course that means I’m stuck in the Study where I can hear my computer’s speakers.
The first one I discovered was KnitCast. Host Marie Irshad is Welsh and her style is to interview people of interest to knitters. This has included folks like Annie Modesitt, Debbie Bliss, and the Yarn Harlot herself, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee — among other notables. Marie is very good at making people feel comfortable and for asking those questions you would have asked yourself if you had the same opportunity. Her lovely diction is pleasant to listen to as well.
Then we have the “other” podcaster in Wales, Brenda Dayne with Cast On. Brenda is a transplanted American so it’s not exactly like there are two Welsh knitting podcasts. Not quite. Her style is completely different and she blends “podsafe” music (most of it quite listenable even for me) with monologues about the sweater she’s wearing and other knitterly (and non-knitterly) topics.
There’s Knitting News Cast with Rhonda Bell from Austin, Texas. Luckily she’s originally from somewhere else in the US so I don’t have to translate from “Y’all”. She does a lot of reviews of yarns, patterns, books, blogs, and the like. She’s pretty new at this (only up to Episode 5) so the quality is a little uneven. But she’s trying and learning. I like that all the knitting podcasts focus on different things so I don’t feel like I’ve heard it all before.
Lastly there’s FiberCast. Hosted by yet another American, Caroline. (Of course! Don’t they run the world? Just joking! Maybe.) This podcast is a little different in that Caroline is more interested in other fibre techniques as well as knitting. This includes spinning, cross stitch and quilting with the emphasis on spinning. She is even more new at this than Rhonda but working on it. That’s the beauty of podcasts: they aren’t like polished radio broadcasts. They’re real people talking about things that interest them because they want to. They aren’t paid. It takes a lot of their personal time. They’re doing it because it’s fun for them. And luckily it’s fun for us too. Give a listen for yourself. All you need is something that will play MP3s.
Late-breaking news! I just discovered another podcast: About Time. I can’t review it because I haven’t listened yet. I’m still downloading the first 3 episodes. And there’s one that I don’t listen to. It’s called Secret Knitting and the host is Daniela in Germany. She reads out patterns and you knit and then find out what it is you’re making! Definitely a secret. This unfortunately doesn’t appeal to me though it’s a great gimmick.
Off to listen to podcasts and get some crochet done.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Started: January 31, 2006
Finished: February 1, 2006
Yarn: handspun 2-ply sport-weight from Aurelia rovings, one ply each of Boysenberry Glitter and Tamarillo, used double throughout.
Crochet hook: Susan Bates aluminum size K – 10.5, Clover size F – 4 mm.
Pattern: “Fun Loving Flaps Cap” by Alexandra Lockhart from Crochet Fantasy, Winter 2005 issue.
Comments: The yarn was a bit thinner than that called for so I added a stitch at the very beginning of the pattern, which automatically added another one somewhere in the succeeding rows of increases. I started this hat three times because it looked funny the first time, then I added too many extra stitches and it still didn’t look right. The last time worked fine though I’m not totally sure what I did! It also took another round before the cap was the recommended 8” from the beginning. The only difference with the flaps was that instead of 6 stitches between flaps there are 7 and it’s quite tight enough that way. Instead of pom-poms I added crocheted balls stuffed with brown wool. It’s lovely and warm on my ears! Yes, the point at the top is deliberate.
Use smaller hook and doubled yarn.
Round 1 – Using the slip knot method, ch 1 and 4 scs in round. Sl st into top of ch. Pull round tight. 5 sts.
Round 2 – Ch 1, 2 scs in each st around. Sl st into ch. 10 sts.
Round 3 – Ch 1, [1 sc in first st, 2 sc in next st] rep around. Sl st into ch. 15 sts.
Round 4 & 5 – Ch 1, 1 sc in each st around. Sl st into ch. 15 sts.
Round 6 – Ch 1, [1 sc in first st, dec sc in next 2 st] rep around. Sl st into ch. 10 sts.
Stuff ball very tightly with teased wool or stuffing.
Round 7 – Ch 1, dec sc in each st around. Sl st into ch. 5 sts.
End off yarn. Thread on yarn needle and draw up last 5 sts. Stitch to tie securely. Bury ends.
Next, I’ve started on the ruffled scarf that’s going to be the last item with this yarn. They’ll all go together but they don’t really have any common theme except the yarn itself: fingerless mitts (knitted in lace and ribbing), hat (crocheted in mostly hdc stitches with doubled yarn), and scarf (will be crocheted mostly in dc with just one yarn). It might take me another couple of days to finish the scarf since there’s a lot more crocheting involved than there was with the hat.
I have to mention the interesting event I saw today while walking home from the grocery store. I watched a flock of English starlings land on a lawn in front of a house and they started pecking at the bugs in the grass. Suddenly they scattered in alarm and I looked up in time to see a Cooper’s hawk fly through the midst of them and continue on to a tree branch further down the block. Needless to say, the birds all took off in the opposite direction! You don’t see that many hawks in the city, but I’ve seen this one (or one just like it) before when it sat on my back fence for half an hour one winter day a few years ago. Waiting for an unsuspecting bird to come close enough while it’s being distracted at my bird feeder. I often wonder how many people miss the wonderful nature moments that happen all the time, even in the city. You’ve just gotta pay attention.