Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Just My Humble Opinion

In my book reviews that I posted yesterday, I mentioned that I wasn’t overly enamoured of the garment patterns in either of the two books I talked about. I really hope that people don’t get upset about my saying things that might not be totally positive! I’ve heard some discussion about actually not reviewing a book or pattern unless you feel it is totally wonderful. Only good things can ever be mentioned. I have a problem with that — it’s not very helpful for starters. And it’s also not very realistic and rather patronizing! Everybody has opinions and you should be able to express them without hurt feelings. Otherwise how will we decide what really is good or bad or indifferent? How will things improve if everything is already perfect? Criticism can be constructive, not necessarily destructive. Do we throw Honesty out the window when we let Political Correctness in the door? Questions to ponder. Meanwhile, I am opinionated but hopefully not nasty about it. Do let me know if I step over the edge.

I’ve read most of the Dyeing to Knit book today and discovered that the dye section is very thorough. Not exactly how I do things, but very good information on acid dyes and the many ways to apply them. The author’s colour palette is very bright compared to mine. The middle section on designing is also very inspiring though I was disappointed that several intriguing swatches in the photos weren’t accompanied by a written or diagrammed pattern. The section on using works by some famous painters (or your kids!) for inspiration is thought-provoking. The actual pattern section doesn’t start until page 78, two-thirds of the way into the book. Some of the yarns called for are specific brands and some are generic yarn types. As a handspinner I learned strategies for substituting yarns decades ago but it’s nice to have as much information about the yarn as possible. There are no schematics (which I’m very fond of) for the garments and none of the stitch patterns are graphed out. The styles seem a bit clunky and dated with an oversized bulky fit. There are several scarves which are just long swatches to me. All in all, I like this book but if you buy a knitting book for the patterns, you’ll likely be disappointed. Luckily, I rarely buy a knitting book for the patterns!

While we’re discussing knitting, I’ve been working on my Little Squares swatch/collar that I first mentioned on my May 25th post. It’s most definitely not coming out to gauge but I’m totally loving the feel of the fabric with the handspun yarn (as fine as sock yarn) and the wide nylon ribbon yarn as accent. I pressed a section to see how it blocked and it’s even nicer. It’s relatively light and drapey because I’m knitting it on much larger needles than the wool yarn would indicate and it has a nice crunchy feel from the ribbon. The purl side is designated as the public side because the “dip” pattern stitch is even more interesting on that side. I folded the piece in the photo with the knit side at the top near the needle and the purl side out at the bottom. It's way nicer in real life! I still haven’t decided if I’m going to re-work the pattern to fit the gauge or completely redesign it to something a bit more close-fitting. Meanwhile I need to spin more yarn! I ran out of the one little spindle-full that I had. I’m tempted to prove that you can make a whole garment with a handspindle but I think I’ll use the spinning wheel for a bit more speed. I prefer to ply on the wheel anyway. More anon.

I also spent several hours working on my beaded art doll, Mu Ni. She’s almost got her whole front beaded now. Then I start on the back, which is going to be dark except for the word Dream on the back of her dress so it should go relatively quickly. My neck is somewhat sore today after the physio did a number on it yesterday. I’m hoping that it means that it’s improving and not the opposite. I’m trying to sit up the way she showed me to align my spine better while I'm typing and stitching.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Flitting Around

I spent over an hour at the physiotherapist’s this morning. I go every so often for a “tune-up” on my stiff neck and shoulders etc. Today I had a new physio who is really into teaching me some new exercises and better posture. What she doesn’t know is that I do the best I can with anatomy I’ve been given and there is only mitigation not cure for any of the problems. I’ll be good and try to follow her recommendations though. Unfortunately I never go until it’s somewhat past where I should have gone. I’m suffering a bit this evening from being poked hard, but it’s my own fault. I’ve been tortured for my own good.

I finally broke down and got a whole pile of new books from Chapters/Indigo and there’s one left that’s on its way. The good news is that’s it’s way cheaper to buy books this way but the bad news is that you can’t see them first. You also have to wait for them to come but you can take them back to the local store if it’s not what you wanted. I’ve done pretty well and am enjoying them all so far. Bibliophiles Anonymous isn’t getting me for a new member any time soon! I like my addiction…er, habit….er, gratification too much. This here blog isn’t called Damselfly’s Delights for nothin’, ya know!

One of the new books I bought is called Hand Knitting: New Directions by Alison Ellen. It’s not as earth-shatteringly novel as Debbie New’s Unexpected Knitting but it does have its interesting points for the structure geeks (like me). Unfortunately the patterns included are not as interesting as the rest of the text would indicate. The sweaters are rather basic shapes with no fitting (not even set-in sleeves!) which is becoming more the modern norm these days. They might go at a different angle but they are not photographed on a human model so I would hesitate to follow them exactly. I do like the hats though, but then I love hats in general.

Another knitting book I got is Dyeing to Knit by Elaine Eskesen, subtitled “How to use – and create your own – beautiful hand-dyed yarns”. I haven’t read it thoroughly yet but it looks like it has info on dyeing (which I don’t need of course but that’s ok), on colour and inspiration, a fair amount on suggestions of what to do with your dye-painted yarns, and a few rather simply-shaped patterns. At least they’re photographed on real people. One garment I noticed that’s got some possibilities is a vest with a gathered stitch, like ruching. This could be interesting for something though maybe not this vest shape. I’m looking for some different stitches to use with handpainted yarns besides plain knit which gets kind of boring after the n’th iteration. Looking forward to reading this one more closely.

More later. You don’t want to know how much I can spend on books all at once, do you? I just spent several hours covering them with clear adhesive plastic. Just like a real library! But with more craft books than my local library has.

Project notes: I’ve got the yarn wound into balls now for the Pomatomus socks. Every little step is a step forward! I’ve also got fairly far down the legs of T-Mans grey marl socks. That’s TV knitting. And I’ve just about decided to frog the Jaywalker socks that have been languishing lately. I’m not happy with the fit. I might overdye the yarn a bit too. I kind-of liked the colours originally but the two balls don’t match at all well. They were dyed in the ball which leaves the inside of the balls much lighter than the outsides. Which would be ok if they were more the same but they’re not working for me. Better to send ’em to the frog pond than to ignore them forever. There’s more but it’s late and I’m tired.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Coptic-ing a Book

Today was Workshop Number Two in Damselfly’s marathon weekend. I went with several of my Spectrum Study Group members and one more acquaintance to our friend Gaye’s to make a book. I’ve wanted to learn the Coptic stitch binding technique for awhile now and, although I was tired after yesterday and various parts of my anatomy are in protest, I learned a lot. Bookbinding is picky work. You have to use glue but neatly. You have to fold and bend and pierce, but neatly and in the right places. You have to stitch and tug snugly, but not too tightly. The results are quite wonderful — even if I am absolutely incapable of writing or drawing in a blank book of any kind.

Gaye had everything cut out and prepared and organised for us ahead of time. We didn’t have to bring a thing! But she made up for that kindness by making us work very hard and quickly to make our books. We were still running an hour late and I finished stitching the last bit at home. I’ve got Oliphants on my covers! And I’m pretty sure the stitching is ok. The neat thing about Coptic binding is the book lies perfectly flat no matter where you open it to. Right now the book is reposing under a heavy weight to finish drying since we were so pressed for time.

Our instructor used to be a weaver, but she got well and truly bitten by the paper bug. She even sold her loom which I take to mean she’s Really Serious about bookbinding! However, I don’t think her paper stuff takes up any less space in her home. We’ve given her an invitation to come and make paste paper with us sometime. It makes fabulous covers and one session would probably make enough decorated papers to use for many books. Hope she takes us up on it. We love our paste papers sessions but I think we need a good excuse like this one to do it again anytime soon. All of us have pretty extensive stashes left still.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Coiling Around

Today I went with 5 of my fellow weavers & spinners to the home of one of our guild members, the Indomitable Mary, for a workshop with fibre artist Marilyn Moore. The Coiled Brooch class (scroll down to the second offering) was the one chosen for us but I thought I would have preferred the pine needle basket with lid instead. However, I was determined to get a chance to get to know Marilyn a bit better. I’ve met her several times over the years at various conferences but never took a class with her before. She was great and it was fun! This is what I made:

My colours, doncha think? Copper, orange, and black. And yes it went with my outfit today too! I was even wearing my lace leaf socks since I knew I’d be running around the house in my sock feet so I could show them off. Smirk! Notice I made a necklace instead of a brooch. I'll get more wear of of a necklace. I also bought both of Marilyn’s 2 CDs: Introduction to Coiling and Pine Needle Basketmaking that she’d brought with her. I’ve done both before but I really enjoy the jewelry aspects of these traditionally basketmaking crafts. Something small enough to finish in this lifetime! (Though I love the process of coiling. Yes, you already know I'm weird.) I bought 2 more pieces of the polished hemp twine that forms the centre of the coil and have lots more colours of embroidery floss in the stash. And of course beads. The necklace is knotted from waxed linen cord and I have more of that too. My friend Marie plans to get more of the polished hemp in to her home-based shop so I won't be limited to the two bits that I bought from Marilyn if I want more. I’m already seeing many different designs in my mind’s eye that I’d like to try. But first I’d like to rest my poor wrists and neck for a while first. That was quite a workout for them.

Mary’s house is too cool so I was happy to get a chance to visit it. But I forgot my camera so I can’t show it off! Snug up against a mountain, down a very long windy one-lane road, hard up against the water (Deep Cove), and she even has the bedrocks inside her house! Guarded by a gargoyle (that I think is related to the one over my computer monitor). The walls are all angles and windows and there’s wide steps down to the kitchen/living area and a circular staircase up to the loft bedrooms. It has the feel of an island hideaway but no ferries to bother with. However, that long and winding road (5 miles of deep forest) does really isolate the houses tucked in this corner of heaven. You wouldn’t want an emergency to happen because help would be a long time coming. You can’t have everything I suppose. Darn.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tempus Fudge-It

Why am I feeling like the days are just flying by on really fast wings? Every time I turn around it’s another week gone by. I measure my time in things that I’ve accomplished but since I do so many things at the same time or more correctly, alternately, that it’s hard to see the progress. I keep my List of Finished Objects but where’s the list of housework: dishes washed, meals cooked, laundry done, toilet cleaned, dusting, vacuuming, ironing, grocery shopping? Or the list of gardening: planting, watering, weeding, pruning, digging, bug squishing, deadheading, harvesting? I’m continually reminding myself that life is every minute that you live and it’s not a race to see how much you can accomplish before you die. Accomplishments are good and all, but there’s a whole lot more life in between them that needs to be lived too: spending time with my sweetie, babysitting the granddaughter, reading a book, taking a walk, watching a movie or good TV show. If you “keep your eyes on the prize” you’ll miss a lot going on around you. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. It works most of the time.

I think my biggest problem is the sheer number of things I’d like to do and how slowly I do them. I’m trying to just enjoy the process: each stitch formed, each twist of wool becoming yarn, each bead attached to the next. Concentrating on the process is very soothing but my mind continues to leap ahead to the next Big Thing I’m planning. It’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand. I also have to take into consideration my personal biorhythms. I can only do complex thinking in the mornings, repetitious or less-complicated stuff is for the afternoons, and by early evening I’m even making mistakes in plain knitting. I have no idea how people get anything done in the evenings because I’m usually fixing my evening’s mistakes the next morning.

So since I finished my Lace Leaf socks yesterday, I decided that today I’m going to give myself permission to start a bunch of new things. What? You thought I’d only start maybe ONE new thing? Hah! How little you know this Damselfly. Nay, I have started 3…count ’em, THREE new things!

First up is the next pair of socks for the T-Man who has actually been wearing the two pairs I’ve made him in the last year. Therefore he totally deserves another pair. So I’m using good old Sisu in a light grey/dark grey marl. Very manly colours. Plain socks. These are going in the new Copper ’n’ Decoupage Lunch…er, Knitting Box for portability.

Next up we have a sweater that I’ve been swatching for a couple of days now. I’m still way off gauge, but I just might soldier on regardless. I’m liking the fabric too much to mess with it further. I’m not sure yet whether I will change the pattern or just adjust the numbers to fit my gauge. The jury is still out on that one. What’s the actual sweater pattern, you ask? It’s Little Squares from Sally Melville’s Book 3: Color. A very loose jacket with fold back collar — think shawl with sleeves. The pattern pieces are very simple so it wouldn’t be at all difficult to reshape it to fit my knitting. I might even go with the pattern as it stands and it will just be narrower but I’ll probably have to re-jig the sleeves at least. Meanwhile I’m knitting one of the front bands which is an inch and a half narrower than it should be. Hmmm...that's a lot, isn't it? I haven’t tried washing and blocking it yet though so something might happen then. Oh and what’s the yarn, you also ask? My handspun Aurelia wool in the Tamarillo colourway and a variegated ribbon (Lion Brand’s Incredible in Copper Penny). So far I’ve only spindle spun a small ball of the wool, so I can’t get very far without more spinning. More on this one to come.

And lastly (well, not last but you know what I mean), the item I’m feeling a little guilty for starting because it’s just One Thing Too Many: the Denise Needle Bag from Cat Bordhi (she of Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles and Magical Knitting fame). It’s in her free patterns section. I’m doing the Charcoal one with 2 zip pockets in black/navy, red, green, and lime Quebecoise wool doubled which I know fulls up really well. The Cascade 220 she recommends isn’t available around here but Canadian-made Quebecoise is similar weight, cheap, comes in a zillion colours, and makes great bags. It’s what Pearl, knit instructor at Birkeland Bros. Wool uses in her classes. (*waving* Hi Pearl!) If I run out of navy or black (I’m using one strand of each because I have it) I just have to stroll over 3 blocks to get more! Yes, it’s too convenient.

Speaking of my LYS, I was quite happy that my sock knitting class that was supposed to begin last night was cancelled due to an insufficient number of people. It’s a difficult class to teach and I have to have my patience quotient up to its peak for it. I’m not sure how to make it better. There’s pros and cons to every idea. Well, there’s time now before the next one is scheduled to think about it. Or not.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lace Leaf Socks

Yes, I finally finished these socks that I started sometime in March. I pushed a bit at the end to get them done. Here’s the pattern and although I began with a pattern write-up generated by Sole Solution, the design is mine. Feel free to knit your own but don’t forget to give ol’ Damselfly credit for the pattern!

Begun: March, 2006
Completed: May 24, 2006
Construction: Top Down with 5 needles.
Calculated Cuff Measurement: 8 inches. (Fits medium woman's foot. Shoe size 7 1/2 to 8.)
Gauge: 8 stitches per inch
Total Stitches: 64
Heel Style: Flap/Standard; Width: Standard; Stitch: Sl 1 K 1
Toe Style: Standard; Toe Shape: Standard
Stitches adjusted by: -10%
Needle Size: US 0 / 2.0 mm Addi Natura bamboo
Yarn: Schoeller + Stahl Fortissima Colori/Socka Color, 75% superwash wool/25% polyamide, colour 2419 (burgundy/red/orange/yellow/sage/teal/navy, each ply a different order of variegation), 400m = 100g.

This pattern calls for a repeating motif of 8 stitches beginning on motif stitch 1.

Lace Leaf Pattern

beg row 1

NOTES: Graph shows only lace rows. Every other round is knit plain. On rounds 1 and 3, the first yo is made before knitting the first stitch on Needle 1. On rounds 1, 3, and 15, this also happens between needles. The last double decrease on each needle in rounds 9–15 needs to include the first stitch of the next needle. This means that at the beginning of those rounds you will need to knit one extra stitch before beginning the pattern. The last double decrease will use that first stitch. Centred double decrease is worked: sl 2 tog k-wise, k1, sl 2 st over.

Lace Leaf Pattern in words:
Row 1 and 3: *yo, k2, sl2, k1, p2sso, k2, yo, k1. Rep from *.
Row 2 and every even row: knit.
Row 5: *k1, yo, k1, sl2, k1, p2sso, k1, yo, k2. Rep from *.
Row 7: *k2, yo, sl2, k1, p2sso, yo, k3. Rep from *.
Row 9 and 11: k1, *k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, sl2, k1, p2sso. Rep from *. (Last dec includes first k1.)
Row 13: k1, *k1, yo, k3, yo, k1, sl2, k1, p2sso. Rep from *. (Last dec includes first k1.)
Row 15: k1, *yo, k5, yo, sl2, k1, p2sso. Rep from *. (Last dec includes first k1.)
Repeat Rows 1–16 for pattern.

Cast on 64 stitches very loosely. There is no ribbing on this sock and the pattern forms scallops on the top edge which will curl if the cast on isn’t loose enough. Join in a ring being careful not to twist. Mark join as the beginning of the round. Divide stitches over 4 needles. (16, 16, 16, 16) There will be 2 repeats of the pattern per needle. Knit circularly for one round even. Beginning with Needle 1 and Lace Leaf Pattern, knit leg stitches until desired leg height is reached. (I did 5 repeats.) End with Pattern Row 16.

Begin Heel:
NOTE: Heel is worked in rows on 32 stitches on Needles 1 and 2. To set up, knit across those two needles onto a single needle. Turn.

Heel Pattern:
Row 1 Slip 1, purl across. Turn
Row 2 *Slip 1, k1 repeat across from *. Turn.

Knit in heel pattern until you have 32 heel flap rows (16 sl st up the side of flap). Heel flap shape should be close to square. End with a purl row.

Turn Heel as follows:
Row 1: Sl 1, K17 sts, K2 tog, K1 turn
Row 2: Sl 1, P5 sts, P2 tog, P1, turn
Row 3: Sl 1, K6, K2 tog, K1, turn
Row 4: Sl 1, P7, P2 tog, P1, turn

Repeat rows 3 and 4, increasing 1 additional K or P stitch after the Sl 1 until all side stitches are consumed. End with a purl row.

NOTES: There needs to be one extra stitch to balance the lace on the top of the foot so inc one st on Needle 2 before beginning the next lace round as indicated. Work that extra stitch as a knit in Rows 1—7 of Lace Leaf Pattern and in the plain even rounds between. Also adjust the Pattern at each side of the foot for odd (lace) rows 9–15 as follows: Instead of the double decrease at the end of these rows, work a SSK at the beginning of Needle 2 and a K2tog at the end of Needle 3.

Knit to the center of the heel. Using a spare needle, knit across the remaining heel stitches. Pick up and knit 16 stitches from the side of the heel flap and knit one stitch in the gusset corner (now becomes Needle 1). Inc 1 st at the beg of Needle 2 (see note above). Knit in Pattern beginning with Row 1 across needles 2 and 3. With needle 4 pick up and knit one stitch in the gusset corner and then pick up and knit 16 stitches from the side of the heel flap. Knit the remaining heel stitches.

Stitch count is (26, 17, 16, 26) respectively.

Gusset Decreases:
NOTE: The gusset decreases will be on alternate rounds to the lace rounds.

Gusset Rnd 1:
Needle 1: Knit until the last 3 stitches, k2 tog, k1.
Needle 2 and 3: Knit across.
Needle 4: K1, SSK, knit across.
Gusset Rnd 2: Work in pattern around, beginning with Row 2.

Repeat these 2 rounds until total stitches equal 65. (16, 17, 16, 16).

Sock Foot:
Continue knitting in stockinette on needles 1 and 4 and in pattern on needle 2 and 3 until you are approximately 1.5 to 2 inches from the top of your longest toe. (I did 4 repeats plus 4 rounds plain knit before beginning toe decreases.) Decrease 1 st at beginning of Needle 2 in the last round. 64 sts (16, 16, 16, 16)

Shape Toe:
Rnd 1:
Needle 1: Knit until the last 3 sts, K2 tog, K1
Needle 2: K1, SSK, knit around.
Needle 3: Knit until the last 3 stitches, K2 tog, K1
Needle 4: K1, SSK, knit around.

Rnd 2: Knit around.

Continue in this manner until you have 24 stitches remaining. Knit to the end of Needle 1. Arrange top and bottom of toe on 2 needles. Slip second stitch on each end of each needle over the first stitch. (20 sts total.) Graft toe closed. Finish off beginning tail. Wash and block socks. The pattern stitches have a lot of bubbly texture but most of it blocks out. It doesn’t show when it’s on the foot anyway.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Mixed Bag

I was hoping to show off my Lace Leaf Socks today, but I’m not quite done yet. My hands are a bit sore, maybe from the change of the weather to cooler and damper. We’ll just have to wait on them a bit longer because I’ve learned the hard way not to push it when the old bod’ says no. I do have my friend Kirsten’s Stupid Sock Creature that she made from John Murphy’s book to show off. She is so ugly-cute! Her name is Swami Lillananda and she’s got her yoga mat ready to practice the latest yoga asana and her fuzzy sweater so she doesn’t get chilled after exercising. She is so West Coast! The only thing she’s missing is the Starbucks double latte with chocolate sprinkles but Kirsten doesn’t drink Starbucks and chocolate gives her migraines. I don’t know about the Swami though — maybe she’s a coffee addict like most people around here (except me) and she’s already finished her coffee-to-go and placed the cup carefully in the recycling box. I love her and hope to get around to making a sock creature of my own one of these days. It’s on The List.

You know about The List doncha? That’s the endless tally of finished projects, ones already in the pipeline, things I want to make sometime, and all the items that I hope to make but probably won’t ever get around to. Doesn’t everybody have one? Or many? We check a few things off and add lots more so it just keeps getting longer. I have 2 fat binders to keep mine in.

The weather is a very mixed bag today. The sun is trying to peek through while it’s raining and it’s actually quite warm. I picked these yummy greens from my garden this morning. It’s already giving me a nice harvest! I only take the outside leaves and let the middle continue to grow so I always have more coming but I don’t have to keep replanting. It works well until it gets too warm and things start to bolt. Then I replant and sometimes the more mature greens from the next planting can make it well into winter — or even into the next spring depending on how mild the winter is. This year I can put some in the greenhouse and we’ll see how well they do. It’s all a new experiment. Anyway, there’s few veggies I don’t need to buy at the store now and more to come as my garden matures. I have two kinds of lettuce (Merlot and Esmeralda) that do really well and have great colour. There’s arugula, mizuna (that’s the one with all the pointy bits), endive, and Ta Tsai (a little Chinese green with spoon-shaped leaves). There’s also a few little raab sprouts which I prefer uncooked or they taste more turnip-y. I didn’t photograph the asparagus but I’ve picked quite a lot from our little patch. It’s almost done for the year though. Some of the stalks have escaped and are almost as tall as I am already!

I was a bit naughty today and broke down and ordered a number of books from Chapters/Indigo online that I couldn’t find in the stores. The crafts section has been getting smaller and smaller in all of the 3 different Chapters bookstores that I frequent. They have all the learn-to-knit and quilting books one could want but they’re not what I’m looking for. The other big temptation to order online is the big savings. Including the iRewards you can save almost $10 on some books. And if you order $39 or more you get free shipping. The only downside is waiting a bit instead of having the immediate gratification of a book in your hands. But when the box(es) do come it’s better than Christmas! I’d feel a wee bit guilty about not supporting local businesses but I buys ’em where I finds ’em. Besides I really do spread my book and magazine money around quite a bit. Yes, I’m a bibliophile but I don’t want a cure, thanks.

Speaking of mail order, I just got a box of Aurelia fibres delivered. Yums!!! I have enough Tamarillo now to spin up for a project (which I’ll tell you about when I’ve gotten further on it) and a bag of one of Andrea’s new colour combos, Fernwood. It’s “a warm, casual mix of moss, khaki, nutmeg & walnut” as she describes it, though there’s more colours in it than that and it’s a lot more subtle than it looks in the photo on the website. At least on my screen. These colourways always spin up differently than they look too and even different spinners can make it look unique. I think that’s part of the fun of this lovely dyed combed top. Off to do something else besides play on the computer. The sun is coming out!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thanks To Queen Victoria

Canada is celebrating Her Late Majesty's birthday today with a late spring holiday. Unfortunately it’s raining and T-Man had to work. Plus his mom is in the hospital. So nobody around here feels much like throwing a party for a dead queen. Too bad because it might have been a nice excuse to exercise the new barbeque. At least the garden is enjoying a good watering.

It seems to have been awhile since I’ve had a chance to post a blog. Thursday was a Guild meeting with an interesting presentation on weaving with a computer-controlled jacquard loom. No I don’t want something that costs about 3 of my MINI Coopers but it is very intriguing to see the almost photographic effects that an artist/weaver can get with just threads. The jacquard loom lifts each thread individually so one can use different weave structures to get the effect of tones on a black and white warp or, on a multicoloured warp, different areas of colour and texture. It turns out that there are two of these very specialized hand looms in my local area and several more people with enough experience and training to use them. You’d have to be pretty dedicated to get into this area of weaving for sure.

Then it was Friday, when a friend came over to play in my dye studio. She worked while I chatted and showed her where stuff was but I got my Pomatomus sock yarn painted.

On Saturday we went for a long walk downtown. The weather was nice but not too hot, some wind and the sun playing hide and seek. Picked up some tea and coffee at Murchie’s, the usual pocketbooks and magazines at Chapter’s, and a new harmonica for the T-Man at Lee’s Music. We had lunch at the sushi restaurant with the boats again which is always kind of fun. Then we walked home. Thoughts of relaxing on the deck with a cider or a beer and perusing our purchases were the only things that got us across the bridge and up the hill! We could have hopped the bus, but where’s the challenge in that?

Yesterday we worked in the garden and got some of the stuff planted and rearranged. My greenhouse is now stuffed to the gills with tomatoes (up to my knees!), eggplants, peppers, a few cukes, and some basil. I hope the rest of the cukes and the squashes (zucchini and pattypans) aren’t drowning in the rain we’re having. My water barrels are filling up again after I just about emptied them over the last few weeks of watering.

I had to post a progress photo of my Celestial Moon Beaded Art Doll, Mu Ni, on the Yahoogroup website so I thought I’d put her on here too. I’ve almost finished her front side except her arms and a bit of her skirt. Here she’s “chillaxing” on my Kong coleus in front of the water garden.

I’ve also been plowing away at my Lace Leaf Socks which are both almost up to the toe decreases. It took a bit of fiddling to get the lace to work out on the top of the foot with plain knit on the bottom. I had to add one stitch on the right side and change the last double decrease to a SSK on the right at the beginning of the lace row and a K2tog on the left at the end of it. I’ll be writing up the pattern to post with the finished socks. I’m actually quite proud of my design accomplishment on these.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Another Hot Day

But not quite as hot as yesterday when we broke lots of records for May 16. Still really warm though! Not complaining, honest! I got up at 6 am and started in on the attic space before it got too hot. I managed to get it cleaned out and all the equipment photographed plus some more stuff that was scattered about. I’ve made a good start on the inventory, though there’s lots more to do still. I already have all my books and magazines inventoried, plus a whole lot (most?) of my spinning fibre. Not my yarns or fabrics though. I find that just a little daunting. Downright scary in fact. It may never happen.

OK, the Finished Object I promised yesterday. It was really a lot of fun to do and used a number of different craft skills. Remember the little white lunch box? Now it looks like this:

First I masked off the top and bottom and the handle with plastic wrap and masking tape. Then I spray painted it with several coats of a copper paint with a hammered look. (We used it for our hinges and other metal bits when we were renovating the kitchen last year.) After it dried for several days (to make sure it was hardened properly), I started on the decoupage. I used rust and black paper plus 3 different paste papers that I made with my Spectrum study group. I kind of followed a quilting technique where you start with a 5-sided piece and then add more pieces to the edges of the first piece, cutting them off as you go. Since this is paper and not cloth that could be stitched and I wanted the “seams” to be butted together, I used repositionable tape to hold the pieces together. I continued to add new paper pieces, cutting them with a ruler and my “paper” rotary blade, until it was the right size for the top of the box. I used scissors to trim the curves on the corners. I painted the top with a coat of matte Mod Podge using a foam brush and then covered the back of the paper (still taped together) with it. Then I put the paper on top of the box and smoothed it into place, removing the tape as I went. When it was all snuggled down I coated the top of the paper with another coat of Mod Podge. After it dried I gave it a couple more coats and then a couple of coats of semi-gloss Flecto Diamond Varathane to make it more durable and waterproof. I repeated the whole thing with the bottom of the box. The pattern came out differently since I wasn’t planning on a match, but a coordinating look. I did start with the same rust-colour paper in the middle though. On the inside, I put a magnet for following a graph pattern or holding a needle in the lid and a padded bottom so my knitting won’t rattle around. I used a really pretty piece of Chinese jacquard silk/rayon with blue dragons on a copper background. I serged the edges of the silk and laced it with nylon thread over a piece of lightweight batting and a piece of matboard. Then I used a loop of packing tape sticky-side-out to secure the whole thing into the bottom of the box. It might come unstuck eventually but it can be easily removed to clean lint or threads and replaced with a fresh piece of tape. And there you have it!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Taste of Summer

We’re getting some real heat today. I even got the fan out of the attic. It’s about 28 Celsius and hotter than yesterday when we broke a few records at 24 C. You won’t believe this but I actually had a small fire in my garden! Two spots on my new greenhouse focus the sun into a point like a magnifying glass would. One of them ignited the wood chips in the Moo Poo. I saw a thin spiral of smoke coming from the area and went out to put it out and to put a slate tile over the spots. I can’t reach the parts on the greenhouse that’s causing the problem so I’ll have to wait until T-Man comes home to discuss any strategies for preventing further fires. One of my baby leeks is less than 10 cm away from the spot and it was lucky it didn’t get singed. I would never have thought that this would be a problem and I’m sure it has to do with an exact angle of the sun vs. the greenhouse panels. In which case either it will resolve itself or the spot will shift as the sun does. We’ll have to watch and see. Right now there isn't any hot spots which proves that it's just during a certain time of day. So far.

I had a new Finished Object to show today but Blogger is not cooperating with the picture posting thing again, so it’ll have to wait until another post. I have no idea why this happens but it does. Often. It’s kind of hard to complain when it’s a free service however. It Is Annoying!

So what will we talk about instead? How about the fact that I did not get very far on my attic cleaning before the heat hit. I started on the spinning equipment (south-east) space and realized that I hadn’t made a proper inventory of all the stuff in there. It would be good to have for insurance purposes if nothing else. Especially since a goodly proportion of the equipment actually belongs to my weavers guild. So of course that stopped me in my early-morning tracks and I didn’t get any further along, either with the cleaning or the inventory. Tomorrow morning a friend is coming over to play in my dye studio and in the evening I have to teach my last beginner spinning class to the current group, so that leaves the afternoon when it’s supposed to be hot again. I knew I’d left it too long, although I shouldn’t complain. Besides there will be cooler days still. It’s only mid-May and we can still get cool days even in July.

Today is Census Day in Canada. I already did ours (the long form again!) yesterday morning online. So convenient even if you have to answer a bunch of really dopey and rather personal questions. At least I didn't need to mail the paper version which I used as a cheat sheet. What this proves to me right off the bat is that Canada is a wired country. We have the option to E-File our income tax returns and fill out census forms online. There must be a large enough percentage of people with computers and internet access to make it worth it to set this up. I'd love to be able to vote online too, particularly for civic elections which are tedious: mayor, 10 councilors, school board, parks board, plebiscites, referendums, and whatever else they can dream up. Maybe that's next?

Off to set up a database for my equipment inventory…

Monday, May 15, 2006

Stuff and Stuff and Stuff

Is it possible to have too much stuff? I didn’t used to think so but I’m starting to change my mind. I think you can have too much stuff if it doesn’t fit in the available space. And if it’s spilling out all over the place. And if it’s getting disarranged and dirty because you don’t have time to clean or tidy it all. I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but I’m thinking that might be a place I don’t want to get to at all. I really do love my stuff (books, magazine, art and craft supplies etc.) but I don’t want it to drown me in its copiousness. And if you think about it, I really do have a limited time in which to do anything with it all.

I was reading a blog where somebody was discussing how she didn’t like to own too much stuff. It makes her uncomfortable and unhappy, so she regularly clears out and gets rid of the extraneous stuff. I do that occasionally with clothing or other household junk (mostly dead appliances) but not with craft stuff. The minute after I got rid of it, I’d want to use it. Even clothing doesn’t get chucked out unless it’s worn out, really ugly on me, or totally out of style. When I gained weight about 10 years ago, I put a bunch of clothes away that didn’t fit. I didn’t give them away to the Sally Ann but stashed ’em in my copious attic. Now I’m wearing some of that clothing again. Since I’m never really IN style, my clothes don’t go OUT of style very easily. As a matter of fact I wore my 22-year-old jumper yesterday! I sewed it from this 1984 pattern using a soft faded blue cotton twill — lighter than denim but similar. It was loose on me when I was in my mid-30’s, a little tight in my late-40’s and back to fitting perfectly in my mid-50’s. Gotta love something with that much longevity! It’s in the wash today and tomorrow I’m wearing my blouse I sewed from a 1985 pattern.

In a way I guess I can have more stuff than some people because I have space to put it and ways to organise it. Well, it starts out organised anyway! I’ve been meaning to get into my attic spaces and sort stuff out again. They get kind of mixed up and tossed around when I’m looking for something. Invariably I’m in a hurry or in the throes of creativity and don’t put everything back the way it was. I actually enjoy that kind of tidying because I get reminded about things I’ve forgotten about. And it always feels good to know everything is sorted out and cleaned up. I have to do it before it gets too hot out however because the attics become like a very close oven in summer. Then it’s not fun at all to crawl around in there with no air. Hey, maybe I’ll start today! My technique is to start with the easiest space (the spinning equipment one) and progress through the next-easiest (the spinning supplies) and the next-hardest (with the sewing and paper supplies) to the hardest (the miscellaneous family junk one). If I don’t start very soon it’ll be too late.

Speaking of things in the attic, I got inspired to drag out one of The Twins. I'd love it if anyone knows the maker of this wheel. Because I have 2 of them from different sources I suspect they were either made locally (Greater Vancouver/Vancouver Island) or commonly available (local dealer). Probably the former since I don't remember seeing another anywhere around. I also don't know how old they are though I suspect late '70's or maybe even early '80's. Paula Simmons didn’t include it in her 1977 book Spinning and Weaving with Wool where she pictures most of the wheels commonly available at the time and she’s a relatively local spinner so she should have been aware of it. I've had them for about 5 years maybe? The original owners didn't know or remember any details and one has since passed away in her 90's.

This is a sturdy cottage-style wheel with one large bobbin, bobbin-driven, 2 ratios, single treadle. The mother-of-all slides up or down to change ratios and fastens with wingnuts inside the frame. The spinner sits to the side of the wheel to treadle and spins at right angles to the orifice. The drive band is leather and the wheel is nicely built and finished with a dark oil stain. The two I have are identical in every way. I can't find any maker's stamp or logo. Personal rant: why don't many makers sign their work? I should probably sell one of them at least, since it’s kind of redundant to have two identical wheels that I rarely use taking up space. I’ll keep one to use for spinning very thick or funky yarns that don’t work on either of my other two wheels.

Oh yeah, I had a lovely Mother’s Day! Even though it wasn’t exactly too relaxing, we had 4 generations together and a total of 5 moms: birth-mother, 2 of my sisters, me and my daughter-in-law. Plus lots of grown-up kids and Significant Others, plus my granddaughter, a large dog and a small kitten. It was definitely a party — the weather was warm and sunny, the food was great, and the company was convivial! The only downside was this was my first Mother’s Day since my adopted mom died and I missed her yesterday. I love my birth-mom very much, but I don’t have the same history with her as the mom who brought me up. I am happy that she’s gone to her final rest though. It was a very difficult last 5-or-so years of her life in so many ways. Stuff happens, eh?

Friday, May 12, 2006

No Fair!

Is it fair that I should have the second day of a migraine AND an allergy-caused sinus sniffle and post nasal drip on the same day! No of course not. But that’s what I’ve got and I’m not happy about it. My face hurts. My head hurts. There is no pill that I’ve tried that helps. Poo.

Meanwhile I managed to drag myself out to a sushi lunch with Darling Daughter and Her Fiancé. They were paying as my Mother’s Day prezzie so how could I refuse? It was a lovely lunch and visit. We always say we should do it more often, but since they have a mortgage they can just barely afford, eating out is rare these days. Just as well too since they both could afford to lose some weight for health reasons. That’s hard to do on fast food, even sushi. Although it’s lower in calories it’s high in carbs from the white rice. I have to have some every so often though. Too yummy.

If you haven’t seen it, yet go check out the Beltane issue of AntiCraft. (Link is on my sidebar.) The Doll Parts are priceless! The recipe for worm-shit tea is also excellent and very timely. And notice how they have a version of the song that I used on May Day/Beltane. I personally dispensed with the fire leaping however, though the safety tips are to be taken seriously.

Short blog post today and busy tomorrow and Sunday, though I may be able to squeeze a post in. We'll see.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cleaning Day

But I haven’t gotten any actual cleaning done yet. I need to vacuum and I’m starting really loathe vacuuming these days for some reason. I have to find a good personal bribe that will get me to do it. Something really enjoyable and relaxing. Haven’t thought of anything suitably decadent enough yet. So I’m blogging instead.

So I got a few new plants the other day. These ones are for the deck by the water garden to keep them away from slugs etc. Recognise the primulas from the front door basket? I've got pansies in there now but I might swap later to some of these coleus. I just love them and all their different colours and patterns. I want to have at least one of each! Check out the one with the huge leaves called “Kong: Mosaic”. I’m calling it King Kong for obvious reasons. This is still a baby! Can’t wait to see how big the leaves can get. My favourites are the ones with orange or rust leaves with chartreuse or black (really dark brown or purple) a close second. I also like different patterning like veining or margins. Did you know there are probably well over a thousand different coleus varieties?

Then there’s this new rhododendron called Jingle Bells. T-Man fell for this one. He wants to put it out front where he’s been removing more of our evil old hawthorn hedge. Notice the family preference for slightly odd colours? I think he’s catching it from me. He also got a spirea with beautiful bronzy new leaves that turn chartreuse as they age. He paid big bucks for it because he’s wanted one for years. It goes out front too. We haven’t actually done much with the front garden yet to finish it up and I’ve still got lots of annuals waiting to get transplanted. We're slowly working on it. I did manage to get about half the peppers into the greenhouse yesterday, but then forgot to close one of the vents. It was chilly last night! Poor things.

No interesting craft news except that I painted my little lunch…er, knitting box with “hammered” copper spray paint. I’m going to decoupage the top and bottom with some of my paste paper as soon as I have a chance. I even got some real Mod Podge in anticipation. I haven’t done decoupage in decades! Meanwhile the paint is hardening.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Bunch Of Stuff

Nothing is terribly exciting today. Still putting beads on Mu Ni, the Celestial Moon Doll. She has more around her face now and a bit of a headdress. Here’s an in-progress photo as she lolls about on a bed of beads:

I’m feeling a bit guilty at having so many socks on the go that I’ve delayed starting the next pair until I finish either Lace Leaf or Jaywalker. They’re both stuck at just about the same place — just above the heel. I can’t even find the pattern for Jaywalker that I have printed out somewhere. Luckily if I’m stuck, it’s still available online. Of course, needless to say I haven’t actually done any knitting on either of these pairs of socks.

I have been knitting on the Lichen Shell that I started last week. I’m about 6 inches up from the bottom and on my second of 5 balls of yarn. My knitting looks kind of sloppy but then I never was a very even knitter. Probably why I spent so long using handspun yarn exclusively! It hides a multitude of sins because you can always blame it on the yarn instead of your bad tension. This is pretty easygoing knitting though. I can do it while reading email. I only have to worry about the single rows of lace front and back and the increases at the sides every 12th round. Otherwise it’s plain ol’ knittin’.

My dye study group Spectrum is coming over here on Saturday, which means that I have to beat down the killer dust bunnies and scoop up the kitty litter that my extra-toed cats seem to track everywhere. My friends aren’t overly fussy but it’s a good excuse to muck out the stable every once in awhile. Of course we also create stuff together which leaves yet another mess, but that’s ok. That's the whole point! Besides they do help tidy up to a certain extent. I thought we might play with some of the techniques in the dye painting book that I talked about on my Blogiversary post. It’s a bit different than the monoprinting and stamping we’ve been doing recently. More serendipitous and playful.

The group has actually been a bit lacking in enthusiasm lately. We’re all very different people who get very different things out of our crafts. Only one of us sells her work, two of us sell our expertise by teaching others, and the rest are just along for the fibre play, the camaraderie and the yummy lunches. Oh wait — we’re ALL along for the last 3 items! Plus we solve all the world’s problems every month during our discussions. Too bad nobody pays any attention to a bunch of older ladies, hey? The world would be a better place, I’m sure.

So the question is: how do we regain some fresh excitement and enthusiasm? We already have a theme for this year. We have to use at least some of the fabrics we’ve been dyeing, printing, and stamping and make “Something” to show at the September guild meeting. Just to prove we actually do things other than knit and eat and chat. I plan to make a new shoulder bag or backpack for summer. My felted wool bag is wonderful (and elicits a lot of comments and compliments) but it’s too warm for spring and summer use. I actually get sweaty underneath it. And my old commercially-made nylon backpack is great for shopping and holds a ton of stuff, but it’s boring and sometimes too big and bulky. I have a few ideas but I think I need some more coordinating fabric, hence the plan for Saturday. Besides I need to use up some of my old Pebeo Transparent fabric paints because they’re starting to dry out. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Right now I have to go find some of the stuff I need for my Beginner Spinners class tonight. The theme is Fibre Prep, so we need hand cards, wool combs, fleece locks for combing, and a bunch more stuff. Of course now you can buy wool already washed and prepared for you so you don’t have to start with stinky raw fleece like in the Olden Days. I do love the smell of freshly shorn fleece though. And it feels so wonderful on your hands. It’s harder to come by these days unless you know of a farmer with the right kind of sheep and can get an early heads-up on shearing day. The best fleeces always go first. Or the wise shepherd saves it for herself! Anyway I feel that my students need to know what to do if a raw fleece comes their way some day.

In honour of Blogger allowing me to post pictures today, we’ll include this one from Monday of me and Granddaughter playing “Hang the Wine Glass Charms”. Hard to believe she’ll be 2 in a couple of months. Still not talking much though. Must be genes from the other side of the family. This side can't shut up!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Today's Ramblings

It’s lovely and sunny but not as warm as it ought to be today. The sun is fairly warm but the wind is cold. Still feels like spring and not summer for sure. No pictures today since Blogger doesn't feel like posting any for me.

I just finished reading (and ogling!) this book that I got from my fibre arts guild library: Artwear: Fashion and Anti-Fashion. It was a very interesting book meant as a catalogue for a gallery show last year in San Francisco. Author and curator Melissa Leventon managed to write a very lucid account of how artwear (or art to wear or wearable art) fits in between fashion and art. She avoids using “artspeak” or words of too many syllables and gets her points across very deftly. The only quibble I might have is Canadian fibre artists are virtually ignored by being lumped in with “North American” work. She singles out Australia and New Zealand which do have great textile artists creating wearables, but are we Canadians so lost in the great American pool that we don’t have our own voice? Maybe just nobody with a big enough presence to be noticed.

One name that stuck out for me in this book whom I’d never heard before was Kaisik Wong. He was a photographer and art clothing designer from San Francisco who passed away in 1990. A book about him is due out shortly by Cameron Silver (owner of a chic vintage shop called Decades) and judging by the price (US$75) it should be quite a coffee table tome. From what I can tell, Kaisik was quite a character and had an amazing colour and design sense. He’s become most famous recently for a scandal involving Nicolas Ghesquière creating a vest for Balenciaga in 2002 that was a close copy of one that Kaisik Wong made in 1973 and published in 1974 in a book called “Native Funk & Flash”. Kaisik’s family doesn’t seem to have been too concerned about a rip-off of his work, just that he’s getting some much-deserved recognition. One version of the story is here. I guess alls fair in love and fashion, eh? Or maybe that’s anti-fashion?

I got my Complex Weavers Kumihimo Group swap in the mail today. What a fun bunch of braids! The theme this time was a braid to embellish a greeting card. It sparked quite a lot of different approaches and the folder was like the Griffin & Sabine book by Nick Bantock with all the little envelopes and fold out bits to discover. Well, ok, not as good as Nick — nobody else is that good! But like a grownup pop-up book anyway. The fall swap is Thick and Thin. We’ve done that before but there’s quite a lot of scope for discovery in braiding with thicker and thinner elements. It changes the look of the braid completely and it’s a lot of fun to see what happens. Our swap mistress has also given a heads-up on the theme after next (spring 2007) so we can start thinking about it. It’s going to be an art piece to be exhibited online which is quite exciting. We only have to make the one so it won’t be multiples (thank goodness!) and there is no other direction as to what we can do apart from it having braids as the primary focus or as a structural element. Verrry interrrresting…

Off to spend a little while beading on my doll, Mu Ni. She needs a lot more beads to cover her and I have a deadline to meet.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Happy Blogiversary To Me!!!

Yes, it’s Damselfly’s One Year Blogiversary today! Celebrate with me!!

Can’t believe I kept it up for a whole year! Handwritten journals or diaries never caught my attention like this. I’d usually run out of steam in less than a week. I have trouble writing on a blank piece of paper but not, for some reason, on a blank screen. Maybe writing with a pen uses a different part of my brain than typing? Or maybe because the pen is more permanent and much harder to edit? I’m afraid of making a mistake that I can’t fix? Dunno, but it’s much easier to type my thoughts than write them. Blogging makes me happy. Hope it makes my small (and sadly very quiet) group of readers happy too!

But then if anybody reads this blog they have to realize that this Damselfly flits all over the place: from knitting to spinning to beadwork to art dolls to sewing to fabric painting to kumihimo to dyeing to my garden and more. My Crafty ADD…er, Ergonomic Crosstraining could make a sane person dizzy! Sometimes it even makes me dizzy. Not often though. It’s my life and I’m livin’ it the best way I know how. I’m trying to avoid the Could’a/Should’a/Would’a Syndrome by making sure I’m enjoying myself as much as possible every day.

This is the book I got yesterday: Off-The-Shelf Fabric Painting by Sue Beevers. I knew about Sue back when she was a weaver and spinner and obviously like me she’s been branching out, shifting focus, and going in new directions. I’ve been doing fabric painting for several years now (on and off as always) but this book, subtitled 30 Simple Recipes For Gourmet Results explores a few techniques I hadn’t thought of. They are very simple but effective, especially when cut up and rearranged into an art quilt or wearable item. Of course I’ve tried monoprinting, stamping, and sun printing with fabric paints but I never thought of wiping your brush with your cloth or putting paint in a bottle with a fine nozzle and drizzling it over the cloth. Or how about painting your plastic-gloved hand and printing with that? She has a number of recipes for simple resist pastes that will crackle in interesting ways. Also some fold and dip techniques that easy to do. As a matter of fact, all the recipes are simple but it’s the layering of different techniques that makes her cloth so attractive to me. I usually stop too soon or go too far. This is a nice balance. I only read a few pages into the book before I realized that I could use Golden Fluid Acrylic paints on cloth. Because they weren’t specifically “fabric paints” I hadn’t thought to use them. They come in luscious colours (especially the iridescents and quinicridones) that thin out when diluted without the pigment particles separating out as the Pebeo Setacolor Transparent fabric paints can do. Golden’s GAC 900 can be used to dilute the fluid acrylics to increase washability. I can find the paints locally but not the GAC 900. Might have to resort to ordering it if I decide I need it.

More wildlife out in the back yard today: a huge gray rat. No it wasn’t a squirrel with mange. This is just getting a bit much when you’re seeing things in the broad daylight that usually sneak around in the dark, doncha think? It’s raining out today on and off so I’m not getting anything done outside. I should have spent more time out there yesterday, but I didn’t. Tough patooties! It can wait until the weather changes back again! (And the rats and skunks go away.) At least most of the stuff is in except the flowers. I’m always more concerned about veggies and herbs than flowers. Not that I don’t like pretty flowers but I can’t eat them — well, most of them. I do eat nasturtiums, borage flowers, some rose petals, the occasional viola…yum.

Friday, May 05, 2006

We've Been Invaded!

These are muddy raccoon footprints on my upper deck. He seems to like the water garden. Maybe he thinks there’s fish in there? There isn’t even any plants yet. Just rocks on the bottom and glass bubbles on top. We also had a visit this morning from a huge skunk. Usually you don’t see them in broad daylight but this was mid-morning. He sauntered by a couple of times just to make sure we saw him but didn’t stick around for a photo-shoot. Luckily my cats and the dogs next door weren’t outside at the time, or we might have had a Stinky Incident! Yes, we live in the city — within walking distance of downtown even. Lots of wildlife has adapted. Just keeps life interesting!

Finished these socks today.

Yet Another Pair of Socks For Me (Lifetime Total 32)

Begun: I forget! Sometime in April anyway — after the Leaf Lace socks.
Completed: May 5, 2006

Yarn: Confetti superwash sock yarn, Colour 05.003 (gray/purple/blue stripes with white/yellow spotted thin stripes between).

Needles: Boye aluminum sock needles size 1.75 mm (smaller than my usual)

Pattern: Plain Old Socks based on 72 stitches, flap heel (heel st) slightly higher than usual (picked up 20 st per side), gusset reduced normally, toe reduced normally down to 20 sts total.

Next pair I start will be for T-Man.

I also got a few rows done on the shell. It’s coming out ok on a circular Denise needle. Saves sewing up the sides later! Amazes me why more magazines don’t specify knitting around rather than in pieces. Lots of knitters these days can handle a circular!

We also went to Michael’s today for a crafty pig-out! I always get carried away there. One of my purchases was this plain little lunchbox that I’m going to decorate as my knitting box. Not to denigrate Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine which I use for my traveling socks, but they just aren’t my thing. I’m going to decoupage this thing within an inch of its life. I even bought the ModPodge to do it with. It will look a lot more funky when I’m done. More on my crafty goodies tomorrow. Which is a very special day…

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I Didn't Blow Away

Although I did get very busy! The veggie seedlings are now in the garden. The tomatoes are tucked into the greenhouse. The cucumbers and squash are planted under the lights. The peppers are in the cold frame getting used to being outside. I fixed the nets for the peas and planted more because a lot didn’t come up for some reason. Maybe they drowned? It got very rainy after I planted them. Not rainy today though — it’s gorgeous and sunny and warm. T-Man is out in the garden after getting today and tomorrow off work. Picked the best time, didn’t he?

I have a new FO to report. I finished the Vogue Knitting top and it actually fits not too badly. The straps are a bit long (as I feared) and I may have to remove a section and graft back together. I just noticed that even in the not-particularly flattering photo I’ve got one shoulder higher holding the twisted side up! Part of the problem is that I just don’t have good shoulders. All my straps fall down unless they are shaped just so. However I’d like to try wearing the thingy a bit more before I decide for sure to do an operation on it. I think it might be kind of a major ordeal! Hmmm, I also just realized that the lovely big beads on the ends of the braid don’t show in the photo. My photographer doesn’t get that these details are important! And they were his beads too. Well, actually he made two of them and won two of them in an exchange. They were the only ones I had that fit onto the braid and I didn’t want to have to commission ones specially for this or it wouldn’t be finished for weeks yet. They don’t match in any way, but that’s OK. Sorry you can't see them but I don't have time for another photo shoot.

Project Stats

Begun: April 11, 2006
Completed: May 3, 2006

Pattern: Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2006, Top #17.

Yarn: “vintage” Dilthey Wolle Linum, 50% linen, 50% cotton, colour gray, 50g = 80m, 4 balls.

Needles: Denise circulars US size 7.

Braids: Kusari Kaku Yatsu (Chained Square Eight) using one 3-yard strand of yarn on each 70g bobbin. Counterweight was 11 ounces, slightly more than half the combined bobbin weight to make a softer braid. I finished the braid by cutting it in half and securing the ends with Fray-Stop. After the braids were threaded through the top I added the beads and tied an overhand knot in the ends.

Beads: two Effetre glass and two Boro glass flameworked beads with large holes.

Comments: I scanned, printed out and annotated the heck out of the graphs. Then I used a Lo-Ran board to help keep my place. It was a challenge to knit but actually kind of fun. The braid went pretty quickly and makes a nice finish. I may need to shorten the shoulders particularly the twisted one since it seems too long. In the pattern it actually is longer than the other side, which I thought was to compensate for the cabling. But it doesn’t! It stretches more and so should really be shorter, not longer. I was thinking that as I knitted it but trusted in the pattern. Silly me!

Next project is this shell from Knit ‘n Style Issue 143, June 2006, only as usual, not in the recommended yarn, but in Marks & Kattens Bomull (50% cotton/50% wool) in a greeny-gold. This isn’t a magazine I’ve ever bought before but this pattern was just what I was looking for. I only have 5 balls of the yarn and can’t get any more. I wanted something that would work with it and wouldn’t be too warm for spring/summer. I have a partial ball of black in this yarn also and I may use it to do the crab stitch crochet around the neck and armholes. Depends on how much yarn I have left! I also used some of this yarn in burgundy to knit the swatch. I was testing to see which of 3 different ways to do a double decrease looked best. I tried the centred one (sl 2 knitwise tog, knit 1, p2sso), the usual one (sl 1, k2tog, psso), and just plain old k3tog. I liked the middle one best and T-Man did too when I asked him. It has more of a corded look than the other two and had more definition. The centred decrease looked neat but ho-hum and the k3tog looked a bit messy. I also wanted to see if the bottom hem curls because it has no ribbing (it doesn’t seem to) and to test what the crab stitch looks like (needs a smaller hook than I used). More when I have something worth showing.

What else? Oh, my beaded celestial doll, Mu Ni, is coming along. She has a large swatch of her skirt front done now. It’s so time-consuming but quite satisfying to work on this. I just can’t expect quick results.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Welcome In The May-O

We were up
Long before the day-o
To welcome in the summer
To welcome in the May-O
Summer is a cummin in
And winther's gone away-O

One version of this very old traditional (Cornish?) May song is here. And here’s some more info on the supposed origins. I’ve been singing it all morning since about 5 am! It’s got a catchy tune — at least the way I know it. There was an unfortunate downpour of rain at dawn (aka “sparrowfart” as they call it jokingly) when our local Morris Men were supposed to be dancing in the May. It’s nice and sunny though very windy right now. Anybody got a handy Maypole? I’ll supply the ribbons! They’ll be flying bigtime!

I managed to get my next beaded art doll face and body form ready for the Celestial challenge. Her name is Mu Ni since I kept referring to her as “Moonie” while I was stuffing! Her face is polymer clay, translucent with clear iridescent embossing powder used as a mould release. I pressed “craters” into her face with brass tubing before baking and then afterward I used black acrylic paint (carefully!) wiping quickly with a damp paper towel to leave some paint in the features to bring them out. Before I did that you couldn’t even see her very well but the paint brought out her personality. After I made the face, I drew around it to create her body. I think I was inspired by an Inuit ulu shape for some reason. Don’t know why exactly since her dress also kind of represents the sky. Maybe she reminded me of some Inuit carving? Though her face is much more sparkly than whalebone or fossil walrus ivory! Sorry that doesn't show in the photo. I’m really going to enjoy the chance to work with a palette of neutral coloured beads for this project. I’m usually drawn to deep bright colours, particularly reds and oranges, so this is quite different for me. I don’t necessarily have to use all the beads visible on my tray so this is just a starting point. My moon girl is going to be completely beaded, unlike my last Ulva The Mermaid doll. There’s a shorter deadline on this one so I’d better get a’beadin’.

Speaking of beads, have you seen the Bead Inspired Canada magazine? It’s a free download in PDF and it’s quite a nice little publication. Tina Delorme is the editor and she does a very professional job. The current issue is the 10th with 20 pages of projects, articles, and show and tell. Previous issues are still available in the archives. Watch out when printing them on an ink jet — they are very ink-intensive!

What else? Must get back outside today to continue the marathon gardening and planting we started yesterday. We’re trying to whip the veggie garden into shape and get stuff out of the flats and into the dirt. Once I get that done, the peppers will go into the cold frame to harden off but the eggplants are staying in under the lights until June. Some of these will go in the greenhouse and some in the garden and we’ll see what happens. This year we’ll have to experiment how to best use the new greenhouse to get the most benefit. It’s a learning experience. Hope the wind chills out somewhat later today so I can get to work without blowing away.