Friday, June 02, 2006

The Dark of the Day

Pardon my lack of a picture again in today’s blog post. The weather has been iffy and it seems too dark to give me any photo inspirations. I prefer to avoid the flash since it washes things out too badly. Are you sure we're only a few weeks shy of midsummer?

I went back to my lovely torturer…er, physio this morning and now my shoulders are taped back to see if that helps. I’ve been having some quite sharp pains after my first visit on Tuesday. I’m trying to rearrange my work/computer space to get more comfortable while I work and to do all the exercises I'm supposed to. It seems to be helping somewhat so far, but only time will tell. She says the problem is right between my cervical (neck) and thoracic (upper back) vertebrae. Fun, huh? This aging stuff is the pits — but it sure beats the alternative.

I’ve been trying to bead on Mu Ni but I’ve given that idea up for the moment. I can only work on her for a short while without the pains in my neck and shoulders increasing. Knitting isn’t much better either. So next I’m going to try spinning. I can actually support my left arm on the arm of the chair which might help a bit, though I’m not sitting symmetrically. I don’t plan to do any one thing for long anyway. When I get tired of spinning, I’ll go get more comfy in my bed with a book. Got lots of things to read anyhow.

I’ve been mentioning my latest book purchases only one or two at a time, so as not to scare myself with how greedy I’ve been. Today I’d like to discuss another very new book Hand Felted Jewelry and Beads: 25 Artful Designs by Carol Huber Cypher. We’re talking wet felting here with some dry felting using felting needles. None of that “fulling” knit or crochet stuff — this is the real thing. The felted shapes are further embellished with beads but not so much that it distracts from the wooly stuff. The emphasis here is on the felt first. Some of the pieces have a wire armature inside to help it hold a shape such as a coiled bracelet or neckpiece. An interesting idea uses a lampwork bead on one end of a lariat necklace with a counterpoint of a felted imitation of the bead on the other end. There are also a number of flower and leaf shapes and an almost eerie pendant consisting of a cone of felt with a bead in the end like an eye. An even more eerie scepter has an eye bead embedded in it. Lastly there are two projects using “nuno” felt techniques (felting through a fabric support). What I like about this book is that the pieces are small and easily do-able even by someone with limited facilities and experience. The projects each include lists of all the materials and equipment you need plus the a reference to the particular skills needed, which are discussed in depth in the beginning of the book. This saves a lot of redundant verbiage. I feel the gallery section could have been a little more extensive, since the author has a particular style and I wanted to see what others might have done differently with the techniques she teaches. I haven’t made much felt really so it will be fun to try some of these small pieces. But not until my neck feels better. Pressing down is absolutely the worst thing I could do.

While I’m on the subject of small items to make, another book I got is Nicky Epstein’s Knitted Flowers. I love her books on the peripheral techniques. Knitting On the Edge and Knitting Over the Edge are great resources for ideas as is the earlier Knitted Embellishments. This book takes some of the flowers in the latter book and expands on them. There are knitted flowers, knitted and felted (fulled) flowers, and fulled knitting that is cut and stitched into flowers. The book also includes some patterns incorporating the floral embellishments including a bib necklace and a rose bag. Even a pair of evening shoes get metallic yarn flowers. This is a beautiful hardcover book from a typographical and design sense too. The photos are detailed and every page is deeply coloured: purple, green, magenta, blue-violet etc. with the text in white. Very floral.

I’m not telling how many more books there are to review. I’ll talk about them as I like! And guess what? The sun just came out! However, it's raining at the same time.

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