As you can see the iceberg that has resided on my back deck the last few days is finally melting. Along with the remains of some monster icicles that added their drips to the berg. Note the poor lobelia in the pot to the left. It can't die back yet because it's completely ice-encased! We had sun this morning but warmer temperatures so my lovely snow is disappearing rather quickly. Waterproof high boots recommended to negotiate the lakes on the street corners. But they’d better have non-skid soles for the slush and ice that’s still around on the side streets. It’s pretty out there but kinda treacherous!
Since the garden outside is frozen under ice and snow, I’m enjoying my indoor plants instead. My jewel orchid is blooming in the bathroom and the Christmas cactuses are a bit early this year with lots of flowers. That’s the disocactus in front — the heavy Christmas cactus pot is actually preventing it from tipping over onto the floor from the weight of those long branches. Remember, it bloomed in the summer for the first time in years so now it’s taking a rest. Not pictured are the cuttings from the coleus which are surviving downstairs under my grow lights. They have both aphids and whitefly though which is annoying. I’m trying to eradicate them by hand but I’m barely able to stay ahead of their reproduction. How do they unerringly happen upon vulnerable plants? I can understand why folks once believed in “spontaneous life” when insects just appear as if out of the air.
Carrying on with knitting the wristlets though I might have to start something plain soon or go nuts without something to work on while reading! How am I ever going to get anything complex done if I can’t spend more than a couple of minutes on it? I must be the opposite of most knitters who need complex to keep their interest. I need plain to keep me knitting for any length of time because I don’t need to look at the work and my mind can wander safely without making mistakes. Not too many of them anyway. I guess I need to listen to more podcasts though I do find I miss parts of what’s being said because I stop paying attention. This habit is left over from when I used to have talk radio on all day and only listened to it when I felt like it. I turned it off when my hearing got so bad that the radio just became noise pollution because I couldn’t hear what was being said unless I was near the stereo speakers. (I also got tired of the commercials and the sports reporting but that’s another story.) When I read, I pay more attention to the words than when I listen. Apparently a lot of people are just the opposite. Contrary critter, aren’t I?
I finally got the last of my recent book order from Chapters/Indigo. They came one at a time over a number of weeks so I’m sure they lost money on that one! However, I’m just about ready to order some more. I can’t get these specialty craft books in the local stores and it’s actually considerably cheaper by mail. Us bibliophiles must have our books by whatever means necessary! Anyway, this book is FREEformations by Jenny Dowde. Subtitled “Design and Projects in Knitting and Crochet”, this is the second book by Jenny who lives in Australia which seems to be a hotbed of freeform textile artists. This one carries on and fills in where her first book, Freeform Knitting and Crochet left off, but with a repetition of the chapter on colour. That annoyed me because I would have preferred more information or at least have it presented differently, rather than it being repeated piecemeal. This book is very pretty, being even more well laid out and colourful than the first one but I would have liked more diagrams. A couple of processes are just described in words where a picture would have been simpler to follow and eliminated any confusion. There are less projects than previously, but more techniques which I appreciate because having projects to follow is really in opposition to the idea of freeform. How to create the bits and pieces (called scrumbles) and how to put them together is more important to learn.
I feel Jenny tried to cover an awful lot of territory in both her books and somehow ended up skimming over the important parts one actually needs to know to get started with knitting and crocheting freeform. She talks about design principles with inspirations coming from many places including computer programs. Fun to play with! But with no real details of how to get from there to a finished freeform piece, I was left with many questions instead of answers. The subject of design could be a whole book (or series of books) on its own. There is a chapter on putting the pieces together using templates but I feel it also suffers from a lack of in-progress photos or diagrams. There’s only just so much one can convey in words without resorting to actually showing how something is done. The most step-by-step detail (although words again) is in the projects section which you could also use to create something completely different. Probably you are expected to do so!
The chapter titled “Looking Forward, Looking Back” was very interesting. Jenny discusses the forerunners of freeform knit and crochet and shows some examples of their work over time. I would however have loved to see more contemporary work of others besides the author herself. She is fixated on novelty yarns and deep eyelash in every piece is getting a little dated. There are a lot more (and some better) examples on her website (though some links were broken when I was there last). Quibbles aside, I actually like both of Jenny’s books especially when combined with Prudence Mapstone’s books, who is the other Australian freeform diva. I have her Freeform: Serendipitous Design Techniques for Knitting & Crochet and Never Too Many Handbags. All these books give you many shapes to work with to combine into your own pieces. Freeform techniques certainly encourage you to know how to both knit and crochet! Plus work with wire (jewelry) and mesh (handbags etc.), add some embroidery stitches and beads and generally go…freeform.
In other news, I didn’t want to forget that I need to give a shout-out to my new readers who wandered over after the article in Fiber Femmes. Hope you like what you see! (Special welcome to Linda who commented.) And also to my old faithfuls most of whom are quiet, but some I can count on for the occasional comment. (Sorry, Sharon, I have to wait until I have both a good day and a photographer for a shot of me in my sweater. A miracle convergence of events!) Nice to know I’m not writing this just for myself. Heh!