Monday, July 24, 2017

Pants Edition

These gloomy days are really trying me.  It has been raining buckets for what seems like weeks, and the lake is already sandbagged and overflowing. The furniture feels clammy.  Life has become damp.  I know it is like this everywhere (except where it is hotter than Mordor) and I feel like we should all just hold hands and dance in the puddles together, but all I really want to do is nap.  I love a good rainstorm now and then, but it's just been too much this year.  Too much water, too much cold.  As the rain hammered down on the roof the other day, I put on a sweater, tuned in to Tom Petty Radio on Pandora and sat down at my sewing machine to turn the frown upside down and accomplish something.  This Pants No. 1 pattern by Sonya Philip has been in the back of my mind, and sometimes in the front of it, ever since she released it.  I love the idea of these simple pants so much--two pattern pieces + a few yards of linen fabric + a little elastic = instant gratification wardrobe staple.  These are the pants I want/need.  This is what you wear with those long-ish dresses and tunics I keep seeing everywhere, but that cling to my cotton leggings like a hungry bear.  It feels like these will fill a little bit of a gap in the wardrobe.  This test pair, made in about an hour (sewing, I love you!) out of a piece of thrifted linen, are the perfect lounge-y, pajama-y pants.  I am wearing them right now.  I want to wear them all the time.  
Brown linen, or maybe charcoal?  Black silk, hoo!  That would be so good.  Anybody know a good source for medium-weight silk?  You sewers in the vicinity of the 6th Avenue garment district, I am keenly envious.  In my little neck of the woods, unless you want to make a quilt or a prom dress, there is no fabric to be found.  Maybe a road trip to NYC is in my future, because this first pair is not going to be my last.  [What if I used a drop cloth from the hardware store?  Would that work?  I am being serious...]
Next up:  a whole bunch of Kiomi shirts, also in thrifted/gifted linen, from Lotta's book Everyday Style, also totally easy and wearable--the hardest part of that project will be tracing the pattern from the master sheet, which looks like a road map of the whole world, all at once.  That'll be a workout for my bifocals, but the sewing is smooth sailing, all the way.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I have not been able to resist making this sweater.  It is Granito by Joji Locatelli.  Such beautiful simplicity, that thing.  Those pefectly placed pockets.  The skinny sleeve/baggy body combo that I'm so into right now.  Even though I suspect this otherwise very good yarn (Holst Supersoft) is not a good match for the pattern--Supersoft is quite rustic and a little bit scruffy and light as a feather, which is ordinarily one of it's big advantages, but it isn't going to drape at all, and Granito seems to need drape--I had some Supersoft in the stash and this pattern was crying out to me.  It may work out just fine, but somehow that isn't the point right now.  I have reservations, indeed I had reservations when I set out, but I am enjoying it anyway, and I might surprise myself--it could be perfect.  It might!  We knit on the porch, Catdog and I.  She offers advice and suggestions, and raises an eyebrow slightly at me now and then, when I make an ill-considered yarn substitution, but for the most part she is intent on the arrival of the garbage truck or the mail carrier or somebody going by on a bike, and can't really be bothered with my yarn problems.
In non-sweater news, I am clearing out my closets and foisting all the granny blankets on my kids, who unwittingly walked into my trap this week and are now doomed to be sent home overloaded with Mom's Crochet.  Honestly, I love all these blankets (you may remember some of them) but there are only so many beds around here, and only so many blankets two people can use.  Go forth into the world, yarny blankets, and keep warm the assorted college students and bohemians.  (And take a few quilts with you!)
A couple of my beautiful girls brought their own projects in progress with them, too.  I may have taken seventy-three photos and a couple videos of them knitting and crocheting, and teaching each other to knit, oh my goodness.  It never gets old.  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

These Days

Hi there!  It is summer.  It kind of comes and goes this year, which, thinking back, is kind of how it always goes.  I don't know why I keep being surprised by that.  Last night was freeeeezing, and I doubled up on quilts and wool socks again, and had to shut all the windows, and now, today, well.  You can see how the catdog feels about it.  Warm, sunny, summertime.  The sky is the color of the couch.  Oh, right!  The couch!  I kept forgetting to tell you about it.  Okay, this is the Ecktorp sofa from Ikea, which we bought I think back in 2012, and I had two plain white slip covers for it.  (Guys, don't get a white couch without getting a spare slipcover.  Serious. What are you going to sit on while the only slipcover you have is soaking in OxiClean?) Anyway, after awhile, one slipcover had gotten pretty grubby--and also, I get bored and like to change everything around about every five minutes-- so Michelle and I cooked up another vat of indigo and without any hesitation, I dunked it.  Oh goodness, I love it.  Its the color of blue jeans [obviously] and I think it will fade in kind of a gorgeous blue jeans way [also obviously] and I can hardly wait to watch that happen.  I love that old-blue-jeans-grayish color.  I await that, and also all the other fading iterations of indigo blue this slipcover will undergo.  They are all good.  Indigo dyeing is so much fun.  Everything white that isn't nailed down suddenly looks like a good candidate to be indigo.  I still have the other slipcover, which is still white (for now, for now...) and so will probably alternate them, which should keep me entertained for awhile.  
With summertime comes another of my favorite things.  An Open Window, aaahhhh. There's almost nothing better than an open window.  It's really true.  I sit all day beside one open window or another, knitting and drinking coffee, reading and knitting and drinking coffee.  The warm wind blows across the orchards and ruffles the pages of my book, and I can smell dirt and rain and lilies.  The cardinals in the yard say, "Burrito, burrito, burrito!"  I am a summer flower, no doubt about it.  I am also a pragmatic Northerner, though, and I always remember that our summers here are fleeting and that soon (sob), sooner than you would believe, it will be cold again.  So I knit things like this:
This is Basic No. 2, my own top-down, worsted-weight, 5 sts/inch turtleneck pattern, knit this time with a Camaro-inspired rainbow palette across the body and sleeves.  Those stripes!  Bliss.  I feel like this is something I would have worn in 1978, while watching Starsky and Hutch [speaking of which, hoo!  That show was so full of handknits.] I feel like my first boyfriend Bobby from next door had this shirt.  It makes me think of the Brady Bunch and my Huffy ten-speed bike and spending entire fall Saturdays reading comic books.  Next time I'm gonna lower the stripes about two inches, which will make it totally perfect, but this one is nearly there.  The collar is huge.  Ultra.  Mega.  It's 11 1/2" tall, meant to be folded over for a double-thick, no kidding, all-the-way-warm turtleneck.  My neck is pretty long and I am always wishing for more collar on a sweater like this.  It looks a little bit like a neck brace, but I'm telling you, when the wind is howling (just a few months, friends) I will be enjoying that super tall, ultra mega collar very, very much.  Developing these sweater template patterns that are just right for me has been the most rewarding project I can remember.  

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer sweaters, in action

It is raining again.  Or still.  I can't remember a time when it wasn't raining.  I know this is happening everywhere, but come on.  I wore this wool (WOOL!) turtleneck (TURTLENECK!) on Sunday.  We went to Syracuse to see Bob Dylan [the Great Man, in person, hoo!  He could not have been less interested in the audience, or whether we could see him, or whether we were having fun, but I was thrilled anyway.  There's a perfect review of the show here.] Not too warm for a turtleneck, out there beside Onondaga Lake on a summer evening.  Nope, nice and chilly.  This is Stormtracker by Alicia Plummer (I might as well throw out my Ravelry queue and just start knitting her designs.  I love every single one of them) knit in Patons Classic Worsted, colorway "Mercury", which a slightly grayed navy.  I modified the sleeves by working them even for six inches and then starting the decreases, and they fit much better.  Anyway, I love it, and I hate that I can wear it right now.  
Also, this is in daily rotation, too.  This is the sweatshirt I have always wanted and needed.  I made this one up myself, and this time I wrote down everything I did so I can refer to it again next time.  This is Basic No. 1, in Cascade 220, color 4010 (heathery gold) and 4192 (shell pink).  Those two colors keep cropping up in my stash, over and over again.  That golden heathery mustard color is so close to perfect it aches.  Anyway, the next time I want to make a top-down crew-neck sweater in worsted weight yarn at a gauge of 4.5 st/inch I won't have to do all the math and figure it out from scratch.  It's taken me how long to do this?  I've made probably fifty DIY sweaters over the years, and I am just now getting around to keeping track of these things.  I know.  I'm working on Basic No. 2now (a worsted weight turtleneck at a gauge of 5 sts/inch) and I'm writing all that down, too.  I'm so happy this is finally getting done.  Knitting life will be so much easier.      

Friday, June 23, 2017

On a roll

Friends, sweater fever is upon me.  I have, I'm not kidding, three newly finished pullovers.  I know!  I know.  It is summer.  What's with all the wool?  I just have the mojo right now.  The gold/pink one (Hilde noticed it was the color of Catdog, which is totally true) is my own pattern, and there will be more on that later.  That one just worked out so well, and stripes will always make things go fast; something about them is endlessly interesting.  Oooh, pink is next!  Aaaahh, it's almost time for gold again!  Two more rows and it's time for more pink!  I am simple.  The bright blue (top right, and below) is my finally finished Folded by Veera Valimaki, and I think I have to conclude that it is too short.  
Another inch and a half and one more set of increases at the hem will transform the way I feel about this garment.  Which, because that pattern is knit bottom-up, gives me a headache.  It means a tedious removal of the cast on edge, with much picking and swearing and cutting of the yarn, bleah.  I do not look forward to that, but the yarn (Madelinetosh Merino Light, in "Ink") is so wonderful, and the fit is otherwise pretty good, so I will buckle down and do that.  I will.  I promise.  
This one, the closest thing in the pile to gray [what's going on?] is still wet and is covered with dog hair, but after much re-doing, is also finally finished--it is Stormtracker by Alicia Plummer; plain stockinette in the body, sleeves smothered in cables.  Smothered feels like the operative word with this sweater right now, because I had to try it on a million times while knitting it to check the fit, and it is way too hot around here right now for those shenanigans.  Get that wool off my neck!  I'll show it to you when it's dry.  I will love this one in October, which will come soon enough, I'm in no rush.  I knit those cabled sleeves four times in total to get them big enough for my upper arms--I think I chose the wrong size to begin with, but it worked out in the end.  I assume.  I am not putting it on today, ugh, it's too hot. 
 The rainbow striped thing in the middle is my current obsession, more to come on that one as well, and then last night, I cast on yet another--Mazzy by Elizabeth Smith, that is tweedy and black and I can't wait to wear it.  Because it isn't sweaty enough around here or anything.  I'm just really motivated right now, and in full-on sweater knitting mode.  This does seem to happen to me a lot.  I've been asked, "Isn't summer the off-season?"  Which does give me pause, but no.  I knit like a fiend all the year long, and always something wooly.  That's how I roll.  
I also finished spinning and plying all this, whoo, isn't that pretty?  I bought a big bump of hand-dyed roving at the Fiber Fair so far back in the olden times that the whole thing, about 20 oz. of it, was eight dollars.  It looked to me like the dyer had made an attempt at camouflage--it is comprised of forest green, khaki, black, and little dabs of cobalt blue here and there, but it all blended together at the end to make a really nice teal.  I haven't measured the yardage yet, but there might be somewhere between 800 and 1000 yards of it, which is just about enough to make a--wait for it--sweater.  Because I am a beginner spinner, there isn't much consistency from one skein to the next, so I think maybe striping it with something else will be a good idea, and there is just about enough Malabrigo worsted in "Lettuce" left over from this.  I think that grinchy green will add just the right amount of pizzazz.  What are you guys up to?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Another yarn story

It is porch season.  My house is a complete shambles because I am hardly ever in there at all anymore, now that it is summer.  The dishes are piling up.  I don't even care.  I could get very rhapsodic about the porch, and maybe I will next time, but right now, I have to show you some yarn I made.
Yaaahh!  I know!  Isn't that pretty?  It is full of inconsistencies, but handspinning is no place for perfection, friends.  You can buy perfect yarn at the store.  Handspinning is a place to play, which is what I did.  So there are thick places and thin places, and a few places where it is mighty good, too--that yellow/blue-gray barber pole in the center!  Hoo!  Nice.  I wish the whole thing were like that [stop it. ~ed.]
On Saturday Doc and I went to the Central New York Fiber Fair in Bouckville.  (Hi, Theresa!  It was so nice to meet you!) This fair is still pretty new, but it is so good and Central New York is so absolutely stunning that I am confident that one day knitters from all over the world will gather in June, wearing their Bouckville sweaters (this is New York.  You might still need a sweater in June) and I will have to wait in a really long line for an artichoke french.  I probably could have bought something from every booth.  Doc was with me, though, and helped me keep a lid on it.  By the way, Doc is how you will probably recognize me in the wild--his fiercely handsome and kilted self attracted so much attention, whoo!  After the alpacas, he was the most photographed thing at the fair, I think.  One lady paused to admire his calves.  A little girl wanted to give him a hug.  Everybody was so interested in him, and I was pretty much free to load up on purchases while he was otherwise engaged.  Genius!  The first of my loot, this hand-dyed braid of SW Blue Faced Leicester from Llady Llama Fiber Co. in the colorway "Godric's Sword" was the first thing to hit my wheel.  Isn't it yummy?  Wool!  Harry Potter!  Let's make some yarn!
I unwrapped the braid and divided it in half, the same way you separate strands of embroidery floss.  So, I had two long pieces that were (in theory) identical matches to each other.  
The loose plan at this point was to see if I could maintain some kind of striping by spinning each long strand as a single with even a minimum of consistency, so that when I plied them together, voila, red sections would ply with red sections and yellow with yellow, and so on.  [Spoiler alert:  that's not what happened.  I can't spin with any consistency at all.]. Pressing on!
Here's the first bobbin, in progress.  See how nice?  See how separate the colors are?  If only the second one had worked the same way, and I don't even know what happened, probably I failed to properly pre-draft, or maybe because I was still obsessively spinning this after the sun went down and I was more or less hoping for a miracle, but the second bobbin was not smooth sailing and things went a little sideways.  Anyway, when I had two bobbins full of singles and after letting them rest overnight, I plied them together and it barberpoled immediately, which, apart from not being what I was aiming for, is completely fine, too.  And really, I'm only aiming for anything specific in the hopes of learning something, not because I need striped yarn in a Harry Potter-based colorway (wait, of course I do...) 
When your finished result looks like this, there's very little to complain about.  Okay, back to the porch.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Still Woolly

I think we go through this every year: as soon as the snow melts, I start moaning about how cold it is and how long it's taking for the [your flower here] to bloom.  In an uncharacteristic moment of wisdom and insight, though, this year I finally realized that Spring Is A Season Too, and sometimes, that means it is chilly.  Newsflash!  So my feet are still cold, and I am still wearing wool socks.  I made these using no kind of pattern, just some sport weight yarn and a colorwork design borrowed from my favorite book on the subject.  The yarn is Plymouth Galway Sport in Turtle Heather and Sand Heather.  They're thick and yummy, and will never fit in my shoes, but that is not what they're for.  
I worked like mad, too, trying to finish my Creative Year Project piece for May before May was over, and it was a squeaker.  May was "Self Portrait", and dang, it's hard trying to fit your whole self into one two-dimensional 6"x6" square of fabric.  I thought about it a lot, and changed my mind a bunch of times, and thought some more, and then finally made this.  My only finished sweater in May, in Koigu KPPPM, an improvised, self-drafted little number using about 5 meters of yarn on US0 needles.  I would totally wear that.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wool hat, summer edition

I finished knitting this hat almost the instant it became summer here in Western New York.  When the clouds part for a change and the hollering wind takes a breather, you can just about sit outdoors with your knitting in your lap.  It makes a girl feel like maybe she has some control over these things.  What if I'd knit faster?  Would the peonies be open by now?  Summer thoughts start to crowd my mind:  as I was sitting down to take this selfie, a teenager with a twangy, away accent knocked on the door to ask if I'd like to have him to paint my barn roof, for a good enough price, and now I feel like I should have hired him.  The barn roof is looking a little ragged, which you can obviously tell as you drive by, and as I'm thinking about it, I don't really want Doc to climb up there and do it.  Missed opportunity.  And now that he's brought it to my attention, it's all I can see, unless I look at the mess that is the raspberry patch, or the weeds in the patio.  My farmer neighbor has commenced to tilling his field again, though to what end I still can't tell.  As far as I can see, he is tilling it recreationally, because this has been going on for years.  He drives back and forth, with that disc cultivator or whatever it's called on the back, and makes his furrows.  He goes across it again, in the other direction.  His topsoil blows with abandon into my kitchen.  Last fall, he worked diagonally, too.  A few stakes appear here and there.  That's it.  Can I just say that I'm hoping for wheat?  I don't know why, other than how beautiful would that be in the golden, dusty evenings?  How utterly prosaic, and how elegiac, a field of rippling wheat?  These are the things that compel me.  Wheat is a pretty crop.  I am choosing to think today about barns and raspberries and golden growing things. While my heart breaks for our world, I turn my face toward the sun.  The hat pattern is here.  

Sunday, May 21, 2017


This is my wedding dress.  Circa 1989. It was the first one I tried on.  Someone had told me that the first dress you try is usually the one you choose, because when the hundreds of teeny buttons are done up in the back and and the long train is ruffled out and arranged, you turn, seeing yourself in the mirror as a bride for the first time, you fall in love with it, and no other dress ever looks as good, and that's what happened.  I managed to regret for awhile having chosen the first dress I put on, thinking I had somehow been too hasty, had missed the biggest shopping opportunity of my life or something, and my petulant whining about that made my mom sad, but on the day, when I was as beautiful as I ever would be, and my best friend had buttoned up all those million buttons at the back and ruffled out the long train, I had not a single regret in the world.  I remember that my beloved brother, looking like Mr. Darcy in his ascot and morning coat, was the one to go to the florist in his Camaro to pick up my bouquet, which he delivered to me with the tenderest care.  I remember that my best friend, looking as always exactly like Martha Plimpton, in her cream lace dress and Florida tan, was tragically hungover and trembling but made us laugh and laugh, and I remember that my mom, looking like a princess herself, put an ice bag on Martha Plimpton's neck to keep her from fainting.  I remember that the waitress at the rehearsal dinner told a filthy joke to the minister and the church organist and I snorted iced tea into my sinuses.  I remember that my dad curled my hand into his big arm as we headed up the aisle together, and squeezed it hard for a second, telegraphing all the sentimental things he wanted to say; his sense that he really was letting me go, and how it was hard for him, but how okay it was, too.  That he loved me.  "Don't trip," he said.  "Walk slow."  I remember that Doc, dressed in his brother's rented pants, was waiting for me at the other end, and that he gasped when he saw me.  I remember that I was so thrilled about wearing this dress that I forgot to pack anything else to wear and had to come home again the next morning to pick up some clothes.  My parents were drinking mimosas.  "It's too late to give her back," they said.  This dress cost a lot of money, a lot more than I should have asked my schoolteacher parents to spend on anything.  It was, and still is, an utterly gorgeous (and utterly 80's) confection, a proper Cinderella dress, and wearing it, I felt lovely and loved. 
Here's something that could not be more true:  the dress does not hold those memories; they are in me.  The dress is not the wedding, nor the marriage, nor the spectacular man I married and our subsequent decades of happy partnership, nor is it the repository or representative of any of those things, either.  I don't need to continue trying to keep it safe and protected from, well, time.  So I brought it down from the attic, and on a cloudy day, I hung it from the crabapple tree, and the wind tossed some pretend life into it, and ruffled out the train, and I photographed it.  And then I folded it carefully back into the bag, zipped it closed, and gave it away.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Island Magic

Martha's Vineyard in the middle of May was gray and blustery, and the sea was roiled up in a proper gale-force way.  My friend Ethel and I did the only appropriate thing and sat in the bar having a huge Dark and Stormy, listening to the wind howl and watching for Ahab to come stumping psychotically in.  Walks on the beach were adventurous and hearty.  She tied a shirt around her head a la Little Edie Beale and we held on to each other to keep from blowing over.  There were blossoms everywhere, and sandy dogs, and people wearing wool hats.  The view out to the wild sea makes my heart pound with happiness.  That bit of relative calm up there is Lambert's Cove.  The wind there was slightly less punishing.  
I love these windswept dunes, full of hidden tide pools and bird tracks and shell treasures.  Those blossoms were the most delicate pink, just the vaguest pink.  A suggestion of pink, against the white sand.  
In a moment of serendipity, I bumped into a couple of readers in the yarn shop (where else?) in Vineyard Haven, and then, crazily, we met them again later in the line at Back Door Donuts.  Hi Sarah and Steph!  I swear I am not stalking you!  Back Door Donuts.  Listen, I have to tell you this story.  Two years ago Ethel and I were on the Vineyard, hanging out in Oak Bluffs after dark.  We'd walked around at twilight looking at the camp cottages [awesome] and it was cold and dark.  A cozy snack started to sound good.  It was not yet Memorial Day, so not much was open, and we were about to give up, but lo, we came upon a light--a single light on someone's desk--shining from behind the window of a real estate office.  A woman sat there in the circle of the single bulb.  She was dressed all in white, and had long, white hair.  I am not making any of this up.  Ethel is bold and talkative, and she said, "I'm going to go in there and ask her if she knows of a place."  I was protesting--it's late, they're definitely not open, the door is going to be locked--but the door was unlocked.  She placidly looked up, like she'd been expecting us.  Ethel said something like "Hi, we're new to the Island, do you know of anyplace where we could get some dessert?"  The Woman in White said, "Do you know about Back Door Donuts?  No?  Follow me."  She led us around the corner and down an alley and past some trash cans where finally a long line was forming beside some dumpsters outside a screen door at the back of a bakery where they were selling donuts.  At night.  A donut shop speakeasy.  It was like finding Brigadoon.  And you guys, these are the greatest donuts you have ever had.  They pull one out of the fryer, put the bacon on (yes, the BACON) and hand it right to you.  They know you don't even need a bag.  We turned to thank the Woman in White, but she was gone, and when we tried to go back to the real estate office to say thank you, we couldn't find it.  I have thought about that little piece of magic dozens of times in the past two years.  So of course, back again on the Vineyard this year, we headed directly for the donuts, and there, as before, was the screen door, and the line, and the dumpsters, and the gorgeous sugary air all around.  And naturally, seeing Steph and Sarah again at Back Door Donuts was exactly what was going to happen.  Island Magic. 
I knit socks on long road trips to keep from going bonkers sitting still in the car.  These three socks happened over the weekend.  How can people who don't knit even stand to go anywhere?  

Monday, May 8, 2017

Early Bird

Something that isn't knitting!  Okay, so you may as well know that I love taxidermy.  It combines art, craft, precision, understanding and love of the natural world, biology, a strong stomach for gross-out, scientific inquiry, and also, sometimes, the deeply creeeeepy, and I say that with the greatest respect and admiration.  The moment my young son realized that the life-size elephant "sculptures" in the American Museum of Natural History were, in actual fact, REAL elephants--he made a wide-eyed "mind=blown" gesture that gripped my heart--stays with me. He was bored, and then he realized, and then he was not bored.  So that's what an elephant looks like.  It was wondrous, the way he marveled. [I, like you, would like all the elephants in the world to live their quiet, peaceful lives beside the river, unmolested and raising their babies and endlessly chewing the grass in placid harmony, but here we have a taxidermied elephant, however possibly misbegotten, however potentially misguidedly acquired, and I believe we can learn from it.  It is okay to be amazed.] I like oddities, unusual things.  I like learning.  I like a rare discovery.  I sort of like things that are vaguely morbid.  I have a bittersweet appreciation for the old-time impulse for scientific discovery (and also the peculiarly Victorian impulse to collect all the things) that led 18th and 19th century expeditions to collect insect, bird, and animal specimens from around the world [though I certainly would not want someone to do such a thing now] and I was completely captivated many years ago by a museum exhibit of 18th century rare bird specimens from the Galapagos Islands.  Such a mixture of feelings, looking at something like that--wonder, sadness and pity, admiration of skill and devotion, eager scrutiny of tiny, long-dead creatures that would otherwise remain to me forever a mystery.  The cabinet of curiosities is such an enchantment, in its original form a way to gain and share information.  Happily, we now have ways of gathering information that are in general much healthier for the elephants and the birds, though I think science still sometimes runs afoul of our moral instincts, and also I think it might have to, for the sake of progress and discovery.  Hey, that's a deep conversation brewing...anyway, I love taxidermy.  So I've been working on some bird sculptures, because real bird taxidermy is for many reasons out of my reach [and in some cases, is also illegal] and also because I am a maker of things, so that's what I do.  
So a project was born.  Bird Work.  I started drawing birds and trying to figure out how they were shaped, and started trying to figure out how to make pattern pieces that might translate into those shapes.  I wanted birds that look ratty and crafty, with visible stitches, made from tweeds and calicoes, but real-ish. Real-shaped.  You guys, this is hard.  I made so many wrong-looking birds.  Many, many attempts at drafting a pattern later, and a whole box full of sorta birds, I am relatively satisfied with this guy, though he is unfinished, and there is much more tinkering to be done.  At this size--he's about three inches long, not including the tail--1/16" makes a pretty big difference. When I first had the idea some months ago, to replicate the bird taxidermy I cannot otherwise have, the search for supplies (and also the quest for beak ideas) led me to the incredible artwork of Ann Wood, who has since been an enormous source of inspiration, and to this book by Abby Glassenberg, from which followed, as usual, a whole fascinating rabbit hole of soft animal sculpture, and which made me scramble to my sketchbook, full of ideas.  You remember the mouse?  I still want to make more mice.
He's a study, still.  But it's getting there.  Bird work continues.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Knit Sew Spin

The Scarfy Thing has been finished.  I think "Scarfy Thing" is really the only thing you can call this--I don't know what else it could possibly be.  I guess it's a scarf/shawl/wrap, and it's so, so long.  It is enormous; mine is almost eight feet long, I think, and it feels like quite an accomplishment.  Wearing it feels kind of wonderful.  Scarfy Thing will be noticed.  Those tassels just dial it up to eleven for me.  Hoo, I really love it.  In the end, I decided against the intarsia (well, of course.  Intarsia is a nightmare) and after a little/lot of practicing, my join-as-you-going improved somewhat, and I stopped hating it.  That's the way with most things, isn't it?  The free recipe (it is not a line-by-line pattern, but more a collection of tips) can be found here, and if, like me, you have a lot of sock yarns and sock yarn leftovers that you are longing to use, you should give this one a try.  I might make another one someday.  
I also spent a few hours on my Creative Year Project piece--this month's prompt was "My Favorite Book", and for me, that is Anne of Green Gables [I will be avoiding the upcoming grim and depressing Netflix adaptation of the Anne story--it ain't broke, so let's not fix it, hey?-- but if you want to watch an Anne of Green Gables series made by those who brought us "Breaking Bad", please feel free]. This piece stumped me for awhile.  I'm trying so hard not to have them all just be fabric collages...
This week's spinning--alpaca.  First of all, I'm not sure why I even have any alpaca around here, because I find alpaca is a little bit prickly for me to wear, so I don't know what I'll make with this.  Well, I had two small piles of two different colors--one was a Fat Batt art rolag from Spirit Wind Farm and Fiber Studio in the colorway "Sedona Sunrise", and the other, a gift to me, was from an unknown farm, but the alpaca's name was Scotty.  Gifts are like that.  When somebody offers me a bag of beige fluff, I don't delve too hard.  Anyway, there wasn't much of either one, so in order to have enough yardage to make something out of it, I spun them on separate bobbins and then plied them together, which toned down the rainbow sherbet effect of one, and blinged up the boringness of the beige.  They meet in the middle now, to make something kind of tonal and vaguely pinkish.  I might have enough yarn for a pair of mittens, and I could line those with something that won't be prickly.  Plans.
It is gray and cold here today, and pouring.  That sunny gold yarn is the antidote--it is Esopus in 'Gold Star' by Jill Draper Makes Stuff.  Catdog is snuggled up in a nest of pillows, snoring away, and there is a cozy spot on the couch, right beside her.