Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
and then there were three
Friday, December 29, 2006
the next generation
The necklace below was a gift for my sister, made by her son Zach, age 8, with a little help from Uncle Debbie. (I didn't want to be an "aunt" and he already had uncles, so when he was a very little guy and used common sense to apply "uncle" to my name, it stuck.) We used beach glass Zach found when he visited us at the lighthouse, wrapped with the fine pure silver wire that Scott melts onto some beads, accented with sterling and glass beads. Because the silver wire is so soft, it was difficult to keep it from getting kinks as we intertwined the wraps, but Zach worked hard on it and was very happy with his creation. Next is a pair of bobbin holders, made by Jesse as a gift for Leah. He used scrap wood from window trim, cut to shape and sanded soooo smooth, and polyurethaned for a nice shine. The elastics are just some hair elastics from when Leah's hair was long. They'll do a fine job of keeping her new bobbins in order when she's not actively working on her lace. These socks were knit by Leah as a gift for me. I knew she was working on them because I had to help her out, as they are her first pair, but she fooled me by saying they were a gift for grandma. The first sock took months, but she started the second one about 5 days before Christmas and finished it on Christmas eve. High on the pride of having finished a substantial project, she's now on a mission to finish the poncho that she started for herself this spring. And I have discovered that hand knit socks feel good, but hand knit socks received as a gift from someone you love feel GREAT.
We saw Stomp in New Haven last night. Vid clips and images are at their site, but as always, they portray only a smidgen of what happens in a show and don't begin to convey the power and energy of these performances. If you ever get the chance, go. And prepare to never look at a plunger the same way again. :-)
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
I can't believe it has come to this
Yes, indeed, I have sunk to a new low. I always thought dressing dogs in sweaters and coats was dumb, but I guess that's because I have a Very Big and Furry Dog. But then this adorable little foster pup entered our lives and we fell in love with him and then we noticed that he shivers like crazy when he's outside in the cold. So what's a crafty gal to do? Fashion him a coat of hand-felted wool, of course! We used this free pattern as a guide, making a prototype out of some scrap fabric and modifying size/shape to fit the little Squirt. Still needs some modifications and who knows how practical it will really be, but it will definitely keep his skinny little bod warm.
Since a few people have asked, I suppose I should point out that, yes, it will be able to go into the wash. This is wool that's already been shrunk and felted, so the washing machine is fine for it. I have a big sheet of this felt, so if he ends up wearing a coat on a regular basis, his permanent family can always make some more of them for him to wear while one's in the wash.
The very first time we took him out in his coat, the first person we met was a nice woman whose Italian Greyhound was wearing a sweater. She gushed about how pretty the Squirt's coat is, wanted to know where we got it, and how she could get (make) one of her own. She'll be coming over soon for an evening of feltmaking. We learned that she used to make lampwork beads, so I'm very much looking forward to getting to know her better. :-) So apparently we're not the only family wrapped around someone's furry little paw and I guess that's not such a bad place to be.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
comfort and joy
Most rewarding of all is that we've been able to maintain a focus on giving. There are modest handmade gifts in progress all over this house, with some already wrapped and under the tree or stashed in secret spots. And the thanks keep rolling in from the charities we support, including the VFW's collections (cookies and other items) for the troops, the Alzheimer's Association, the American Cancer Society, the Heifer Project, the American Red Cross' apheresis division, and our newest and largest single donation to date, Doctors Without Borders. This last one was spurred on by reading Mountains Beyond Mountains and then a message from the Yarn Harlot. Doctors Without Borders seemed to be the perfect link between something disturbing that's happening in the world and something we can do about it. I always thought Ben & Jerry's 1% for Peace policy was a very good thing and was thrilled to realize that in the past month or so we too have donated about 1% of our annual income to projects that are important to us (and that's just in the past 4-6 weeks, so we must have gone significantly higher than that for the year). Best of all, it's painless. No, it's not just painless; it's invigorating, empowering, motivating.
As a sign at Rose Island Lighthouse said, "The goal is to leave things better than you found them. Imagine if everybody in the world..."
Monday, December 18, 2006
cross and twist
The pretty snowflake below was a work in progress by one of the members of the lace group. It's a teensy little project and she said it's challenging to work in such a tight space, but we marveled at the delicate results. The sparkle of the silver and blue metallic threads is lost in this image, but believe me when I tell you it's very, very pretty.
I'm not learning lacemaking with Leah, but I do overhear the discussions and try to help her figure out problems as she's working on her lace. Most interesting to me was the realization that all the lace we've ever seen is made up of two movements, cross and twist, similar to how all knitting is made up of two stitches, knit and purl.
Here's a picture of Leah's most recent lace project. It's a piece of edging lace, which is why the right margin has more of a texture than the left. Used as intended, the straighter edge would be sewn to a piece of fabric and the bumpier edge would be the free edge of the lace.
The blue thing to the left is the pattern she used. The lace is made right on top of this pattern, with each dot in the pattern representing where a pin will need to be placed and each line giving an indication of how the threads of each stitch should travel. There are numbers to help the lacemaker figure out how to tackle the puzzle of where to move next, after each stitch has been completed. The lace needs the support of the pins as it's being made, but once you travel past an area, the crosses and twists provide enough structure to maintain the pattern and the pins can be removed.
Leah decided it would make a nice bookmark too, so it became a gift for her Grammy at yesterday's Christmas celebration on Scott's side of the family. This was her first attempt at ground work, the honeycomb-like sections in between the cloth stitch and half stitch sections. They were challenging, mostly because of their newness, but she did pretty well on them and there's a definite improvement in her cloth stitch and half stitch sections, on which she has had a bit more practice.
We borrowed some books from the lace group's library, so there are lots of fun and interesting options ahead!
Thursday, December 14, 2006
of lathes and lace
Moving forward to the current holiday season, the elves here have been having much fun. I took a wood turning workshop and used a lathe to turn these wooden ornaments. It was a blast to see the wood chips fly and watch the shapes emerge as areas were carved away and curves were created. The black lines were added by holding a piece of wire tight against the wood, creating friction as it spun on the lathe, leaving a bit of wood burning. For years I've been interested in messing around with a lathe, so now a lot of the mystery is gone and I know for sure that it really is as enjoyable as I thought it would be. Leah Lacemaker is moving along with glee. She meets once a week with her lace teacher and has already learned about 6 different stitches. She made a good portion of this candy cane before she realized there was a mistake waaayyyy back, but she wanted it to be done right, so we patiently un-did a fair bit of work and she re-made the lace correctly. This type of bobbin lace is called "tape lace." She knows enough to work basic ornaments in any shape with this technique. Now she's working on another project that alternates between three different stitches, very different and very pretty. I'll post a picture of that when she gets further along on it.
We're all wiped out today because we went to see Cherish the Ladies perform their Celtic Christmas show in New Haven last night, so the plan for tonight is a rare vegging marathon in front of the tube to watch some of the Christmas shows we have on loan.
the puppy post
Did I mentioned that our little foster pooch is little? I mean really little. And really adorable.
Here he is climbing Mt. Kodi...
and showing off his puppiness by attempting to chew everything in sight... and looking like the furballs got caught in the act (or maybe Kodi is just looking like, "Mom, would you please make him stop pestering me?")...
and tolerating the indignity of being dressed in Favorite Baby's lovely dress and bonnet!
Did you notice the one ear up, one ear down? Too darn cute.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
festivities and friends
- a secret project unlike anything I've ever tried before, using Honduran rosewood
- a festive afternoon with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra
- a date with my husband (gasp!), hanging with old friends, drinking good beer and seeing live music, including one guy on stage that I've been seeing for, oh, 25 years now. (Hi, Pril!)
- bead sales, soap sales, and possibly felt sales when we weren't even trying
- two starts to another baby hat in an attempt to get gauge, so far without success. Third try is planned for tonight, after I get home from working on another secret project, this time with cocobolo
- attempting to take passport renewal photos for my kids without having them look like mug shots
- lacemaking lessons and ornaments in progress
- and a teeny tiny imp who is living here for 2 weeks and getting a phenomenal amount of attention until he arrives at his permanent home with Z-man (see Santa pic above) on Christmas morning. Shhhh...this little bugger (3 lbs.) is a big secret to keep from Zach!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
ho ho ho FO FO FO
First is a pair of socks in luscious Lorna's Laces sock yarn, oh so soft and squishable. I didn't get much knitting done while we were on vacation in October, but the knitting I was able to do was mostly on these socks, usually while on the train. I finished them up while on vacation in November. They are what has become my "usual sock pattern," toe-up, Widdershins gusset, 2x2 ribbing, 1 sock at a time on two size 2 circular needles.
Next in the FO parade is a hat for Scott. It's made of leftover yarn from my Philosopher's Wool sweater. As we were packing for the lighthouse trip, we realized that this spring I threw away Scott's old Steelers hat, which was a gift from my dad but had become pretty grungy from years of wear. Since Scott's bald as can be, he needs something toasty to protect his noggin in the winter, so I cast on for this project while waiting for our boat ride to the island and finished it the next day. I guessed how many stitches to use (70-something on who knows what size needles that I grabbed at the last minute) and made it up as I went along. Certainly no great feat of knitwear designing, but it fits him well and he likes it plenty. I'll probably line it with fleece soon (or maybe Leah will) for extra warmth and cushy softness. Last is a sweet little baby hat. It's the Hedda design from Dale of Norway baby collection 129, done in Dalegarn baby wool. I am smitten with this hat, from its spiffy snowflake design to the supersoft yarn to the fun twisted sprout and tassel on top. The only problem here is that it turned out small. This is kind of funny because my previous Dale of Norway experience was the Ladybug sweater that I worked on in Nova Scotia and eventually had to admit had a problem when I realized the 2-year-old size was turning out big enough to fit Leah, who was 7 years old at the time. That sweater remains in a time-out in my closet, but since that turned out so big, I figured I'd knit snug on this hat as a remedy. It's not too tightly knit, still with plenty of stretch and no puckering, but the 9-18 mo. size turned out to be newborn size. Ah well, at least there are a couple of newborns in my life, so hopefully one of them will get to wear it a couple of times before it's outgrown.The pine tree perch pictured here is in my front yard, but there's also one in our living room now. Jesse and Leah are, as usual, delighting in the stories and memories accompanying each ornament, and spending a few minutes after dinner each evening laying under the tree and looking up into it, causing their vision to blur and enjoying the glow of the lights.
Friday, December 08, 2006
a knitter's view of the Festival of Trees
A goofily Scrooge-like sheep...
tiny bears with so many hand knit sweaters, scarves, and hats... and a wreath made of balls of yarn, with knitting needles stuck in here and there!
The red dot on the identification card indicates that the items have sold (as a fundraiser for the Atheneum), so apparently I'm not the only one who thought these things were a fun change of pace. And yes, we were happy to see that our Creativitree also had a red dot on its tag.