Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Time Warp

Well, I'm officially back to work. Classes started last Monday and I feel like I haven't taken a breath since. Is it less than 24 hours to February already??

When not spinning in a tornado of paperwork I've actually managed to get some knitting done -- finished the lace border on F's baby blanket on the subway this morning (just have to graft the two ends together and it's done, done, done!!) and even started paging my way through Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls (HIGHLY recommend the book for Shetland lace patterns and shawl making tips) looking for a pattern to make my mom a small stole.

Kinda cool story there. I was in Beacon (home of the aforementioned Dia) with DH and friends over the weekend when we stopped into a small artsy-type shop. Lo and behold, the entire back of the store was filled with fiber works (woven, mostly) and hand-dyed skeins of yarn. I came across a real treat: a 4 1/2 ounce skein of 100% silk in the most wonderful silver-grey with just a few deep violet streaks. Wow! That thing just shouted to be made into something for my mom. But silk don't come cheap, and that's where DH once again earned his D ("dear") status.
"Is it a good price for that kind of yarn?" he asked as I waffled.
"Well, I've paid about the same per ounce for hand-dyed silk top to spin myself," I replied.
"So, buy it," he said, and even offered me the money to do so. Is that a sweetie or what?

So now I have just shy of 850 yards of the most wonderful silk two-ply, probably something like a fingering weight. The stole will be small and I'm picking the most open lace stitch I can find just to stretch it as much as possible. I think I might even try to do a teeny-tiny bead-accented pointed edging on the short ends. Now to sharpen my bamboo size 10s into needle points (for those killer p3togs in the Madeira Mesh) and start sampling!

Monday, January 23, 2006

It's amazing where inspiration comes from.

Yesterday I went to Dia: Beacon, the modern art museum in an up-and-coming (until recently VERY economically depressed) river town about half an hour from where I live. As DH and I toured the site, I was struck by what I think is the single most important message that modern art has to teach us: Art is everywhere, and everything is Art. How else to explain a gallery full of string, piles of rags, video loops of a rat infested studio, giant metal-lined holes and Andy Warhol's Brillo boxes?

A trite but incredibly freeing revelation, at least to me.

Now I'm inspired. I've been contemplating doing a little painting for a couple of years now; something large, oil on canvas, definitely non-representational. But now I know I want to incorporate my fiber arts into that vision, making something of a sculptural painting, a dyed and woven fabric lifting itself off of a canvas, playing with light and shadow and color and texture. I want to start with the raw fleece and process, dye, spin and weave it all myself, keeping bits of each stage -- a snippet of raw fleece here, a hand-carded rolag there -- as I go along (hey, if some Japanese dude can make art out of a series of canvasses with a single date and a newspaper clipping from that date then I don't see anything too far out about my fleece idea).

Lord knows when I'll actually have time to do any of this. I'm just so happy to be this inspired!

And the next time the crap piles up around the house, I'm just going to stick a title on it and call it Art! :)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Rethinking the Blog

Back a few years ago, I was a vegetarian. I mean, a serious vegetarian: no meat, no fish, nothing "with a face," as the saying goes. I had reasons for going veggie, which were sound and valid at the time I took up my salad fork and put away my steak knife. But as the years went on, those reasons got further and further from why I was a vegetarian. Finally, I had to admit that I was only a vegetarian because it was who I'd become. "Splindarella the Vegetarian," that was me. I couldn't separate myself from what I would and wouldn't eat; my meals had begun to define my existance.

I bring this up because I've been thinking about my blog. I started it as a class assignment; I continued it as a personal record. But, all along I felt like my blog needed a "theme." People keep educational blogs or technology blogs or poetry blogs or fill-in-another-adjective blogs. So, I decided my adjective would be "fiber," and I'd fill my blogs with photos of my projects and descriptions of my adventures in wool. Funny thing is, I never seemed to get the camera out when I should; when I did manage to photograph my work, it took way too long to get the pics from the camera onto the hard drive. And let's face it, it's not like I finish a project every day. Much as I might have wanted to blog about other things, I felt the need to maintain my fiber blog as strictly as I'd maintained my vegetarianism. I'm sure there's something Freudian in all this, but hell if I know what it is.

Anyhoo, I eventually fell of the veggie bandwagon -- jumped headfirst into a BBQ pit is more like it. I decided it was stupid to let something define me if it wasn't working with the reality of who I was. Same goes for this blog. So, while I'll probably still blog about my adventures in fiber, such as they are, I'm also officially giving myself license to blog about anything else I damn well please. Starting with the fact that I have to get up at five frickin' a.m. tomorrow for work, to which I just returned this past week after a 10 month maternity hiatus.

Off to bed now, understandable. More to follow, much sooner now that I'm not waiting for fiber adventures to happen before posting....

Friday, January 20, 2006

Serenity Stone

This is just a little something I made this evening for my co-worker, H. She's going through some problems and has a lot on her mind these days, so I decided to make her a variation on a worry stone. The "stone" is actually a flat glass marble, the kind for decorating the bottom of a vase or bowl. I wrote "serenity" across the top in English (out of view in the photo) and the Chinese character for "peace" on the front. I also knitted the small bag to hold the stone. It's made of corriedale wool that I hand spun on a drop spindle, some of my very first homespun. I'm hoping it makes her feel just a little better, even if only because it always feels good to get a present, especially a handmade one.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Visit to the Frog Pond

Well, after struggling gamely on with my striped hap shawl design, I finally decided it just wasn't working since a) the colors were godawful, and b) it was so oversized that had I continued, by the end it would have been big enough to cover the whole house and everyone in it. I therefore made the painful decision to take it down to the frog pond and rip-it, rip-it, rip-it.

The good news: I've already re-knit one of the skeins of yarn into the center of a half-sized hap shawl which will eventually become a baby blanket for Fletcher, my cousins' second (adopted) son, who is due to arrive from Korea in March. The re-knit center is black garter stitch done on the diagonal; the lace border (which I just started on this evening) is royal blue, and the edging (which I hope to start by the end of the weekend) will a very, very pale grey. I was originally planning to make Fletcher a handknit sweater instead of a blanket, but when I had to frog my hap shawl I immediately started re-knitting it without really thinking through what I would do with what by necessity (due to shortage of non-godawful yarn colors) would never be a full-sized shawl. I briefly toyed with having my 9-month-old wear a mini-shawl, but a quick reality check took care of that idea (it's all I can do to wrestle my little free spirit into normal baby clothes like onesies -- no WAY she'd keep a shawl on her back for more than a nanosecond). Then I hit on Fletcher and my need for a gift for him. Since the hap was calling me much more loudly than a sweater, I decided to call it a hap blanket and continued to knit on it guilt-free.

I'm really enjoying knitting Fletcher's blanket far more now that it actually IS Fletcher's blanket and not Splindarella's GINORMOUS Shawl-from-the-Bowels-of-Hell. If I can get myself together enough I might even post some on-the-needle pics. Stay tuned....
Still Catching Up...

...on posting pics of handmade Christmas gifts. Here's the necklace I gave my teenage cousin:

White and rose quartz chips with garnet accents and a decorative flower clasp. I'm quite pleased with this piece; I only wish the photo weren't so washed out. Oh, well. She liked it, and that's what's important.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The J Family Hats

How do I love my knitting machine? Let me count the ways....

Well, at this moment I'm absolutely loving the instant gratification of knitting up a trio of hats from start to finish in a matter of a couple of hours. Sewing up the seams and tucking in the ends took as long as the knitting itself.

The J family actually consists of 6 people: my best friend K from high school, her husband R, his two kids from his first marriage, and infant twins. Way back in November, I sent a Christmas package with something handmade for each of them. K and R got a wildly-fringed red-white-and-blue laprobe (I figure if my friend is going to up and move to Europe the least I can do is saddle her new family with some kitschy Americana). Pre-teen daughter got a beaded bracelet; infants got coordinating sweaters; but it was teenage son's gift -- a simple winter hat in red-white-and-blue stripes -- that got the greatest raves. K asked if I could make a hat each for her, hubby and step-daughter...and of course, how could I say no?

Now that holiday gifts are a thing of the past, I decided to sit at the machine and turn out the hats so they could be worn THIS winter instead of next. Here's how they turned out:

The hat on the right is for R, in his favorite team's colors (black and yellow). I promised I wouldn't make the hat look like a giant black-and-yellow bumblebee, and I think I managed okay.

The hat in the center is for R's daughter. She specifically asked for hunter green and light green stripes. It looks a little weird in the photo, like the brim of the hat is narrower than the top. Mea culpa; it's the way I stuffed the hat so I could photograph it. In reality, it looks very similar to the black-and-yellow hat but with small ridges where the striping is.

The hat I'm proudest of, though, is the one for K:

It almost looks like one of those bag-purses that were popular for awhile when I was a teenager. K specifically asked for a bag top and three large blocks of color in rust orange, green and purple. I chose the yarn -- Lion Brand Suede -- because I thought it had the best combo of those three colors of any of the yarns I looked at. It's also machine washable and something a bit unusual for use in a hat. It looks like it could fit the Jolly Green Giant, but that's so K can wear it pulled all the way down on cold days without totally crushing her 'do.

Now I just have to get out to the post office and mail them off -- yippee!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

For the Benefit of Inquiring Minds

So, the HVME was a bust. How disappointing! I thought their move into new digs a few years back would have resulted in their having even more cool stuff at dirt-cheap prices. Instead, it seems the cool stuff was left behind and all they have now is piles of crap -- not much of a bargain at any price. What's worse, I brought friends along for the ride, and so exposed not only myself but those I care about to a (fortunately brief) romp through a warehouseful of crap. Oh, well. We compensated by heading out to New Paltz and the amazing Guilded Otter Brewery for lunch afterward, and no one was the worse for wear.

And now, it's time to give me a round of applause: I've finally downloaded some Christmas present photos! Here's one of the blankets I machine knitted:

This is the second of two, each one given to a cousin and spouse. This one is actually a tri-color blanket in sage, cream (the two colors you see in the photo) and beige (turned under in this shot). I'm especially proud of how this one turned out because I got the basketweave join perfectly correct (as opposed to the first one, where I had to go back and splice some loops that accidentally got left out of the weave -- oops).

And here's a photo of the second of three scarves I made for friends:

Same pattern (Horseshoe), different background (stockinette) and color (rose); this one went to Sue, who promptly put it on as soon as she opened the package. Joy! *g*

More photos to come as soon as I can figure out how to download them from the other camera....