Friday, December 2, 2016

Working

I am making myself take a break from this to tell you about it.  This is the first of (hopefully) many experimental excursions into sewing little critters of all sorts, by hand.  I have been devouring everything Ann Wood is willing to teach me, both about her stitching process and also about her personal creative journey--this is something that's been on my mind lately, too; what is the work I am meant to do, that only I can do?  Am I spending too much time making things that don't really need to be made--clothes that don't fit or suit me, things made for weird reasons like outside pressure, or gifts people don't really want?  How can I get closer to who I really am as an artist and a maker?  
  I have fallen so deeply into knitting these past months (years?) which has been divine, but I am not just a knitter, which I almost feel like I recently forgot.  I miss handsewing, and I miss tiny things, and I miss building little enchanted stories out of found things.  I want to lose whole hours rootling around in a basket of foraged doodads, looking for just the right silk flower.  So that's what I did today.  Ann is my jumping-off point--and listen, her blog is so good.  I am studying her words and taking notes from it like I'm auditing a class in Creative Process.  Such good stuff there, so many places to go.    
Something I struggle with so hard is that work like this--assemblages, mixed media 3-D sculpture, collage, etc.--makes such a holy mess.  I am desperate to clean this up, yo.  You should see the floor.  Knitting is so tidy, which is a huge part of its appeal, and this; all these little strings and wire clippings and scraps of paper and shredded fabrics, so much of it is stuck to my clothes as we speak, and so many, many tools, scrounged from every corner of the house--it gets to me a little.  I want to just turn up the radio and let it accumulate until I'm done for the day, and then I will put it all away, brush all the threads off my lap at once, and sweep the floor, and not care about it at all until then.  Goals.  At the end of the day, I can clean up this creative mess and still sit down with a mitten in progress.  There will still be yarn.  There will always be yarn.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Start Stop Start Again

The knitting has been so neutral lately, so wearable.  On Saturday (night, significantly) I snapped.  After dinner I sat down with the very lovely cowl neck pullover I've been working on, trying to finish the last few rounds of cabling so as to move on to the more distraction-friendly plain sleeves when I just lost my marbles, grabbed whatever was nearby and cast it on.  Patons Lemongrass (of course that was nearby) Patons Gold, two of my hand-dyed madder skeins, and a stray leftover ball of Mission Falls in Burgundy, for contrast.  Let me tell you, it seemed marvelous in the dark.  My boy was home for the holiday, and as he sat in the middle of the living room floor playing "Blackbird" on the guitar, I worked on these stripes, thinking how lovely it all was, how quirky and interesting the knitting looked, and stopping now and then to admire it.  It seemed very analogous.  It felt wonderful to be making something creative, and the knitting of it, serenaded, was lovely.  Patons Lemongrass, as you know, is a yarn in need of tempering, and that Patons Gold (scored on the cheap at the Fiber Festival last year) is a yarn in need of some zest.  Well! (I thought).  These two can live together in harmony, and can be good for each other--Lemongrass is the friend who drinks and smokes and drives too fast, and Gold is the friend who wants to stay home and make milkshakes while binge-watching Gilmore Girls...  
 
Doubt became certainty in the cold light of day, and I unraveled it without remorse.  Patons Gold has an appointment with my dyepot today, which can only improve it.  It needs more complexity, although whether Grape Kool-Aid can add any complexity to anything is what I am about to find out.      
 
Meanwhile, inspired by the beautiful work of Ann Wood, I went for a scrounge in the garage bins, on the hunt for these doll legs I made way back when and then stashed away when the rest of the dolls they were meant for failed to manifest.  The striped fabric came from a tattered antique quilt top, the rest of which I did not find in my bin rummage and it haunts me now.  I can't possibly have gotten rid of it, but where oh where did it land?  Anyway, these doll legs, these unfinished bits of something of my very own, please me so immeasurably.  They are the beginning of something creative.  There will be some sketching, some experiments, some play with fabric scraps, and they will, I hope--I'm sure--emerge.  Two sisters, with interesting hair and probably shawls, and these wonderful, witchy, rag doll legs.
 
 
I finished this yesterday, too, as the last of the daylight waned.  There was just no working on it after about three o'clock.  It is, of course, Alicia Paulson's Love and Joy stitch sampler, made from her PDF pattern on Belfast linen in "Rue Green," already in my stash but not quite the fabric she suggests, and pretty small.  I struggled a little with seeing the holes in the fabric, my aging eyes and their trusty bifocals were a pretty even match for the 32-count linen.  I worried that it had finally come to pass that I had got too old to do something I want to do, which made me mad enough to keep going until it was done.  Let's see if I can get it in a frame while it is still 2016.  
 
 
 
I washed fleece, unmade the beds, cut the christmas tree stump into little discs for making I don't even know what.  It feels like there is such a lot going on here, inside and out, and that is a very nice place to be.  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Winter's Day

I had a whole list of things to do today.  A turkey must be acquired.   I need embroidery floss.  There were plans for a lovely latte macchiato at Starbucks.   I am annoyed. 
  It snowed, a lot, and is still snowing, and I know there are those who adore a big fall of snow, but I am not among them.  Friends, this looks to me like a big mess that, as soon as the wind stops howling, I will have to go out and clean up.  I do not like snow.  I can't find it pretty.  It just makes life hard, and already?  It's only mid-November!  No, I am not a fan.  Well, life is what you make it, and it looks like I will spend today knitting and spooning with the catdog and making my own latte, which, if I don't look out the window, sounds nice.  I should look at this as nice.  It's a snow day.  A Snow Day.  (Nope, I can't sell that to myself...will keep trying...)  
This is the Agathis hat by Agata Smektala (free on Ravelry) in Malabrigo Rios "Plomo"--I think "plomo" means "that color the sky turns right before a huge blizzard ruins your day"--actually, this color is quite captivatingly grayish/purplish/bluish, and as is usual for Malabrigo, seems to gleam a little bit with inner light.  This yarn, and this beautiful hat pattern, is going to save the day, I think.   Also, this:  
  Seriously, I love that.  I need broad daylight, a 100 watt task lamp, and magnifying reading glasses to see the tiny holes in the linen (I'm using 32 count Belfast from my stash, and hoo, it's pretty small) but it is still a great pleasure to work on it.  This is the new Love and Joy Cross Stitch Sampler from Alicia Paulson, who has the magic touch, for sure.  Pure loveliness.    
So I'm lighting candles today, and listening to Moby Dick on Soundcloud (I've already made it further into that hallowed thicket of verbiage than ever before--I wish Stephen Fry would just keep on talking forever) and knitting and making more and more coffee.  Not so bad, really.    
Catdog finds a way to cope, too.  Stay warm out there.    

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Quiet Season

  My neighbor the farmer is turning his field today.  He drives his tractor across the turf, back and forth, in both directions and then diagonally.  He will harrow it too, leaving the field clean and orderly, and ready.  Apart from that, the rumble of the tractor, the neighborhood is quiet these days. 
Catdog sprawls in front of the fire, grumbling little moans of contentment every now and then, and sighing in her sleep.  Sometimes I lie down there with her, because she's got the right idea; it's so warm there, so cozy.  She sniffles her way into my hair, licks my ear.  If she sees the camera, she gives it the side-eye--she's a little bit wary of being photographed.  What a perfect celebrity.    
There are so many projects right now.  Four sweaters, a hat, Alicia's beautiful new winter sampler (would you believe I already had everything for that project in my stash?  Oh my goodness, I have a LOT of stitching supplies, yes indeedy.)  
 
I spent a couple minutes making this, too, the other day.  It's about 1" x 1", two little pieces of felt cut out and whipstiched together, with a shredded up cotton ball stuffed inside.  I sewed a pin back to it and put it on, and I hope it shows how I feel.  I love you.  
Yes, you.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

From the hinterlands

Well.  The words that really come to mind are ones I wouldn't like my Grandma to hear me use.  I advised myself this:  "In dark times, be a light."  Ten minutes later, I was screaming obscenities out the car window when a fellow traveler dared to honk at me.  Hoo, this next little while is going to call for some fortitude, I think, and a swift reassessment of where I thought I lived.  Be brave, friends, and love one another.  Remember to be kind.  Remember that everyone you meet is dealing with something hard.  Canadian and overseas friends, please light a candle for us, for we struggle mightily.   Knitting seems superfluous at the moment.  Who has time to care what I'm knitting?  Who has room in their rattled souls to pay any attention to my latest project?  I have bounced from one work-in-progress to another, cast on stuff, searched for the balm that is always there for me in knitting, has always been there.  I pick things up and put them down again, and just sit with my hands in my lap, looking out the window at the amazing blue sky, golden leaves against it, wind blowing the color down to lie on the ground and wither.  There is very little forward progress.  It all looks so hard.  
I can hardly imagine what will happen now.  Catdog, her wagging tail a blur, with her velvet face and silky soft ears and chocolate kiss eyes knows only that there is a warm fire and possibly a cookie, and if I sit down on the floor, she crawls into my lap, presses her face against mine, sniffles my hair, and it is good medicine.  I will make warm things with wool.  I will hold the door for you.  I will probably keep cursing when I need to, and will be as much a light as I can.  Onward.  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Bonus

 
I live in a place where you can hear the leaves falling.  They are at the beginning of the falling now--a few weeks late--and one leaf, as it lets go, taps and shushes down through the still-yellow tree, and lands on the ground with a little rustle.  Must be I have spent a lot of my life in noise up until now because I have never noticed this before, that it is possible to hear a leaf fall out of a tree.  So today, an incredible golden day, after startling a few times and wondering what the hell that sound was, I saw it happen and figured it out.  I went back there and lay on the ground underneath our big maple tree and gaped up through it at the blue sky, and the all-new clattering of leaves as they fall down.  I lay there until a woodpecker decided I was no big deal and went about his work in the tree.  Leaves fell around me, on me.  Nobody was mowing the grass, or plowing a field, or shouting or whacking weeds or playing soccer or doing any of the things people are generally noisily doing in my neighborhood.  We are pretty much tucked in, and yet, this day.  This day was a bonus, warm and perfect, and the sky!  There are not enough words for blue.  Catdog and I sat in the sunshine, and she sniffed at the air, and watched a crow fly over our heads, his cawing all out of place in the hot sunshine.  We listened to the leaves falling, a revelation.  I knit some plain stockinette in the round, in dusky lilac yarn and watched as the shadows came closer, so early.  They cast a chill across my bare feet long before either of us was ready to call it a day.  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Buttercup

Fleece!  This is not even the whole thing:  
Before the wash:
And after:
 
These golden, blustery days.  I love that moody gray sky so much.  It rained like a banshee the other day, so I went to my little spinning corner and lit a candle and spent a few hours spinning and plying some of this fleece, listening to the weather bang around outside.  It was bliss.  Listen, how I will ever spin all of this beautiful roving I don't know--there is so much of it!  One sheep, a single haircut.  I dumped it out of its basket and it completely covered the bed.  The luxury of all that, oh my goodness.  It was a gift to me from my dear friend Debbie, who raised a small herd of orphan sheep rescued from the animal shelter with the kind of love and care and attention you would wish for all the children of the world, so the wool is of Unknown Origin, but I'll tell you what, it is so soft and clean and is a pure plain joy to work with.  This is the fleece of a sheep named Buttercup.  I can't even.  Dear Buttercup, your hair is magnificent.  As a spinner, I am a complete novice [see results, above] but I am enthusiastic, and am always so thrilled when a few hours spent at the wheel, with it's comforting metronome of thumping along and a beautiful sheepy pile of wool in a basket beside me results in more yarn for my stash.  Seriously, what is not to love about that?  The yarn I make [I can make yarn!] always seems to be overspun and underplyed, and it always looks like garden twine before it's washed, but a little bath in the sink fluffs it up into a magical yarn cloud that weighs practically nothing.  I don't even know what to make out of something as wonderful as this.