Monday, February 27, 2006

Crossing the Finish Line!

Do I Look Proud?
This photo happened completely by photoshop editing, no flash, just lots of sun bouncing around. I love it's ethereal quality. If only all my moments were as peaceful!

The knitting was done Friday night. Saturday: blocking. Sunday, I wore it to church. The few peaceful moments I did have were spent knitting this scarf. Mistakes happened when:

-friends were watching over my shoulder
-2 or more children were talking to me at once (an hourly occurrence, at least)
-the phone rang in the middle of a row
-the tech at my mamogram wanted to 'chat' about 'crafts' while waiting for my films to develop.
-My dog jumped onto the yarn
-Dick Button said something especially catty about an Olympic figure skate and I was forced to rebut out loud at the TV.

I intended to post this progress report last week:

And here's Saturday's view:
I love my print table!
As you can see, the print table has found yet another good use. How did I ever live without it?!?

And Sunday morning:
Isn't it pretty?

A friend commented that the colors have a rosy cast on her computer. For those with the same effect, the colors are that of the beach: cream, sand, and blue. If I had it to do over again, I'd not run out of ancient discontinued yarn and make it about 6" longer. It's comfortable to wear, but there might need to be some fringe added in the future. Maybe in my 'free time'....yeah right!

Here's another picture....better view of the scarf, my rosacea, and my double chin. Yikes!
I'm So Proud!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Of Behemoths and Viruses

First: A Report

I, Olympic Knitter Catherine Arnett, am fading fast. It seems there wasn't enough endurance training before the games and after 5 nights of staying up waaaaayyy too late, I am now ill. Hate that! So, my trainer (that would be my immune system) is suggesting rest. There will be knitting tonight, but probably only until 9:30. That's the bad news.

The good news is that there's progress!
I'm So Proud!
Now, mind you, my friend and complete Fiber Jedi, Emily Parson has managed to make and block two sweater fronts covered with cables. Maybe she's made the back, too. Either way, she's done it all with small children tearing around. She knits like a cartoon character. I don't think you can actually see her fingers move. It's just a stream of knitting flying off the ends of the needles. I'm in awe.

In other news, The Behemoth got smaller. Then it grew. Exponentially.
Be Very Afraid
What am I gonna' do with all this garbage?!? It's completely overwhelming to me. And the picture is not all of it. Now the evil mass has bled into my new area and onto my print table. The reason for this:
All Green, All the Time
.....The second half of the sewing room remodel. This room is adjacent to the area you saw in January. It's now painted green and carpet squares have been procured for the floor (the lovely tile pattern carpet will remain in the other room due to lack of funds). Storage is the room's main purpose, though it also houses our chest freezer and my Ironrit mangle. Slowly, this will all come back together. I must tackle a bit at a time and try not to let it drive me over the edge (kind of a short trip).

Well, my time's up for tonight. If you'll excuse me, I have a date with my nightgown...and my knitting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Knitting Like the Wind

...sort of. I don't do anything 'like the wind'! Especially knit.

Do you all know about Stephanie McFee, the Yarn Harlot? She's a blogger from Toronto with a readership in the thousands and a couple of book deals under her belt. These facts are testimony to her sharp wit and fluid writing style. I read her blog almost every day. Check it out.

The Yarn Harlot decided to create a knitting Olympics that coincides with the games in Torino. The rules are that you had to cast on during the opening ceremonies, that you have to be done by the closing ceremonies, and that the project must be a personal challenge.

For me, this means lace:
Lookee!  I can make lace!

I've never knitted lace (have crocheted plenty). Reading the charts and keeping track of patterns has intrigued me, but I've been too chicken to actually pick up the needles and try. The above sample is the final sample of probably a dozen attempts. I spent most of the opening ceremonies and the first night of competition broadcast frogging samples (called 'frogging' because you riiip-it, riiiiip-it).

Finally, the samples stood on my last nerve. I switched to smaller needles and cast on enough stitches for a spring scarf:
Brave or Stupid?
It's actually going very well now that I'm into a real project. I believe firmly that everyone should make long as it's not me! The adult ADD tried to kick in, but I bent it to my will and swatched enough to get a good feel for the pattern.

This cotton yarn had been waiting to be socks, but I think the colors are too pretty to hide in shoes. I'm using size 4 needles and the pattern is out of the book 'Folk Shawls'. Mine will be more of a scarf than a shawl and will have some scalloped crochet on the ends.

Will keep you posted!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

This Week

A good part of my free time this week was spent at the dye table.

First, my friend Pat came over to dye some perle cottons and various threads she had laying around. Some of her work is heavily handstitched and I think the hand dyed threads will be a playful addition.
pat's thread

Next, I wanted to make some special goodies for a new fiber art group meeting near Detroit. They've invited me to send them a trunk show. What a great idea for the group and for me! They get to do a little shopping at their meeting and I get to sell my work without waiting to vend. If it works out, I may develop the idea further and promote it. There are other hand dyers already sending out trunk shows.

Here's everything they're recieving:
that's a lot of fabric!

My favorite is this half yard of cotton velveteen:
The texture comes from a piece of gutter guard. I painted thickened dyes onto it, then rubbed it onto the fabric.

Double Yum!
I couldn't believe how well the velveteen captured detail. Can't wait to try more of this!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Next Move

The time has come to thread paint the fern quilt:
I'm still liking this work
But I'm nervous about it. This is the part where fixing a screw up takes an eternity. I'm not sure the quilt and I are ready for that kind of commitment. Plus, I already have a resentful but strangely codependant relationship with my seam ripper. Adding the extra workload of a mistake will only deepen the tension.

What to do? What to do?

Hey! I know what to do! This great idea came to me out of nowhere. I opened the above picture in a paint program, created a new layer (think of it as laying a sheet of tracing paper over the original) and drew some possiblities right onto the picture:
Monkey with random pencil
I'm a card carrying genius! Surely I'm not the only genius to think of this, but it felt like true brilliance for just a weeee itty-bitty moment.

Next: Thread contemplation
how much thread can a girl have?
I keep thinking about how easy shading is with a number two pencil and a piece of paper. Doing the same thing in color, via fiber, is challenging. It requires forthought....not my strong suit. And I don't want to use every thread I own. There needs to be some editing:
like this?

Not bad. How 'bout this?:
or like this?
Maybe. I won't really know until the threads hit the fabrics. There's bound to be some mind-changing and some undoing of stitches. Mr. Seam Ripper is just going to have to suck it up and play nice.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Day Without Power

6:30 A.M. Blue World.

7:00 A.M. Snow.

10:00 A.M. Snowball.
Oh No!

10:00:02 A.M. Smack! Thankful for Glass Barrier.
God Bless Glass Barriers

10:10 A.M. Activities Not Requiring Electricity:

10:11 A.M. Arranging Fabric.
This is a fraction of the fabric

11:00 A.M. Hooping Work and Careful Placement of Tools
staring longingly at my quilt

11:05 A.M. Impatience Hits. Packing To Visit Friend With Power.
I'm outa' here

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sewing Room: Today's View

This is a current view of my new sewing room.
Like it? Me too! Sewing in complete dark generates the most interesting work. And you knew I'd tire of that 'all green, all the time' thing sooner or later. I decided an all black color scheme would be more soothing. And I think it says 'I'm edgy, buy my art' like no other color can. That's me, baby, on the cutting edge (snort--yeah Mr. Rogers at a rap concert).

Okay! I give! If you must know the truth, I'm still the same nerdy mother of three who giggle-snorts like a Trekkie at dinner with William Shatner whenever I see fabric or yarn or thread or interfacing or looms or anything to do with fiber. The real truth is that almost 24 hours ago as I was holding my scissors poised above my fern quilt....ready to snip a thread from the back.....As I was just nestling into my sewing chair after a day of laundry folding and kid chasing....As I was dreaming of how , in 10 minutes, I'd be blissfully free-motion stitching sweeping lines of threaded genius........My power went out. Out! Completely gone!

Except for the fleeting moment of anemic sunlight that mid winter Michiganders call, 'Day', I've been in the dark ever since (well, some might say I've been in the dark all along...but that's a post for another day).

Lucky for me, friends up the road had power. They let me sew at their kitchen table. And my husband's computer at work is up and running, thus allowing me to type this post. All the roads around us have power. Just not our little mile-long stretch.

So, we go to bed early and snuggle close together....probably the dog too. The kids are bedded down at a friend's house and the hermit crab is cozy down by our family room's wood stove. It'll be okay...because (enter swelling strings and timpani) Annie let us know...(Everybody Sing!)...(big inhale, arms flung wide)...The Sun'll come out Tomorrow! Betchyour bottom dollar we'll have power, then we'll sew!! Just thinkin' about Tomorrow....I'll sew like mad and as for all the housework, it can go!--(skip the relative minor bridge, right to the chorus)----- Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I'll blog more tomorrow. It's only a day away!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Better Day than Yesterday

After I posted last night, there was more satin stitching. I was cranky yesterday and needed to hunker down behind the machine with a good cd and an interesting project. For me, that only really happens after everyone is tucked in bed and sleeping or almost sleeping. Everyone. Husband, kids, dog, cat, hermit crab. There's nothing like a loud, resonant, "Mo-o-O-oooom!!" to ruin a little private time with needle and thread.

I finished satin stitching around the stalks of my fern fronds and was ready to tackle their 'pointies'. This recquired a thread decision:
so many colors, so little time

Not having the best choices at my fingertips meant having to dig into The Behemoth that is the contents of my nice, empty, spacious, clean sewing room (The Behemoth is in the adjacent family room). We can only have one room clean at a time. Right now it's the sewing room. This means it's *Not* the family room. I've read about a house that has all the rooms clean all the time, or at least once a week. This is not that house.

Here's my final thread selection:
almost better than a new box of crayons--almost
Nice and rainbow-ee. I like that.

While lunging deep into The Behemoth Pile, I ran across the thread on the left in this picture:
To C:  It Lives!
It is perfect for a project that I'm quilting for a friend (you know who you are!). This is actually the project I was looking for a couple of days ago when the fern quilt grabbed my attention. I couldn't find it then. But I did find it later as I was emptying boxes from The Behemoth. It's a more traditional round robin quilt and I'm doing my best to give it fine, traditional-style free motion quilting. Will need a sunny day to take a good detail shot.

Speaking of sun, we did have a bit today. Just a wee bit! The weather was warmish--for February in Michigan. It was just above 40 F. There's not much snow. All this meant that the kids could play outside (hooray!) and that I could ponder an upcoming garden project:
the color's better in person
Like it? It's a swimming pool...filled with dirt. Previous owners of our home did this because they no longer wanted a pool. They turned it into an 'herb garden'. They buried, under about 6 inches of dirt, a pool-sized sheet of black plastic that has been my nemesis since we moved here. Kinda' hard to use a Mantis Tiller when it's chewing up black plastic. So, on yet another warm day waay back in January, my husband--the Head Elf--took on the back breaking chore of helping me tear out all the plastic. There was a network of grass roots that I can't even begin to describe. This year, I will turn it into a functioning kitchen garden, heavy on the herbs, with flowers for cutting here and there.

In additon to being so very handy in the 'butt-busting-chore department', the Head Elf is a nutburger. Completely Cuckoo for Coco Puffs...and here's proof. Remember, it was 40 today. In this day and age, with dryers commonly available, my the name of black belt tightwaddery....does this:
the color's better in person
Now, I know people (like my mom) used to freeze dry their laundry and all that. Below 60 degrees is about my limit for getting my hands wet outside, thank you. But then, any man doing laundry is a man best left alone (unless they're about to shrink wool not meant to be shrunk). He got 4 loads dry by nightfall. Yet another point for being a good boy!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Warning: Depressed Person Blogging!

I am trying. Really trying. Yet no matter what I do, I feel like a complete crudball today. Playing with my kids hasn't helped and neither has the solace of a good phone call. And everytime I eat I contemplate my general largeness. The day just keeps deteriorating. I have now succumbed to the only comfort left: the pink fuzzy bathrobe (verbal description will have to do...I'll spare you from the unsavory pictures).

So where did this come from? Probably a good part of it is that aliens have removed the sun from the sky and replaced it with brown and grey. Some of it comes from my struggle to be original. I'm fretting about this fern quilt and whether or not it looks like anyone else's work....and whether or not that matters.....and why I can't seem to not care.

--BIG sigh-- through the nose, out through the mouth. Lamaze is a Godsend.

The only thing that did feel good today was sewing the fern quilt. So, I shall leave you with that. I did make considerable progress with satin stitching and managed to finish the baby frond:
the color's better in person

And a detail:
good grief, who taught me to satin stitch?
The stitching won't be winning any awards, but I'm liking the way it looks.