Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Aug 31, 2005

Cotton MD Scarf & Chain Stitch Doodling

It's a beautiful day in Indiana today - this is the peaceful view from my back porch, where much spun yarn and felted pieces are dried on days such as this. Such a contrast to the terrible catastrophe unfolding along the Gulf Coast. I am acutely aware of my blessings these days and my heart just hurts when I contemplate the suffering and my head can barely encompass the magnitude. May all those people find peace and healing and strength.....

On my mundane, carefree-in-comparison life:
We are down to the last four days of Wabash River Books - all books $1 and people are coming in to the shop and filling boxes. That's good. And it's sad, too. I haven't fully processed my feelings about this, but I do know that my life is filled with all sorts of wonderful things to do and be, that I'm still going to be selling books online, and that things pass through our lives and it's good to know when it's time to let go.

As for knitting, I've been working on another multidirectional scarf:

this one is in a thick and thin cotton w/nylon binder. Generally, I prefer to work in wool, but I just love the texture of this cotton - it's a handpainted yarn I get from Lotusblossom on eBay. It reminds me of Cherry Tree Hill Thick 'n' Thin, which is wool w/nylon binder. I've made shawls from both the wool and the cotton and they are favorites.

The interesting color and row direction effects of Iris Schreier's Multidirectional Scarf pattern are rather lost with this yarn, but I'm wondering if there will be a practical effect of the pattern that will prevent the cotton from growing, as most cotton scarves I've made seem wont to do. Of course, my daughter and the friend for whom I made cotton scarves LOVE the lengths to which they've grown.

I've also been working on a...well, I think it's going to be a scarf. I discovered that I can crochet while holding baby Sophia, but not knit. Not comfortably anyway! So I just started sort of doodling with chain stitch. Here's something I did with Noro Kureyon after torturing it into felting:

The beginning part is on the left bottom and I really like it very much.

Here is a close-up of that part:

As I continued though, I seemed to make shorter chains and got less freeform and more regular with each section. Also, the Kureyon made weird color juxtapositions, since I was sometimes crocheting down the side of the piece. In any case, this was an interesting experiment and I will probably wear it, as peculiar as it is.

Now I'm starting another doodle, this time with a little more planning, in Merino Style from KnitPicks.

This whole freeform chain thing is a tad tedious, because despite the randomness of the chains, I do have to stop and look at it and decide if it's balanced, etc., so it's anyone's guess if I'll actually finish this piece. I'm hoping that posting it here will give me some impetus to do so!

Aug 28, 2005

Very Busy Week

Whew - last week I hardly had time to think in complete sentences, much less finish or even work on any projects to share here- so no pictures with this note. Besides acupuncture appointments for my mom and me, there was the finalization of a used car purchase, several days of Baby Sophia care, and the excitement of 17 year-old daughter Molly's First Day of School Ever. A lifelong homeschooler, Molly graduated herself from un-highschool a year early, took the SAT and ACT, and got herself admitted to a local university. It's quite strange to be asking her questions about textbooks and teachers and homework!

My concern this week, too, has been Books. Yes, capital-B Books. The bookshop I co-founded just over nine years ago will be closing forever at the end of the month. So my bookselling business will be in transition as I will now be selling online only. We are having Big Sales and it's overwhelming dealing with the numbers of books I have, trying to figure out what I should be letting go in those sales, what books I might want to acquire from my colleagues....

and really, I should NOT acquire one more book.

The other day, I looked around at my yarn stash, my spinning fiiber stash, and my books and I thought that anyone coming in and seeing this embarrassment of riches would think, "This poor woman believes she is going to live forever."

Meanwhile, I got some wonderful new knitting books....

Aug 25, 2005

Why Lizards in the Leaves??

Some have wondered.
I can't say I know for sure - the phrase just popped out when it was time to give this blog a title. What I do know is that I have been fascinated with knitted leaves for weeks and I've been knitting them and playing with their possibilities in my projects almost daily.

I've also been buying lizard pins on eBay. I found this pin/earring set with a lizard in the leaves right around the time I started this blog.

And (also on eBay) I found these colorful little vinyl lizards, shown here surrounded with some knitted leaves.
The lizard on a knitted leaf up there is one of them, I am probably going to make some pins like that.

So, the phrase just popped out. But it popped out once before, years ago, in a poem I wrote (posted below ) about an amazing Moment I experienced in the last house we lived in back in Miami. So there is something of that feeling in that phrase. After the fact, after naming this blog, I started thinking about just what 'lizards in the leaves' symbolizes for me. Here's notes on the associations that come up for me:
leaves /green / imagination
leaves / green/growing/creativity
lizards / hidden rustlings /ideas
lizards / mysteries
lizards / elfin faces /surprises

So, now you know all I know about 'Why Lizards in the Leaves?"

POEM: Sacrament (1990)


Communion. Outdoors.

With the sun a bright coin
and the wind
tumbling through,

I lugged
days of diapers washed clean
as could be, to hang
in the sun
to dry.

Working by
scarlet hibiscus
and a lush mango tree,
lizards in the leaves,

I was ripe
for epiphany.

One by one,
the diapers were hung,
and I bent
and stood
and I bent

and a wild, huge love
for my daughter
in my astonished soul.

Lizards in the leaves
and the wind from the sea
and the sun and the diapers
and Molly and me, we breathed
for a moment all together
in the whole of it all,

and each washed diaper
became something more.

I have eaten bread and known
it is Body,
I have drunk wine and known
it is Blood,
I have washed and hung diapers and known
it is Love.

--- Zann Carter (1990)

Rainbow Warrior & MD Scarf

Rainbow Warrior, 1979
3", Acrylic yarn, cotton batting, crocheted

The Rainbow Warrior is an old friend that has traveled with me through the years. I made her when I first heard about Greenpeace environmentalists and their ship Rainbow Warrior. She sits on my mantle right now. I just thought she deserved a showing here.

I finished my Multidirectional Scarf on Tuesday, spent 24 hours agonizing over putting a spiral fringe on it, then decided it just didn't look quite right and that making 20-30 spirals would be tedious right now. I'm already putting a bunch on a shawl I'm making.

Here is the MD Scarf:
Pattern is by Iris Schreier, of course. If you join the Yahoo Group she started (it's called Multidirectional), post an introduction, she will send you the pattern and you can join the KAL. Right now, nearly 60 people have posted their pictures and data.

This is a cotton yarn I got from Lotusblossom on eBay a few months ago. It's hand-dyed with a binder. Wish I could remember more about it, so I could at least know the yardage it took. I used size 9 needles and it knitted up at 4.25 spi.

It looks much nicer in person than in this picture.

Aug 22, 2005

Calming the Twist

Lately I've been using my handspun right from the wheel and not 'setting the twist.' I'm not sure that soaking/drying the yarn after spinning actually sets the twist, maybe 'calming the twist,' is a better way to describe it. In Spin-Off I see more references to working with "energized" yarn-- that is yarn (usually singles ) used directly from the bobbin after spinning. I'm not doing anything that utilizes that energy although some spinners carefully design their knitting to take full advantage of its quirks. Moi, I'm just being a bit lazy and impatient when I knit with energized yarn!

That yarn comes from my trusty old Louet wheel:

I'm going to take some of my handspun to the arts fair, and that yarn I am going to calm a bit. So that became the project for Saturday and Sunday. I put four skeins at time in a basin of warm water with a bit of Eucalan wool wash. I let them soak for a bit, then rinse with cooler water. I do a little squeezing of the yarn, which maybe fulls it a bit, but I always treat it with care to avoid out-and-out felting. I pop the skeins into mesh bags and run them through the spin cycle of the wash.

Then I hang the skeins on this nifty drying set-up:

The how-to for making this was in an old issue of Spin-Off. I have been looking for it, so I could give the issue number and credit to the designer, but so far I haven't located it yet. It is made of PVC pipe and is so useful and perfect for my needs that I can forgive myself for using PVC. It's a bit "fiddly" to disconnect the bars to hang the skeins, but I've learned to do it efficiently. None of it is fixed together permanently, so it can be taken apart to store. The only improvement I might make to this would be to permanently connect the feet-parts and put some kind of caps on the ends so that it doesn't wobble.

The nifty thing is that lower crossbar - it uses a bigger connector so that it slides up and down. This creates many options for weighting the skeins lightly, heavily or not at all. Between learning to use the spin cycle and using this rack, great improvements in my yarn production have occurred over the last few years. My family is delighted with not having wet wool weighted down with a variety of mugs, etc. hanging and dripping in the bathroom or basement. I have learned to love the smell of wet wool, but I am the only one.

Here are the eight skeins I calmed this weekend, the first batch is Corriedale wool, spun of rovings from the same dyelot, the second batch is merino, spun from four different rovings (and don't they go together well! ):

These skeins are approximately 50 grams, 2-ply and 45-70 yards. They are all spun from hand-dyed rovings that I get from Bob Smith of Winderwood Farms on eBay. His colors are just lovely to work with, and it's a visual pleasure. I also get some nice hand-dyed roving from Deb Brandt on eBay. Her id is dudleyspinner. I've mostly been using her darker and more muted colors to make my felted vessels, spinning a very thick singles yarn with little twist.

While skeins were drying, I was busy working on some wrist bands/bracelets, trying to figure out a design involving leaves and flowers. And I also finally caved and started a multidirectional scarf. I was NOT going to start anything new, only work on projects for the arts fair. However, I've been on Iris Schierer's Multidirectional Yahoo Group for two weeks, and they are doing a Knit-Along with her basic MD scarf pattern. Some 40 people have already finished and posted pictures of their scarves and I could no longer resist joining in the fun.

Off to have a cup of tea and work on the scarf a bit, do loathesome paperwork, and eventually take my mom to the medical acupuncturist. I am going for an appointment tomorrow - this is somewhat knitting/spinning related as I am dealing with a lot of shoulder/upper arm pain which first started a year ago when I was spinning very fine with some very fine merino.

Aug 20, 2005

Pampered Baby & Button, Button

I've just spent two afternoons in the company of my wee granddaughter, Sophia, who is just over five weeks old. She's a colicky little one, although in this picture, she's pretending she's not.

I thought today I'd post a picture of the sweet little dress I knitted for her. It is one of those wonderful patterns that looks far more complex than it is to knit. Now I've long been a natural fiber snob, but I decided to make this in Encore (75% acrylic, 25% wool) for the sake of washability and my daughter-in-law. I was nicely surprised by how pleasant it was to knit with and pleased with the looks as well.

It has a 3-button placket in the back.

The buttons became a matter of obsession with me - I had to find just the right ones and went both to Hobby Lobby and JoAnne's. I wound up buying 3 different kinds of buttons and bringing them home to make my decision. I chose two different kinds of red rose buttons, and three sets of primary color buttons. I kept placing the different buttons on the laid-out dress and looking at it every now and then. I even took them down to my LYS, Riverwools, and got the opinions of Martha and Val!
The rose buttons appealed to my sense of whimsy, and I considered using three different-colored buttons, but the ones I finally chose, three matte-finish red ones, appealed most to my sense of design.And look, I've written a whole paragraph about the Button Dilemma. One of the things I'm trying to do in my effort to actually finish things is to try to not let myself get stalled by this sort of decision-making. Details are important, but if I let them take up huge amounts of time and brain bandwidth, I wind up feeling frustrated and....silly.

This pattern came from Knitting for the Pampered Baby by Rita Weiss. It has some of the most appealing patterns I've seen and is astonishingly reasonably priced at $14.95. Hamilton Books has it for $9.95.

As for the red rose buttons, they wound up on these Leafy Wrist Bands:

Aug 19, 2005


When I first started working with the beautiful hand-dyed rovings I've been using, I was also experimenting with freeform crochet (an experiment that I had to temporarily abandon to work on the things I want to have in my booth at the arts fair.) The following is a little thing I made to see what would happen if I felted a crocheted piece out of that fiber. It was just a round and round spiraling shape. I've been trying to not just have a bunch of bits of experiments about, so I made two pieces and sewed them together, thinking I'd make a little change purse. Well this:

is not a purse....It's

an inhaler cosy!

I have to carry my inhaler with me most everywhere for Just in Case and I like having it in this cheerful little pocket. Furthermore, I discovered that the inhaler combined with the cosy has expanded the usefulness of both items. If I ever need to amuse a small child in a waiting room, I can do storytelling with the help of:

Cosy the Snail !

The very appearance of Cosy has amused adults, and today I offer her appearance for your amusement.

Aug 18, 2005

Starbrim Hat w/Leafy Band

Here are some more in-process pictures of the band for the Starbrim Hat. Once again, I love how something comes off the needles, looking....well, not much like the thing you envisioned. And then some end-weaving-in, some steam, and, in this case, a little needle-felting...and there it is. I call this the Leafy Band (as you will probably see, my current knitting obsession is leaves). I knitted each leaf right on to the previous leaf, by picking up stitches along the end of the previous leaf. I alternated the side of the leaf I picked up on, and randomly changed between three sizes of leaves.

------ Just Off the Needles ------

----- After Steaming with Iron -----

At this point, I went over each leaf with a felting needle. I poked around the edges of each leaf, and along the stitches where they join, not into those stitches, but just beside them. This created a more raised effect, like an outline, and emphasizes the curves where leaves join. I did not needle-felt the body of the leaf.

I'm posting two pictures of the finished hat - the first because it shows the Leafy Band better, the second because it shows the true colors better.
So here it is: Starbrim Hat with Leafy Band.

I'm not sure what today's project will be - perhaps some spinning, as I've been neglecting that a bit. It's one of the days I'm caring for my infant granddaughter, who requires much holding, so I expect that is going to be the real (and totally welcomed) project!

Aug 17, 2005

'Shroom and a Hat

'Shroom 1 (2005)
5", Wool, glass bead, copper wire, knitted, wet-felted

Near the end of September, I will be doing a booth at a new fall festival here in Terre Haute. Well, it's not exactly new - it's three festivals that have been going on for years, combined into one weekend extravaganza. The part that I will participate in used to be the spring Crossroads Arts Fest, a wonderful event that has been plagued by terrible, unpredictable spring weather in all the years of its existence (6 or 7, I think.) It has been renamed Street Fair (the name of a really old festival from the early 1900s!) and joined to the library's Family Learning Day and the E. Bleemel Days event, which takes place in the historic brewery district. All in a semi-circle in the blocks around the downtown area.

The 'Shroom above is something I created for the fair booth. It's meant to be an ornament, though I don't know if anyone wants to decorate their holiday trees with shrooms. I would, of course. Seems to me that I should make things to sell with the same philosophy that I generally try to apply to buying books I hope to sell: make (buy) what I like, so if it doesn't sell, I don't mind having it around.

Lately, I have a goal of finishing one thing every day. It doesn't have to be a big thing
, just one thing. Yesterday I finished a Starbrim Hat, an original pattern (whoopee!) which I am still working out for different yarns. I took pictures of it during its making because I love to see the transformation of felted knits. That is another reason I prefer to felt by hand at the kitchen sink, I just love to feel that transformation, when the whole texture changes in my hands. It's magical to me.

This is made with Twilleys Freedom yarn - a bulky, very lightly spun single that felts FAST- very nice when you are doing it by hand!

Just Off the Needles -------------Just After Felting ----------Just After Shaping


Those leaves and flowers are for another project. I'm making a removable band for the hat and will post the finished hat in my next entry.

It's 6 a.m. and time for me to get on with the day - much to do and a dentist's appointment, too.

Aug 16, 2005

Under Construction / Day One

Hollow Sphere 1: Refuge (2005)

6", Coopworth wool, hand-dyed, wet-felted

I personally am under construction and probably will be so for the remainder of my life. I am quite excited about creating this blog, and just started last night. I've spent this morning figuring out how to customize the basic template provided by this site and am pleased with what I've been able to figure out.

I'd like this space to be primarily about my creative spirit and the work I want to do with fiber and words. I'm a mother of four with an almost-empty nest, and this is a time of great transition for me. Terrible things have happened in my family over the last two and a half years, challenges upon the normal challenges of mid-life, and some of them are ongoing. These events have dramatically changed me, at least to me. And I chose to take a new name, not completely different, just a permutation of my birth name, just as I am not a completely different me, but a permutation. So Suzanne becomes 'Zann....