Lizards in the Leaves

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

Oct 30, 2005

The Crisis

For those of you have been concerned about The Crisis, I thought I'd take a moment to write a note. My elderly mom has been having some difficulties and I've had to spend a great deal of time at the continuing care retirement community where she lives, including staying in her apartment overnight for nearly two weeks. The purpose of such a community is to provide varying levels of care when an elderly person is need of more assistance. Up until now, Mom has been doing well in the independent living apartment she moved into two years ago. We aren't exactly sure just what is going on for Mom and my concern for her privacy prevents me from going into details, but the process of making a transition to a different level of care is difficult on many levels. And far more difficult than we ever expected it to be!

I have done a lot of knitting on those nights I've spent over there, but I'm so exhausted when I do get home, I've not got a lot of creative energy. Yet somehow I have completed quite a few things to photograph and post here - something I am hoping to do within a few more days.

I do hate to make a post without a picture or two and here I've just found something I finished just before The Crisis began - a hat with a crown of Cascade 220 and a brim of Noro Kujaku#22 and some spirals and felted beads in the Kujaku. Well, maybe the hat isn't finished, as I think I want to attach spirals and beads to it!

And here I am, trying on the hat.....

Hope to post another entry here soon.

Oct 18, 2005

Crisis Knitting

Just when I'm thinking my life will settle down a bit and I can actually make some plans....a crisis pops up and any sense of certainty about tomorrow evaporates. These are the times I am most grateful for the certainty of knitting a favorite pattern.

This will be the third Pie Wedge Shawl I've made. It is a free pattern from the band of a skein of Helen's Laces by Lorna's Laces. I love this pattern! It's very easy and the result - a lacy, almost-circular shawl with lovely pointy things all around the bottom - is a pleasure to view. And I was amazed at what a nice warmth is felt when wearing this very lightweight shawl.

I made it in the original merino/silk yarn first, then I made it in some Cherry Tree Hill lace weight merino in the Country Garden colorway. Now, I haven't yet even blocked the first one, but I did make good use of my steam iron and fake-blocked the second. I gave that to my mother, who is always complaining about how heavy sweaters and coats seem to her. She has been very pleased with the functionality of this shawl, and also loves to tell me about all the fuss people make over it. They think her daughter is a Fabulous Knitter!

This shawl is being made in Misti Alpaca Lace, 100% baby alpaca - a nice heathery sage color which I just couldn't seem to capture properly in the picture. It's a very reasonably priced $5.95 for 437 yd skeins.

Of course, even in a crisis, I can't just have one thing to work on, so I also started this very easy little bag from the latest Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton Noro pattern book, called Noro Revisited.

In the past, I've been rather disappointed with the size ranges in Noro pattern books - I'm a stout woman and I like loose, flowy sort of tops anyway, and they just didn't seem to include a size for me. But this pattern book seems to have directions for such a size in the patterns I like, plus it had some size-not-important patterns like the bag, which has directions for a larger one in Noro Iro, as well as the one I'm making in Kureyon.

Here are a couple of in-progress pictures. It's a great easy knit-up, and definitely a nice change from knitting the single-color slippery (but oh-so-soothingly-soft) baby alpaca.

The only complaint I have is that it calls for 100 gr. of Kureyon, and there is not enough left if you want to make the handle even a smidgen longer than the 10.5" allowed in the pattern. And there isn't enough left to stitch it together. I'm using a complimentary color of Cascade 220, and the stitching won't (hopefully) show that much anyway. But still....

All done, now awaiting the Finishing Up, which is always the bane of my knitting existence.

There is another pattern in the book I'd like to knit next, this cap and scarf made with a combination of Kureyon and Blossom.

I've noticed though, that the patterns calling for Blossom all call for multiples of 50gr and Blossom comes in 40gr skeins. So, when it says 100gr Blossom, do I assume they mean 2 skeins, or do I get 3? I always like to get an extra skein whatever the pattern, but when the yarn is pricey....

And oh, yes, I really love Noro yarn.... Here is the Noro Iro I bought during my birthday splurge:

Still hasn't informed me what it wants to be.

Oct 12, 2005

Bookpost: EZ, Lindgren, Beskow

For some time now, I have wanted to start making at least a weekly post about books, both fiber arts-related and just-plain-favorite books. Books and reading have been more of a constant in my life than knitting, spinning, or writing. I have even spent the last nine years selling books, both online and in a shop I helped to open. So, I think perhaps I might have something useful or interesting to share in the realm of books.

When I try to find the perfect way to organize and manifest a new idea, I have been sort of paralyzed by that perfection-seeking and nothing comes into being but regret for not accomplishing something. It's the same sort of thinking that keeps that fabulous yarn languishing in the stash, instead of allowing it, helping it, to Become Something. So my new m.o. is to just plunge right in and DO. The results are not always perfect, but sometimes come close and at least there are results! Better an imperfect, heartfelt body of work rather than an imaginary one that no one but me can see.....

So here is my first Bookpost, unplanned and off the cuff, but at least in existence.

Up there, of course, is the beloved EZ - Elizabeth Zimmermann. I probably have 300 books in my fiber arts library, but if someone forced me to go to a desert island with only the books of one author from that library, it would be EZ's books. For me, she is to knitting books what MFK Fisher is to cooking books. There are the amazing and original knitting patterns and ideas, but throughout her work is the song of an amazing and original spirit. She inspires me - to be ME - to be my own independent opinionated knitting self.

How delighted I am then to find a "new" EZ book, The Opinionated Knitter, compiled and released years after her death. It's a selection of her Wool Gathering newsletters, along with some diary entries, and many nice pictures. I am savoring it bit by bit, making it last awhile.
I'm sharing the following three books for no particular reason other than that they just happen to be the newest acquisitions in my library - they arrived from Amazon yesterday and I haven't even read them yet.

Most Beloved Sister and Mirabelle are both by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. She is probably best known as the creator of the extraordinary Pippi Longstocking. I enjoy Pippi, but my real favorite books of Lindgren's are her less-famous books about less-extraordinary, but charming Swedish children and families. Lotta of Troublemaker Street is a particular favorite and there are several books about Lotta and her family. Then there are the Noisy Village books, and of course, The Tomten, which inspired me and the children to write a song about our own house gnome.

The third book is Uncle Blue's New Boat by Elsa Beskow - another Swedish author. Beskow, however, illustrated her lovely books, which are peopled with kind children, idealized nature and also a few gnomes and elfin types. The links I've posted compare the two authors, saying that Lindgren's books "....broke the tradition of Elsa Beskow's books, where children behaved well, and appealed to the little anarchist living inside every small child...."

In both author's hands, childhood, families, and the child perspective, are enjoyably, sweetly and vividly presented.

I really do love children's books and sometimes think I had children just so I could justify having the huge bookshelf full of books for them. If you look at my profile, you will see that every favorite book I mention (except for Neruda's poetry) is a children's picture book.

Oct 7, 2005

Kujaku Fairy Pots

Well, this is my New Favorite Yarn for my little crocheted pots. It's Noro Kujaku #22, wool with a rainbow polyester binder. I'm not that fond of the other colors of Kujaku, but these colors really make my heart sing. I just had to go back to RiverWools the other day and trade in 2 balls of another color and buy 6 more!

Here are two of the pots I've made with this yarn. I'm calling them Fairy Pots. The first is about 5" high, the second one is a tiny 3".

And look...the lids are interchangeable!
Actually, I made the little pot first and this was the original lid, but I like it better on the big pot, so I made another lid for the little one.

I'm very excited to have some of my work on consignment along with Margaret's at RiverWools and really appreciate the friends and strangers (!) who have been so encouraging to me that I became brave enough to start showing my work and offering it for sale.

OOps, granddaughter Sophia is stirring, so I'll have to leave the new shawl I've started to another post!

Be well, all!

Oct 2, 2005

Odds 'n' Ends

Last Thursday was my birthday and I got this big box of Ghiradelli chocolate from son Ian and ddl Lisa, who live in Arizona (except Lisa is in Missouri during the academic year getting her PhD.)
I have enjoyed it tremendously, taking a brief hiatus from my "Just-for-Today-I-Will-Not-Eat-Anything-I-Shouldn't-Eat" diet. I'm proud to say it's been Today for about 8 weeks and I've lost 8 pounds. Of course, a wee bit of chocolate here and there has been a "should eat."

Other gifts included this sweet smile of Sophia's (who has been diagnosed with GER, acid reflux, hence, the misery and crying):

For two long periods during my caretaking time with her on my birthday, Sophia was a Happy Baby, gifting me with smiles and coos, the very first I've seen in all these weeks.

She seemed to enjoy watching the spindle spin that day, too.

Sophia's parents gave me wind chimes, silly picture holders and a wine rack for the organic wine I gifted myself.

Speaking of gifting myself, there was much pictures, it's all stashed. RiverWools offers a 20% discount on one purchase in one's birthday month and early on in the month I had my spree. I bought more Noro Blossom, a selection of La Gran mohair, five colors of Harrisville, two colors of Cascade 220 I didn't have, another set of Denise needles (to replace the set I "borrowed" from my daughter) and some new crochet hooks which are more ergonomic than the ones I have.

And then on my actual birthday, I had the nerve to go in and buy more yarn because Martha had gotten in new stuff since my birthday splurge: Noro Iro in amazing greens/blues/grays, Noro Kujaku, SWTC soy silk and soysilk/wool.

As for current work, I finished the Bloom Shawl and I love it, though it does seem a bit small for my shawlish preferences. I didn't have a lot of space for blocking, so perhaps did not stretch it as big as it could be. The neckine seems like it needs a Little Something, so I may weave a ribbon through it as the designer suggested. In any case, it is just the loveliest thing, despite my little kvetches, and all who have seen it have oohed.

I am spinning up this hand-dyed Corriedale on my drop spindle, planning a new covered pot with the working name of Sunsetroses Pot. I am trying to be mindful during this spinning, in a way that will allow me to be open to many possibilities for the yarn.

About my spindle: This is the first spindle I bought, back in 1990 or '91 - I bought two actually. They are homemade Turkish-style drop spindles and I really can't seem to spin as I like on any other kind. I bought these from a wonderful lady from Wisconsin named Lucy. I cannot remember how I found her, but think it must have been from a magazine ad.

I ordered the spindles and wool as a project for our homeschooling. I was Waldorf-inspired in many ways, so handwork and natural fibers were important to the things we were doing. I thought it would be interesting for the kids to see where yarn came from - even though we lived in Miami and wool was pretty much not on the clothing menu. Well, the kids weren't very interested in spinning at all, but I became besotted.

The nice Lucy wrote a whole two pages of instructions for me, sent me all kinds of wool, in batts and some....gulp...raw. I discovered quickly that I want to go only so far back in the process, and my preference is to spin from combed wool rovings. For many years I was able to order pounds and pounds of vegetable dyed roving (and other interesting goodies) from Kathleen Smith at Textile Reproductions, but I believe she no longer sells at retail. So for about 2-3 years, I spun only using these spindles, and I am still somewhat astonished at just how much I managed to spin.

I love these spindles so much and worry that some day they will just wear out. I recently got an Ashford Turkish spindle and was relieved to discover that I can spin with it just fine. Not sure why I seem to have a problem with other spindles though. Also, I just LOVE that you don't have to rewind the wool from the spindle - Turkish spindles actually pull apart and leave you with a nifty center pull ball all wound. With a bit of care, you can immediately ply it on the spindle you just put back together.