Sunday, June 24, 2007

Revived and repurposed

When Marilyn told me that she has another grandchild on the way, due in December, I immediately thought, "Hand-knit baby sweaters for a baby in the winter, how great! You can knit the smallest size and know that whatever you make will actually get worn when the kid is a tiny size. No guessing about what size they might be when it finally gets cold enough around here to wear a sweater." Since then, every time I see a baby project, I send it Marilyn's way. There's the Yoda sweater, see this photo, then there were Saartje's booties, and then there were stenciled "onesies". Not content with sending Marilyn all things baby that I ran across, I dumped on her all my baby patterns and all the sport and fingering weight machine-washable yarn I had sitting around (Ingenious way to reduce your stash without having to actually knit it!).

Then Stephanie posted these photos and a little light bulb finally went off in my head. During my Memorial day closet clean up, I ran across this:

This project has sat untouched since before my nephew was born. Isn't it pretty? There's a reason it sat for six years. The yarn is Reynolds Tucson, a cotton/acrylic blend which is actually a nice yarn. I think this was a Patternworks kit. Here's a hint as to why it was never finished:

Intarsia with cotton. Intarsia with no experience knitting any. Every row had 15 bobbins attached. I didn't know you shouldn't make huge bobbins. I almost couldn't lift the thing to work on it. I remember sitting at the dining room table with the whole mass supported and all the bobbins arranged on the table. I meticulously twisted each join of color, then when I turned the work over, untwisted all of it again. I also didn't know that it was practically impossible to get the cotton/acrylic to stay woven in on the back side. I wasn't smart enough to leave myself long tails to weave in. There were gaps. I was worried that the first time it got washed the whole thing was going to disintegrate into a holey mess. I envisioned the warm reception this blanket might get until the washing instructions were digested: "wash gently by hand." A sure fire method to get it folded up and immediately put back in the box.

I quit, bought more yarn and patterns, and ended up knitting three little sweaters and a pair of short pants instead. But there on the Harlot's blog was the perfect use for that yarn. Maybe I was thinking that I was advancing the project despite the fact that I wasn't knitting, because I had chopped up all the yarn and wound it into little bundles. I had this pile:

Perfect for that sweater. I didn't have that pattern, which comes in a kit, but I went looking on Knitty for something similiar (Hmmm, not quite so smart to loan Marilyn ALL my baby pattersn...) and in a truely karmic occurrence, the pattern most like the shape of the one Stephanie was knitting, was her own, contributed in 2003. I still need to find buttons, but I knit the whole thing this weekend. I love little sweaters. Really satisfying to start and finish in only days. So Marilyn, here's my contribution to the baby sweaters.

And here's this week's jewelry installment. A departure from the previous styles. And a departure in color. Next week I'm taking another class; it's about making your own clasps from wire. I'm sure there will be photos of clasps to come.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

No good deed

goes unpunished....Two weeks ago I sat for six hours in Travis County Criminal Courthouse No. 9 through a jury empannelment process.

It was a real slice of life from Austin. There was grunge; tattoos; all sorts of pierced body parts; frat boys who had just rolled out of bed; two people who hadn't seen each other in 20 years but instantly knew the other; long hair, short hair, no hair; handlebar mustaches six inches long; large, loud women in mu-mus; those with cell phones disputing charges for medical procedures none of us wanted to know about, Blackberry addicts, a used car salesman or two, and a very few normal people. 47 other souls there from all walks...and I didn't have a book to read. I swear I was close to snatching the Reader's Digest my benchmate had. And if you knew how much I hate Reader's Digest, you'd understand the depths of my despair. The only good thing to come out of the six hours lost was the fact that I wasn't chosen.

Today, however, I have received my punishment. A juror qualification questionnaire for US District Court...IN SAN ANTONIO!! 90 miles to the south of Austin. But no worries, I'll be reimbursed for mileage. (grrrrr) I searched desperately for some question to which I could respond insanely, thus ensuring that I would not be summoned, but there were none. Basically if you breathe, are under 70 years of age, can read and write, have not been convicted of a crime and are not currently charged with a crime, and are not a full time student, you're eligible. I could only have pleaded mental disability, but then I would have had to send proof. Seems they don't just take your word for that.

On other fronts, Susan that sweater is looking very good, even in pieces. I'm crossing my fingers that it fits. And the sock yarn almost makes me want to join you, but not quite enough. I have finished a little tiny amount of knitting.

Scarf One -- this one's from the alpaca we bought at the yarn store in Wimberley. The pattern is from the Red Scarf Project.

Scarf Two is my improvised pattern, yarn is 3 balls of Plymouth Suri Merino. A matching hat is in the works. If I can ever stop playing with beads long enough to finish.

The bulk of my not-so-plentiful leisure hours is still dedicated to stringing little pieces of glass, rock, and metal on strings. I've moved on to necklaces. I shot these in artificial light so the colors are too dark, but you'll get the gist.

I've exhausted all the old beads I had and the beads my sister-in-law gave me and moved on to purchasing beads. This is very bad. On the other hand, as you said, when you get finished with a jewelry project, you can actually wear the results in June in Texas.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

There was temporary insanity

I bought some beads. It had to happen eventually.

I kept at the bead reduction efforts this week and made a lot of bracelets. I might have made too many...especially for a person who doesn't wear them very often. You think? Everybody I know is getting a you're warned, Susan. (By the way a size 13 knitting needle perched on two cones of Habu silk makes a really good bracelet display...gotta use the knitting materials for something!)

This week's project was a necklace and the class content was do you design a necklace. There are lots of ways to think about it, but one of the design options offered really clicked with me. Think of it in "chunks"...take your dominant color/bead (in my case turquoise) and design a bunch of earrings. Three or four different combinations, then decide if you really like them all or maybe only two or three, put the "earrings" in a sequence, decide how you'd like to join the "earrings" with a spacer bead, another color, metal, or just end to end. Rinse and Repeat. Stacked together you have a necklace. Brilliant. Earrings I could figure out.

Mick's only other rule of thumb was to incorporate something pearlescent, opaque, translucent, and metallic. To practice we designed a necklace on the fly -- go to the wall, pick out five strands of beads--and then we reviewed. (Nothing like doing this in a really well stocked bead store...)

I'm not sure if her rule of thumb had an ulterior motive (she does sell beads for a living...) but the advice made me undo the boring and repetitive design I had come up with on my own and I went crazy, walked on the wild side, jumped off the deep end and added smoky faceted crystal, dark pearls, sterling silver spacers, faceted quartz, and czech glass. My necklace that started with a gift from my sister-in-law of a strand of turquoise nuggets, became not so zero cost.

But I love the result. In my mind, when I thought of that pile of turquoise nuggets, all I could see was adding some silver and calling it Southwestern. In the end, the learning was worth the dollars, and I'll remember that every time I wear it.