Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Decorating and Memories

I was late getting decorations up ...again.  I'm beginning to think that they just need to stay up...no I just need to set up a weekend that we can get it done after Thanksgiving.  This year that weekend, I was out of town teaching.  Next year I need to put it on the calendar and not schedule anything else, or we could do it Thanksgiving weekend.

Anyway, it was fun looking at the many ornaments and the joy I have remembering their meaning and where I received them.  

I have two that are very old and quite funny looking.  I guess they reflect the time they were made.  They belonged to my Great Aunt, she helped raise my mom and her twin after my grandmother died (the twins were about two and a half.)  The little elf/santa looking men are playing instruments and from what Mom said there were other players, but these are the only two left.

Aren't they cute and funny.  I love to get them out each year and remembering Aunt Louise.

 The red one seems to have some type of percussion shakers and the green one is playing the mandolin.  I wonder what the other instruments in the set were?  And why are they on ski's?

This wooden star was sent to me from Germany by my dear fiend Linda when she and her husband were stationed there.  She died three years ago after a ten year battle with cancer and I love having this memory of her.  At one time there were two stars, but some years back one got attacked and chewed by a cat.  

This little creche was one a a number that we had on my tree as a child.  It is only a couple of inches high and is a plastic piece, but it brings back memories of putting them up on our tree and each year seeing if we could glue back the small pieces that had fallen off in storage.

When we were first married (wow that was over 30 years ago!) I used to buy kits and make ornaments.  This was from a kit of plastic pellets and metal frames.  You put the pellets in the frames and then baked them to melt the plastic so it would  look like stained glass.  I had lots of fun making them and I have kept them all these years.

For many years when the children were young, we would go shopping for a new ornament for each of us.  We all developed large collections.  This year we did it again for the first time for several years.  So here is the one I added this year to my collection of interesting sheep.

A couple of years ago, Mom decided to stop putting up a tree.  She had down-graded to a small tree for several years and decided that there were enough decorations around the house that a decorated tree was not needed.  She decided to get rid of all the old ornaments, I that is where I got the old instrument playing elf's, and the little creche.  This was another piece that I got, actually I got several of these.  When my brother and sisters were young we used to make ornaments.  This group was made from plastic lids...we drew the designs on them and put them in the oven to shrink them.  There are a bunch that we painted.  It was so many years ago that I don't even remember the ones that I painted.  I took a few and then each of the siblings took some.  They bring back many memories of how we made things and all the ideas that my Mom had for us to do.

 This wonderful picture is about two feet square and a wonderful gift I gave to myself a couple of years ago.  I had loved this artist's version of his "Old World Santa" since I saw it in the 80's.  At that time he had prints of it.  A few years ago when my Mom and sisters went to an presentation of his and his daughter's work, they had the new print on canvas and I decided that at last I would get it.  It took several months of paying on it and the frame, so when I brought it home the first year it hung up all year.  Now I greet it each Christmas and spend some time looking at the wonderful face and details on it.

 This last piece is a felt advent tree that I made when the children were very young.  It is about four feet by two feet and I loved the pattern when I first saw it.  Because the children were so young, they didn't share well and we needed two ornaments a day so each could put one up.  
It took me a while to make the tree and body done, so I was spending each night desperately making the little ornaments so there would be two the next morning for them to put up.  I remember how thrilled I was when I got three or four done in a night because then I had a back-up in case I did not get the two required ones done each night.  Now I look at them and are amazed that I was able to do them.
I love looking at each ornament that I take out and we all still love putting them up.  We still have the rule that you don't look when reach in the bottom pocket.  No picking favorites, we just get what comes.

Anyway, there is a few of my memories that I enjoy each Christmas decorating season.  Do you have a collection of memories that you have built up over the years?  


Monday, November 22, 2010

A fun Weekend

I have had a couple of fun weekends.  In October I spend the weekend crafting with my sisters and in November I spend a weekend weaving and dyeing multiple-colored warps.  Both weekends were great and I got to do some new things both times.

It took my sisters and I several weeks to find a time we could all get together, but it worked out great.  Mom and the four of us spent three nights and four days at a condo in Park City.  We stayed up late talking and spent the days making ATC, Dream Angles, and sculpting paper clay. 

We had not done a lot of planning for the crafts, so each of us brought up boxes of possibilities.  We could have been crafting for weeks with all of our stuff.  We really want to do it again, maybe we will be better at how much we bring up...

On Saturday, my younger sister taught us how to make ATC (Artist Trading Cards).  We started with a deck of cards and applied paper, paint, pictures, glitter, and anything else we could find in the boxes.  My sister is in an internet group that trades card, so she has made a bunch of them and we all had fun with them.  I ended up re-layering the one I did because the first picture was not so great, so I just covered her up with another one.  I didn't layer an antiquing paint on it and I wish that I had.  With the scrape booking I had done with a friend, it kind of transferred over, but with ATC it was on a smaller scale.  The second card was easier.  I really liked the one that Mom did and the extra that Annette added to it...Italy.

Sunday, we did the Dream Angels.  My sister had got some Styrofoam  bodies at a art store sell and had purchased them at a deal.  She had covered the body with paper and fabric for the dress and painted the arms, legs, and faces.  We had to paint faces, and I am not good at that.  Two of my sisters paint very well and with their help, I ended up with a pretty face.  We just painted the hair, but I want to add mohair for a wilder look.  They all looked wonderful and we were able to talk until late in the night.

Because we were working on the table each day...we just let everything stay there.  We did clear out between each craft, but we were not able to eat on the table until the last lunch just before we left.  We ate out several times and brought easy breakfast food for the morning.  

The last day we did paper clay.  This was a new experience for all of us.  Luckily, Lori is a great sculptor (check out her work at her blog, lorimetcalfdolls.blogspot.com).  Between the four of us, there were two little witches, Lori did a cute little boy in costume for Halloween and I did a pumpkin.  Lori helped me with some great googly eyes, and a chicken lipped grin.  Thanks to her help, my little guy looks great.  The paper was so thick on mine (mostly with the ridges on the pumpkin, but also the eye ridges) that it took several days with a fan blowing on him at home to get him completely dry.  I want to add forked sticks for the arms and will probably add a little trick-r-treat bag to finish him up.  He will be a great decoration for next year.  Even though he was not done this year, he, of course, was displayed and looked good.

The last night, we were up late again and the snow started to fall.  By morning, we had a very white world out the window.

After we had packed up, we decided to finish up the food left in the fridge and made a great salad for lunch.   After spending 4 days, we finally got to have a meal on the table.

After looking at all the pictures again, I can't wait until we can do this again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I've Been Spinning

I have been doing a lot of spinning.  You know how you get into a craft and just work on it for a while.  I have been relaxing and spinning.  Remember the cashmere/silk/wool blend?  I got it finished and now I am trying to get a pattern for a shawl.
Fine Spun Cashmere/Silk/Wool
I have been trying to get the right needle size to knit the shawl from a pattern in Piecework May/June 2010.  It is an Orenburg honeycomb Lace Scarf.  But the pattern is not looking right on the sample that I tried.  I'm not sure if the pattern has an error or if it is the knitter.  I am also trying different sized needles to see which will work with this yarn.

I also got some painted roving from my LYS that was painted by a local spinner.  She sales her stuff on line too, look for Greenwood Fiber Works.  This one was a range of random colors (I think it is done with the left-over dye after a dye session) and I love it.

Isn't it a great color combination.  I have about eight ounces and I would love to knit a little bolero jacket sweater and then have a dress the color of the background on this picture.  I love the periwinkle color and It would look great with this yarn.

Another roving from Greenwood Fiber Works is used in the next skeins.  It is a color she calls "Copper Hills."
I love the colors and would like to use it in weaving.  Did you see the samples in the recent Handwoven magazine by Sharon Alderman?  I would love to use this as the floating yarns over the ground fabric like one of her samples, probably a rust brown color ground to look good with the yarn.  I am thinking of a heather type yarn.  It could make a great jacket.

The next yarn is for socks.  I purposefully made the two skeins slightly different so that each sock in the pair will be an individual.  
There was a great pattern that had a lace effect at the top of the cuff, but then I saw the ruffled cuff socks in the one skein wonder book and I think that is what I will be using.  With these wild colors, ruffled socks could be just the thing...but what do I need to have in the way of clothing to look good with ruffled sock?

The last yarn is for weaving a scarf.  It is a wool/silk blend and I got it at the Greenwood booth at the Great Basin Fiber Festival this year.  I will be using a deep sky blue silk/wool yarn and this yarn will be the accent stripes in it.  
The periwinkle background looks bad with this yarn, it really is a beautiful blue and green.  I made some scarves with hand spun silk several years ago.  I just had a twill ground and then the twill line changed directions where the hand spun stripe was.  The wool/silk yarn that I have looks great with this hand spun yarn...I will have to get you a better picture.

I also got a new loom!  I have been interested in Bergman loons for several years.  I don't know much about counter marche looms and I really should get some knowledge about them.  This loom came available and I had to have it.  
She is a twelve shaft and weaves 48" wide.  As you can see the loom is crammed in the kitchen now.  I really need to get a better place for her.  She will be in the living room and will replace the Baby Macomber...yeah I know a 48" loom replacing a 20" loom!!  I know that I have some moving around to do.  Also the loom is in pieces.  I am trying to decide if I should keep the wire tie-ups for the shafts and jacks or if I should replace them with texsolve.  Also the wood is very dry.
Here us a section that I put some Howard's  Feed and Wax on.  Yes, I need to use a fine steel wool or sand paper to smooth the surface and get it all waxed.  There are a couple of replacement parts that I would like, I'll have to see if I can get them made or find current loom parts that can work.  
Margaret Bergman (a Swedish immigrant) designed the loom in the 1930's and even had a patent on it.  I love the way the thing folds up.  Beams move (they even have a storage place on the loom) than the front and back fold in the make a small foot print.  But how much will I want to have it out and weaving and how much will be folded and out of the way??

My last picture is a bag that was brought from Thailand.  My niece was there working on her public health degree.  The village that she was in was a weaving village. 
The bag is in the shape that has been popular with weavers repeatedly over the time I have been weaving.  The width is shown in the strap.  In this one there is a center stripe and border strips.  It is folded in half for the strap and down the sides of the bag.  The center of the bag is the same width and has a great pick-up pattern on the top edge.  The interesting part is the yarn strings that the maker has added to the bag at the top.  It is a very interesting piece and I can always use another bag!  I have more projects that I have bags to put them in.

Oh and by the way, I got the tartan scarves off the loom.  They look great hanging up and drying after the first wet finishing.
It took seven hangers to get the yardage up and hanging.  This weekend I can start cutting them apart and finishing them to get the scarves ready for gift time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

De-Nile ain't just a River in Egypt

I've been working on a scarf from my current favorite designer, Susan Pandorf.  She has been designing some pieces inspired by the Lord of The Rings books/movie.  And as I love LOTR, I decided to do a couple of the designs...OK a bunch.

I am doing a little scarf that she had as a free pattern on her website (A Few Stitches Short).   It called for a yarn that I had been interested in...Rowen Purelife Revive.  This yarn is interesting to me because it is made from recycled, used garments of silk, cotton and viscose.  I like this because it used to be that we paid more money for "virgin" wool that had not been recycled.  Now we pay more for yarn that is made from recycled fiber.  Makes you go hummm...mm.

But that is not my denial, it was my attitude about the amount of yarn that I needed.  The pattern clearly said 2 skeins for a 60 inch scarf.  At the time, I thought this was a little short, but at $10 a skein, I decided that two would probably be long enough for my scarf.  I cast on and started knitting.  (Here was another sign that my secret self knew that it was not going to be enough;  I started to knit and worked to get the scarf done before the yarn went off the market and I could not get any more.)

But still the denial.  When I finished the first skein, I held up the scarf and thought this is a little short. And the next thought was:  there is still another skein, maybe it will be long enough.  I contnued to knit and was making my way though the second skein with that same refrain in my mind...There is still more yarn, maybe it will be long enough.

I finally realized accepted that this was not going to be long enough when there was about 12 inches of yarn left.  We all knew that was going to happen and of course it happened on Sunday before Labor Day.  So, after work Tuesday I made a dash to the shop to get the third skein.  I am now 2 inches into the third scarf and the tension has eased.  I know I will have enough yarn to make the scarf as long as I want.  

Isn't it a pretty lace pattern?  Just the design I wanted, simple to knit pattern and reversible, perfect for a scarf.  I love to have a nice relaxed knitting experience.

Some times I wish I would just accept the little voice in the back of my mind that really knows what is happening.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Slow Cloth and Watching it Grow

I have been thinking about the "Slow Cloth"/"Slow Food" discussion.  I agree with the thought that slow food as opposed to fast food is a big improvement.  I like the idea of spending the time to prepare food.  Although for some of the nights when it is my turn to cook, I rely on the pizza delivery man.  I would like to spend more time with the cooking, I have always enjoyed doing it, but I get caught up in doing other things...like weaving.

Slow cloth is not that it takes longer to do something, but that you are doing it with purpose.  That you want to spend time on it, at that time.  I also love to see the fabric grow.  
I even like to watch the fabric grow in the videos of the modern looms, where it grows inches in a second.  Have you watched the videos that weavers have made of their warping and weaving process?  The warping is interesting, but I like to watch the fabric grow.
When I weave there is that first pleasure of seeing that the pattern is working.  That I figured everything out right.  Then comes the weaving,... and watching it grow.
I use a measuring tape that is pined along the weaving so that I can tell how much is woven and how much I need to weave.
And with some patterns I have a straight pin that moves along to mark the blocks or the pattern repeats that have been done.
And there is the wonder that I am constructing an object out of raw materials, that I am making something that will please me, or someone else that gets it.
There is the joy in the making.   This to me is "Slow Cloth."
What is it that you do to get that joy?  I always love to go to events where I can see others that love what they do.  Going to a Renaissance Fair, I see people getting joy out of their choices.  I almost want to start doing that process too, just because I can see how much fun they are having.  (That is probably how I get involved in so many more projects that I can finish.)
The joy is in the doing, the making.  I look at my sisters and see the joy in sculpting a beautiful doll, making a fantastic costume with delicate detail, and painting a wonderful feeling to make it physical.  We, as sisters, dabble in each others craft and enjoy each others gifts.
We are able to find joy in the things that we do.  What have you found for yourself to do?  I keep thinking of the line from a poem that I read:

"It is the refrain chanted by the chorus of your accumulating years:  
"If not now, When?  If not here, Where?" 
And the only obedience that will set you free 
is surrender to the energy and fire congealed in your gifts."

I have felt it sad when I see people that have not found their gift, or have left it behind.  Me, I find more that I want to spend time with than I have time.  I need to focus on that thing and keep the joy.  We all need to find that enjoyable thing, and revel in it.

I just read this in a book of Sufi poetry that my daughter got from the library.  Isn't it beautiful...!

Wants you to know
Your life within God's arms,
Your dance within God's arms
Is already


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Three versions of napkins

I just finished the center motif on the third tie-up and the variety is great.  I like all of them and will enjoy using them.

Center Motif for Tie-up One
 I like the way this one has the four cell diamond in the middle.  This center motif is the one that I altered the most.  I enlarged it and then added the middle element.  I'm not sure if it will be a better looking napkin with it is folded on the table or rolled in the storage display, but it is a great design laid out flat. 
On the overall pattern, I enlarged the corner motif a little, then the next two are the original, then the center is greatly altered with four blocks the size of the corner motif and new design added in the middle of the four blocks.  I will get a picture of the complete napkin when they are off the loom.  Today was just to compare the center motif variations.

Center Motif for Tie-up Two
Sorry I didn't get the color the same on the three pictures.  I think the color is more like the first picture, but you can see the pattern variation anyway.  Now instead of diamonds, the block is squares and the middle shows a five diamond unit...cool.  The outlining design adds well to the pattern.

Center Motif for Tie-up Three
 In this one the block is a square of tiny diamonds, a lot like the outer pattern on tie-up one.  The middle design is really changed to 4 outlined diamonds and a center tiny diamond.  The outer design is almost making the connected diamonds like tie-up one in the block.  I might like this one the best.  I like the way the middle unit makes a cross between the blocks.

Each tie-up is interesting, and it makes me want to sit at the computer with a weaving  program and check out other possibilities, even though I don't have enough warp to weave any others.  I can see how weavers get interested in the computer programs and do multiple designs and variations and then don't get around to weaving any.  Sometimes just the exploration is enough to satisfy the curiosity.