Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh, yeah . . . forgot about that

Dad mentioned that he spent part of his day yesterday finishing up Christmas cards. (And he must work fast, because his card arrived in our mailbox later the same day.)

Christmas cards - oops. You'd think I would have been aware of that tradition. I have a decent black & white of the kids I could use; I just need to doctor it up and then address a bunch of envelopes and then buy stamps and so on. I'll add it to the list . . . .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Think I Know The Problem

Fourteen days before Christmas and nine days before I meet the cousins (and Don's family) in Michigan, I should probably be making lists instead of piles.

I went stash-diving this morning before work - just to pull out the grey worsted with the pink and yellow shadows for a Christmas gift that I've been plotting all along. But then I saw the fuzzy pink stuff, and decided I had time to crank out a pair of hand-warmers for A, who likes pastel pink. Which led me to the hot pink incredibly soft stuff, which could be combined with white fuzzy stuff to make a fun hat and mittens for B. (Sure, I already had a plan for Christmas for B, but I've been meaning to do that for her anyway since Fall. What the heck. Never mind that I still don't have a gift for B's husband, or even C's husband, for that matter.)

Bottom line: I have enough knitting and other craft ideas to completely fill my time and attention for the next nine or 14 days, depending; but I still need guy gifts for guys who aren't necessarily going to appreciate anything fuzzy or pink (or even necessarily knitted).

I definitely need a list . . .

Things To Finish ASAP

1. Lydia socks
2. Johnny socks (and possibly another pair of Eli socks, depending how things look after fulling)
3. Grey round & round & round project for relative to be named later
4. Pink Handwarmers & hat for A
5. Pink/white Hat & mittens for B
6. Finish "chain mail" scarf for another relative heretofore unnamed
7. Assemble cream & gold necklace for I-know-who
8. Set dye and finish processing wool/silk scarves for I-know-who
9. Paint silver dove on hankie for Rosie
10. Finish the liturgical stole by Monday night
11. Consider if I really need the blue pearl & milliflori necklace, which would be so cool and I have all the parts but I really don't have an intended recipient but you never know and it really would be pretty . . . .

No problem.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I love how the silk came out the second time around. It's softly covered by waves of blues, greens, turquoise, and even a little purple in the "depths." I found a length of broadcloth in a dark turquoise that blends in nicely, and will use that for the backing. Now I just have to decide (before I turn it over to my friend on Thursday after work) if I want to put a thin batting or other middle layer into the mix.

I painted fish on the first attempt, and although I think that's still a viable option for other projects, I ordered a batch of metal fish charms instead which will be sewn onto the waves on one side in ones and twos. I was thinking about drawing a fishing net on the other side with silver fabric paint, but then had the idea of attaching an actual silver fishing net in miniature. TexAnne suggested a non-tarnishing silver embroidery thread which I should be able to find at Michael's, and I'll experiment with it until I have the look I want. I also have a few pieces of large 1960's costume jewelery from my friend's Grandmother which she'd asked me to refashion into something she'd actually wear. A few of the excess parts remind me of shells, so I might play with scattering them across the bottom of the stole along with a few pearl beads. And lastly I'll be applying a length of light chain across the inside of the V to keep everything in place when she's wearing it.

I checked out the options for edge binding at Hobby Lobby while I picked out the broadcloth backing, and noticed a double-wide binding in metallic gold. They didn't carry a metallic silver, but I may call around to see if I can locate some and then hand-stitch it along the edges, rather than being satisfied with just the serged edges. We'll see. In any case, I'm pretty pleased with how the latest incarnation of this project is coming along. I just need to set and wash the silk yet tonight, so I can turn it over to my sewing friend tomorrow after work.

Meanwhile, after the shoveling was done today, I can report that we have snow piles next to our driveway which are taller than me. Isaac even had to make a break in the snow piles so the puppy could get onto some flat snow to do her business; the sheer snow walls were more than she could handle. And it isn't even officially winter yet! Last year we had over 100" of snow during the course of the season, and a friend pointed out to me today that we'll already 5" ahead of last year. Oh, boy, here we go.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Color on a Monochrome Day

I pulled out my last large scarf blank last night and re-started the liturgical stole project. (I also talked to a friend of mine, who is blessed with both a serger and the knowledge of how to use it, and cut a deal for her to do the actual assembly work on the stole.) This piece is heavy hobotai silk with a very strong sheen, and probably is more suitable for the project anyway.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to control the rock-salt effect. Rock salt absorbs some of the dye, so you can get these neat ebbs and flows which remind me of water flowing over a rock. On my first attempt I had the table set up in the Northeast corner of the dining room and the salt caused little comet shapes with the tails pointing South towards the lighter section (the "top" of the piece). When I over-dyed it the other day in the Southwest corner of the dining room (which is frankly much more level), I got little "bulls eye" shapes from the salt instead. So for this new piece, I shoved a couple of phone books under the legs on one end of the table to get those comet shapes back. It worked - but they were pointing the opposite direction from what I expected. I still like how they turned out, but I need to read the book more about the whole salt process and how to better control it.

Anyway, by this morning it looked like this:

Very pretty - love it. But the result is really white with a blue/green/purple design, rather than the blue base tone I wanted. So I went over the back side of it with a coat of plain blue, watered down a bit on the "deep" end and watered down a lot on the "shallow" end. And then I added just a few more swirls of purple and green, because hey, it was in front of me. It's the kind of project where you could putter and tweak results for a long time, so in the end I had to work to pull myself and my blue fingernails away.

Oh, and this was the view from the dining room this morning:

Schools are canceled, and what do you want to bet I'm the only one who shows up for work?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dye, dye, dye!

This is why my fingernails are green today:

I'm working on holiday gifts and other miscellaneous projects, so I pulled out two wool/silk scarf blanks, set up my long table in the dining room, and had at it. The green/coral/gold scarf has swales of color and curved lines that remind me a lot of the mountains near Tucson in the dry season, and is a gift for a new family connection. The blue one to the right has more geometric lines, almost like a tie-dye project, and is destined for a friend.

Then I pulled out the piece I'd been working on in August or September for a liturgical stole, and stared at it some more. The problems are that (a) I sort of forgot that the intended recipient is not 7 feet tall when I placed the design elements on the scarf; (b) the cross which was meant to fall on the left shoulder is too small and muted for my taste; and (c) the transition from "water" to "shore" color was so dramatic that it would not have been visually appealing as a wearable in the form intended, no matter how pretty the individual colors were. So I laid it out and tried over-dying the "beach at dawn" golds and corals to a more "tropical shallows" blues and greens look. But there's still a very definite demarcation, and I'm just not happy. Also, I tried to throw in a few silvery grey "rocks" at the point of the old "shoreline" to obscure my botched and splotchy attempt at a cross, but it just doesn't tell the story it was meant to. So what I have is a scarf (silk-type, not warm-type) that would look pretty knotted around someones neck, or pieced together in some sort of applique piece, but really doesn't satisfy me for the task at hand. I hate to do it, after all the work I put into that piece (and especially since I was so happy with how the bottom half of it came out), but I think I'm going to put it away and start over again with a new blank and the knowledge gained from the first attempt. I'm meeting my friend for lunch a week from tomorrow, and I'd really, really like to be able to give her the finished stole then. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile, I am cranking out holiday socks. These will all be fulled (or shrunk on purpose to make a very dense sock), so don't be too alarmed at the current size. The large green pair is from my brother's standard pattern, so I feel pretty confident about them. But I also want to make several pairs for various smaller feet, and Dan's sock pattern only comes in two adult sizes. I've got him at work right now converting measurements into a child's version of his pattern, but I'm also cheating by purchasing a copy of Dawn Brocco's Fulled Family Booties pattern from Ravelry. The little green socks are pretty much a direct interpretation of her pattern, and are the "child's small" size. I was thinking of putting them on Eli, who is 19 months or so, but to my eyes they look a little small. I'm going to felt them, then measure them and see. But at that size they were a fast easy thing to knit, and baby booties are always a good thing to have tucked away in case of emergency gift needs so I really can't lose. The blue/grey ones are tentatively for Austin - but again, I've got to felt them and then measure them and see where we are. They are a hybrid of Dawn's pattern, with a little more of a shaft added to bring them further up the leg. I might also add some embroidery to those ones; I loved the individual colors in the yarn, but knitted up they don't quite have the same charm and the colors will blend even more when I full them. Snowflakes, maybe?

And just to top off the fiber and dye theme here, I have been in the process (more or less) of going back to my own hair color for some time now. I got something a little too light the last couple of times, which left me with yet another sharp color demarcation line. This time I chose a darker color carefully and applied it while I was waiting for some other projects to set on Saturday. I've done the color from a box several times and feel fairly confident about it, even though my hair is - finally - getting some length. But apparently I didn't get the goop saturated quite through properly, because I discovered when my hair was dry on Saturday night that I had a very distinct band of gold/brown around the crown of my head, with the much darker brown above and below. Either I had been a very good girl and earned my halo, or I had screwed it up - and I don't think I was that good. I think I've got it fixed now, after another run through the whole process. Here's hoping that's the last time, and I can just wear my grey hairs as a badge of honor from here on out.