Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another Experiment

Once I found out that I'd been accepted for the synod choir (and was going to be on camera as well as on stage), I wanted something a little special to wear. The e-mail said we were to wear black bottoms and black, white or red tops, so I decided to try making a red scarf printed with the UCC comma symbol. (Gracie Allen is quoted as saying "Never put a period where God has put a comma." The UCC is running with that thought.)

Anyway, the silk dye marked "brilliant red" has thus far given me shades of coral, but never a really intense red. I decided to make free with the dye, really saturate it. But first I took a note from my 10th grade art class and made a potato print comma. The comma itself was fairly easy to carve with a paring knife and a potato that was past its better days anyway. I painted it with some pearlescent fabric paint and went to work printing white commas on the (then) white fabric.

I figured out fairly quickly that I needed to hold the fabric down with a block while I did the printing, or the potato would slide off the fabric and smear my image. A more experienced person probably would have taped or pinned the scarf down anyway.

Once the prints looked dry, I applied gobs of red dye to the fabric. As it turned out, I should have waited a bit longer; but I kind of like the pearescent glow around each comma from where the remaining paint flowed into the dye.

Anyway, I did it, I like it, and I wore it. A couple people complimented me on it before the service, but I don't think either I or my scarf were actually visible to the audience or the cameras. (When you are a 5' 4" tenor, you learn to accept these things.)

I'm not sure what I'll do with it now, since it's really not an obvious addition to my everyday wardrobe. Maybe donate it to the fall bazaar auction at church?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just A Few Floral Shots

To celebrate the fact that my camera is working properly again.

When I planted this garden I was trying for a look of floral profusion - masses of color mixed wildly together. These days, it looks like an experiment in chaos theory (but in a good way, I think).

The ants come marching one by one . . . . (I seem to have missed most of peony season during my travels. There is a huge drift of brown petals on the ground below the few remaining white blossoms.)

This was a technical experiment. I was able to tighten my focus to bring just the stamens in focus, leaving the petals slightly blurred. Don't know yet if it's aesthetically appealing, but it amuses me.

And On A Personal Note

This is turning into the summer of travel. Besides my lovely visit to Peninsula State Park with Lynn & Jeff, last week I enjoyed a 5 day trip to Michigan for some cousin time and the UCC General Synod in Grand Rapids. And I still have trips scheduled to visit the in-laws in Missouri this weekend, then Maine (in July) and California (in August) to check on my younger brothers and their families.

If you're not familiar with it (and you probably aren't, unless you happen to attend a UCC church yourself), the general synod is the every-other-year convention. I got to sing in the 150-voice choir, accompanied by a real orchestra. There are speakers, workshops, wonderful services with world-class music and liturgical dancers and all kinds of stuff, and a group of booths with an incredible variety of free premiums and items for purchase. Two years ago in Hartford, CT, I went deep on the cause buttons and pens. (My favorite was a rainbow theme that said "Straight But Not Narrow." It sparked some interesting discussions.) This time around, reusable shopping bags were all the rage and I think I came away with 6 or 7 of them. And I may have resisted the fair-trade chocolate, but the fair trade wool yarn in a gorgeous fuchsia color just had to come with me. Four skeins for less than $20, and it's wonderful, soft stuff. No idea what it will be made into, but I'm sure the yarn will tell me when the right project comes along.

My traveling buddy Deb was kind enough to dedicate extra time on the beginning and end of our synod trip so I could check in on the Michigan cousins. We spent Thursday evening at Camp Newaygo and I finally got to try out kayaking. Loved it! And even more, I loved spending time with some of my favorite people.

Austin was very proud of himself for paddling along in the two-person kayak with Bill, and was telling me jokes:
This girl was sitting in class and all the sudden she got
up and started dancing around and shaking her but and
stuff. The teacher asked her what was wrong, and she said,
"I have to get up and move! My but fell asleep!"
"It sure did," the kid behind her said. "I even heard it snore."

We also got to stop for a short time in Hastings to see Cousin Julie and her family. I was really starting to get nervous because my camera had suddenly stopped working on Saturday afternoon. Here I was with my pretty cousin and her beautiful, adorable kids, and my camera wouldn't work!! I figured out the malfunction after I got home, but I'm going to have to get back there for a make-up photo shoot. Those kids are growing up so fast! Patrick (who is going to kindergarten in the Fall) has a new calico kitten, and carries her around constantly. Lauren would melt anyone's heart with those big blue eyes and white-blond hair. And Baby Lauren blessed me with a dozen sweet little kisses. I promised Julie that I'd stay overnight next time.

Catching Up: Headband Pattern, Shawl Variations

Don't know if I told you all about a little incident I had over Memorial Day weekend which resulted in a very needful haircut? Well, my hair is now at that in-between length where I can't put it up but don't really like it down. Besides, with the heat wave we had last week, I needed to do something to get it off my neck. Here was one option I came up with:
Very Easy Dropstitch Headband

circular needle, size 7 or so
less than 1/2 a skein of your favorite yarn
(I used Peaches & Creme cotton - the stuff you use for dishcloths)

Cast on 3 stitches
Work I-cord for about 4 or 5 inches
Increase Row: knit 1, increase 1, knit to end.
Work increase row until you have 13 stitches.
Row 1: [knit 1, YO], repeat until last stitch, knit.
Row 2: [knit 1, drop YO], repeat until last stitch, knit.
Row 3: [knit 1, wrap yarn twice around needle], repeat until last stitch, knit.
Row 4: [knit 1, drop wrapped yarn], repeat until last stitch, knit.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 a total of 18 times.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 once.

Decrease Row: knit 1, knit 2 together, knit to end.
Work decrease row until you have 3 stitches left.
Work I-cord to match your other end.
Knit all 3 stitches together, bind off, and work loose ends up through the I cord.

I made this while sitting through a plenary session at the UCC General Synod in Grand Rapids, and wore it at another session the next day. I think I'll make them in a bunch of colors to get me through the summer!

Meanwhile, here are a few other things I've been working on:
Lynn's favorite colors to wear are purple and grey, and I offered her a shawl after she admired mine during the camping trip. I usually make them out of cotton, but (1) Lynn likes to keep warm, and (2) I had some perfectly gorgeous plum/fuscia/violet Turkish mohair sitting in my stash. (It was practically jumping up and down with it's hand up, yelling "Oo! Oo! Oo! Me!") I combined it with Red Heart Symphony in a smoky grey color and got to work. By the time I was near the end I was trying to figure out some jazzy edge lace or something, when Ann gave me the perfect idea. I love how the feather and fan lace gives it a little something extra while maintaining the visual weight of the rest of the shawl.

Well, I still had most of the final skein of mohair left after the shawl was done, so I decided to make some semi-matching wrist warmers. I guestimated the number of stitches, started off with a 12-stitch repeat version of the feather & fan lace - and ended up with something much too big. Surprise! I finished it off and am calling it a baby hat.

The second attempt seems to be about right. 30 stitches on size 8 double-pointed needles with a 6-stitch repeat of feather & fan. Work in a tube until it's about 7 inches long, then do 4 rows back and forth, then rejoin the circle for a final 4 rows. The back and forth section makes a hole which is about right for the thumb.

More to follow, but I'd better break my efforts up into multiple posts for ease of processing.