Reading has been more inspired than the handwork this week....I finished Flight Behavior (Barbara Kingsolver) and loved it. The story is about both Dellarobbia's flight from her mistake of a marriage and the plight of the monarch butterflies. I love Kingsolver's work. I wasn't disappointed.
I downloaded Sweet Tooth (Ian McEwan--Atonement) and am only about a half hour into it, but I'm hooked. The year---1972---recent Cambridge grad Serene Frome finds herself within MI5 as an agent infiltrating the literary circle of Tom Haley.
And reading.....a totally different kind of book---Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. What a clever little read! The story unfolds through letters among Ella and others who live on the fictitious island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina---named for Nevin Nollop, author of the pangram: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. As letters rot and fall off the Nevin memorial statue, the island leaders deem them letters that Nevin Nollop wants stricken from use. And they do....in the book. So far, we've lost z, q, j, and d. The first 3 didn't cause too much trouble---but the loss of the d is pretty funny. I'm liking this one a lot!!!
Knitting......still sort of looking for the lost mojo. I finished a sock (it does look sort of Christmas-y, doesn't it?), and have half-heartedly knit on some shawls, and dragged out the embroidery.
Joining ginny for yarnalong and tami for WIP Wednesday---and hoping for inspiration!!!
Remember this? It's a dropcloth sampler that I got last spring at Squam. It was a lot of fun stitching....but what do you do with it when it's done? I stuck it in a drawer.
Then it got stuck on a bulletin board for awhile.
It just needed a better finish than that.
I dragged out the sewing machine. I don't sew. Well, I don't sew well. When I knit, I usually have a plan, a pattern, the right 'tools', what I hope will be the perfect yarn for the project....and (while it might be fleeting...) a LOVE for what I'm making at that particular moment.
When I sew, on the other hand....there is no plan, no pattern, a cupboard full of etc. fabric for who knows what project (I do like to collect fabric which I know is totally nuts for someone who doesn't know what to do with it!).
The sampler has lots of colors, so I grabbed some colorful cotton. It needed some body, so I decided to stitch it on to another piece of fabric.
so far so good.
It's about the right size for a (nother!!!) project bag---and that wouldn't be so awful. So I started ripping strips of fabric to frame the piece, and before I knew it---it was too wide. HMMMM. I think I have an old (rather nasty) knitted pillow that had an antique feather pillow in it. rummage rummage rummage Found it! Oh, yeah. It got stuck away because it had sprung a leak and the feathers were sort of everywhere. I just jammed the whole thing (slightly repaired) in an old pillow case...sewed it shut....and it's the perfect size for the pieced 'thing' I'm making, that is now a PILLOW! Only, I've ripped the fabric up so much that now I have to piece the back as well.
The front and back sort of matched up size-wise.....close enough. (I sew the way #1 daughter knits!) and
once in a blue moon (actually, not even that often!).....I get lucky.
Seven days...one week...and my Christmas knitting is done (I think. I hope.) This has never happened before. I've made my list---and checked it twice and three times and then again....and I really think I might be done. Instead of being giddy happy, I'm actually rather worried my list wasn't complete and that I'll still have that panicky dash to the Christmas eve finish line...but until I figure out what I forgot to do, I've been enjoying a little.......
:: crocheting bitty stars
:: reading my British Country Living that actually came this year before the holidays were over!
:: and knitting from deep in the UFO pile (maybe THIS will be the year to finish all those half-done, almost finished, and barely started things....after all, 'tis the season for miracles!)
::It was a rather ADD weekend.....maybe brought on a bit by the fact that I started it off with filling the cookie jar, and then proceeded to eat half a batch of cookies. (that is only a slight exaggeration, although if you count all the cookie dough I also ate....maybe not) I couldn't even decide which lens to put on my camera.....long? short? macro? 35 prime? on-off-on-off-on-off all weekend.....
::I thought this was very very cute, but you can see, I got one little stocking knit (from Little Cotton Rabbits) and couldn't face knitting 22 more (I found another bitty stocking I knit at another time when I thought this was a project I wanted to do.....maybe sometime mid-century I might actually have this advent calendar project done.)
::I was talking to a friend who asked about a simple fair isle pattern. Bitty sock was easy, but sort of fiddly on dps; the perfect quick fair isle knit (and a great holiday gift) is the snowflake headband---I hadn't even thought about that pattern in eons; think I'll cast on for one, too... I was sure I had some angora some place--the angora makes the snowflake really stand out!! but after tearing the stash apart and making a huge mess, I sort of remembered using it in something baby-ish a while back.....bummer. Alpaca works well, too, and; two partial skeins later--gone from the stash! That was a win-win. Well, that was fun. I almost didn't seam it up the back because I was totall out of the headband mood by then. But I did. (I felt rather grownup--showing such will power.)
::Dolly's nightie just needed some velcro closing. She was so happy to finally have it done, I think she wiggled a bit and blurred the photo shot.
::We moved up our doggie walks to noon and Freddy was pleased (although he is certainly a creature of habit and still runs to the front door as soon as the last dinner dishes get put in the dishwasher---in spite of the fact that it's pitch black outside by then--one of those 'hope springs eternal' things).
::I love the past-peak colors of autumn the best (photo taken from the car window--I was multitasking)....especially when the low afternoon light turns the browns and reds to gemlike hues. I couldn't resist stitching this little piece I found here. (the 20 ct R & R Reproduction fabric was easy to see....stitched with #400 DMC) I have no idea what it will turn in to. Any suggestions?
::We rounded out the rest of the weekend with a basketball game, a quick run through some shops to see what we missed last weekend when they all had their open houses, a fund-raiser wreath auction/dinner (I got outbid on the two I liked), AND..........
a full day of rain left us two gloriously cool, crisp, wooly-wearing days
:: Freddy took me for walks
:: we (Fred and I) cleaned out the raised garden beds (sort of)....I pulled out the tangled mess, and he frantically ate all the remaining currant tomatoes he could reach---until he made himself sick---and then gobbled some more. I really think he knew this was the end of his always-at-hand outdoor snack
:: we sadly watched the old maple tree in the backyard come down. It has been dead for years (I think it met its final demise during the '09 ice storm) , but it was covered with mistletoe (which I'm sure ALSO contributed to the slow death) and some creepy vine, so it never "looked" as dead as it was. What used to be a cozy shadey space is officially a sunny garden (this makes a total of 5 BIG canopy trees that are no more since that storm) and very little remains that will tolerate the sun and heat of our summers. Next year we'll have to rethink and replant and remove. (good bye hostas!) Yes, sad. There is now an unobstructed view from the kitchen window to the little guest house....hmmm. The plantings around it could stand some spiffing, too, and what's all that @)(#$& @@!! in the window of the shed that's now staring me in the face?? I'm exhausted just thinking about spring.
:: some holiday knitting was finished....the Bling's American Girl doll got some woolie pants to go with her sweater and socks;
do these pants make her look hips look big??? (I love this girl---she doesn't care; she's so comfortable in her skin.)
:: another garter stitch cowl is off the needles; I spent about 25 minutes crocheting the edge around a little baby bonnet that has been waiting for this finishing for over a year (why do I DO that???)
:: the winter woodland sampler is finished.... (not very professionally framed)---seasonly just in time, as we pull out the wooly lined boots and mitts, watch the crows on our doggy walks, collect buckeyes, light a fire in the fireplace, put the kettle on, and anxiously await the first snowflake. Parts look as if I stitched it with my eyes closed (I keep telling myself it's simply the uneveness of the linen, but I think 'myself' knows better). I love it anyway. A timely tribute to the coming season.
I had so much fun with the embroidery last week, that....
I pulled out and started the third (and final) piece I bought at Squam.
Third is the charm...I did a little blog surfing, and found someone suggested basting your piece onto a wonderful piece of fabric and stitching through all layers. I got this old feed sack at Canton last year and just love it. It gives the work a bit more stability. I don't know what this will be when finished....maybe just pretty.
But, no---couldn't stop with just the pieces in the stash. I had to join the hundreds (thousands???) of others who are stitching Alicia Paulson's woodland sampler. I used to cross stitch a LOT (as in--I stitched store samples for a large company; designed for an artist co-op); but that was all many years ago, and most definitely pre-trifocal days, so I honestly wasn't sure if I could see well enough to do this. You know the beauty of that?.....I can't see well enough to know if I'm doing it well or not! I'm having a wonderful time, and it looks just fine to me!
So far, the only problem I'm finding with my new-found love is I can't read and stitch at the same time (although I'm still listening to Under Wildwood, and it's still entertaining me well).
So, that brings me to my reading book. The Book of Air and Shadows (by Michael Gruber) is getting really REALLY good. (If you love stories about books, rare manuscripts, and cryptography--this one is for you.) Had to cast on something simple, so that something is another garter stitch cowl, this time using some superwash bouton d'or baby yarn from the stash.
It's a win-win-win-win--reading, knitting, stash busting, and holiday gift making! Isn't multi-tasking great?
joining ginny for yarnalong and tami for WIP wednesday
Am I cheating? The current love-of-my-life (project-wise) is embroidery. A few months ago I pre-ordered The Gentle Art of Stitching by Jane Brocket (author of the Gentle Art of Domesticity ), and had totally forgotten about it. Surprise! It arrived in the mail last week. It contains 40 projects---from Japanese sashiko for furoshiki (Japanese art of fabric gift wrapping), to kantha quilts, to suffolk puffs, to traditional embroidery--all lovely, all inspirational. It's beautifully styled. There are several techniques I'd love to try.....but I grabbed the work-in-progress from the spring Squam market and am (for now) loving the change of pace from wool and needles. (I'm obviously having a seasonal problem---the temperatures have left the 90s finally and cooled-- and I'm leaving--I'm sure just temporarily!!!--my knitting. This makes NO sense to me, either.)
Before putting those needles down, though, I did finish Rikke, knit in some old Jo Sharpe merino dk that has been languishing in the stash since XRX did Camp Mo in Texas...a long, l-o-n-g time ago.
It looks rather plain and somewhat uninspiring....
Isn't this house incredibly cute??? A couple springs ago (in Costa Rica) a German tour bus ahead of ours got mired down in some mud. We got stopped in front of this little house. For hours.
Doesn't look like a big deal, but it was. We were there so long that we got friendly with some of the local kids....
and their pet rhinocerous beetle...
but, I digress.....
For some reason, this little embroidered house reminded me of the above house....so I stitched it pink....
then roughly sewed it onto a pre-made pouch...
It's now my knitting accessory pouch. Want to see inside?
I've carried the same "stuff" in my knitting pouches for years (adding/subtracting only a very few items occasionally). This stuff works well for me.
:: assorted stitch markers (which just this morning got combined into a new screw lid small container--thanks Judy!!!; the other one sometimes popped open and I had 52-pickup going on at the bottom of the pouch. problem solved.)
:: scissors (these are the steek scissors from knit-picks and are my favorite sharp, pointy ones)
:: tape measure (hidden from grandsons who have ruined at least a dozen over the years; I can't blame them---tape measures are immeasureably I know, bad pun fun; I've ruined a few myself)
:: the fish is a needle holder
:: point protectors get used more often to turn dps into very short needles than to actually protect points; the black thing that looks sort of like earplugs is the go-to dp point protector (Freddy chewed up my purple one. I'm still sort of sad about that.)
:: stitch holders held together with a safety pin (never know when you need that safety pin and for some reason I never seem to be able to find one around the house)
:: a couple crochet hooks
:: one special crochet hook with a knitting needle point on the other end (thanks Miss V!!! I LOVE this new toy!!!)
:: a cable needle (just because. I cable without a cable needle unless it's one of those 3-step crosses, but how often do those come along???)
:: lip gloss, hand lotion, and nail file
:: sticky arrows
:: a pretty (blue) sort of swiss army knife thingy that I don't really use much, but it was given to me by a dear dear departed friend who I miss terribly; I think of her every time I see it (which is daily)
:: puppy cutter and needle sizer are attached to the zipper
:: a couple of graph index cards (and pen which I noticed must still be in the bottom of the bag; it didn't make the picture, but it's there!)
:: a packet of deep woods OFF (for knitting outside, of course!)
Have I forgotten anything? What's in your knitting pouch????
AND......If you happen to see my knitting mojo around, would you send it home???? I'm off to do some more embroidery!
I'm starting to make piles for our departure to the beach on Friday....I always start with my knitting/projects/books, so yarnalong came around at the perfect time of the week. Since I'm making myself not look too too closely at the books (s-a-v-i-n-g them!!!!!), I don't have much to report other than the titles and cover blurbs. Butterfly Cabinet by BernieMcGill : "when former nanny Maddie McGlade receives a letter from the last of her charges, she realizes the time has come to unburden herself of a secret she has kept for more than seventy years..." This is based on actual events that took place in northern Ireland in 1892. I'm hooked. The other book, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is the true story of how Kamila Sidiqi's life changed after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, and she became the sole means of support for her 5 siblings.
The summer 2012 Jane Austen knits is coming along, too---lovely shawls, socks, a sweater, a couple hats that look great; I just might have to spend a bit of time with this one so I get the right amount of yarn thrown in the pile.
On the needles now: Sprinkle, the baby sweater in Juju's Loops.
(and in the rest of the pile there is ... a 1/2 finished Russian punch project, yarn for a shawl, my new embroidery samplers, two counted x-stitch kits, the sewing machine and fabric. If the tropical storms hit and we're housebound for the week....then stranded for an additional month or two, I should be all set.)
Joining Ginny for yarnalong and Tami for WIP Wednesday. Come along?