Saturday, December 29, 2007

Comfort and Joy

The Christmas miracle of a husband who doesn't have to work the week between Xmas and New Year's allowed me to get at my drum carder yesterday for four hours - yes - four hours! It was like painting with fleece. I love you, drum carder! And after that, I even spun up some of the completely irresistable rovings, including my first foray into silk blends--is that red, or is that red? (Because of some issues in learning to dye silk (ahem), I could only add about 25% silk to the wool, but it was still lovely to spin.)

Then, I was interrupted in my spinning by supper and, all through the meal, I was looking over at my wheel and wishing I was back there. Even eating becomes a chore with the spinning wheel out. Don't even start on dishes, sweeping up, etc. But all was done and, hooray!, back to the wheel until my eyes were blurry. The best part of spinning into the late of night is that it tends to make all my dreams be about fleece and yarn.

Comfort and joy, comfort and joy!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Still 2007!

It is still 2007 and I have already crossed one goal off my 2008 list! How's that for not procrastinating?

For sometime I have been wanting to update the look of my etsy shop and add a bunch of new hats I knit in between all the holiday knitting. Lo and behold, it's done!

Check it out!

Of course having a deadline for being featured on a blog called etsy treasures also helped out a little in the motivation department. I think my shop will be featured in the last week of January. Now to spin all that yarn on the list....

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Winter Solstice!

little tree

by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

Little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Have I Been Knitting?

Yes I have!

The proof:

This is a one-piece suit and matching hat for a one-year old. This project was a kind of commission. The woman who I sit next to for three hours every Friday evening while Lucy takes Irish dance has a new grand daughter, and after about four years of watching me knit, she finally asked me to make something. I feel strange about asking her to pay for it since, in those four years, she has told me all about her personal finances, which are tight. I dunno....I think I will just give it to her. Plus, it is awfully cute!

This is the only pattern that isn't my own invention. It came from Debby Bliss' Colorful Knits for Kids, although I made numerous changes to it--replaced a zipper with buttons, used different yarn and increased the sizing (for some reason the pattern only went up to 6 mos. so I had to extrapolate upwards to make it more a 12-18 mos. size).

This is a hat and scarf set made from merino I spun thick and thin (confession: done in the days when all my yarn was thick and thin!). I think it came out pretty nicely. This is destined for Wee Ball Yarns once I get my hat display in the mail. I purchased a set of three different sized wire hat displays because I began to believe that some people do not want to purchase a hat they see photographed on someone else's head. Here, Lucy displays all the hats, but don't tell anyone!

These are some wrist warmers made as a gift from Koigu. I couldn't resist the wild colours! They were quick and fun to knit up.

Another Wee Ball Yarns hat with those trendy ear flaps!

Experimenting with a more slouchy style...

And finally, a crocheted hat with more trendy ear flaps. To me it looks somewhat Aztec-ish but Dan suggested it looked like Gerald Ford's football helmet. For people with long memories perhaps?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Git Them Swiles

For the past couple of weeks, I have been in conversation with a graduate student at Columbia's School of Journalism who has made her thesis project on the subject of unschooling. For the unschooled, unschooling is a style of educating that is based on the notion that people have an innate drive to learn about the world and do not require experts, institutions or a state-mandated curriculum to do so. For a parent embarking on this adventure with their children, it means taking a gigantic leap of faith, esp. when said children are often found sitting around on the couch all day reading yu-gi-oh comics interspersed with some sitting on the floor reading Tintin comics. It has been a good experience talking with this grad student because she has really challenged me to assess why we are doing what we are doing.

We have embraced this philosophy for a variety of reasons, including the early experience of observing our infant children learn to walk, talk, read, etc., by watching and copying us and each other. I mean, if it worked for those things, couldn't it work for other, less important, less complicated things, like algebra? The experience to date has been very interesting. There are many times when I despair that the whole thing is a flop and I will have two illiterate know-nothings who will blame me for their wasted childhoods. Sometimes there are weeks like that. Months? Well, maybe a month. But then something happens and the light shines brightly again, I learn (again) that when someone figures something out on their own: on their own schedule, under their own motivation, it is the most powerful experience a person can have. The weeks of doubt melt away when these two people do things so amazing and wonderful and creative (and normal and ordinary), that I know we are on the right track.

Last week, the grad student stayed and hung out at our house for a typical, low-key day (rare though they may be!). She stayed at our house for six hours and we had fun, talking and playing. Lucy taught her to spin at one point. Right near the end, when I was feeling pretty good that we were a nice example of how unschooling works, she asked Lucy why her favourite doll had no fingers. The truth is that Lucy bit them off at some point. But Lucy just looked at her. So she asked again, "Did she have an accident?" Lucy nodded yes.

"How did that happen?"

Lucy's answer, "Sealing."

" What? Sealing? You mean hunting seals??"

"Yes, she had a sealing accident."

'nough said.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wee Ball on Ice

Shawn sent me this photo of my beloved island at the mouth of the Humber Arm in the Bay of Islands. She took the photo just yesterday while she was at her cabin on the south shore.

Oh how I wish I was there! It has been cold and snowy and I'll bet the cross country skiing (or as someone in Corner Brook once called it - uphill skiing) has been great. As much as I love Gillams in the summer, it was our wonderful winter there in 2004-05 that cemented my commitment to the place. I never tired of the snow and ice and cold. Ok, shoveling three feet on March 31st started to make me wonder when it might end, but really, I loved every moment.

Newfoundland, I miss you!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

When Buy Local isn' Quite Local Enough

We have been having a series of 12-hour non-stop, rush-rush days since I don't know when. Out the door in the morning and back in well after dark. It is all fun, fun, fun so there's nothing to complain about but, man, am I tired. And now Finn is sick and I have the shivers myself and a scratchy thoat and it is raining ice at the moment and I have to pick up the first winter share of the CSA tonight. Dan is off to a slew of holiday, must-go-for business parties so I, meaning "me," have to, have to, have to drag my tired, achy body the twelve blocks to pick up this box of root vegetables with my name on it. I keep waiting to be visited with an inspiration as to how I will not have to do this but the inspiration isn't coming.

Oh yea magical CSA gods, deliver my box of root vegetables unto me...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Mountain Comes to...

This morning we sat down to make our annual holiday list--who is giving what to whom--and to figure out where we will put a Christmas tree. Dan had the nerve to suggest that my "pile" nay, the word used was, in fact, "mountain" of yarn, fibre, and related items might need to be moved in order to make room for a tree. I responded that, with a little rearranging so that the greener items were near the surface, we would not need a tree but could just decorate the "mountain."

Mountain indeed! In Newfoundland, it would be considered nothing more than a nob.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Double Cancer

In light of recent events, I shouldn't even make jokes like the one above, but I am feeling almost giddy with new self-knowledge. I decided to have my birth chart done by an astrologer and it was actually an amazing experience. I approached it somewhat skeptically but openly. Born in July, I knew I was "a Cancer" and I knew that I really fit the bill whenever I read anything about what that might mean (eg. loves home life ---ummm, House Museum anyone?---loves to bake, can be very sensitive and retreat into their shell, etc.) But this went way beyond that. I found out that I am "a Cancer" and I have "Cancer rising" so yeah, that's a lot of those characteristics swimming around. My moon is Leo, which balances some of the Cancer and perhaps explains my, ahem, somewhat single-minded forcefulness in appraoching certain things I want done. Anyway, the accuracy of what I heard was eery, and actually kind of helpful in a way. But my favourite moment was when she said, "Oh you have Jupiter sitting in your twelfth house--you are going to live a long, long life." Thank you, my dear.

I am getting the rest of the family's charts done too. Have I totally gone off the deep end? I'll let you know.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Man Hat and other gifts

Just added a new hat to Wee Ball Yarns. Note the grey colour...perfect for the man in your life! It is an alpaca/icelandic wool blend that was spun to a 2-ply DK weight, plying one strand of black alpaca with the icelandic, which has some flecks of very subtle colour. I kept thinking of it as my "man hat" as I knit it up.

Here is a shot of some of our dyeing we did last week, more subtle shades, although in the back of the rack where you can't see it is some firetruck red. I tried dyeing some tussah silk I bought at Rhinebeck just to see how it would work....not perfect but I learned a lot. I can't wait to start blending it up on the carder. That is the treat I have set for myself after I get all the holiday knitting done.

And remember The Dress? A project created by Mariana Frochtengarten, who is an artist living in Halifax and completing her MFA in textiles at NSCAD. She has made five dresses and she is inviting artists from around the world to work on them, each one having a theme and each one having five artists, including Mariana, working on it. The dress I selected is called "The Gift". Given recent events, I was even more happy about choosing that particular theme. Here are a couple of pictures of my response;

An experiment on using crochet to write words, not in my usual filet crochet style. I chained the letters then went back in worked single crochet over the chain. Here I am starching the final piece in the hope it will be legible. Can you read it?

Here is my contribution...the words "Breathe In" and eight small mirrors hung from the hemline. I was the fourth artist to work on this dress. Now Mariana will take it with her to her native Brazil for the last contribution. I am looking forward to seeing her project when it is all assembled into some kind of presentation.