Monday, November 11, 2019

A Suggestion Taken.....

I have mentioned before about a knitting retreat, I help plan with 7 other women. It's held every April at The Fern Resort in Orillia ON. We start working on it in September and try to have the classes up on the website by the end of November.

Everyone else has a pretty clear idea of what they want to teach or should teach based on the comments from about 75 attendees. Well, everyone except me. I'm usually somewhere out in the ether and have a few ideas, none of which bear any relation to what people want, what their capabilities are, or what can be achieved in 2.5 hours. (Sigh)

Blocking with a little help from a friend

So, when the group ruled out small decorated granny squares that could be worn as pendants or brooches, I was stuck. Someone suggested that I teach a beginner lace class, but teach it using thicker yarn, rather than lace weight. OK, yes I could maybe find some DK yarn at the bottom of my lace stash and since I needed a small neck warmer anyway, I could work a swatch in a small lace motif, which could then be extended into a scarf, table runner,  ....... you know, something long and thin and decorative.

At first I resisted the idea of doing lace in thick yarn - pedestrian to the point of being Philistine!! However, I did understand the logic of a beginner actually seeing how to create the necessary stitches. Even with glasses lace weight can be a challenge to see how the stitches are actually worked. I knit a sample. In fact I knit a whole neck warmer, with 10 repeats of the lace motif. I then knit a small square of just one repeat, thinking that, if a student wasn't up for knitting the entire scarf, they could at least complete one motif and frame it!!



However, I couldn't leave well enough alone - never have, never will. I had to decorate, adorn and expand the entire project into what I like to think is something a little closer to "Art." Here is what I did.

1. I used duplicate stitch and outlined the strong stitch border of the leaf in gold DK yarn.
2. I then used lace weight yarn in mauve and followed a stitch line between the knit stitches inside the leaf,
3. I added a gold bead to every other stitch in the bottom spine of the leaf. I then added flowers or bushes with an embroidered Lazy Daisy stitch on each side of the leaf.
4. I added more beads both large - #6 and small #10 to balance out the motif.
5. I added sun (or wind) depending on how you interpret it to the top left corner.



6. I knotted a small piece of I-cord in lace weight mauve to the right corner to suggest a bird.
7. I added beads to both these motifs.
8. Finally I decided to close the bottom of the leaf with duplicate stitch. Now it's a tree.
9. I will sew it to a backing of wool felt. In fact maybe two backings - gold and mauve and frame it.

This would never have happened, if I hadn't been forced out of my comfort zone and made to work in DK yarn rather than lace weight.


Listen to what you don't want to hear. It may lead you into another space.  I am now working on a second piece in chunky yarn and have been toying with the idea of using some very large yarn. This would be the yarn used for large arm knitting - no needles, just making the stitches with your hands and arms. I see a mammoth wall hanging with funky beads and maybe some tassels worked in decorative cloth...hmmmm.

Have a creative day!!

Friday, November 01, 2019

Working Through The List.....

I have a list of "things to do." These are long term projects, such as, writing a novel, creating some Art, finishing a fair isle sweater that I started a long time ago, etc, etc. There are, of course, always more important things to do before doing the really important things - like, tending to a sick cat, dealing with water in the basement, real work, housework, flu shots, etc, etc.

Knitted Leaf Pendant

Well, I do have to pat myself on the back every once in a while, as I work through my list and actually get a few of the major projects done!! Here they are -

1. I have built and launched a new website for Infiknit - www.infiknit.ca. I am very pleased to have been able to book the ".ca" ending and to have worked out most of the bugs, that haunt wordpress, myself. I did pay for some valuable advice from a knitter and webmaster. It's important to know what to do, when you don't know everything :)

Irish Crochet Pendant - beaded

2. I am almost fluent in "instagram." That is I am posting regularly to the Yoso (Yarnover Sleepover) page on FB and to the Yoso group on FB, as well as to the Yoso Instagram page. Now to post more for Infiknit on Instagram and also Felted Fibre.


3. I have deferred my slow clothing projects to the Spring. Both outfits "need something" and I haven't found the right pieces yet.

Leaf Collage in progress

4. I have finally done some knitted Art and some knitted wearable Art. For sometime now I have wanted to "celebrate" needlework, by making collages with knitted and/or crocheted motifs. The pictures here are the beginning of what could be a long journey. The wearable Art are pendants with lace stitches, beaded and embroidered. The collage is more lace stitches embroidered with sparkly thread, found at the Dollar store. I'd also like to do a flower collage with lace motifs, knit in the round and embellished. The white flower pendant is actually some Irish crochet beaded and stitched - Oh the thrill of some cheap sparkly thread!!

Now where is that Fair isle sweater!!

Friday, October 04, 2019

Tone it down....

Our writing word for today is "tone." It might be one of the most understated words in the English language. Tone means everything, especially in language. The tone of a phrase, the tone of a meeting, something said one way, can mean the exact opposite said another way.

The tone of one's voice can turn people off, just as easily as it can turn people on. How many times have you left a speaker, because of a strident voice and how many times have we sought out a person, just to hear the rhythm and cadence of their voice. Evangelists, politicians, great speakers in general, win people to their way of thinking, not so much by what they say, but how they say it.

I'm reading a book now, Captain Corelli's Mandolin. I had trouble at first "getting into the book." It was a little dry. The setting - a greek island under Italian occupation during the second world war - was not actually what I had intended to read, but it was recommended. What hooked me on the book, though, was its tone. It is elevated. In fact, halfway through the novel, I have a list of 15 words that I have never even heard of (of which I have never heard). Here are some of them, with definitions -



opprobrium - harsh criticism or censure.
recondite - obscure
pellucid - easily understood
coruscating - brilliant or scathing
corybantic - wild, frenzied
caryatid - stone carving of a draped woman as a pillar or column

Many of the other words were related to trades or technical terms, but, since the book, uses a lot of metaphor - comparing a woman to a mandolin, for example - these would be appropriate. I have said before, I am a wordsmith. I love words either on their own or in combinations.

I can now say of the long suffering women I have met, "She was indeed caryatidic. Draped in a mantel of stony resistance, her face grey under the burden of duty, she continued to support the institution."

I'll leave - stygian - relating to the river Styx, for another day. I also love mythology!!

The picture? The best I could do for a caryatid.

Muse...

Our writing word for today is "muse." It's my offering and it came to mind because my creative muse has been hiding somewhere and I can seem to find her. I thought that maybe, if I wrote a post about a creative muse, she'd come out and prove me wrong. She's an antagonistic sort of muse - go figure!!

Art whether it be writing, drawing, needlework, photography....the list goes on...has been eluding me these days. I know I have too many irons in the fire. Well, I can't write my book because I need to find a particular reference book, which is $40.00 on Amazon (down from $60.00) and I'm still too cheap to pay that amount. I've tried ordering it from the library, but, since it isn't in their collection, I had to fill out 2 request forms to retrieve it from someone else's system. I still haven't heard. And I missed the sale at the Toronto Reference Library because I was recovering from my shingles shot. Something, there is, that doesn't like "creativity."

I haven't been drawing either. It takes me a long time to complete a pencil drawing and in my agitated state, I don't seem to be able to sit long enough to get anything started let alone finished. Also, I often think, when I'm about to pick up pad and pencil, that I should be doing something more important, such as, cleaning the bathroom :(



Don't even get me started on needlework. I have a fair isle sweater on the go. Two dresses to finish. Several other dresses to start and I should be doing lots of needle felting, as well as, creating some crocheted jewellery for a class - sigh! Maybe, if I emptied out my project box, I'd find my muse weeping at the bottom of it!!

Actually, I have been cleaning. It's what I do when I can't create. I re-did the emergency phone number list on the fridge and tidied up the fridge magnets. I cleaned out the odds and ends drawer and sorted my spice cupboard.  I even went as far as deciding to get a new address book. Who has an address book these days, anyway? Well I do. Yes, I could lose my phone and then I would lose contact with all the people who keep me tethered to this earth.

I am now on a quest for paper refills for a leather address book I bought 40 years ago from Grand and Toy. It was made in Holland and it probably doesn't exist anymore. I may have to make those refills myself. Usually when I start cleaning, I get very bored and find a diversion - read creative project. I guess, I'm on the right track. I also read a post from BrainPickings, that has inspired me. And last night I posted to Instagram with this picture of a tomato from the garden. Something there is that likes a red-hot snowman to keep the iceman at bay!!



Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Who Would Have Thought.....

Who would have thought that building a website could be that complicated? Well, certainly not me!! OK, I’ve had a website since 1996. In fact, I’ve had several websites over the years, when products were just listed for viewing and shopping carts weren’t a necessity. I actually built a few of these sites, myself, using basic HTML and other designers build a few more, to show them as examples of their work.
Thoughts on the complexity of life!
Things, as always, became more sophisticated (read complicated) and I needed a shopping cart. I found an inexpensive web designer who created a site, in something called, oscommerce. I loved it! Unfortunately this designer decided to go back home, sigh! I then went on-line to look for another designer – very scary. I found a woman with an Australian accent, who was born in Russia and lived in Brooklyn. What could possibly go wrong!!
Well, her initial quote was $2,000.00 to $3,000.00. The site ended up costing me $7,000.00 and I still had to load all the products back in, because – you guessed it – something went wrong. Sigh! Now, I have had this site for 11 years, so, in spite of some “quirks,” it has worked for the most part.
Enter Google. Google has decided to make the world, or a least the cyber world, a better place. It has demanded that all sites have a security certificate. I have always had a security certificate, but Google has decided it doesn’t like my oscommerce site for, what I am told is, “old code.” Time to build another site.
Fortunately I had been working on a WordPress site for sometime now and all I had to do was finish it. Sounds simple enough. “Simplicity, thy name is not code!” However, once mastered, code, as WordPress likes to say, can be poetry. In an earlier life, I taught English in High School. Poetry can come back to haunt you, as in a favourite line from e.e.cummings – “Pity this busy monster manunkind, not.”
And in case you wanted the entire poem – 
pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
--- electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
                          A world of made
is not a world of born --- pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if --- listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go

E. E. Cummings

Well, I’m not about to go next door, just yet. Here is our new site - infiknit.ca - and I plan to add e-patterns from Queen Anne’s Lace, downloadable stencils for needle felting and some other “stuff,” as it becomes available.
Have an awesome day!!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Stripes...

Our writing word for a while now has been "stripes." I don't know why it has taken me so long to get a post together. I think that even in gorgeous summer weather people struggle with priorities. What needs to be done, what one wants done, what one would like to be doing...the list goes on.

Actually, a good deal of my time has been spent propping up tomato plants in the garden, weeding and generally planning the garden for next year to minimize #gardenfails!! Yes, there is a twitter group (or maybe it's Instagram) where you can list your garden fails!! Roundup has come to mind a few times this season.



I think that I should list myself as an #instagramfail. I have not been able to find a "theme" for posting on Instagram that is both entertaining and promoting (my felting products.) It will come, I know, but it hasn't yet!!

I have spent too many evenings re-watching one whole series of Midsomer Murders. There's something to be said about "mild cognitive impairment." I didn't remember much from the first time I watched the series. Then, of course, there was the new series to watch and since I didn't manage to get out of Netficks fast enough, I watched the very first episode for the third time!!



Now, to list the positives!!
1. I did get two letters written to two very good friends in England, whom I lived with (with whom I lived) 50 years ago!!
2. I am 90% there with my dresses made from "Sally Ann" scarf finds. Now to make the last two dresses!!
3. 80% of my garden is weed free. I'm not sure that I'll get the other 20% done this year.
4. I have begun to think of the thorough cleaning of the house. (Please note that it's a "begun to think" and hasn't started yet.)
5. I have been working a bit more on Infiknit and sales have been maintaining themselves over last year.
6. Now that Midsomer Murders has been watched, I'm back to reading my book and adding to the list of books I want to read!!
7. Got my final Shingles shot and am finally better. I had a reaction with the first one and you guessed it, a reaction to the second one four months later.



Clearly, I'm measuring life in mini-steps these days. I'm not striding through with great swathes of great endeavours completed, partially worked on or even begun. Sigh!

Now where are the stripes?
Well, I sewed a lot of seams (stripes) and ironed out a lot of creases (stripes) with my dress adventure. I passed a significant birthday and have decided to accept wrinkles (stripes) at least for the moment, until I win the lottery and can get a facelift. I have been mentally planning to knit a cardigan in striped garter stitch from leftover yarn following a barcode design - lots of stripes.

The pictures? Some surreal pictures of stripes. Yes, the iceman cometh!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Card(s)...

Our writing word for today is "card." It's my suggestion, because last week was a week of "cards."

First my husband finally got a Presto card. Our local transit system, the TTC, is phasing out money and tokens in favour of electronic cards that you top-up on-line and then use to board trains and buses, Oh, yes, and streetcars. We are still one of the few cities in North America that has genuine electric powered streetcars!!



Secondly, I also, finally, got a library card. Well, over the years I have had one or two, but they were the old cardboard ones with no on-line access. My new card is electronic and lets me do self check-out and return of books. I also have an on-line account, which lets me order books that are not available at my library. When the books come in, I am sent an e-mail and given a week to pick them up!! This is so civilized!!


However, the system is not entirely flawless. I was notified a day or so after I had set up my account that a book I had ordered, "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist," was in. Well, it turns out it wasn't. Somehow, in my account was a request for a film on disc. I was so disappointed that it wasn't my book, that I didn't even take a look at the title of the film. Wait a minute, maybe I should have. Perhaps the cosmos was trying to tell me something? Now I will never know what it was.



Anyway, the librarian sorted it out, however, I'm still waiting for my book. I'm sure it will come in, eventually, because I have two other books in mind to order. One is old and maybe out of print - It's about $60.00 on Amazon and the other is very new and about $40.00 in Indigo.

The whole idea of using the library is not only to save money but also to stop stockpiling books!!

The pictures? I have used my library card. I have yet to use my presto card!!

Have an enriched day!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

I am committed...

Our writing word for today is "commit." It reminds me that I am committed to enhancing and enjoying whatever time I have left on this amazing planet. I work, for example, at keeping my mind active - I read, play the piano and write. I take on projects - I design and sew clothing, I keep a garden, and go on adventures with friends. I also keep physically active - I walk a lot and bike.



Sometimes, I think, I do too much. I reached a point the other day, when I realized that if I started a new sewing project, I wasn't working in the garden or out walking. Again, if I'm writing, I'm not reading or playing the piano. I think I might have reached an overload and the hot, humid weather wasn't helping. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I also run a small company!!



Time to slow down, be mindful and enjoy something simple! Enter the couscous salad!! I may have become addicted to couscous because it takes 5 minutes to make - boil water, add couscous, remove from heat, cover, wait 5 minutes and fluff!! In that 5 minutes, I went into the garden, snipped parsley, coriander, and mint, picked four small tomatoes and found a zucchini that was almost a foot long!! How did that happen!!



Yes, every once in a while, I have to remind myself that's it's not a race. I need to slow down and enjoy the process and/or the products. The salad was delicious. I have written 3 blog posts in two days. Started work on another piano piece - The Rose of Tralee and I am about to look up the meaning of two words I found in my latest novel - Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Here they are -

Plangent - loud, reverberating, melancholy.

Vertiginous - causing vertigo.

Now what can I commit to today!!

The pictures? Some of my commitments.

Have a dedicated day!!

Fantasy...

Our writing word for today is "fantasy." I often say that I never read fantasy fiction. I will never read Lord of the Rings, for example, and I have never watched Game of Thrones or Outlander. For years, I never even read regular fiction. I only wanted to read true stories.



Somewhere along the road, however, I decided that I wanted to write a novel - now this may be the ultimate fantasy! I followed writers on Facebook and I joined an on-line "indie" publishing group. What I understood from all of this is that, if I wanted to write, I had to read what others had written. I had to learn the writing process by example.



Also, somewhere long the line, I came across a list of the 100 best books to read. Well, actually there are several lists. I decided to blend them together on an excel spreadsheet and keep track of the ones I had read. Yes, is was partly a contest and partly chagrin - most of my friends had read almost all the the 100 books. I was somewhere around 25.



I am now up to approximately 50 novels, having read an extra 15 or so books that are not on any list. I can honestly say that my life has been enriched by fiction. For me reading is partly about the story, partly about the characters, but mostly about how the author uses language. I am a "wordsmith." I love how people use words, how they construct sentences, and how they create imagery.

You see, for all those years I wasn't reading novels, I was reading poetry. Poems are pure fantasy!!

The pictures? Just a bit of fantasy in photographs.

Have a fantastic day!