Friday, January 31, 2020

I have seen the light....

......I am constantly affected by the quality of light. Sunlight, to quote John Denver, always makes me high. I find dimly lit rooms depressing, harsh lights, irritating and neon of any description, unless it's Hollywood, soul destroying.  On the other hand, lovely windows, filled with light have a certain ethereal quality. They restore the spirit, soften the mind and redeem the soul.



Our writing word for today is "opaque" - not able to been seen through. To me opaque also means the absence of light. If you can't see through something, but it allows light in, than it is translucent. I often don't mind, if I can't see out of a window, as long as it admits light. I don't need a transparent world, but I do need a translucent one.



I should then dislike the word, opaque. Ironically, I don't. It rhymes with "cake." What's not to love. Seriously, though, it's not so much the meaning of the word, that I like, it's the arrangement of the letters. Can I really say that I like words that start with an "o" or that have a "qu", without seeming too "queer." :)



As a wordsmith, I think I can like a word for its meaning, as well as, its arrangement of letters. Onomatopoeia, for example, is a favourite, as is pique. I could go on, but only another wordsmith would understand my obsession.

Let's just say that words bring us from the darkness into the light. They can pierce the opaque, explain the obtuse and generally, delight, as well as, enlighten the mind.

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen.

The pictures? Studies in light.

Have a brilliant day!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

In your beginning is your end....

I love oxymorons - phrases that seem to be contradictions, such as "less is more" or "more is less." Our writing word for today is "birthday." I immediately thought of the title of this post. With all the joy of coming into this world, there is the sad fact that you will leave it at some point.

On the positive side, however, by being born you get to explore the following:

1. You have inherited a sun sign. It might not be a great road map, but it could give you some clues, as to directions that might be taken, at critical points, along the way. Yogi Berra, for example, had a great sense of direction, he often said,  "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." or "Nobody goes there any more, it's too crowded." These are also borderline oxymorons - yes, life is a conundrum.



2. You have been given body parts that determine whether you are male or female. Your own idea of whether you consider yourself male, female, either or neither is up to you. At your birth, however, you were assigned a biological identity. This is not a social identity. The latter, will come later, once you're socialized :)

3. You have been given a culture, possibly a religion, and most certainly a nationality. Some of these you will change as you journey along. For example, I consider myself an Irish Italian with German roots. Raised by German grandparents, I ate rye bread and black pudding sandwiches, to the embarrassment of my Irish grandmother, who reminded all of us - there were 19 cousins - on a regular basis that were we Irish and could, therefore, fight with the best of them. How I came to love pasta is a mystery.



4. With your culture and nationality you will learn a language, possibly several languages. You may, in fact, go on to learn many more. You may, even, invent your own language or choose not to use language at all. Personally, I lean toward the invented language. I use the word spreckles from time to time. It's a cross between sparkles and freckles, as in, "The sunlight speckled the water."



5. Finally, for this post anyway, you will develop certain dominant characteristics. You will be either outgoing or retiring, emotional or cerebral, factual or intuitive, structured or flexible. These are the Myer-Briggs personality types. I am actually retiring, cerebral, intuitive and flexible. That is, I never like to make plans too far ahead. I hate being bound by commitments, especially on a day when I just want to explore something unplanned and intuitive, always alone - people are distracting....oh, and did I mention I have trouble with empathy, unless you're a cat, of course, you're on your own :)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Conundrum....

I'm back to coupled writing! After a break for the holidays, my writing partner and I have again begun giving each other words for posts. My word is "conundrum," taken from the latest book by Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers - more on the book later.

I love conundrum. It sounds like the bumbling fools we are, when we're trying to work out the answer to a problem. In fact, I was faced with a number of conundra (It also has Latin roots - what's not to love.) over the last few weeks. I have been re-knitting some of my patterns for shawls and scarves in DK weight yarn, which is a little heavier than the fine lace weight I originally used.

Well, all knitting is different and the same knitting worked, say ten years apart and in different yarn is still very different. Here were some of my problems.



1. Ten years ago I had knit Blossom using a rayon yarn and a small lace flower stitch, called Quatrefoil.  I used the stitch as shown in a stitch dictionary and knit it like this. (A)

                                                                                             0 /
                                                                                        \ 0     0 /
                                                                                              0 /

Well, while knitting a scarf, headband and matching mittlets (fingerless mittens) ten years later, I realized that the stitch could also be worked as follows: (B)

                                                                                             \ 0
                                                                                        \ 0      0 /
                                                                                             \ 0

or like this. (C)

                                                                                            \ 0
                                                                                        \ 0     0 /
                                                                                              0 /

Now which one to use, was the conundrum.

Actually both A & B worked well for the scarf because one side of the scarf could be worked as A and the other side of the scarf could be worked as B. This would keep the "0"s aligned, when the stitches shift for the second half of the scarf - some people who knit actually have PHDs in math, engineering and/or political science. I've never trusted the poly-sci ones, though :)



I used C for the headband and mittlets because they needed to be balanced, unlike myself ;) So you have it!! Conundrum for a lace motif, solved.

Have a problem free day!!

PS I have finished 3 other lace sets, each with its own special conundra. More on them later.


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!!