Sunday, April 17, 2011

The bloomin' thing

I have had one thought and one thought only that colors every single thing that I see and do lately. I think about it day and night and the only reason I haven't dreamt about it is because I'm pretty sure I'm not getting enough sleep to actually dream.


I made an attempt at studying for the oral comps by going over the questions from the written exam and I got through a significant chunk before the avoidance began. There's nothing like an impending huge test of knowledge to spur on new projects and encourage me to work on the WIPs.

This is the second pink star hanky I've done in a row. It's not so much that I like pink or stars, but rather that I happen to have a lot of pink thread. I don't particularly care for it, so I tend to work with all the colors that aren't pink, thus leaving great amounts of the stuff in my collection of thread. I'm hoping to remedy the situation by using up what I have so that I can populate my collection of threads with colors that are useful and make me happy.

Here is an example of some of my older work that I came across at Kade's house. The threads are pulled too tight, the edging is machine done, and the design is too close to the edge, but even with its flaws, it's not a bad example of embroidery. I'm just better at it now than I was then. I gave this to Kade's sister years ago and it was found amongst her things only recently.

I hope that those of you out in the world who have some of my embroidery use it. Otherwise, what's the point of having it? This one didn't look like it had been used much, which is a little bit of a disappointment, but I'm glad to have it again.

I've made good progress on the Medieval Pouch as well and am approaching cast-off. I made some errors in the number of stitches to cast on and I'm going to have to block the daylights out of it, but I think it will be a fine thank-you to the lovely lady that passed on the llama. I'll have to line it, but that's no big deal.

You can see where I added spots to the cats and made them leopards. They are far more fearsome that way and reduce the long-ass floats somewhat. 

I even made progress on the Circle socks. I'm still on sock #1, but I'm nearly done with the gusset and the rest of the sock is plain, so it should go pretty quickly from here on.

The savvy among you will recognize these bricks. I stole your sock picture setting, Kade. I hope you don't mind.

(She doesn't mind. She likes it.)

I must bestow upon her many thanks, not only for the use of her front stoop, but for this weekend's whiskey therapy, for the strawberries and cookies she brought me from the farmer's market, and for going shopping with me. What would I do without you?

And now I must abed, but before I go, I shall leave you with one last gratuitous Iris picture. No pics of the girl this week. She's taking standardized tests this week and I know she's going to do great, but I'm wishing her good luck anyway.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Everything old is new again.

Spring is here! I know I've said this already, but I get stupid-excited about spring. Irises courtesy of my BFF, Jill's garden. The rest were flowers from the grocery store. I like to get the discounted ones that are a little old by floral shop standards, but still nice. I kinda feel bad for them and want them to be loved and enjoyed. Otherwise, it's the dumpster for them, and I can't be havin' that.

We've entered the part of the year wherein it is not yet hot enough for A/C, but just warm enough for iced tea. My Polish friend, Anna, would call this the dead of summer, but my people call this "spring." It's a bit warmer than usual, but the rain has been doing what it is meant to be doing in this part of the country-- "April Showers" and all that. I neglected to take a picture of the lettuces this week, but be assured that they're bigger than they were last week. I even considered taking a couple leaves off, but decided that this was but the product of impatience.

Strawberries have begun to appear at the Farmer's Market and I've had some plain and some cut up with a little goat's milk on top and some on top of vanilla ice cream. If I can manage it, I'm getting two quarts next week. One will be for eating and one will be for freezing. So many thanks to my dear K, who sacrificed her sleep to arrive at the Market before a reasonable hour in order to purchase and deliver said strawberries. I'd have taken a picture of them, but I was lucky to get them home and now they're almost gone. There's a bowl of Cheerios with their name on it tomorrow.

Instead, here is a picture of mints.

Where does the old mint go when the new mint grows in the garden? Answer: It becomes tea, is what.

I forgot to incorporate the last of the mint that was drying in the pantry into the tea last week, but perhaps I will do something with it come Thargelia. It would make a nice offering to Apollo, I think. Below is the new mint, slightly wilted but still fresh. The catnip didn't make it, but it will be easy enough to re-plant.

I've also had a wicked case of Short Attention Span Startitis. I haven't been knitting much on the things already on the needles and I don't think my brain has returned from vacation yet. I'm not allowed to knit lace 'til it comes back, so the shawl is taking a nap. I did manage, however, to get some of the llama spun and plied.

This is to be the Medieval Pouch (Ravelry link), but I put in a brick pattern where the ladder pattern was. This is pretty much all I did today besides make biscuits with Bubby. I straightened in my bedroom, too, and at the rate I'm going, I might even vacuum in there one of these days. It's astonishingly clean in there. My shoes are even lined up neatly in my closet. GASP! What is the world coming to? Not only this, but spending a paltry twenty minutes cleaning up in my office means that there's not a teetering stack of filing on the desk and the ironing board is actually put away.

This is not astonishing, really, except that I hardly ever put it away because I use it (see above).

These skirts are two of the Matryoshka series of gored skirts. Using little more than maths based on body measurements, I've decided to make these skirts in order to learn how to do it well. I started with Barbie and moved up to Rebecca because the smallness of the garment, especially at Barbie-size, amplifies any potential problems that may arise. Iris is next in line and then I'll make one for myself so that by the time I get to mine, I'll have ironed out most of the challenges (pun intended). I'm pleased with how both of these turned out. Barbie's kind of sticks out a little bit because the weight of the fabric is not sufficient to allow it to drape at all, but the shape is nice. Rebecca's is perfect except for the fact that I failed to allow a little more ease for the doll stand, which is not going to be a problem with actual people, so I consider it a success.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Rewards for Diligence

Yesterday, I went to pick Iris up from her Chinese lesson and the director of the Confucius Institute at MTSU gave her this as a "reward for diligence" because she worked so hard and is learning so fast and this got me to thinking about this concept in general. There are many rewards for diligence if you are willing to, well, be diligent.

Here's Bubby working extra hard to clean her room. She managed to get herself grounded for telling me she'd done what she hadn't done and since she was really putting forth all the effort her nine-year-old self could muster, she got herself un-grounded. With any luck, she'll take the lesson of "hard work pays off" into adulthood. A mom can only hope. This photo, by the way, was totally kinneared. Bubby will either hide or pose in front of a camera, so getting a good candid of her is darn near impossible. I do not give up easily.

Someone on Facebook said something about the "fruits of Islam." I assure you it wasn't a nice thing to say, but I did think about the fruits of one's faith and have decided that, in my experience, the fruits of Islam is hummus and those little cookies with dates in. Sometimes the fruits of Islam is baklava.  It's a plot to increase my waistline, I'm certain.

The fruits of Paganism, however, is fruit. Okay, so the picture is of lettuces (not vinca as the tag says), but I assure you that there will be fruits of some kind in the summer, just not from my balcony. Integral to what drew me to Paganism and my practice is the growing of things. Growing food is slow and difficult. It's easier just to go to the grocery store and buy a lettuce, but I don't grow things to eat because it's easy. I grow things because even in this city life of mine, I want to have a relationship with the Earth. I want to put my hands in dirt and bring out something made of sun, water, dirt, effort, and love. When I've eaten something I've grown, I know in the core of me that I've been blessed by my gods. I can't wait 'til the berries start coming in because I know no greater blessing than a strawberry grown in dirt I've walked on and still warm from the same patch of sun that shines on my face. I put love in, I get good food out. I can't think of a better deal than that.

Today, I finished making tea from last year's mint, hyssop, and catnip. These are the fruits of last year's labor and it's got me all excited about Thargelia. It's almost "clean out your pantries to make way for the new harvest" time. We'll share the last bits of last year's harvest and then we'll be up before Helios to pounce on any berries that might be at the Farmer's market. Then there will be dancing and a maypole and then planting. I am deliriously excited about this in the way that only one who eats seasonally can get.

And then there's the llama. 
The llama can only be described as a "hot mess," as the young people say. I washed it as best as I could, which wasn't very well, in a feeble attempt to get at least some of the dirt out and reduce the dust I was inhaling as I carded it.

I'll give you three guesses where the only cat-free space big enough to dry it was.

My car smells of llama.

Even though I've managed to spin some of it into singles, I'm not sure what the finished product is going to be like. It's a bit of an adventure and something of a mystery. I feel like I'm never going to get through this fleece, but I will persevere. I will be diligent and in the end I will have some sort of yarn.

The alpaca, on the other hand, is twelve ounces of camelid goodness. I managed to get a really nice picture this week that shows its lovely chocolate brown. I want to take it to the Market to show the nice people that sold me the fiber in the hopes that maybe they'd trade me for more fiber, but see above re: Chinese classes. Bubby's class happens to be at the same time as when the Farmer's market is open on Saturday, so I haven't been able to go as much as I'd like. I miss it. 

This is what I get for wanting to help the offspring get the most out of her brain doing something she enjoys and is good at.

The things I do for love...

There's a better picture of the Inachis io hanky, too, and I've finally finished the pink star one. I'm not in love with it and it's not my best design, but I like the border and I learned some new techniques.

I've been making progress in my weaving as well. I think it helps that I put down days that are for weaving on my calendar.
I'm thinking that one of these days, I'd like to weave a considerably larger project for a blanket or sommat (maybe with the llama?) but for now, this narrow little thing is doing up pretty nicely. It's certainly working the math portions of my brain. I'm still not great at warping, but again, I'm going to keep trying at it. I tend to learn best by a lot of trial, a lot of error, and a fair amount of observing others. With fiber arts, anyway, I'm not the kind to read and research before doing like some people. I just jump in and mess up a lot until I learn.

Extreme close up! Extreme close up!
That said, my selvedges are looking much better and I did a fair job of warping. With continued diligence, I'm certain I can become more skilled at this.

You wanna know something I haven't been doing much of?


This is what my Lotus Tank looks like right now - a pattern and yarn. At least the swatch has gone through the wash and lay flat to dry stage. Now, if I'd only figure out if I've got gauge and cast on, I might eventually have a tank top some day before I retire.

Don't even talk to me about the lace. I had comps this week and it completely short-circuited my brain for logic and lace knitting. I've been a babbling idiot ever since. I suppose that my last lesson in diligence for the week is the ongoing lesson of my thesis. Maybe when I'm done, someone will draw me a pretty picture of a panda.

I am hopeful and I shall remain diligent.