Tuesday, February 28, 2006
But lets not talk about questionable projects, which, although they are made well and fit well, fall somewhat short of the mark. Let's talk about candy.
Chocolate is OK, but to my mind candy nirvana is sweet and HOT. After all, I'm the lady with the bag of Atomic Fireballs in my desk drawer... and in my car, and in my sewing kit.
On Sunday I spent the afternoon in Brookfield exploring some new shops, including World Market. On the whole, it's a poor man's Pier 1, but it had some interesting things. I saw that they had an international food area, and my first thought was Frootsy Fruit Cheese, the fabulous gummy candy they made in St. Lucia. Frootsy came in several flavors but the best was the ginger. I've never had anything quite like it. Of course it's all but impossible to find in the US, and World Market didn't have it.
But what they did have was Australian ginger candy called Gingerbons. Fantastic! Still, any shopping trip that scores ginger candy is a success, in my mind. It nicely sparked up the 40 minute drive hom.
The Gingerbons are very similar to the great chewy ginger candy I buy regularly at the Asian grocery. I think the Asian one, made in Indonesia, is a bit more molasses-y, but both get high marks from me. And now that Ginger Altoids are universally available, the world is looking fine indeed.
Trust me to drive 35 miles to shop and be most excited over a $2 bag of candy. Some of us never quite grow up.
In other fiber news, I've started swatching for another lace shawl. This one is from the book Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle. More details to come.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
I finished the neck ribbing last night and thought I'd try on the sweater to check the fit. I was absolutely delighted with the fit and with the look of the neckline, which has a garter stitch placket, and then 2 inches of 1X1 ribbing. My DH really liked it too, and we agreed that hoods on sweaters are kind of useless. As well as being hard to fit under a coat...
So the decision was made to just cast off at that point and be done with it.
Got the underarm grafting and the weaving in of ends done this morning. Then I soaked it to block and laid it all out on towels...and what do my eyes spy that was not apparent before AT ALL?
The dye lot gremlins appear to have struck again. These skeins of yarn were bought at the same time, appeared identical, and bore no labeling whatsoever about dye lot. Not too happy about this development, but there isn't much I can do about it now.
We'll wait and see what it looks like once the sweater is dry. I have a couple ideas.
The fact remains--it's FINISHED.
In one of those 3 a.m. flashes of insight, it occured to me a day or two ago that I got my mother's age at her death wrong. Shame on me! She was actually four months short of her 96th birthday when she passed away in October of 2001. As she herself would have said: "Four years older than God!"
Saturday, February 25, 2006
This is my friend Cory, an eighth grader, who came to job-shadow me on Friday. He's been coming to the library with his mom since he was a wee boy and knows the place just about as well as the staff does. He was actually a big help, finding everything on the picklist for me, helping scan and route items for other libraries, and helping us set up for a kid movie on Friday afternoon. And he interviewed me for his project.
I ask you, who in his class could possibly do better??
And he wasn't the only one who learned something. He was showing me how to distort pictures in PhotoShop to create things like this:
Well, we had to have a little fun while he was there. All work and no play, etc., etc.
In fiber-related news, going out to dinner ate into a good deal of the evening last night. We drove down to Delavan to Hernandez, for a good Mexican food fix. Well worth the time it took! Anyway, once we got home, I got most of the neck ribbing finished on the Wallaby and the hood will be underway today.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Olympic knitting! I've made real progress on the sweater while being holed up in front of the TV these past two weeks. I won't pretend that I expect to have it completely finished when the credits roll after the Closing Ceremonies, but this will soon be a Finished Object. Yeah!
I'm almost ready to give some thought to what's next. I try to maintain a little discipline with the knitting so as to have one semi-disciplined area in my life. God knows the quilting is entirely out of control. Anyway, it'll be another lace shawl, I think. Details to come.
It's been a busy week, work-wise. Tuesday was the best website class I've ever attended, and I've got a lot of website classes under my belt to compare it with. I really came out of the class with a lot more usable knowledge, which feels empowering and encouraging. I've already made some internal changes to the work site, and more visible ones are on the way. It will take awhile as I have to shoehorn website time in among all my other duties, and it's a challenge to keep a straight train of thought at that place at the best of times.
And one great result of the class is that there will be MORE classes, and maybe a discussion group. The group consists of website designers from a dozen libraries. For sure we have lots to learn from each other. I'm a big fan of sharing the knowledge, such as it is.
Friday, one of my favorite library kids is coming in to job-shadow me. We thought Friday morning would be a good time, what with Coffee Hour and all. There should be lots to keep us both busy.
I've heard from a number of people about the post I wrote about my mother. A couple of my cousins wrote me privately, sharing their memories of her, in particular recalling and quoting some memorable things they heard her say over the years. A favorite was how she would refer to someone as looking "four years older than God". When someone was described that way, the image was pretty clear. At any rate, I surely appreciated the comments. It's good to know she is remembered warmly.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Two of these fall into that category. Scarf Style by Pam Allen was put together under the auspices of Interweave Knits magazine. IK is about the best of the knitting magazines, IMHO.
But I digress. I looked through Scarf Style when it was in process at the library and right away, I could recognize my kiind of keeper. There are several projects in the book that I could become very enthused about, and I intend to, once the Wallaby is off my back. Or should I say on my back. Heh.
The soul of another time and place looks out at you from an antique photo and you feel like you are a hair's-breadth away from making contact with the past. This is what I love most about Quilted Memories by Lesley Riley, another new acquisition at the library. Lesley obviously feels the connection also, and has made some edgy and evocative small quilts featuring vintage photos and other ephemera. Her approach has been a beacon to me and I know I'll find lots of inspiration in this book. She offers lots of tips about photo transfer and faux aging: two topics I've been thinking about A LOT as I work on my in-progress quilt. This book has a sappy-dopey title but the contents are anything but.
Alphabetica: An A-Z Creativity Guide for Collage and Book Artists by Lynne Perella was one of those Amazon impulse purchases. They make recommendations and those among us with little sales resistance say, "Sure, Why Not?" and click away. Now, how did those folks at Amazon figure out another passion of mine: letterforms and typefaces? They know me so well... Alphabetica is also an inspiration book, with letter-oriented projects by a variety of artists. Lesley Riley is among them.
I've been getting acquainted with these new books this weekend. I think it will be a fruitful relationship with all three.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Just before my eyes crossed with fatigue last night, I reached the beginning of the neck opening on the Wallaby, so I'll have that to do battle with today, in front of the TV.
I probably ought to do some home stuff though. Run the vacuum or something. The kitchen floor is pretty ratty looking too. I'll do just enough to feel like a martyr, then adjourn to knit.
Sounds like a plan to me.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Today would have been my mother's one hundredth birthday. That seems pretty amazing and makes ME sound pretty elderly myself. But I was kind of a wonder baby, born when my mother was well into middle age. She had delayed marriage to my dad due to her feelings of responsiblilty for supporting her mother and two unmarried siblings. And World War II intervened too.
She lived a whole lifetime before I came on the scene.
Her father was killed when she was five, plunging the family into truly desperate straits. There was no question about frivolities like attending high school with her friends. After eighth grade, she spent two years at "commercial" training with the nuns at her old grade school, and at 16, in 1922 (the year she "bobbed" her hair), she became a legal secretary in her hometown of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, earning the lofty sum of $.75 a day . She worked for a man who kept a never-emptied spittoon in his office and who belonged to the Ku Klux Klan in order to fight the threat of Catholics attaining teaching positions or elected office. Surely a discouraging place for a 16 year old.
Her ambition and brains pushed her to aspire to Better Things. Eventually she landed a job as secretary to the City Solicitor of Bradford, Pennsylvania. She functioned as a paralegal in his office for the next twenty years. They didn't call them paralegals then, but that's what she was.
I have her office typewriter, a big black Royal, that makes such a nice crisp sound when you hit the keys. She could go ninety miles an hour on that machine. It was a wonder to behold.
She ran around with a crew of wise-cracking career girls in Bradford. They played bridge like fiends. They vacationed yearly in places like New York City, Nantucket, and Montreal.
All this before she ever met my dad.
When she got married (at nearly 41), she retired from Mr. Nash's office, but didn't stay content at home for too long. Within a few years she was dabbling in real estate and ended up owning several big old homes in Bradford which had been converted into apartments. Those were good investments. They made it possible for me to go to college.
Her vivid stories of her growing up (in what seemed to me like another century) and of her family inspired my love of history and my interest in genealogy. She also made the best apple pie and blueberry pie in the world.
We had the pleasure of having her nearby through the last dozen years of her life. She was able to be involved in the lives of her grandchildren: to attend the concerts and the graduations. There never was a prouder grandma.
She lived to just short of her 96th birthday, a good long life. It's still hard to believe she's gone.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
The quilting is not happening. With the Olympics on TV EVERY WAKING MOMENT, I have to say that I am firmly in Olympic couch-sitting and knitting mode. And I've decided to just go with it. At least I'm not sitting there doing nothing, watching TV with my mouth hanging open--production of SOMETHING is happening.
This is the Wallaby sweater. Both sleeves are now completed and are incorporated with the body of the sweater. I've begun the raglan decreases. It's a long way around those needles but the end is in sight. It may be dim and misty in the distance, but the end is in sight.
I like this sweater. It'll be a utilitarian wool garment made of rough and hard yarn, but it'll be great to wear with jeans and will take a lot of punishment. On first glance the color isn't very interesting, but it's heathery, with many colors incorporated into the mix. The true colors don't really show in the photo--it's actually got a pinky cast to it. The Black Water Abbey yarn doesn't knit up into a soft and gentle fabric. It's hard and coarse. For this type of garment it's fine, but delicate and feminine it's not. The color is called Bracken.
The Cottage Creations pattern is awfully wordy, but in the end hasn't been difficult to follow. But I do wish the pattern included a photo of the finished sweater. The pattern only provides line drawings, and very elemental line drawings at best. In Fashion Drawing class, they taught us to show garment details and construction lines in a drawing. These are sadly lacking in this pattern. Until I got the sleeves done, I really wasn't sure what kind of sleeve construction was called for in this garment--raglan or set-in.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Last year, a friend and I went to hear author Anne Lamott do a reading at the Milwaukee Public Library. She was sensational of course: funny and inspiring, full of thought-provoking stories and insights. She has a great take on life, and though she gets just a bit Jesus-y at times, she does it in a way that drives her eminently realistic viewpoint home without proselytising or making one want to high-tail it for the nearest exit.
She's a big favorite of mine; I have most of her books and am always on the lookout for the few I don't own yet. I've lost count of the people I've gifted with copies of Operating Instructions.
Anne recently appeared in Washington, D. C. at a large forum on social justice and this is what ensued. Courage and sense. Yay Anne.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I rode in with Casey and Dabin, a Korean teenager who's staying with Casey and Pete for the next few weeks. Dabin has received a thorough grounding in American needle arts while she's been here, and she had a sprightly little butterfly quilt to show last night.
Show and Tell always inspires...and keeps me awake afterward.
Sonji's work has been well-documented in her blog. But it's exciting and affecting on a whole other level when seen in person. I'm so glad she's part of the group. Her dynamic approach always gives me a lot to think about. Judy Levine had done some very pleasing things with a windfall of upholstery scraps. And Suzanne Riggio is still producing her elegant and exquisite pieces despite being wheelchair-bound and having to run the footpedal of her machine with a hand.
But did I have my camera with me? Nooooo. I promise to do better next month.
I had nothing to show. Ephemera is still in too many pieces.
I did decide to give the guild challenge a thought. I have kept dithering about whether to even start on it, but I've kept buying fabric for it, all along. Do I have a ghost of a chance of finishing by early April? Stay tuned...
There are a couple juried shows coming up that could be entered without too much strain or pain. I'm thinking to send off a disc to the art quilt show in Paducah. That needs to be in the mail by mid-month.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
A few miles put on the Red Beetle, a good deal of NPR listened to.
The classes were enjoyable, but turned out to be classes of working from patterns, rather than improvisational quiltmaking. Still, there was scope for creativity in the use of the patterns--individual approaches were encouraged--and the fabric kits for the classes were eye-popping rainbow hand-dyes done by Melody herself. After the funereal palette I've been immersed in lately, all that color was a real treat. I always come away from workshops with inspiration and new insights. Plus it was fun to have a chance to see how Melody works and to get to know her.
I've been very impressed by the willingness to share that I've seen in so many fiber artists, and Melody is no exception. Her blog is a daily stop for me and it's chock-full of usable information. For free.
Not sure how I'll finish off my class pieces but the above photo isn't half bad....
And I finally was able to check out Fabric Fusion, a Brown Deer quilt shop owned by Linda Reuss Benson, one of the members of the Milwaukee Art Quilters. I wish it were closer to my neck of the woods--they stock great fabrics, including some dynamic artisan hand-dyed, discharged, and/or hand-printed fabrics.
Is it really Monday tomorrow? And is that football game over YET?
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Well, we can all comiserate, at least.
And in absence of any other meaningful content, quilt or otherwise, here's a meme:
My Four Things
Four Jobs I've Had:
1. Playground Supervisor ("Park Girl")
2. Retail Display
3. Floral Designer
4. Sewing Machine Sales and Teaching
Four Movies I can Watch Over and Over:
I confess to being movie-challenged.
1. Any Astaire and Rogers
2. Any Hepburn and Tracy
Four Places I've Lived:
1. Bradford, PA
2. Indianapolis, IN
3. Danville, KY
4. Dayton, OH
Later edit: YES, I have also lived in Cincinnati, OH!
Four TV Shows I Love:
Not a network TV fan AT ALL
1. Masterpiece Theatre
3. American Experience
Later edit--I was reminded about Seinfeld. Always a great fave in this house.
Four Places I've Vacationed:
1. Nantucket, MA
2. Canandaigua, NY
3. Salema, Portugal
4. Paris, France
Four of My Favorite Dishes:
1. Veggie Lasagna
2. Salmon, smoked or grilled.
3. Chiles Rellenos
4. Anything Indian
Four Sites I Visit Daily:
2. New York Times
4. Manolo the Shoeblogger
Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
1. St. Lucia
3. Australia or New Zealand, because it would be summer
4. Italy: never been, would love to go.
Four People to Tag:
Anyone who wants to play...