Jenny Lind bed, painted Tomato Red. That’s the actual paint company color name, great job, Benjamin Moore! It is the color of tomatoes, exactly. This room has been all spruced up in anticipation of this weekend, when my beautiful girl comes home. My heart is bursting.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Don’t be fooled by the green grass and leafy tree in this photo. It is cold here, mercilessly. It is taking the stuffing out of me, I’ll tell you. I may have seen a few snowflakes today, for real. I won’t be putting the woolens away just yet. Ugh, enough about the weather.
I made these arm warmers because I’m cold, and also because I love love loved the yarn. It is Knitcol trends, in the very poetically named color 047. Really, I think it is the name of the yarn that tempted me this time. 047. Sigh! Swoon! It sounds like a song, doesn’t it?
I tried without success to make a hat with it, noticing eventually that the stitch count has to be just so or the self-striping doesn’t work. So that left me with the option of socks, a scarf, or arm warmers. I guess my arms were cold. Plus, I just wanted to see this yarn in action.
I made up the pattern, so if your arms are cold and you’re sick of winter and it snowed where you are this morning and you just can’t take it anymore and you happen to have about 250 meters of a DK weight self-striping yarn lying around and you feel like making a pair of these today, here’s what I did:
Using US 4 double pointed needles, I cast on 60 and worked about three rounds in stockinette stitch, then decreased six stitches evenly spaced in the next round—54 stitches. Then I knit around and around for awhile and watched TV until it seemed like it was time for another decrease, about six inches later. I decreased another six stitches evenly spaced in the next round—48 stitches. Then I watched some more TV and knit around and around without paying attention until it was time to make a hole for my thumb, which I made by binding off 10 stitches, then knitting around again, and when I came to the bound off stitches, I cast on ten. Then I kept knitting around and around until the first ball of yarn was almost gone, saving just enough to single crochet around both edges and the thumbhole. Make another one with the second ball of yarn.
Getting proactive around here. No griping about the sleet! No moping! No lamenting the potential loss of another season of peaches. (I might lament that a little bit, you can understand, I’m sure.) Just knitting. Knit. Knit. Knit.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Remember this? This pattern is from something called Pattern Department. I know, right? I mean, isn’t that just so evocative? It is style 4652. It was mail ordered at some point in the past—there is no date on the postmark—by a Miss Babcock from Wellsville. She sent away for it through an ad in the newspaper, and then never made the dress. I found it in the thrift store for 95 cents.
Isn’t it cute? Oh, I was hopeful. I had in mind a lovely little thing, fitted in the bodice with well-placed darts and a full-ish skirt, and I would trim it with vintage buttons, maybe some lace at the armholes. Imagine white gloves, a pillbox hat. Wicker purse. American Church Picnic, c.1958. What happened instead is that I spent the whole day on it, something like seven hours, and the house got completely trashed, you know, as it does when one sews, when little bits of thread and pieces of ravelly fabric get cut loose from their moorings and then cling to your socks and sweater, and pins are on the floor, and I hunched feverishly over the machine--my beloved Miss Kastner, who has never led me astray—and we toiled over this thing, sussing out the bizarre vintage instructions and making our own bias facing with no help at all, just the words, “make a bias facing.” I even installed a zipper, for crying out loud. And then, it was just a shapeless sack. It was so awful, every part of it was ugly. I couldn’t even laugh. Wearing it, I looked like a bunch of raccoons trapped in a sleeping bag. Not one dart was in the right place. It hung listlessly. It looked like it was wet. The fabric was thrifted too, probably some kind of rayon, so who cares about that, but a whole day, gone. I peeled off the horrible dress and flung it away, cursed the wasted precious hours, and mopped the kitchen floor, sweating and furious. That always makes me feel better, and now I do feel better.
There will be a finished blanket, soon. Those don’t have to fit a person. You know? Moving on.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
I’m not really one for making things for other people. On one hand, I want to cover all the people I love in beautiful, cozy, handmade things, as if my handwork will be a talisman against not just cold weather but maybe even whatever sadness life may have in store. On the other hand, I am rather aware that not everybody in my life has the same huge need for knitted, quilted, or otherwise stitched things as I have, and I am okay with that. But, I feel deeply that a warm, soft quilt, made by your mama, can be a hug in a lonely place. Even if you are a totally cool guy who isn’t even lonely, what are you kidding? Lonely? For his mom? Please!
My son grew up. It seems like it happened this morning.
In just a few weeks, he will graduate from high school, and then he will go away to become an Architect. My boy is a man now. I am so proud of him. He asked me to make him a quilt. Does it get any better than that?
I chose a mix cool grays, warm browns, and ochre yellows. I strictly avoided florals (we have agreed those are branches, right? Branches?) and big patterns. There is an obsequious fly-fishing print thrown in because it was brown. And manly. I did not ask for his input as I put the quilt together, because he would have said something like, “What? I don’t know. Whatever. Just not flowery.”
I made 30 nine patch blocks, and arranged them in six columns by five rows, separated by solid gray sashing with smaller, light gray squares at the intersections. I threw in one red square. I could not help myself. Some American quilt traditions hold that the red center of a quilt square represents the safety and warmth of the hearth at home. I feel like I have poured my heart into that little red square. You do what you can.
It is imperfectly hand-quilted, with great big stitches in #5 perle cotton, in a warm light gray. It took a few days. The quilting gave the solid back a nifty graphic effect, kind of minimalist and modern.
It’s as infused with love and comfort as I can make it. I hope he ruins it totally while he’s away. I hope he wears it right out, right to shreds. That would make me so happy.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Suddenly, it is summer. It seems to happen that way here. We have unsettlingly late blasts of unrelenting cold, the occasional mid-April snowstorm, baseball games called due to sleet, and then before you can turn around, maybe later in the same week, it is 85 F and beautiful. When that happens, I can’t bring myself to sit indoors. I wash the quilts and hang them out on the clothesline, and then I find all kinds of reasons to sit on the patio and be lazy. This granny square project has been a perfect companion to summer living, and I’ve spent the last several days with my basket beside my chair, hooking away happily in the sunshine. One more square to go and it’ll be big enough for a blanket. That’s exactly how much sitting around I’ve been doing. There’s a quilt almost finished, but I just can’t be in the house.
I tore myself away from all this decadence on Friday and went back to Buffalo, City of Dreams, where I managed to meet Peter Tork of the Monkees. The lone picture of the great moment is trapped in my phone, and a good thing too, because I look a total lunatic. Well, he’s lovely. That is all. The sun is shining, people! I gotta get outdoors. If it rains, there might be a quilt soon. If it doesn’t, I’ll be as brown as a boot and there will be granny squares coming out my ears.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
This isn’t much of anything, just a dishcloth or whatever, but wow, it feels nice. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora in the most perfect grayish-pale blue, and is soft enough for a baby’s pajamas. When I pick up this little project, I can feel my breathing slow down. There’s no real pattern here; it’s just a square done in two-row seed stitch with garter stitch edges. Just as plain as vanilla, but it makes me feel good. You know? I’m not sure what will happen to the angora when I wash this in hot water, which it will need after I use it to scrub scrambled eggs off a frying pan, but I have to say I’m not really worried about it.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
The Who Needs a Pattern, Anyway needlepoint project that I threw together in a half-second so as to hurry up and begin stitching is done. It took forever. ForEVER. How do people get these things finished? I mean, I spent months on this thing, and it’s only about eight inches across…well, I stand in awe of you needlepointers, is all I can say, and in even more awe than usual of Kaffe Fassett and his wondrous needpoint tapestries. Any more needlepoint than this little doodad and I would’ve had to give up knitting (never!) just to make the time. I’m not saying I didn’t love it, because I did, but it progressed at a pace so as to not be noticeable or measurable. I’d work on it for an hour and it would look just the same as it had before. I had to change colors every ten seconds, and cut yarn and weave in an end, and then start over in another spot. Memo for next time: larger blocks of color equals nice.
So, it is very small, because the scrap of canvas I started with was small, and also because I couldn’t have gone any longer without screaming. I made it into a pillow.
It’s one of those wee pillows that isn’t really good for anything except looking cute. I really only like it up close. I think the triangles could have been a lot bigger. Next time! There will be a next time, too. I just found a giant roll of needlepoint canvas in the thrift store. A tapestry-sized roll. I have so many ideas.