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The Adventures of two Fibre Artists.



Contributing Artists

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rowan Projects and, as always, musings.....

I recently started two projects found in Rowan magazines, more specifically, the Azalea from issue #41 and Caroline from issue # 39. I would like to use both as "bed jackets", for a lack of a better term. Something to wear in the house, since I am cold natured, for either reading in bed, working on my laptop, knitting or just relaxing in the house. To say I am cold natured is putting it mildly. I am extremely sensitive to cooler temperatures due, in part, to my physical stature, tall and thin, and as I am reminded by everyone who hears me comment on how cold I am that if I "would put some meat on your bones", or even "if you would eat some meat" as I am vegetarian, that I would not be so cold, but more than that colder temperatures seem to aggravate my fibromyalgia symptoms.

Some may argue that putting so much expense (time, energy as well as financial) into something that will be "worn around the house" is silly, to say the least, but considering the amount of quality time spent wearing these items either knitting, spinning, reading, worshiping (prayer time) all activities conducive to relaxation and essential for good health, it doesn't seem so foolish. And to feel pretty while wearing something comfortable to relax "around the house" is in itself a not so trivial, but rather an all-important element, one I have learned to appreciate more as my time spent in the house has increased, due to the need for down time to heal from fibromyalgia flare-ups. Perhaps it is vanity that plays a part, but I would rather my dh not see me in work out cloths or anything comfortable but not particularly aesthetically pleasing. I feel better knowing under the circumstances I am still feminine and taking an interest in my appearance even if I am not feeling so physically strong.

The Azalea project pictured above calls for cotton, which will be very functional here in the south where temperatures aren't so extreme, at least where winter is concerned. So I am using the Rowan 4 ply cotton the pattern calls for but in a different colour than the pattern suggests. I am also substituting the mohair the pattern calls for on the trim work with some angora handspun yarn I will spin from the gift my Angora buck, Crispin Proudneck offers. I think that will work beautifully.

The Caroline project is certainly very feminine and light weight, which will not only lend itself well to warmer temperatures that call for air-conditioning, one of my bitter enemies, but the weight itself will be less bothersome since one of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, for me at any rate, is the sensation of having a severe sunburn and the weight of clothing rubbing against your skin is very maddening.

How can anyone not feel pretty in something this lacy and soft. I am using mohair, light green for the body and a creamy beige for the border lacework. The length of this jacket is perfect for times spent relaxing in bed when pulling the covers to your chin is not conducive for reading, working on the laptop or knitting. It will offer cover for my upper body without being to cumbersome, twisting or pulling that longer sweaters are apt to do in that position.

Both of these projects are a joy to work on. As with any of our creations we delight in watching our work progress, fantasizing about how it will feel to finally benefit from our fruition, when in point of fact the benefits begin with the casting on, or perhaps before that, the planning of any creative enterprise. This activity, from inception, distracts us from daily stressors/demands, transporting us, almost immediately, to a place of quiet relaxation and peace, with a dash of excitement. That is not to say that there are times, frogging/ripping, or trying to decipher patterns, for example, that can become stressful, but I remind anyone struggling, especially novices or students I have instructed in knitting, crocheting, spinning and other fibre experiences, that these adventures are meant to be calming and not to allow themselves to be pushed anywhere where they can't remain calm. Otherwise we are not accepting the gift as intended. I can honestly say that I have ripped nearly whole finished projects completely out, and enjoyed the experience. Because that is what each stitch, every revolution of the spinning wheel, every passing of the shuttle is, an experience, which is as positive as we make it. And we should take care to turn them all positive and enjoy every blessed moment of this gift.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Projects completed

I finally finished my dear husband's socks in October, just in time for winter. As I mentioned here in an earlier post I thought it would be fine, after completing one sock, to set the project aside and work on something else during the summer months since he would not need them until the weather turned colder. Again, as mentioned earlier, I had not taken in account that I had modified the pattern a bit, minor adjustments that ordinarily would not have caused any concern if not for the time lapse between socks. It was fairly easy enough to match the socks as I worked on the mate, by continually placing them side by side. The result so close that if there were any discrepancies in the knitted rows they weren't noticeable, especially since the self patterning effect camouflaged any purled rows that may not have been precisely placed. Still it was aggravating to have to regularly pause to match the two visually. When all was said and done, though, I was pleased with my first sock project and more importantly my husband loves them.
People who don't know any better, not having had the opportunity to ever experience handmade socks, will argue that the time and expense put into knit socks is not worth it when you can run to Wal-mart and purchase a pair for next to nothing. And after my first sock knitting adventure I may have found it hard to defend the effort but after trying my husband's socks on, appreciating the custom fit and comfort hand knitted socks offer, I know now, and my dh agrees, you just can't compare the two. In point of fact I am already fantasizing about my next pair, this time for me. I may try knitting them on 2 pair of circular needles instead of dpn on my next attempt. One of the ladies in our guild is currently knitting both socks at once on circular needles, and I may consider that technique if not too complicated.....still there are a few other projects I would like to finish before my next sock adventure.

One of the projects I worked on during the sock hiatus was a scarf idea instigated from a picture I noticed while thumbing through a magazine at a local bookstore. I can't remember which magazine and I was afforded only a brief viewing but it looked like it was knitted using two different needle sizes. When I got home, not having the pattern, I tried several sizes finally choosing two I thought would express themselves appealingly with the lace weight mohair yarn I wanted to work with. I alternated the sizes using a size 6 US knitting twice as many rows as I would when switching to size 11 US. I sewed some nice silver Celtic knot buttons on both ends for a different kind of decorative edging when worn like most scarves. Or by adding crocheted button holes, small enough to be hidden by the buttons on one end it could be wrapped around the neck like a muffler then buttoned, the two rows of buttons coming together, side by side offering a nice decorative closure. This scarf knitted up very quickly, and proved to be one of those projects that you can work on anywhere as little attention is needed. I was pleased with the results but I notice that larger stitches snagged easily with the lace weight mohair yarn. If I ever use this pattern effect again I probably will choose a larger weight yarn that won't snag and pull so easily.