Saturday, September 27, 2014

Online Scrapbook for Clarissa

I'm turning this stale old knitting blog into an online scrapbook especially for my friend Clarissa to read whenever she wants to. It is about a teacher I had for part of second grade and all of third: I shall call her Miss R. To me in those days, she was everything beautiful, wise, gracious, and lovely. Plus she smelled good. And we loved her clothes.

Once third grade was over, I never saw her again. She did write me a letter...but that's another story. Right now, I'm going to get started with the story of how Miss R. came to my house for lunch.

Originally, it must have been soneone else's idea. I must have seen Miss R. strolling off at noontime with Calina or Sandy or Melissa, and thought "Wait--she's having lunch with a student? You can do that???" Well, I didn't lose any time asking my mother if I could invite Miss R. to lunch at OUR house. And she said yes, and suggested a date the following week, and Miss R. accepted.

Oh! The day could not arrive fast enough! But at last it did, and as I scurried out the front door in the morning, I called back over my shoulder, "Don't forget--Miss R. is coming to lunch here today!"

My mother looked horrified--she looked askance at my oldest sister, Mary, who must have been in high school at that time. I can replay that moment in my head and of course NOW it's clear that she had completely forgotten. But at the time I thought very little of it--just scampered along and waited out the morning till lunch dismissal when I proudly accompanied Miss R. out of the schoolgrounds, right a block, left a block, right a block to my house.

I had hoped she would wear her tartan circle skirt with the black turtleneck; she didn't, but she still looked both lovely and professional in a Chanel-style suit. I have no idea what we chatted about along the way, but she had a way of making conversation easy even for shy and tongue-tied children.

It's a wonder the whole thing wasn't a disaster. The odds were astronomically against my having remembered to remind my mother about the date--I still had perfect confidence in the omniscience of adults. In truth, Mom was rather absent-minded and I took after her. But disaster was averted: I did remind her, and immediately after that horrified glance, my mother and sister must have leaped into action.

When I opened the front door for Miss R., the house looked perfect, the table was laden with our linen, our china, and our crystal--cloth napkins even. And the menu--hamburgers and french fries! Well, I can tell you, no restaurant featuring china, crystal, and cloth napkins ever served better hamburgers and french fries than my mother did that day. It was scrumptious! And naturally, Miss R. was sunny and gracious and at ease. She said to my mother, "You can be my mom any day!"

After eating, we still had a little time before we had to walk back to school. Normally, after finishing my PB&J or tuna fish sandwich, I'd watch part of Jeopardy. But this time, Miss R. asked if I still had the art work I had done for her that year. Oh yes--and I showed her the way downstairs where my paintings were stored. She looked them all over again and made me happy all over again with her praise: "Now that was a turkey that really LOOKED like a turkey!" "This angel is just beautiful. The black outline around her looks just right."

And then the long-awaited luncheon was over; there was still the walk back to savor, and to wish that one could walk a little slower and make it last... And the looks of the other third graders in the schoolyard as they saw that I was the lucky one today, who got to be hostess to Miss R. If I only knew what day this happened, I'd celebrate it every year with hamburgers and french fries on my best china. But then again, there are so many things that remind me of her, maybe any day is a good day to celebrate Miss R.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My First Handspun Yarn to Try!

This is so cool! In the mail today we got a package full of lovely delights from my daughter, who remembered us during her trip to Ireland this month! She sent me my first handspun yarn, and how exciting that it's from Ireland. Here it is, with my Enchanted Doll, Yren.

It's labeled "Markree Wensleydales Wool Products 100% Handmade in Ireland." On the back, there is a handwritten notation that says: "Glowing Embers 2010. Long staple, Lamb's Wool. Made by Mary Cooper. 90 grm 96 yards approx.  £18 -- 00."

I just got an email back from Emily, in response to my thank-you note, which gave more information about the yarn:

"The yarn came from the Castle that we stayed in - 

"A husband and wife own the Castle Hotel, and the wife makes the yarn from sheep at the Castle. They are a special breed of sheep that are bred for their long wool. 

"She has an Etsy shop too:  "
And she sent this picture of where the wool was being sold:

So now I have the complete story of my handspun wool!

Color Studies for Knitters

Whenever another "color for knitters" or "color for quilters" book gets published, it's nearly always the same thing: a rudimentary look at the color wheel and the supposed combinations that will produce attractive schemes.

Knowledge of the color wheel is useful enough, but these books never go far enough. First of all they tend to deal strictly with fully saturated colors and maybe a few pastels. Projects based on these will give you flat, coloring-book effects with a rather childish mood.

Second, you can go from cover to cover and never factor in all the colors NOT on the color wheel--browns, greys, blacks, whites, and the whole range of dark and muted colors. 

So instead get your hands on a copy of this book, Color Harmony, or one of its subsequent editions. Yes, you will see a color wheel, and yes it will explain similar, contrasting, and complementary hues--but it goes way, way, WAY beyond that.

Color Harmony teaches you to think of color in a new way. You already know warm and cool colors... Now add some more concepts to that. Think of colors on their own as light, dark, dull, or vivid. (And "dull" here does not mean "boring"--it means "greyed" or "softened.")  When using colors together, identify them by their functions: main color, contrast color, background color.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

A better look at Shaelyn

Yesterday was a knitting marathon! Finished almost two complete repeats on my shawl. Today was church and laundry and housecleaning, so had less knitting time built-into it, but I still finished off the second repeat. Here is what we have at this point:

Notice the ripple effect we have going here. This pattern is actually similar to Feather and Fan (Old Shale), which also creates ripples for the same reason. I don't want to say too much about how that's achieved because I want to respect the designer's intellectual property.  But as I said before, it's an easy pattern to learn and keep track of, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants either a first-shawl pattern, or one that is good as a take-along project. I'm hoping to finish it soon, even though the next three repeats are going to be much bigger than the first two!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Beginning the Shaelyn Shawl

This is my second cast-on for Leila Raabe's Shaelyn Shawl. The first time, I got through row 15 and had to start over: first, a knot appeared in my yarn (Omega Sinfonia) that I didn't want to deal with; and second, my defective "Make 1 Right" increases were creating big holes. Big holes. If I'd been deep into a perfect piece, then I would have dealt with the knot. (And I would have known how, too, because it's on my Lucy Neatby DVD!)

Before frogging I consulted some resources and practiced making M1 increases correctly. And I had to find my own way on that, because the books and the videos all varied slightly. Done right, the increase feels very snug as I knit into it, and that's the sign that it's not going to make a hole.

So this Shaelyn is looking much tidier and nicer than the first one. The increases are invisible, as they should be, and it's assuming a shawl-like shape even at this early stage. The pattern is very easy to memorize and to read--especially since the designer gives you one whole illustrated page on how to read it.  

Now sometime before the weekend slips away, I need to finish my vanilla sock toes so I can publish a Stage Three Finished Picture of them too!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Finished Object!

One of the very nice things about knitting socks is that you can celebrate finishing them three times! When the knitting is all done is the first stage, next when the kitchener stitching is done to close the toe, and last when the ends are woven in and they're ready to be worn. (A determined knitter could pack in even more Official Observances than just those three, for that matter.)

Oh Frabjous Day, Calloo, Callay! My vanilla socks in Fortissima Socka are Stage-1 Done! Tune in for more chortling when the toes are closed!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lucy Neatby's Knitting Essentials DVD

From the bits I'd heard of Lucy Neatby on Knitmore Girls, I was figuring her DVDs would be really terrific. She just comes across that way, a knitting master who is gifted to teach. The few youtube videos I saw confirmed it: she demonstrated a provisional cast-on that got me all excited about starting the Shaelyn shawl--at last!

So this is just to say: I get to be right! She really *is* terrific! And I was right about something else too: it was best to start out with volume one. An LYS (which just happened to be the very wonderful Threadbenders in Grand Rapids) had several of her DVDs and I pondered which one to buy. Shouldn't I skip ahead to volume two, on the assumption I already knew the stuff in volume one?

Ooo baby, it's a good thing I didn't! In the first five minutes I learned some extremely useful things I'd never heard of before! Even though you can use the index to skip to a particular topic, I'm enjoying just starting at the beginning and gazing in slack-jawed amazement at what this gal can do! For one thing, I'm going to be binding off the Lucy Neatby way from now on.

Among the topics covered so far have been different cast-ons, different increases and decreases and their effects, how to read your knitting, making yarn butterflies to control strands of yarn, knitting in ends, and much more--and I'm not even half-way through it yet. She even demonstrates how to use a ball winder and swift, knowledge which gives me confidence to buy a set of my own.

And here is another thing I learned: I'm not going to hesitate to purchase any other Lucy Neatby knitting video again. They are available on the web, but you know how that goes--it's hard sometimes to push yourself to order something cold on the web. If my LYS hadn't had it right there on the shelf, where I could pick it up and bond with it, and have the instant gratification of taking it home with me, I probably never would have ordered one. But now, hee hee ho ho, I am over that particular hurdle. Volume two cannot be far in the future.