Friday, April 29, 2011

How to Celebrate a Royal Wedding

 

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On Thursday morning I drove to Amarillo to have a pre-royal-wedding party with my three granddaughters, ages, 4, 4, and 8.  My daughter, who was an infant at the time of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, was also there.  This was definitely a low-key celebration, but it was colorful.  In keeping with the dress of the little girls who were the royal bridesmaids, the girls made flower wreaths for their heads.  We did not have fresh flowers of course, but we had multicolored felt flower shapes.  DD and I cut slits in the shapes and the girls threaded them on long pipe cleaners.  Then we went to lunch at the closest thing Amarillo has to a “chick place,” The Back Porch Restaurant.  The girls, wearing their flower wreaths, dined on non-traditional wedding fare—grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, cups of fruit, and chocolate chip cookies.  According to my daughter’s Facebook post earlier today, the girls hopped out of bed before dawn to watch the wedding, wearing the proper headgear, of course.

I was up, too.  I am a fan of British Royal Weddings and Space Launches and s-SHUTTLE-ENDEAVOUR-LAUNCH-2011-largeconcerts featuring marches by John Phillip Sousa.  It was a great celebration to watch, particularly since the network I was watching chose to run the entire wedding itself without interruption or commentary.  The gown and veil were lovely—in fact, I thought they created an almost medieval feeling in keeping with the atmosphere of the Abbey itself.

Now comes the almost unbelievable part—my brand new, long awaited, beautiful mS_cherry_600cherry Hansen minispinner came in last night, and I have not yet even attempted spinning on it!  So some experimenting is on the agenda for today, along with a shuttle launch, if it hasn’t been postponed for some reason.  Perhaps I should put on my LP of Sousa!

Note:  And how appropriate is it that on this historic day in British history, the Shuttle Endeavour, that’s with a “u,” will launch for its final trip.  The shuttle was named by American schoolchildren, but the “u” is there because it was named after the ship on which the British explorer James Cook circumnavigated the globe.

Monday, April 25, 2011

NOW I understand. . .

why many knitters are so enthusiastic about knitting mitered squares.  I read comments on this pattern before I started, and some people who were making a solid colored afghan said that the process was boring.  However, using the Boku, with its ever-slightly-changing shades of colors and its thick and thin handspun like texture, adds variety to the absolutely mesmerizing process.  My photo is a little blurry, but it was the best choice to show the colors.  I have knitted seventeen squares of 176—all of the first two rows.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ is risen!

tiffany

Friday, April 22, 2011

Knitting Progress; Have a Blessed Easter

I made my first mitered squares—only 172 more to go!

And, in keeping with the Yarn Harlot’s post about daughters and Easter eggs, here is the evidence that family traditions continue.  Cell phones are wonderful inventions for grandmas.

The “experienced one”--

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The trainees--

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Book to Read

A few years ago, like practically everyone else, I read Girl with a Pearl Earring, watched the movie, and ended up on sort of a Vermeer kick. As part of that, I read a second novel, The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, by the author Susan Vreeland. I was quite impressed. Now I’ve listened to a second Vreeland novel as an audio book.

Clara and Mclarar. Tiffany is a fictional novel based on fairly recently discovered information about the work and studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Tiffany of the stained glass windows and the lamps, son of the Tiffany of the jewelry store.` A 2007 museum exhibit, inspired in part by the letters of Clara Driscoll, cast a new light on who exactly did what in Mr. Tiffany’s studio. This book does a wonderful job of portraying the kind of life a working woman would have led in the New York City of the late 1800s into the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The city itself and its growDragonfly-Leaded-Glass-Table-Lampth is described—its politics, its economics, its middle-class society (unlike Edith Wharton’s New York), its architecture, its strengths and deficiencies.

At the time when the middle class was becoming increasingly important, the decorative arts were a way that people “on the way up” who did not possess great fortunes could enjoy a taste of fine art. Just as the characters in the book can enjoy the opera even if they have to resort to the standing room section, an upper middle class woman could enjoy having a small Tiffany lamp on her dressing table.

The moprevtiffanylamps_wisteriavement also embraced technology. The Dragonfly lamp above was an oil lamp; the wisteria lamp is electric. Notice how technology affected the design of the base. Supposedly, Tiffany consulted with the expert--Thomas Edison himself—and Edison expressed the opinion that the colored shades would be just the thing to moderate the harshness of incandescent light. One wonders what Tiffany would do with the compact daylight fluorescent!

A prominent theme in the novel is the role of women in society. Ironically, in an age when the issue of Women’s Suffrage had not yet been settled, it is the economic right of women to work and to work for a decent wage, in spite of opposition by the labor unions, that takes center stage. prevtiffanylamps_tulip

Finally, the novel deals with a philosophical question: In the whole scope of a person’s life, exactly how important is art or one’s career as an artist? That's an old question, the same one Tennyson asked in "The Lady of Shalott." Finding a balanced answer to this question is a struggle for Tiffany himself and for Clara Driscoll.

Rebellion

I posted a picture earlier of the Spring Socks that I have on needles for the Six Sox KAL. I knit for both process and product. I joined this KAL because I think many of their patterns are beautiful and because I needed to stretch my skills instead of staying in the same old ruts. But the truth is, I don’t have any desire to knit socks that I won’t wear. Period. If I had no other knitting and the overwhelming desire to knit SOMETHING RIGHT NOW, maybe. However, I have a list of projects and some yarn right now that I desperately want to start. I did learn a picot edging from this sock pattern, but it is just “not me.” Because I am at nature a rule follower, I have been knitting them out of guilt. I quit! The yarn came last night for the beautiful mitered square blanket that I am making just for us. I had to wait months for it to go on sale. The pattern is ready to go and the box of yarn is sitting on the kitchen table. If there are consequences and I get kicked out of a KAL, so be it. I QUIT! Ribbit! (I have another project in mind for the sock yarn.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not a Lot of Knitting

I did manage to complete the picot hem for the second of the Spring Socks. After that, I seemed to be unable to count to 30 accurately because my mind kept loping off to some other tasks and possibilities that we have going right now.

I did, however, finish and deliver my presentation on e-books and audio books for the Friends of the Library here. We have had access for a couple of years to audio books to download through OverDrive, but the e-books are a brand new item. I don’t know that I helped anyone much, but they went away with a handful of written down information about the two subjects, so perhaps that will help.

I just finished reading to an e-book myself—The Lacemakers of Glenmara. I had Glenmaraput it on my hold list a couple of months ago just because the title and the blurb appealed to me. I really liked the book. You can click on the cover in the Goodreads section of the sidebar to read my review.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Little Bit of Knitting

I joined the Six Sox KAL on Yahoo recently because I kept favoriting their patterns on Ravelry and because I tend to get in a rut when knitting socks and felt that I needed to stretch my horizons somewhat. The first pair of sox was not exactly that kind of a stretch, but it was a wonderful pattern that I plan to use repeatedly in the future. The current bimonthly pair features a 12-stitch lace pattern and a picot top hem and an eye of partridge heel. I am adapting a little bit. I know that I need 64 stitches on a 2.5 mm needle for the best fit. Of course, 64 does not divide by 12. I finally decided that I would go with the 60 stitch option—72 would be too big, that fits my husband—because the lace will be extra stretchy. I plan on making the heel flap a little longer than suggested on the pattern because I know what fits me, and I can stop my gusset decreases to give a 64-stitch foot. I chose to use some yarn I had on hand, Maizy, in a Springtime colorway. This is a corn yarn that I have used before. I’ve been generally pleased with the way the socks have worn. However, I think I may have made a poor choice for this pattern because the color variation in the yarn does not show off the lace to best advantage. The holes show, but the intricate pattern of twisted stitches does not stand out.

The picot hem, however, was a revelation! Had I known it was this easy, I would have used it before. The top ribbing is always my least-favorite sock part.

Although I use Magic Loop, I never do two socks at a time because I don’t like keeping up with the two separate strands of working yarn. I confuse easily. Because I want to keep my lace mojo going on this pair, I quit knitting this sock at the heel flap, and I am starting the second sock on another circular needle. That way, I am doing two at a time in the sense of leg, leg, heel, heel, foot, foot, and I am getting the hard part over with quickly. This may never be my favorite pair of socks, but I will admit that I am learning new skills.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Knit, Knit, Review

Finally, some finished knitting to show--

The first item is a finished hat for Hats for Sailors. There is a rather lengthy story behind this project. To read about it and to find out how to participate, click on the button in the right sidebar. There is also a Ravelry group. This hat is knitted by the Jacques Cousteau pattern that is available on Ravelry. If you check the finished projects, you will find instructions for knitting the hat from worsted weight instead of DK. The yarn is Knit Picks Swish worsted in the color Truffle. It is a tad bit darker than the picture shows. The yarn was super to knit with. I used about 1 1/2 skeins.

The Clapotis is finished and blocked and photographed. Now I just need to get the nerve to wear it. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to wearing something swingy with panache. This stole-like wrap makes me feel rather Jane Austenish, and I am having trouble figuring out just how to wear it. Of course, it isn’t quite the “thing” to wear with waffle-weave sweats. There’s that lovely scene in Sense and Sensibility when Emma Thompson is walking with Hugh Grant and her stole slips and he grabs the end of it and helps her redrape it. . . . I figure that I will just be lucky not to trip over the end of mine! The actual color of the yarn is a little more burgundy than the picture shows. The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy from The Loopy Ewe. I used not quite all of two skeins. I was going for the rule of 5, but I left myself a little safety room. The blocked measurement is approximately 7 1/2’ x 22”.

Audiobook Review—A Heartbeat Away is an intriguing scientific/medical/political thriller. Michael Palmer does a good job of keeping the reader involved with changes of scene and plot. If you like thrillers, you should find this book a treat.