Friday, November 22, 2013

Project Portfolio :: My fourth Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief.

After I finished my previously shown shawl, but while the Age of Brass and Steam Sal/Kal was still going on, I decided to start another shawl with the same pattern. My sister was wanting a shawl and the Age of Brass seemed the perfect fit. This is the fourth one I have knit and it fairly flew off of the needles. The yarn I used was all various handspun skeins that I spun over the last year or so. I believe the majority of it was spindle-spun; I can't remember about the last section though...that may have been done on my wheel. I obviously need to keep a more detailed spinning journal!
 Instead of doing the standard bind-off I opted for a few more rows of garter stitch and then did a picot bind-off. It made for a tidy edge and the picot gave it a nice feminine flair. I've always been a fan of picots, other then the fact that they eat up a lot of yardage. But it's worth the yard and time in the end. 
The shawl blocked out beautifully.  I just wet it, squeezed out the water, and laid it flat to dry on a towel. When cold weather hits blocking knit items does become rather tedious. It sometimes takes days for things to dry and this little shawl was no exception. It always amazes me how blocking works miracles on a project. This particular pattern is very forgiving when it comes to blocking. A lot or a little, it always turns out splendid. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spinning in Literature

"People speak of the way in which harp-playing sets off a graceful figure; spinning is almost as becoming an employment. A woman stands at the great wool-wheel, one arm extended, the other holding the thread, her head thrown back to take in all the scope of her occupation; or if it is the lesser spinning wheel for flax (and it was this that Sylvia moved forwards to-night) the pretty sound of the buzzing, whirring motion, the attitude of the spinner, foot and hand alike engaged in the business - the bunch of gay coloured ribbon that ties the bundle of flax on the rock - all make it into a picturesque piece of domestic business that may rival harp-playing any day for the amount of softness and grace which it calls out."

~Excerpt taken from Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell.

I have always enjoyed reading through the classics. Elizabeth C. Gaskell's more popular works such as Wives & Daughters, North and South, & Cranford, are all particular favorites of mine. I have also enjoyed the BBC screen adaptations of the above named novels. In comparison to Jane Austen I find that E. Gaskell is not always as well known as an author. Often Jane Austen is raved about in particular circles while Mrs. Gaskell is almost virtually unknown. I find Jane Austen novels intersting, but nothing in comparison to E. Gaskell. Jane Austen had a very keen insight into the character and emotions of people in everyday circumstances. Her characters are very believable because they are so relatable, even to those of us in a completely different time period. 
However, much like Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell tackled problems of the day and culture in which she wrote. There is a depth to her books and they give you something to bite into and chew over for awhile, making for a fascinating reading experience. 
After being familiarly acquainted with the three novels I have mentioned, I recently decided to read some of Mrs. Gaskell's lesser know works. I read Ruth recently, and am still formulating my thoughts on that one. It's a different style then her other books I had read and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I'm hoping someone of my acquaintances will read it and then we can have a jolly discussion about it. I'm still working up a book review for that one.
Having finished Ruth I moved on to Sylvia's Lovers. I was hesitant about starting it, based on the name. It sounded a bit absurd and not my cup of tea at all. But it was a free kindle download so I took a chance. During the week I don't have a lotnof time for reading, normally I squeeze it in during my lunchtime. Right now I'm 37% through Sylvia's Lovers and I am enjoying it. The first part moves slowly, there is a great deal of whaling talk as it is set in and around a whaling town & community. But it reads much like Mrs. Gaskell's more popular works and thus far I have found it quaint and enjoyable. Probably one of the reasons I like it so much is the fact that there is so much spinning and knitting mentioned. It's not often that I come across fiber arts in reading, so when I do I am thrilled. I'll be sure to share some more snippets on future posts. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Summer in Snapshots :: Part Two

1. More turquoise toes. And a bark dye stock. I did a little natural dyeing this summer. I will share photos of the tumeric-dyed Romney soon. This particular dye bath never went anywhere though. I had to leave the bark to soak for two weeks. And then I forgot about it and next time I checked it there were little creatures swimming in the water. Maybe next summer I will have more success with bark and dyeing.
2. My favorite spot to spin in the summer is out on the cement slab that functions as a patio for us. Part of the day it is shaded and part of the day the sun shines on it. At the height of summer it is often too hot to spin there in the sun but there's normally shade in the mornings and certain times in the Afternoon. I like to spin here in the evenings too, when everything is glowing and golden. I hung my lighthouse chimes in the tree and between those, the birds, the pretty flowerbeds, and the general sounds of summer it makes a nice place to congregate in the evenings.
3. We have a long hedge of Concord Grapes that my Grandpa planted on the property years ago. They are old and gnarly, and they need a great deal of love. I've done some research on when to prune them and how to care for them. Three years in a row someone stole the grapes right out from under us. Last year however we were able to pick them first and they made the most delicious grape jelly. Nothing compares to homemade grape jelly. Sadly to say they didn't do as well this year so no jelly until next fall.
4. When Queen Anne's Lace first unfurls it is glorious to behold. I've heard these also make excellent dye. 
5. & 6. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea Purpurea) and Painted Daisies from my flower patch in the garden. Interesting fact I learned about Echinacea today, its name originally came from the Greek word echinos which means hedgehog. This is in reference to the spiky center of the flower.
My flowers did very well this summer. They bloomed all summer and very late into October. Cold weather and frost have finished them off for this year. I'm looking forward to adding to the patch next year. Winter is the time to study seed catalogs and plot out next year's gardening strategy.
7. We had a wonderful apple crop this year. These were also planted by my Grandpa, many  years ago. They've never done well for us but this year both trees were loaded with apples! We picked a few in September but most of them weren't ready until recently. We just finished picking them last week. I would like to make apple butter out of some of them. But many will end up as pie or just be eaten as snacks.