Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A diversion ...

The Celtic quilt requiring much focused attention is on hold for a bit. The dimensions of my currently finished blocks are causing concern. Somewhat skeptical of how to proceed, so I've shelved it for the duration and will re-tackle it after a good rest hopefully restores my faith and vision. Have offers from the local quilt shop to present my queries and will most likely take them up on the offer. What to do when one's blocks come out smaller than expected?

So in the meantime I decided it would behoove me to work on something less challenging, and fulfilling. And that's exactly how I've proceeded. Found another lovely pattern in my favorite book and went ahead and worked on it as a scrappy quilt. The pattern is less than pronounced seeing how it's made of scraps, yet still, I am very fond of it. Scrap quilts, I dare say, are my favorite: Something from scraps. How perfectly delightful!

I have sewn all the pieces so far on my 1878 Wheeler & Wilson treadle sewing machine, but now that I will be assembling these pieces into yet larger structures and then gathering those into a quilt, I may switch to the modern--yet deficient--machine. If only because it's much faster. For shame I should succumb to such trivial concerns! I have all the time in the world! ... I haven't quite decided yet.

I laid the pieces out on the living room floor this morning to ensure a somewhat balanced--and correctly oriented--placement. Picture herewith. All that remains is assembling the pieces into blocks, blocks into rows, rows into quilt, and then 3 (most likely) borders in green, blue, and purple.

I DO love scrappy quilts.



If you tilt your head back and squint you may be able to discern the pattern that is partially obscured by the use of various tints and shades of scraps.

Sharing a poem ...

It's been a while since I shared a poem, but I recently came upon one which must be shared.

THE INVITATION
By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesnt interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if have been opened
by life's betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn't interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
"Yes."

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Project lists ...

I was just musing over all the projects I'd like to take on this spring (my mind is wandering on ahead--just a little--on a temporary sojourn to green breezes and dandelions; I'll come back in a few minutes).

There are new flower beds to dig--I want a bed all along the perimeter of the new deck. I'd like to plant some apple trees; at least a few of them. Red currants would be lovely to harvest. The big old patch of rugosa roses which came back to life after an initial attempt to dig them up last spring, is a spot I'd like to turn into a large circular garden. I think this year I'll need to hire someone with a bulldozer to level the area. In fact, the whole back field is a bit rough and a good leveling would open it up to many possibilities. At some point the driveway needs to be done up, with drainage systems installed. The front yard--from where I park the car to the steps of the deck--needs to be bulldozed as well, to remove the old dirt, packed down from years of use as a driveway. Then I can seed a nice lawn there.

Speaking of new beds, I came upon this series of videos on YouTube by Charles Dowding. He is a most fascinating man, full of knowledge and helpful information. I'm going to try his method this year:


One project that will get done this spring is the entry-room off the kitchen. I will have it insulated: Top, bottom, and sides; and sheet rocked. A proper entry door/screen combo will replace the fimsy, totally ineffective screen door that now hangs as the main entry to the house. Perhaps down the line, I can install a wood cook stove in there. Wouldn't that be just lovely? Fondly remembering the ones we had in our kitchen all through my growing-up years, and the one my Aunt Rose would always be attending to whenever I was at my grandmother's visiting. Wood cook stoves--in addition to being very useful--are also like teddy bears and security blankets. They bring comfort and reassurance. I think the reason is that they don't depend on 3rd parties for their operation. No electric, or propane delivery needed. In a pinch, a trip to the woods with an axe will get one through emergency situations. These "old" ways are good comforts.

Indoors, once the entry-way is finished with a closet in place, the closet in the music room will become a built-in reading nook with storage bench. It will make a great napping-cot and could even be used as an extra bed when necessary. The upper stair well needs to be painted. I bought the paint a few months ago. Just waiting for warmer weather now. Otherwise, it's pretty well settled in these rooms.

I have some spinning to finish, a loom that needs dressing, a quilt that needs finishing, another quilt that needs to be re-tackled, two quilts which need binding, the 'big honkin' shawl which has reached the point of having a will of it's own: Getting tricky to hold the whole mess of stitches in my lap as I try my best to finish it!! I have an inkle loom in the upstairs closet that I would like to dust off and get some bands woven. My interest in card weaving is piquing again.

There is no shortage of projects to work on. No shortage.

Meanwhile, I made this wallet last weekend; 3 hours on Saturday evening. I like it so much I went to the local quilt shop today and purchased two more clasps so I can make others.



I "fussy cut" the fabric out of a panel like this one: Peacock Panel. It was a very fun project.

Another YouTube series I recently discovered is this series on 18th Century cooking: James Townsend and Son. Absolutely fascinating and fun! History, food, how could it go wrong? Must share this series with you. He's got many videos up on YouTube.





Monday, January 16, 2017

Count down ...

25 rows and counting... ain't lifting off in the near future! But that's 12 rows down from my last post on the 'big honkin' shawl'. I found some lovely, beautifully colored beads at GemStar in Enfield, NH last week for the outside edge of the shawl. I snapped them up because it's unsure at the moment when in NYC I'll next be--may be a week or two away.



Over the long weekend I wound a warp for my next weaving project--an 8-shaft overshot table runner in 4 colors. Oooh-la-la. I forget how pleasant winding the warp can be--especially on a project that is neither too big nor too small. It goes surprisingly quickly, and the methods--much gratitude to those who came before and worked them out--are so ingenious. I'm warping the loom back-to-front this time for the first time ever. My standard has been front-to-back dressing of the loom. The difference is that in back-to-front warping, the entire warp is wound on to the warp beam before threading the heddles and sleying the reed. In front-to-back, the reed is sleyed, the heddles are threaded, and then the warp is wound on through the whole kit and kaboodle. Back-to-front is supposed to be (or maybe that's just my fantasy) a little more streamlined and easier. We (the queen's prerogative! :) ) shall see.

Also this weekend I made up my mind to shelve the Celtic quilt for a short time, and proceed to something less intense. I found a lovely old Amish design that I will interpret as a scrap quilt. It's much, much, much less detailed than the Celtic top and is just the sort of relaxing project I need at the moment, coming out of an almost year-long struggle with matters existential. Can't life be just the bugger sometimes!? I picked out colors from my now rather extensive stash on Saturday, started cutting on Sunday, and got most of the pieces I need ready today. Tomorrow I may start sewing the first blocks, but I need to do laundry and work starts again so we shall see.

I'm happy and thankful to report that music has been progressing in ways almost beyond my dreams. I think I knew it was possible to awaken the muscles of my left side and shoulder from the surgery of years ago, and recent strides are making it a reality. I'm working very hard on a piano piece for left hand, hoping to play it on inauguration day (not to bring up that whole sordid and frightening affair). I'm pushing it, to be sure. I'm down to the last page note-wise; there are some phrases at the end very similar to phrases at the beginning but different in subtle ways. Then there's the element of speed--the piece needs to zip along. What am I working on, you ask? I'm not saying, it's a secret! :) But when it's ready--whether this week or not--I'll post a video of it here.

Cello is also progressing well, if I dare say so. It really is very difficult to play an unfretted, stringed instrument! It also takes considerable discipline on my part at the moment. It's very easy indeed to rationalize putting off practice! Progress is slow, but when I take an objective view I see that I have and am making progress. I never expected it to be easy. On the contrary, I knew from piano that taking lessons as an adult is hard. It really is! But fulfilling, and worth every moment of struggle.

Remembering Martin Luther King today,




Sunday, January 1, 2017

Winter ...

In all it's glory. We--those who shovel the driveways, decks, and walkways--have been fortunate that the season's snowfalls--so far--have been light, fluffy, powdery ice crystals.

I have learned that the trick to shoveling the driveway is to have an arsenal of approaches; a battery of physical positions that one can switch into and out of frequently so as to vary stresses on the body. And most successful of all are the variations that allow workouts on contrary motions. So I can now switch between left and right dominant motions, over or under grasps, shoulder or hip workouts in a way that doesn't get me all tired out before I reach the end of the driveway. I suppose this awareness stems from the time I spent taking Alexander Technique lessons. To be sure, shoveling the drive is an aerobic exercise, and with a little mindfulness can employ the whole body in a balanced workout instead of a grinding, dangerously repetitive routine. Mind you, I'm not glorifying shoveling! I'd just as soon stay in and knit. But if one must shovel, it behooves us to do so in a way that is most beneficial! Honestly--if one's going to work that hard, let there be some benefit to it! :)

But it sure is beautiful ... our most recent storm ...


A cowl ...

Golly, this one was finished shortly after the VT Sheep and Wool festival. It's report must have got lost in the shuffle!

From a single skein of 'art' spun wool, a cowl... or... cache pot! :)

Yes, it works as a cache pot in a pinch--if one feels compelled to cover up for a special occasion:



Or, if one has a torso as small as a small alabaster sculpture, it can make do as a keep-warm wrap:



But best of all, it's a stylish, warm, cowl. I am especially fond of the colors and textures in this yarn.

Happy New Year! ... And a big honkin' shawl...

First and foremost, Happiest of New Years to all! It's my sincere hope and wish that your dreams comes true, and peace be yours. Looking forward.

- * - * - *- * -

Yes, a big honkin' shawl. One of the reasons, perhaps, why activity here on the blog has been--shall we say--lean. I'm surprised to discover this evening that I haven't specifically mentioned this shawl before. Heaven knows, it's been in the works for a while. It will be large when finished and blocked. It is currently up to about 800 stitches around the perimeter and I still have several rounds to go. It takes at least half an hour to forty minutes to add just one row of stitches!



You can't tell from this picture, but the finished shawl will be square. The pattern is called "In My Garden", knit in Estonian lace stitches.

I have 37 more rows to go; at the current rate that's about 18 hours worth of knitting. Gee, makes me hope I mis-calculated!! But not, and it will go by quickly and I know that when the knitting is done, I will miss this project. As is the case with most large projects, it becomes part of one's routine--the fabric of one's life, one can say. And I will feel a little lost when it's done and I can no longer turn to it for a period of meditation and/or relaxation and--during difficult times even--solace. But not to fear: There are other projects lined up!

Just this evening I decided I will incorporate crimson red beads into the last row of the border. I think that will look quite striking. There is a wonderful place in the city called Bead Paradise (I've mentioned it before)--one of my favorite stores in the whole town--that will have the perfect beads for it ($$!!), but also, nearer to home now, is a place in Enfield, NH: Gemstar that sells beads in addition to minerals and gems. If I'm still working on the shawl in 2 to 3 weeks from now, I will visit Paradise in NYC because I know I can find something very special there; otherwise, I shall traipse over to Gemstar and visit the Shaker Museum which is not far from it on the same trip. That's always a treat.