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.

Tuesday, January 17, 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,

Monday, January 2, 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 ...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

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.