Friday, December 29, 2006

As the dust settles....

The dust is starting to settle from Christmas excitement and thoughts are turning to the new year. What will be my resolutions? What do I need to finish up from 2006? And what new adventures can I plan for 2007? While I contemplate these important questions, here is a project I completed in time for Christmas.

This pillow cover is made from commercially-spun thick and thin yarn. Since I had limited time, I chose to knit the pillow cover on the bias. Yes, I know there are just as many stitches regardless of the direction, but starting at the corner with just a few stitches allowed me to avoid knitting a swatch. I just increased until the garter-stitch fabric was an inch or so narrower than the pillow insert, then started decreasing along one edge, while still increasing along the other. When the longer edge was twice the length of the pillow, plus some, I changed to decreasing on both edges. The result was a long rectangle. I picked up and knitted 4 inches of rib on each end, then sewed up the pillow cover so that the overlap would be in the middle back of the pillow. Stuffing the pillow inside, I found that the overlap wasn't enough to avoid gapping, so I added three matching buttons. The buttons are small enough that they can be pushed through the ribbing without making buttonholes. With one extra skein I made the 4 tassels. Result: one soft, yet interestingly textured pillow.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wishing for Peace and Good Will for All!

I've been so very busy dealing with the detritus of a busy year that I keep forgetting to relax and enjoy the holiday season. To remind myself I look at the ornaments on my tree, each of them a record of special friends and good times, vacations and other travels through life. Some are made by my talented comrades in fiber art, others were picked up as souvenires to remind me of trips to special places, and still more are symbols of my shifting enthusiasms over the various stages of my life. All-in-all, my tree serves as a personal resume that tells all about my life, yet can only be read by me.

Happy holidays to you and yours!! May the new year add a few more treasured memories to next year's tree.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Snow day

I had major ambition to do my Christmas baking today but I woke up to enough snow that a trip to the grocery store for a necessary ingrediant was not to be accomplished. Instead there was plenty of shoveling, then time to work on more burning of the trailer table. After about 6 more hours of work my hand is cramped and sore, but I am victorious in having completed burning the pattern. Although I did burn "2006" onto the bottom, I probably won't complete the painting and sealing until into the new year. It will be nice to install my first bit of customization into the trailer and make her really mine!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Table progress report

I'm moving along on creating a new table for the trailer. I spent several hours Monday evening drawing the design in pencil. Tonight I started the woodburning. I completed the general structure of the vines and the center part of the sun design in about 3.5 hours. I still have thousands of little leaves to burn and the rays of the sun before I can start painting. The grain in the plywood makes even burning pretty difficult.

Enough for tonight. I'll press on tomorrow evening.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

One size only fits some

I have just committed to having the little trailer road-ready for an event in March. That leaves lots to do in a short time. One of the projects I am doing for her is to replace the splintery-on-the-bottom-and-boring-on-the-top table with something more, well, artsy. It has to fit into the slot between the benches and be strong enough to function as part of the bed, so I settled on 3/4 inch plywood. For added strength I will add the angle iron pieces that are attached to the current table. After careful measurement I went to Home Depot for plywood, woodfiller, and an orbital sander. Being an optimist, I figured the only difficulty in choosing a power tool was being confused by a myriad of accessory options. Instead I learned a depressing fact: they don't make them for people with small hands. An orbital sander requires the user to grasp the top of the tool to control it. It was immediately clear that almost all of them are made for large-handed gorillas. Only one was small enough for my hand - the Black & Decker "Mouse". This is a cute little thing that would make serious tool guys sneer. It looks more like a propless helicopter than a mouse. It works well enough and has cool "Gel" pads that cushion the hand from the vibrations. I sanded the table top, rounding the edges and corners. I applied wood filler to the gaps in the plies along the edges, and will give it a sanding with a finer grit when the filler dries. Then I get to do the fun part - designing, woodburning and painting. Meanwhile, I have learned that sawdust sticks remarkably well to flannel pajamas.

Yesterday was the spinning guild's annual Holiday Party. Along with a fabulous potluck, a silent auction, and general merriment, we had an ornament exchange. I was happy to see that several needle-felted ornaments had resulted from last month's workshop. I do believe I made the score of the day, since I ended up with this fabulous felted dog made by Connie. She is modeled after Connie's dog, Sophie. Isn't she fabulous!?!

Must go work on holiday projects while the wood-filler dries...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas Secrets, Glorious Yellow, and Knitting at the DMV

As the holidays grow larger on the horizon, my spare time is taken over by secret Christmas projects. No pictures or details will be given out until after the magic morning. You'll just have to check back.

Meanwhile, I have found myself short on yellow so last night I mixed up a dyepot with a generous amount of "Sabraset Sun Yellow 180". I threw in a mixed mass of white wool including romney, merino, and some alpaca. I stewed the stuff in the crockpot on low for a couple of hours. The resulting color (after rinsing) was the most glorious yellow imaginable! Unfortunately the picture doesn't come close to its full glory. There was still plenty of dye in the pot, so I threw in a mixed bunch of... well.... pretty ugly pastel stuff. The blue turned to a nice green, but the best transformation of all was the pink mohair curls that turned a beautiful russet orange-gold. The dyepot still wasn't exhausted so I threw in more white and and left it slowly cooling in the crockpot overnight. The result was a lemon yellow - not as glorious as the first batch, but good enough to allow me to save the first batch for a special project.

Saturday I took my new little trailer to the DMV for VIN inspection and registration. This should have been relatively simple. It took over 4 hours. The VIN was nowhere to be found and the nice inspector's computerized engraving tool refused to engrave through 53 year old petrified paint. He ended up dusting off an old toolbox full of metal stamps and hammering the VIN into the trailer tongue with a heavy mallet. (The folks in the cars behind me in line looked kinda testy, but noone honked. Perhaps that was due to the obvious presence of traffic cops.) Once inside, the DMV officer mistyped my drivers license and, due to the arcane complexity of the DMV's computer system, it took several supervisors and a couple of hours to keep my trailer's plates from being mailed to some guy named Roger Marsh. This is where the magical stress-relieving properties of knitting came into play. I just sat back in my chair and knitted. Although I did not, as predicted by one frustrated employee, finish a sweater while I waited, I was able to remain calm and breezy.