Friday, August 17, 2007

Unfinished Work

Will I ever finish this piece? I'm beginning to think NOT, and it's frustrating me. Quite some time ago I found a wonderful picture of a stone Buddha on the fridge at a friend's house. Yes, it was a photo posted on a refrigerator!....yet it was the most beautiful face I've ever seen, and I asked my friend right then and there if I could make a copy of it. She gave it to me. I'm not doing anything artistic with it, I'm just copying it. I blew it up to the size I wanted, and I took a lot of time deciding how to convey a sense of the pitted stone in yarn. I'm happy with the mouth and nose. I'm actually quite a bit further along in the weaving than this photo shows. Yesterday I started the left eye. Well, I guess it's really his right eye, but as I work on it it's the eye to my left. I've woven it three times now, and it's still not right. I love everything about this face! He has a beautiful mouth, and a perfectly shaped nose, but his eyes are truly moving. I can't get the right expression. I'm trying not to feel like a failure, but I really do. I'm just a weaver, and if I could figure out how to portray this beautiful face I could weave it without much trouble. It's portraying his amazing expression that's going to defeat me.....

Okay, here he is in the photo. I wasn't going to post this, but he's too beautiful to leave out. How many times have I written that word, beautiful, in this post? I think I'm obsessed with his beauty!

(The colors I'm using are closer to the real photo than this photo would suggest. He's much greener, like he's seen years of moss and algae, and not at all golden as he looks here.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sleep Deprivation

I've been awakened several consecutive nights by this owl. If you click on both the "A" sound and the "B" sound you'll hear what wakens me! It's a soothing sound, and I find it is bringing up some very old memories of sleepless nights full of teenage angst when I would be lulled to sleep by a whippoorwill. If you've never heard a whippoorwill I truly hope someday you will. It's an indescribable experience that is heightened by occurring in the depths of night.

I doubt if I'll ever get to see this owl, so hearing its call is quite intriguing. I'm imagining him (although possibly her) sitting in a spot like this photo, in a tree somewhere nearby, maybe even in my yard. I have heard him for several years now, in the summer when our windows are open. While the voice of a whippoorwill will always bring back details from my bedroom from the mid-70s, now the sound of an Eastern screech owl will be the voice of my menopausal, empter nester years when I don't often sleep through the night.

Recently, during my late evening walks I've been hearing what might be a Great Horned Owl. I'm not completely sure about this as the owl in my neighborhood has a much lower pitched call. All I know for certain is that it is not the same owl as the one that awakens me later in the night. It's interesting to realize that there is such bird life in my suburban town, although my town is rather undeveloped, so less manicured than most 'burbs.

I'm not a "birder," so it's not as if I'm on the lookout for them, and this means I'm sometimes pleasantly surprised by my surroundings. Waking and drifting back to sleep to the sounds of owls (or whippoorwills!) is quite a good experience, something I highly recommend!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Knitting Pattern

Two years ago I started a knitting ministry group in my area. It was not about religion per se, but about the power of knitting to heal us and others. I think the act of making anything by hand and wearing it or giving to someone to wear or use is a powerful totem for good health and protection against bad things. There just has t be a lot of good karma in something that you've made stitch by stitch for yourself or for someone you know. I've made it a point for many years now to wear something handmade everyday. I was surprised at how easy it is to wear some little something made by real hands, mine or others, each day.

So, I figured there were plenty of people in my community who would want to learn to knit now that knitting is so hip and there are so many LYSs (local yarn shops) cropping up again, and so many mega craft stores carrying yarn. I also figured there were plenty of past knitters out there who wanted to start again and just needed a little impetus. So I decided to offer knitting lessons for free and to focus on knitting for others. I was happily surprised at the number of people who have joined, and very pleased at how they each help each other. Even the new knitters now help others. I'm awed by what they do!

Most of the group knits shawls since fit is not an issue and since they don't require any complicated shaping. Some people have moved on to interesting stitch patterns and/or triangular shawls, and some have just continued to knit, knit, knit! Some of the members have learned to make socks, and some have rekindled their talents at making sweaters. Everyone has felt the healing power of just going through the motions of knitting.

So here's one of the shawls for which I've written a pattern. It's not complicated; it's based on the traditional Faeroese triangular shape that starts at the neck edge rather than the bottom point, and makes a shape that stays nicely poised on one's shoulders. Hopefully later today I'll have the PDF!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Summer Vacation

So here's some of what I did on my summer vacation while sailing through the Elizabeth Islands, Martha's Vineyard, and the Cape.

It was a good trip for knitting and spinning. I finished one pair of socks and knit another pair, and I knit the entire front of my next Elsbeth Lavold sweater (I had finished the back before leaving). I think she is one of the most interesting designers. Her pattern writing is so terse, but the patterns themselves are a joy to knit! Like Alice Starmore, even though Lavold's designs look complicated, they knit like a breeze. There's something about the designs that keep me going without any tedium, so they work up more quickly than would seem possible. I don't think I could ever be that gifted designer who could manages to balance a complicated pattern with such logic and grace that the knitting is simple, so I'll just stick to knitting their designs!

Wouldn't you know this sweater, called Hild, was shown in my favorite color in the Silky Wool line! Since I'd already knitted Siv in this color I had to choose something else. I hope I will enjoy this color as much:

The first pair of socks I finished were the Jaywalker socks. I'd already made one months ago and had started the second, so I just finished these up one afternoon. The yarn is Regia Color Effekt.

The second pair of socks was made with yarn bought in June, in Williamsburg. The yarn is Regia Silk Color, and though it really doesn't show in the photo, there is a certain subtle "glow" from the silk.

I had some trouble spinning while away. I'm trying to figure out the best way to spin a worsted single that is medium weight and has very little twist. It's easier on my Lendrum, but I wanted to get some spinning done while sailing so I took my electric spinner. On the electric spinner I could not work out the ratio between slow spinning and slow take up. I had the brilliant idea that I could use my plying head to spin a low twist single, but I didn't take into account how the plying head has even faster take-up since it's used for plying. Ugh. Bob helped me put on a longer piece of cord for Scotch tension so I could slow down the take-up, and he suggested monofilament since it would slip a little which would also slow down the take-up. It worked well! Now that I'm home I think I want to go back to just spinning on a regular wheel, in my case, my Lendrum. I have barely put a dent in my beautiful Romney fleece. I'll never get to dyeing if I don't get a lot of spinning done....and soon!

I'll be home for the whole month of August! I'm looking forward to catching up on a lot of reading and a lot of weaving. By the way, My copy of Tapeis Gael: Weaving in rural Ireland arrived while I was away so I couldn't resist starting to read it moments after it arrived. I've read the first three chapters, and it's well written and a wonderful story of such interesting people!