Recently, and always really, I have been very wrapped up in examining my habits and routines, most of which are positive, at least in intention though not always in execution. For a long time, I have believed that there can be great comfort in daily rituals. Some of the movements within our days are like a prayer, they lift us and move us and they carry us through our days.
Per usual, I started jotting down my ideal routines and thought to start implementing them, but then I realized that what I consider ideal isn’t necessarily realistic or even right for me. Sure, I’d like to get all of my exercise accomplished first thing in the morning, yet my body doesn’t allow that and so I have to do it when I feel best, when it is of greatest benefit and when I’m most likely to enjoy whatever I’m doing. Another routine that is really important to my well being revolves around the things that I do in the hour before I go to bed. Mornings are difficult, yet they are much easier to deal with if I have prepped the coffee maker, laid out my clothing, went through all the steps of my skin care routine, do a quick tidy, and ease into bed by 10pm instead of racing there.
This is all a work in progress, but I’m enjoying it so much more than usual… these observations of myself, learning what works best, living as who I truly am.
- DIY Houses by Night — My goodness, these lit-up houses charm me with their wee glow. I hope that I can remember this idea next December when I’m brightening up the house during the dark days of winter.
- Citrus Salt — I’d like to mix up a batch of this citrus salt, something fresh-like to add to all this root-cellar food.
- Seed Swap Brunch — I attended a brunch at my friend Lee’s house and we swapped seeds. Actually, I just ate and then mooched seeds since I used up almost everything last year.
- Wisconsin Recall Petitions — It is so thrilling that the petition to recall Governor Scott Walker received over one million signatures. The last year has been a politically-heated one here in Wisconsin and the likelihood of upcoming elections is somewhat of a relief. I don’t look forward to all of the attack ads, but that’s why I don’t watch television unless it is a program on DVR so that I can fast-forward through anything unnecessary.
- Very January — I have made six of these in the last year, the One Row Lace Cowl. I usually tire of a pattern quickly, needing to challenge my mind and my crocheting skills on a continual basis. When working on a long-term project, like Mister Winter, I just have to mix in some quick things to make so that I can get my finished-project fix. It’s always the best feeling when I finish something off and then fill in the details on Ravelry.
I am hard at work on Mister Winter and I suspect that I shall be for a good many months to come. I sew in ends as I go but, I swear, it seems as though that takes as much time as the actual crochet work when doing a granny square sort of afghan. Since I won’t see real results on that until I have enough rounds (400? 460? 550? 594?) to start crocheting it together, I am going to attempt to get my finished-project fix by working on smaller things at the same time.
At the beginning of autumn, I bought some bulky yarn in gray with the intention of making something soft and warm for myself. I considered doing yet another cowl, and then it occurred to me that I’ve never made a shawl. I am certain that it’s just the thing that I need for chilly winter mornings. (I’m wearing it now!) I used this sweet, simple pattern called Morning Has Broken. My version is Ashen Mornings.
I would love to use up some odd bits, which I refer to as “crochet of daydreams past”, and include colorful flowers and leaves, circle-in-square motifs that would make a great cat mat, and a few hundred yos that just hang around in a fabric bag. I’ll get to those later.
I have almost 500 yards of pink, cashmere and merino double-knitting yarn that I am just itching to use on something. I am very tempted to finally try Mollie Flowers. They’d make a cute seat cushion, yet I sort of hate to waste something so soft on everyone’s covered bum. (THIS is so gorgeous though.) They’d make a pretty centerpiece for a table maybe, under a bouquet of real flowers in the spring. Whatever I ultimately choose to make, this yarn is my first choice for my next finished-project fix.
I think that I reach for my crochet work when I start to feel the teeniest amount of time crunch leak into my life, as it provides instant meditative relief. Of course, it doesn’t help my time issue much.
Last week, I crocheted another rag rug. I just selected a simple granny square and worked it up with a P/Q hook and a leftover ball of rag strip. When making something like this, all natural crochet movements go out the window. My hands don’t feel the work; It is all in my arms. I reach out and perform the yarn over with my left hand rather than maneuvering my right hand to hook it. The mat didn’t turn out so hot, just an experiment anyhow, but it has given me some ideas for other things that I would like to try. I am kind of tempted to use this piece as the front for a large square pillow form that I have. It would be lovely with a white background on the reclaimed-wood garden furniture in the spring.
I’m back to working on my man’s Mister Winter afghan. There was a winter vibe from its inception, but I began to realize where I am going with it over the last few days. This is what I used for my Ravelry description:
This blanket is inspired by the winters of Sweden: cranberry for the houses dotted throughout the snowy landscape, blues and grays to depict the sky and the darkness, dots of yellow for flickering lights and candles and a little bit of sun, and white for the snow.
It’s going to be huge, or at least that is my intent. My largest crocheted item to date is my daughter’s rainbow granny stitch blanket, which just covers a double bed. I’d like this to be much larger. My goal is to finish early spring. I made a mini version of this pattern earlier this year, a sampler or, um, a cat blanket. One of my favorite things about this design is the way that all of the circles are continuously stitched into a square, and attached to another, in the most lovely fashion. If there’s anything that I dread, it’s sewing granny squares together. I no longer see a reason to do it when they beautifully squared and attached in a much more lovely fashion, at least that works best for me.
I love that there are very few hardcore rules when it comes to crochet and a world of options.
I want to write about clever gifts and sparkly lights, lit candles, warm food, holiday-gathering planning, squall mittens and bulky cowls, dark days, long nights, the woods and the river, and village life.
Instead, I will just keep thinking about all of that and resting a bit. It is such a difficult thing to do, especially in December. I want boundless energy, or just a little bit of energy. I don’t like that it is so finite. I also dislike that I’m griping, though really I’m grateful for all that I do have and all that I can do, even if for the moment it’s just looking at my list of lists as well as all of those subsequent lists.
And maybe lifting my arms enough to crochet some motifs. Oh, and, hello, Friday.
(Gauntlet project HERE.)
We’re going to a concert with the child tonight, so I’m spending the day organizing. It is a constant though… arranging this and that. I would imagine that is the case for most everyone. I enjoy it quite a lot, as long as it’s not an overwhelming task, which I can overcome if I remind myself to take it in small bits.
I’m working on yarns, flosses, and such today, especially trying to make the unattractive corner shelf tolerable.
I was thrilled when Kathreen Ricketson invited me to me part of the 2012 WhipUp.net annual calendar. I remember, last year at this time, pouring over the 2011 calendar and being so amazed by the talent. It is very humbling to be part of this. I tend not to think of myself as a crafter or an artist or anything but… “hey, I like doing this and I’m going to document it a bit”. I did a small interview there and have been featured alongside June calendar girl, Katie of Duo Fiberworks. (There are links to all the contributors HERE.)
The calendar is available for purchase in two formats, a downloadable PDF file (in three calendar designs) or a print-on-demand version from RedBubble, which is quite oversized and glorious.
In other news, I recently purchased the most beautiful pair of earrings from Julie Smith’s Etsy shop, Under the Tulip Tree. She has a blog with the same name and an aesthetic for making simply lovely things that are not too busy. I routinely don a pair of diamond studs that belonged to my grandmother-in-law, and I feel honored to have those, but I’ve been wanting some variety in my decoration. First, it was over-sized rings and now I’m onto earrings.
Next, I might go wild and shop for a bracelet.
I began rag crocheting in October 2010, when I made the “Easy Urban Carryall” (aka ‘the beehive’) from Complete Crochet Techniques and Projects. It was a really easy project, very customizable, and perfect for any beginner. After the first, I made them without a pattern, like the light blue bag that I use to hold extra skeins of yarn during projects.
The ‘frozen earth’ rug is loosely based on a pattern that I found via Ravelry. I followed the directions for five or six rounds, and then I needed to go off on my own and follow the lay of the fabric. It measures 37 inches in diameter, just over three feet. It’s not quite big enough for all of Luna, but she likes to lay on it and wishes to claim it. She would even try to nose it off of my lap while crocheting. Sweet doggy-girl.
I’ve had a lot of inquiries about rag strip crocheting lately. I am no expert, but I have learned a few things through trial and error.
1. There are many items that you can use for rag strip crocheting, but thus far I have used mostly sheets. (I look forward to trying other fibers in the future.) I look for fabric that has been worn thin from use and washing. This will produce a lot less dust and it will be easier to work. Make sure that there aren’t any lint balls on the sheets. Mostly, I would avoid things like flannel and heavy fabrics unless you’re wearing a face mask and/or working outside.
2. Trim the strings as you go. I start the strip, which is 1/2 – 1-inch in width, with a snip of my scissors, and then I tear it to within a half-inch of the opposite edge. I tug on any strings that want to unravel and cut wherever they are attached. Then, I snip the opposite end and rip again before taking care of those strings. The first time that I stripped a sheet, I didn’t cut off any of the strings until I was done tearing it up and I had a terrible rat’s nest at the end. Also, despite all of this, expect to encounter strings. Sadly, some of the best fabrics produce the most string, as seen in the comparison of the blue and green balls that I made. (That green ball, the better fabric of the two, weighs 1.88 pounds.) While working with the green, I frequently stopped to trim more loose strings. However, this fabric was smooth enough for the rug and the blue turned out too heavy. I’m saving it for another project, an experiment.
3. Speaking of rat’s nest, I find it helpful to roll my yarn balls as I tear my strips. I let it build up for a little bit and then I wrap it. If I don’t, I will have a knot of that too.
4. Rag crocheting with sheets is a workout. I have found it helpful to take frequent breaks, especially until you are used to it. Adjusting one’s grip on the hook, fiber, or project to may help to keep hands and arms from getting too sore. I work less with my hands and more with my shoulders, particularly that right deltoid.
5. If working on something flat and round, like a rug, the increases may need to be adjusted to accommodate wrinkles or curling. If it begins to curl, there needs to be more increases. If it wrinkles, there are too many increases. When changing fabrics during a project, that may cause sudden curling or wrinkles as well. I sometimes need to unravel and adjust. When I added the last color into the rug, it immediately began to wrinkle although I was not increasing at all. I never increased again after adding that color. Weird.
6. Instead of stitch markers, a piece of yarn works just fine for keeping track of where your rows/rounds start. I use this method for most of my crocheting.
7. If the rug still wrinkles or curls a bit when done, you can mist it with a water bottle and smooth out most problems with a hot iron.
The reasons that I am participating in AEDM include:
- I already do art every day, whether it’s doodling in a tiny sketchbook that I keep in my purse, setting the table, or working on design in my studio.
- Since I do this daily, it will take no extra time or energy.
- I’m aware that creativity is intertwined with all of our lives, whether we realize it or not, and I want to make myself see that even more clearly.
- AEDM is really flexible, so there’s no need for me to post daily or spend extra time online in any way. In fact, it could go the other way as most active creative endeavors keep me far from the computer.
- Participation (read: thinking about creativity) may be the catalyst to begin some new projects and/or finish up some old ones.
- We are all busy and I won’t use that as an excuse not to participate. I have long been ridden with stifling, painful diseases and I didn’t let that stop me from living a creative life then. I just don’t see how having a full life should prevent me from living a creative one as well.
To reiterate, this challenge requires no extra time or energy, only awareness. I am always open to that. [Edit: I just reread this post and I hope it doesn’t sound like a rant. This is self-clarification because I need to remind myself at times.]
[Quote: “But out of limitations comes creativity.” — Debbie Allen]
Last night, I took the Marte hood off of the blocking board and stitched it together. I have had my eye on this design since January, which is when I purchased the pattern. I gave it a quick try then, but I really just wanted to get going on the Under the Rainbow granny stripe afghan. I started the hood afresh earlier this month and it worked up quickly.
Voila, my Darkening Days Hood!