Friday, June 24, 2016

Stitching into Summer

A few months ago, I read about the book Slow Stitch. Last week I checked it out from the library. The author presents an approach to textile art that includes mending, darning, embroidery, and repurposing. She showcases several different artists. In most of the work, the imperfections of hand stitching become part of an art piece. She writes of building up worn fabrics by incorporating a patch into the fabric. I particularly enjoyed a section on Kate Bowles and her handmade books. Slow Stitch also includes sections on stitch journals as well as dying embroidery thread with natural materials such as onion skins, walnuts, and black beans. I have no plans to dye thread but it is interesting to read about it. In fact, I may never create textiles like those in the book but I'm intrigued by following the process back through all steps to better understand stitching. It reminds me of following words and ideas back to their origins while writing.  Reusing or even using materials on hand also appeals to me. Wellesley-Smith's ideas seem like an interesting jumping off point for creating and making. I found this book to be good reading on a summer day.

In a different kind of slow stitching, I finished Jonah's Christmas stocking. Although it is made of entirely new materials (if nothing, I am inconsistent) I lined it with a found piece of fabric. The pattern was published in the 1950's. For me, intarsia knitting is an exercise in slowing down. This project required some quiet extended knitting time without listening to podcasts or an audiobook. Picking up and twisting in each color while following the chart goes best one stitch at a time. The finishing that involves steam blocking, weaving in of at least 52 million ends, cinching up a few gaps between colors, seaming the stocking, and sewing and installing a lining took four days to complete. While this stockings was an exercise in patience, slowing down gave me plenty of time to knit love and care into the project. I had fun imagining what this little guy will look like through the coming years. Right now, he is five and a half months old and growing like a summer weed. This is Jonah, in his whale swim trunks, a few week ago. He's grown since then.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

June Knitting Notes

Hello. As sometimes happens, spring has jumped into hot summer with near 100 degree days. When the Christmas stocking (see previous post) is finished, I'll cast on another project or two that doesn't involve a large mass of wool in my lap. I steam blocked the stocking and wove in at least fifty two ends. Next I'll mattress stitch the seam. Then I'll make a lining, crochet a loop for hanging, and sew the most important jingle bell to the toe. This is record time for completing one of these stockings.


By the end of May, I finished the Frozen Silver Shawl with two yards of yarn to spare. The shawl turned out to be a large slightly dramatic asymmetrical triangle. It seems to call for a wearer who is taller than 5'2" and wears something besides t-shirts with a cotton skirt, yoga pants, khaki capris, or slacks. I often wear smaller shawls out to dinner, to the library, grocery store, farmer's market or gatherings with friends. I may give the shawl away or maybe we will have to dress up and buy symphony tickets.

Regardless, the soft rose yarn and two stitch patterns were a joy to knit. I had previously knit one of the stitches in the Honey Cowl. Since the cowl is worked in the round and the shawl is knit from side to side, the same stitch can be made in two different ways. This is useful information. Although we knitters may not use a technique or construction method forever, many of us seek to learn new skills, try different constructions, and discover new tricks and tips. The possibilities are endless. I also applaud the knitting community's respect for individual differences and preferences.

Now I am mulling over smaller projects - mitts, socks, mittens and perhaps a smaller shawl.
First I have to hook up the soaker hose and water the tomatoes and basil. A few weeks from now, they will make a delicious pasta sauce. Happy Summer.