Bobbles and Tudors, Thistles and Sunflowers

West Highland Way the 5th (knitting pattern) arrived this week. It is covered in bobbles. I love it!

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(Photo credit: katedaviesdesigns.com)

Look at those perfect bobbles! My bobbles don’t look half so good. I downloaded the pattern and looked at how her bobbles are made. Of course they are made differently than the instructions I’ve been following.

I may have to knit this. It’s lovely. But I will probably wait it out a bit to see what other patterns are on the horizon. I have a pretty limited yarn allowance.

If I do knit this, what color? I love Campion (red.) But, as we all know, dark blue (Lochan) is my color. That will be a tough choice.

I also love the The Shieling. My husband is a (maternal) McLean, and wore his tartan on our wedding day. My boys also wore McLean tartan ties, and they all wore thistles in their boutonnieres. So the thistle is mighty close to my heart. This might replace the gansey bed cover I was planning for our tiny house.

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It’s a Canada Thistle , and not a Scottish thistle, because we used a florist that sources from local farms and wildcrafters. (I’m not sure we could get Scottish Thistles here even if we tried.)

Anyway, the boys had thistles. The girls had sunflowers. It was a beautiful fall day. And I made my own dress. Lovely.

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The boys are standing on a log here. That’s why they tower over everyone.

Maybe I could knit some sunflower cushions that would work with the thistle blanket?

I have been reading Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, Murder. I love English history, and this book is well written but still manages to flesh out the bones. Did the Tudor princes read Machiavelli, or was The Prince written about them? It was published around the same time. Probably neither. Perhaps it simply reflected the times. But you could learn a lot from this book if you were an insecure monarch, or a ruthless entrepreneur.

While I was searching for names and images of some of the lesser known figures in the book, I came across this compilation of sketches by Hans Holbein the Younger. They are stunning. Almost photographic. They have a quickness and liveliness that is missing in formal paintings, like the past brought to life.

Of course I googled “Tudor knitting” and landed on “Tudor Roses,” a book by Alice Starmore. I reserved it from the library. I doubt I will knit anything from it, but I’m sure I will enjoy looking through it.

One of the things I love about this time period is the use of symbols, which is discussed lightly in the book. Tudors were great at Public Relations, masters of spin!

Red Rose for Lancaster. White Rose for York. Tudor Rose combines both and symbolizes rightful reign.

Thistle for Bob. Sunflower for Alissa…

Sunthistle, anyone?

A Mid-Winter’s Walk

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It is early on Sunday, and I am still in bed, drinking my second cup of coffee in my I Like Big Balls mug. I had a busy and productive week at work with putting up our winter sale and lots of inventory management to be done for the year. I took on the week like a dog with an old shoe, and this coming week promises to be just the same, with our inventory day on Tuesday. That’s the way I like to work. Chew chew chew!

Yesterday, I did laundry and knit all day while I caught up on Peaky Blinders. I am still plugging along on current knitting projects. I get a little bit done here, and a little done there. I got the most done on Harald’s sweater, ploughing through row after row of stockinette during the tense moments of the show. I knit like I exercise: to whatever pace the music is playing. That’s why I row (on the machine) to reggae, because slow and steady is a better pace for me physically.

Last week, I received the first announcement from the WHW Club. There is to be a hat design contest with the new Milarrochy Tweed yarn! I got pretty excited about it, but realized I was going to need some inspiration to move forward. Luckily, inspiration is all around! Just like love! And Christmas! (Love Actually reference) (Don’t click on that unless Christmas lives in your heart all year round, like it does mine.)

I decided to take a cue from Kate and find inspiration in my surroundings, hence the mid-winter’s walk title and photo above, taken on my week off after Christmas. That’s all I’m going to say right now, because after color sketches of a few ideas, I have to let it all bake before I can come up with something realistic and workable. It felt great, though, to be inspired again and to be sketching. I just have to remember I am doing this for fun.

You know what’s fun? A Q&A. Here’s one I missed last week from nothingbutknit, who found it on Katja’s blog. My answers are below:

  1. Your earliest memory of sewing/crafting?

My Grandmother taught me to sew by hand and embroider at a young age. I think my first project was sewing bias tape (probably homemade from fabric) around the edge of a round denim pot holder, whip stitch. I can’t remember my first embroidery project. I think it was a handkerchief or a kitchen towel with a flower embroidered on it.

  1. What is your most beautiful make?

Years ago, I knit The Peace Shawl from Jaggerspun Zephyr wool and silk blend for a church silent auction, in a dove gray. Someone purchased it (donation to the church) and I knit it for them. It was quite beautiful. I hope they liked it. I never heard back, which upset me a little. I may have a photo somewhere.

  1. What is your most challenging make?

The series of artwork I did for the Big show at Lindsay Gallery in 2010. Not only were they difficult to execute, of course, but they were also difficult to conceive. How to put the concept into a form? I think this work is also beautiful in its own way.

  1. Your most impractical make that you like but can’t really wear/use?

I would say the artwork, but I sold about half of it. Money is pretty practical. So, maybe I’ll say the artwork I haven’t sold but have kept in a tub in the basement. I keep thinking I will put some of it up in my house since I don’t have a studio anymore. It might be inspiring.

  1. What is your most worn/used make?

I knit and felted a yoga mat bag which I used for years and years. I spilled candle wax on it, though, and had to give it up recently. That ties with the Danish Protest Cap I knit for Harald when he was 5. He doesn’t wear it anymore, but I do. The pattern was from Nordic Knits, which – I am heartbroken to say – I gave away during the studio purge of 2010. Designs include pieces from museums, including the hat, which the Danes wore in protest during the Nazi occupation. I knit it for Harald, because he’s been a Resister from a young age. I also knit a Victorian shawl from this book, which didn’t come out like I had hoped, so I no longer have it. I would knit it again, but using a different yarn. I know so much more now.

  1. If you had no limits, what would you like to create?

I had an idea a long time ago to knit a giant womb / red tunnel passage that people would walk through and unravel on their way through. At the end of the show/performance/exhibit there wouldn’t be anything left, and everyone who came would have a length of red yarn to keep.

  1. What is your favourite material to work with?

Wool yarn.

  1. What is the next technique you would like to learn?

Crocheting with wire. I will keep trying.

  1. What is the topmost item on your sewing/crafting wish list?

More yarn please.

  1. What is one sewing/crafting challenge you want to take for the year 2018?

I am thinking about giving myself a goal of knitting 12 things in 2018, so one thing per month. I see others are doing “18 in 18.” That seems doable. Watch me knit a rash of coasters next December to meet my goal!

I forgot to update on how the girly cowl was received. She wasn’t sure what to do with it, but when I modeled it for her, she said it was cute! It has certainly been cold enough for her to wear it, so I hope she’s enjoying it.

I intend to go on another mid-winter walk in the woods today! It should warm up a little. I hope you are cozy and warm with a hot cuppa something!

New Year’s Day Round Up

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I finally get to hang up my Goats of Anarchy calendar. I’ve had it since September!

I didn’t blog every day between Christmas and New Year’s, but I did knit almost every day. Here are some project updates.

My J&S swatch is coming along. It’s time to experiment with the cables. I was pleased I could jump right back into 2-color stranded knitting, although my tension was a little off on the purl row back. Luckily the sweater should be knit in the round.

Here is a tip. If you want to manifest something into your life, put it on your blog! Look what I got for Christmas!

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One of my presents from Bob was also to sign me up for Kate Davies’ West Highland Way Club – patterns only, but I will certainly be saving my pennies for some yarn as well. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait for it to start!

I did swatch the J&S Shetland while watching Shetland a second time. (I had to for tongue-in-cheek purposes.) I tried to take a photo but couldn’t get one worth sharing. In the first episode, one of the characters is wearing Kate Davies’ Peerie Flooers hat. When I saw that, I remembered I was introduced to Kate Davies Designs through the show the first time I watched it. I think that moment was the spark that rekindled my love of knitting last year. (Hmm… that hat is knit with J&S jumper weight… Hmm…)

Although, I will probably knit the Goats of Inversnaid hat first. What can I say? I really love goats. And so does my youngest. He might get a goat hat, too.

I’m off to make a digital vision board for 2018 full of knitting hopes and dreams.  Happy New Year! What are your aspirations for 2018?

Art is a Bitch

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Bob and I went to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the Wexner yesterday. Cindy Sherman was my favorite artist in college. I was a photographer (degree is BA in Visual Arts Studio, Emphasis Photography) so of course she was a huge influence on me. Seeing the Film Stills in person made me feel nostalgic, but I enjoyed being introduced to her new work as we moved through the exhibit. She is still one of my favorite artists.

I wondered if her work had influenced any of my fiber art. Then I thought of this piece.

The Watcher

This is “Watcher,” and as you can see, she is basically a vulva. I think this piece shows Cindy Sherman’s influence, but also my own experience as a woman. It’s funny that I called her “Watcher,” don’t you think? Shouldn’t she be the one who is being looked at? But she’s looking back. She’s also cornered by her sex, and other than her defensive gaze, she is helpless.

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I haven’t completely given up on art making. I started this piece about a year ago, when another artist who collected my work said to me, “You are one of my favorite artists. You have to keep making art!” He actually gave me this copper plumber’s wire, so I was making this piece for him as a way to try to get inspired to keep making art. I am going to refocus on it, and spend a little time with it today.

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In the spirit of trying something new during the 12 days, I tried crocheting wire in the round – basically a crocheted i-cord. When I knit i-cord with wire, the join is never as tight and consistent as I want it to be. I thought if I crocheted it, I might be able to make a more fluid join. As you can see, I struggled reading the stitches and maintaining any kind of consistency. I ended up with a tiny bird’s nest, gave up, and let the cat play with it.

It did remind me, though, how difficult it is with wire knitting (and crochet too, I guess) during the early stages of the project. It’s like being a pioneer, or cutting your way through the jungle with a machete. You have to keep doing what you started, and keep going, until the fabric starts to form itself. If you give up too early, you end up with a tiny mess, wad it up, and throw it across the room! (Maybe that’s just me.)

I haven’t made any art since 2014 because I felt like I didn’t have anything to say, and I stopped participating in group shows with deadlines — which was, at the time, the only way I could get motivated to make anything. But we watched a video about Cindy Sherman before we went to the exhibit, and it showed her process. She doesn’t start out with something to say. She experiments and eventually the work comes out, which is pretty much how my figurative knit works were created when I started experimenting with stainless silk thread. So maybe I need to keep experimenting?

Are you a process or product oriented knitter/artist? I think I may be both?