Thursday, September 18, 2014

Use It Up

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kathi sock

It's fall time...okay, not quite fall time outside...but in my heart, autumn is here already.

At this time every year, I feel like starting over. I want to use things up, clear things out. I want to finish old projects or turn no longer loved projects into new projects.

I'm tearing through my yarn stash with all the weaving...going on 11 skeins! Each scarf takes a skein or two, depending on the size (both the scarf and the skein). The leftovers, adorable tiny balls of color, pile up and when I have enough, they will become scarves or other things, knitted, woven...who knows right now.

I'm working on holiday and birthday gifts but that's just not enough. I want to keep making more things.

What do you do when you've made too many things? Do you keep them, give them away, sell them? After the holidays I'm planning to do some major inventory and finishing up of long neglected projects. I might have a giveaway or a sale to help things go to a home where they are loved. I might donate some things. I haven't really decided yet.

All I know is that I want to keep-on making stuff and I can't keep it all. Sad!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Bourgeois Gentleman

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On one of our trips to see our favorite company of players, we were joined by our friends Karrie and Mike. And as the play was French, we decided a French picnic was a must!

Croissants, quiche, macaroons, brie, baguette, sparkling pear cider from France! It was a glorious day and a delightful performance.

I'm sad to say that the season is over...no more picnics until next summer. We won't be without Shakespeare for long, though. This winter a few other venues are playing A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. Not too shabby.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Robert + Steven Forever

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It's been a week since I found out my friend Robert passed away. As soon as I heard, I knew that I wanted to make a scarf for his partner Steven. I also knew that the scarf had to be a combination of their favorite colors.

Robert loves purple, Steven loves green. This weekend I wove their two colors together. Robert + Steven Forever.

I'm so taken with this idea, the weaving of two colors together, representing two people who have chosen to share their lives together. It's just so sweet, so simple yet meaningful.

I love how the colors work together, how they exist separately but blend at the same time. I love how the colors change when the fabric moves...sometimes one is more visible, sometimes the other. Just like a relationship...the give and take, the individual and the partnership.

This is my first completely finished scarf. I twisted the fringe by hand and it's been washed and dried...ready to give to Steven next week. I hope he likes it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weaving!

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You guys, I am crazy for weaving! Over the past three weekends, I started and finished weaving five scarves. Now I'm working on finishing the fringe for all five (one down, four to go).

Do you want to know what's awesome about weaving? There are so many things!

You are making fabric, people...fabric! You can use this fabric as-is (scarves, placemats, towels, rugs...basically anything square/rectangular) or you can turn it into other things like bags or clothes.

You are making something completely by hand. Start to finish. No electricity, no noise. Just you, the yarn, your hands and the loom...all working together to create something beautiful.

It's a new way to use all the pretty yarns you can't decide how to use (or don't like how they look knitted/crocheted). I have a lot of sock yarn and my plan to knit, like, a million socks has not happened. Nor will it, if I'm being honest with myself. So, what to do with all my pretty yarn? Weave scarves! I love watching this yarn turn into something beautiful. I love watching the colors mix together: pooling, striping, crossing, blending. I never know quite what the fabric will look like before I start and that's part of the fun!

Weaving is fast! I can start and finish a scarf in a day. A full day...like, 10 hours...but still, ONE day! Setting up the warp can feel like it takes a long time but it really doesn't, especially after a few scarves-worth of practice. And the weaving feels slow but you look down after 20 minutes and you've woven 6". Knitting is so slow...at least for me. I'm only 10 inches into my dad's scarf and I've been knitting that thing for hours!

Weaving uses both hands equally. This might not be that important to you but it is to me. When I knit/crochet/embroider, my left hand holds the project and the right hand does the work. After a while, my right hand hurts from the repetitive movements, my left hurts from supporting and holding the work. With weaving, you pass the shuttle from one hand to the other, back and forth. You pull the heddle with both hands, forward to beat and then back in place. At the end of the day, both arms are a little tired, my back is tired...but nothing hurts.

Anyway, there's more but those are the big ones. I put the loom away last night so as not to be tempted to start another scarf before I've finished the fringe on the other four. But even that part is fun so I should be finished with those soon. Hope you're enjoying all the weaving going on here. I have a very special scarf to show you next.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Memento Mori

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I woke up early on Sunday morning, excited to start a new scarf on the loom. I carefully calculated, weighed and measured my yarn. I planned out my warp and weft. I warped the machine with very few issues this time. I started to weave.

I was about halfway through weaving when I got the news that a dear and longtime friend had passed away. At first I though it was a joke. Robert was not the sort of person to just not be alive. He was the epitome of alive! Every bit of him sang in a deep, booming voice: "I AM ALIVE!"

And yet, now he was not.

I started weaving again. I didn't know what else to do. I wove and thought of him...each pass of the shuttle, each tear down my cheek, a memory of our friendship.

And after a while, two feet short of the end of my scarf, I ran out of yarn. I sat in disbelief. After all that careful calculation, after all that planning...my yarn had run out too soon. And not just a little...a lot too soon.

I thought about Robert, about the life he had lived and all the life he would lead. But now, he wouldn't. He radiated energy. He just...sparkled. And then, he didn't.

I continued weaving with a white yarn. I had no other choice but to go on, to keep moving. I watched the white pass over and under the bright threads of the warp, muting the colors, creating empty spaces that should have been crossed with color. I watched my scarf progress, still beautiful yet lacking. Still hints of color, bits of shine...yet all the richness stolen, the shimmer gone.

On Sunday, my life lost some of its sparkle, some of its shine. The warp is my path, my future. It goes on and yet, Robert's colors will not cross mine again. I look back to the beginning, of the scarf, of our friendship. I see our crossings, our colors woven together. Nothing can change that.

For 14 years, our lives were woven together. And then they weren't. Now there is only white.

This scarf was to be a gift for a friend...but now it isn't. Now it's for me, a reminder to cherish the moments when the thread of a friend's life crosses mine, the white spaces filled in by their colors. It's a reminder that the richness of life is created by friendship.

Memento mori...one day our own thread will run out. And if we're lucky, our friends and family will miss the shine of our colors, no longer crossing theirs. These threads are truly a gift, both their existence and their absence. For in them we read the richness of our lives.

And Robert's threads, while short, were the brightest I've ever known.

Robert
Robert W. Schug
July 21, 1963 - August 24, 2014

My dearest Robert...I gave you this poem long ago and I give it to you one last time. I read it now and feel the lightness of my life while you were in it, the lightness that remains even though you are gone.

Sleep well, my darling.

Sparkling and bright in liquid light,
Does the wine our goblets gleam in,
With hue as red as the rosy bed
Which a bee would choose to dream in.
Then fill to-night, with hearts as light,
To loves as gay and fleeting
As bubbles that swim on the beaker’s brim,
And break on the lips while meeting.

Poems of Friendship
Sparkling and Bright
Charles Fenno Hoffman (1806–1884)


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to Black

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secret garden

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I do so love when the days are dark and gloomy. There's a crackling sort of energy in the darkness. And colors take on new life, softened yet enhanced by the grey surroundings.

There's a secret garden near our house. It's locked but from what I can see through the gate, it's lovely in the sunshine, quite charming actually. And yet, I prefer to walk by on a gloomy day. In the garden's dark corners, you will catch a glimpse of movement, hear sounds that you can't quite place. Its true beauty lies in murky and mysterious shadows.

That's also how I feel about the scarf I'm weaving for my brother. I looks black but is really made up of various murky greens, blues and greys. Weaving is so absolutely amazing. I can't believe I'm making real fabric! And it's fast, especially compared to knitting. I set up the warp (9' long x 15" wide) in about 3 hours (it was only my second time setting up the loom so I think this will go faster next time). I'm halfway finished with the weaving...so far 40" in about 5 hours.

Compare that to the tiny bit of a scarf I knitted this weekend. It's 7" wide and about 4" long at this point. And it took me about 3 hours.

The scarf will be a holiday gift for my dad. I'm really in love with the Fisherman's Rib stitch. It makes a double thick, super squishy, super stretchy fabric. I think it will be perfect for my dad who loves to snowblow the driveway any chance he gets.

Anyway, it's back to being sunny today...sigh...there's only so much sun one girl can take, you know? I'm looking forward to the longer nights, darker shadows, and gloomier days to come. Soon...it will happen soon...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Merrie Days

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In Minnesota, Labor Day signals the end of summer. It's when the kids go back to school...but also weather-wise, we don't have too many hot days left. But! The best is yet to come! Cool, crisp weather, leaves changing colors...OMG, sweaters!! Fall in MN is the best!

But, for Ian (who will read this and weep a little (a lot!)), I will redirect this post towards summery things. Like the MN State Fair (which would just not be the same without a heaping tub of Sweet Martha's cookies). And drinking Absinthe on the balcony. And collecting teeny crabapples to make sour-applesauce.

I've been reading a copy of Robin Hood written by Alexandre Dumas. I've read other Robin Hood stories but none have ever held my attention the way this one has. Dumas is really the most amazing storyteller.

The pair of green scarves above are inspired by Robin Hood (the sawtooth edge scarf) and Maid Marian (the ruffle edge). I imagine these would be the perfect scarves to wear in the forests of Nottingham, perhaps while fleeing from (or pursuing!) danger, or better yet, exchanging vows of eternal love. Both do seem to happen regularly!

Between reading this and The Borrowers, I find myself in a perpetual state of longing for a life lived out of doors. Perhaps a house in the trees with a kitchen below, a makeshift table with fallen logs for benches. Of course a tiny cottage would be better for wintertime. Sometimes I think I might prefer a houseboat. Or sailboat?

Oh dear...I know that none of it would be sensible. I mean, would I really want to be covered in bugs and have to wash my clothes in a nearby stream? No, in reality, I would not. But in the perfect meadow that my mind has conjured, there is no need to worry about bugs or how we will cook food or stay warm or make money or stay healthy. There is simply sunshine and flowers and knitting and fawns and crickets and streams and groves and merrie men. That's it.

Sigh. For now at least I have the knitting. And Ian too, although he's not exactly what I would call merrie. He's going to be so annoyed that I don't think he's merrie...and that he came after knitting. Annoyed yet not surprised.