And this is one of the reasons I go to R&R Spinners at Pineland every Tuesday that I can manage. You meet the nicest people there, and Mice too.
This Adorable Christmas Mouse was created by Rebecca Peterlein. I met him at my Spinning Group (that's making yarn with a spinning wheel -- not riding a stationary bike) and was compelled to take a picture of his little face in order to share it with you. So here he is, and you can make him your own, or meet some of his mouse brothers, sisters and cousins at the Craft Fair that is held on the USM Gorham campus the weekend before Thanksgiving. My understanding is that his adoption fee is $20-$25. I would give you the link here if I had it, but I don't. That is why they invented Google.
And this is one of the reasons I go to R&R Spinners at Pineland every Tuesday that I can manage. You meet the nicest people there, and Mice too.
My Wedding Socks, which I created for my nephew Scott and his wife Elizabeth, were recently featured in Interweave's Knitting Daily. Here is the link With These Socks with a bit of my own write up about the how and why of my Wedding Sock Tradition. If you want to make your own Wedding Socks for a lucky set of newlyweds you can find the pattern, logically enough, on the Pattern Page or you can find it on Ravelry.
Last January my much loved brother-in-law died after a long and gallant struggle with a powerful illness. He left this world while surrounded by his wife, his children, and his deeply loved grand children. My sister, the grandmother of these children, wanted to give them some token to hold his memories. We came up with the idea of using Papa's shirts to make quilts for each child, incorporating a pocket into each one so that small tokens could be tucked in, or little surprise gifts. This is the first of the quilts and I am making them in order of age -- oldest to youngest. I just finished making up the top and am now ready to move onto the quilting phase. I'll update the blog as I go along but this is a long term project -- there are nearly a dozen grand children.
Here is the after photos of Popeye the Sailor man after his spa day. He has been destuffed of sawdust, washed, some of the worst spots have been removed with Hydrogen Peroxide and soap, his clothes have been washed and repaired, and he has been restuffed with non-sawdust materials. Also his expressive eyebrows and anchor tattoos have been renewed with a black sharpie. I thought about doing something about his eye -- see the photo below and you can tell that one of them is not like the other. But once you start toying with a Sailor man's eyes he begins to take on another character and to look like someone else. And the whole point of this procedure is to give David the 80 year old man the same Popeye guy that he dragged around by the heels, head and arms when he was a boy of 5. The earlier post that shows Popeye looking like he has been living in an attic for the last 75 years (which he has) is at the bottom of the page. You see what a little soap, water, mending and restuffing can do for a guy.
Let me introduce you to Popeye the Sailorman. He was given to David Goldrup in 1933, who received him as a Congratulations on Being Born present from his grandmother Anna Pettingill Libby. They are both about to turn 80 on July 20th. My friend Gayle was looking for pictures in the attic for her father's 80th birthday when she ran across this Sailorman looking a bit the worse for wear. He was an active participant in David's adventures for the first 5 years of his life which introduced him to some hard knocks, mud puddles, physical accidents and other rough treatment. This probably explains the woeful lack of stuffing in his arms, and the elastic band bandage to his left arm to slow down the regrettable sawdust stuffing leak. He has been hanging out in various attics for the last 75 years, when David took up a passionate and lifelong interest in fishing, and Popeye got sidelined. Gayle asked me to see what I could do in the way of cleaning and repairs to Popeye so that he can make an appearance at the upcoming Birthday Festivities restored and renewed. That is my project for the first of this week. I'll update the post with the after pictures once I have worked my magic.
I think you'll agree that there is a lot of meaning in these threads.
Every January I start a project for me -- it is my antidote to the frantic and generous and did I say frantic Christmas rush of productivity for my loved ones and other people's loved ones that usually begins in the Studio in early November and seems to last waaay longer than a mere two months. This year I opted for a shawl and I am quite a fan of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Are Square Shawl. The bad news is that I'm not going to give you the directions to Elizabeth's Pi Are Square Shawl because she covers it herself beautifully in her book Knitting Around which is currently on sale at Knit Picks and has not only this wonderful pattern but many others and also some very amusing writing about Elizabeth's life. The Pi shawl is a relaxing knit with plenty of garter stitch, and yet still has enough room for innovation to keep you awake. It is a perfect blend of Oatmeal Knitting (comforting and bland) and Thinking Woman's Knitting (Lace, shaping and keeping your wits about you). It is also an excellent shawl for wearing because the shape and the weight keep it on your shoulders without you having to be constantly clutching at it. I use mine out amongst the people and in the kitchen over my nightgown. It is very useful to me.
The yarn I chose is from Peacefleece and is their sport weight in Sheplova Mushroom. Click on Sheplova Mushroom to buy your own, or to choose from some of the other lovely colors. I am a long time fan of Peacefleece for both the quality of their products and the quality of their business plan, and you will find references to them through out my blog and site. I use their yarn for my French Schoolgirl Cardigan, the Latvian Mittens and Socks, and my Shopping Shawl, for example. This picture is a Studio Shot of the remarkable Martha Mai, the essential coffee set up in the background, and the Shawl for Me on the blocking board. Note the blocking wires, which are invaluable for blocking lace shawls. You can get these at Knitpicks for a reasonable price -- or, as one of my Studio Knitters commented, you can just stop by the studio with your finished project and use mine!
These are photos of the Shape Shifter in the original version. I love this design. It works just the way I imagined it would and is the perfect traveling garment. In one direction it's a coat. If you turn it upside down it's a jacket with a hood. It's a blanket on the plane or a bathrobe in the hotel. It's a cozy curl up on the bed and read garment, or a glamorous wear it with a dress and boots kind of thing. The simple garter stitch is flexible and the texture really highlights the color shifts of a hand dyed yarn. You can find this pattern on my Pattern page or on Ravelry or on the ThreadsofMeaning site on Etsy. There is one problem, however, with the prototype version of the Shape Shifter.
The original version is knit from a hand dyed pure alpaca. Alpaca is a very soft and drapey fiber and, as a consequence, the original Shape Shifter has a regrettable tendency to grow in length as you are wearing it. I have long wanted to try it again with a pure wool, which would have more bounce and elasticity and would mitigate the getting longer as you wear it problem. So I ordered this bulky pure wool from Webs this past week and, as usual, the service from Webs was excellent and the price was very good. The problem??? Not loving the color. So all 20 balls got skeined up on the Niddy Noddy and put to pre-soak in Citric Acid and water. They are going into the dye pots today. I'm thinking I'll over dye with a Kelly Green and maybe some Turquoise which should give me a lovely Teal color. I'll keep you updated as I progress.
And here is the update. This is the result of over dyeing the grey blue in the picture above with Kelly Green and Turquoise. There is still some of the grey blue peeking through, the shifting greens and brighter blues are there, and a serendipitous lavender/lilac color has also managed to show up. I do want to point out that this is not exactly the results that I was anticipating. I thought I would get a duller teal color and I could get closer to what I intended by over dyeing with some Forest Green and/or a thin wash of black. But I am going to let this hang around the studio for a while and see if I like it better than what I had in mind in the first place. This is one of the prerequisites of happy hand dyeing .... an open mind that likes to be pleasantly surprised. Actually that may be one of the prerequisites of a happy life now that I think of it.
At the first part of the year I taught a Hawaiian Applique Class at OLLI (Osher Livelong Learning Institute) here in Portland. I love teaching these classes because the students are older (have to be 50+ to join OLLI) and they invariably teach me things I didn't know so the learning goes both ways. Also the venue is only steps away from my house and they pay me in class vouchers and Longfellow Books gift certificates. And you can't get better pay then free classes and free books -- at least not if you're me. This beautiful picture is of Carol Jenkins finished Hawaiian Applique quilt block. I hand dye these designs onto cotton fabric, and then I offered the option of using an off white linen for the background fabric. Carol did an elegant job of stitching here and the combination of the natural colored linen and the hand dyed leaves looks very Old World Hawaiian to me.
Here I've folded back the corner of the wall hanging to show the batik fabric that Carol pulled from her stash to use for backing. I am very taken with this choice. The batik enhances the "something old" feeling of this piece. Carol and I are calling this way of finishing a wall hanging but this simple square is very flexible in how you can use it. You can hang it on a wall, certainly. But it is also very beautiful in the middle of a table with a vase of flowers in the center. This is really a lovely look that the centered symmetry of the Hawaiian design really enhances. You can put it on the back of your wingback chair -- sort of like a lovely tropical kind of Victorian antimacassar (those doilies that Victorian ladies put on the backs of their upholstered chairs to protect them from gentlemen's macassar hair oil. I also have been known to hang this sort of thing in a window.
Hello, Threads Of Meaning Readers! Let me introduce myself: I am Martha Mai, Martha Marques' niece. I have been working in the studio with her for the past year and am writing this blog entry as a guest writer while she recovers from a temporary health setback. I would like to write today about how I became involved in the studio.
From the time that I was very small, I always had felt bonded to Martha as we shared a name and she was my mother's only sister. I remember her as always having her bag of colors with her, whether she was knitting, quilting, crocheting or otherwise- she was perpetually working on something (and still is). Although I had always admired her, and her ability to create, it was not until the birth of my 3rd child that I was finally inspired to do this work with her.
My daughter Phoebe was born March 4th, 2011. She came a little over a month early. When we brought her home, we made the realization that she was just too tiny to fit in her newborn or even her preemie clothes. Aunt Martha came by to visit my little peanut and took observation of Phe's lack of fitting clothes during that cold month of March. She took a quick look at Phe's bitty body and the next day she showed up with this adorable little set that fit my baby just right.
The experience got me thinking: I could be crafting functionally! If I needed a blanket, I could make one! If I needed clothes, I could make them! And not only could I make them, I could have exactly what I wanted. So at the end of last summer, I visited Martha at her beautiful Studio, and I have been hooked ever since.
Since I began working with Martha, I have learned how to card wool, alpaca, angora and silk, how to warp a loom, to blend colors, to sew and to knit. Soon I will be learning how to plant and cultivate a dye garden. The experience has been empowering, comforting, educational and socially fulfilling: not only do I get to learn, create, manage and organize, I get to do it around people that I love. Since this is an open studio, my friends and family have been able to come in and out, and I (as well as they) have had the opportunity to get to know Martha in a whole new way.
So please, if you take anything away from this reading today, let it be these 3 things:
1-It is NEVER to late to learn a new craft
2-Your job can offer much more than just a paycheck: it can offer social, educational and tactile fulfillment
3-The studio is open, you are welcome to come in and be inspired the way I was and to see your creative world in a newly gratifying way.
Peace! -"Little" Martha
I am trying my hand this spring with a Dye Garden. So far only four different plants which have been selected for; color (yellow, blue and red which can all be blended to create other colors), ease of growing, and suitability for my Zone here in Portland, and also because I like the names. I have always wanted a garden with Woad and Weld. And I love the name Lady's Bedstraw. Dyer's Woodruff is chosen more for the color, a very intense red, then the name.
This one is Lady's Bedstraw. It is a wild flower in Britain and so it should do well here. In the past the dried plants were used to stuff mattresses. It smells like sweet hay and is supposed to encourage sleep and deter fleas.The flowers were also used to coagulate milk in cheese manufacture and, in Gloucestershire, to color the cheese Double Gloucester. The leaves and roots are used to make yellow (leaves) and red (roots) dyes. It is tall and beautiful as a plant, and multi use as a dye stuff so it made the cut.
And this is Dyer's Woodruff. It is a hardy perennial that thrives up to zone 4 so will work in my Portland garden. It is also low maintenance, which is an absolute requirement for a gardener like me -- I like to garden but I don't LOVE to garden. The roots provide a madder like red.
This is woad. Think Braveheart. It gives an intense indigo colored blue with occasional hints of turquoise. As you can see from the picture it is an umimpressive looking plant with wooly leaves but if youlook at the tips you can see the bluish tint. It can be harvested 3 or 4 times in a good year. Next spring it will shoot and the blue pigment in the leaves will disappear and by early summer a multitude of tiny yellow flowers appear followed by purple teardrop shaped seeds. The first year’s leaves are harvested by hand, washed, chopped finely and placed in a bucket, covered with boiling water and left to stand for about an hour while the pigment leaches out. The resulting liquid is strained, whisked, made alkali with washing soda and then the air is eliminated from the vat. It will dye almost anything blue; all fibers, wood, bone, leather and especially hands.
And this is Weld which gives a brilliant yellow. If you have dyed wool with Woad and then overdye with Weld you will get Lincoln Green. It's the color that Robin Hood's Merry Men wore so that they could blend into the forest. Although it is my guess that there were some merry women on board somewhere doing the spinning, weaving, sewing and dyeing for the merry men.
Are there other plants that you would particularly recommend? For either interesting names, good colors, or ease of growth in Maine's short summers? Also if any of my reader's have experience with natural dyeing and want to chip in with some wise advice please do so. I think I'm going to be able to use all the help I can get.
I have to confess that a certain amount of pressure had to be applied by my Studio Manager (Martha Mai) in order to get me to post these three 2 oz, 200 yard skeins of hand dyed alpaca yarn. I have been saving (hoarding) these to make the Handkerchief Scarf but, as has been pointed out to me, I already have two handkerchief scarves along with numerous other shawls and drapey things. And it's not like I don't have plenty of knitting going on. So I decided to give the world a chance at these and I posted them today on Etsy. Just so you know...I can't make any promises about how long they'll be available. They might get sold, or they might get hidden in the studio. I'm not above that sort of thing.