This weekend I will be holding forth at the East End Community School, at 195 North Street in Portland. This is the only craft fair that I do each year and it helps me to get in the Christmas Mood. I will be there from 6:00-9:00 on Friday, 10:00-5:00 on Saturday, and 11:00-4:00 on Sunday, along with many other amazing and talented craftsmen and artists. The photo above shows the Christmas Dolls. I make about 12 a year and they are keeping each other company in a wooden wine box waiting to appear at the show tomorrow evening. The photo to the left is of me at last year's show. I am peering around the Christmas Birds (made from recycled cashmere sweaters and Studio Scraps). And although you can't see it because of all the interesting fiber related gee gaws in the front, I am spinning. I take my spinning wheel with me to the show because it helps me to while away the afternoon, it gets me in a Christmas mood, and it tends to keep me from untoward impulsive actions. Please do come by and say hello. I would love to see you.
My baby brother Mike has his birthday uncomfortably close to Christmas. It is a tradition that I make him a yearly pair of Christmas/Birthday socks. This tradition started when he was, in fact, a baby with cute little feet that resulted in cute little socks that knit up quickly. And since I'm only 3 years older than him that made everybody happy...a child size project knit up by a child for a little boy's cute little feet. Well.....50 years later and things have changed a bit. Not the tradition of the knitting of the Christmas/Birthday socks but the size of the feet. You see the baby brother got bigger. Much, much bigger. This is a closeup of my brother Mike's size 13 feet. This means that the foot of these socks is almost exactly 13 inches from heel to toe which is a powerful lot of knitting. Which is why I had to keep myself entertained with these interesting striped heels and toes and that very satisfactory slip stitch diamond pattern. There is a pattern for Mike's Enormous Socks on Ravelry if you would like to give it a shot for the Object of Your Knitting Affection. I added in tricky bits because Mike's feet are huge and I can't tolerate the endless repetition without something to amuse myself. These socks can be made with simpler toes and heels (I give you directions). But I would keep that Slip Stitch Diamond band. It's really much easier than it looks.
In the meantime here is a picture of my actual brother Mike. He had to get into some pretty contorted positions in order for me to get photographs of his Christmas/Birthday socks. He had no idea that the working conditions of a sock model were so rigorous. As you can see from the photograph he is still the cutest thing in the world, and well worth the effort of the socks. However, given the rigorous modeling challenges and the fact that he was actually wearing his socks he just walked off in them, a bit early for his Birthday and Christmas. But whose going to argue with that face?
Let me start off by saying that this is a poignant story. This sort of work, machine pieced patchwork with machine quilting, is not the kind of project that I would typically do. But the story behind the project, and the experience of working on the project, and the two boys who were the final recipients of the project, all made it so worthwhile and well within the parameters of Threads of Meaning. I got a phone call from their aunt last July asking if I would be able to use some her brother's clothes to make two quilts for her nephews. Her brother had unexpectedly died while he was in an isolated cabin in Alaska and she wanted the boys to have something to remember him by. I had her bring the boxes by so we could sort through them and see what we would have to work with. I wanted to involve her in every step of the project that I could because I could tell that she was grieving and I thought it would help.
Starting in September she began to come by in the afternoon and help me with the work. She is not a seamstress herself, but she did the cutting, the ironing, and was involved in choosing the fabric combinations and planning the quilt. One of the things we incorporated was this idea of a Pocket Patch. I made the quilts so that they can hang on the wall or lie across the bed and we thought it would be good to have a pocket on each one to put keepsakes in (jack knives or tape measures) or even Christmas and Birthday gifts. I should also say that his clothes, when they came out of the boxes, when we ironed and sewed them, still smelled like him. This caused some tears, but also made the whole feeling of the project so real. And his sister found, as she worked on this project, that it did make her feel better. It seemed to her as if she were still in touch with him and using his things to pass something meaningful along to his boys.
I just finished this latest incarnation of the Hooded Jacket for Everybody. If you are interested in making one for the Object of Your Knitting Affection you can find the pattern on Ravelry. This is a pattern that is scaleable from size Phoebe (6-18 months) up to size Full Grown Man (my son Blake who is 6'4" and has one done up in Black/Blue/White). Phoebe came by today to visit and we coaxed her into modeling this for us by requesting her assistance with some vital tasks in the garden. Most young ladies of character will not just slap on a jacket willy nilly and wear it to have their photos taken. They need a task and a purpose. And they also need the occasional hug from their mother which, as you can see, is being helpfully provided here.
Here you can see Phoebe noodling around in the herb bed looking for carrots (?) or maybe strawberries (?). She's definitely looking for something. Maybe worms? She helpfully dug up some seeds, picked some sage, and threw leaves out of the garden onto the leaf covered lawn.
And, in the picture below, you can see that she has finally gotten some work out of the way and has begun to think about her new sweater. She has discovered the buttons, and approves of them. Shortly after this she discovered the twisted cords and decided that those, too, met with her approval.
November is when I begin to focus rather obsessively on doll and bear and ball making. Somehow once the leaves fall I start thinking about toys. These Penny People represent my latest results. Why Penny?? Well, there's a penny sewn into the bottom under the red felt base to provide flatness and weight so that they stand up better. And these dolls are made almost entirely from leftover scraps from making the bigger dolls. Plus they're little -- about 4 inches tall. So they are penny pinching, penny sized, and have an actual penny in the feet. They are for sale on my Etsy site if you would like to get one or two of your own.
I generally make a bowl full of these balls leading up to Christmas. They sit around looking decorative and then disappear into the toes of Christmas stockings. Because they are great for using up scrap yarn and I stuff them with fabric scraps from making things in the studio the whole making of the Amusing Christmas Balls project is extremely appealing to my obsessive frugality. They are appealing to Joe for different reasons. How do I say this? Boys love these balls. They can juggle them, toss them and even loft them at their wife's head during idle moments. I have to stash the bowl of balls in the Studio because otherwise Joe will take liberties, and although it is not dangerous, what with the fabric stuffing, it does interfere with my concentration when I'm knitting. There is a Pattern for them in the Pattern section if you would like to make your own.