Here is a picture of Samahra receiving her Christmas Doll. Her parents stayed with us through Airbnb this past summer and talked about getting her a doll for Christmas. They sent me photos so that I could make a doll that resembled her and then, after the holidays, they e-mailed me a whole series of pictures showing her opening her present and receiving her doll into her loving and open arms. To read more about the whole process click through on Pattern under Categories and go to the entry that I did in December before I mailed the doll off to her new home.
Here I am at the SEA Holiday Sale sitting and spinning behind what appears to be a very large bear. Actually this bear is only 8 inches tall, but that is what perspective can do to you. These bears are made from an old cashmere sweater that had seen better days as a sweater but had plenty of life left in it as bear pelt. They are stuffed with wool and are very dear and fuzzy. I have only three left at this point so come by and see me at the East End School this weekend if you feel you need one.
I take my spinning wheel with me to these events because 1) it makes me pleasant and cheerful which is desirable when dealing with the public, 2) it's show bizzy and tends to draw people to come over and talk to me and 3) it's productive, leaving me with 2-4 hanks of hand spun yarn at the end of the weekend which pleases me.
And here is a shot which shows the dolls again, along with a bag that I made from the endless supply of rug wool, some of my patterns and a glass vase full of hand spun yarn. Most of the yarn that I sell has been hand dyed and I have over dyed the rug wool as well when I thought I could improve the color.
And here is another angle where you can see hand knit mittens left over from classes I have taught this year, hand dyed rug wool and a partially completed braided rug and the Little Red Christmas Birds. I am disproportionally proud of the birds. They are made from an old merino sweater but it is the bird filling that really pleases me. You know those little scraps of yarn that some of us are constantly setting aside in a pile because we might eventually "find a use" for them? Fess up, I know some of you do this too. I have finally discovered a use -- bird stuffing.
I appear here to be staring dreamily at my own feet, but the photo above proves that I am actually spinning.
The dolls in the pictures below will be appearing this weekend at the Holiday Sale for the Society for East End Arts. I no longer have my studio in the East End but I am grand mothered in. I will have a booth there on Friday evening, Saturday all day and Sunday morning where I will be selling these dolls along with hand dyed yarn and woolen felt and fabric, knit goods, patterns, hand spun yarn and roving and, as usual, I will also be dispensing whatever wise fiber advice you are willing to stand still and listen to. I hope to see you there. Otherwise it will look like I am talking to myself.....
This is a picture of my beautiful... um...relative. Nico is the second son of my nephew....what do you call that kind of relative? In any case he is beautiful and he is winsomely modeling the sweater I made for him before he was born. This is a version of the Hooded Sweater for Everybody made with hand dyed sock yarn so it is warm and entirely washable. Based on his parents I assumed a dark haired, dark eyed baby and as you can see I assumed correctly, which doesn't always happen for me. There was, of course, no way of anticipating the awesome adorableness of Nico himself. He is a darling baby boy and is, in this picture, approximately 6 months old. If you would like to make a version of this jacket for your own charming relatives it is listed on the pattern page here and on Ravelry here. If you do decide to work one up please send me photographs. You really just can't have too many of these cute baby pictures.
This is a mood shot of the studio, with my latest shawl on the blocking board. This is hand spun Shetland (breed of sheep) from a sheep of my acquaintance who lives with my friend Beatrice Gilbert. This moody gray is the actual color of the sheep, the wool has been washed, carded, spun and knit but not otherwise interfered with. I will be posting the pattern in the next couple of weeks. But the studio looked so nice this morning after I pinned it out that I wanted to show you. See the spinning wheel, with the blue wool/alpaca blend that I am spinning up for the next project. You can glimpse a Hawaiian pillow in the seat beside the spinning wheel, which provoked me to add the orchid on top of the shawl. It seemed unbalanced to have only one Hawaiian touch in the frame and this orchid reminds me of the wild ones that grew beside the roads in Orchidland where we once had our little homestead on the Big Island.
I love that my work spans influences from Hawaii's orchids to Maine's wool and that both ends of this spectrum are anchored in the natural world that surrounded me in each place.
This is a detail shot of the lace on the corner of the shawl, which is a Shetland Hap Shawl. These were everyday shawls that Shetland women actually wore, not the fancy delicate ones that they sold. I thought about doing a cable pattern with this yarn, but it seemed to want to be a shawl, so I went with it. I now have seven shawls, which may seem excessive to anyone who is not me. That is one for every day of the week. A friend suggested that I should stop now, since one for every day of the month might seem like overdoing it. But one for every month of the year perhaps???
Sometimes I throw practicality to the winds and just make something for fun. This is most apt to happen in the summer months because I have fewer knitting students. They're all in the garden in Maine -- summers are really short here. And it is months before the Christmas rush so I have time to be self indulgent. This is the Crown Prince Square Shawl from Nancy Bush's book Knitted Lace of Estonia. I did not spin or dye the yarn. I did not personally develop the design. This project is made from Alpaca Cloud lace yarn from Knitpicks and you can order either by just clicking on the highlighted titles, although it looks like this particular red is a discontinued color.
I am showing you the glam shots first. I have been waiting to find the chance to get a picture on a person but Devan is away at college and it is just too ridiculous to try to take a picture of myself in the mirror. So these shots are intended to give you the feeling that you would love to pick up this lovely bit of russet loveliness and wrap yourself in its soft lacey alpaca layers. It has been a very warm early fall here and I am waiting for it to chill up a bit so that I can toss this across my shoulders and channel my inner French Lieutenant's Woman. Do get your hands on Nancy Bush's book if you want to try a piece of knitting that is a bit of a challenge. This is definitely what I call Thinking Woman's Knitting. And get yourself some Addi lace circulars before you begin. You really need the sharp points for doing the nupps and this project is nupp intensive.
Here is a close up of the nupps with the shawl on the blocking board. Note the blocking wires, also available through Knitpicks. This particular shawl you could pin out a point at a time, but the blocking wires were extremely useful for really stretching this project. Lace in general is really enhanced by stretching, but a lace shawl in particular really needs to have the bejeesus stretched out of it in order to come into its own. So here is this summer's project of indulgence. I made it for me, it took all summer, I had to ignore my family while I was working on it (although you can see in the picture below that I didn't always manage that...there are "inconsistencies" in the pattern repeats). I really, really love it.
I posted some more of the vintage clothes today on my ETSY site. But I couldn't resist showing my blog followers this picture of Devan flirting in a Civil War Era bonnet. You see this face? That is all the explanation you need for why our family line has not died out. This bonnet is one of the many vintage clothes I got from my Learning to Weave friend. It is made of silk, lined with linen and I would swear that there is nothing but hand stitching in it. It is also in perfect shape. It is the kind of bonnet that would be worn in the house to cover your hair and then, when you went outside, you would just pop your heavy felted bonnet over it (in winter) or your straw wide brimmed sun shading bonnet (in summer).
Devan is looking more serious and demure in this photo, but don't be fooled. The one above is far more typical. She took these photos herself, somehow mysteriously knowing how she will look from in front of the camera.
I have really loved having her go through and photograph these clothes. It reminds me of when she was a little girl in Hawaii and used to dive into my huge straw stash basket many times a day and emerge swathed in lace, old clothes, scarves and random lengths of lace and fabric to be a Lady!, a Pirate!, a Scarey Ghost!, a Gypsy! She is grown up now and does complex and responsible work (i.e., the picture taking, modeling, editing, internet posting) but I can see still that little girl peeking out of her eyes.
I recently became the slightly overwhelmed recipient of a treasure trove of vintage fiber. There is clothing for infants through adults. There are dozens and dozens of linen napkins, tablecloths, hand towels, pillowcases.... I am busily washing, drying, ironing, sorting and trying, basically, to get my head and hands around what I have and what I should do with it. Some of it I will just keep for the household, although I think any sane woman would agree that 3 dozen linen napkins is probably more than enough. I am going to have to do something useful and productive with the rest and, after consulting with my advisory board (Joe, my sister Peg and most especially my daughter Devan) I have decided to peddle some of it on Etsy. If you click HERE you will go directly to my Etsy site. Today I posted two articles of clothing. This one is a cotton lace blouse from approximatley 1910. It is from the era when women had just begun to have office jobs outside of the home, farm or factory. Devan took the photographs of the clothing herself, and often of herself. It is a wonderment to me how she can be in front of the camera and behind the camera at the same time.
This photo is of a beautiful cobalt blue lace gown with satin facings. We decided to replace the missing buttons, which originally were almost certainly blue satin covered ones to match the dress facings. We though the dress had a European/Asian feeling that would be perfectly complimented with some of the red enameled Russian buttons that I had gotten from Peacefleece. They do look brilliant on the dress and Devan looks brilliant IN the dress and very calm for a photographer who had to set up the shot and then go around and get into position before the camera went off.
This is where I have been having afternoon tea lately, and I have also been doing quite a bit of knitting out here. If I sit on the settee I can see my garden, which is small and glorious. And if I sit on the chair in the corner I can see Deering Avenue and all the people passing by. As you can see I hung lace curtains in the screened windows (on both sides, although you can only see one in this picture). I love the look of blowing lace curtains, it's so old fashioned and summery. But I am not so crazy about curtains blowing in my face while I'm trying to drink coffee so this is what i did. I made lace curtains that are flat, not gathered. And I fastened them on the top and both sides. So now they blow and belly in the wind without flapping. The rug is one I bought 10 years ago, of no particular value and without a single natural fiber in it. Therefore perfect for a screened porch where it will occasionally experience rain. The curtains are nylon lace and you could literally bury them in the ground for years without any trace of rot. Beautiful and indestructible. I love my natural fibers with great and unswerving loyalty, but there is a time and a place for polyester.
Joe and I have started renting out our spare room on Airbnb and the most wonderful thing has happened. I now get to have breakfast with interesting company several mornings a week. It's amazing who shows up.
The lady on the left is Chandlee Bryan and she and her friend Ken actually arrived shortly before their e-mail asking for a reservation for that night. Fortunately we had a cancellation and could accommodate them. She just wrote a book on using Twitter to find your new job, and was interviewed on CNN where, in my opinion, she did a much better job of presenting herself than Tony Harris did. Click through on her name and see what you think.
I make scones for breakfast, and you can find my recipe in my blog under patterns....which seemed like the least nonsensical place to put it. Maybe I need Joe to make me a recipe section??