Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

In plenty of time for SOAR, I finished this a few minutes ago:
Well, it's mostly finished; I just have to do a bit of wirework to make the hidden clasp. 

I also rediscovered a pendant (which sort of needs a chain. I think I'll make one like the green one from yesterday) with matching earrings, and another pair of earrings which matches nothing, all for Amy's Sale.

You can't really see it, but the pendant also has the same aquamarine beads you can see in the earrings, and in the bracelet from yesterday.

I also really like these earrings, simple as they are:

They're swingy and long and colourful without being overbearing and loud. I think it's a good balance resulting in something wearable. I realise that I'm all about decoration in every thing I make, but one of my goals is also to incorporate these decorative elements into my (or whoever ends up owning them) life. I have no desire to make something so gorgeous that it sits, tissue-wrapped and unworn because it's "too good". Too good for what? To use? What's the point?

But this is my big sadness:

See the piece missing at upper right? [Edited to point out that I'm not dyslexic when it comes to left and right, I know the missing bit is on the left, but somehow writing "right"just seemed like the thing to do a few hours ago. So sue me]. Like a big bite. And at the bottom in the centre, you can see the core glass. I'd be more upset if I didn't have more of his beads, but I'm still a bit nauseated.

I made this necklace a good two years ago, and have worn it often with pleasure and without mishap. Somehow or another, and I can't explain this sudden misbehaviour, the clasp kept coming undone when I wore it on Friday, and it fell to the ground two or three times, hence the nasty great pieces of glass missing.

While I have a few more beads by the same guy, none are the same colour, so I'll probably end up replacing the bead with an aquamarine nugget bead, which was the best colour match within my stash. It'll still be a decent necklace, but not divine.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Keeping Up

It's not as though I've done absolutely nothing, though apparently I haven't said anything about it.
I made a bracelet with aquamarine beads. 

I know that gem quality aquamarine is clear and flawless, but I kinda like this inferior type too. I find the variations in colour and translucency charming and interesting, and to my mind they bring a bit more emphasis to everyday jewellery than would an almost-colourless perfectly clear bead. 

Last Saturday I went to my first-ever meeting of the local bead society at which they taught a stitch that I already knew and had no desire to use, so instead I made a pendant. When I got home I wanted to make a relatively simple chain, so I found this daisy-chain variation in the white Russian book which worked up quickly enough, compliments and matches well without being overpowering. It was pleasant enough to do, and might lend itself well to experimentation in terms of both colour and texture (by varying bead sizes, shapes and counts for the different sections of each repeat).

I'm making knitting progress, though with only eight days until SOAR, I'm not very hopeful, even though the flight there will no doubt be a windfall in terms of knitting time. The yoke is complete and I believe its shaping is useful and appropriate - and by that I mean that the neck is neither too tight nor too loose, and the same for the bottom edge. 

I've shaped the body of the sweater using short-rows such that the back neck is a few inches higher than the front, which is always useful on the body of a human in which the same is true. The positioning of front neck versus back, not the short-row thing of course. If our back and front necks were identical though, it'd be easier to maintain better posture and avoid that unattractive head-poking-forward stance that one relaxes into when slumping out of shoulders-back-tits-to-the-wind.

Since as usual, now that I appear to be beyond undoing every couple of days, such that sweater growth looks steady and better them merely incremental, I'm concerned about yarn quantities (I have somewhere around twelve ounces that must do the body and sleeves, minus cuffs and bottom band), and since I'm a little uncomfortable with the visual balance of a multi-coloured yoke and completely solid body and sleeves, and also since in this instance I do not love the idea of the starkness of circumnavigational stripes, I'm making short-row stripes.

Let me just say that were the yarn finer (three plies at 21 stitches to four inches using 4mm needles to give a fabric that is firm enough to wear well, but not so firm as to even approximate stiffness), I might be more carefree in the running-out department, but since it is neither fine nor incredibly light - tencel adds density, there's no getting around that - I'm inclined to not disregard the possibility.

What this means is that, while knitting in the round in my main colour, I randomly (well, probably semi-randomly, as my decision is based more on "I think this would be a good place to change colour" rather than "purple, purple, purple, purple - oh let's try something else") start knitting with another colour, work part-way around the body, wrap and turn to knit back, but continue to wrap and turn well before I reach the last wrap-and-turn, and do this for some number of rows.  Then I go back to purple and short-row to make the purple as tall as the other colour, work a few rounds , and then start again somewhere else with another colour. 

I think these landscape stripes (think of pouring piles of coloured sand every now and again as you fill a jar with regular sand) will serve well to both break the starkness of the solidity of the body and sleeves, as well as unify the random striations in the yoke, with the additional advantage of insurance against the dreaded Running Out Of Yarn.

In theory.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

So Much Deliciousness

I'm working on another one of these:
All I have to say is that Harold Cooney is a genius beadmaker. The colours in this bead are rich and unexpected, and as before, I'm loving this project. This is slightly more urgent than Amy Sale Items, since I need to get it done by SOAR (first full week of October), but I don't think it'll be a problem to finish it, as it's an absolute pleasure.

I've also been working on Amy Sale Stuff:

OK, the colours are completely inaccurate, in part because what looks blue is really lavender or purple (the biggest beads are purple turquoise (no, it doesn't grow that way, it's irradiated or heat-treated or somesuch) and the smaller ones in the pendant are lavender-dyed "jade" - I'm sure it's not real jade, more likely so-called new jade, which is very pale. Pretty purple anyway, impossible to photograph. And oh yes, the earrings and pendant do in fact match, believe it or not.

Yesterday was my day for buying purple beads, as it turns out.

I'm unfortunately on Version 4.0 of the circular yoke sweater, and am saving time, effort and almost all thought processes by knitting it directly off the existing wrongly-proportioned yoke and once again hoping for the best. I am the eternal optimist, however I'm also slightly embarrassed by this bout of construction ineptitude, therefore no in-progress pictures until I'm certain it won't have to be ripped out Yet Again.

Back at the end of August when Kim asked if this sweater would be finished in time for SOAR, I unhesitatingly replied "Of course". Version 2.0 was also a pretty sure bet, and Version 3.0 was easily within the realms of the possible, but Version 4.0 is likely to require a schedule to which to adhere. Guess I'll need to figure one out.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow, as it's my monthly eating, erm, spinning group get-together. We've been spinning together once a month at each other's houses for probably close to ten years for some of the group, and the food is always what drives us into deliriums. Of joy, JOY.

The way it works is that the person who's hosting decides on an entree and then everyone else brings a side dish or dessert. Everyone cooks rather well, and those who don't, shop well, so the meals are always fabulous. No, we're not a guild. No, we aren't accepting applications for new membership - our vetting process is frankly too exacting. 

Last month we had our every-coupla-years dye day a la Deb Menz, so tomorrow will involve more fiber than anyone could spin at one time, as we'll be dividing up the rovings. We dyed five pounds of blue-faced leicester, five or six ounces of silk hankies and about ten ounces of optim: a generosity of yum.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Still Not Quite Right

The colours are lovely (though IRL not quite as bright), aren't they? Sort of Noro-esque, except we're talking three-ply merino-tencel, not singles. And the multiple colourways, each from handpainted rovings, have a dreaminess to them, which you're not believing, given the over-saturation of the picture but trust me, they blend better.

And the edging, which you can barely see, is my new favourite thing, and goes like this:

Row 1: k1, from behind k the 2nd st on the LH needle, then k the 1st st, slip them both off, k1.
Row 2: k1, p the 2nd st on the LH needle (from the front, purling form behind is one of those insanely impossible things like licking your elbow which it seems obvious that you ought to be able to do, and yet the actual doing proves surprisingly awkward), p the 1st st, slip them both off, k1.

It makes a handsome yet understated corded column and I have Plans for it.

The problem at hand though, is sizing. The long edge is about 10" short of its goal, which will result in a neck hole suitable for only a pinhead which I am not.

I'm seriously not in the mood to rip it out and start again, and I'm pretty determined not to change my mind in terms of design, and I think I have a solution (which does involve ripping but doesn't require any more measuring and calculations, not that I'm incapable, just not in the mood) but I really don't want to have to start all over again.

I have to though.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I Really Should Be More Trusting

Of myself.

It's not as though I haven't been knitting since the last ice age or anything, or as though I didn't use to sew about 90% of my clothes, or as though simple proportions and fractions and ratios elude me or anything.
My plan was to use short-rows to make the yoke of a sweater in lieu of knitting it in the round in the usual way, and after measurements and calculations I decided that for shaping via short-rowing, I needed to divide the stitches into four to get the appropriate neck-to-bottom-edge ratio. 

First go-round, my gauge was a bit off, so the yoke wasn't deep enough.

I then came across this sweater with convenient directions for pretty much what I wanted to do, and they insisted that the stitches be broken into five groups, not four, for optimal curve.

Foolishly, I did the vacant "Oh, OK" thing and proceeded blindly to work about a quarter of a yoke which would have given me a ten-inch neck opening, which is all very well and good except for the existence of my head, which would pretty much preclude the sweater ever being placed on my body in the usual way (i.e. with my head sticking up out of the neck-hole) unless I somehow managed to construct it while wearing it, and even though I pride myself on ingenious solutions, even were I able to accomplish this acrobatic sartorial feat, I think it has limited practical value.

So the above picture represents the current state of my yoke, round three.

In the beading department, I've been much more productive, which is to say I haven't been cutting things up, which can be fun, but limits the existence of finished pieces.
Amy holds a home show (she's a weaver extraordinaire) every year or so, and for the last few years, perhaps four or five, she's invited me to sell my beadwork at her shows, so I'm in Amy Sale Production Mode.
The first few times I did her shows, I was aiming on the low side in terms of pricing which of course also limits what I can make - after all, there's little point in spending ten hours on an intricate necklace if I'm only going to charge $25, and so this results in my making pieces I probably wouldn't wear, which doesn't sit right with me.
Since opening my etsy shop (if not before), I've decided not to go that route any longer, and make jewellery to please me, and price it appropriately. If it sells, fine, and if not that's fine too, but at least I don't need to be embarrassed about how I present myself in terms of the pieces I have for sale. I may try to vary the colours from my first choices, but that's about the only concession I'll make.

Actually, it also means that I can work on techniques or styles which I don't think would suit me, but which are fun to do, so if anything it expands on the fun I can have. This is a Good Thing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Busy Bee

Painting has been done (but the yellowish is a little greener in real life. I'm only so good with the iPhoto adjustments, which have saved my arse more than once, but which cannot do the purse from a sow's ear thing which my photography skills require).
The little picture on the wall? This gorgeous piece of embroidery was made by Ethiopian women in Israel. 

When the Ethiopian Jews were discovered and brought to Israel - what was it? Fifteen or twenty years ago - integrating them into Israeli society was a challenge for all involved, not least of which was to figure out what marketable skills they had that could earn their living. Turned out that they did this wonderful embroidery (chain stitch only, as far as I've been able to determine, with a preference for bright colours, resulting in a style somewhat analogous to the mola), so they were formed into an organization which embroidered Judaica, such as matzah covers, mezuzot, hamsas (such as the one on my wall: it's a hand warding off the evil eye. My grandmother preferred to spit three times), challah covers and on and on and on.

Yeah, baby, yeah.
Well, I'm pretty happy with this, so crow I shall. 

I always forget, until after the fact, that if I make a necklace that is long enough for the pendant to hang spang in my cleavage then I probably don't need a working clasp. My head's not that big, after all, and thanks to gravity and collagen depletion over time (or whatever it is that ages flesh), these necklaces will be able to become so long in years to come that should I ever buy into another Big Hair trend, and should the companies that make hair products move into the miracle business, since the nature of my hair precludes this style of coif, being soft, limp and insecure (it would rather cling to my head than exhibit any sort of independence), then I'll be safe if I forget to slip on a long claspless necklace until after my hair is done, since it's big enough to not disturb any sort of Pilobolus-inspired hair arrangement.

Now isn't this lovely?
The colour, the shine, the spinning, the knitting? Perfection?

Not so much.

As the beginnings of a sweater, it's just plain funny-looking, and not super-cool as I'd intended.

Ugh. Guess I'll be ripping this one too, but I have an even cooler idea for its next incarnation involving short-rows.

Stay tuned.