Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Knitting With Telephone Poles

I have been a knitting and jewelry-making fiend lately. And, I've been pretty happy with what I've created.

The first thing that I made that I'm proud of is a beehive hat that I made for my boss's daughter. Actually, I'd made the hat before. I found the pattern in the book _Stitch 'n Bitch_ by Debbie Stoller, but that pattern was for adults. I knew that I should be able to make it for children, so I played with what I had, made some educated guesses, et voila! It's the cutest little pink beehive hat! From what I understand, the girl loves it! She wears it all the time! I always love to hear things like that.

Additionally, I knitted a couple of "stoles." They are pretty cool-looking, too. I'm not too sure what would be a practical use for whomever I decide to give them to, but they are warm and cute! I have enough yarn to make a third, but I'm not sure when I will do that. I get emails from a few knitting web sites, and I'm pretty thankful for that, because I've had quite a few new ideas for projects from featured ideas in those emails. I've been pretty happy with the results so far.

Yesterday, in the mail, two size 50 needles arrived. These things make it feel like knitting with telephone poles! But, Lion promised that I could create a throw in a measly six hours if I used this size needle and four strands of Homespun yarn. I love Homespun! It's so soft! And, the throw is looking pretty good so far! I love the fact that I'll be able to make an entire afghan with 34 stitches. It's like making a gigantic scarf. I'm looking forward to the end of that one. It should be a nice piece.

I'm also working on a helmetliner for my father to use on his motorcycle, because he likes to ride year-round when the weather permits (and his definition of this tends to differ with others, including myself). I thought this would be a nice warm additive. Way to encourage him, eh? I'm finding that this is taking longer than the throw mentioned above, because I'm working on 84 stitches, and I've got to first work up six inches of k2, p2 ribbing. I've got about four inches completed.

Now, in case all that doesn't sound like too much (and I didn't even mention the pair of fingerless gloves that I made in white with a nice little lacy edge), I have also been making a lot of jewelry-- six necklaces, two pairs of earrings, and one bracelet over the past weekend. I still have more of those that I want to make. And, there are a few other things. On Saturday, I went to Georgia State's annual Iron Pour and created an iron plaque that I really like. I've been going to the Iron Pour for three years now, and this, I think, was my best one yet! Maybe it's because I planned it ahead of time. I don't know, but I'm certainly pleased with the outcome.

I have been busy lately, to say the least, but it's been good. I've realized that I have more patience than I've had with projects in a long time. Even when the small complicated aspects of the jewelry-making wasn't happening like I wanted it to, I remained calm, and eventually, it all worked out! I guess that's what patience is about!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Poetically Speaking: Sharing the Creative Process

I've recently finished reading _God Is at Eye Level_ by Jan Phillips. While the book was inspiring overall, from both the perspectives of my artistic nature and my spiritual nature, I was really affected by what she had to say in Chapter 15: Through the Lens and Beyond. In this chapter, she talks about the unwritten rule of photography exhibits that it isn't appropriate to include words with photographs. She discovered when working in a framing shop that people asked her questions about her photos, and she would launch into descriptive tales of how she came to take the pictures, what sort of interactions she had with folks, etc. I, myself, thought about sharing my own history of pictures with others and how they recalled for me long stories of relationships. She likened this to the poet and poetry, and the typical mode that poets have of sharing the process of the poems read aloud.

This caused me to think about my own poetry-reading experience. During a time in my life when I was feeling particularly isolated, I was a member of a poetry group that met on a weekly basis and who had regular performances. One of the 'rules' of performing was that description of process was to be kept to a minimum, because--well, I was just going to put some rationale for this here, but I honestly don't know why. I do know that at the time, I felt isolated from my audience time and time again. In looking back, I am intrigued, because we shared process and background when discussing the poems as a group, but that kind of background was frowned upon for performances. There was always a lot of enthusiasm when discussing form, where the ideas came from, etc. I think about my books (see earlier posts from 2007) Panmixia and Resipiscent and how excited I am about where the ideas came about for the pieces that make up those collections. And, I remember how excited members of the group were about the collections, particularly when they knew how intricately thought-out each poem was.

Here it is: I belong to A Word A Day, who sends me a new word every weekday along with its definition, some history and use in a sentence, typically from some published writing. Well, I had hundreds of words that I particularly liked the sound of saved in archive, and I wanted something to do with the words poetry-wise. So, I devised a plan to use the words as the titles of the poems, with their definitions as subtitles. Then, I decided that the poems would be ABCDErian poems, but I didn't want them to all start the same, so each poem starts with the letter that follows the first letter of the title word and ends with the letter that starts the poem's title. In case that wasn't enough, I decided that I would have one poem for each letter of the alphabet, and the first poem of the book would have a title that started with the letter following the first letter of the title of the book, which I also took from one of my archived words, with a definition sub-title on the cover, as well. What I particularly love about these two collections is that they chronicle a healing process at the time. There's no order to that process, as the poems weren't written in a particular order--they were written according to whim, really--I chose a word I liked and wrote a poem in the form. There are a few recurring characters--like the zebra. Honestly, I did this because I didn't want to have to spend a lot of time trying to come up with new and creative ways to experience the "z" in every poem, so I decided that the zebra would be an all-knowing, all-loving and beloved character. I think it works out pretty nicely, and doesn't really feel over-the-top. Some people may disagree about that, but if the zebra is over-the-top, I'm okay with that, too.

Whew! It felt good to share that! Especially since it's about a dual-collection of poetry that I'm proud of! I think art is about sharing and connecting to others. So much about human existence is about connection--Alfred Adler had a lot to say about that--and art and poetry definitely exist to reinforce that. I think about the connections I've made with people through books that I've read, particularly when I've contacted the writers after reading the books, but also in sharing certain books with friends and family--both fiction and non-fiction. That's why artists share their voices. Art is intimate, photography is intimate, poetry is intimate. There's no way to leave oneself out of any media. We are only able to see the world through our own experience, and therefore cannot hide that experience when trying to create art. Even the items I knit are indicative of my own personality, from the patterns I choose (and the changes I make to them) to the colors I choose. Jan Phillips says that looking at a series of pictures that I take can give you a look into me that you wouldn't necessarily find in anything I tell you. That's also true of my poetry. If I'm bitter, my poetry is, too. If I'm happy, angry, sad, etc., it's all there. I love my poetry for the reflection of my experiences that it is. I think about the time that I was feeling isolated, and I suspect that if I looked back at my poetry, I would find a sense of that there, too.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned before how it's taken till relatively recently for me to admit to myself that I'm an artist. I like that fact about me. It allows me to experience the world a little differently than I would otherwise.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Fingerless Gloves

I'm not sure why, but not everyone is as excited about the phenomenon of fingerless gloves as I am. People often as me why I wear them, how they can be considered gloves if they don't cover the fingers, etc.

I wear fingerless gloves mostly at work, although I have worn them to drive also, when it's cold but not so cold that I can't touch my fingers to the steering wheel (although I've been known to do that, too, when I don't have alternatives.) I wear them because they keep my wrists warm and free up my fingers for writing with ease. Additionally, they aren't super obvious (as they really only cover half of the palm of my hands and most of my thumbs), so it's okay to wear them at work.

One of the best things about them is that they are super quick to knit up... and easy, too.

I made my first pair of fingerless gloves (shown above) about four years ago at Christmastime while visiting an "in-law." I used scrap yarn for that pair--pink, blue, and green in stripes--and my plan was to make the stripes in different orders for both gloves so that they are a pair but not exactly alike. I love them. So much so that I decided that I needed another pair (like one with purple in them, since that's my favorite color). My aunt recently gave me some purple-and-green variegated yarn (green being my second-favorite color), so I had exactly what I needed to get to work.

It took me a long time to search out just the right pattern four years ago, and so, while I'm not in the habit of making the same thing twice (and I think this is a lie I tell myself, because I've admitted more than once over the past year that I've done just that... with the same preface), I used the same pattern. One of the things about me and patterns, though, is that I often make changes when going through the second iteration. I have a difficult time staying with the same thing twice. This second pair has certain necessary structural changes based on the comfort of the first pair. These are longer (although, that change was an accident that I was ultimately happy about), and the buttoned edges are sewn together so that the gloves don't open up where/when I don't want them too. The buttoned edges are just decoration, anyway. I intend to sew up the edges of the old pair, too. The fun thing about using variegated yarn is that it takes far less effort to create a pair of gloves that are similar to each other but not exactly the same. There's no need to continually change the yarn to get the desired effect.

I had fun making these gloves this weekend. I have ideas for making other changes in the future. But, I think I'd like to try some of the other patterns I found four years ago, as I saved them as I went along, just in case I didn't find the perfect pattern.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, October 13, 2008


Where I lived before my current home, there was a man who liked to gather furniture and other odds and ends from people's garbage and store them behind the back door of his neighbor's apartment. (I often wondered if they had some kind of agreement about his, because his doorway was always unblocked, and I wondered what she'd do in case of emergency.) It was common knowledge in the complex that anyone could take what they wanted from that spot, as he had offered many of his treasures to others on many occasions. At one point in his collections, he found this little blue table, which I initially thought was not very attractive but could be with some changes. Pictured here, I had already begun to sand the piece, because I had forgotten to take my before-shots before starting. The top of the piece was what I most disliked about it, since it appeared that someone attempted to paint something else on top of it. In order to cover it, I decided that a piece of cloth I had acquired in Bali would do the trick, and so it sat, hidden in my tiny apartment till I had enough room to change it into something else.

Sanding and staining furniture was never something I had decided I'd want to do. I could never see why it would be of interest to me, but I learned something during this project--I like the smell of wood! This realization makes me a little nervous, as I saw several pieces of furniture at Michael's when I was there that would be cute after a little paint- or stain- job. I may just have found a new hobby to add to my incredibly long list!

I guess I want to say now that I didn't read any instructions on how to do this. I'm sure that I did a lot of things in a way that could have been quicker--like using sandpaper rather than one of those electric things--but I really didn't want to have spend a lot of money, especially if it was a one-time gig. There are probably other things I could have done to make this "better," but I figure, if I don't like it, eventually, I can try again (or, I can simply paint over what I did!) I did, however, try to do things that seemed logical, like stain in the direction of the grain. The instructions on sanding said to do as much, and I did that, so I figured that the staining part would work the same way. I think about how it may have looked if I'd tried doing it differently, and I can't imagine that the lines I imagine would have looked so great.

I can't say for sure how long the actual sanding took, because I didn't do it daily, as I was in the midst of other projects simultaneously, but the staining part happened on this past Saturday in the wee hours of morning. I did the first coat, which was extremely light--I figured I'd need to do at least two or three more coats after that one in order to make it even remotely dark--at about one a.m. and attempted to fall asleep till the 4-6 hours passed for the next coat. At about five I got up from not sleeping to do the second coat which was surprisingly much darker than the first. Weird. I decided to stick with two for the time being, mostly because I wanted to move on to other things, and partly because I think it looks pretty okay (if you don't stare at it for too long!) I like it. And, I'm proud of myself for doing it all by myself!

I'm sure that, in time, I will become much better at it. Something I learned when I ended the project was that I kinda like the toxic stain smell too. Maybe because it was a reminder that I was able to turn a piece of furniture from something that I really didn't like at all into something I can tolerate. And, I had fun while doing it! I guess that's really the most important part! I enjoyed every part of it. Even the parts where the cats decided to "help" me!

Imagine what will happen when I create something I'm really proud of! Then, my family and friends will have to be careful on holidays!

And, if anyone has tips on refurnishing or can direct me to some good books on the subject, I'd be much obliged!

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Puzzling Pieces

A while back, I told the story of making a bookmark. For sealing the envelope that would mail this bookmark to its destination, I made a puzzle piece sticker. This is not an update on that, but a new experience with puzzle pieces.

An aunt of mine has an affinity for puzzle pieces, something that is recorded in her email address. When I saw the metal puzzle pieces in the craft store, I knew that I had to make her a necklace with matching earrings with what I found (and, of course, she loved them.)

I've started a new avenue of making jewelry. Before the projects that included this set for her, I had been only stringing beads, as I've shown in previous projects, including the set that I made for my mother for my cousin's wedding (that ended up including necklace, earrings, and bracelet). One night, while looking at the pieces that a coworker had made, I decided to try using chains in making necklaces. I had made a couple of pairs of earrings and a chain for my cell phone, so it wasn't too far out of the realm of possibility, but I'd never tried it for necklaces. That same night, my coworker gave me several stones to make jewelry with, because I had helped her to work out a piece that she was making for someone else.

I had purchased two chains that were all ready to be necklaces--they were just waiting for my creativity to determine what they would be. So, I made two necklaces using the pre-cut chains. I also had some chain that I'd bought to start from scratch, so to speak, and made a couple of necklaces that way. In total, I made five necklaces while watching two James Stewart films one Friday night. Two of the necklaces contained the stones that my coworker gave me, one necklace was the one for my aunt pictured above, the fourth was a locket I made for a friend of mine, and the fifth was one with a plaque containing a floral design. Additionally, I made the earrings pictured above and earrings that matched the other pieces.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I'm looking for quick projects these days. I find myself amazed at how quickly I can make jewelry to be ready to wear. It's always stuff that looks good and merits compliments. I find that they make great gifts, too, and it's fun to buy the stones and such for pieces that are tailor-made for a specific person! I enjoy working with a specific person in mind, imagining how the person will react upon receiving the piece that I put together lovingly. For me, that's part of the fun. Of course, I tend to keep more than I give away, but I do enjoy giving, too. It's coming upon the time of year when coming up with ideas for Christmas presents is upon me. And, since I'm flying up North this year, rather than driving, I'm going to have to keep things on the small side....

Thanks for reading.