Monday, May 26, 2008

Weddings and Jewelry

This past weekend, I attended my cousin's wedding in Massachusetts (so confusing, because she lives in Augusta, GA, most of our family lives in Rhode Island, and the wedding was in Massachusetts not too far from Gillette Stadium, unfortunately for the car I was in). It was a beautiful event! She was a beautiful, happy bride, and everyone feels lucky to be adding to their respective families. This is such a great thing, because I've been to weddings where this hasn't been the case. Her now-husband was holding back tears while reciting his vows. I'm choked up right now as I think about it. It was a beautiful day, and we had a lot of fun! Including my 82-year-old grandfather who danced the fast songs with my youngest cousin and some of her friends. According to my aunt, he said, "All these girls were asking me to dance! I don't know why!"

For this occasion, I decided to make some jewelry, particularly for my mother since her birthday was last week. Included here are some pics of the necklace and earrings set that I hoped that my mother would wear to the wedding. She did. I'm pretty proud of this set. To me, it looked as good as much of the jewelry I saw others wearing. I think it was the most elegant-looking set that I've made thus far. And, she loved it! The set looked beautiful on her, with her dress.

I will be honest here. When I made this set, I didn't have a plan in mind. Often, when I'm making jewelry, I use the jewelry board so that I can get an idea of what the piece looks like before I make it. Since I made this one in a place away from home, I didn't have all the equipment I usually have, so I built the piece as I went along, judging that the center was right... about... HERE. Then, I reversed what I'd done on the other side to create a balanced piece.

I've been reading a book about facilitating adventure-based counseling for a class I'm taking next week. In it, there was a reference to those group members who tend to be quiet most of the time but who may offer insight when it comes to visualizing an end result. I think that's what I experienced in this project (and for the necklace-and-earrings set I made for myself for the wedding). I was able to see in my mind a rough picture of what the final product would be like. Likewise, I was able to determine the center of the piece without measuring. I can work similarly with my knitting. For instance, I make changes with patterns in advance of a project with an idea of what the end-product will be like with the changes. So, sometimes, I ad lib for a project as I go along, and at other times, I make changes to a pattern before I start. More often than not, I like the final product.

There were certain decisions I made with my mother's necklace that I made for reasons of space (and the idea that there were some parts of the necklace that wouldn't be noticed, because they'd be on the back of her neck). While I was at the wedding, I saw a lot of interesting jewelry, and my eyes were open to seeing the different beads and stones and styles that people were wearing. I found while looking that people were wearing pieces that mixed beads that I had sort of apologetically mixed for my mother's piece without any apology but with purpose. It led me to want to try to recreate some of these other pieces with intention.

I like how things work out that way sometimes. Something that I was embarrassed about doing (and not because it "looked" bad on the necklace) was the same something that was intentionally done for other pieces. I do want to see how I could play around with the same theme and make my own pieces in a likeness to the ones I saw!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Afghans-- A Knitting Project 2008

For 2008, I decided in January that I would make as many afghans as I could to give away as presents. When one considers working full time and going to school full time and whatever other experiences life has to offer, this can be a pretty daunting task! In fact, I've finished only one afghan so far-- in three months! Now, I'm in the middle of two others. And, by "in the middle" I mean I'm almost finished one and little more than 1/4 of the way through the second.

I'd like to talk a little about the first one, and I'll talk about the others as I finish them. Before this, I've only knitted one adult afghan (I've knitted multiple baby afghans, because they can be finished in about an afternoon sometimes.) This one afghan was one I made as a Christmas present for my ex's mother. I remember it to be beautiful when I finished, and I remember how much she loved it. The pattern is completed in the round, so I start off with 8 stitches in the center of the piece and ended with nearly 1000 stitches on the exterior edge! Very cool design, as the afghan itself appears to be square, but it's rounded, too. I love it. And, it's mine. The rest I do for this year will be for presents for others.

The interesting part of knitting (and any craft I do) is what happens emotionally for me, especially when I'm making something for someone else, because I usually have the reason for the knitting in mind throughout the entire project. During this project, I thought that I would think about the last time I used this pattern (I don't tend to do the same project more than once--usually--unless it's something I really like and really want to do again). In some ways, I expected this experience to one of emotional growth, as I was in a difficult situation during the first knitting of this pattern. In some ways, I think I was looking for catharsis in this pattern. Remember, it took me three months to complete this project, doing a little on it almost every day. It occurred to me that I don't remember anything about knitting the first one. This is a relatively large project, and I don't remember any of it from the first time. This time around, there are certain images that will remind me of the knitting of the afghan; when I look at or sit under this warm blanket, I will reflect back on where I was, what the cats were doing, etc., while I was working on it. But, I have no such memories of the first time I worked this project. In some ways, I'm glad that I did this one a second time simply so I could have the memories that I seem to be missing from the first time. I have a pic of the first afghan, included here, as proof that there was a first iteration of this project, but even in looking at a photo of it, I can remember THAT I did it, but I don't remember the actual doing. Maybe there's some catharsis in that.

Just a note that the cats playing by the afghan in this last pic are mine. Cosette is the tabby mix who is on the ladder--she's more than two years older now, so quite a bit bigger! Novalis is the Persian/Siamese mix at the foot of the ladder.

The two projects that I'm working on currently are for two upcoming events. One of my friends is turning 40 this year, and I'm making her an afghan in blue and brown blocks to help her celebrate the event. The other one is an afghan for my cousin who is getting married this weekend. The plan is for it to match with her new condo. I'm not sure if I've accomplished that goal, but we'll see when it's in her home! I'll give updates when I've finished those. I'm intending to make another for a friend's June birthday when another friend is turning 50. I'm not yet sure which new pattern I'm going to try, but I've got lots of interesting ones to choose from. There are a couple of patterns I'm interested in trying out, but one is going to be for an aunt of mine, and another may be for my mother. We'll see. My friend has given me specific colors to use, so I'm looking for a pattern that will work with the color scheme she's chosen. If anyone has any suggestions for cool knitting patterns for afghans, I welcome the input. Also, if anyone is interested in patterns for afghans I make during this year, I'm happy to share!

Thanks for reading.