Sunday, February 17, 2019

Spinning, clockwise, that is

Spinning has worked its way back to my days, and yesterday for a change,  I tried using my left hand to spin, right hand  to hold the roving. Cramp ensued very fast, so I went back to my Tunisian crochet.

Being in a lazy frame of mind, not up to taking the yarn off the spindle, setting the twist, all that. So I crocheted straight off the spindle.

Today I resumed right handed spindling. But in the course of wandering about spinning blogs and tutorials, I realized I was doing the S counterclockwise twist, not the traditional Z clockwise twist.

Not wrong exactly, but the snap I was doing to spin the spindle was more laborious than the flick that spinners usually do. So I switched and the yarn likes it.

One small drawback is  forgetting the direction, and spinning counterclockwise, which causes a mass unraveling. Then a bit of cursing, then respinning.

I still have a supply of undyed merino roving to spin. And to dye.  So, further adventures are lurking.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The future crowds in on the current work

So, looking for a new project, at the knitting group, and Fearless Leader Meg suggested handwarmers, because I had a small amount of yarn, and a need to do more Tunisian crochet.

Started already, and was looking around for more yarn, found some handspun, then some roving in the same color family.

I've been wanting to spin a bit, so it seems to have inserted itself into the present.

Top of the pic, lying on the yarn is the started handwarmer. Foreground is the roving and a spindle  ready for action.

No pattern, just rectangles with thumb places left open when I do the finishing.

I'm also wanting to weave.  But that has to take its turn.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Good-bye to Lauragami

Laura Kruskal died a few days ago, famous origami artist and teacher, email lauragami.

She lived to 95 and was teaching up to recently. As she said to me a few years ago, "I always accept teaching invitations because if I don't people might not ask again!" She was about 90 at that time. She was on YouTube a couple of years ago doing a rap she wrote.

Google on her name for some lovely reading. Make origami in her honor.

I didn't know her through art, in fact, but through music. We both played with a local Recorder Society group and had a fine time. I should dust off my recorders and play a bit in her honor.

She was a force of nature!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Reveal, the neck gaiter

Just finished the third Dorset button, all different patterns, and thought I'd better stitch them on before the impulse left me.

So here's the finished item. I made it to allow for different ways of wearing it, depending on the weather.

Completely buttoned, it goes right up over your nose, very warm, then you can play with it, using two or one, whichever way you like. See the loops in the top pic I added at the end, to slip over the buttons.

Very pleased with the results, if I say it myself. Not only a warm item, but a toy, too!

If you fancy making one: 7x19 inches, size J Tunisian hook, two strands of fingering worked together, different shades for a heathery look, 37 stitches to allow for the lace stitch. It's a multiple of four plus one. The loops are regular crochet still using the same hook. I just worked random rows of the stitches I know, as the spirit moved me, lace, knit, purl, simple.

That's it. If you do try, be sure and let me know, complete with pix.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Joy of Framing

Not. Least favorite of all art related requirements, framing.

Here in the throes. Or as my Twitter feeders sometimes say, the throws. Makes me wonder what they think it means. Throwing your energy into it? 

Anyway there's a juried show coming up, run by the Preserve. Theme NJ nature. Prizes,awards, one for Preserve related subject matter. Four pieces per artist, reasonable fee if you go for all four. Juried meaning competitive entrance. Mebbe you get in, mebbe you don't.

Soooo went through my framed and other items, moaning and polishing glass and spiffing up and reframing and generally having an awful time. Nearly done.

Of course it involved making more art for background, but I've managed to dodge the worst -- mat cutting. Just as well, because the mat cutter is at a friend's house. He's had it so long he probably thinks he owns it and is lending it to me.

Certainly different from wielding needles and hooks, though there's crochet and embroidery as well as dyeing and painting in the four selected.

And then there's The Filling of the Forms, bureaucracy collides with free spirit.

This too shall pass.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Lunar New year exhibit

This month at the Plainsboro Library Gallery is a world-class exhibit of watercolors by Jun Zhan, famous in China, not seen much in the USA.

It's dynamite. He understands watercolor, how to use space in the Chinese tradition, and is simply a master talent. Very glad this show is here in our little town.

Portraits of Uygher elders

The reflections were a challenge. Ceremonial lion and other figures from the Forbidden City.

Artists working today demonstrating paintings, calligraphy, woodburning

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Filet crochet phone purse

I used to make dishcloths or facecloths or potholders to try out new stitches, but now my default seems to be phone purses. The first filet crochet adventure is here unveiled in action. On the right is the granny square version.

Next,  on to the Dorset buttons, to finish my neck gaiter, before I make more adventurous filet. This was a simple checkerboard, to get the feel of the counting without referring to a tutorial. Next on to a finer thread, smaller hook and more ambitious design.

Filet crochet without tears

So last night, last thing, such timing, I decided to make a start on filet crochet. I'd watched a few tutorials, most of which were terminally confusing, and finally found a couple of lessons where the presenter didn't tie himself in knots over the math of it.

Turns out it's not so complicated after all, and I copied one row from a lesson, got the hang, and started to make a simple design. I used a fairly fine thread, not liking the yarn examples I saw online. But the teacher has to use a big enough fiber and hook to show up on video.

So here's where I am, a bit wobbly, but getting there.  I'm a bit counting challenged, those eleven meshes in row one first came out as nine, then twelve, then finally settled on the right number for the purpose.

I have some ideas for images, combining drawing and crochet. So this is step one on what might be a new obsession, I mean interest.

It has some aspects in common with printmaking, too, using additive or reductive techniques. Sounds pretty highfalutin coming from someone who's been doing it for about an hour, and who just learned to get the right numbers.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Neck gaiter almost done

Here's the latest in Ladies' Neckwear. The gaiter is almost done. It has two sides and I think both are fine.

I ended with three loops crocheted onto the body, ready for their Dorset buttons, to be worked in the same yarn.

Here are the rings for the buttons, showing how they'll slip through the loops.

The pattern is random stripes of my repertoire of stitches, seen vertically when worn. I expect we'll get more weather suitable for wearing it.

I think it's all an excuse to make more Dorset buttons, really.

And just when I thought it was safe, I find myself deep in choosing art to enter into an interesting juried show coming up soon. More framing. Oh, goody..

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Back to the stitching guild

For the first time in months, I didn't have another event in conflict with the Embroiderers' Guild, so I went to the membership meeting.

The project was a kit of a detail from the Bayeux Tapestry, which features the Bayeux stitch, a very cool mixture of long stitches, with anchoring stitches holding them in place. Outlined in stem stitch, it's a great filling for narrative embroidery.

Carol P taught the workshop, and brought in a wonderful stitching she had done of a segment from the Tapestry. She provided the kits and backup information, and created an engrossing program

And members showed other work; here's Florence K, with a beaded felt applique and

a special artwork finished since  I last saw her

Saasha showed me this amazing work in progress

The afternoon, during which I was crocheting, may have rekindled my interest in stitching!

Nice to be back in the group again.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Tunisian crochet design by moi

I've learned several stitches now, purl, knit, simple stitch and a lace pattern, so I'm working all of them into this neck gaiter. It will be long enough to fit round my neck, and I'm planning Dorset buttons for the fastening. Hoping the yarn holds out.

 It's fun to have got to the point where I can design what I want in this type of crochet. The knit and purl stitches are not at all like the same names in knitting. And Tunisian is one sided, so your design has a right and a wrong side, unlike most crochet. I'm using two related shades of the same yarn, and there's a subtle color pattern as well as the stitch pattern. In use, the stitch pattern will run vertically.

Once this is done, I plan to embark on filet crochet. This seems to be the winter of crochet. Filet has always been a mystery to me  but doesn't seem as intimidating as I'd thought. I'll be using small hooks and finer threads.

I'm surprised at how far I've come in a few weeks. Learned to read and to a mild extent, write, patterns, learned granny squares, previously a mystery, several lace designs, then various parts of Tunisian crochet.  Developing a repertoire of crochet skills. A Good Thing.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Japan. Picturing Place

Current exhibit at Princeton University's Art Museum, this is three rooms of paintings, prints, screens, scrolls and photography. The theme is recording place, in terms of time, symbols, people, literature, even disasters. You don't need to know the background, though, just go and let it have an impact on you.

Some pieces dating back to the sixteenth century, the compositions are stunningly spare and modern. If you're local, worth going to. It's there for a couple more weeks.

This screen is enormous, room sized, remember to look at it right to left, Japanese style.

 This image was on the cover of the brochure, a  good humored portrait of the artist at work indoors, imagining the scenery

 Look at the spare lines of the work on the left

This, I was sure, was late 19th century, until I saw the date, centuries earlier, so modern in concept

Here's a New year work, with good omens for the year-- Mt Fuji, hawk feathers and eggplant.

 This is an anonymous work depicting people from many eras, existing in space together

There are several Hokusai prints, too, like visiting old friends.

And the exhibit comes with a beautiful brochure, from which I got these images. Not okay to snap pictures of the works themselves, exhibited in low light to protect them, so I limited myself to these.

So good to be near a great museum that's human in scale. I was a bit wobbly today what with the cold wind blowing me all over, and  a fair walk from the nearest parking, so my visit was short but still worth it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Clutch finished

Here's the Tunisian crochet simple stitch clutch, now finished with a double Dorset button fastening. A rubber band runs around the buttons, just slip off the top of the band to open.

I like making Dorset buttons. They're tiny artworks.

Monday, January 21, 2019


Finally got these off the needles. They look artisanal, like those ancient shoes retrieved from bogs by archaeologists.

Not surprising, since I made them exactly with the process of an old crone of yore. Processed the fleece by hand, spindle spun the yarn, dyed all but the dark green with natural dyes I collected locally. The light green is beet, with a washing soda mordant, the darker brown is black walnut, the lighter one I forget, possibly onionskins.

And though they look primitive, they'll smooth down and fit my feet with wear, and they are so warm and friendly to your feet they were worth the process.

This was my beginning spinning, uneven, but I've improved my yarn since then. I mainly used it for wallhangings, and only later tried knitting with it.

I smile at knitters declaring they will learn to spin their  own yarn, expecting right away to create uniform, machine-like,fine yarn, like the yarn they've been buying.  You don't hear much from them after a while.

It's great fun learning to spin, but a long process to do it well. I'm not there yet but live in hopes.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

New phone now has three outfits

In addition to the one you saw already, here are the two new ones, completing the wardrobe.

Left is a granny square, in variegated yarn, just to learn the process, which turned out to be a good fit for the phone, folded and crocheted all around, and a chain strap to hang it on me. On the right is that Tunisian lace I was learning, this one purpose made. It has a thread of sparkle running through it, which doesn't show. Seen here fitted on the phone so you can see the fit and the stitch against the dark background.

I like to use the experiments and it's surprising how often they're just the thing.  Sooner or later. And, much as I miss dear Marigold, the straps will not be chewed up as a kitty toy, the fate of many of their predecessors.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Phone purse incoming

In the course of having to switch phones, I found that not only were all the purses belonging to the old phone now useless, the new, much bigger, phone, needed its own wardrobe. This is not a frivolous enterprise, not that there's anything wrong with that, to quote Seinfeld, but a safety issue.

Being older and living alone in a three story townhouse, it's important to be able to get help if, say, I fall down. So the phone needs to be with me safely at all times. Not in another room I might not be able to get to.  Not in a pocket it can fall or fly out of, but a snug purse I hang on me like a pendant.

It's served me well through a few exciting incidents.

So I was in the process as usual of working on several things at once, and wondered if I had any snaps to use for the crocheted clutch I showed you, at least I think I did. Up to the studio to search, no snaps. But I found a batch of granny squares I made while I learned how. And two of them could be folded, stitched, and have a strap added, to make a fitted purse. Poifect!

Here's one

And there's another in spring colors, phones like to be seasonal. So I'm wearing the phone as I write -- you can see it gleaming inside its purse. And I can go on with what I was doing before.

This, to be exact, Dorset button for clutch. I still like the idea of a snap under it.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Purse underway for new cellphone

So now that I have a new phone, for the sad tale of the old one, see

So I need  a new purse to wear the new one. For safety I always have the phone literally on me. This has paid off more than once when I took a fall and needed a hand up. Living alone requires precautions like this.

So here's a Tunisian crochet lace pattern, from Creative Grandma, her stitch of the day, #93, if you'd like to track it down on YouTube.

Here's the little sample I made, 17 (4x4,+1) stitches, to learn from her tutorial, next to the the bigger version to fit the new phone.

The stitch is a multiple of four, plus one. So I made a chain of 25 (6 x4, +1) and went from there.  It's a one pattern line, one return line design, nice to work, and I'm learning to read my own crochet, always a Good Thing.

I like that Tunisian has a return line where you can breathe, then easily see if you still have the right number of stitches going. And if it will fit its purpose.  That's three more Good Things right there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Tunisian crochet clutch

Just finished a clutch in many yarns, and lined it with black satin.

Here, open, closed, and back view. Didn't use a pattern, just filled the hook with stitches and went from there.

Not quite done yet. I plan on a Dorset button in the same yarns to fasten it.