Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kitchen Kitsch: OTH

Here's a quiz: do you remember what OTH means?

OTH: I have made a couple of dishcloths with Bernat Handicrafter Cotton in "Cottage" and Lily's Sugar and Cream in Ecru. The pattern is from the Coats and Clark website.
I hope this is the last of my not-so-good pictures, but I have a feeling that there are more to come as I make my way through my birthday-cam learning curve.

And I am making dishtowels to go with. Same yarns. Pattern is Dorothea Dishcloth on the Lion Brand Yarns website. Do you get the feeling that I surf the yarn websites a lot? I just love the stripes, they seem so old-fashioned, although I can't imagine why something as simple as stripes should belong to any one era.
I have finished this one, and I need to get started on the opposite one, you know crocheting with the multicolor as the main color and the ecru as the contrasting stripe. These were originally going to be for someone whose birthday is past...should I skip the birthday present and make it a Christmas present? Sigh....I like to give handmade, but I'm so slooooow at finishing projects. And they are so simple and should go quickly.
Update: I have hooked on the 2nd dishtowel, this morning, on the ride into work (I am a passenger, don't worry. I also eat breakfast and put on make-up, while riding.) Is "hooked on" the right term for crocheting? I am more used to casting on when speaking of knitting. This project is taking a ridiculously long time. The intended recipient had a birthday on Nov. 2. Shhhh...don't tell. I wish I were one of those people who had lovely handmade gifts for everyone by Christmastime, but sadly, that clearly won't happen this year. I wish I were at least one of those people who sends out birthday cards on time. Or who sends out birthday cards. And Christmas cards. I really need to try harder. For now it's all I can do to stop typing and click "Publish Post". Here goes.

On the Needles, On the Hook

Let's get something straight now: in knitting circles (which can be round, but aren't always), "OTN" means "on-the-needles", used to refer to WIPs (works-in-progress). Knitters and crocheters in blog-land rarely wait for a FO (finished object) to tell you about it. After all, once it is done, (and usually before) our minds are excitedly thinking about the next project, and burning with creativity. The FOs? They are old news, either pressed into use, mailed off to a giftee, or awaiting the tedium of loose ends or blocking, the last un-interesting steps between OTN and FO.

So what have I got OTN? Well, let me start by saying if you are an active knitter/crocheter, you may already have a Ravelry account. If you don't, I recommend it (with the usual reservations: it is addictive, in the way any good hobby community website is). If you do, you can see my projects, by seeking out WendyBee.

Right now, OTN, I am using a vintage pattern to make my grandmother the Country Club shawl. It's kind of silly to use a pattern, since it is really just a knitted rectangle. But the pattern has served as the inspiration anyway. And since there is a certain amount of adjusting for gauge.. I loooooove vintage patterns! But sometimes their utility is limited to inspiration only. For one thing, most patterns are published by yarn companies, specifically for the yarns they carry. Well, need I say that virtually none of the yarns used in vintage patterns are currently available, and substitutions can be very tricky. Nonetheless, I find the photographs very inspiring.

Now, the Country Club shawl calls for American Thread Company“Dawn” Permanent “Crimp Set” Nylon or “Dawn” Pompadour or “Dawn” Infants Wool or “Dawn” Baby Yarn, but I happened to have on hand a lovely russet red synthetic yarn (Red Heart Value Textured Yarn). I looked on the Red Heart website, and can't find it , so it must be discontinued, and on its way to becoming vintage. That's probably why I ended up with it: it was marked down to a ridiculously low clearance price, and I can't resist a bargain yarn, expecially when it is as soft and cushy as this one is. The low price helps me to forgive it for not being a natural luxury fiber. Because it is textured (i.e. fluffy), the yarn puffs out in the stitch, and so it doesn't have the lacy look illustrated in the picture, nor does it drape the same way. But, it is lush and cushy and cuddly, so it's perfect for living in a cold climate. The funny part is that my grandmother, who is 89 years old, may not even own a shawl. I hope she'll use it and feel like I'm giving her a warm hug. But I picture her thinking that shawls are for old ladies. She always has cared about fashion and adopted the latest styles. While shawls are quite fashionable now, she may not know it--I hope I can convince her.........

I'll quit here for I'll bore you ad nauseum about the kitchen dishcloths and dishtowels I have OTH and OTN.


Today is the first Sunday in Advent. The season of Advent precedes Christmas, and in the church it is the beginning of the calendar year. It is a time to prepare one's heart for the coming of the Messiah. John the Baptist foretold his coming, urging repentance and baptism by water.
The modern church celebrates 4 Sundays in Advent, the 4 weeks before Christmas. Each Sunday focuses on a theme: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy
Today's theme is Hope.

In early European customs, the winter solstice season was marked by bringing in evergreens and lighting candles, symbolizing the continuing existence of life in the evergreens despite the bleak and cold landscapes, and light in the darkness.
Later, the Roman Catholic church began to use the custom of evergreen wreaths and candles to teach the Advent story. Very clever, really.
Now, we see all kinds of Advent countdown items, usually used to help children survive the interminable countdown to Christmas. A lot of times the focus is on gifts, toys, and candies. As much as I understand the draw, I sometimes feel that the secular world is stealing from the tradition of religion. The irony is that the Advent wreath is an example of the religious world stealing from the secular!
Here's a candelabra image I found incorporating the nativity imagery.
No sweets, toys, or Santa Claus here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

I hope everyone is having a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. This is definitely my favorite holiday of the year, I think. It's hard to choose, what with Easter and Christmas on the calendar. But today, it's all about feast and family. Today, it's just my immediate family, no travelling, but there will be "family-by-fone".

I miss so many people in my family. We don't live in the same city as anyone in either my family or my husband's. We definitely feel that was a mistake, to settle in an area away from everyone we love. We have missed so many important events, from births to deaths, and all the everyday stuff in between.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Whew! It has been awhile! I've so often thought of sitting down and posting and then got busy with something more urgent.
So, I'm sitting down with my fourth cup of tea...I make mine rather weak and it's cold today....and finally getting to the posting.
Today, I've been doing a lot of browsing through my pictures and clip art, knowing that going through images I like will prompt me to write about things that are interesting (to me anyways).
I'll start with tea-for-one sets. I can't decide if I like them or not.... On the one hand, they are adorable in shape and therefore pleasing to the eye. They are the product of innovation and creativity. They are practical. They can be quirky, whimsical and nostalgic. They are a reminder to the individual to pamper one's self a little. On the other hand, they can remind the lonely that they are alone. Or the alone that they are lonely. They are not meant for sitting down with a friend for a cuppa and a chat. For that you need a bigger pot and 2 cups and saucers. Oh, and better yet, a plate of cakes and cookies! Makes you want to put your feet up, doesn't it? curled up in a wing chair?
But we are in a new age and if I had a tea-for-one set, I think I'd use it for sitting down at my laptop and checking e-mail, and writing posts here, and then all the up-sides would out-weigh the down-sides.
This is my harvest centerpiece::I slaved over it for at least 5 minutes on Wednesday, when I was home with the boys on Veteran's Day. I usually go to the parade, but didn't this year. Not for lack of respect for our Vets- just needed puttering time at home.
I also took the picture of the roses that I have on my dining room sidetable. I wish I were better at styling and taking pics. They are breath-taking and would have made a much nicer picture in someone else's hands.
I'm going to use them as an excuse to tell you about a cheery and stylish lady named Kay. Kay was on the staff at a school I attended in the 1980's. She was probably in her 50's (looked much younger), and was impeccably mannered and socially gracious beyond anyone I can think of. She was always enthusiastic about whatever she did, and very professional in her role. I remember she once told me that she adored autumn colors. At that time, I was firmly entrenched in pastel blue, the way some people are about purple. I remember thinking how reassuring it was that Kay did indeed have a flaw. Everything about her seemed so perfect and well-groomed and tasteful. And then to discover that she loved autumn golds, reds, oranges and even browns. Well, that did it for me. Kay was inexplicably flawed in my mind. Now, keep in mind, that having survived the '70's and its fascination with orange and browns ("natural" colors), harvest golds and avacado greens, (think household appliances and vinyl flooring), I and many like me were rejecting all things macrame and hippy in home dec and fashion. This was an era of big hair and "jewel" tones, Dynasty and Falcon Crest. Everything was blue-based, even the pinks and greens. The popular neutrals were no longer ecru and ivory and beige, but instead any shade of gray. Green virtually disappeared in favor of "teal", a color label which, while appropriately assigned to shades of blue-green, seems to have widely supplanted "turquoise" even for aqua shades that are exactly the shade of the semi-precious stone. I feel like I "date" myself to use that color name now.
Anyway, back to Kay, she is likely retired now, and I hope is enjoying the fall foliage wherever she may be. And now, guess who is the autumn color enthusiast? Of course, it's me...and since I also love vintage aprons and hearts and flowers and the smell of laundry dried on the line, how perfect is this little vignette?

I bought this apron on ebay, couldn't resist. It is well-made and clearly was a gift for a young girl, based on the size. Can't you just picture her, rolling out the dough for her first apple pie? Or maybe making holiday cookies with cutters and sprinkling colored sugar on top. Or maybe it wasn't baking at all, maybe she was trying to learn how to fry an egg, how to flip it without breaking the yolk, to give Daddy his eggs over easy just the way he likes them. I remember my grandmother telling me that if you could fry an egg just right, you were really on your way....
On a different note, I have finally photographed my cocker spaniel Tammy in her sweater. I made it almost a year ago and finally have a pic to post on my ravelry page. You shoulda been here for the photo shoot - it was hilarious. Tammy turned into a quivering lump of Jello! She gets so nervous when she doesn't know what you expect of her. And being a dog of very small brain, she rarely knows what you expect of her. I bring my outdoor urns into the dining room to allow the geraniums to winter over. There are buds on that plant, and if the sun streaming through opens them, I'll be sure to get a picture.....
Speaking of my "ravelry" page, if you aren't familiar, it's an online knitting and crocheting community, an endless resource of patterns, projects and advice, as well as a way for each member to catalog successes and failures. I don't have a picture up on my profile, since I don't have one that makes me look like Marilyn Monroe. I found an image today that I'll be using, and wanted to share it with you.

I think I looked a little like that a few centuries ago.....I certainly had homemade calico dresses and pinafores and maryjanes and little white socks, and a love for my dolls.
That's all for now..................tempis fugit.....................................

And the roses are fading on the vine................................
Maybe I should have used this image for my profile, since I aspire to age gracefully. I seem to have the sagging and wilting and drooping thing down pat.