Anyone who knows me knows that I have occasional compulsive tendencies. I go off on wild tears and do things like bake ten kinds of cookies for four people for Christmas Eve, collect all available cds from a band I decide I like or get wrapped up in a book so much that I stay awake reading for hours after I've realized I'm exhausted. This time my focus was on a project full of joy and happiness; one tiny gnome army.
I initially discovered the pattern (mochimochiland's tiny things collection 3) and filed it away for a day when I needed a really fast and instant gratification project. Meaning I'd knit one and be done with it. Except next thing I knew I'd knit 14. All of the yarns were remnants or bits of yarn I just had in my stash. I mass produced the beards and arms and then did all of the finishing at once. Each gnome took me just under an hour from beginning to end, and these guys pack a huge joyful punch.
They're little, under two inches from their little feet to the tops of their pointed hats. Totally pocket sized and full of awesome.
Just before my birthday I got an itch to spin and knit myself a sweater. I looked at patterns, picked several I like and then started researching fiber sources. I wanted it to be fairly soft, but also to have some sheen and to wear well so I turned to one of my favorite fibers to spin, the fleece of the Blue-Faced Leicester. I contacted Klaus at Crown Mountain Farms who was able to bring 4 pounds of simply gorgeous, fluffy, pin-drafted roving with him to Black Sheep Gathering for me to pick up, saving me on shipping costs.
I split 4 ounces of roving into 1 ounce bundles and did some test dyeing in July after making a trip to the Eugene Textile Center to pick up some Jacquard Acid Dyes. With just a few tests I was able to settle on a color that I'm reasonably sure is one I love (if I change my mind once the yarn is spun, I can always over-dye it). Each 4 ounce roving was dyed once in silver grey and then over-dyed with a mixture of turquoise and kelly green. I've started the spinning, but it's slow going as I'm easily distracted by my knitting. I did first spin a sample skein though. This wee skein is 1/2 ounce of three ply yarn and a dream to spin which is good, since there's a lot of it to spin.
One of the things I am most proud of from 2009 is this blanket:
Knit for an online friend whose family is going through some major upheaval and shake-up, I enlisted the help of Lisa and a double fistful of other knitters and crocheters to help me create enough blocks for a big Blanket of Love.
The squares came from as far away from Japan, all carefully stitched with love and good wishes for speedy resolution of the family's sadness and stresses. Lisa and I seamed all of the squares together, zip-zip-zip, edged the whole thing with a black crocheted edging and sent it to it's new home in the Midwest where we hear it created quite a stir of joy.
We live in an amazing time, where people who are scattered all over can create such strong, amazing bonds and make a real difference in each others lives. I am proud of being able to corral a little bit of this to support someone who needed a little bit of reaffirmation that there is good in the world. I am proud of every person who set aside their own worries, cares, wants and projects to take the time to help with this (one woman squeezed a square in the week before her wedding!) It's a great thing sometimes, this crazy internet.
One of my big knitting projects this year has been the Desdemona Shawl designed by the super talented Miriam Felton of MimKnits for Wooly Wonka Fiber's Shakespeare in Lace club. The square shawl was inspired by Desdemona's strawberry embroidered handkerchief in Othello. The yarn is a merino/tencel blend which blocks to a soft, drapey, wonderful fabric--although I didn't love knitting with it. The shawl is a gift for my friend Rachel and will be delivered to her at Rhinebeck come October (don't want to trust these 62,000+ stitches to the US Postal Service!)
This shawl is a gift, but it's also number 50 on my 101 in 1001 list. I submitted it for competition in the Lane County Fair (which opened yesterday) and I am super pleased to say that it won a blue ribbon! I am thrilled.
Unfortunately, whomever set up the display for the fair was clearly not a knitter as almost all of the lace knitting was displayed purl side up. So, this is the back side. A small issue in the grand scheme of things since most people won't know the difference. I'm looking forward to seeing the judges' comments when I get this back, to see what I can do to improve my knitting.
This week's WIP Wednesday is actually a Finished Object Wednesday, a follow up to last week's WIP Wednesday post. My supplies for this overhaul included:
1 can gloss black spray paint
1 can gloss dark grey spray paint
silver star shaped brads
1 g.i. joe doll with kung-fu grip
2 round toothpicks
I also needed pliers, scissors, a crappy paintbrush and toothpicks for epoxy mixing and spreading. Nothing tricky here. As I talked about last week, I dismantled an old, falling apart trophy and painted all of the pieces either gloss black or gloss grey with spray paint. Then I reassembled. My husband spent some time digging the screw out from the bottom of the old figurine and then I used pliers to tighten all of the tension roads back together. I epoxied the GI Joe's stand on top, then the GI Joe to the stand, and a star over the Cobra logo on his chest. Then I made the flags, using craft felt and tacky glue. I sprayed some black paint into a paper plate and brushed it on the flags to distress them, as well as using it to touch up the scuffs I had made reassembling the pieces. All told, it cost about $25, the bulk of which were the spray paint and the trophy. A side-by-side comparison, I think it looks way way better now.
Sadly UO was beaten in tournaments at the Civil War LAN so this guy will be living at OSU until UO gets a chance at a rematch.