Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

As seen here:
Detail of people drinking, from a treatise on the Seven Vices, Add MS 27695, f. 14r

A picture above of revelers from the past making merry in their own way.  For us, champagne at home and asleep way before that ball descends in Times Square.

Three loads of fabric including linens and clothing in the trunk of the car for a Good Will run, house cleaned, and soup about to be cooked.  That is my New Year's Eve, in a nutshell.

This is a five star recipe from Alton Brown from Food Network.  I am hungry already.  Lunch soon.

What are your evening plans, if I may ask?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Thread Painting, Needle Painting

There is nothing new under the sun.  That Old Testament saying definitely applies to what I though was a "new" technique of painting with thread.  And here I thought that drawing my pup with embroidery stitches was going to be a state of the art gift for my husband.

Several years ago I painted our nine year old shih tzu Mercy, and the husband has been asking for a companion piece of our eight year old dog Libby Sweetpea to hang up in his office over his computer.

Mercy in Oils, 2006

So I decided to try and embroider the second dog using just threads to make her portrait (as a surprise Christmas present).

Half way through the project of stitching Libby Sweetpea's face in white wool threads, I found all sorts of references to thread painting.  Even an e book is available free from Quilting Daily entitled The Art of Thread Sketching: Free Thread Drawing and Thread Painting Techniques.  Just join Quilting Daily and you can download the book without charge (no charge to join Quilting Arts, either)  Excerpted from that e book:
Think of thread as you would paint: you can make dots, smooth strokes,or long, sinuous curves. Like paint,you can apply thread sparingly or very heavily.  Going over an area with several layers of thread can create wonderful texture, but you need to make sure our surface is sufficiently stabilized to support these layers without puckering. 

Pinterest has beautiful images of thread work, but does not allow for copying of their images.  If you log in, you can see stunning needlework pinned by others under the category of "needle painting" or "thread painting."

Here is a half baked version of Libby, and no, it was not completed in time for Christmas.  Still need to work on her eyes, nose and little buck tooth.

Wonder if Libby approves so far?

Updated December 30, 2014 (yes, after Christmas)...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fair Isle Knit Socks and More

Phew.  Those fair isle socks (only two yarn colors per row, knit intermittently while holding the opposing color in the back of the knitting) are complete.

What with all the self striping sock yarns now available, I doubt if anyone other than an experienced knitter could tell that the technique used in whipping up these socks was indeed "fair isle" knitting.

Alas, one of the women from the Shetland Fair Isle Knitting Guild (link here for information and pictures) (link here for more pictures) (and also here for a knitting workshop blog post) would be able to differentiate and critique this knitting.  They could right away spot my errors.

But I continue working on the technique and do have a bit of prior fair isle knitting under my belt:

(Our Mercy)
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing kit by Sandra Manson and Kate Davies, using all nine shades of 2 ply Shetland Supreme wool yarns from various types of sheep on Shetland) .. kit available here

Now I have the bright idea of trying to create a portion of this picture in fair isle knitting, along with reference help from the Book of Fair Isle Knitting by Alice Starmore. 

Giovanni Battista di Jacopo (Italian Mannerist painter, 1494–1540), known as Rosso Fiorentino (meaning the Red Florentine in Italian) Angel with Lute Madonna dello Spedalingo

If I can graph this out correctly ensuring the shading on the cherub, it should be a year long knitting project taking a lot of patience and many shades of yarn. Pinterest has some graphing aides, along with Starmore's book.  There are very few Renaissance needlepoint kits with angels, and none that I could unearth on the internet linking angels, Renaissance and knitting.  If you know of any such kits, including needlepoint, please leave me a comment as it would save lots of time if I could find a kit readily available.

Linking with Ginny's Yarn Along this Wednesday.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Now is the Third Sunday in Advent

One of my favorite Christian authors, Fredrick Buechner, writes of the advent season in a personal manner that sets me pondering on thoughts sometimes outside the usual realm of a spiritual Christmas.  He writes about the ugliness in me (yes, I personalize that ugliness for it is in me, not necessarily in you).

Buechner talks about our faults, our sinful ways, our selfishness, our arrogance.  He has a way of revealing all our human flaws, yet reminding us that God actually loves us.  And that every fault in our beings that is wrong, just wrong, is most certainly known by God.  But He keeps on loving us because grace is there, a present, a real Christmas present, that He gives us just for the asking.

With over thirty books written by Buechner (link here to his website), he has a way of unveiling grace to us, making it alive even in our somewhat sin-disguised and tawdry lives.

Episcopalian Rev. Barbara Taylor Brown said in a speech what fans of Buechner have always believed about his writings:
From you, I have learned that language itself is revelatory, with power to ignite hearts, move mountains, and save lives. 
From you, I have learned that the good news is not the cheerful news but the dismantling news of what it is like both to love and to betray the Holy One who has given me life, only to hear the saving question asked anew, for the umpteenth time, “You, you child of mine, Do you love me?”
This is what Christmas is about: the opening up of God's love to me, even me.  Such a powerful present, and it is there just for the asking.  Imagine.

From Whistling in the Dark:
The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen.
You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you've never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart.
The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.
But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of you somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.
It is Advent.  I am enjoying my candles, my Mother and Child icons, and perhaps holding my breath, just a little. And opening up that present called "grace".

Join with Angela and others in blogging about Advent.  Here is the link.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December Happenings

One of the blog feeds that comes to me daily is that of BJWS. Her blog is entitled "It's About Time," a reference to the many essays and pictures she posts from various historical eras.

BJ posted a picture several days ago that I will try to paint in oils for future Christmas display.  It is from the 13th or 14th century, and depicts angels and lutes.  The colors are vibrant.  It just "feels" like Christmas.

Mariotto de Nardo (1394-1424) Virgin and Child, Detail Angel musicians

We shall see if I can do it any justice.  It may be personal hubris to even try to recreate this angelic scene, but if seeking to paint with humility, realizing one's small talent, and/or simply trying to make a spiritual feel in one's home is hubris, so be it.  The quest continues.

Other than trying to keep down a persistent cough and struggling with viruses in both body and computer, I have been knitting intarsia socks.  Have you tried TOFUtsies sock yarn?  It is partially made from wool, soysilk and Chitin (made from shrimp and crab shells, a marketing gimmick that tells the fiber has naturally antibacterial properties).  It sold me. And the price point is practically a give away.  After waiting with bated breath over the weekend, this came in the mail yesterday,  The TOFUtsies yarn was even packaged in a little happy net bag with a silk ribbon drawstring.

This is one Salsa Sock in progress, found on Ravelery here.

Next month, I am looking forward to attending a women's writing retreat taught by Sandra Dorr and Susan Crosby.  If you google Sandra in Grand Junction, you will find out that she is an author, teacher, artist, and all around Renaissance woman.  Susan, a yoga teacher, likely has similar credentials.  All the information about the retreat can be found at this link. It will be held at the Redstone Inn in mountainous Colorado.

This is a teaser on the above link that caught my eye:

“You are perfect just as you are. And you could
use a little improvement.”
Suzuki Roshi

More history and lovely photographs of The Redstone Inn, an historic mining community built in the late 1800's, can be found here.   Come join in the wilderness experience!