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Sunday, January 29, 2017

1 Year of Stitches: Week 4

A new job, the flu, and the current state of political discourse conspired to kick my ass these past two weeks.  Some nights I stitched literally one stitch, and some nights I stitched nothing at all.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Year of the Rooster

The Chinese New Year celebrations of my friends and neighbors reminded me of the March/April issue of Piecework I bought years ago, which had a cute little pattern for an embellished rooster for the Chinese New Year.  I didn't make it that year, though, so I hung on to the pattern.  Periodically I'd pull it out but it was the "wrong" year, and I'd wish I had patterns for the other animals (I even tried my hand at designing a dragon one year).  And what do you know -- it's now twelve years later and the year of the rooster again!  ... And I can't find the pattern anywhere.

While looking for it, I found a pattern for Chinese lanterns by Aimee Ray, from the SewNews holiday issue.  That would work, and has the added benefit of not being tied to any particular year.  ... But apparently I didn't save the templates that came with it.  So I winged it, sketching out a pointed oval about 12 cm by 5 cm and sewing six of them (cut from pale pink felt) to make a fat sphere-like shape. I stitched red flowers and gold stems on each side.  Then, scrutinizing the pictures from the pattern, I added red felt "caps" to the top and bottom.
The pink is much paler in real life
It's kind of wonky, so I suggest getting Ray's etsy pattern, a fancier version than the SewNews pattern.

Friday, January 20, 2017


The White Tree:
The design itself is specifically the White Tree of Gondor, but I did not use a black background and I did not add the stars and crown.  I did use rayon floss to give it a lovely shimmer, as if the tree were glowing.

Before rinsing off the embroidery stabilizer:
I kind of like the nimbus it gives the tree branches; I bet I could get the same effect with netting on a future project.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Winter Woolens

The winter coat I received for my birthday required a new hat -- the old one, knitted by my mom, was a bright magenta that went well with my old black coat but clashed with my new, wine-colored one.  Buying a hat wasn't an option (my head is too big), so I decided to use my newly acquired crochet skills to make one.  The pattern I picked was the Chain Link Slouch Hat by Jennifer, which was overly ambitious on my part -- half way through the hat I finally got the hang of the chain pattern, and then had to rip out almost all of my progress because I realized I had been doing it wrong.  I also made the hat shorter, so it fit like a cap rather than slouching at the back of my head.  I am quite pleased with the results:

The deep purple mittens and scarf my mom knitted went beautifully with the new coat, but of course I promptly lost one mitten.  No way was I going to try to crochet that, but I did have a deep purple wool sweater that I felted years ago.  Using Martha Stewart's guidelines I cut out four mitten shapes and sewed them to each other on the machine.  They were rather plain, so I added some lazy daisy flowers in various colors of tapestry wool.  This was a super-fast and easy solution to the lost mitten problem!
Now I'm all set for the commute to my new job.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Hill's debut novel, named after a creature from Norwegian mythology, is an impressive mix of satire, political commentary, folklore, MMORPG gaming, and family relationships.  Samuel, a supposed writer and bored professor, is suddenly thrust back into the life of the mother who abandoned him when she apparently commits an act of political violence.  I must admit as much as the novel held my attention from the very first page, early on I thought Hill was venturing into tired academic and romantic cliches.  I should have trusted him -- he always veered away from the obvious and did something new and smart instead.  The result is a cynical yet somehow big-hearted novel that embraces the messiness of people.

Hill is particularly astute at recognizing the futility of trying to control one's life. The primary characters think that if they make the right choices their lives will unfold perfectly:  Samuel visualizes his life like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Faye thinks that if she does the right thing, follows all the rules, and uses all the right products, she will meet society's expectations and be happy.  Pwnage has grandiose plans of everything he is going to do differently tomorrow, which will solve all his problems and bring back his wife.  But that's not how life works, and there is no such thing as the perfect life -- sometimes fate or coincidence intervenes, sometimes the actions of others screw everything up (or give an unexpected boost), sometimes there are second chances, sometimes things stay unresolved, and sometimes big decisions don't actually matter too much in the long run. So Samuel stagnates, Faye hides from the truth of herself, and Pwnage sinks into fantasy and the illusion of choice, until they are finally able, each in their own way, to break free of their expectations and live life.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

1 Year of Stitches

Inspired by Hannah Clair Sommerville's project, Sarah Barnes at Brown Paper Bag has decided 2017 will be her year of stitches, and has called for stitchers of all kinds to join her.  How could I possibly resist? 

Week One:

I won't be taking pictures every day (unlike the rest of the country, I still have a dumb phone so picture-taking, -uploading, and -posting is a production), but I will be trying very hard to stitch every night, even if it is literally just one stitch.  (I've already missed one night; does stitching the next morning count?)  Every week I will post my progress here and in the Facebook group.  I have no plan so far, except to stitch whatever I feel like.

If you would like to join, the details are here, and the Facebook group is here.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Christmas Miscellany

"Yule Sampler" by the Primitive Sampler:

"Santa Lucia" ornament by Of Female Worth, from the 2005 Christmas Ornaments magazine:

After putting up my gingerbread and candy cane doohickeys in the kitchen, I noticed a gap that called for another gingerbread man, so I crocheted one:

I made two SuperDuo bead Christmas trees, but my mom claimed one for herself (apparently she was the only one of her friends without a fun Christmas tree pin):

Finally, a Magical Christmas Bracelet, which I extended into a bangle rather than add a clasp: