Saturday, 31 July 2010

Green Things

Clockwise from the left: a simple stocking stitch sock; a glistening lime dome from the best chocolatier in the world; a mossy, messy pile that very soon will be a finished shawl.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Quoth the Raven

What to do when the last thing you knit was a large green shawl? Why, knit an even bigger green shawl, of course! Apologies for the rubbish photo - it's so hard to get unblocked lace to look like anything other than a worrying fungus. The photo also fails to give an indication of the scale of the thing: to do that, I would have had to photograph it alongside, say, France. It's HUGE. The pattern (another Anne Hanson creation) is called Irtfa'a, which apparently means 'raven's wing' in Arabic. This would be a raven of terrifying proportions, the sort that would block out the sun before conquering a city. Though perhaps a little frightening to look at, the raven would have very soft wings, as it made out of an Old Maiden Aunt Baby Alpaca/Silk/Cashmere blend, which I waxed lyrical about here.

When I show people my finished knits, a question that often comes up is 'How long did that take you?'. I normally find it quite a tricky one to answer ('Oh, I've been working on it for about a month, on and off, but really only a little bit in the evenings...'). This time, though, I can measure it by the audiobooks and podcasts I have listened to whilst knitting it: the total currently stands at about 30 hours, and I still have half the edging to go. As I said, it's quite a big green shawl.

White on White

Staying at my grandfather's house in the deepest, darkest South of Italy, I came across this pillowcase, neatly embroidered with my father's initials. A subtle, textural rhapsody in white, it remind me of the work of Scottish artist Alison Watt.

It is probably the work of my great-grandmother (reputedly something of a difficult character) who as well as embroidering also crocheted fine lace bedspreads and table-cloths at a wrist-achingly small gauge. I love being connected to the women of my family through craft, though it does make me a little sad I didn't get to discuss it with any of them during their lifetimes (apart from my mum, a sometime knitter). I wonder what nifty embroidery stitches my Nonnina might have taught me, or what sewing trouble my Nonna might have saved me, or what knitting stories I could have shared with my Scottish granny. Could Nonnina Antonietta, a tiny one-woman doily factory, have helped me get over my profound stupidity at crochet? 

Apparently at my grandmother's death my grandfather found bags and bags of her unfinished sewing projects, which he couldn't bear to look at, and so gave away. I can well understand this, as I find these material mementos rather moving myself; stitched reminders or remainders of their creators.

Do you have any items that remind you of the crafty ingenuity of your ancestors? Or perhaps you were lucky enough to talk to them about it when they were alive? I'd love to hear people's stories on this.

Friday, 2 July 2010

A Home for a Mixtape

Remember I was working on a cd cover way back in February? Well, I've made several more mixtapes since then, and a few adjustments to the design. I took a few photos as I was making the one pictured above, and hope to work them up into a tutorial over the next couple of weeks (it may take me a while as I shall be in Italy with limited internet access), just in case anyone else would like to house their mixtapes in sewn sleeves. 
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