Sunday, July 31, 2011

Learning About Dyeing

It's been a long-time desire of mine to learn how to dye fiber. No, I do not intend to compete with all the marvelous dyers out there who create sensational roving and yarn in blissful colors.

It's more a personal thing. Take these lovely garments, for example:

There is nothing sweeter than lovely cotton garments in a variety of white and off-white lace patterns. The big issue is that I look like holy hell in these colors--totally washed out, sickly, cadaverous.  Well, that's going a little far, but you get the point.

These splendid sweaters were all collected while thrift-store scavenging over the past few years. None of them cost more than $5 and I am in love with them all--well, most of them. As sweet as they are, they will need some color to flatter yours truly.

What a better opportunity to try out some dyeing and perhaps get some stunning new things to wear out of the deal. I'll keep you posted as the experiments begin.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Finishing the Memory Keeper's Shawl

The term blocking as it is used by knitters and crocheters means to shape a piece of handwork.  I wet block items for my shop. That is, I  hand-wash them in cool water using products designed for fine fibers: my two favorite products are Eucalan and Soak. I always use the unscented variety for things I sell, but if you are washing things for yourself, both products come in yummy fragrances.

Our dining room table is my blocking/drying space for finishing most knit and crocheted items.

For the Memory Keeper's Shawl I used sturdy blocking wires from Knit Picks which I inserted horizontally across the scarf along the nubby sections. The blocking wires aid in stretching the item into an even rectangular shape. For a scarf or shawl with an even edge I would also have added wires along the perimeter, but this piece did not call for it.

A lot of personal memories came up for me while working on this piece because it was started on the day my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's; however, it was not the intention to make a piece to contain my memories. The goal was to create a lovely item into which the wearer could weave her own memories and then carry them along into her own future. Perhaps a bride would wear this shawl and would always be reminded of that special day when wearing it again.

So the washing of this item was of special importance to me. Not only did I want to wash the item and block it into shape, I also wanted to wash away my own memories so that the shawl was ready to receive the new memories for which it was destined.

Throughout the process, it seemed ironic that the term blocking is also used to mean suppressing memories.

Here are some photos of the finished shawl which I will be putting in my Etsy shop this week.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rage against the dying of the light

I have been back to the Pacific Northwest for a couple weeks now and am sure glad not to be suffering through the heat wave baking the Midwest into parched earth. Here in Portland, it still feels like an extension of Spring--we might pass right by Summer this year. Our high temperature here today is comparable to the overnight low in my hometown tonight.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

My father had another set-back last week when he was hospitalized with severe dehydration.  We thought we were going to lose him. This time my brother made the pilgrimage home to provide support and to interface with health care providers. We three siblings on the West Coast have been finding out the extreme emotional difficulty of living so far away from aging parents, and the frustration of not having close daily contact in a time of crisis.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Although a large amount of my time now is spent in family communications and follow up,  I have been working on some new items for my shop and have been trying to get some regular exercise--both body movement and working with my hands has been such good therapy for stress.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night , Dylan Thomas

The memory keeper shawl is finished. Next post, you'll see some photos. Also, the annual blog giveaway will be happening soon. Look for a post by month-end that shows what goodies will be featured in the giveaway drawing for you all this year.