Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Braiding, Memory, and the Smell of Palm Fronds

A distinctive aroma is the carrier of memories. It flies us faster than Pan Am to that exact moment in time when we smelled it before.

One whiff of the fresh sweet scent of palm fronds and I was back there in the Midwest sitting with the womenfolk on Palm Sunday afternoon. At Grandma's house, which was the place to go on Sundays afternoons, Mom, the aunts, numerous cousins, my sisters and I are all participating in the annual inter-generational craft of palm frond braiding.

Other years, after Grandma had passed on, my sisters and I would be at home with Mom in our living room in the early afternoon, after church and lunch, braiding the holy palms while they were still fresh and pliable.

Our little fingers started by splitting a long palm frond up the center into two pieces:

Then we would patiently fold the palm strips into interlocking loops. What we did not not know at the time is that we were making a centuries-old, two-loop braid.

You start by making a loop at the bottom end of each sliver of frond. One loop is slipped into the other. In the photo below, the loop of the left piece has been placed inside the loop of the right piece.

(You don't really need the paper clip, but if you're taking photographs, it helps to keep things in place while you take the photos.)

Then you make a loop with the right-side piece of palm and insert it through the loop of the left-side piece.

Here's a close-up of a loop being made in the left piece to go through the growing braid.

You keep doing this over and over.

Eventually you run out of frond and you tuck in the ends, tie them off, or create a little loop for hanging. This is the "back view" and the next photo shows the front.

Grandma believed in the old powers of the fronds blessed by the priest on Palm Sunday--powers now deemed as magical thinking or superstition by the church. The little braids we made were perched about her home (and ours) like little amulets hanging from crucifixes and holy pictures. Pieces of the palm would be burned to ensure safety in the event of a forthcoming disaster like a tornado.

I am no longer a "church-goer," but I made this braid for two reasons. Firstly because it's for my elderly mother as a reminder of those long-gone afternoons spent with busy hands in quiet contemplation of the Easter Sunday that was approaching. (Lest you think I was overly devote as a child, be assured that my thoughts were mostly of the new Easter Bonnet I was going to wear the following Sunday.) Mom has a bit of the old magical thinking in her makeup, and the little palm will bring her some peace of mind whenever troubles or natural disasters approach.

The second reason for the braid demonstration is that it's an introductory exercise to an upcoming tutorial in which you will learn how to easily make this braid, in a new way, out of other materials for a multitude of projects. You will be surprised by the cool effects you can achieve very simply.

Meanwhile, if you have a couple 2-yard lengths of narrow ribbon around, you might want to try this. Braiding is a relaxing little getaway, and who knows where your flights of fancy or memory will take you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Next Winter's Knitting

This month I am alternating work on some summer bead-crochet rope bracelets and knitting some scarves for next winter. This scarf is knit from some of my hand-spun yarn. I've been experimenting with different photo-styling ideas for the hand-spun yarn scarves in my shop.

Ribbon Candy Styling


The horizontal ribbon candy photo would probably work best in Etsy's photo aspect ratio, but I sort of like the stacked one. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wish I Was There

Sometimes you get so overloaded and getting going so fast you can hardly think. That's how things are going for me right now. Overtime at the day job. Sick relative. No complaints really, but I would rather be here shopping at this market in Venice:

If you could be somewhere else today, doing something else, where and what would it be?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Best of the Bunny Slippers

If you're ready to hop, hop, hop down the bunny trail, it's important to have the right footwear. Today's Friday featured artists can help improve your bunny hop.

Tell us, which pair makes you most want to hop a cha-cha around your living room?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pins Galore and Adding More!

By no means am I a pin-up queen, but I promise that you will find some interesting things on my pinboards over on Pinterest. Varied pinboard topics include knitting, crochet, whimsical home decor, travel, healthy food, fanciful hairstyles, dream shoes, and inspired jewelry.

There's a new "Follow me on Pinterest" button near the top of the blog sidebar, so you can pop over any time. You are not obligated to follow me on Pinterest by clicking on the button, but you might decide to follow once you see what I am up to over there.

Here are a few recent pins:

On the "Felt So Good" board is this cool St. Francis felt hat:

This wildly adorable pom-pom hat is on the "Fashion Fantasies" board:

You can find this lovely crocheted flower on the "Crochet" board, of course:

Do you Pinterest? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The March Issues

Twice a year, in March and September, the fat fashion magazines arrive. My semi-annual ritual of gazing into these editorial look-books began a few weeks ago.

I have clippings going back to the 1980s. Images that beg for scissors include

  • fashion that I or a friend might like to wear
  • fashion that I would not be caught dead wearing but which . . .
  • has some interesting embellishment
  • or draping
  • or twist
  • or color
  • or editorial storyboard

Interesting articles get saved as well.

These days, with Pinterest and various mobile apps, fewer actual physical images get clipped to be stored in chronological binders that gather dust on the studio shelves. No longer is it a monthly ritual,  but on a semi-annual basis I love to get a cup of tea and sit down to connect with hard-copy.

Are there magazines you prefer to handle rather than view online? Which ones call to you?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Blissfully Pretty for Prom or Wedding Hands

Worn with a pretty ball gown, these bead-crocheted bangles are like sweet icing for your wrist. Both can now be found in my shop. More will be coming as I get them photographed and described.

Ah...dancing the night away to magical music with a certain special someone who looks at you adoringly. Pure bliss.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wild Fiber Batt Makes Spring Candy Yarn

As a change of pace from spinning from roving, I recently made some art yarn from a wild fiber batt purchased from MadwomansDyepot on Etsy.

This batt had some beautiful Spring colors:

First off I spun a thick and thin, nubby, slubby single from this batt. Then I plied it with a smooth thin single to produce this:

The feature of this type of art yarn is that it is intentionally not smooth and even. Here is a close-up photo:

The pastel colors remind me of sweet candy confections.