Friday, December 30, 2011

all that glitters

New Year's Eve approaches.  What better fiber to bring in 2012 than this?
Nope, that's not snow - 
ArtYarns - beads.  Unspeakably beautiful ... but no snow.  We're still waiting for the white stuff -
Green grass in late December.  The Arctic Circle is sounding better and better to me.  Did you finish all of your Christmas projects?  I didn't.  Luckily, the friends who have to wait are patiently understanding!
And this -
And more to come!!!  (it's hopeless!)

Monday, December 26, 2011

christmas 2011

Christmas came, without the snow that we longed for.  It brought our loved ones together - safe, close for those moments, real.  This is what the holiday is about - nothing matters as much as this connection - cousins embracing, sisters laughing together, the Matriarch smiling from her rocking chair.  And because we are a family that adores dogs, it was dogs that shared our special day.  
Clementine and Pippa warmed our laps and made us laugh.  It was hard, this one.  They say that the first holiday without one's loved one is always a challenge.  We missed our father.  We had each other, good food, memories.  We are blessed, and we know it.
My beautiful niece Hadley - wearing her new mitts!  (alpaca)
Onward to the new year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

looking, listening

I can't hear Christmas, or feel it.  So I assigned myself to listening.  

When you stop talking to listen for something in particular, you will hear curious, wondrous, sounds.

 Overheard: "Mario wears girl's glasses, wears his pants belted under his belly.  He is balding, Italian, but doesn't look it.  (hesitation) I think he may be a little gay."

"She's living out her mental illness diagnosed, but untreated."

"You may not have noticed this, but you are not exactly the center of love and kindness."

And today's favorite -

"Where the hell is the snow?  It's freaking December, for Godsake.  Did you read my horoscope?  I'm in for astrological stormy weather."

Christmas, where are you?  
Did you come in on silent feet with this pretty bouquet?
Were you signaling to me from the monkey ornament aisle?  (these little guys jumped in my basket and came home)
Have I been walking past your subtle light without noticing?
I think that I felt your spirit today when I began my last minute Christmas knitting.  

'When you really look for me, you will see me instantly - you will find me in the tiniest house of time'

Sunday, December 11, 2011

time to finish

Have been working along steadily, attempting to finish all Christmas projects.  
Mittens waiting for their thumbs -
Mittens waiting for their mates -
Socks waiting to dry -
Another pair of mitts, waiting to meet one another!
A chocolate Wishbones - with scarf and mitts to follow.  I'd like to create something that would make your hearts quicken!  Something that would send you to your stash, to your needles - your heads bent over your work, nodding, smiling, unable to pull yourselves away.  It's coming!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

pauline's heart

A box arrived from New Hampshire.  Pauline certainly knows how to surround a loved one with joy, with delight.  First of all - socks.  
A dedicated sock knitter myself, this gift is even more precious and rare, and oh so treasured!
The detail is so scrumptious - it's hard to put these socks away.  The color, never fully realized with my point and shoot camera, is divine. . . think beaten egg yolks in a quiet early morning kitchen.  Pauline, thank you.  I will be lifting my pant leg, my skirt, to gaze at your gift.  People will whisper and point and snicker and I won't be in any way fazed!  

There was another carefully wrapped bundle in scalloped tissue -
Let me introduce my little elephant.  He has machine quilted hearts on his flappable ears.  His body is encased in my favorite gingko fabric.  The little braided orange tail -
Love at first sight.  I wish that there was a way that I could describe Pauline's creativity.  Her life is her work of art - she never ceases to amaze, she never tires in her pursuit of beauty, of joy.  She is the most generous woman that I've ever known; if you admire her work, she offers it to you, happily, genuinely.  In the words of Julia Cameron-

"God is in the details."

Whenever I have been fortunate enough to spend time with Pauline, I have experienced the most intensely creative bursts of productivity.  She is one of those authentic spirits who brings out the extreme best in anyone blessed to know her.  She is my Muse.

Anything is possible.  Doors open, ideas pour like wine from vessels, freely, abundantly.    

Monday, December 5, 2011

knitting memories

when I spent my time color stranding ... many years ago -
Large projects were tackled enthusiastically.  Time restraints simply did not exist - the seductive nature of color knitting, of stranding to create designs, was captivating, mesmerizing.  Everything, complete, nothing more needed than just this - to sit with the fiber, to pull the colors, to feel the fabric gain and grow beneath my needles.
Where did all of that courage and discipline disappear to?  Today I am profoundly uncertain.   I sit with a growing mountain of designs, of charts, of ideas jotted quickly upon note paper.  Instead of granting my authentic dreams the space in which to grow - I tackle yet another project designed by a stranger - something quick and tested to be gratifying.  The small voice within clamors to be heard - I am listening, I am listening.  Perhaps this will be the year - the one in which I emerge with confidence - my dreams alive, in fiber.

I told Scott that I was leaving, that I could no longer live in a house that was crumbling.  (I do tend to lean toward the dramatic).  I want to see my hardwood floors again, I told him.  They've been covered under some kind of board for too many years - protected from plaster wall excavation, long over.  God bless that man, he heard my heart.  (he likes my cooking too well!)
It's the age old story of the Shoemaker whose children go barefoot.  Scott possesses a gift that is so unique and special.  He can build the house of your dreams.  He will get it right - down to the last detail.  His houses are magnificent, resplendent, and he has built for the ordinary guy as well as for super stars.  But when it comes to Home Sweet Home, he resists - there is a total lack of motivation.  Lately I think that we are beginning to  make some kind of progress.  I hope so.  This hallway speaks to me.  It tells me that COLOR is needed.  Any ideas?
Baby steps.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

monkeys like banana (yellow)

First of all, we received our first Christmas card. It made me so very happy!
If you read the Thanksgiving post, you know that these two little dogs have stolen my heart. . . so much so that I have taken to perusing Cavalier breeder sites!  Unfortunately, this puppy doesn't line up with my budget!  One has to dream!
I'm a closet monkey admirer.  Silly, I know, and I've kept it under wraps for years.  Somehow, my devotion to elephants doesn't seem as sophomoric!  It's even acceptable or understandable to plan a retirement that includes working on an elephant sanctuary.  But monkeys?  I had to come out of the closet this year because that scoundrel sock monkey made his debut with fabric companies and suddenly - monkey themes abound!  When yarn poses with monkeys, curious things happen!
Christmas mitts from Morehouse Farm seem more festive when paired with that monkey.
Another Ysolda hat and mitts are coming soon - this lovely pea green theme seems to be emerging all around the place!  I love to see bits and pieces of bright green tucked in with traditional holiday colors.  
I have promised a baby sweater to a friend.  
 It needs a washing and a blocking and then it will be off!  But not before posing with the monkey!
Harley wanted to remind everyone that monkeys are ridiculous!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

this lovely long weekend

Are you enjoying this long weekend?  Here in the northeast we are being blessed with the most extraordinary weather- warm and windy and dry.  I've had clothes on the line for three days running - all of those quilts and comforters and sheets and towels that will capture and hold the scent of these November afternoons, basking, in the sun.

Thanksgiving in Connecticut was wonderful.  My sister sets the most elegant table -
And the food was nearly diminished by all of the lovely crystal and porcelain and sterling - we had such a feast.  There was laughter and love and I believe that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, even Hilary, who was nursing a horrendous cold.
I couldn't take my eyes off of the chandelier - it was wearing such finery!  The afternoon light streamed through the windows and the combination of sensational food and loved ones was PERFECTION.
One of my blogger friends has complained that I never post any photos of myself, and she's right about that.  I have gained weight over the last several years and am never happy with any photos except, perhaps, THIS one ...
There's my girl, Clementine.  I am so thoroughly in love with this girl, and I'm not alone -
She has something special going on with my son.  We are all hopelessly in love.  (There may be cavaliers in ALL of our futures!)  These little dogs are incredible - they totally bond with their "people".  Sweet, unassuming, a joy to be with, this, coming from people who have always had retrievers!  It's a conspiracy!
I wandered around my sister's home and found so many beautiful nooks and crannies.  An orchid that welcomes one as one enters -
A favorite photo of my father - making faces in order to send his grandchildren into fits of laughter -
The front room - so elegant and peaceful with the fireplace lit .... and, oh!  My sister creates the most exquisite needlepoint pillows!  She has honored all of her beloved dogs, loved and gone onto the happy hunting grounds -
First - Sally.  She came from a Millbrook kennel and was truly, a remarkable lab.
There was Lola - she completely stole my heart and passed on way too soon.
Of course, we cannot forget Mr. March and Lily and the unsinkable Nick -
I think that she liked the newest addition that I brought along -
I hope that you all had a blessed joyous holiday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

quietly busy

The first year that we moved into this old farmhouse, Scott created a beautiful harvest table - large enough to seat our families.  This is where the tradition of having Thanksgiving in New York began.  There is a change in place this year, and the pressure is off!  We've been invited to my sister's home in Connecticut.  Instead of preparing the feast, I am responsible for just a few delicacies!  We are really enjoying the quiet pace of this day - so much so that my sou chef is napping without regret!

   I am making a cheese roll - the recipe originates from the Red Lion Inn in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  They don't know how to prepare anything that isn't exceptional.  
Delicious herbs and cheeses make up the batter and after a 24 hour refrigerated nap it is rolled into a log and sliced accordingly.  The parchment paper should make the actually rolling easier.
These unexpectedly beautiful tomatoes are making it possible for me to concoct a family favorite - Spinach Rockefeller.  The spinach mixture is scooped onto thick tomato slices and heated quickly.  Mouth-watering.  The original old recipe (1973) actually called for MSG!!!!!  Thankfully, we've discovered that this is not an ingredient that one wants to include!  I've also put up a Salmon Mousse which will be served with pumpernickel toasts.  This recipe comes from my favorite, The Silver Palette cookbook.  There will be an applesauce cake, made from neighboring apples that I picked myself.  The cheesecake is relaxing in the fridge - there isn't much more to do.
I did finish the pillow for my sister.  I'll slip upstairs to her bedroom and leave it on the bed where she will find it long after we've left.  I'm happy with the end results even though my machine quilting leaves a lot to be desired!  Also, I punked out on the double welting ...  sssshhhh, don't tell.
Ruth McDowell I'm not!  Her machine quilting is sensational, but nothing can compare to my friend Linda Hibbert's work.  The paper pieced Cavalier is only one of many beautiful creations that Linda offers. If you haven't already, be sure to visit her website at Silver Linings Originals.
I've used many different paper-piecing patterns over the years and can say, without hesitation, that none can compare to Linda's.  There is a painterly feel to the patterns, a flow that is so intuitive one hardly checks the schematics.
I've always wanted to create my own designs - in quilting, in knitting, sewing and beading.  I think that I resort to the use of other's designs because I am (a) lazy, (b) insecure, and (c) totally without mathematical acuity and addicted to instant gratification.  Phew!  Glad I FINALLY got that off my chest.

I always wanted to become a painter.  I began taking life model drawing classes in my teens and worked with a local artist well into college, where I majored in studio art.  There was never a time when I was not drawing, illustrating, doodling and creating.  Where I lacked confidence in myself, my work, I found that fiber play was just that - PLAY, and fun and undemanding.  There was no one standing by to critique my quilts, my sweaters.  There was lots of praise for items that could be cuddled up to, worn happily.  But the work was not original.  At best, it only morphed from an original design into something that I went off the rails with! 

Here is one of those happy collisions - 
It began as another Honey Cowl and when I tired of the slip stitch pattern I added stitches and my favorite k6 p2 rib to the end.  Tomorrow I will give it to Hilary and take some photos of the finished piece.  It's really nice - and I'm thrilled with it.  I've started another in my leftover Epiphany from Cascade.
Perhaps this is the first of many baby steps that I need to take before plunging into Original Territory.  The journey is such a wonder to me that I probably don't even need to know or understand where I'll end up.  It is said that if one does what one loves, the success will follow.  How I would love to quit my "day job" to pursue such a sentiment!!!  Meantime, I'll keep creating.  
There are so few things that can compare to this kind of satisfaction. . . It might be time for a nap - imagine that on the day before Thanksgiving!!!  What are you all doing today?  I hope that you and yours enjoy a safe, joy-filled celebration.  And for those who do not celebrate Thanksgiving, safety and happiness and as much family connection as you can get!