knit*therapy

on knitting and healing and other stuff

Archive for February, 2009

Field Trip, Reunion, Color Therapy

Posted by Janis on February 28, 2009

Pam's show at William Woods University

Pam's show at William Woods University

I took a field trip yesterday. Even the words “field trip” give me a little buzz — the memories of school day getaways to places unusual, new sights to see, time to hang out with friends on the bus to and from, trying to get truckers to honk their horns and singing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” at the top of our lungs until the driver or our teacher begged for mercy (usually around Bottle #83, as I recall). I wonder if sixth graders are allowed to sing about taking down bottles of beer and passing them around these days? Probably not.

So — I drove to Fulton yesterday to meet up with a dear old friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen for twenty years. Pam had a show of her art quilts at her alma mater, William Woods University, and it was my first chance to see her work in person. You can see it, too — a couple of images anyway. And you simply must go to Pam’s wonderful website/blog to see all her work:  http://pamdora.com/blog/ .

I had been following Pam’s adventures in quilting online for a year or so now, but seeing the work in person is absolutely overwhelming. It is the most exciting art I’ve seen in … well, maybe ever! Yesterday was gray and cold, and walking into the gallery was like getting a super-shot of pure color therapy, relief for the winter blues. When you see the quilts from a distance, they look like paintings. Pam has created all these amazing techniques to apply drawing and painting techniques to fabric, so the quilts are incredibly textured and dimensional. Looking at them close up, you can see they are created from an infinite variety of different patterns of fabric, painstakingly chosen to contrast, blend, or do whatever The Artiste wants them to do — she is master of her materials, that’s certain. Pam has a stunning sense of color, as you can see, plus her sense of humor comes through the work so clearly. I laughed out loud looking at the quilts — in the Food Pyramid (below), the hieroglyph camel has a tiny cigarette hanging out of his mouth, for instance. Pam calls them “cartoon quilts,” and that is really apt.

It was so great to see Pam after all these years. We had a good laugh about my taking her to her first concert – Kansas – and my brother swiping my car to take his girlfriend home, leaving us stranded so that Pam didn’t get home till 2 a.m. — to a frantic mother. (This was way before cell phones, dear readers — and I doubt if either of us had enough change to make a long-distance call on a pay phone.) Pam was one of those people who, even as a kid, you just knew she would do amazing things. If there had been an award for “Most Likely To Live An Artistic Life,” Pam would have won. Because she did and she is and I am so very proud of her.

Pam and Food Pyramid

Pam and Food Pyramid

pam-and-me

Portrait of the Artist as a Young (still!) Quilter and Me

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Posted in Therapy, Travel | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

Earnest Hemming (A)way

Posted by Janis on February 25, 2009

The sweater surgery was pretty successful. The patient did not expire, nor did the doc, though I had a very faint moment at the end of 120 (on each side) stitches grafted when I realized I was off by two stitches on one side. Yeah. Two stitches. No way was I going to pull the whole thing out and redo it. So I cleverly hid the problem in the seam.

Hemming (and hawing) the Sunrise Circle Jacket

Hemming (and hawing) the Sunrise Circle Jacket

I’m now onto sewing up the hem. Last night during Obama’s speech, I was so inspired I got both of the sleeves hemmed and started on the neckline, which you see here. I have got a lot of sewing left to do here, but it’s really not bad. It’s not making ugly marks on the front of the sweater so far, so that’s a huge relief. I had worked myself into a tizzy worrying about that little “what if.”

Aside from the Sunrise Circle progress, I washed and blocked the pieces of my Pretzel Logic Cabled Vest yesterday. Just peeked at it — blocking works wonders for cables – so here is a rather dim picture of the back. My basement blocking area is not a sunny delight — bear with me. I have fallen in love with cabling this winter — I love the variety it affords. I’m a little worried this vest may end up being just a smidgen small — I did some funky math with my yarn sub and am afraid I goofed it up. We’ll know tomorrow when it’s dry enough to baste together and slip on.

pretzel-logic-back

Posted in On the Needles | 4 Comments »

Once Upon a Mattress (Stitch)

Posted by Janis on February 25, 2009

Carol Burnett as Winifred in "Once Upon a Mattress"

Carol Burnett as Winifred in "Once Upon a Mattress"

This is for those of us who grew up on wonderful television broadcasts of Broadway classics like “Peter Pan” with Mary Martin (OK, now that I look back on that one, she is rather grotesque as young Peter), “Cinderella” with Lesley Anne Warren, Celeste Holm, and Walter Pigeon, and this classic — “Once Upon a Mattress” with Carol Burnett as Winifred.

Having just completed quite a lot of mattress stitch, I felt it was a fitting tribute to my now better-honed skills in that area. It’s a funny thing with knitting (or any other skill one is learning, come to think of it) — the things that used to strike fear in my heart as a new knitter have, after three years of obsessive knitting, become… well, much easier. And not only are those things easier for me to do, they actually look pretty good, too. I’m sure you can recite the litany of scary knitting things with me, knitties: Kitchener stitch, seaming, lace, knitting with tiny needles… (And I must say, I had a proud knitting in public moment about a year ago when working on a sock on two circ’s – size 1 Addi’s with regular fingering weight sock yarn – and a woman came up and asked me if I was knitting with wire and thread!)

I know this is probably a real non-brainer for most of you. You do something more, practice, you get better. Our moms and dads told us that all the time. But get this — they were right.

Posted in On the Needles | 3 Comments »

Sweater Surgery

Posted by Janis on February 16, 2009

I know it’s a holiday, but the doctor is in and busy at work. I had a major surgery scheduled for this morning: my Sunrise Circle Jacket’s back is suffering from a moderate to severe case of shortness.

I diagnosed this problem only when actually suturing the fronts to the back yesterday (yes, this doctor even works Sundays). Of course, in my usual fashion, I insisted on completing the side sutures on both sides, easing the extra frontage into the backage, and creating what I’ll kindly call a gently undulating effect along the front — not unlike a bad lipo job. So I modelled it, looked, thought… “hmmmm, I really don’t want to knit a new back, even though I have plenty of yarn.” Then I thought — surgery! Snip a stitch, unravel, knit in a couple of inches, and graft it shut again. I had performed this procedure successfully over the summer on a baby sweater sleeve that needed an additional inch. The scale of the SCJ is much larger – oh, say 4 times more stitches to be dealt with – but I know I can do it.

The offending uneveness.

The offending uneveness.

Surgery in progress.

Surgery in progress.

At this point I have ravelled (unravelled?) the back just above the hem-turn line, and have managed to get all the stitches on both sides of the incision on needles. I’m sure some of them are twisted, but I’ll deal with that as I knit them or graft them. When I get the knitting done, I’m going to try the brilliant TECHknitter’s method of grafting with knitting needles.

And now, my big confession. It is utterly ridiculous that I’m having to do this in the first place. You see, I looked up everything ever written by anyone who’s done this pattern before I cast on. Did anyone mention a problem with back length? Oh yes, many times. Did I follow the designer’s recommendation and knit the back first, then match the fronts to it? Well, I knit the back first, but I didn’t understand how to adjust the size of the fronts, as they’re knitted in a semi-circle, so I just trusted the knitting goddesses. And here I am… having what I will choose to call “a learning
experience.” I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

Posted in On the Needles | 4 Comments »