One more project heading into the Finish-along Pile: my Eels lyrics embroidery, really speeding along now!
Once I decided to stitch the flowers as one-strand chain stitch spirals, everything finally fell into place with this project. In the end, I re-stitched a lot of what I had done on the flowers and reversed the colors: very, very light blue flowers and white stems and leaves.
Oh, I’m so in love with those tiny flowers and delicate stems, I can hardly stand it. I really am almost done now – the stitching is the fun part, now that I’ve finally figured out the details. I’ve added a sprig of flowers to the top –
– which should be the end. I love getting all these projects done, finally, but I’m really going to be quite sad to see this one go!
I love this project so much! I just want to work on it all day. But then it would be finished, which would be sad. Like when you love a book and can’t put it down, but don’t want it to end. Not the worst problem to have, though.
Anyway, I’ve finished the text and I’m really happy with how it came out. I used one strand of Soie d’Alger silk thread, and did it all in back stitch.
Now I’m adding in some lovely teeeeny tiny flowers (sorry about the poor photo, it was late last night when I started tracing them into place), from a vintage pattern and found in the Flickr Hoop Love Vintage Transfers group. If you’ve never been there, go check it out – you’ll have a stack of new projects to start before you finally force yourself to leave!
The other week, Nicole from Follow The White Bunny wrote a post about “Slow Crafting” and it was funny timing because it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately too. Ever since I announced at the beginning of the year that I was determined to steal back a little more time for my own personal, non-business projects, I’ve been enjoying the kind of craft that really lets you take your time and sink your teeth in. So I want to take this week to share my slow projects with you guys and talk a little about why slow crafts are so awesome.
To start, I want to show you something that I just started this weekend. This is not just a slow project, it’s one that may continue throughout my whole life if it goes as I have in mind.
I’ve mentioned before that music is very important to me, and I even used to think I would write about music professionally one day. That seems a little silly now – if I’m honest about it, I was never really so good at it anyway, and I kind of feel that if it didn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be. But music still is one of the biggest loves of my life, and I’m always looking for a way to connect it to my needlecrafting loves.
A while ago back, I had a notion to stitch up some lyrics. That’s not a hugely original idea on its own, I’ve been inspired by lots ofstitched lyrics I’ve seen online. I’ve even done a couplemyself, but those didn’t seem like enough. It’s such an obvious way for me to pay tribute to something I love so much.
But I couldn’t choose just one line from one song! I couldn’t even narrow it down to a genre. So I thought on it some and ended up thinking that all the lyrics I love deserve to be stitched equally. Funny hip-hop rhymes, sad country lines, inspiring folk poetry. I love them all the same.
I decided to stitch them all, of course! Not all at once, that would be madness. But each as its own little mini-project, to gradually become part of a larger whole. My vision at the moment is that eventually I will have a whole wall or corner in my house dedicated to these embroideries, each one a line that inspires me in some way big or small. They won’t all match, they’ll all be on fabric and in styles that suit them, but they will belong together.
This weekend, I finally started the first one. This is a line from “Hey Man! (Now You’re Really Living)”, by Eels (one of my very favorite bands, who I am ridiculously excited to be seeing live for the first time in April, EEP!). This is such a special song because it joyously celebrates ALL of what makes up a full life, all the wonderful bits and sad bits and all the bits in between. It’s so beautiful. Eels get me every time.
I’m working on a linen handkerchief that I think my parents bought for me at Versailles, or maybe just France generally, about a hundred years ago. I found it packed away when I redecorated my bedroom and it asked to be stitched on. I’m using silk thread and will probably add some sort of floral embellishment on it after the text is finished. And that will be just one part of a much larger project. So, while I finish, tell me about your slow projects!
So the Tour de Fleece is over, and I had an awesome time! I regret just a little tiny bit that I chose a challenge that made for such difficult spinning – picking new-to-me fibers meant feeling like a beginner again, frustrated stress and all. Next year I’ll probably do something more project-related: spin enough for a cardigan, or spin the yarn for specific projects, etc. I do usually tend to pick my wool in combination with a project before spinning, so I don’t end up with an awkward yarn I can’t find a use for, and I think that will make for more relaxing spinning.
But I had a great time with the tour anyway – I’m so so so glad I did it! I learned new things, I made some really cool new friends, I re-enjoyed spinning in general. It was lovely, and I think it will help me keep spinning as part of my regular crafty activities again, for a while at least. It’s usually the thing I don’t end up with any time for, and a low priority because I have so much yarn I want to knit anyway, spinning more doesn’t seem that important. But I had such a good time, I’m already craving more time at the wheel!
My last yarn for the tour was that beautiful bamboo that I was so afraid of, but it turned out to be a joy to spin. I will definitely keep my eye out for more bamboo to spin eventually. Not all at the intimidating challenge I thought it was going to be. My only (minor) complaint is with the dyer (not mentioning any names, and I don’t think she sells anymore anyway) — the colors are gorgeous, the quality of the dye job is perfect, but this dyer did have a tendency to pick colors that will muddy when blended, and then place them far to close too each other. So the first bobbin is absolutely stunning – long stretches of aqua and sea greens interrupted by soft coppers (the left bobbin).
But the second bobbin happened to mix the colors much more, and did get ugly in a few spots when the aqua and reds mixed unpleasantly. So I’ve decided to keep them as singles – this way, I can pull out any really muddy colors as I knit if it’s a problem, and this also gives me the option to use just that first bobbin on its own if I don’t like how the second knits up. These singles seem to be about a laceweight (I’m letting them rest on the bobbins for a while before skeining and measuring) so I’m sure 50g would be enough for a little project if I wanted to split the two bobbins. I was afraid that plying them with further mix the colors too much – I’d rather leave them this way and at least come out with 50g that I love, rather than 100g that isn’t quite right.
As for my other two finished yarns: The alpaca (orange, in the photo at the top of this post) turned out to be about 225m of sportweight yarn, the silk (blue) is 330m of as-yet unmeasured weight. I have decided to go ahead and spin the other 50g in a matching skein – I think. But I will take my time prepping the hankies and not let my hands be destroyed by it again! The practice mini-skein there, alpaca, isn’t as soft as I’d have liked, but I think it might work nicely for a pair of simple striped or colorworked mitts. I’m going to stashdive for something that would work in combination with it.
So next up: the Ravellenic Games! I have a specific plan for this, but I’ll tell you more about that on Friday before the Opening Ceremony Cast-on. I’m really really excited to take part and hope it’s just half as awesome as the Tour de Fleece!
If you remember my post a few weeks ago, my challenge for the Tour de Fleece 2012 was to to try five new-to-me fibers. Today is Day 5 and I’ve finished my first one! Well, sort of finished. The blue above is my first finished skein: silk hankies, 50g / 330m. I haven’t measured WPI yet (this yarn hasn’t had the twist set yet), but I’ll guess a somewhere around a fingering weight on average – though it’s really all over the place. Because I was really a beginner with the hankies, the singles were, predictably, much thicker at the beginning of the bobbin than at the end. It turns out that silk hankies are really hard on your hands, and really difficult to draft evenly. That said, I did get much better at it as I went on – here’s two progress photos that should show the difference between the start and end of the bobbin:
I know the top Instagrammed photo isn’t that clear, but I hope you can see how much thinner and more consistent the single became as I went on. Plying helps, of course, but it is still very uneven. I can’t yet decide if I should prep the second half of this batch of hankies and spin it up the same, or if I should call this done and save the other half to work on separately now that my spinning of the fiber has improved. I might get something closer to a laceweight like I’d hoped for. On the other hand, 330m is an odd amount and I’ll get more useful yardage if I do the other 50g. On the other other hand, I might not be able to spin the second half the same as this skein, since I gradually changed over the 50g. Hmm.
In any case, I need a little break from the silk. My hands need a rest! I’m going to try alpaca next – this lovely sunshine-y batch from Spunky Eclectic that’s been in my stash for years.
I’m terrified of alpaca, really. I have no idea what to do with it. If you look online for tips, most people will tell you to blend it with wool or something, but this is what I have and it’s all beautifully hand-dyed, so I’m not going to mess that up with blending. This is maybe the one challenge fiber I’m properly scared of – it’s so lovely and cloud-like in this form, and I’m afraid I’ll turn it into twine. I’ve tried pure alpaca once before and it felt like rope; I didn’t even finish the whole 100g. I still have a little of that roving left, so I’m going to do some practice on that today before I start the good stuff tomorrow. Wish me luck!