Friday, 29 November 2013

WIP scarf update

Oh, I wish I had finished the scarf last night because it turned out it could've been useful today. But it's still on the planning stage as I did try a few variations last night, as you can (perhaps) see above.

First I tried "1 over 2", the stitch where you make an extra row of loops and then pull the bottom loop over two loops on the peg instead of one. Probably have a fancier name, but I don't know it. Then there's a few rows of basic knitting just for reference and then I finished by trying to make a figure 8 stitch (weaving the yarn back and forth between the pegs instead of looping around them). That I won't do again as the yarn kept slipping of when weaving it and then I dropped a stitch in the middle and it was just ruined. To conclude, just very basic stitches since that's all I know how to do, but partially also because you don't see the detail of intricate knits when using eyelash yarn so there's no reason to put time into a pattern that can't be seen.

Don't know if you can see the switch between knits even as it's such a furry yarn. The "1 over 2" is to the right and the 8 stitch is just the last few rows on the left. It's easier to see the difference between the two denser stitches and the basic knitting when backlit so I put the test swatch on a lamp so you can see the open structure (gaps if you prefer) of the basic knit part.

Flipping it over to show the backside might also help as you can see more of a ribbed texture where I stitched 1 over 2 (left) and a faintly visible wavy texture where knitted in figure eights (right).

The big problem, however, is that now that I tried that "over 2" stitch, I can't decide whether I want to use that, which creates a nice thick knit, or the basic knitting, which creates a lacy, lightweight knit. The latter really keeps that light, soft feel of the yarn while the former creates and seemingly warmer scarf that's denser and that I don't worry will snag on something and be damaged. Doubt there's yarn enough to do one of each.

So the question is: go with a lightweight, "open" scarf which is fast and easy to make and feels like soft down against the skin (and also uses less of the yarn) or go for a thicker, denser scarf in hopes of it being warmer and more durable? It's really hard to decide... Maybe it's just time to let it rest for a day or two while focusing on another, more pressing project?

If there's enough yarn left after making the scarf (yeah, I've no idea how much yarn you need to knit anything), maybe I should do a pair of matching muddar too? Trying to to remember the english name for muddar/pulsvärmare/vristvärmare. Is is as simple as wrist warmers? *runs off googling it* Yeah, that seems to work. Even if the word seems to include fingerless mittens (halvvantar) as well.

I do have a pair -- or actually two, but the pair first made (see below, for a word challenge; my word was chanterelles) turned out to be too short once the yarn stretched out. So I made a second pair without pearls. Very easy to make, great beginner's project -- and a useful one if you live in a colder climate. The only trouble is that once you start making them, it's hard to stop!

But, really, it's too early to think about that when I can't even decide how to knit the scarf... And who knows how much yarn I'll have left. It might very well not be enough. And, anyway, I really should focus on that challenge piece now!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

New WIPs

If I were disciplined, my current WIP (and my WIP I mean something actually in progress, not just a current or future UFO) would be a piece of jewellery using spaced-dyed cords, but I'm having design problems so it's been put aside for today or tomorrow. Instead I've started working on two other projects -- and it's the second of the two you can see above.

As it got cold, I thought it was time to make a new, warm scarf. While I do have a warm winter jacket and rarely feel the need for a scarf, it could be useful sometimes. And it's a warm to do a little yarn stash busting. This purple eyelash yarn, which I couldn't resist when spotting it on Rusta, is so pretty I really didn't want it to be stuck in the yarn bag.

Only downside to my making a scarf (or two, I probably need a wider one for everyday life around the farm too, the one I made years ago got a tad too skinny) is that I never learned how to knit in school. My mom can knit and so can my sis (to a certain extent), but I can't. I prefer crochet anyway, but in this case that hasn't been an option as I a) don't have the really big crochet needles needed for knitting yarn and b) I worried crochet might make for a too dense scarf and ruin the soft, fluffy effect of the eyelash yarn. So instead I made this test piece on my big Quick Knit. For those who doesn't know what that is, it's like a bigger version of a knitting nancy (påtdocka) and the generic name for them in english seems to be circle loom.

But I'm not sure about the result. It looks ok in the picture, but I think it's too loose with big, gaping stitches -- and at the same time it doesn't feel like I can double the yarn without messing up the knitting. Besides, I can't get the other end of the yarn to pull loose so it can be worked with both ends at the same time. Don't know whether to continue like in the sample or try either mixing in another yarn or find another knit stitch to use. So far I've only ever tried the basic knitting you do with knitting nancies and Quick Knits. There's got to be something out there to try beyond that...

While working on jewellery and scarves, I'm also preparing something else. In this post, I mentioned filling one of the glass dome pieces with autumn leaves and luckily there was one bush left that hadn't shed all its colourful leaves. So I just cut off a few twigs and put them on the table. Not the best way of drying out leaves, but it was what I could think of just at the top of my head. There are more advanced drying techniques that might've been preferable, like using sand which I don't have, but that's too late now.

I also picked three rosehips -- and then after tending to the drying items yesterday, I realised I haven't read up on the best way to preserve rosehips. Drying might work, but that's more for using them in food as they shrivel. I would've wanted them more fresh and plump. We do have several books on everlasting flowers/imortelles with sections on pods etc, but did I read them and take advice? No. Did I even bother to google it? No. And now they look like that. But hopefully the leaves and twigs will be enough if the rosehips end up shrivelled or mouldy. I just wanted them as they are so pretty and autumnal -- and I've loved drinking rosehip soup since childhood. In autumn, nothing warms like a cup of hot rosehip soup. Not to mention my love of roses, which are even part of the blog name.

Well, it's already dark outside and another day is soon gone so I guess I should get back to the jewellery (which has a deadline -- a fast approaching deadline!). But I wouldn't mind having a scarf ready soon too. It'll be a battle between time (= make jewellery first) and temptation (= working with that lovely, fluffy yarn). Hard to tell which will win.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Already missing the horse chestnut

This is the last picture of our beloved horse chestnut, according to my aunt planted by my late aunt after my granddad purchased the farm in the mid-1920's. We knew it was to be taken down, but it was quite a surprise to find the guys coming already today (wet conditions at the place they were supposed to work and impending windy weather made them decide to come here today instead). Here they are, the two culprits, after just having arrived and cutting down an overhanging branch of the ash tree:

Because the weather was so bad, dark and drizzling as you can see, I couldn't document it other than through some photos taken through the windows -- because I had to take some, partially because this is such an extraordinary event and partially to show my sis who's temping at a preschool this week and therefore couldn't watch it. The weather is bad, got worse during the day, and then it wass getting dark too so the photos aren't the best. Will be taking a few more pics once the weather allows, but this is what I have of the actual, heartbreaking event.

 I didn't even recognize our own tree on this photo, looking back at them just a few hours after taking it. And my sis even more so as she didn't see the process herself, just the pics I showed -- and of those, this was the worst one.

As for the result, well...

 Apart from the battlefield look of our lawn and hedge, the most visible effect is the emptiness. The total emptiness. It looks so open, exposed, towards the road. This garden where you could be just a metre from the roadside and still feel hidden, enveloped in the greenery of the bushed and the chestnut, the former growing from below and the latter with branches hanging low and leaves touching the bushes (and at times with leaves brushing the lawn even), which every summer would create almost a "circus tent" as my sis and I called it as kids. But now it's all gone and there's nothing but sky. I don't want that much sky in the garden, I want that feeling of being surrounded by leaves and, in autumn and winter, the bare but still strong looking tree looming over us, silent but friendly. Perhaps even protective.

And now it's gone.

Just to show some of the scale of this, here's a pic of the tree from May 2012:

(For those of you who are "arboriously challenged", the horse chestnut is the big green tree with creamy flowers dominating the photo.) When you, as I mostly did, look at it from inside the garden, more or less seeing it from beneath, it doesn't look that big, but it is. Or was. And it's left a huge empty space. Both physically and emotionally.

But it had to be done: after the tree guy inspected it the other day, he said he could see the whole tree was infected by fungus and it was just pure luck that not the whole tree fell in the storm, taking most of our house with it. Still somewhat sad -- and it'll be even more so tomorrow when we can see it all in daylight (if you can call what we get on a drab, misty november day for daylight)...


Update: A photo from almost the same spot (too cold and windy so I turned around before walking far enough) showing what it looks like today. Probably looks very normal to most people who hasn't had a garden dominated by a huge tree their whole lives.  But very open and bare to me.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Meowy Monday: Cat photos of the week

This is a common sight around the farm, Jisse and Knatti sitting by the bushes on on the lawn waiting. Especially Jisse often sits by the driveway, waiting for us to open the door. But being a cat, opening the door doesn't mean he comes running indoors right away even if he wants to get in. No, more often than not you have to coax him a bit. With Mimi, you have to call her name or she won't come. With Jisse it's usually more complicated and involve having to go to him, let him approach you and then you go indoors together. Sounds easier than it is this time of year when it's pitch black by six. I often miss him and sometimes it's just by chance that I happen to catch a quick light reflection in his eyes or see a blurry spot of white that is his white neck.

Now, I'm not stupid. I know it's partially because Figge bullies him. Figge is more mean to Jisse than to anyone else, not even Knatti (who's a year older) or his triplet brother Julle are as bullied as he is. Jisse is simply scared than he'll expose himself running between the safe spot that's the bushes and the safe spot that's indoors -- and he has a blind spot sitting there as he can't see if Figge is in the yard (where the cats often are, under or on top of the car). But he does seem to be partially fuzzy too, needing to be recognized just like Mimi. Need someone to ask him if he wants to come in.

One good thing about it is that at least you don't accidentally close the door while they try to dart in. Mimi is very wary of going through the door since she was pinched in the door. More than once. And earlier this year, Jisse's sister Jinja had her tail caught in the door as a sudden wind caused a draft slamming the door shut too fast for her to react. Haven't seen a cat panic as she did then! Poor girl... (But the tail was ok, luckily. Nothing broken or crushed.)

Sometimes doors seems to be the arch enemies of our kitties. They'll be so happy once it's spring again and warm enough to open their window again. Not only because they can go in and out as it please them, but also because they don't have to worry about being caught in that malicious door.

Now there's a cat that can't wait for the window to be opened again. Not because he's hurt himself in the door, but because he's one of those cats that can't decide whether he wants to be indoors or outside when someone opens the door for him...

Saturday, 23 November 2013

October & November bead soup palette

Forgot to make a version in english of the November soup, which I threw together one day. As it was my birthday in the beginning of the month, I had already planned to include purple months earlier, but never thought about the rest of the bead mix. When looking for a good purple beads, the crystal sliperit rizos caught my eye. They have some purple in them, but also the coppery rose gold you might otherwise associate with apollo/capri gold. Just for fun, a colour that bridged the intensely coloured rizos and the crinkled pearl glass beads was added in the guise of sparkling ginger-lined amethyst AB triangles.

Ideally I would've wanted to use Swarovski's new blackberry pearls in the november palette, but I haven't got my hands on any yet. Thinking of making a tiny order of swarovski coin pearls for the birthday money I got from my aunt Elsa. Because you can't resist purple crystal pearls (nor coin pearls) even when on a bead ban...

October was another palette I just threw together, or rather made from a photo I took for another reason (namely Sequintastic September). You can read more about the components of this mix and see variations on it in the Sequintastic September reveal post.

Old love never rusts

My first love was painting (and then drawing when I got old enough to really master a pencil or charcoal).

My second love was writing, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

My third love was jewellery making and beading.

And inbetween all that there was hand embroidery, starting a little before writing and ending before my second love petered out, mostly due to school work.

Now I've slightly returned to my first love and, just as with embroidery which I rekindled my passion for a couple of years ago, I'm combining it with my third love, the big crush and long-term marriage that is the amazing world of beads and jewellery. In fact, while patinas and inks on metal was the first step towards returning to the old love, it was my desire to alter surfaces to bead on that really got me back into paints and made me order both Pébéo Fantasy and a set of Lumiere paints.

But it feels a bit like trying to re-learn things I've forgotten and once again getting used to working with paints. The big difference between beads and threads on one hand and paints on the other is that with the first you work with set colours that can't change hue in any other way than by mixing in another colour next to the first one. With paint you can actually mix colours to make new shades and make one colour seep into the other in a whole different way. I've kind of forgot how fun that is to work with, having gotten used to working with a fixed set of colours.

However, paint isn't just paint. There's a big difference between how different types of paint behaves and what kind of techniques you use with it. I held on to watercolours the longest and so I'm the most used to them. One thing to remember about watercolours: you can't paint anything white (only leave a spot or area free from paint from start). Something that's not really a problem with other paints. Then there's oil, which I also used as a kid, which needs to dry out for ages, but feels very fancy to work with (plus, it's only pigment and linseed oil in its purest form which I like).

But with jewellery and beads, alcohol inks and acrylics have been the most common. Inks are usually just used as dyes and easy to learn to use -- though I've managed to screw up a couple of items: one by spilling alcohol (t-sprit) near it and the second on by using the wrong type of sealant. Acrylics is the most common in many crafts for a reason. Big minus for being oil-based, but big plus for being easy to use, works on a lot of materials and sold in a range of colours and effects. So common to use that I by mistake used the same techniques when I got my Fantasy paints, e.g. marbling, which was really not a good thing to do! That was a disaster that taught me you need to really get to know the type of paint you use, read the instructions and learn about how the paint works.

So while old love -- in this case a love of creative crafts and making art with my hands -- never rust, according to the old saying, the knowledge sure does. It's not like you have to start over, but you need to take a few steps back and repeat some lessons in order to revive your know-how and relearn the things you've forgotten.

Thankfully, the basics for working with paint -- no matter which type -- are easy to learn and from there you can have a lot of fun just playing and experimenting. Add a few pro tips and tricks and you can do great things.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Lockets -- what to put inside them?

My Hong Kong bead mail (mentioned yesterday) also included a few lockets I fancied. For some reason I ended up not buying one with a cat on!

Unlike yesterday's components I have an idea for at least one of these. One I'm thinking of giving away to someone for christmas so that just leaves one piece to figure out what to do with. It will, however, probably take a little time to finish the first locket as I don't have the supplies needed.

I've seen lockets with embroidered inserts (e.g. Mr. Puffy's Knitting Blog, Wild Olive, Crafty & Devious, The Secret Rose, Stella) so maybe I'll try that, seeing how it combines two of my interests, embroidery and jewellery. Maybe bead embroidery or that'll be too much? For me, lockets can have one of three functions: "practical" (like perfume lockets, some also do lip gloss or lipstick lockets), personal (photo, memento) or pure aesthetics, which preferable has an element of surprise or at least secrecy. These I'm using in the third way and therefore I want to balance the outside and the inside. These lockets aren't blank or discreetly engraved in which case you can combine it with a big, colourful inside. Here, it's a question about whether the outside or the inside is the main feature and about how to balance the two.

Maybe I'm overthinking it, but without a memento or solid perfume inside, they're already like a finished pendant to which I'm to add stuff -- and I want that stuff to work with the image on the front. Otherwise I might just as well keep them like this, without anything inside and without a reason to ever open the locket.


PS! I just updated the blog with a Locket label. So far I've only ever made two locket necklaces, the perfume locket Viola Odorata and the heart locket In Memoriam with cat pics and hand-painted cat beads, but now they're all collected under one label and hopefully I'll fill it with more stuff in the (near) future.

PPS! I did find some autumn leaves (see previous post), which are drying at the moment and hopefully will hold their colour. And it gave an idea about making pendants annually using the autumn leaves or other objects found during the season and a small piece or scroll of paper with the year on it put inside too. Or perhaps even make a pendant for every season, year after year (ok, wow, that's be an interesting and ambitious project -- which sadly sounds like something you might forget or get bored of after a while).

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Bell jar jewellery

 Some time ago, probaly close to two months by now, my sis and I ordered a few pendants and rings after getting somewhat fascinated by the bell jar/cloche jewellery component you can find from many of the chinese bead suppliers on DaWanda och Etsy now. They're not that new, but I've seen more variations now than say last year (when seeing many Eiffel tower snowglob rings and bead-filled globe pendants).

Do regret buying such a big pendant as the one on the right. Normally I can read sizes pretty well, but this one turned out to feel huge once in my hands so now I kind of wish I'd gone with one of the smaller sizes. The large bell jar pendant (seen without the bail at the top) is also very big for my taste, about 35 mm tall, but with those there were only one size to choose from. The ring is the daintiest size glass dome rings I saw and it's very cute. Not much room for stuff in it, but still enough.

So what am I going to do with them? You know, I don't have the faintest idea. Just knew I wanted a few to play with. One idea is to find some autumn leaves to dry, but it's a bit too late now unfortunately. My sis sowed some jätteeternell (strawflower, golden everlasting, Xerochrysum bracteatum syn. Bracteantha bracteata) for drying. Might steal one of her flowers. I like the moss pendants too so I might try something like that, a tiny landscape with moss and mushroom. Not a real one. As for snowglobes, that nothing I've even considered doing but perhaps it'll sound like a good idea closer to christmas.

If you haven't seen much of this type of jewellery yet, you can get a few ideas e.g. from this seller (not the one I used, but one I've been checking out). There are other examples of the many things you can put under the glass domes: moss and mushroom mini terrarium, Eiffel tower snow globe, dried flowers, bead- or glitter-filled globes, miniature birds and rubber ducks. Other things I've seen put in these types of pendants are polyclay mini cupcakes, dandelion seeds, mini rabbits, fake flowers, key and cogs, sand -- even a small skull. Just to name some of the ones I've seen on DaWanda.

 So not something that it's hard to find inspiration or examples of, but so far I still doesn't have any plans for any of the pieces I bought. Except for the leaves idea, got to try and see if there are any good leaves left outdoors to harvest for a pendant...

Cat photo of the week

I haven't done a Meowy Monday in a while, had planned to do a post yesterday but forgot about it. Today I only have this one cat photo to show, one of those taken at night with a flash showing off the horrible mess of colours that are usually my bedding as I try to find something cheap to put on top so it's ok if the cats go straight from the outdoors up in the bed, wet and dirty.

If you don't recognize them that's Jisse sleeping more or less on his brother Julle.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Back again

Well, I thought it was time to try and get back into blogging and get a few less sad posts up. Most of the colourful autumn leaves are gone by now, but there are a few spots of colour left -- like these marigolds that dad had sown (dad chose them, my sis did the actual sowing) by the barn. Because of the open view to the southwest, the autumn sun shines on them in the early afternoon before it dips below the hill.

So most leaves gone, but the few sunny days in between the rain and fog really light up the landscape, not least the warm (in colour, not temperature) afternoon sun. As you can see below (that's Jinja on the stone by the way).

And for a very random finale: my new clogs. I finally got some new clogs and it felt good to get a pair of shoes that doesn't leak every time I step in a puddle or stream of rainwater, which happens a lot when it rains in the autumn. Had spotted a relatively cheap pair earlier, but the heels were too high. These were better -- even if they are stapled and not nailed as I prefer. Sadly, I got the clogs on the same day dad had to go to the emergency so the happiness disappeared pretty quickly.

But now that it's cold and wet outside, I'm glad that I finally got them after having been clog-less (and thus lacking everyday shoes appropriate for the countryside) for two years. Clogs really are the best shoes and I've been wearing them for as long as I can remember. They deserve a tribute, and ode, and one day I'll have to do a blog post just on clogs.

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