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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Winter Woolens

The winter coat I received for my birthday required a new hat -- the old one, knitted by my mom, was a bright magenta that went well with my old black coat but clashed with my new, wine-colored one.  Buying a hat wasn't an option (my head is too big), so I decided to use my newly acquired crochet skills to make one.  The pattern I picked was the Chain Link Slouch Hat by Jennifer, which was overly ambitious on my part -- half way through the hat I finally got the hang of the chain pattern, and then had to rip out almost all of my progress because I realized I had been doing it wrong.  I also made the hat shorter, so it fit like a cap rather than slouching at the back of my head.  I am quite pleased with the results:

The deep purple mittens and scarf my mom knitted went beautifully with the new coat, but of course I promptly lost one mitten.  No way was I going to try to crochet that, but I did have a deep purple wool sweater that I felted years ago.  Using Martha Stewart's guidelines I cut out four mitten shapes and sewed them to each other on the machine.  They were rather plain, so I added some lazy daisy flowers in various colors of tapestry wool.  This was a super-fast and easy solution to the lost mitten problem!
Now I'm all set for the commute to my new job.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Hill's debut novel, named after a creature from Norwegian mythology, is an impressive mix of satire, political commentary, folklore, MMORPG gaming, and family relationships.  Samuel, a supposed writer and bored professor, is suddenly thrust back into the life of the mother who abandoned him when she apparently commits an act of political violence.  I must admit, as much as the novel held my attention from the very first page, early on I thought Hill was veering into tired academic and romantic cliche.  I should have trusted him from the start -- he always veered away from the obvious and did something new and smart instead.  The result is a cynical yet somehow big-hearted novel that embraces the messiness of people.

Hill is particularly astute at recognizing the futility of trying to control one's life. The primary characters think that if they make the right choices their lives will unfold perfectly:  Samuel visualizes his life like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Faye thinks that if she does the right thing, follows all the rules, and uses all the right products, she will meet society's expectations and be happy.  Pwnage has grandiose plans of everything he is going to do differently tomorrow, which will solve all his problems and bring back his wife.  But that's not how life works, and there is no such thing as the perfect life -- sometimes fate or coincidence intervenes, sometimes the actions of others screw everything up (or give an unexpected boost), sometimes there are second chances, sometimes things stay unresolved, and sometimes big decisions don't actually matter too much in the long run. So Samuel stagnates, Faye hides from the truth of herself, and Pwnage sinks into fantasy and the illusion of choice, until they are finally able, each in their own way, to break free of their expectations and live life.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

1 Year of Stitches

Inspired by Hannah Clair Sommerville's project, Sarah Barnes at Brown Paper Bag has decided 2017 will be her year of stitches, and has called for stitchers of all kinds to join her.  How could I possibly resist? 

Week One:

I won't be taking pictures every day (unlike the rest of the country, I still have a dumb phone so picture-taking, -uploading, and -posting is a production), but I will be trying very hard to stitch every night, even if it is literally just one stitch.  (I've already missed one night; does stitching the next morning count?)  Every week I will post my progress here and in the Facebook group.  I have no plan so far, except to stitch whatever I feel like.

If you would like to join, the details are here, and the Facebook group is here.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Christmas Miscellany

"Yule Sampler" by the Primitive Sampler:

"Santa Lucia" ornament by Of Female Worth, from the 2005 Christmas Ornaments magazine:

After putting up my gingerbread and candy cane doohickeys in the kitchen, I noticed a gap that called for another gingerbread man, so I crocheted one:

I made two SuperDuo bead Christmas trees, but my mom claimed one for herself (apparently she was the only one of her friends without a fun Christmas tree pin):

Finally, a Magical Christmas Bracelet, which I extended into a bangle rather than add a clasp:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Pre-Christmas Miscellany

A quilted bag from a kit:

Crocheted peppermints:

A travel oratory:

Door No. 9 has lovely ones which were my inspiration, allowing me to use my Our Lady of Guadalupe fabric:

A knotted rosary, awaiting a crucifix:

A Crocheted Christmas tree made from the last of the yarn my cousin gave me:
Good thing my cousin took a picture, because I forgot to
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Advent Calendar Day 18

Merry Christmas! Jo over at Serendipitous Stitches is running her annual Online Advent Calendar, and she asked me to participate today.

First up is some stitching.  With no big project to occupy my time this season (except painting my living room; such a good idea to do that two weeks before Christmas), I decided to focus on finishing up various designs I stitched over the last couple of years.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree, to add to my collection:

The Victoria Sampler's Gingerbread Garden and matching ornament:
Taken on a gloomy day, unfortunately

And Shepherd Bush's 2000 Years Ago series:
This is actually the second time I've stitched them.  Years ago I stitched the first seven and had them in a nice stack, awaiting the arrival of the eighth pattern, when they somehow ended up in a donation pile my husband gave to a charity.  I haven't quite forgiven him yet, but I do hope someone out there is enjoying them.

Jo also asked us to write about a special decoration we take out every year.  I think for me it is the Advent Calendar I made for my children, particularly since this year I finally figured out how to work it so it is liturgically accurate each year.
The pockets are attached with pins to the background, allowing me to rearrange them as necessary.  It's a fun annual tradition to teach my kids about the different symbols and feasts of the season, while giving them a little treat each day (if they start to complain about the quality of treats -- i.e. not enough chocolate -- I threaten to replace them with Bible verses).

I hope everyone has a joyous and peaceful holiday(s)!