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Archive for the ‘Cashmere and Wool’ Category

winter-sunrise-4-1

Like many Wisconsin children in the 1930s and 40s, I loved winter.  We would race home from school, scarf down some hot cocoa and cookies, put on a few extra layers, and go outside to build snow forts or bombard each other with snowballs.  In the depths of winter, it would be almost dark by the time we quit and went inside to hang our wet wool snowsuits on a steam radiator to dry.  (Oh, the aroma of wet wool heating up!)

I recall several occasions where I realized I was getting sick and could feel a fever rising in my body.  Thinking the outdoor cold would squelch the flu bug (or whatever),  I’d avoid mentioning how I felt to my very solicitous mother, and stay outside as long as I could stand my hot cheeks and shivering self before going indoors and allowing myself to be put to bed with hot lemonade and honey.

(“Sick” was no joke in pre-penicillin days when front doors of homes frequently sprouted warning signs such as:  Scarlet Fever, Diptheria, Measles, etc.  Children were put to bed when they had a fever, no matter what!)

What in the world does all this nostalgia have to do with THE MESSY PALETTE?  Simply this:  Now I am 83 years old and I no longer LOVE winter!  I have become a WUSS!  Granted, snow is beautiful.  In fact, I actually go out and tramp around in the first couple of snowfalls.  But in recent years winter has gotten old very fast.  By March, when I’ve wanted to peel off layers of clothing and renew my store of solar energy, I have found the snowy cold weather to be absolutely annoying.

Now, suddenly, I am tired of being such a WUSS!  I have some really fun and funky leggings and tights, and a drawer full of lovely, colorful sweaters.  I can dress like a clown.  And I’m psyching myself up for winter with my paints.  Case in point is the above sample titled “Winter Sunrise.” 

Determined to put a positive spin on the days ahead, I have created a Three Pronged Plan:  1) putting on another sweater when the indoor temperature drops to 70 or 68 degrees, rather than bumping the thermostat to 75;  2) staying outdoors longer each time I need to take my beloved corgi out to do his jobs; and 3) the aforementioned—celebrating winter with my paints.

Sometimes old geezers* go into a second childhood mode.  Since our corgi Dylan LOVES to roll in the snow, maybe I’ll start rolling with him.  🙂

Margaret L. Been – 10/1/16 

*Yes, I know.  The expression “old geezers” is certainly not politically correct.  Yikes!  Who cares?  Anyway, I can use the label because I am one!  And proud of it!

art-statement-photo

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S2

Scarves and shawls, plus capes and sweaters, fulfill as much of my creative energy as do paints.

Above are samples of pure silk blanks (available online via Dharma Co., CA) painted with Sharpies fine (brush tip are great) permanent markers (not the oil base ones).  This is too much fun.  Just color/color/color the scarf to your heart’s content, and when satisfied spray (saturate) with rubbing alcohol.  Allow to dry, then press with a hot steam iron.

These recently sold well at a pre-holiday fair.  Everyone loves them.  The selection of blanks is great—Dharma even has dancing veils.

S1

Here Pinkie is happily modeling the world famous Potato Chip Scarf–so named 1) because it curls and 2) because you can’t just make one.  They are as addictive as the edible, salty variety.

And below we have Pinkie again, cowling it up.

S4

Knitted, of course.  I go on yarn surges.  A few years ago, it was Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino.  Then Cascade 220.  Then Cascade Sunseeker.  Now it is Malabrigo Silky Merino:  49% silk and 51% merino wool.  All are wonderful.  All are unabashedly overflowing and falling out of countless baskets, many of which I have made in former years of “also passions”.

And shawls.  I make long shawls—prayer shawls, gift shawls, and some for myself.  A long shawl is the perfect wrap for our autumn and spring weather, either layered over a blazer and sweater or by itself.  And I love these little guys:

S5

(The borders are crocheted.)  No, I didn’t make the penny quilt.  For me, knitting needles are relaxing—but sewing needles and machines are nerve wracking.  This quilt is a beauty.  It was some unknown artist’s masterpiece, possibly during the Great Depression, as the fabrics are apparently used clothing.  The quilt is huge, even on our queen bed.  We won it at a local auction years ago.  It’s been moved two times, stored on a high closet shelf, and now we are featuring it on our bed.  Things are to be used and enjoyed, especially with a good number of years behind us and not quite so many years left.  Why not?  🙂

spinning in the summer

Finally, spinning.  The basket filled with color contains wool roving, and the white fiber in the pink basket is silk.  Two excellent Jensen wheels, Wisconsin made, grace our living room and in this case one of them is (characteristically in seasonable weeks) working on our patio.  What a joy to make yarn, and knit it.  I still have a lot of gorgeous deep brown Shetland from my last two silly sheep, in the late 1990s.

But the patio leads out to even one more of many passions:

Faithful Bleeding Heart

Coming SOON!  I can hardly wait.  How about you?

Margaret L. Been — February 28th, 2016

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Shawl 1

Shawl 2

Just for fun, I’m planning a brief digression from palette presentations—in order to share some other arts that I’m passionate about.  Painting is a huge part of my life, but there are other huge parts as well.  For starters, FIBER ARTS.

I love to spin wool and knit, and I’ve had wonderful years of weaving countless garments, place mats, and rugs on two looms which are currently up in our Northern home, as there simply is no place to put them in our condo.  (But my two best spinning wheels, Jensen Wheels, are right here beside us in our living room.  They are an indispensable aspect of my lifestyle!)

For eighteen years, when we lived in the Town of Eagle in Southeastern Wisconsin, I raised a spinner’s flock of from two to eight sheep—fine wool breeds.  At that time, I taught Fiber Arts Workshops in our home.  I found a (rather crochetty) gentleman to make a large rustic sign for the entrance to our drive:  FIBER ARTS:  Spinning, Weaving, Knitting . . . .” plus phone info, etc.

But what a struggle, getting that sign custom made.  The sign artist was bent on refusing to make the sign as I directed because, in his rather vehement words, “The is no such thing as ‘Fiber Arts’ “.  Finally I won.  I had cash, and money talks.  But I’ll never forget my shock over someone trying to tell me that “There is no such thing as ‘Fiber Arts’ “.  Yikes!

Anyway, I’m as nutty about fibers, as I am about my paint brushes and tubes of paint.  Recently some friends and I have been knitting prayer shawls for the local Vince Lombardi Cancer Center.  Since a lot of shawls can be produced at a rapid pace I make shawls for family members, friends, and myself as well.  Recently I had a shawl ready for the Center, when I learned that a friend in Seattle has cancer.  So that shawl went to Seattle, instead of to the local Cancer Center.

The shawls are too much fun to make.  If they were any more exciting, I wouldn’t be able to stand it!  Each one is an original, one of a kind, in a variety of colors that might have made Old Testament Joseph weep with envy.   I love color, and I love to make up garments as I go along—incorporating pattern stitches.  If I discover that I’ve inserted a color that doesn’t fit, or a pattern that doesn’t add anything to the mix, I simply rip—sometimes many rows—and start over to get it right.

It’s good to include button holes and buttons—at least one per shawl.  This prevents the slipping and sliding that shawls otherwise tend to do.  The buttons are special, some hand-made clay or fabric creations from art fairs, and others from yarn stores.  Currently I’m working on a Southwestern shawl in New Mexico colors.  It will have two buttons, roses in a brushed gunmetal grey substance resembling pewter—made in France.  Finally I trim edges or interior areas with a double crochet or fringe, or both as in the above example.

Here is one more recent creation:  perfect for our newest family member, great-grandson Leonardo Aguilar II.  His Mexican Daddy says Baby Leo likes to be wrapped up “like a little burrito”.

Little Senor 3

Margaret L. Been, May 2014

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Yesterday I washed a cashmere sweater, and my nose perked up.  It smelled like there was a goat in my small bathroom—not an old dairy billy goat, but a fresh young cashmere goat from Mongolia or wherever cashmere goats live.

I not only LOVE animal fibers, I love the smell of animal fibers when wet—either on or off the animal of origin.

A family member thinks my doggie “stinks” when he gets out of his bathtub or comes in from playing outdoors in the rain.  STINK?  Give me a break!

I’m sorry, but “wet clean dog” is a heavenly fragrance.  It it could be bottled.  I might put it on my dresser next to my trendy Este Lauder scents.  I could wear WET CLEAN DOG on days when I feel especially earthy!

I’ve always loved the fragrance of a clean animal—wet or dry.  I grew up around horses.  Horse mingled with clean straw is delectable.

But wet wool!  That beats all for an olfactory treat.  For 18 years, I raised a small flock of sheep—for wool to spin, and for just plain fun.  March was shearing time, before the lambs were born.  I can close my eyes today and recall the bouquet of freshly shorn fleece.  Ummm!  Good! 

Sometimes I would deliberately burrow my nose into the back of a wet sheep, to inhale the perfume of lanolin and wool.  I experience that delight to this day, as I spin my wool—much of which remains from my days of hobby farming.  After spinning a skein of yarn, I dampen it and weight it down on a hanger for stretching.   I burrow my nose in the damp skein, and relive those sheepy days—the scent as well as the sound, which James Herriot’s Siegfried Farnum called “the bass rumble of the ewes”.

Soon Baby Dylan will have a bath.  Those of us who are true animal lovers can’t get enough of animal smells—be they cashmere, wool, or the hair of the dog.

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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