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Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category

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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.

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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.

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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:

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(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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I love to show off my beautiful homemade complexion soap.  The soap is everywhere, in antique bowls, on platters, and stacked on shelves throughout our home.

Our daughter Laura, daughter-in-law Cheri, and I are producing heart soaps for Cheri and Eric’s daughter Nicole’s August 7th wedding.  The soaps will be wrapped in pretty net bags, and placed at each plate for the reception which is to be held at Whitnall Park Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee.

Homemade!  There is nothing better!  We live in an age of communication via words–and quite frankly sometimes I’ve had words up to my eyeballs!  Literary words, as in classic poetry and novels, YES!  I can’t get enough of those words.  But today’s words–text messaged, emailed, and even blogged like my words–get old fast.  How refreshing to be still and make things with one’s hands.  I believe I could survive without talking (although some might doubt that!) but I know I’d go bonkers if I couldn’t make things with my hands.

At a ladies’ luncheon party this week, we talked about how–when we were brides back in the 1950s–we embroidered our kitchen towels.  These bits of memory make my heart sing. 

Now despite all that is wrong with our culture, the magazine racks tell me something is right!  There’s a plethora of periodicals available on the subjects of knitting, crocheting, scrap-booking, quilting, beading, cooking, gardening, home decorating, etc.  I am not the only one on this planet who derives sustenance and life energy from making things.

The desire to create with our hands is part of our birthright, for we are made in the image of a creative God.  Whereas He created Heaven and earth out of nothing, we make things out of materials already made.  Yet the desire to create is evidence of God’s imprint on our lives.

Pictured below is our grandson Joelly, who cannot “play it straight” for a photo shoot.  (I love his silly faces!)  🙂  Joelly is wearing a scarf and hat ensemble which I made him for Christmas a few years back.

Hands that knit, and weave, and spin, and make soap (and many other venerable home products) are happy hands! 

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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