Sunday, April 9, 2023

What on earth was I thinking...? Part 2.

It is still supposed to be spring, but it has been so cold that the magnolia has frozen and there won't be many blossoms that will still open when it perhaps, finally, eventually warms up a bit.


As I am plowing through my moment of What-on-Earth-was-I-thinking I am also wearing my philosopher’s daughter hat. Recently I finished listening to Michelle Obama’s audiobook of “The Light We Carry”, in which she writes in detail about what knitting has meant to her during the early days of the pandemic, and what it can mean in anybody’s life. Yesterday that was added onto with an episode of “TheLong Thread” podcast, in which Melanie Falick is being interviewed about her book “Making a Life” and her investigations into the importance and meaning of making for our mental health and survival. I have been knitting for nine tenths of my life, with only a few years of interruption due to tendonitis, when I felt a severe sense of loss and disorientation because I could not knit any longer. That’s when I really got into quilting, replacing my yarn stash with a fabric stash. Of course, when I was pregnant I tried to knit a baby jacket, thinking ‘that can be done even when you’re prone to tendonitis’, and nothing serious happened, and then I knitted a pair of socks, and then several dozens more, and a jacket and another, and now there is a yarn stash and a fabric stash. And the fiber stash for spinning.

In terms of techniques of making, I have tried many. Sewing, knitting, crochet (not so much mine), Brussels Lace (great technique, but the results are not my style, even if done ‘modern’), macramé, embroidery, weaving, bookmaking (Loved that – might get back to it?), basket making (loved that – but it’s not easily done parallel with any techniques that require relatively soft skin on your hands), paper making…

While I am stitching my 24 full moon symbols into the temperature quilt, re-visiting some of the embroidery stitches from Mary Thomas’ Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches, which had been a beloved reference for A Scrap A Day already, I ponder about the tendency of the thread to run out just a little before the circle is complete (a parallel phenomenon to the empty bobbin in the sewing machine approx. 12 inches or so before the seam is finished). 


Or about how come that, although I really try to be careful and take precautions I think should be good enough, the needle tends to stitch through the embroidery thread at some point, jamming up, delaying the process considerably, if the mess can be undone at all. (No photo of this unpleaning situation! I refuse to photograph moments like that.) Some stitches are more prone to this malaise than others, unfortunately they have the tendency to be my favorite stitches, such as the French knot, or Coral Stitch. 

Elongated French Knot, dangerous.

Scroll Stitch, a bit dangerous.


Or whether it matters that the stitched full moons don’t seem to be very noticeable overall in the piece when seen from a little distance. Only a closer look makes them slightly more obvious.


These musings, of course, don’t compare in significance to those on the importance of knitting and making for well-being, physical or mental. In fact, I never really thought about that, I just was happy enough knitting and spinning and making and did not feel the need for thinking about this. But I do remember a sense of gratitude when reading Alice Starmore’s “Book of Fair Isle Knitting”, and particularly the first chapters, because finally there was somebody taking knitting, its history and development seriously. Not just something women did to keep themselves occupied.

And as for the unhappy tendency of the embroidery needle to stitch through the thread and get it all jumbled… there must be a way to avoid that more successfully than I can. Right now there are only 3 full moons left to embroider, and then I will put away the embroidery threads for a while again, there are other temptations out there waiting to be tackled. A new challenge for the 20 Perspectives Goup, for example. But right now, 21 full moons down, three to go.

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