Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Eyes Have It

The Sun
Every year, I struggle with Christmas and the holidays and what they mean to me.  Much like my forays into 3-D, my forays into what the holidays "should" be like are colored by the past and by expectations.  I remember when my parents separated when I was ten, and I believed my mother "ruined" Christmas.  The magic was gone.  I couldn't understand why my father couldn't be there and we couldn't just celebrate like we had in years past.

Tolstoy said that every happy family is happy in the same way, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.  Melanie Beatty said that in alcoholic families, everyone's angry: Mom's angry, Dad's angry, even the dog is angry.  That last one stuck with me - even the dog?  She's right; my dog knew something was "up."

Why do I bring that up now?  As I learn how to make the holidays mine after all these years, I'm finding that the past is much with me.  Which brings me to the Ojos de Dios, or "Eyes of God."

The Huichol people believe that these amulets bring blessings and luck upon the person for whom they're made.  When a person is born, an ojo is made for them in the central temple.  Ojos are also made at the inception of new business projects, marriages, and other beginnings.  It's a way to attract the benevolent attention of the deities onto one's own life.

A friend of mine suggested some years ago to make the ojos using cinnamon sticks and embroidery floss.  The idea caught fire in my mind and I love the shiny effect of the weaving.  By varying the weaves, you can create more complex structures; but just by using a simple overdyed yarn you can achieve beautiful effects with relatively little effort.

I made these ojos for my office.  I wanted to bring blessings on our work, and to remember that it's the holidays.  I'm trying to capture some of that sense of magic they had when I was little.  I'm not sure what made it magical, which is part of the challenge; I don't know what I'm searching for.

One year, my cat Marina kept batting down all the ornaments I'd put on our tree.  She broke several of them and made a mess.  By end of the holiday, all the ornaments were grouped in the top 18 inches of the tree, leaving the rest to the lights.  The next year, I made ojos for the whole tree - a whole canister of them.  It made me incredibly happy to do.

That's part of the magic, then - making things.  I think that we humans are crafty creatures and that making things with our hands is part of what satisfies us.  So our holiday this year has centered around handmade things - from food to decorations.

What about you?  
What makes the holidays magical for you?

Friday, August 29, 2014


So, I've been on a major yarn hiatus.  I've been doing calligraphy like a madwoman; I'm filling notebooks with the stuff (and no, that's not a typo; yes, I mean more than one).  Let's just say I had to order a second set of practice markers because I used up the ink in the first set.  See what I mean?

But I'm feeling the bug again.  I'm beginning to see that this is part of my normal pattern (which only took me fourteen years to figure out, but let's not go there, kthxbi).  I seem to set knitting aside around May or June and pick it up around September or October.

We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary this year - yay! - and went down to southern Illinois and St. Louis to poke around.  One of the shops had some lovely Lana de Oro and I had to get some.  I'm thinking socks.  50% wool, 50% alpaca.  Michael picked heather grey, I picked heather lavender:

The lavender has bits of other colors in it, more as shading than a true ombre.

The lighting is weird because I took these outside.  I tried to get a close-up and the camera changed the coloring.  Sigh.  Must.learn.Photoshop.

Can you tell I've been playing with the grey hank?  ~blush~  But this is the grey with the lavender; I'm thinking that I'll use a small mosaic in the cuff of each sock in the opposite color.

It's really not as pink as it seems in this picture.  But I'm excited.  I may even use the toe-up technique, though I think I should do the first set with practice yarn first.  We shall see.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pysanky Day!

Pysanky Day is Sunday, March 23rd.  If you're in Chicago, join us at Pumping Station: One for a day of fun and eggs and art.  If not, stay tuned for pictures and maybe even a video.  :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Journey Into 3-D Notebook - Hats!

So I've been playing with knitting from the top down.  I started a sweater and have been wrestling with it (which I'll share later), but for now I want to share my newest creation:  a hat!

My first hat was almost a decade ago.  A friend asked me to make a hat for her friend.  I did so.  It was large enough to fit her, her friend, AND me - and not just our heads.  It was not, shall we say, a success.

Since then, I've successfully mastered all kinds of things in knitting:  sweaters, sleeves, socks, lace, design...  So why not hats?

I asked myself that and then gave it a shot.

This one is fun because the increases are one-off from each other so that they swirl around the head.  I did the crown with a merino wool, then the sides with an alpaca and mohair blend that's fuzzy and whisper-soft.

I even like how it looks on me.

And you can see it from the back.

I want to try making another hat that's a little smaller, so it stays tighter on the head. In fact, I started one, but that's a post for another day! :)