Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's a start

I gave in and went back to the thrift store on Friday for more feltable sweaters, having convinced myself that I simply don't have enough for this year's Christmas-gift crafting.

This of course turned out to be Not True, but it was fun anyway and I got some great stuff - 7 sweaters, in fact, for $20. And one of them, though small and nearly sleeveless, was made of baby alpaca. I'll share pictures of them when I've made them into something so you can see the Befores and Afters.

A few weeks ago I had a little time to cut off a lot of felted sleeves for fingerless gloves, and yesterday I sat down to blanket stitch a trim on one pair of them:

The best thing about this project is that the yarn I used for the edging was a little present from Melissa, some vintage darning wool with a marvelous label. I love being able to incorporate bits and pieces from people I care about into the gifts I make, don't you? It's such a good way to spread happy feelings.

So - one down, 426 to go, give or take. Wish me luck for a pair of actual mittens this week!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Procrastination that paid off

Well, this is a first.

I've been too swamped this fall to get all the leaves up from the maple tree that generously shades my house. But if there is one thing I can't stand, it's not getting all the leaves up before the snow - because then when all your better-organized neighbours are joyfully looking out the window with their April morning coffees at pristine snow melting over green grasses and colourful crocuses, you're looking blearily at brown-dappled snow melting over brown sludge.

Last night, most of the leaves having been dealt with by somebody much less lazy and rather more generous than me, I went out in subzero temperatures to bag the remaining leaves the wind had raked for me into a few big piles. And this is where it gets good!

As I have learned to my cost in previous years, if you bag leaves after a rain, they will melt the compostable bag before the city comes to pick them up.

But as I discovered yesterday, if you bag leaves after a rain in subzero temperatures - why then, you can bag them with a shovel. Because the raindrops are now ice particles holding the leaves in one neat pile.

It was still a lot of leaves - 5 bags' worth, I think - but it only took about 40 minutes to do. And today: it snowed. Ha!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fabric with feeling

My cousin has sent me an article about an exhibit we wish we could visit together - Threads of Feeling at The Foundling Museum in London (by which I mean England, not Ontario!)

It's a collection of fabric scraps given as identifying marks for babies left in the 1700s by mothers who could no longer care for them, but hoped to be able to come back for some day. Apparently only 152 of the 16,282 children accepted by the foundling hospital over a 19 year period were ever reunited with their families, which says a lot about the life expectancy and economic hardship of the time.

The history is amazing and moving, but a side interest to the creative people who visit this blog is the fabric itself, real everyday fabric that would probably never otherwise have been preserved for people like us to look at. Even wedding fabrics might not have been saved for so long - cloth being one of the most recyclable materials, especially at the level of poverty we're talking about here. But a baby is different, and the giving up of one unimaginably significant.

If you've got time for a hot cup of something and a longer than usual read, the first link will take you to the news article about the story behind the collection, the second to the museum site and a few remarkable photographs of the actual scraps.

What a quilt all that would make!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Getting a start on gifts

It's really been bugging me not to have had time to start on Christmas sewing. I mean, I bought all those sweaters to felt all through August! and there they are in my sewing cupboard, folded up and waiting.

So yesterday when I had to do a tiny bit of sewing, I decided to take advantage of the machine being open and got out the scissors:

and a quilty tea cosy for a template and got this:

Which is photographed flat because it falls over like a much limper sweater than it actually felted to, when you put it over a teapot. I think it needs a liner, which it will get in the next 45 minutes of 'free' time that occurs post-solution-idea.

Meanwhile, taking advantage of the bonus hour we got from Daylight Savings Time or whatever it's called at this time of year, I decided that since the sewing cupboard was open I should cut a bunch of sleeves for fingerless gloves.

Not every sleeve felts suitably for such a project, but it turns out that sometimes you can get two pairs of handwarmers from a single pair of arms, so I ended up with I think 7 pairs. I spent a happy hour or so positioning the thumb openings and adjusting lengths and steaming the wool, and now I have 7 pairs of canvas for blanket stitching and other embellishments.

You know, next time I have 45 minutes of 'free' time.

A thought occurred to me as I did all this. Well, two thoughts.

1/ Is it a gift if all I do is cut off a sleeve with a pair of scissors and then cut a hole for the thumb?

2/ Yes. Because it took time, effort, and money to find the right sweaters to felt, and then more time to fit perfectly, and it will take time - no matter how much I enjoy it - to embellish them however sparingly I do so, and moreover, I have so little time, and people know that, that they will know how much love got poured into these little tokens.

Then I had a third thought:

Just because it's super easy for me to do these things doesn't mean it's easy for everybody else I know. It's okay not to undervalue my skills.

And it's okay for you, too!