Lessons from Vincent

“…no blue without yellow…”

 detail of Sea&Sky  artquilt, blue with touches of yellow 

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Inside, outside

Working at home can be hard to stop…. just a few more stitches … What fun and relaxing thing could I do after dinner? Well, there’s that quilt … 
You can have too much of a good thing. Prescription: a weekend in the garden; pruning, shredding, digging, planting. And of course LOOKING at plant forms. 
Just the refreshing inspiration needed for the next quilt “Green Economy”  

The last sweater

 Behold! Possibly the pinnacle of my knitting career – the final adult-sized jersey.  
I chose the variegated yarn to make something for me and The Huz admired my tension sample and hinted…and suddenly it’s his. 

A few new things for me in this project: 

  1. I’ve combined a chunky (the variegated blue) with a DK (the grey) to make a new yarn of unknown weight. It looks great and has wonderful body…but had a few challenges with Fit…
  2. I’m knitting both sleeves at the same time – on one circular needle using the Magic Loop method. It’s a little clumsy with flapping pieces and tangling balls, but the shaping matches and I don’t have to fear the dreaded Second Sleeve Syndrome.

It’s all going well so why is it the last? 

This is the second time I’ve made it. 

First time round I wasn’t careful enough with the size calculations…and it was ridiculously overlarge. We made a fun family game of the unravelling and I tried to not feel too much of a Muppet. Now I’m grimly determined to finish it before midwinter.

Two large jerseys in quick succession is a bit much for this dabbler. I’m  sticking to small projects from now on.  Maybe there will be a ball of that pretty variegated yarn left over to make something nice for me after all.

Tools are cool

I love to use the right tool for the job. I love tools that are well-made and support me in my making. Here are three of my favourites:

 A “butcher’s knife” by Mr John Russell who took great care in helping me select exactly the right one. It has transformed my culinary practice. You can get your own effortless slice of his action at the Coatesville Market

  A thimble! I could never use one until Debby Williams’ hand-quilting class. Debby taught me how to select a thimble to fit and use it comfortably. She also kindly gifted this one, still my favourite.

My Singer Featherweight sewing machine (stop looking at the kitten! That’s Tiny #Catmate, I’ll tell you about her another day)

Miss Feathers is a delight: compact, sturdy, portable and sews the most perfect straight stitch.

What are your favourite tools?

I prefer to change my own tyre

  I like to be able to do stuff. If you can change your own tyre, you aren’t waiting around for someone else to do it for you.

The more you can do…the more you can do. So I like to learn all sorts of odd off-beat things, building my competence, preparedness, strength, and resilience. You never know what bits will fit together to solve a problem or create a new possibility.

Learning from a person is a great way to build a relationship with them, and to appreciate their wider mastery.  

It takes a few goes sometimes. My bread is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons…but I think I know where to find a master who will give me a demo. I’ll keep working on it.

I’m perfectly capable of changing my own tyre – without wrecking my manicure – if I can get the wheelnuts undone. So, I build in some resilience with an AA membership – the most recent mechanic who met me at the roadside taught me a Protip for the too-tight wheelnut problem too 😊

Memories for all time: #1, the shower

Once upon a time,

…not a vague time, exactly remembered. I was 16, a straight-As student at Carmel College, in the home of my favourite class, the Biology lab, at the end of 4th period on a Thursday late in April.

Cleaning the blackboard at the front of the classroom. Behind the long teachers’ bench that ran across the podium. So neat, that broad space. Territory of of our clever, confident, stylish young teacher, who could use words like “envaginate” without blink or blush and made us all feel we were capable of comprehending anything.

There on the scratchpad, in small flowing script:

I cry in the shower, the falling water hides the sound of pain

It was impossible to look away. My eyes were as caught as my breath, as my heart thudded with a strange mixture of pity, contempt and fear. I will never forget that moment.

Then, I didn’t understand, though I felt the powerful pull of recognition.
Now, I know exactly that feeling.

Then, my teacher seemed another class of human, so far advanced from my own immaturity.
Now, I’m 20 years older than she was.

The great difference is that the contempt and fear are (mostly) gone, gentled with experience and compassion. And I’ve learned to let the water wash away the pain. I hope hers is gone too.

Wherever you go, there you are

This holiday season I’ll spend just 3 of the 12 nights at my official home. The working season can be similar. Many friends have asked about how tiring that might be. I don’t find it so. That’s partly because I’ve learned to be at home wherever I am.  Or at least, something close to that. 
I’ve learned:
  • to pack for a week’s travel in 15 minutes
  • to know what the essential stuff is – and it’s a very short list
  • to bring the essentials and not much more
  • to make it work with what I have
  • to find help when I need it
  • to sleep anywhere
  • to wake knowing where I am and get ready for the day without confusion
Yoga has been a big part of this – and coming to understand that how I feel isn’t dependent on where I am or who I’m with. So, I’m at home everywhere….although I always prefer to be near the water.