Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Taste of Kimono

While buying display racks for my fiber products and the kimono I sell I met Kirsten Houseknecht--having heard her utter the magic words " beads" and "fabric" in one breath I had to introduce myself. As women's conversations so often go, this one went places, several of them, in fact. And like so many of my conversations over the last year or so it went to kimono, and next thing, I'm pulling kimono out of the Mary Poppins bag and she's trying them on, there in the parking lot of Gershel Brothers. Sometimes I think we women are just so cool! As the conversation went on she's coming up with all kinds of suggestions of places I can sell my kimono, because they are fabulous, and after all, we fabriholic women need to stick together, right?

In deference to you, Kirsten, I'm NOT posting pictures of the kimono you covet, but I got it together today to start photographing my collection of truly lovely Japanese fiber arts. I'm not putting these on my etsy site yet as I'll be at Brimfield Antiques Market (Mahogany Ridge, look for the big textile tent) for the next week--it runs from Tuesday to Saturday, right after the Labor Day weekend. Sunrise, in fact! But since I may not get online for a while I don't want to have anyong buy one on etsy while I'm selling it in Brimfield. I just can't resist posting pictures since I finally have them!

I do have full length kimono but didn't get to any of them, nor to most of my haori--that's where the fibro overcame the fabro. These are probably my best haori, though, and certainly my favorites. The first is a meisen (ie, ikat) from the 1920s--my favorite, even though I can't wear it. It's a luscious shiny silk that just makes the soft-focus flowers glow. Meisen is an interesting technique. While most ikat weaving is from threads that have been painstakingly tie-dyed then arranged and woven, in meisen the dye is stenciled onto the threads on the loom prior to weaving, which when woven produces the soft focus. It's a lovely technique which was most produced in the early Showa period, or roughly from the late teens or 20s through about the 1950s.

The next one I can wear, and boy do I feel special in it! It's a 1940s meisen, but you can tell that without my saying it. I think of the mums as fireworks, it's got that celebratory feel to it. It looks great on many people, not just me!

Then there's the one that's probably my oldest, a lovely deep red meisen of hydrangeas. This one looks really dramatic on and in motion--I think it's less something someone would be inclined to hang on a wall and more inclined to wear to quite stunning effect. The true color is a bit deeper, less warm of a red.

More tomorrow!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Viny Neckwarmer Pattern

This neckwarmer really isn't for Zoey, she's just modeling it for the picture. But who'd have guessed that she and my brother would have the same size neck?! Or that his colors would look so good on her--really I wasn't planning it that way! (grin)

The pattern is free for personal use.

Vine-y Neck Warmer
By Diane Sidener
Color choices are critical to the effectiveness of this otherwise
straightforward design. This pattern relies on lively combinations of
colors with an interesting, subtle series of modulations. Each round
until the last two is comprised of two yarns, changing one at a time
on five of the first six rounds.
You’ll need several complementary colors of soft yarn (you won’t be needing
more than about 35 yards of each, probably less, depending on your gauge)
One big button (1 3/8 or so)
I used
KnitPicks Memories (fingering) in Smores
KnitPicks Andean Treasure in Woods Heather
KnitPicks Andean Silk in Cinnamon
Kiddy Prints in mossy greens
a gossamer laceweight in browns, a bit of green and maroon
Ch 80 in your first color/combo, the center; I started with the Woods and my
lace and left a long tail of about 10 inches of the lace for later sewing on the
button. SC to the end, ch 1, turn.
Row 2: sc 10, ch 6 for buttonhole or adjust to fit your button, finish rnd in sc
(80 sts), ch 3, turn.
Rnd 3: Still in first color dc all the way around, with 2 dc in each stitch of the
4 corners (164 sts).
Rnd 4: Change to second color/combo. For the next 2 rnds I used the Kiddy
Prints, first with the lace then switching after rnd 4 to the Smores. Ch2, then
hdc around, again doubling your stitches in each corner. (Here’s where I
dropped the lace and switched in the Smores. I also changed up a size hook, to
Rnd 5: Hdc around, doubling corner stitches as needed--probably twice for
each corner, depending on whether you prefer a more rounded or squared look.
Rnd 6: Change to your third combo. Dc around, doubling corner stitches, 2 or
3 times in each corner--but be consistent throughout the round!
Rnd 7: Beginning from the corner where you finished the round *ch 20, angle
about 45 degrees across, adding or subtracting stitches to give you a good fit
at an interesting angle--fit should be not quite snug, but without a lot of slack
either. Sc 1 onto the edge; flip to other side*. Repeat, continuing in the same
linear direction but alternating front and back, for a total of 7 (or as many as
Rnd 8: Back to first color/combo. (I wanted a soft edge so I didn’t bring the
lace back, but work with the characteristics of your yarn.) Sc around, just
doubling once at each corner. One stitch before you meet up with your
chained "vine" pick up a loop from the chain as well as your next double
crochet and make your sc in both to strengthen that join. In your next sc pick
up a loop from the other side of the chain and the next dc, pulling your new
stitch firmly across so that you don’t end up with a lump sticking out from
your nice neat edge: no extra stitches, just a bit of insurance. Continue to sc
around, repeating this method of securing the vine at each join.
Finish and weave in ends. Determine your button placement. If your first color
combo is very soft yarn like alpaca, you can use that long tail of lace to
strengthen the area where you’ll be attaching your button, weaving it in (and
hiding it, of course!) for several stitches in each direction paying special
attention to the midline in the direction of the buttonhole, since that’s where
most of the strain will be coming from. Use the last 5 or 6 inches to sew the
button on and finish by weaving the end in, rather than knotting.
This pattern is provided here for the personal use of individuals only. NOT for commercial
use or to be copied without my written permission. You may link to it with my written
© Diane Sidener, 2008
(Link to the pattern PDF is coming soon--technical difficulties)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thoughts on having fibromyalgia

For those who don’t know fibro it is a systemic syndrome they now term a ‘neuro-endocrine disorder’ without known cause. For me it manifests primarily as joint pain and fatigue with a host of related, probably secondary, co-existing conditions–but since they don’t understand its cause or workings who knows what is the essence of it?

I originally wrote the paragraph above for my bio on Ravelry*, the hot new website for all things yarn, knit and crochet. But the more I passed my page on my way to something else, the more it bothered me that my blog, with the title I chose for it, says nothing about fibro beyond noting that I have it and referring to a day on the couch. So I decided to write a bit about what having fibromyalgia means to me at this point in my life.

Well, I hurt a lot, sometimes more than at other times, and always enough that a good night's sleep is a real rarity. Because of this and because so much of my body's resources are tied up with whatever the source of my fibro is I am often fatigued and I tire easily. And when I do push it I generally pay the price over the course of subsequent days: fibro paybacks or hangover, take your pick. I could keep describing symptoms but I've done that before, and anybody else can look them up--I'm tired of them and I don't really want to talk about them again!

For one thing I lead a REALLY circumscribed life, not even getting out of the house a lot of days. Hence fabric and yarn, and my excitement over an online community devoted to at least one them these....

For another thing I just don't have the energy, the stamina or the concentration for the intellectual activities with which I used to so gleefully fill my life. I can't maintain that kind of focus for any length of time, and that's frustrating--so I don't do it. Physical, tactile creative stuff that I can easily pick up and put down, books that are strong on plot so I don't have to struggle to keep track, things I can make up as I go along--all these I can manage, and produce things that are beautiful, useful, pleasurable to me and to others.

I've spent time in therapy learning to name my feelings of grief for my old life and for the career I no longer can have, the anger at this betrayal of/by my body.

And at this moment I don't have the energy to keep writing, in keeping with the rest of my life these days.... Back to my comfy chair and whatever's on my needles.

*Still in beta, there are over 70,000 members/users on Ravelry, 1.5 million page views per day, a total of 1.2 million photos (thanks to Flickr), 1 million forum posts, 411,000 projects, 38,700 patterns, and 16,700 yarns, according to its blog and my updated estimate on users. Somebody said recently that there are more knitters than there are golfers in the US, and Ravelry's popularity bears this out.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Forays into freeform crochet

and boy is it fun! I like the ways crochet allows you to think on your feet, or with your fingers as the case may be, and layering stitches, different yarns and even fabric just makes it that much more interesting for me. And on the pragmatic side, when I hurt or have energy only to sit in my comfy chair with work on my lap, interesting is what it's all about. Distraction helps immensely, and making something tangible is satisfying even when I'm feeling miserable. And there's little better than stretching my brain around making something new, something nobody else has come up with.

So this capelet is wool, alpaca, silk, mohair, and some manmade fibers. (The resolution on the larger image you get by clicking on it is pretty good, so you can see a lot more of what's going on.) The very dark green fabric is sueded silk, strips left over from a sewing project and crocheted with a huge (Q) hook. It's got this wonderfully soft feel to it, and it's warm too. I think alpaca may be my newest favorite substance (after silk, anyway!). It's so soft, and it holds its warmth and looks great too. The knit piece at the bottom is actually still on the needle which is tucked under one of the lumpy areas. It'll have a curved contour on the bottom when it's complete and better integration into the whole, but I wanted to see what it looks like. It's got a couple of leaves on the upper left, and there will be more leaves applied when the body is complete, and maybe some viny things. Overall the capelet is probably about 2/3 done, and the challenge may be to not clutter it up in the remainder.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Crazy quilting my way

I've always loved crazy quilts--the rich silks and velvets, the hoarded scraps of special occasions, the irregularity of the pieces and the ways women fit them together to create a pleasing harmony without the rigidity of other pieced quilts. Texture, too, and contrasts gleefully embraced.

I'd begun working with silk because

nothing in the fabric universe takes color like silk, plus it's got all those wonderful light things it does, depending on the weave and
probably other factors as well.
Dupioni silk with its slubs and other irregularities, the soft creaminess of raw silk,
the amazing play of colors in velvets as they move. And the feel of them all, and their drape, the flow as they move. Yum!

So while gleefully piecing crazy quilt handbags and other things I started collecting squares
that somehow went together,
and then got sculptural since that's my inclination.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Setting up

Gee, creating a blog was not at all on the radar for today. I'm sewing,
in between having to hit the couch--it's a cool and very damp day here and the fibro is in full spate. So between aches and pains and fatigue, sewing was the only thing I thought was going to get me off the couch. But I had to post pics of my current work-in-progress! It's consuming me, and it's not like anything I else I do or have done, except maybe that it's got elements of everything else I do in it.

This began life as fabric for an obi (I think), which I won at an auction. This is one panel, which is quilted onto several other layers. The cranes are trapunto, and there's some beading on the flowers, maybe more to come.

So the left side and top are not at all finished. The existing corner is just sitting in place and may get rethought yet, as I finish the other two sides. You can't see how dimensional the sides are, but they're stuffed and beaded with onyx, with the bead stitching compressing the tubes into irregularity and the semblance of braiding? Rope? They're about an

inch and a half thick when they're attached. Then there are the stuffed silk and Venise lace borders, in an olive green and a coppery orange with the lace overlaying them. They're about half as thick as the tubular frame parts.

The corners are crocheted wire with more onyx and some great freshwater pearls. The one that's showing has then been set in two concentric beds of pleated/gathered silk.

This is very baroque, not at all my usual style, and puzzling because of it. But the formality of the Japanese fabric seems to demand it; it's not at all what I thought I was doing with this piece when I started it. Odd, the way that works.

More from Diane aka ExcessRUs as I finish this bit of insanity!