Friday, December 31, 2021

In Perspective, Comfort

 On and off over the years, I've chosen a 'word for the year'.  This year it was 'purpose'; in 2020, hope (how significant needing that turned out to be, eh?!)  In 2019, a word chose me; "more" (you can read more about that here).

In between 'hope' and 'purpose' was 'comfort'.  I thought about that one on its own for 2022, because it's what I've been seeking for myself and for others over this past year...and hope to practice going forward, with comfort quilts, words, notes, knits and stitches.

But...I realized that there's been much discomfort this past year too: estrangements and isolation due not only to the COVID pandemic but also to the politicization of public health measures and vaccinations.  Fires and floods and unseasonal tornadoes due to accelerating climate change.  There's a great deal of angst, anger, frustration and just plain suffering going on.  It's enough to make a body join with Ebenezer Scrooge in his pre-conversion view of Christmas -- and probably life in general:

Designer: Bent Creek
Wee pillow idea: Lori Holt (YouTube tutorial)*

*I've owned this wee kit for eons, but just put it all together this week during the Deep Freeze.  It finishes at about 4 1/2" square.

What's one single soul to do?  

Some of you may recall that I finished a couple of cross-stitch pieces, mounted in my living room, to remind me to be positive -- both by Lizzie Kate (now retired, but you might be able to find her designs here and there):

These remind me that I'm a) blessed with a cozy home, sufficient income, wonderful family, a clutch of very close friends, and a sizeable stash of fabric, fibre and floss with which I can create -- I can do something to promote comfort in my little corner of the globe.

And that's the key: "my little corner". 

My recent reading has been encouraging too.  I've recently finished Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee, and The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, a compilation of a weeks' worth of interviews with the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his good friend, his Holiness, the Dalai Lama.  On reflection, both of these speak about the importance of keeping things in perspective.

That's IT!

That's my word for 2022.  Looking around me, close up, to find joy in even the smallest thing -- and looking 'way beyond me, to realize that in the grand scheme of things, I may be only one, but I am one, and while I'm blessed with life, sight and skill, I can't do everything but I can do something -- as long as I don't allow myself to be discouraged by the scope of The Mess the World is In.  As long as I try to emulate God's eye-view of the world S/He created, loves and lives in.


With that in mind I'm filling my days with a routine that I hope will help me be more joyful, and to feel more useful, more purposeful, more creative and more compassionate -- with myself and those around me -- without being overwhelmed and exhausted.

So I'll laugh at the "Humbug" in one of my yarn baskets, and keep on truckin'!  

So...what's on the needles and under 'em now?   I'm so glad you asked!

Bonnie Hunter's moving right along with her 2021 Mystery, Rhododendron Trail, and I'm moving along with it, to whit:

Clue #2 - units finished!

Clue #3 - Units under construction

That wild pink fabric just keeps going and going and going! LOL!

Making the Clue #2 units produced a pile of what Bonnie calls "bonus triangles".  In the past, I've mainly stuck these in bags -- along with Good Intentions! πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‰  This time, though, I thought I should make-up-as-I-go, so I've made a start. 

First, I didn't separate them when I cut them off the Flying Geese; I kept them in pairs, and then used them as 'leaders and enders' while I'm sewing up the units.  These ones have produced a mountain of tiny Half-Square Triangles (HSTs) -- from which I'm slowly assembling pinwheels, each measuring 3" square (before set into blocks):

It's hard to tell from the photo, but so far I've assembled 2 pink-and-white pinwheels and 2 butter-yellow-and-white ones.  Now, I can't do much with them at 3" square, so expect to eventually put them into some sort of star block for a comfort quilt.  What I can tell you is, that with each star taking 4 HSTs, I'll end up with 15 pinwheels in each colour combination, and a couple of HSTs left over.  Potentially 30 pinwheel star blocks...

As I began to collect that mountain of HSTs, I thought about what I'd done with earlier "bonus triangles"...and looked at my stash.  Well!  I have them in baggies, I have them in baskets...some still just triangles, some already sewn into HSTs.  I found a batch of them all in a very light tan/dark brown combination, and was inspired.  I woke early one morning about 10 days ago with an idea, and produced a diptych:

Scattered I, II (c) 2021
9 3/4" W x 30 1/4" L
Commercial cotton, fused applique,
free-motion quilted

Quilting Detail 1

Quilting Detail 2

Some of the HSTs stand out, and others have sections that meld with the fabric -- especially after quilting.  I don't quilt free-motion very often, but these pieces called for it, and so I used a loose pattern of random squares all over the pieces, and came away liking the result.  I've bound each piece with fabric that matches the background.  Again, I usually face my art pieces these days, but these pieces wanted binding, given their long and very narrow design, so that's what I've done.  

And how many tiny HSTs did I use up in this bold endeavour?  Sixty-two -- 31 on each.  Not much of a dent in the stash, but at this rate, I figure every little bit helps!  πŸ˜†

All of this -- as well as providing comfort for some and visual art for others -- is in aid of the Keep it Out of the Landfill Project which, of course, is ongoing, and never-ending (or so it seems).

In this endeavour, YouTube is unfailingly helpful -- not only for entertainment, but also for tutorials and ideas.  A new-to-me 'Floss Tube' podcast is one example.  In addition to The Quilt Show, to which I subscribe, I already enjoy Karen at "Just Get it Done Quilts", Lisa Walton's "Quilt Stories" interviews with art quilters, The Woolly Thistle's "Shopcast" and "Little Big Knits" with Selma, an Ottawa knitter.  And this past week I tripped over a new-to-me pod-caster: Lori Holt.  Her name rang a bell and well it should -- as she's a quilt and fabric designer and, as it turns out, a skilled cross-stitcher as well.  Her style in either genre isn't mine per se, and I don't have bolts of fabric in matching lines to draw upon for what she calls "scrappy" quilts (mine are from the "where the heck did this come from?" source of fabric scraps, the ones that breed in the night)...but she's entertaining and I love some of her ideas.

She inspired me to dig out the wee "Humbug" and turn it into something fun.  And she's inspired a new use for some of my scraps from my Scrap Savers System (so named by Bonnie Hunter): tiny squares made into 4-patches, plus plain squares in assorted neutrals and colours.  These I'm starting to assemble in to what Lori refers to as her "Spare Squares" block (a YouTube tutorial). These can be made in assorted sizes, depending on the size of the squares you use; mine are 6 1/2" unfinished...and as of yesterday afternoon, there are a dozen of them:

Again, I created these as 'leaders & enders' while working on the Mystery quilt units.  They'll eventually end up in a comfort quilt...or two or six.  Trust me, there's more where they came from!

Lest the knitters out there think that all I've been doing is quilting and cross-stitch...well, now!  You know that chez moi there is always some knitting!  I finished the "Countdown" socks on Christmas Eve (the last day of Advent); they're now washed and in the charity box:

Pattern: Countdown
Free on Ravelry from EdithABDesigns

My friend Mary W. has a young couple in her life who were expecting their first child any moment, so I offered a couple of pair of baby socks, which I enjoy knitting from left-overs.  Baby Girl arrived last night -- so I'm glad the first pair is finished:

Pattern: Baby Socks - River City Yarns
Yarn: unlabelled leftovers - wool/nylon
Size: 0-3 months

The second pair will be in a 6-month size, I think, perhaps a cotton/wool blend for spring.

And my daughter's birthday is mid-January.  This year she's requested a headband to wear when she's out and about in nature, photographing birds and wee critters -- when we're not in the throes of a Polar Vortex!  So last night I cast on this one in her chosen pattern and colour:

Pattern: DROPS 114-4a - Alpine Twist Ear-warmer
Yarn: Berroco Vintage DK in "Cracked Pepper"
-- a left-over from mittens made a year or two ago

It calls for straight needles, but because there are only 28 stitches, I'm using two double-points that are 9" long, rather than my shortest straights.  The yarn splits a bit more than I remember, but I still like working with it, and love the colour.

Aside from these smaller projects, I've decided to make fewer socks this year, and to focus on finishing at least 3 of the sweaters I've started.  The first of these is the Ranunculus -- on which I've finished one sleeve and am working on the body:

Pattern: "Ranunculus" from Midori Hirose
Yarn: BC Garn Bio Shetland GOTS

I'm told the pattern is addictive; indeed over 10,600 of them have been at least started -- some folks having made half dozen for themselves, friends and family.  I'm not sure I'll go that far, but time will tell.  It's an interesting top-down construction without seams, which is a real plus!

So...what's ahead for 2022?

    • Inspired by Lori Holt, who has a habit of starting new projects based on holidays through the year, I'm planning to return to What Remains is Love, created by Blackbird Designs for Traditional Stitches' 20th anniversary.  I'll be working on it through the month of February because not only is Valentine's Day mid-month, but also my late DH and I announced our engagement February 11, 1975.  I'll do what I can in the month, and then come back to it in August, which is the month we were married in '75.  
    • On Valentine's Day itself, I'll focus on a tiny piece (another wee pillow, I think!) that Jeannette designed -- again, a little kit I've had for over a decade: Mon Coeur. If it interests you, click on the link on the page for the free PDF of the pattern.  It's very tiny -- 1" x 2" on 32 count linen -- though it'll be a bit larger when I make it on 28 count!
  • Then there's spinning, in which I've decided to make a larger investment of time in 2022.  I bought (on sale!!) a Craftsy class in the basics, in hopes of a) being motivated to spin more; b) to improve my spinning techniques and learn more than one or two ways to draft and ply; and c) use up fleece, roving and top so it doesn't end up in the landfill. Focus!
  • Last but not least: when spring comes, there will be The Yard and Garden.  I'm hoping to plant a sugar maple (hardy to Zone 3, of course!), to plant more wild flowers (ones that didn't need to be over-wintered in the ground), to preserve with dandelion blossoms, raspberries and rhubarb in season, and to reconfigure the veggies I put in my two raised beds.  And Outdoor Studio will continue to be the perfect place to read, knit and/or stitch, helping me keep a sound mind -- and a comforting perspective.

And so, Gentle Readers...thanks for reading this epistle.  May your New Year be safe and healthy, full of the comforts you find in home and hearth, family and friends, the work of your hands.  May you bloom wherever you've been planted.

I'm linking this up to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, where this week she too is pondering a Word for 2022.  

Happy New Year!  



Teri said...

I had thought I would revisit "patience" since I seem to have less and less of it. But maybe "perspective" would be a better choice as I might learn patience from learning to look at things from a point of view other than my own.

So here's to our new year....may we make the best of it we can.....


Bethany G said...

It is Sunday the 2nd of January and already the days are passing by quickly - so much to do and so many things on my mind. I loved this post and all of the 'perspective' thoughts you have had and acted on already. Well done! Love little HUMBUG - sweet! And the finishing line on so many of your projects... the gifts and the 'love of your life' connection to creating artwork that will be a gentle reminder.

Hoping for the very best of joy and solace, warmth and love of your precious home life in your days and evenings - keep MAKING and sharing - your thoughts and shares here are important to all of us! I see you everywhere on FB and that is keeping us both busy learning and connecting.
Hugs your way...