In the last month I've been asked twice where the name Six And A Half Stitches came from. The first time I wasn't expecting the question, and figured people really didn't want esoteric answers at a blog meetup,and in my dulled state I think I said just because it sounded good. Which is partly right. But not really. There was some thought in it, and some background. More recently Heidi has been intrigued where some blogs have got their name from. So here's your answer Heidi.
I wanted something easy, and which had punch. It needed to stand out from the other blog names being used 3 years ago when I started. It needed to cross between different genres. A knitted stitch. A sewn stitch. Stitches in time. And it needed to express some of the latent skill involved in my profession. I have piles of torn pieces of trace paper and photocopied pieces of sketches which when overlaid become a sort of patchwork, and suggest form just through linework. I love dashed lines. It's my favourite line to draw and use on the computer. Dashed lines are like sewn seams. They suggest the hidden parts.
The title can be written a number of ways - I wanted versatility which would allow me to change the look, font, banner image etc without fuss, and it could grow with me as I developed. I have clothes tags with the name written out the long way, and the short way, and there are always projects which require one or the other.
It does not mean either of the following:
I'm still wondering, though, whatever happened to the extra half stitch?
So the best plan, then, is to complicate everything.
And start designing
something from scratch, without any real visual aids or any known pattern to
follow except a vague shaping reference to Kate Gilbert’s Union Square Market Sweater in Interweave
(with her permission), and to work out a knitting pattern which is looking
decidedly more complex than it is supposed to be, but that's often the trickery
of simple stoic designs anyway. My sketches resemble complex joinery drawings,
and there are many pieces of mathematical workings on scrap paper. Yes. I need to get out more.
And my husband stopped dead in his tracks when he found me knitting with Habu's version of fingering weight yarn (sewing thread to everyone else) and I think his expression was 'you can't be serious'. Well, yes, actually, I am. And in my defense it is double stranded and knit loosely, but after the last posts, most of you are probably thinking I’ve made things really quite difficult that don’t need to be difficult. You probably don't want to know that I spent my week making bread dough for pizza, calzone and foccacia (to freeze, so I don't have to cook so much this next week). Still I can't help thinking I should write a post for September now which says "still going on Habu jumper for Pia". I'll post it for September 2008. Working out this pattern has been the only adult thinking thing I’ve done other than fill in a trillion school application forms recently. If I give this up, I do believe my brain will turn to a vegetative state. If I get this pattern to work, then I will have achieved something, and I will feel a little more like a human adult. The socks, in fairness to the socks, can knit themselves, and that’s why we go to a fabulous indoor play centre for the morning where I can knit, and watch Max, Pia can sleep, and it’s a win/win situation for everyone and least of all I don’t have to concentrate on a complex sock pattern. And I have to admit it is truly decadent – in that ‘soaking in a hot bath with nice bath milk in there’ way – to knit a little something for my babe in a mixture of Merino and Ramie yarn. The Merino (bottom) is charcoal (a tiny weeny smidge off black), and the Ramie (top) is natural Sumi Charcoal dyed. It’s an earthier grey brown, but when stranded with the merino, the whole thing has a very natural look, feel and sheen to it which would work equally well with natural neutrals like white, cream beige (I’m thinking linen here), dark colours like charcoal, and against softer colours like Lavender and dusty greens and pinks. The textural difference between the merino and ramie give the material structure, and fluidity. Sumi and Fluidity. Sumidity.
"Looking at a lily on the lake"
"Talk about the sparrow looking like a tree"
"Counting all the ripples on the sea"
Thankyou, everyone who commented on the last post! I know this phase will pass, and I take time when I can, but being followed by two children for 12 hours straight can sometimes get the better of you, no matter how positively you parent. And to know I’m not alone…..blessings from above! I heard all of your collective Mexican waves of support. And this post was written much better in my head on my walk this afternoon. Sorry.
Wherever we go we are surrounded by simple beauty. The first budding flower on a magnolia tree heralding spring. The taste of fresh bread straight out of the oven. The crispness of light and air after a rain shower. The perfect combination of colour, form, pattern on a child, whose heat flushed cheeks in late afternoon catch the blushing pink of her lips and match the smock she wears. Her mother's heart singing with utter joy, smiling so bright on the inside so that everything she said about charcoal can be forgotton for a brief moment while she just takes in this simple beauty of a baby in something damn cute.
Because I had some time, some large blocks of time today. Because I didn't have to rush and I could enjoy. Because someone else got the drinks, and wiped the bottom and answered questions. Because this one worked without fuss, unlike the other one I did earlier in the week which was a disappointment. Because sometimes, even though I like my dark colours and naturals, I also like to put strong bold things against those colours and let the colour and pattern speak against an uncluttered background.
Oh what am I saying - I shouldn't have to justify it! It's just too damn cute and I absolutely adore it on Pia. Ok!
The pattern is from this japanese pattern book (it's the dress on the cover) and is a tie-at-the-back apron type dress. The material is Heather Bailey Freshcut for Freespirit (can I just say, today I really, really love this fabric). *Song lyrics quoted throughout in full here, from Happy Talk the song from South Pacific.
Right now I'm frustrated.
Frustrated that I seem to perpetually be moving nowhere, yet my feet spin wildly, and the only distance I travel is to fetch things for a 4 year old. Frustrated that a 4 year old wont let me have a normal conversation with even my own husband. Frustrated at the lack of comprehension skills a 4 year old has to get off his sister. now. please. for the fourth time I'm asking. NOW. Frustrated at this never ending floppy mopey whingy whiny stage of his life. I am desperately hoping one day soon he'll start wiping his own bottom too. Over that. Totally over that.
Frustrated that I have no space/time/place to have my own thoughts even for ten minutes in the day, and so everything I need to think about gets pressed against the sides of my head till it aches. 3 times a week I go walking, when I can. Just me. A good strong walk which raises the heart beat, gets the sweat going, makes my legs believe they are capable of working. For an hour I get to have my thoughts, and I frantically make lists, write imaginary blog posts and emails, vent anger and excess energy on the pavement, and relax into the anonymity of the dark streets. I took Pia in the stroller yesterday - and the extra 22 kilos of dead weight between stroller/baby/pregnancy weight/stuff in the bottom of the stroller - were noticeable. For some reason my stomach muscles hurt today.
And frustrated that the things I want to get done for me - simple things like a stretch of time to perhaps sew something simple that I know will only take 15 minutes, never eventuate. I started the Roza Socks by Grumperina from the current Interweave a month ago. Socks are supposed to be quick, right? I'm still just past the toes on toe up socks. I have sewing piling up, and I'm wishing the pins holding it all together will form their own stitches while I sleep one night. My desire to alter and experiment with simple patterns, while achievable in theory, is near impossible in practice at the moment. And so little quick projects get done too quickly and I feel I've let them down because they're not design or technical perfection.
At least I cook dinner every night. That counts for something - doesn't it?
These are the contents of the Beautiful Use package sent to me by Cindy. It's taken 5 days of attempts to get any decent shots - the light at this time of year can be unpredictable on my camera, and often harsh within the house where I normally take photos. Cindy's very beautiful package contains:: a tea towel with horn (?) print by Smoking Lily (wow! - amazing products):: vintage buttons from the 30's and 40's which are just. divine.to.say.the.least. I had three of them earmarked for projects as soon as I saw them. I especially love the cream flowers, and the large black ones at the back::cards - Cindy's own cards of birds and animals and they're just so delicate...
A trully beautiful package - thankyou Cindy.
This really is turning into the black and white and charcoal blog. So how about some colour - yes?
How about, we have some pink. And some green. Pink is ok when not used in the context of girl's clothes. Ok? I had a great day yesterday filling out forms, more forms, then some more forms, talking to teachers, and handing over cheques to people. So a little mid week retail therapy was needed. Cue.....Kinokuniya and 3 little books. Chambres d'enfants a Paris, Iwata Nobuko felting, and something with exciting stitching all through it. Detail shots over at flickr. All 3 books - go out and buy now (but as always, read the following disclaimer that I not be held responsible for any purchases that follow). A trip to the book store always makes me hungry. So we stopped and bought some japanese sweets. Incredibly sweet jelly beans, apple sweets and tangelo + lime I haven't tried yet but love the packaging of immensely. And then there was the bottom one. Any guesses? It was terrible. Lingering terrible taste in mouth type terrible. I know it had some type of fermented dried plum thing in it and it looked lovely, but, my dear, it was terrible.
I need to do some felting.
The mornings are beginning to feel colder, feet are cooler, hands need warming, socks are sought out of drawers. The light is changing and clouds feel closer and deeper. The days are still hot, it is just the periphery borders of the day which suggest autumn is moving closer.
A lightweight wool, charcoal of course, becomes a simple smock top and pants. It has drape. And form. And is unstructured all at the same time. The pieces are oversized for Pia, but I like that flowing line to them, and the fact their drape and flow will change as she fills them out and as her body elongates into them. A long pair of trousers turned up a few times will eventually become shorts, and long arms will eventually become 3/4 length sleeves. How she moves in them as a static baby, will be different to how they move on her as she crawls, and then walks (yes, ever the optimist she may get that much use out of them). This winter we're doing Ann Demeulemeester meets Helmut Lang for babies - 2 of my favourite designers and whose clothes never fail me, have always worn well and looked great on. I love the idea of taking simple shapes and exaggerating them, tucking them in places, or twisting and folding them to give a surprise, and I see no reason why babies should be excluded from that line of thinking. I'm excited to be doing some knitwear to work in with this - and I am now set on which fibres to make it from and have been writing and sketching pattern pieces for the last week while I wait for wool orders to arrive.
See. Definitely no pink.
I have no idea who this vase (the one on the left) is by. It's english, from the 60's. This is the vase I refer to in my last Vessel Wednesday post as being a childhood companion to the candlesticks, only because they were always grouped together at home. I love the shape of this though. It's heavy, slightly rough in a very worked way, and ever so slightly precarious in it's top heaviness. I have a baby asleep in one arm so I can't reach and look underneath for a marking, but if anyone knows who it's by........The other three vases are Ikea.