Monday, January 30, 2012

Seduced by Color. Moebius Magic.

A post in which I offend:
  • rich dudes
  • supermodels
  • acrylic yarn
You have been warned.

I am beginning to understand how a guy must feel after he falls for one of those really beautiful or magically attractive women who have not much else going on.  Spellbound by her attractions, all common sense flies out the window.  Later, when he thinks it over, he realizes that he should have known all along how it would end.  But at the time, he was just dazzled.

It happened to me.

In this case, I did NOT fall for a babe, but I did fall for an absolutely beautiful yarn.  In acrylic.  ACRYLIC!  I have known better than this for the last 40 years.  But I was absolutely seduced by the lustrous, luscious, vibrant color.

I looked all through the yarns at Great Yarns in Raleigh and kept coming back to this. I tried to reject it, too, and asked a clerk for help in finding a wool in similar colors.  I didn't seen anything in the bright colors I love except for some tiny skeins of silk yarn at about $1,000 an inch. Or something like that. 

In the end, I bypassed the more subtle colors of the natural wools for the shallow, superficial and beautifully bright acrylic.

first draft in white cotton
I wanted it to make a moebius scarf.  I still remember vividly the moment in junior high school when someone first showed me a moebius strip.  I poked around a bit online looking for patterns but eventually just started crocheting.  REALLY easy.   You work from the inside out and at the end of each complete round you have added a row to both sides of it.  It's magic.  Really.

How to crochet a moebius scarf   (what I did in parentheses)
Chain as long as you want, plus 2-3 more for the turn  (72 inches, which was 160 stitches using chunky yarn and a K hook).  Turn and single or double crochet (your choice) in each chain stitch.  Lay it out flat on a table and bring the two ends together.  Instead of connecting them into a straight tube, turn one end over and then attach them.  This creates the moebius strip. 

Chain up to the next row and keep crocheting. (With single crochet after the first chain up you can skip this and just crochet continuously.)  You will find yourself going around the outer edge of both sides before you come back to the starting point.  Make it as wide as you want.  (Mine was 7" but different yarn, different needle size would create a different drape.)  Try it on several times until it is as wide as you want.

I did three rough drafts in white cotton, double crocheted for speed.  These will eventually go in the dye pot unless one of the DDs really likes the white.  All of the drafts came out fine, I refined my technique a bit each time.  I've been crocheting since I was 8, but there are always several years in between bursts of crochet activity, during which I forget half of what I ever knew.

You can wear it long. 
Looks better on Sophie this way than it does on me.

You can wear it looped around your neck.

I enjoyed every moment of working with this gorgeous color and experiencing the moebius magic.  I'm sure Mr. GotBucks enjoys the time he spends with his latest supermodel girlfriend, too.

Now for the morning after.  It's still acrylic.  It's behaving like acrylic already.  I've worn it ONCE.  In the sunlight it looks exactly like.............acrylic.  It's every bit as warm as.................acrylic.  I think I hate myself.

You can pull it up over your head if it gets really cold.
Unless you stupidly made it in acrylic. 
Did I mention that I have an entire steamer trunk of Bernat Sesame 4 wool in various colors?  (Long story).  And a laundry basket full of miscellaneous yarns from thrift shops.  Of course I had nothing that would go with my purple suede jacket. 

I've read about dyeing wool with Kool-Aid and I might just throw some Kool-Aid at some of that Bernat and see what happens.  I could use some more moebius magic before the urge to crochet fades out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Did You Get For Christmas?

I'll show you mine.....
Singer 285K, a 3/4 size machine circa 1965

This showed up under the Christmas tree.  Jennie, recipient of one of my Singer 401s,  bestowed this upon DD Emily to pass along to me.  Ah, sewing machine karma. 

This absolutely adorable machine is widely considered to be one of the worst of the all-metal vintage Singers ever.  You can read a thorough and scathing review of this machine here.  (I would credit the author by name if I could find a name, btw.)  It's a good review and I could not have said it any better, or taken better pictures.

I first read this review several months ago and have been longing to get my hands on one of these ever since.  The weirdo lower drive mechanism was every bit as fascinating as I had hoped.  What WERE they thinking?  The reviewer suggests that they were smoking crack, an anachronistic drug reference that tells you that the reviewer was not around in the mid-1960's.

It came with a case in excellent condition, both cosmetically and structurally.  Word on the boards is that plastic cases weren't really designed to hold cast iron machines for decades and most have crumbled by now.

The original owner later added a piece of rainbow ribbon to the handle, I assume.  A very early-1970's touch.  I was there and I remember these things.  Much of the joy of vintage is the trip down memory lane.  And if it turns out I was wrong and the rainbow ribbon was original to the case in 1965, well, I still will have enjoyed the trip.

The DDs gave me LOTS of great books, both old and new, including:
Perfect Pineapples
another book on paper pieced pineapples that I can't find on Amazon now
Adventures in Bookbinding
Celtic, Viking & Anglo-Saxon Embroidery: The Art & Embroidery of Jan Messent
which plays VERY nicely with the bookbinding book.  And if you don't know of Jan Messent, you are not living a full and rich life.  Just saying.

And as if that wasn't overwhelming enough, I also got Persia Wooley's Guinevere trilogy.  Plays nicely with Jan Messent's work, too!
Child of the Northern Spring
Queen of the Summer Stars
Guinevere, the Legend in Autumn
If you also are a big fan of Arthuriana, you know that many, many, MANY authors have tackled the Matter of Britain. I'll pick up just about anything Arthurian in the thrift store, but it doesn't take more than two paragraphs to discover what dreck most of them are.  What a joy to find something worth reading!  I have finished Child of the Northern Spring and find Wooley's Gwen entirely convincing as a Celtic queen, and a nice antidote to Marion Zimmer Bradley's insipid Gwen.  Other than Guinevere, I DO love The Mists of Avalon though, which also views the Arthurian world through the eyes of women.

Do you have a favorite author of books about King Arthur's court?  I would really love to know, please post a comment.  After all, life is about more than sewing machines, isn't it?  ISN'T IT?..................

Back to the Singer 285K:  I love it even with, or especially because of, its fascinating flaws.  Mine has two speeds:  off and 100 m.p.h.  It's one of the fastest machines I have run, scary fast and with little speed control.  I haven't tried it with a hand crank yet, which would certainly solve the speed problem, and at the slow pace of a hand crank the vibrations would be much less of a problem.  A project for a rainy day.

We had a wonderful family holiday, the kind everyone thinks they are supposed to have, but that does not always happen for whatever reasons.  A real Norman Rockwell experience.  Next year we will probably go back to being normal!