Rosey Grier is Full of Awesome

Aargh! Can you believe a scarf I started knitting a year ago (this picture is old, it’s much bigger now) is still unfinished!? My knitting mojo is completely derailed at the moment (of course, being midway through one novel and in revision with the other could possibly have something to do with it. Maybe.), so I’ve been looking around. I think I might have found something to get it back on track.

It all started when I was looking at some dusty old photographs of the Walter Reed Hospital from the early 1900’s. Those recovering from The Great War were brushing up on their knitting and making massive macrame blankets and socks to help keep the rest of the patients warm. It was a really useful occupational therapy, let me tell you, and the knitting machine in the picture looks complicated and amazing. Anyway. Someone suggested that this was “women’s work” — good grief, there’s always one, isn’t there? — and another commenter suggested that we all Google Rosey Grier. And so I did.

Nice try, huh?

Actually… it’s the right guy. Roosevelt Grier was a NY Giants defensive lineman in the fifties, and retired from the Rams in 1967. He became a bodyguard for the wife of Robert Kennedy afterward, and disarmed the man who assassinated the politician, grabbing his gun and breaking his arm. He was an actor (isn’t every sports star?) for some really bad horror movies. (Does his life not sound like a made-for-TV movie? I mean, seriously.) Now, you know we do baking and knitting here, and the occasional foray into photography and tech rants, so I have to come to the point: aside from being six-foot-six and three hundred pounds, Rosey Grier was really into his needlework. So much so that he wrote a book: Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men.

Yes. He did.

Now, okay: The seventies have a lot for which to answer, mainly, nineteen million examples of tacky, horrible taste, generally having to do with frightening colors, chaotic patterns, bad hair, and stupid names. Once you check out the slide show, you’ll realize that Rosey was a product of his times. But still — I can’t help but think he is the coolest needlepoint-ing guy ever. Obviously this book is WAY out of print, but don’t you love that director’s chair pattern? Too cute.

This gentleman is now seventy-six, and I hope he’s somewhere still stitching.

Which just goes to prove: if this dude could do it, so can I.

Remembering Beauty

This morning T. perused what she calls the Island of Lost Toys: those pieces of costume jewelry which have become tarnished, damaged or broken which we’ve been saving to repair “someday.” This morning she polished up a few pieces and passed along to me those which simply required a bit of epoxy. Finally, she’ll have use of some of her favorite bits of sparkle, after having been without them now for months.

Just been thinking — we’ve been cooking, but nothing pretty or fanciful, and there’s been no knitting done here for a long, long, long while. It’s been difficult to remember to actually make beautiful things, much less to feel that we should wear or enjoy beautiful things. It’s not just the cold, the wet, the unending grim grayness, it’s weird things like missing color — sunsets, the peculiar shades of coastal skies, the colors of water and leonine gold hills. We’ve also spent a bit of time reading the news of the world, which paints things in even grimmer shades. That combined with the lack of a social life, and being in our own heads too much has brought creativity to a standstill. We probably need to get out more; we’re getting feral!

In California, we’d see the family at least once a week, and visit friends at least as frequently. Here, though, interactions are still sometimes strained, like we’re speaking a different language. Also, we’re both tucked into our individual tasks: me with the master’s research, T. with her writing (one more novel sold, and a deadline on yet another fast approaching). So … we’ve been neglecting being artistic for its own sake for quite a bit.

But, no more! It’s time for a change.

We’ve finally unpacked the “art box” – a big deal, since this box had remained sealed up during the entire nine months we were at our first flat. Now that paints, canvas, clay and inks are easier to get to, maybe we’ll get to them. We bought a transformer, so that we could use the sewing machine without it running a million miles per hour … and our first wee sewing project was to make “draft excluders” to push up against our doors, to block out the cold. Next is finding small enough nails, so that we can hang some art, instead of just propping it against the walls. T.’s got a skein of fine copper wire she’s been meaning to crochet into one of those airy looking beaded necklaces she’s been eying — like the one Is made way back in February.

And after that, who knows? Maybe I’ll pick up the knitting needles and whip up something like a manly cowl. We’ll get there, slowly but surely. Remembering beauty, appreciating craft. Perhaps we’ll even dress up and go out somewhere.

Life is short. Art is lasting. Here’s to bringing back beauty.

Sewing: 110V vs 260V

So, the one piece of technology we determined that we could bring with us on this journey was the old sewing machine, because it’s merely electric rather than electronic (i.e. it doesn’t have a computer in it). We figured this should work out fine, provided we got an adapter for the plug. What could happen? Hah!

Sewing here … is much more of a challenge, much more stimulating. You see, this little sewing machine was running wonderfully on 110V current. Now we’re feeding it 260V current. The slightest touch of the pedal and the machine leaps ahead, going full-out, consuming fabric as fast as it can. It’s … frightening. We expected something like this, but still, we weren’t quite prepared. Nor were we prepared to burn out its little light-bulb. Too much juice, do you think?

Fortunately we’d already done most of our tailoring on the other side of the ocean, but we’d left a few things aside because we couldn’t find the appropriate color of thread (I have 2 orange shirts) or because we simply forgot (as in the coat in the pictures).

After the one coat, we’ll be leaving the sewing machine alone for a while, to concentrate on knitting up a few more warm things. The current experiment is with using 2 colors of yarn on the same loom. It’s turning out to be interesting, if a bit more tedious than simply one color, and it certainly has you paying attention a bit more. We’ll see how long this scarf takes – we’ve a feeling we’re going to need it!

Three Steps to Vegetable Art

‘Tis the season to think of summer camp, badly painted mugs, macaroni projects, string art and powdered tempura paint! Of course, as the wind fairly blusters, it may not seem like June, but it is, and it’s the time of year when back-porch crafts get started, since usually the only knitting and baking that can be done is that which requires the least warm discomfort.

But since it’s still windy – here’s one for the knitting gang. The ├╝ber cool Loom Knitter’s Circle Magazine is up with their second edition, and I really do want that beaded bag! How people think of designs for loom knits is beyond me, but make sure and check out the loop stitch at the bottom of Keeping You In Stitches. Impressive!

My new project is actually kind of an old one. Last summer we planted Chinese birdhouse gourds. I would offer this as a great project for anyone with acreage to spare and isn’t troubled by a conquest-minded plant with stinking sap running rampant throughout all available space. We planted these lovely gourds and then regretted them almost daily once they fruited. We had to hack at them with machetes practically, and they ate the cucumbers. By the time the stalks dried and they were ready for harvest, the gardening season was long over. We left them in disgust on the ground through frosts and rain and finally pulled them up early this year… and left them in a pile, planning on burning them or something, since they were now coated in black mold.

Fortunately, when we got a look at the gourds before we turned over the garden, we realized they had… cured. Without any work on our part, they were dried and seasoned and ready to be sanded and painted. Granted, that was a big job, requiring face masks, eye protection and sandpaper, but we’re fairly pleased with what we ended up with – sturdy, clean, lightweight wooden vessels.

So far, this is what we’ve come up with. Here’s hoping some birds actually… use them?