Friday, March 10, 2017

More cats, a cowl and socks

Thank you for your comments (so glad that you are not tired of the cats yet), and the feedback for what I should put inside the kitten’s pants’ pockets; they are still empty, although I made a pair of mittens.
Since last time, I finished one crocheted cowl, one pair of knitted socks and three little kittens. (Plus, I have one dog body without a face!) My focus has still been on the cats. The other things have provided a much-needed break from the cats, as they are labor intensive with all the different steps.
In my quest of going through the stash this year, I came across two balls of red Zauberball and crocheted a cowl. It is once again this lovely shell pattern that is well loved in knitting. I used 2,5 mm hook, had 170 stitches all around, kept going until I had almost used all the yarn, one full skein, the other almost full, crocheted crab stitches on both ends and called it done. I truly love this stitch pattern and will use it from time to time. This yarn was very easy, enjoyable to crochet with, no worries of splitting, the fabric has some shine, feels heavy, almost sturdy somehow. Most likely I will keep this cowl to myself, I have a red coat that will match the cowl very well.
The socks… Last fall I knitted the cuffs with this dreary brown yarn. I guess the color felt right during the fall when the leaves were falling, the ground was all brown… now… not so right. I had the cuffs on my desk; I looked at them often with a sigh. Finally decided to get them done; used one of my own hand dyed yarn to knit the rest of the socks. Every single stitch was a battle, I wanted to just rip them, do something else instead. I did not like the color at all, combining the two was a mistake. I kept knitting; the orange yarn felt very hard, like steel. Then here at the other end, I am happy, if the color is off, at least I now have a steely pair that will last forever…
The kittens… After every single one I think that this was the last one… then cast on again; all the way while knitting I keep telling me that this will be the last. I tried to make a dog, made him a face too, or truly two faces, ripped them both away and now he is waiting for a third one. For some strange reason, I am not able to catch the image of a dog, this because I don’t have it on my mind yet. I am not sure how it should look. I want it to have similar qualities to the cat’s face, it needs to be this mixture of two and three dimensional, but it cannot be too much like the cat’s face. For some odd reason, I keep seeing some other creature on my mind all the time I try to think of a dog. I cannot tell you yet what it is, because I am not sure it will work out, but I will need to try it sometime soon. I have the image, I know how it needs to look like, then I am not sure how to make it happen. There is a big question mark hanging in the air that needs to be solved. It is what really makes this making very interesting, let’s hope not frustrating.
I have been thinking a lot of this design process… why cannot I make the dog? Of course, I can, I know I can make a dog: at a moment, I am not able to make the dog with good spirit, meaning and mission. I know, grand words for something knitted, nevertheless, that is how I feel. The spirit, the soul; I have not been able to catch them yet. I keep thinking of the qualities of a good dog, loyal, loving, trustworthy; I need to capture those qualities plus I need to see what feature is essential in a dog. Not to talk about the fact, that it needs to be not just repeating something that has been done many times before; something that feels fresh, at least to me. It needs to be new to me.
I have 12 kittens altogether. I still like the very first one a lot. It is somehow a free spirit, I can well remember how I felt when I was making it, it was just letting it to be born, letting it to take the shape it was taking and watching it happen. Every single one after that, has been more like a row of judgement calls, even though them being handmade, they differ from each other, however, the more I make them, the more I know beforehand how they will look; they are somehow less of their own person. Do I make any sense here at all? I will need to make a distance to them for a bit, so that they will be born fresh again.
I have 8 of the kittens here at home, 4 are at my Mom’s. She of course is interested in what her child is doing (forget the fact that the Mom is over 80, the child is getting close to 60, it is still the same), responds to the familiar sentence Look, Mom! as mothers do in the best possible way. She wanted to have a few kittens in her place and the very first one is there too. Maybe he needs to come home again.
This last kitten I made, I tried to scribble down all the numbers of stitches and rows because now if I will proceed to make something else, am probably going to forget how to make this cat. All the details are now written down, including the pants, the information is there if at some point I need to make it into a pattern. The knitting part is just the beginning of the process, nonetheless, it needs to be right.
March… I cannot not talk about March.
Here at the Arctic, it is the month when life returns. The wind starts to shake the trees; they start to stand taller, it is like all the branches one after another stretch a bit, like you do in the morning, they shake their heads, take a pause and turn towards the sun again. They look welcoming, happier - the birds pick up their spirits and begin to open their voices. One chirp tentatively, then after a while, another one with little more strength and suddenly, along with the sun, you are in the midst of a concert. I notice that I am taking longer steps on my walks (snow permitting), the dogs roll over in the fresh, white powder, they dig deep because they can here sounds from underneath. There is life again all over, above our heads, deep down near the ground inside the snow. The weather keeps changing, one day (or few days in a row) there is snow, heavy snow and the next, the sky is bright blue, the sun is up there already quite high, and the world is glimmering with light as it bounces from the snow. Don’t forget the sun glasses when you go out!
It is a long way still to go before the snow is gone and the summer is here, however we are getting closer to May, my most favorite month of the year. Good-bye to the dark, cold Arctic Winter!
Wool with you,

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Words that shape us

Words matter even though one often hears sayings like: They are just words… as if they don’t mean anything.

The world is full of words, good ones and bad ones; they build sentences loaded with good or bad intentions. I am not going to talk much of the subject but while I have been knitting and embroidering my cats, this thought has been on my mind a lot. I am not sure if these thoughts have taken me anywhere or if I have been able to make sense of these ponderings, but this all goes back into my early history and since my history is getting close to 60 years (in two years), it has been interesting to listen to the words that I heard many decades ago. (Old people do go back to their childhood years a lot and part of it must be memory skipping along its own paths and part of having a lot more time to intentionally dwell on different things.)

Our worlds are shaped by all the words we hear during our days and no one can say, which ones are going to leave the biggest imprint. If only there were more sweet ones than rough ones and if only we remembered the sweet ones.
I am sure most of you are familiar with “The tall book of Mother Goose” and her nursery rhymes. How many of you still remember some of those? Or other nursery rhymes from other books? I am sure most countries have their own collections of loved children’s rhymes and you are familiar with them and love them. Our most beloved poems are by Kirsi Kunnas and I loved and love them dearly and they might be the ones that carry my girls back to their nursery. (Kirsi Kunnas did also the Finnish translation of the Mother Goose book.)
When emotions (good or bad) are mixed with words, they will stick to your mind as if put there with the strongest of glue. Since nursery rhymes are loaded with good ones, one has heard them cited by dear, loving adults mostly, they will go to your mind and stay there forever. Those words pop up quite randomly in different occasions and they bring back many happy hours.

My January this year was very cold and long month and I was not in a happy place at all. I kept hearing these words in my mind: “Dear mother, what shall we do? As we just lost our mittens.” (“Rakas äiti, mitä teemme? Miau, miau, käsineemme äsken kadotimme?”) These are the words from the Finnish translation of the poem of “The three little kittens” from the Mother Goose book. You might remember that the English version does not have that phrase: Dear mother, what shall we do? but that is how the Finnish translation goes. 

When in trouble, we turn to Mom and these words surfaced from the memory. Then I remembered the poem of the three little, sad kittens. Although the mother is quite stern in the poem and now that I took out the book and read it all over again, I am not sure just why I kept remembering this, and I don’t remember what I thought as a child (I wonder if I had just lost my mittens and thus felt the pain of the kittens) when I listened to the poem, but those words echoed in my mind in early January and they made me craft my kittens.
(Mr Cat got hold of this one and I must make her a new nose.)
Nursery rhyme from distant memory rings in my mind and I knit kittens more than fifty years afterwards. I have not made mittens to my kittens and I am not sure I will. The shape of these kittens is close to a black toy cat that my grandmother gave to me in that same decade. The shape is quite close, but the old black cat had plastic eyes and nose and the face has no resemblance to him; I called him Mikki. After very unhappy coincidence I ended up giving him away. I was heartbroken after the event even though the cause was good, and I missed that cat for a long time. 

Inspiration is a big word and somehow does not feel fitting regarding these little cats. The process was listening to the words and seeing the images, and after a quiet string of different needle maneuverings, in the end I had a woolen cat(s). It was just watching the vivid memories come to life.

The three little kittens, they lost their mittens,
And they began to cry,
"Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear,
That we have lost our mittens."
"What!   Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie."
"Meow, meow, meow."
"Then you shall have no pie."

The three little kittens, they found their mittens,
And they began to cry,
"Oh, mother dear, see here, see here,
For we have found our mittens."
"Put on your mittens, you silly kittens,
And you shall have some pie."
"Purr, purr, purr,
Oh, let us have some pie."

The three little kittens put on their mittens,
And soon ate up the pie,
"Oh, mother dear, we greatly fear,
That we have soiled our mittens."
"What, soiled your mittens, you naughty kittens!"
Then they began to sigh,
"Meow, meow, meow,"
Then they began to sigh.

The three little kittens, they washed their mittens,
And hung them out to dry,
"Oh, mother dear, do you not hear,
That we have washed our mittens?"
"What, washed your mittens, then you're good kittens,
But I smell a rat close by."
"Meow, meow, meow,
We smell a rat close by."

Therefore,  I also had to make cats with pink hats, because words, they do matter.
(I just love these woolen pants; they have real pockets, I just need to think of something to put in.)
Wool with you,
PS. This blog has turned into a cat factory. So far, I have 9 and I don’t feel like I am done quite yet. Hope you are not getting bored.