Archive for the 'christmas' Category

03
Nov
09

High on catnip!

My lucky cats! They think it’s christmas already. I have made some catnip toys, with a view to making some more for christmas presents and swaps. of course the protypes have to be trialed, and thats where my cats score. I made two mice toys first, just plain brown in colour, nothing fancy. One of my cats played with one of them all afternoon, despite being nine years old. The toy is holding up well, given the viscious kicking, clawing and biting it’s been subjected to. The yarn was Patons Sorbet, which is aran weight, although many class it as chunky.

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These two mice are the same but I varied the strings, doing a straight cgain for one, and a bouncy coli for the other. I don’t think one works any better than the other, but the bouncy one is quite good if the mouse is hung somewhere and the cat bats at it. Probably more interesting for the cat.

Having achieved a modicum of success with mice, I then decided to have a go at fish. These were not so successful, in that I should have stuck to the stronger cotton. I swapped over to a double knitting cotton, but its not really as strong or firm, so future toys will all be made in the aran cotton.However, you can mess around to your hearts content with colour and design, so it will be fun to do some more at a later date. The fish were made yesterday so qualify for the count in NanKnitMo, a meagre 1500 stitches, but they all count!

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01
Nov
09

Big day November 1st

November 1st means NaNoWriMo for me. A month to write a 50,000 word novello. This inevitably cuts down on craft time. Last year I failed dismally, only accomplishing 23,000 words or thereabouts. This year…well this year, given that I am also attempting 50,000 stitches in the NaKnitMo challenge in Ravelry, and also a blog post a day for NaBloPoMo, who knows? It might mean failure again, or, looking on the bright side, it might be a challenge I can meet. Mind, I’m moderating one of the Scarf Travels groups on Ravelry and co-administrating the NaKnitMo group there too. So I am going to be extra busy. 

I gave due consideration to this heavy commitment, and decided that homemade Christmas cards were probably not a viable proposition this year. I had planned to do them when I returned from my holidays, but never quite got around to the task, so it is unlikely that they will get done this year. It might be good to use up some of the commercial ones which are taking up much needed space in one of the bedroom cupboards.

The main reason I failed the NanoWriMo challenge lasy year was because I couldn’t settle to writing, when I knew I could be knitting or creating a beautiful crochet objet d’art. Those fibres just kept calling, and I have a horrible suspicion that the same might just happen this year. Its not the counting of stitches which is the hook, it’s just the knitting and crochet. I have to have my daily fix, and once I start, I cannot stop. I have said that about writing in the past, so there is a glimmer of hope for my inner muse.

At least I know what I will be writing about. I have ressurrected my childrens’ novel from two, possibly three years ago now, and having read it again, feel the time is right to progress the story a little, and explore possibilities. So that is what I will be working on.

Meanwhile, in order to keep the blog posts daily, I will be writing about my stitch counting projects. I’m trying to keep projects fairly small so there will be at least one every day or every two days) and on the days when there is nothing new, I have a stock of things I haven’t presented yet, simply because I have been lazy and not blogged for months on end. This blog posting challenge is an effort to get me posting regularly again, and perhaps to help with the writing of the novel if my mojo deserts me temporarily.

So, I’ll leave this blog entry with a photo of my work from the last two days. Christmas ornament arigurumi, made for two partners in a Swap-bot swap. I hope they like them. 

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05
Oct
09

Countdown Fame

I haven’t posted for so long, I know, but I thought I’d tell you about my claim to fame. Jonathan, the creator of Infinite Countdown,has used my picture of a snowy landscape, ‘A Little Snow’ as a backdrop to his Winter Countdown. Thank you Jonathan 🙂 I love the idea of the countdown website. Jonathan is still working on it, but I think it will be great when finished. I’ve added the url to my links so that I can refer to it again…especially with Christmas around the corner. It’s always useful to know how much longer I have to get those presents made, (or bought, when I run out of time, as I nearly always do). My current countdown, which is a little more pressing is the NanoWriMo challenge, which begins on November 1st and lasts for the entire month. You need a month if you are going to write 50,000 words of novel. Perhaps Jonathan could add that one to the list of countdowns, as so many folk take part lol. Anyway, thank you for the honour Jonathan…it’s much appreciated.

03
Dec
07

A Seasonal Legend

800px-poinsettia_pant_784-ed-close-up.jpg

With Christmas approaching far too quickly, and my Nano challenge completed, my attention turned to Christmas cards, and what designs I would do this year. One of my favourite christmas images is the Poinsettia and I got to wondering where it had come from, and if, indeed, it was a flower.These photographs demonstrate what I mean. In both cases, regardless of the colour, the pink and red bits above the green leaves are often mistaken for flowers, when in fact they are ‘bracts’. In the fourteenth century through to the sixteenth century, the Aztecs used the red bracts to make a dye, and the sap to treat fevers.

800px-poinsettia_2-ed.jpg  The flowers of the shrub are actually the little bits you see in the centre of each bract cluster      

800px-poinsettia_2-close-up.jpg800px-poinsettia_pant_784-ed-close-up.jpg

     

The botanical name ascribed to this plant is Euphorbia pulcherrima, and means ‘very beautiful’. It was given its botanical name by a German Botanist, Wilenow, who discovered it growing wild through a crack in his greenhouse, and was so impressed that he began to cultivate it, and thus naming it.

The common name that most of us use is Poinsettia. This is derived from Joel Roberts Poinsett who was the first United States Ambassedor to Mexico. In 1828, whilst visiting Mexico he came across a beautiful shrub with large red flowers growing next to the road, so taking cuttings, he cultivated them in his greenhouse in South Carolina. Thus he was the first to introduce the Poinsettia into the United States. Once the plant became more popular, William Prescott, a historiam and horticulturist named the plant Poinsettia after the man who had discovered it and bought it to America.

 

One family in California became renowned for growing the plant, at first in the early 1900s in borders outside, but later they began to grow them in the greenhouse. Today the Ecke family is the leading producer of Poinsettias in the United States.

 One of the unfortunate myths about the Poinsettia is that if eaten it is poisonous. This has been proven to be fiction, not fact after much serious research was done. It was tested in 1971, very rigorously and the conclusion was that it is not at all toxic. One would not recommend eating it though!

I discoved a legend that was attached to this plant, which suggests why it is so popular at Christmas. It is a story of a little Mexican girl on her way to the church to present a gift to the Christ Child on Christmas Eve. However, she is very poor and has nothing to offer and is distraught to think that she cannot give something. Her cousin tells her that even the most humble gift will be gratefully received and not to worry. She picks some wild flowers at the roadside and takes the little posy to the church. Whilst laying them in front of the altar. a miracle happens and the flowers transform themselves into beautiful red and green flowers. Hence the people of Mexico regard this as a special plant, especially at Christmas, and the Christian world has also adopted this tradition.

I thought this was such a lovely legend I wrote a poem about it, which you can read here.

And now, after reading and writing about Poinsettias. I decided perhaps I should make one. I was going to make a christmas card with paper poinsettias I have already made, but then I thought it might be fun to make one in felt. I am not quite sure whether it will go on a card, or be used for something else, but here is the Poinsettia Project in progress- stage one! 🙂

 

 

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