Archive for the 'Thursday’s Child' Category

Thursday’s child has far to go. Since I happen to be a Thursday’s Child myself, I’ll be using that day for a weekly check-up on my own life, projects, etc.

Melissa

Thursday’s Child: Everycolor Yarn

braemarI frequently hit up my local thrift stores on dollar days looking for clothing for my family and also for items I can use as materials. Among the items I always look for are fur and leather coats, wool (or silk, alpaca, mohair, cashmere) sweaters and silk shirts. The wool sweaters will most of them be fulled and given to my sister for crafting. Those which are especially attractive and undamaged or with little enough damage to be repairable might actually get worn. Some few, particularly those made of more expensive or exotic fibers, but those made of wool if the wool is particularly interesting and the construction allows, get taken apart and used for yarn.

This sweater is one of the latter cases. It is a “vintage” 1980s shetland wool sweater by Braemar, size XL. It’s pretty ugly. I grabbed it off the rack for $1, initially intending it for the fulling pile because, well, it’s hard to go wrong with wool for $1. everycoloryarnBut then I took a close look at the background yarn, out of which the sleeves and entire back are also made. It’s gray. Maybe a bit on the blue side, and a nice heather, but basically just gray. Until you look closely, and then you’ll see that it’s heathered in fibers of red, orange, blue, green and purple. It is everycolor yarn. It gives the effect to the eye of being gray, but when paired with a garment of a given color, will sort of lean toward that color. The seams aren’t serged, so I can safely take the sweater apart and harvest the yarn, and that is exactly what I’m going to do, because…

One of these days, I will make myself some kilt hose. I’ve made a couple pair, and have more in the queue. Only my most favorite people get kilt hose and I’ve decided to add myself to that list. I believe the yarn is going to fall in the DK to worsted range, which somewhat limits the number of patterns out there, but fortunately I do not have dainty legs, so patterns in bulkier yarns, geared for men, will suit. At this point, I think I could safely use one of the patterns I already have and rechart some of the cable patterns for myself. Or, I might go with the Highland Schottische from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush. I’ve had those on my list for a long time. I think I’d rather do them in a darker yarn that would show off the openwork. This wool is just light enough to show cables like a dream.

Melissa

Thursday’s Child: Heritage School

The history of Nebraska as a prairie state, of immigrants and settlers, is a valued part of our heritage around these parts. Willa Cather and Beth Streeter Aldrich wrote brilliantly of Nebraska’s pioneering history. (I personally recommend My Antonia by Cather and A White Bird Flying by Aldrich to anyone and everyone.) The social dynamics of European immigrants as settlers of Nebraska, the interaction of the communities of isolated nationalities, and how it can still be seen in the Nebraska of today are fascinating lessons in the history of American immigration, differing from those taught by 19th century Boston and New York. And we are proud of that history; of the perseverance and courage of our forebears.

And so, in my little part of the world, we try to teach our children the lessons of prairie life. In fourth grade, we send our children to Heritage School for a day, where they participate in a one-room class taught in the style of the late 19th century, in period clothing (or close approximations thereof) and with period expectations of manners. This after a long unit at school learning the differences they can expect, learning the songs they’ll sing, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance (as it was said in the 1890′s), learning what kinds of lessons they can expect, and preparing for the spelling bee.

The foundation: A thrifted dress, possibly from a Halloween costume, but most probably from a past participant in Heritage School.

And where do I come in? The costume, of course. When I attended Heritage School, my mother made my costume, and I could do no less than to put my skills to work for my own daughter’s special day. I cheated a little; At Goodwill dollar days when the Halloween costumes were still on display I found a dress that would fit Kit, who is nearly the same size as I am. (The dress I wore to Heritage School in 4th grade Kit wore at Halloween when she was 6.) The dress is a somewhat unfortunate color of peach, and had a strange stand-up, fold-over collar and 3/4 length sleeves, with a weird yoke-look created with applied eyelet on the front of the dress. Obviously we had some things to change. I removed the eyelet on the front. I planned on removing the edging from the sleeves as well, but plans change. I managed to find a fabric that closely matched the dress and was therefore able to remove the weird collar and replace it with a rounded collar much more in keeping with the period. The matching fabric also allowed me to use contrasting fabric on other parts of the costume, which was nice.

All decked out.

I created a plain muslin petticoat, which you can’t see. The bib apron is my own design, and I’ll be re-making a slightly modernized version with a tutorial in the near future. (It’s really very easy, and I just made it up as I went. In the re-make, there are a few points I’ll change for the sake of elegance of design.) For the bonnet I used this tutorial with a few changes (namely using a contrasting fabric for the underside of the brim and no interfacing) and was very happy with the results. Kit has requested that we keep them rather than donate them to the school when she’s through, but we will be lending them out in the future. Kit is by far one of the tallest children in 4th grade, and the items of her costume are very much adult-sized. I know from personal experience that it can be a challenge to provide costumes for a child of such above-average size, and it amuses me a little to know that a teacher could just as easily borrow this particular outfit. Notes on the costume itself: Yes, it is March, but it is snowing today, so long underwear was necessary, and owing to the non-period-correct short sleeves, her long-johns show. Also, I was so busy making the costume that I forgot I needed to go hunting for less-obvious shoes. Bad mommy. She does have a shawl of wool plaid for wearing inside the chilly schoolhouse, but fortunately, they’ll be wearing their own coats for recess.

Melissa

Thursday’s Child: Pirates

This weekend my daughter and I are attending a costume birthday party with a pirate theme. I’ve worked a number of pirate festivals in my day, in addition to having a reasonable ren faire garb closet, so putting together a couple of pirate costumes doesn’t present that big a challenge. However, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet to go Airship Pirate instead of High Seas pirate.

Now, the golden age of Caribbean privateers and piracy up the coast of the US was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Your typical Airship pirate is aiming for somewhere mid-19th, so the look is going to be somewhat different.

By the Victorian era, gone was the tricorne from the naval uniforms of Europe, and thence out of pirate ken. However, the tricorne’s descendant, the bicorne (you might recognize this hat style from a number of famous paintings of Napoleon.), was widely in use in naval officer dress around the world until the early 20th century, and would be a good option for a Victorian-era costume. For an airship, leather aviators caps and goggles, though somewhat cliche’, are also useful.

I like the idea of steampunk and pirate costumes (or both) for women incorporating items of men’s clothing as well. A peek at historical female pirates generally shows them in very masculine wear, although that might be artistic license. But it must be said that trousers seem a more practical garment for swashbuckling than a dress. For a steampunk outfit, I think a knickerbocker-style pant tucked into tall boots would be lovely. A more feminine approach would be a pair of bloomers, although at some point the knickerbockers and bloomers will be difficult to tell apart. A pair of baggy pants made of linen could be either. Give it a fancy edging and a casing for elastic and it’s a bloomer, tuck that fancy edging into a boot top and it’s a knickerbocker. Very handy.

My own plan involves a black velvet corset, linen bloomers in a color I haven’t chosen yet, probably cinched above the knee, stockings and booties, a man’s banded-collar shirt and a fur and leather mohawk aviator cap affair if I have time to make it. With some adjustments at a later date, this could also make a good con costume.

Untitled I don’t actually make very much for myself. In fact, I believe the only two things I own that were crafted by my own hands are my Bedlam hat and the 2nd version of Ruth, and only because I was given it with my Oma passed away. But lately I’ve been going through a flurry of small projects for other people, in a sort of trade-commissions kind of way. Lots of fun stuff, and more to come.

Among the items so far created have been a LOT of crocheted hats. The owl hat pictured left is based on the Child’s Owl Hat by Elizabeth Trantham at Crochet in Color. I modified it to fit an adult and followed the pattern for the facial features. For the same person I also made an adult-sized Kitty hat based on another child’s pattern by Elizabeth Trantham. The final version of the hat has the nose moved up somewhat. Again I adjusted the pattern to fit an adult, and then I just winged the ovals for eyes and nose, made the ears bigger upon request and winged the bow as well. Both hats used Caron Simply Soft in various colors, although the yellow in the owl hat is Caron Natura because it was the closest thing to bright yellow I could find ANYwhere in Lincoln. A very simply crocheted cowl scarf in Lion Brand Hometown, a big beret in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Worsted, from a free Garnstudio pattern, a slouchy hat in an unidentified wool tweed, using a pattern by Adriana Veleda, (although mine didn’t turn out very slouchy), plus numerous coasters and hot-cup sleeves round out the recent finished projects. Currently planned are a couple more Garnstudio hats, but knitted this time, and a big-eared bunny hat/scarf.

UntitledIn addition to the kilt hose about which I posted last week, this week I also made a gift for Kit’s violin teacher, Miss Jentry. She had a baby in July; a little girl named Penny, for whom I knitted a little jacket. That’s somehow become my thing. Babies get books and a hand-knit jacket from me. For Penny I chose a vintage cotton by Conshohocken. Its soft and similar to Bernat’s Cottontots in texture, and a lovely purple that is both bright and soft. I chose a modified version of this vintage pattern, which has a round yoke with a sort of knitted popcorn effect. The yarn knitted at gauge on size 9′s, and the resulting fabric is exceptionally soft and flexible. I will give the sweater to Miss Jentry at Kit’s lesson next Wednesday.

Melissa

Thursday’s Child: Kilted

Untitled I’ve made a pair of kilt hose before. They were uncomplicated, like the man for whom they were made, but they were fun to make and fun to gift. Now I’m into another pair of kilt hose, much more intricate than the last pair. Eventually I’d like to make kilt hose for all of my kilt-wearing friends (which is a lot), the order based on an algorithm that takes into account how often they wear kilts, how close to them I am and how much I think they’d appreciate a hand-knitted gift.

So, these hose involve cabled knotwork on the front and in the calf shaping as well as cables and detail columns, and a folded cable cuff with picot edging. They’re beautiful, and they’re coming along very well. They’re made in Cascade 220 Superwash in a heathered tan chosen to go best with a kahki Utilikilt.

Melissa

Thursday’s Child: Mark Twain

For Christmas this year, my husband gave me a number of books from the Harper’s Library Edition of Mark Twain’s works (and filled me with a desire to possess the rest of the 25-book edition). I love Mark Twain, and my husband is possibly the most thoughtful gift-giver I’ve ever known. I’ve been reading Following the Equator this week, and thus was my topic for this edition of Thursday’s Child suggested to me.

Most everyone is familiar with Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Indeed, one need go no further than these familiar characters in any discussion concerning tales of travel and adventure, even if one isn’t aware of the further adventures of the two in Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective. But the theme of travel flows throughout Twain’s works, both of fiction and otherwise. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is perhaps one of my favorite of Twain’s works, and if you haven’t read it, you should.

Unfortunately for the public at large, few people these days delve much further into Twain’s work that those three novels. His non-fiction seems to have largely gone by the wayside, yet it delivers poignant and witty accounts of his personal travels, incorporating passages from his diary and commentary on politics and culture. In Following the Equator, his descriptions of the geography and people of Australia and India (and points between and beyond) are touching and beautiful, even though tempered by his often acerbic humor. In The Innocents Abroad he focuses more on his fellow travelers, casting the past-time of tourism in a shadow of the ridiculous. His writing in these works is very much a series of impressions; a catalog of the stream of thought his experiences suggested to him. It opens doors to his personal politics and morals that are much more difficult to uncover in most of his fiction, with the possible exception of Connecticut Yankee. As I read them, I feel more than ever that I would have liked to have this man in my circle of friends.