Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Terraced Fields of Jianshui

Pictures don't nearly do justice to these terraced fields flooded for spring planting. I've always thought they would make an interesting knitting pattern with the lines eddying here and there across the surface rippling down the hillsides.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Market Inspiration

I love wandering around the markets in China. There is so much inspiration. Shapes, colors, and patterns are everywhere. Even at the tobacco vendor!

And the boxes of dried mushrooms, lichen, beans, dates, raisins, peanuts, and goji berries never cease to fascinate me.

There is such a range of colors and sizes in the bags of beans and grains.

The tea vendor sells all kinds of extras for teas, but there is quite a bit of variety even among the different varieties of teas.

What would like for your tea? Some red sugar (in the United States, we say brown sugar) in ingots or large rounds? Maybe you'd like some lotus seeds or goji berries instead?

Don't you just love those bright red strawberries against the green bags?

In addition to regular eggs, there are also several kinds of preserved eggs such as the black Songhua Dan which are also known as 1000 year old eggs.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Summer Quarter Handmade Wardrobe Plans

Ever had a bad day turn into a bad week which turned into a bad month? Between the frequent cold, rainy days that cause fibro flare, several migraines, an eye infection, and cramps (Seriously, why can't they give epidurals for killer cramps?). I've just not been feeling well. I haven't been able to do the walking involved to get healthy groceries so trying to eat well has been difficult. And, standing to do the cooking is difficult as well. My nausea has been cranked up along with hot flashes and dizzy spells. Just sitting at the computer is difficult with the nausea and headache much less with cramps. Each day is mostly just survival mode. So, no picture with this post.

I will be at home in China for half of this quarter and visiting friends and family in the US for the other half, so some of my making will be in China, some in the US, with lots of travel knitting time, but limited packing space both ways. The good news is that much better yarns and fabrics are available in the US. Plus, my sewing machine in China is held together with duct tape and rubber bands and in the US, I can borrow my mom's sewing machine. So, while this quarter's planning is a bit tricky, there are some advantages.

China: June to first half of July

* Finish up some gift knitting for US (8 hats)
* Cast on a pair of shortie socks
* Cast on another lacy summer hat
* Sew a Matcha top (First, I have to put the pattern together, though.)
* Work on Starting Point shawl
* Finish green wristers for AC protection

Plane Knitting to US

* Lacy summer hat
* Shortie socks
* Gift hat
We're talking a two 5 hour plane rides, a 14 hour trip, and about 8 hours in airports. I am not running out of knitting while traveling because that would be really, really bad. I need to knit when stressed and everybody around me needs me to knit when I'm stressed.

US: Last half of July to end of August

* Sew a purple French terry skirt
* Sew a second skirt, indigo dyed
* Sew another sleeveless Matcha top, purple
* Sew a long sleeve Matcha top, indigo-dyed
* Maker's Tote? (Indigo-dyed fabric with sashiko stitching and red gingham binding?)
* Knit a Hitchhiker shawl (finish in US)
* Knit an Irish Coffee sweater (get a good start on, plane knitting, finish in China)
* Knit a Barley Light hat
* Indigo dye session: fabric for Matcha top, linen for cross-stitch, skirt fabric, DMC floss, yarn

Plane Knitting to China

* Start Find Your Fade shawl
* Work on Irish Coffee sweater

Friday, June 1, 2018

Yunnan Window Screens

Window screens in China offer so much inspiration for patterning. These are from different areas around Yunnan although the most beautiful are said to be made in the Dali area.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Mama's Coat

I have a couple of buttons in my button box that I asked Mama if I could have a few years ago. They are the most special buttons because they came from Mama's old coat. She wore it for years and years until it completely fell apart. I remember sewing the buttons back on for her a few times. I'm pretty sure she wore it for at least ten years.

It was a long coat that was quilted and reversible with a belt. One side was taupe with mauve trimmings and buttons and the other side was mauve with taupe trimmings and buttons. I don't remember her ever wearing the mauve side out. I think it might have been a hand-me-down from one of the grandmothers since those were colors they would have chosen. Mama didn't care for mauve or purple.

I love holding the buttons in my hand because it's like holding Mama's love in tangible form.

One Christmas, Daddy wanted her to use his Christmas bonus to buy herself a new coat. She bought coats and shoes for my brother and I instead. She insisted that we needed them more.

There was also the time that she had a garage sale hoping to make enough money to buy us all coats. She didn't sell much, but someone admired the dining room table and she sold it to buy coats for my brother and I. We had a picnic in the floor for dinner that night. My brother and I thought it was great fun. Somehow though, there never seemed to be enough money to replace her old coat.

I think that old coat was finally retired when one of the sleeves actually came off. At some point, no amount of mending is going to make a garment wearable when it is as worn out as that old coat was.

Each winter that Mama pulled out that old coat, grown softer with each passing year, I was reminded of how much Mama loved us. We all tried to talk her into spending money on herself instead of us so that she could get a new coat and she always insisted that it would last another year.

And, each time I open my button box and see those old buttons, one taupe and one mauve, I can't help but smile as the warmth of my Mama's love spreads over me just as sure as if her arms were wrapped around me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

DMC Grannies

I was given a bunch of  non-DMC floss. The colors didn't quite match the DMC floss and it seemed to be partially polyester, too. Not necessarily good for cross-stitching, but I didn't want to throw it out. Instead, using a very small crochet hook, I decided to crochet small grannies to make a table runner or mat. It may take awhile. Each skein of floss only makes about 2 grannies, so there will be loads of different colors. Even the not-so-great colors will look fine when mixed in with the other brighter colors though. I'm debating on getting some black or another color to use to border all the squares and around the edges. All in all, I think it will be a cute project.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I wear my clothes until they are rags and mend them as much as possible before then, too. A couple of my favorite lightweight cardigans (Land's End) were coming apart. I've worn both for 6-8 years so I've definitely gotten some good wear out of them. But, I wasn't ready to toss them just yet even though the collars were almost completely separating from the body in places despite having been mended multiple times.

I had a floral print thrifted dress that had been turned into a skirt and was ready for the rag bag that I managed to salvage some pieces from which I used to put over the holes in the sweaters and stitch around to hold the collars to the body. It worked even better than anticipated and I think I'm going to get another year or two out of each sweater! Plus, I think it looks pretty neat, too.