Progress on the Faire stockings. I started these over when after a few inches I admitted to myself that my attempt to use dpns for their "historical accuracy" was more trouble than it was worth -- because although at eight inches apiece my steel 2mm set is long enough for all of these stitches, it is also long enough to poke my hands at regular intervals, get caught in my sleeves, require frequent juggling of stitches to avoid a wobbly line between needles, and just be generally cumbersome -- so I gave in and got out my 20th-century circulars.
I consoled myself by making this button for my historical-knitting projects this year, since apparently I have a weakness for blog buttons and Girl Scout patches. On the bright side, the circulars increased my knitting speed by as much as 75%!
I found this on my pincushion the other day -- Julia, I suspect. A cynical child, but with much more sensitivity than she lets on.
I had a bit of a lost weekend, when I discovered last Friday afternoon that FamilySearch has the Pennsylvania probate records microfilm available online. It took me a bit of time to figure out the indexing system, and I'm still baffled by the page numbers that run not in a single sequence but a series of them with no apparent reason or -- more importantly -- no note at the beginning of the book to tell the searcher where each sequence starts and stops. ("So is that the first page 1501, or the fourth??") But, yeah, I looked up and it was Sunday. I did not, alas, break down a single brick wall, of which I have a number in Pennsylvania, but I found some interesting things.
Here is a dry-fitting of the kitchen dresser for No.16. The top section is not glued to the bottom yet, as I haven't done the drawers. To be honest, I think I'm just going to glue the drawer fronts in place, and not fiddle with working drawers -- I can certainly understand the appeal of working drawers, and I'm not ruling them out in future, it's just that I found myself vexingly klutzy gluing the rest of this thing together, and I would rather just have a pleasing finished piece, and I only want to put stuff on the shelves anyway! David has been in Shanghai for three weeks, so instruction has perforce been by e-mail, which isn't terribly convenient.
I got a very generous gift card from my in-laws for Christmas, and still had enough on it last week to buy these on Ebay --
The candle-stand and fire-screen came in a single lot, minimum bid $3.99. I was the only bidder, as it happened, but I still hate Ebay auctions. I can understand the thrill some people get from it, but it's just not for me: my heart started pounding anxiously even as I was only logging in. (The first auction I lost, I discovered that they send you an e-mail afterwards with the subject line "Got Away!" and the pictures of what you didn't get, like "what a loser you are!") The Connecticut table was a "buy it now" and although at $13.99 wasn't as triumphal a bargain, it was a much less stressful purchase!
(How can the 1980s be "vintage"? This is not possible.)
I made a pair of "portraits" -- not for anything, really, just to figure out how it works. I found images of a husband-and-wife pair from some online auction house, reduced them to about the right size and layered a cutting circle on top to save myself some fiddling, printed, and stuck them on to these purchased charms. Perhaps I didn't wait long enough for the glue to dry after this photo -- they seemed stuck to the metal fairly well, but although Mister's "glass" went on perfectly, the one for Mrs. slipped a little and of course the picture stuck to the adhesive on the underside, so that now there is a noticeable sliver of silver showing near her hands. If I can find another set of the charms, I might take the trouble to do them again, as I've got rather fond of the faces -- unknown sitters, unfortunately.
The D.E. Stevenson list is reading Listening Valley, a story that begins in the early 1930s and follows Tonia, a shy girl with a sparkling older sister and indifferent parents, through the next fifteen years or so of her life. It is not really a major part of the story, but Tonia has some undiagnosed problem with her hands, making her "butter-fingered", by which her parents are uninterestedly mystified but her sister and Nannie make generous allowance for her clumsiness. A number of Stevenson characters in other books are seen knitting, but I suppose that this problem with her hands would mean that Tonia doesn't knit herself, but surely Nannie would make this jumper for her, because the quiet and withdrawn Tonia wouldn't have chosen zigzags down the front for herself but Nannie would think they add a little sparkle to her cheeks. This late-thirties tuppenny Stitchcraft pattern leaflet is a scan from the British Library collection, generously available free from The Sunny Stitcher.
Talking of Yahoo lists, I joined the Petitpointers list the other day, which as you might tell from the name, is for needlepointers in smaller gauges. The carpet above is my first from Frank Cooper's book Oriental Carpets in Miniature, which I got for a song from a used-book seller. This is the Shirvan 1 -- even though I am reducing it a bit from Cooper's 18-gauge canvas to 22, it's still going to be easily twice the size of any miniature carpet I've done before, but the picture is really lovely, so I'm looking forward to it. These are Paternayan wools, wh. I haven't used in an age.
I'm also taking another FutureLearn course, entitled "Literature and Mental Health". Jonathan Bate and Paula Byrne are teaming up to explore "how poems, plays and novels can help us understand and cope with deep emotional strain". I enjoyed immensely Bate's "Shakespeare and His World" course -- he's an engaging and level-headed instructor -- and there are already lots of interesting discussions going on in the comments, plus with this first-run course the instructors are commenting and responding to comments as well, which makes it even more appealing. There was a sort of attempt at the beginning to maintain an air of academic neutrality about the subject, but of course anyone who reads a lot will already feel, fairly strongly I suspect, that literature is a balm in times of stress or depression, so the outcome is already a foregone conclusion. I didn't know beforehand that the professors would be talking to such luminaries as Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry, among numerous others, so that's a bonus! I had to rush through another course, finishing six weeks' worth in less than three, in order to clear my slate for the Mental Health one, but I'm glad I did, as it is rather intense and deeply thoughtful at times, even in the first week.
Yes. I remember Adlestrop --
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop -- only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
-- Edward Thomas, 1917