Thursday, November 19, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

The sun set several hours ago, and the lamps have been lit. This reminds me that I am coming to the end of my stay at home vacation and will be returning to work on Sunday morning. More precisely, I will be returning to work at the shop on Sunday morning.

I have had a fabulous time these past weeks in my own modest version of Santa's workshop. It has been a treat to spend each day doing what pleases me.

I have painted lots and lots of Christmas teacup cards, and now feel that I will be able to complete the remaining cards at a reasonably relaxed pace.

I am close to the finish line on my first ever sock knitting project. This pair of striped socks will be a gift for a family member. It was such fun learning how to "turn" the heel. Turned out to be easy, and so I think I will be making more socks in the months to come.

I love to knit, having been taught when I was very young by my dear great auntie. I used her double-pointed needles for these socks, and remembered her with every stitch.
The picture below does not show berets, but rather some crocheted pot holders. Long ago, my grandmother used to knit pot holders from cotton yarns, and so I am continuing her tradition in my own way. These will also be given to family members who'll remember the ones that our grandmother made.

The fringed scarf will also be a Christmas gift, and was begun in hopes of using up a considerable amount of my considerable collection of four-ply yarn. It was knit on a long circular needle on which I cast on 350 stitches. I changed the yarn color on every row, and that is how the fringe developed.

This elf did not stay in the workshop for the entire holiday. The weather has been mostly fine, and encouraged me to have lots of long walks in Central Park and also to travel to various parts of the city of meet up with friends.
My usual weeks feature somewhat unpredictable schedules, and this often makes it tricky to plan getting together with my dear friends. It has been delightful to spend recent hours in cafes, chatting with friends while having lunch, or sipping tea or coffee watching delicious pastry disappear.

Knowing what fun it has been to see many of these folks has made me adopt a November resolution to truly attempt to see them more often.

Now back to the workshop so see what else is underway. Crocheting is fun and quick and inspires experimentation is a way that knitting does not. If a crochet notion just isn't working out, it does not seem so monumental a decision to unravel it and try again. The picture below is of a scarf that will also make inroads into my yarn supplies. The circles in the squares, or diamonds, remind me of Indian mirrored embroidery.

Perhaps some visitors will remember seeing this following scarf in its earlier stage, when it was only a twisty rope of fluffy mohair. I have now added a band of fluting via black merino yarn, and plan to add another band of grey tweedy yarn. The finished scarf will have three colors and three textures, and will surely be a one off. It will also be a Christmas gift.

These little stars are crocheted from cotton yarn, and are the beginning of a second galaxy. The first collection of stars was done in seasonal colors and then sort of strung along a little rope/string that was also crocheted. It became a starry bunting that I gave to a friend as a birthday gift.

This time off has also given me time to indulge my love of reading. I have read several books during the past days, and currently am enjoying this latest in the author's series about the lady philosopher who lives in Edinburgh. I would say that Edinburgh itself is a character. It's a delightful series that I would recommend.

I would also greatly recommend the value of having a minimum of two weeks away from one's usual routine and responsibilities. Staying at home has been relaxing and rewarding. Perhaps next year I will be able to actually take a holiday journey. Meanwhile, reading blogs by folks from all over the world allows me to have amazing travels.
Thank you all for your marvelous posts.


  1. What marvelous work you do, Frances. Such variety of material, style, texture, not to mention end product!

    At first I thought the black and white piece was going to be a snake -- then you enlightened me.

    We are very talented indeed. The recipients of your work will be very fortunate indeed.

    But back to the shop on the weekend. Oh, well. . .

  2. What wonderful things you've been creating! I think my personal favorite is the fringed scarf...I just love all those colors mixed up so closely like that. And it looks almost woven rather than knit. Beautiful.

  3. It sounds as though your stay-at-home vacation was a success on many fronts, Frances. Your pile of handcrafted Christmas gifts must be so satisfying to you - lucky family members! I love the idea of a star garland or bunting.
    I hope that the Christmas season in the store will be a good one, yet not leave you exhausted.

  4. Blimey you have been a busy bee. I love it all especially the tea cup cards and the 350 stitch shawl.
    Do you work a full day on Sundays or is like the UK where shops are only allowed to open for 6 hours?
    I'd say your two weeks were very well spent.
    PS post some of it up in the craft forum please.

  5. Blimey O'Reilly, Frances! You have NO idea how in awe I am of your ability to knit and crochet so beautifully! I know how to do neither so I decided that, during my current (soon to be ended) sojourn in Budapest, I would teach myself to crochet. It's only been partially successful. I seem to lose a stitch at each end so instead of a square I now have an asymmetric triangle, and the circle I started was too small in the middle and now looks like half a bikini top! All in livid lime green too!

  6. Lovely blog, as usual, Frances and goodness haven't you been busy. I can't see the detail very well but those cards look amazing. Lucky recipients.
    That fringed scarf looks great and what a good idea - I think I might steal that one.
    I am glad that your stay-at-home holiday was so enjoyable and without the stress of packing a suitacase and a tedious journey.
    I hope to put a post up about N Y over the weekend if my decorating permits.

  7. Hello from Norfolk, England. I found you via the comments on ProjectForty's blog and was drawn to read your latest post, which was a delight. I love your crochet work, and was pleased to read of another blogger who was enjoying having a 'staycation' rather than going away. As for the Alexander McCall Smith books, I have all his Edinburgh novels, 44 Scotland Street and so on, the Isobel Dalhousie novels are my favourite though and I have all those. He has now written one called CORDUROY MANSIONS, which is in the same style as Scotland Street, about a group of neighbours in an apartment block, only this time in London. If you have tried Scotland Street and enjoyed it, you may enjoy this too.
    Thank you for a good blog read.

  8. Frances, how hard you have worked! i love your cards, and remember a very prety one that you sent me last year, I kept it for ages as it was such a pleasure to look at.

  9. It sounds as though you have had a wonderful relaxed but very productive holiday Frances.

  10. oh Frances you leave me some lovely comments, thank you so much!
    i love your crafts, i struggled a bit on my socks, and for now they rest in my wardrobe waiting to be finished! its lovely thinking of people as you work as the item them turns into a memory and becomes more special! have a lovely weekend, fliss xx

  11. Such productivity is inspirational! I adore the wonderful colourful scarves and pot holders , all your colours are so Kaffe Fasset to me! Your Christmas teacups of course are in a class of their own !!

  12. How sad that your wonderful break is now over, but you certainly have made excellent use of the time.
    Your handicrafts are wonderful.
    This peek into the life of lady at peace with herself and the world is delightful and inspirational; long may you be able to enjoy such happy times.

  13. Beautiful creations, Frances and each shows the loving hand of its creator. The cards are scrumptious and I love seeing them in a pile. I'm always amazed to see the beauty in a repetition- each unique and each different.

    The first sock is always the hardest especially if you try to completely understand the directions before you start. Here's to many more socks.

    What a great two weeks you've had and what a lovely start to the holiday season.

  14. Lucky, lucky recepients who have the privilege of unwrapping your beautiful work. I couldn't come up with anything like that if I was at home for two years; I think what you've achieved in two weeks is truly amazing.

  15. Your industry shames me, Frances. So glad you've enjoyed your home holiday.

  16. What a fantastic time you've had. I do like that beautiful scarf. Lovely, truly lovely.

  17. Such wonderful gifts that will be treasured all the more for having been hand-made by you. I am sure your time away has refreshed you and how good to have had time to meet with friends.

  18. How I wish I could have joined you for coffee and pastries - they looked delicious.

    Your crafting is tempting me too - think i was scared by crochet at an early age - having seen your imaginative projects I think I could give it a go again. Wish somebody would make me something 'home-made' too.

  19. My Goodness, you've been busy Frances.You must be thrilled to have made so many beautiful gifts.Great to meet up with friends, and do some extra reading. Did a blog recently on the South of France. Thought you might like the sculptures. Happy Thanksgiving. xx

  20. you've inspired me to crochet some stars. i've been knitting christmas trees this week (tiny ones) and the stars would complement them beautifully.

  21. Bothersome work! And you have been so industrious, (the thought of handpainting cards makes me feel giddy!)Here's hoping that one day soon you will be able to retreat to your workshop for as long as you please.

  22. Oh Frances, it does sound as though your two-week vacation has been enjoyably and well spent - such a lot of beautiful knitting and crocheting projects. I particularly like those stars and would love to know how to make them. And that 350-stitch multicoloured scarf is just amazing - it looks just like weaving. You are so clever. I hope it won't be too much of a shock to the system to be returning to work tomorrow. Hopefully, you will be feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

  23. What a lovely post, Frances. All your yarns and knitting projects are beautiful. I think your book looks quite interesting too. Hope you have a lovely weekend!

  24. I think your book looks most interesting.
    As to the pot holders-I too have some made long ago.
    Your many talents shine through in everything you tackle.
    Lovely blog--enjoyed pictures of the city too.
    From an admiring fan.

  25. Frances those are really beautiful pictures of lovely items - you are very talented. what a lovely idea to hand paint all your Chrismas cards. I make mine too (no ideas yet unfortunately) but not painted as painstakingly as yours. A person work of art that I am sure is treasured each year.
    Your pot holders look far too nice to be used for such a mundane task.
    The scarf blows me away it is so beautifully knotted it looks like it is woven together.
    I too enjoy that series by AM-S, can you knot and read at the same time? I Can watch tv but not read I loose my place to often. And really must learn to crochet!
    Hope returning to work isn't too painful.

  26. Thank you for this lovely post. I have been hurrying around with my new job and have not been able to sit down to read my favorite blogs for a looooong time.

    Your tea cup cards are lovely and reading about your relaxing time has reminded me of what is important to me... thank you Frances!

  27. Thanks for your lovely comment Frances, poor Joshy has been really ill he seems to be on the mend now, slowly slowly! fliss xx

  28. I absolutely love your potholders. Love them. You are very talented and got a lot accomplished during your stay-cation.

  29. Oh Frances, I have missed your blog and your company.... :(
    So glad you've had a good time off...and been so productive! I love those socks and the crochet scarf DOES look like Indian mirrorwork - it's gorgeous.... I have a crocheted blanket my grandmother made - actually not as soft as it sounds as it's got some really lousy colour clashes in there (some unfortunate day-glo!) but I love it nonetheless.

    Hope all's going well with work and you're not too tired...
    I am having HUGE problems with my PC so finding it tough to email right now.... but I will get it sorted and hopefully be more sociable again.

  30. Really glad you've had such an enjoyable break. I love the way your blog always expresses thanks for the things that come your way. (Not that I'm suggesting you shouldn't have a whinge if you feel like it some time!) And your wide variety of talents are amazing.

  31. Good Heavens Frances, how busy you have been and how productive!

    The hand painted cards are wonderful, you have a great eye for colour. They are so festive in a highly original way, I am sure your friends will be thrilled to get them.

    I read with interest about your knitting with the pointy needles. I have similar memories about learning to knit with my mother and older sister. I learnt how to crochet with my grandmother. I wish now that I had kept those needles.

    Your knitting and crochet also display a great sense of colour and design and make me want to begin a project of my own. Thanks for showing us the fruits of your labors, I was hoping you would.

  32. You certainly have been busy Frances! Very productive indeed! It all looks so beautiful!

  33. I love all the things you have made - you have really made the most of your time off. I think the starry bunting is a wonderful idea - I just wish that I could crochet. I hope you feel really refreshed and revived after what I think is a really great way to spend a holiday.

    Pomona x

  34. I have to come back and read this exquisite post of yours with all the due time it calls for - the images are promising. I wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving before the day is over. I hope you got to rest up a little after the parade! Hugs, Merisi

  35. The cards look wonderful, Frances. How clever you are. I love the delicate crochet too, such bright cheering colours.

    One day, next time I am passing through New York (ha!) I'll stop by and have coffee with you too.

  36. I have now read all about your time-off projects and adventures! I greatly admire your needlecraft artistry and so wonderful that you had some pleasant outings to Central Park and meeting up with friends!

    May you have a very good week,

  37. Can't believe I have missed this Frances. Wonderful post, you are so talented, really beautiful knits, I love the different coloured yarns you have chosen, and the cards with tea-cups you have hand painted look wonderful.

    So pleased for you that you enjoyed your much deserved two week vacation Frances this November. Wonderful that you were able to catch up with friends and spend some time in Central Park.


  38. It has been a pleasure to read your last few posts and look at your pretty pictures and handiwork (I have been away for a few weeks.) I am almost finished with the baby blanket I am knitting and will start a crochet scarf presently. I have not tried the little crochet square or rounds, as you pictured and will try this next as yours look so very pretty and giving me inspiration. I also like your 350 stitches scarf of many colors – I’ll keep this in mind for all my leftover yarns. It does seem that you have a hectic life at least at work, but your posts are very relaxing – don’t know how you do it, but they are very refreshing and calm.

  39. Goodness Frances your crochet is wonderful - I especially love the diamond scarf and its colours and those sweet pot holders. You've been so busy!

    Your creative holiday sounds just lovely. Lucky lucky you. I hope you are rested and refreshed. Emma x

  40. Simply lovely. I had so hoped that you would do a show and tell but I didn't like to ask. It was all quite lovely, each piece a one of a kind gift to treasure.

  41. So delighted that you have discovered the joys of the Isabel Dalhousie series. I am addicted to them - along with the 44 Scotland Street series of stories. I agree - Edinburgh is a character in itself!
    Love all your crafty projects - such lovely colours. I'm sure that they will be much appreciated.