Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some of my needlework…

Last week was the Chinese New Year. This would have been an excellent trip destination which I would have enjoyed, indeed, in China or anywhere the Chinese New Year was celebrated. But I was in Georgia, knitting and crocheting baby blankets. On 23 January 2012 (or year 4710 under the Chinese calendar) the Year of the Dragon began. It started 15 days of celebration by over 1.3 billion people in China, millions more ethnic Chinese around the world and many other nationalities. The Year of the Dragon is one of the most revered years in the Chinese calendar and considered the luckiest.

Celebration picture taken in Beijing, China (courtesy Feng Li/Getty Images)

In Chinese tradition the Dragon is not the demon from western literature but a symbol of intense power and good fortune. It is regarded as a divine beast. Those born under the sign of the Dragon are said to be innovative, enterprising, self-assured, passionate people who are free spirited, colorful, confident and fearless. That’s the good characteristics and the only ones I’ll mention since I was born under the sign of the Dragon! Some of the people born under the Year of the Dragon are Florence Nightingale, Sigmund Freud, Salvador Dali, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lennon. You can Google “Chinese Zodiac signs” to read up on each of the 12 Animal signs.

Dragon by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Japanese 1797-1861

I am not planning any trips right now but have been busy knitting or crocheting baby blankets. My mother was a talented seamstress (see post on her here ) and taught me how to saw and embroider. She did some crochet work in later life but I was taught how to knit and crochet by the mother of my childhood Armenian friend in Paris. We must have been 4 years old at the time as I remember it was before I started kindergarten.

Painting by Lillian Westcott Hale, American 1880-1963

In the 1970s I made many needlework cushions, pictures and other things. Below is a little cat I made then – my cat Cody now looks almost like the picture. I have to watch him though because he loves to jump into my needlework basket. (Click on pictures to enlarge.)

I knitted a rainbow blanket for my first grandchild as well as two “car seat” blankets – little blankets to be placed around him in a car or in his small seat. Then when he entered daycare I knitted another blanket in the blue variegated tones. Here he is below hiding behind his blue blanket.

When the second grandchild came along I again knitted another rainbow blanket and crocheted a couple of car seat blankets. Here he is below lying on the blue blanket and later on sleeping with one of the car seat blankets.

Every year since I retired in 2008 I have been watching the Tour de France live on television. I watch it from about 8 am to 11:30 am each day for three weeks! I use this time to knit or crochet then I don’t watch much TV the rest of the year. In 2010 one of my daughter’s best friend and his partner were having a little baby boy. My daughter’s friend said that he would like a blanket in the form of the French flag. I was happy to make one and also a small car seat blanket.

I enjoyed using the French “bleu blanc rouge” (blue red and white) instead of the usual blue colors. There are so many beautiful yarns to choose from really – when we were in Oslo I would have liked to purchase some of the lovely yarns displayed there.

Norwegian women knit intricate gloves, hats and other items. I admired many in various shops, like below.

After looking at the daycare blankets I had knitted and crocheted for my grandsons, the receptionist of the daycare told me that her area was kept very cool and she would love to have a blanket of her own … in the pink and purple tones – hint hint. I was pleased to make one for her – she was totally overwhelmed when it was given to her as she did not expect it.

Then my daughter said that she would love a heavy scarf to go with the embroidery on her dark winter coat. She selected the colors.

After that it was time to knit a sweater for the eldest grandson. I made it large so he could wear it a couple of years, maybe.

My daughter has an Iranian friend whose baby boy had difficulty breathing so he needed a blanket with loose stitches. I made the one below for him. The dark stripe is green.

A third grandson came along last July so I knit another rainbow blanket during the Tour de France – slightly different. I also knitted a car seat blanket but in brilliant colors. I placed the little suitcase lock near the blanket to show its relative size.

Below is the blanket around its little owner.

I knitted another car seat blanket for the third grandson – 4 large squares in yellow and green. But since I had so much yarn left it was fun making another two car seat blankets for the other two grandsons.

January 2012 came along - time for the third grandson to start daycare and time for another blanket. I did not have time to wait for the Tour de France in July so I crocheted one while watching Downton Abbey on week-ends and Comedy Central with Jon Stewart. I finished it in two weeks. Here is a picture I took without a flash – it shows more depth.

With flash the colors are more vibrant.

I put my yarn away and thought that I was done making baby blankets for the year, but then…. a friend announced the birth of her new grandson….. I swiftly returned to some pretty blue Turkish yarn I had…

and promptly made another car seat blanket. To show its relative size, I placed it with the 1880 edition of the Complete Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson, Poet Laureate. Maybe this baby may grow up to be a poet?

In addition, I crocheted another car seat blanket for him in more vibrant tones. I placed a French paperback this time on the blanket. It is “Enfance” by Nathalie Sarraute. It has been translated into English under the title Childhood. Here it is below with close-ups of the blankets.

I don’t see any more baby blankets this year.

Knitting by Harold Knight, English 1874-1961

This break in needlework will give me more time to read the two new books I received this morning: "Novel Destinations – Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West." I have been to both places already but will read the rest with interest. The other book was written by my bloggy friend Cloudia of the blog Comfort Spiral . It is entitled "Aloha – Where you like go?"

There are still so many places I’d like to know – I’d better start reading…

Reading by Gerald Gardiner, English 1902-1959


Jen (emsun.org) said...

Lovely post! I wish I had your talent at crocheting. I keep thinking that some day I will learn. :)

DJan said...

What fabulous, beautiful and practical gifts, VB. I do love the amazing colors in several of them. I was intrigued by the way the woman is holding the knitting needles in "Knitting." It's very different than my own way.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

BEAUTIFUL Gifts for Very Special Little People...! Great things to give and they are all so practical as well as so pretty....! I don't know how to knit or crochet, but both my mother and grandmother did and they made some very lovely things....I love that these gifts you make are so very personal....!
LOVE all the pictures, my dear...! Thanks for sharing these with us....!

Jenny Woolf said...

Your family's so lucky to have you make these wonderful blankets for them. I like the rainbow blankets best and I LOVE that French cushion! wow, that is really cool!

Here in England there are lots of people putting out union jack cushions, except they do them in different colours from the flag. Looks kind of strange but it is quite a nice design of flag I suppose!

Fennie said...

Yes, I lovely post. My knitting abilities are nil, though I once crocheted an egg cosy. It would be wonderful to do more but I haven't the patience. But I have a grandchild on the way and of course one who will be three next week. Maybe I ought to learn.

Left you a comment on my blog - your comment about posthumous baptism refers- "Vagabonde - that is a great story - but is it really true? It sounds like an April fool's story. But then I suppose anything is possible when the Utah folk are around. It does though smack of something of a one way contract. If you baptize me how do you know I haven't baptized you first and therefore as you are a member of my church you can't make me a member of yours.

Shakespeare occasionally wrote in French by the way - especially eg in Henry Vth. He wrote in Welsh too (Henry IVth).

Thanks for your comment also re Shawshank. I could see the direction in which I imagined the film might go - but if American films are excessively violent they are also excessively sentimental - so I will stick with French films which are neither - but thanks for the comment. I shall leave Shawshank to you - sensitive soul that I am.

Pondside said...

Beautiful, all. I enjoyed the paintings you chose to go with your needlework post - wanted to crawl into a couple of them! I keep my fingers busy when watching TV too - that way I'll be sure to stay awake!

Diane said...

You are very talented. I am happy to crochet all day but do not ask me to knit!! Keep well Diane

Perpetua said...

Lovely post with its mixture of beautiful handicrafts, appropriate art and enjoyable description. I love knitting but have never learned to crochet more than a chain. Your blankets inspire me to try to learn properly.

claude said...

C'est magnifique ce que tu fais, tant aux aiguilles qu'au crochet.
En voyant le drapeau francais je pense au coussin américain que j'ai fait au crochet. Le problème est que j'ai oublié quelques étoiles dont qq états. Je ne l'ai jamais montré sur mon blog.

The Broad said...

VB,you do such a great mix of textiles and paintings! Lovely combinations of colour. I so admire your ability to combine working on your projects while travelling and watching television. I have to do one thing or the other else confusion sets in!

Rosaria Williams said...

First, let me tell you how wonderful your knitting is, touching those grandchildren with love and warmth on cold days.

China and Japan are on my bucket list, visits that I should have taken long time ago.

Frances said...

Vagabonde, this post was so much fun to read.

I love all the paintings you've shown, and enjoyed learning more about the Year of the Dragon. I have a work colleague who's filled me in quite a bit, but there is always more to learn. It does not surprise me that you were born in a Dragon year, as you truly are quite an exceptional lady!

All the examples of knitting a crocheting are amazing. I wonder if the Tour de France knows about its muse status? May I also say how beautiful all those children are. Isn't it fun to make things for other folks?

Best wishes from New York. xo

Friko said...

Hey, I'm a dragon too!

What lovely things you've made, so TV is good for something.

Sally Wessely said...

I love your knitting pieces because they are so colorful and unique. You are fortunate to know how to knit. I've never really very good at it, but I've been thinking about taking it up since my head injury a month ago. I would need to try something simple so I can remember the basics.

I do like to crochet. I haven't done it in years. I have also been thinking of doing that again. I once liked to crochet as I watched the Olympics.

You wrote on my blog that your child was born near the same time as mine. You said it would have been fun to live close-by so we could spend time together with our children. I would have LOVED that.

Kay L. Davies said...

Wow, you must be able to crochet without looking if you can do it while watching TV.
Such beautiful blankets, all of them!
All those baby blankets remind me of my mother who had Alzheimer's Disease before she died (she had cancer). Every time she saw her eldest granddaughter, she was surprised to see she was pregnant. "Oh, look, you're going to have a baby. I'd better make a blanket." My niece's baby had six "Nana blankets" by the time she was born. Mom lived for one month after that. We always said she was waiting for the baby to come before she would let go.

CrazyCris said...

Quel talent! Tout est magnifique! Knitting and crochet... on my bucket list of things I'd like to learn how to do... someday! My mom used to knit occasionally, but she gave it up. For some reason in spite of having a tailor for a grandfather and a seamstress for a mother (and a grandmother who did beautiful crochet work) she really dislikes sewing and making clothes... and so we (my sisters and I) were never inspired to learn. I did learn a bit of embroidery though... but I wish I knew more of these things, I'd love to fill my family's and friends' closests with hand made things like those!

What a coincidence, I'm a dragon too! You wouldn't happen to be a lion as well? I always thought that made for an interesting combination ;o)

Pat said...

What a lovely talent you have. I'm sure your family treasure the things you make for them.
My late MIL was similarly gifted and I have tea cosies of varying sizes, thick sweaters and fair isle cardigans.
She would unravel old woolens and use the wool and there was always a deliberate mistake when suddenly there would be a foreign colour in an assorted coloured garment.
BTW it has taken me all morning to post two photos - without copy.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

I have several sisters who knit and I did as well when my children were little. I was taught to tat by my great grandmother when I was 5 or 6 and I revived the memory and techniques long enough to make lace for little collars.

You have inspired me and I think it is time to start again!


Pat said...

Wonderful inspiration! I am presently taking beginning crochet and sock knitting classes... it's never too old to learn something new. Thank you for the delightful pictures and blog post.

Sheila said...

Goodness me, you are a busy lady!
What a fabulous assortment of colourful blankets. I tell my granddaughters that the things I make for them have love in every stitch. You have knitted a lot of love!
Hugs ♥

Reader Wil said...

Oh dear! You are a real artist and very diligent. I admire you for all the beautiful blankets you knit. Thank you for sharing.
Have a great day tomorrow.
Wil, ABC Wednesday team.

Unknown said...

You are definitely talented! Loved the things you knitted. Your family and friends must be blessed by your work. :)

Jenn Jilks said...

I love all the photos and colours. Gorgeous!
I cannot knit. My daughter can...

Anonymous said...

*** Coucou Vagabonde ! :o) J'aime ces photos remplies de bonheur qui se lit sur les visages !!!!!
Tu as une belle famille dont tu peux être fière !!!!
Merci pour ce partage et GROS BISOUS à toi Vagabonde ! :o) ***

Elaine said...

You have been very busy creating some wonderful gifts! Your grandchildren will treasure them in years to come.

Ruth said...

I hope you do not mind if I "out" you here and say publicly that I am the very lucky friend with the new grandson. :-) (You can delete the comment if you wish to.)

I am still overwhelmed by these gifts from your own hands, having just opened them less than an hour ago! Your thoughtfulness and kindness are tremendous. And then there are all the connections, some intended, and some you did not know.

1) The yarn is from Turkey; we lived in Turkey, and you are partly Armenian. 2) Blue and brown are my favorite colors together. 3) You placed literary books (yes, poetry!) on the blankets. When James's mommy first felt him kick inside, she had just stopped reading Jane Austen's Persuasian aloud before bed. He kicked as if to say, "don't stop reading, mommy." Then the first time Don and I felt him kick, we were watching "Miss Potter" with his mommy. We felt that he must be a destined to be a literary boy.

Thank you again for these joyous connections and gifts! They are even more special since I have not been able to finish the quilt I have begun for him (half done), due to my problematic hands.

Mary said...

You really know how to 'spin a yarn' here Vagabonde! Fabulous knitting/crochet skills - and your handsome kitty is gorgeous too!

Hugs - Mary

Lifecruiser Travel said...

Wow! You really have been busy knitting all those things! What an achievement. I love that French flag and the book look interesting really. I used to knit some sweaters when I was young, but later on only baby sweaters or socks because they I had time to finish for sure!

Marja said...

You are such an artist Great job The blankets are so colourful and comfortable. Your grandchildren are gorgeous They will enjoy your blankets very much. I have learned to knit but have two left hands so didn't produce much good stuff. Nice paintings in your post as well

Pierre BOYER said...

Belle journée...


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I envy your talent. It is such a peaceful hobby too.

My husband's mother was very talented with needlework. Early in our marriage she encouraged me and I bought a beautiful book of gorgeous needlework and tried to make flame stitch covers for our dining room chairs. Nope. No more talent than I had as a child doing embroidery.

Enjoy your reading. We try to save our afternoons for reading. For me, that's very relaxing.

Miss_Yves said...

Quelles couleurs chaudes, quels chauds et beaux lainages!

Miss_Yves said...

Un bref aperçu du nouvel an chinois ...à Paris!


Enfance , de Nathalie Sarraute , après avoir tricoté: quel plaisir!

Inger said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and letting me know about your New Year's post. I read it and it brought back so many memories. I loved traditional jazz too and wrote a post about it somewhere. I also loved modern jazz and many of the greats who played and lived in Paris came to Stockholm. I do recognize some of the clubs. I will come back and read the post again and let you know. I don't have time this morning.I will follow your blog. Isn't blogger fun? I can't believe this and I'm off to write a conclusion to my story of Traveling in Blogger Land. So nice to meet you.

Vicki Lane said...

What a lot of warmth and joy you have given with all these beautiful things!

lori said...

Il doit faire bien froid aussi chez-toi, vu tous tes ouvrages d'aiguilles !
La neige est arrivée ce matin avec un beau soleil qui a bien du mal à nous réchauffer !

Arti said...

You're multi-talented! These are beautiful handiworks. And about the Year of the Dragon. I took a trip this past week and found an interesting rendition of a dragon... a 'life-size' dragon made of chocolate by Jean Philippe Patisserie. Have posted the photo just today. And lastly, regarding one of the two books you received at the bottom of your post: Novel Destinations. I've been following its author's blog, also the same name. Just thought you might be interested to check it out. Here's the link to it.

stardust said...

I used to knit and crochet from time to time when my children were young. Inspired by you, I think it’s time for me to resume again for my grandchild. What amazes me about you is that you’re so talented in various creative works and looks ready to start doing something ( like easily fly to foreign countries). My favorite is the car seat blanket with a poetry book on it among all the lovely blankets. Keep up the good work, and keep me stimulated.


Al said...

You are certainly talented at needlework! And your cat is lovely.

Dee Ready said...

I'm visiting your blog for the first time and finding myself amazed by your talent for selecting colors for all these wonderful blankets and scarves and sweaters you've knitted. Your family can be so grateful for the 3-week tour de France!


Kenza said...

Je découvre encore aujourd'hui un de tes talents cachés!! Bravo!
Sais-tu que nous nous sommes peut-être croisées au Grand Rex! J'y étais également: http://theaujasmin.blogspot.com/2009/07/cesaria-evora-au-grand-rex-les-9-10.html, un grand moment d'émotion pour moi...
Mille mercis pour tes visites et pour tes gentils commentaires.
Je te souhaite une très belle semaine Vagabonde

Ginnie said...

You totally amze me, Vagabonde!!!

Vagabonde said...

Jen, Djan, Old Lady of the Hill, Pondside, Food Fun and Life in the Charente, Perpetua, The Broad, Rosaria, Frances, Friko, Retired English Teacher, Pat, Genie – Paris and Beyond, Pie Lady Pat, Sheila, Reader Wil, Tim Rice, Jenn Jilks, Elaine, Mary, Life Cruiser Travel, Marja, Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen, Vicki Lane, Arti, Stardust, Al, Ginnie – Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blankets. I appreciate your comments and am happy that you enjoyed my needlework.

Kay L. Davies – Thank you for telling the sweet story about your mother and the blankets she knitted.

Jenny Woolf – Embroidering the Union Jack in different colors? Here I don’t think they would embroider the US flag in other colors than the red white and blue – people take the flag very seriously. This is not saying that the UK do not take their flag seriously, it’s just that here they don’t have a sense of humour about it.

CarzyCris – I am not a Lion – I am a Dragon and an Aries (my birthday is 26 March.)

Fennie – I answered your comment on your blog about the Mormon Church – yes they do practice baptism for the dead. Congratulations on your upcoming grandchild.

Vagabonde said...

Ruth – I am pleased that you liked the car seat blankets. I hope that when you finish the baby quilt you will show a picture of it on your blog.

Claude – J’aimerais bien voir ton coussin américain. Merci de passer chez mon blog.

Nancy, Pierre Boyer, Miss Yves, Lori, Kenza - Merci pour votre visite sur mon blog. Je suis contente que mes petites couvertures vous ont plues.

Inger, Dee Ready – Welcome to my blog. I enjoyed reading your comments and hope you will come back when you have a chance.

Jeanie said...

I so love seeing your needlework. As a knitter, it's always fun to see what someone else is doing! I've also done needlepoint, but not so much anymore. Do love the photo of Cody in the basket. He and Gypsy look much the same!

Kay said...

It was such fun to see your beautiful handiwork. I'm very impressed.

knitting patterns for babies said...

They're awesome. I wish I had the talent like yours in knitting, so that one day, I could knit some for my grandchildren in the near future. Thanks for sharing!

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