Saturday, July 07, 2007
I like to knit but I’m just learning the lingo, lingo necessary for any special craft. My favorite new term is FOs, or Finished Objects. I love the term even more when the item is truly, truly finished.
My children completed the weaving for one of the two rainbow neck scarves on the small heddle loom—theirs was long, and I wove the second plaid scarf, which ended up being short. I washed both of them together, rinsed and “blocked,” which is to stretch it into approximately the right shape. The short scarf curves a bit, more tightly woven on one side than the other, but with a button closure added, it will form sort of a rainbow “cravat,” and I knew immediately that Brendan would choose the “just right” one, which he did. Brendan wanted his fringe twisted, and Madeleine wanted her fringes long and knotted. Both are hanging on display atop the quilt on my bedroom wall, far away from Satchmo’s curiosity. When winter comes, I will add the button. Until then, I’m calling them finished objects.
The bedspread with the wavy scalloped edges is on the bed, needing five minutes of handsewing to protect the edging from tearing loose. But it’s on the bed, so I’m calling that a finished object, too.
Madeleine found a hat at our favorite yarn store that she NEEDED—the hat was a sample to show how Noro Kureyon wool knits up, and it was flecked with “thrums,” or bits of loose roving that make puffs on the inside of the hat. Though the puffs of wool cannot be seen, the thrums add an additional layer of insulation, and create a pattern of tiny blue hearts in the subtle stripes of magenta, orchid, orange and gold. She tried to walk out of the yarn store with the hat on her head, laughing when I caught her, and then she sniffled a bit, complaining that the hat was just perfect, Mom! I then found her stuffing the pretty hat behind a stack of Kureyon yarn—I explained that no one was going to buy the hat, and the hat needed to live where it can be seen, so people see how pretty the yarn is. And I ponied up and bought the skein of Japanese yarn—hats are not hard, and I’ve never allowed myself the pleasure of this expensive color-changing yarn. It’s customary to finish a hat with a crocheted edge, so it doesn’t roll or stretch too much, but Madeleine removed her favorite corduroy hat to place the hat, fresh off the needles, onto her head for the Fourth of July parade. The weather is cool this month, so she’s been sleeping in the hat, too. I know the warmth of her head will help shrink the wool just a little, so the hat will fit perfectly.
The hat could use a crocheted edge, still, but I can’t really get it back from her. I’m calling it a finished object.
A pair of socks I knit “for either child” turned out too small for Madeleine, and Brendan is happy to own them. Another finished object.
All these FOs help me to endure the plethora of UFOs in my closet—the shawl on the larger loom, the sock project I always carry. I don’t mind these being unfinished, and I look forward to working on them. I teach handcrafts, so I keep fifty projects onhand at all times. In addition to all my regular stuff, my friend Suzanne gave me an entire sheep fleece, which is a seriously, seriously Unfinished Object of Enormous Proportions. It came rolled up, but other than the rolling, the fleece is just as it was on the animal—full of straw and sheep sweat (otherwise known as lanolin), and just filled with DIRT. (You’d think these animals lived outside.) Why do I want it? I spin yarn, and this is prime Merino, a terrific spinning fiber. It would cost me sixteen to twenty dollars per pound to buy prepared Merino, ready to spin. There are three or four pounds, here, from Milo, a sheep I know personally. All that is left is to wash it, comb and card it, spin the fiber and then decide what to knit from it. The wash day takes all day, six washes to get half of the fiber clean. Half needs another day of six washes in nearly-boiling water. The kids and I set up an experiment to see if we can produce “combed top wool,” and we get through half of one bed-pillow’s worth of wool, using hair picks held upright with Brendan’s vise. Brendan cards the short fibers for another kind of yarn, then we all take turns with the tiny new spinning wheel. It’s not much yarn, but we learned a lot. Suzanne and I may rent a carding machine for a few days, which will move much faster. Suzanne gives so much kindness to the world, and she’s owned these sheep for five years—someday, I want her to own a rug, a hat, a scarf from her own sheep’s wool. If I have to spin the yarn myself!
The woman who is selling me the tiny spinning wheel sent what seems like a lifetime’s worth of fiber to play with, so I don’t really need this fleece. But I like the idea of it—if I teach Suzanne to spin, she can whip up all of this fleece each time the sheep are sheared.
I’ll be packing some fleece and my wheel to my kids’ summer camp next week, to show kids what fabric is made from, and how. It doesn’t need to be finished: it needs to be unfinished, on purpose, for them to see what the fleece looked like when it was attached to Milo.
My family just participated in a neighborhood-wide yard sale, and half of the stuff didn’t sell, so the house is layered with things to put away: things that were “too good” to pass on to the thrift shop, things that I hope to consign at the kids’ store in town, and stuff (God forbid) we paid good money for, from our neighbor’s sales. My house is the ultimate UnFinished Object in my collection. I hope tomorrow to tuck everything away. Just now I’m nursing a sprained foot in the bedroom, away from the UFO’s in the living room, resting on the new coverlet I finished—mostly finished! With my foot propped up on pillows. In a few hours we will finish the day with a dinner out at my neighbor’s Mexican Restaurant, whether things are complete or not, for the ultimate finished object of a good day in summer, no matter where things lay or what’s left to be done.