Lacey things

Here’s what I spent a large chunk of yesterday designing:

It’s a bobbin roll, for keeping bobbins safe when they’re not being used. Nicely padded with some of the scrap corduroy Lytteltonwitch gave me a while back. It can hold 2 bobbins per pocket, so I should be able to fit about 30 pairs in there (which isn’t actually all that many once you get seriously into lace-making – I was flicking through one of the tutor’s books the other night and spotted a pattern calling for 102 pairs!). Of course, at the moment I’ve only got 2 pairs of my own, plus the 12 pairs the tutor lent me, so I won’t be running out of space in my roll too fast 🙂

And of course, the point of all this is the actual lace-making. I’ve completed the first few exercises now, and am slowly accumulating bookmarks illustrating the different stitches:

From left to right:

1. My first ever piece of lace. It’s half-stitch Torchon ground – in other words, the boring background stitch you use to hold all the more interesting stitches together. The tutor described it as the lace equivalent of garter stitch in knitting – you’d never actually knit something completely of garter stitch, but you still need to know how to do it before you can do anything else.

2. Ok, this was actually a mistake. Or two mistakes, really – one the tutor’s, and one mine. I hadn’t been paying attention, so put the colours in the wrong order when I hung the bobbins (the green was supposed to start at the outside edge, not in the middle), and then when I got to the diamonds and asked the tutor how to do the stitch, she thought I was on the third exercise not the second, so instead of showing me a half-stitch diamond, showed me the whole-stitch diamond from exercise 3. So this ended up being a bit of a mish-mash of different patterns. By the time I realised what I was producing didn’t look like the picture in the book, and asked her what I was doing wrong, I was so far down the pattern I decided to just keep going with what I was doing. And I kind of liked the effect it gave, anyway.

3. This is what #2 was actually supposed to look like. I had a second attempt, this time doing it with half-stitch diamonds the way it was supposed to be.

4. And this is exercise 3, with the whole-stitch diamonds (and strips) that ended up in #2. It’s also got a different ground – this one’s a whole-stitch ground. I wasn’t all that happy with how this one turned out – I think I made a few mistakes where the diamonds join to the ground, which can get a bit complicated. So I should probably have another go at it sometime, once I’ve got the logic straight in my head.

(“Real” lace would normally all be one colour, of course, but we use different colours of thread in these exercises as a teaching aid to help us learn what effect the different stitches have on the paths the threads follow, which is important to know when you get into the more complicated stuff. Plus of course it makes otherwise boring stitches look a bit more decorative 🙂 Real lace would also be made with much finer thread, but again, using thicker threads to start with helps you learn the shapes of the different stitches.)

Meetup report and stuff

First of all, for Sherlockfan, who asked if my new enthusiasm for lace would mean the end of my cross-stitch projects:

No, of course not! When have I ever let a little thing like having only so many hours in a day stop me having multiple projects on the go at once?

The above is my current project. Or at least the bit I’m working on at the moment – it’s actually something I started years ago and put aside when something new and shiny presented itself. But I dragged it back out the other day and started work on it again. It’s actually almost finished – probably just a few more weeks to go (it’s a HUGE picture), but to preserve the mystery* I cropped everything out of the photo except the bits I’ve done most recently.

*Actually, I think somewhere back in the dim and distant past of this blog you’ll find a photo of the work in progress on it, so a pretty easily solvable mystery if you’re really determined 🙂

Meetup tonight, and we were back at Cafe Bleu (where Justin from Jasper was very relieved to see there were only the four of us!). Most of the evening was spent de-briefing from the convention and planning for our next expedition (Dunedin for the booksale), but there was also the usual gossip and giggles of course, and we even discussed books occasionally!

I was very restrained and didn’t pick up any books (I was slightly tempted by a couple, but Mt TBR is tottering, so I left them for the others to take. And I contributed several (The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts by Lilian Jackson Braun, Ukranian Folk Tales retold by Christina Oparenko, A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, Irish Girls are Back in Town, and The Pact by Jodi Picoult), so I’m feeling very virtuous about reducing the total number of books in the house (well, I would be, except for the three bags of unregistered books lytteltonwitch gave me as we were leaving…)

And I missed a great Markeroni opportunity, because Cafe Bleu is actually IN a listed building! But of course my camera’s batteries ran out at the weekend, didn’t they? And did I remember to replace them before I threw my camera in my bag this morning? Nope. Of course, I could have just claimed the snarf without a photo, but it’s more fun if you have a photo. So I’ll just have to wait until next month (or next time I happen to be walking through Cashel Mall).

And a few recent catches:

The Bold Thing by Mark Daniel – took nearly a year to be caught, but it got there in the end.

Mister Wolf and Me by Mary Francis Shura – and in comparison, a very quick catch.

Agassiz Stories: Night Travellers and Ladies of the House by Sandra Birdsell – proof that the lost property box isn’t always the end of the line for books.

Nice New Neighbours by Franz Brandenberg – I released this book in the wild while showing libertine101 around Christchurch before the convention. That night at dinner, I met bookworm76, who exclaimed “oh, I found one of your books today!”.

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass by karen Blixen – released in Christchurch, caught by an anonymous finder a couple of months later, who re-released it in Washington DC, where it was very quickly caught again by another anonymous finder.

Lost for Words: Creative messages for all occasions by Louise Jourdan and Kathy Schmidt – another book released in the wild during the convention and caught by another conventioneer.

Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Unseen Treasure by Kathryn Kenny – finally, a book I released during the convention that was caught by someone *not* also at the convention!

The Four Seasons by Mary Alice Monroe – a quick catch from the gardens.

John Walker Champion by Ron Palenski – after the convention we took some of the leftover books and released them around the area. And later that day MarcieNZ found some of them.

The God Boy by Ian Cross – she didn’t find this one, though, which was picked up by a new member…

Mobil New Zealand Travel Guide: South Island and Stewart Island – …who found this one too.

Blameless by Thom Lemmons – this was an exciting catch to get, because it was one of the books we released on camera for CTV’s bookcrossing item. And even better, the catch came just in time that I could email the reporter and let her know before the item aired, so the presenter mentioned the catch in her intro.

The First New Zealand Book of Lists by Dale Williams – another catch from our post-convention expedition. Obviously all that publicity had an effect.

The Governor by Keith Aberdein – and another one.

Final Reckoning by Melita Baker – a catch from the Tranzalpine.

Free Flight by Douglas Terman – lytteltonwitch told me the Halswell quarry is a great places for catches, and she was proven right with my first release there.

And last but not least: Criminal Seduction by Darian North.

New hobbies

Ok, you knew I wouldn’t be able to resist finding something new to occupy my time now that the convention is over. Actually, I’ve found two new hobbies which both look like being suitable time-sinks.

First is a new web-based hobby (well, new for NZ, anyway): Markeroni. It’s basically searching for historic places and markers – pretty much stopping at all those weird and wonderful roadside memorials that lytteltonwitch and I have so much fun stopping at anyway. So now as well as dropping books and searching for geocaches, we’ll be taking photos to “snarf” (yep, like any good hobby, it’s got its own language) them on Markeroni.

And here’s my other new potential obsession:

I’m taking a night class in Bedfordshire lace-making. As with any other craft, it involves a huge amount of equipment, but the tutor has lent the four absolute beginners in the class a pillow and a set of bobbins for this term, so we get a chance to decide whether we want to carry on before we have to spend vast amounts of money getting our own (or making our own – there’s no suppliers for pillows in NZ, so the only options are to buy one from overseas at great expense, or get creative with a lump of polystyrene).

So far I’ve only learnt the most basic stitch, normally just used for the boring background bits, but as a practice I’ve made a bookmark using it (well, almost made – we didn’t get as far as learning how to finish off in last week’s class, so I have to wait until the next class to finish it).

I can see a lot of bookmarks in my future, seeing as I don’t know many people who like the sort of frilly doilies that are the more normal output of lace-making 🙂