Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Warm Fuzzies

I'm at work, and just got a phone call from my uncle, Harry. My dad has only one brother, his elder by four years, which makes Harry 72. A very spry, healthy and hearty man, thank God.

Harry is a Vietnam vet, who flew for the Navy. Therefore, I barely knew him growing up. When I was very young, I remember hearing his voice on cassette tapes he would send from Hawaii. I remember there being a collision when he was stationed on the John F. Kennedy, and my dad calling everywhere trying to find out if Harry was okay. And I remember one visit to Virginia Beach after Harry and his wife Darlene settled there with my five cousins, for each whose births Harry was absent. You bet I admire Darlene!

So, other than family reunions, I didn't know Harry well. Until. A few years ago, at a reunion being held at his home, we got to talking, mostly about my dad. You see, Dad suffered a stroke when he was a bit younger than I am now. He's physically well, but the stroke affected his speech recall, putting paid to his teaching career. Thus this man who was always the center of conversation, with a biting wit, now sits on the sidelines listening, fighting occasionally to find the right word to interject.

What this meant to me was pretty profound. Dad and I had a very rocky relationship growing up. I never felt good enough for him, and he repeated behaviors he disliked in his own father. But right about the time I felt grown-up enough to tell him how I felt, I no longer could. It would have been fighting an unarmed opponent, and think what you will of me, Gentle Reader, I have a bit more honor than that.

At the reunion, I told this to Harry, following by saying that I felt I'd effectively lost my father. And he startled me by saying he knew just how I felt, because he'd lost his only sibling, the brother that was the only one who would know what their youth was like. It was a huge bonding moment for us, and to a small extent, Harry stepped into the shoes my Dad never filled for me.

Now, the men in my family are traditionally very good hobby carpenters. When my younger daughter was graduating from university, I asked Harry to make her a cedar chest for her gift from us. He did a lovely job, only allowing me to pay for some of the wood. The same when he made an incredible display cabinet for me, and then he surprised us with a gorgeous swiveling double frame as a studio-warming gift.

Not too surprisingly, then, I wanted to make something for him. I settled on a scarf, the beginning of which you can see here. I fell for the yarn, and it reminded me of Harry's lovely blue eyes. The man was killer handsome in his youth, and is still a stunner, as you can see in this picture of him with my late grandmother from four years ago!

The scarf was my car knitting, even with the cables, since they were relatively big and easy, even with slippery yarn. I kept it in my "Emergency Knitting" bag, and worked on it sporadically. Then I realized it was getting close to being long enough, and Christmas was coming, and I did a full-court press (whatever THAT is) to finish it. It was shipped on Friday, with a note telling him what he means to me.

He called the studio today, confessing he couldn't wait to open it. Hey, I'm from this family, and I never expected him to! He repeated several times how beautiful the scarf was, and that he was very moved. He said it was one of the most thoughtful gifts he'd ever received, because he knew a part of me was in it.

It's so wonderful to have one's efforts appreciated like that! Granted, it was a small thing to make, but I did put love into every stitch. I wish we'd gotten to be close earlier in life. I'm sure it would have helped me grow into a better person...not much better, of course, because I'll be snarky till the day I die, but better.

Harry remarked how warm the scarf was. Funny, but I think it's keeping me warm too.

Friday, December 4, 2009

And There's More

I had another unexpected client come in and ask for a restoration and tinting job. The image is his late mother, and it's over 60 years old. As you can see, it's yellowed badly, but there wasn't much overall damage.

I got information from him about her coloring. He said her hair was black, and her eyes brown, but he had no idea what color her dress would have been. I suggested a red, so both flatter her coloring, and because the only lip color you could really get back then was, you guessed it, red.

Here's the resulting image, sent off to the lab for EIGHT 11x14s!

As promised, a picture of the stocking that will be a Christmas present for the DH's niece, whose name I drew for the gift exchange. This was a Knitpicks kit, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out, save one teeny tiny little detail I screwed up. I put the afterthought heel on the wrong flippin' side of the stocking! I missed a critical few words in the pattern. But she'll never know the difference and it's still cute, so oh, well. Yet again I remind myself of the Persian rug makers, who deliberately make an error in every rug they make, because "only Allah is perfect." So, I wouldn't want to mess with THAT.

Lastly for today, when my hands get tired of knitting with tiny needles working on DD's gauntlets, I'm working on a bit of spinning. With gift knitting I've hardly spun at all lately. Although the last thing I needed was more fiber, thankfully, need didn't enter into it. :-D I fell in love.

The roving is from the Copperpot Etsy store. She shares my love for purple, and I couldn't resist this beautifully prepared mix of merino, tussah, bamboo and a bit of silvery shimmery Firestar. It wants to spin pretty thin, so maybe a shawl will come from the 7+ ounces I got. Drafting is almost effortless with this stuff. The picture leans a hint more magenta than it really is, and it's a bit darker than this too, but I had to use flash or you wouldn't see how finely it's spinning up. It's yummy! I'll do my usual two-ply with it and see what I get. Good thing is, I know it'll be purple.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In Living Color (not the show)

A lady came into the studio today with this 4x6 print, and a story.

The woman pictured is the client's sister. She was a ballerina - I don't know how professionally or anything, but since she's not a child here, I'm assuming (yes, yes, I know!) that she danced for at least some of her adult years.

Unfortunately, all of her pictures were lost in a flood. Need I tell you the devastation she felt? If I do need, you aren't appreciating your photos nearly enough. Go, now...appreciate them and I'll wait.

Okay. My client found this picture about two years ago, and as she says it, desperately wanted to have an 8x10 made of it, and have it tinted as a surprise gift for her sister. She called all over the place; no one did this kind of work.

Then she called us. Oh, yes, the DH told her, we can do that. Just bring it in for a quote. Once she did and I told her that I could do just what she wanted, she was thrilled. To the point of tears. Awwwww. Dammit, I was moved.

I hate being moved. Costs me money. I know this because I only charged her for about two-fifths of the time I actually used. Now, I could have done it in the hour I charged, but not to my satisfaction. And your Goddess simply MUST be satisfied. Ask anyone. Go ahead, I'll wait again.

So here you have it. The client specified the colors she wanted. She said she wouldn't care if only her sister were colored, but I don't think she really would have liked how that looked. The only thing I left as it was, barring cleaning up dust and scratches, was the sofa.

It does look tinted, of course - I defy anyone to colorize a black and white where you can't tell at all that it's been done. Heck, even Ted Turner with all his money couldn't do it. But I am pleased with it. Skin tones are especially difficult, but I think they look very natural here. Her face is sharper, and the contrast is much better too.

On the knitting front, I finished the stocking I was knitting. My younger daughter's birthday was Sunday, and I had found a hat/mitten combo I liked and thought I'd knit her. I sent her to the site to see it.

She emailed back showing me a pattern on the same site for gauntlets (think fingerless mittens) that she preferred. Since I love gauntlets too, I have about a dozen patterns for them. I sent her the .pdfs so she could choose one.

Being my daughter, she picked the most intricate set made on the tiniest needles. *sigh* They're my favorites too. They are by Rosemary Hill, aka Romi, and are called Verdigris. If you've never seen her shawl pins, I utterly love the ones I have. As well as my yarn ball earrings. Anyway, I'm almost done the first one...DD knew she wouldn't get them in time for her birthday...making them from Louet Gems in Pewter, one of the skeins Witt gave me in a color she likes and I don't. So that works!

Pictures of that, and the stocking, soon. I know you have nothing else to anticipate this time of year.