An embroidered alphabet: letter O

At home for nearly a week, I’ve been getting down to knitting Fair Isle samples for C******** jumpers for 3 grandchildren (can’t bring myself to commit the word to paper during the second week in November), ordering the right amount of wool and trying to get ahead with the embroidered alphabet. Overtaken by sudden lassitude, embroidery and knitting have been a welcome use of time.

Embroidered letter O with roses (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

On Monday I fondly imagined the small person’s entourage heaving a joint sigh of relief as he returned to school after his 2 weeks of holiday. Later in the day I discovered the small person was in fact still at home having been diagnosed with chickenpox. Return to  school has been postponed for another week . Not being very badly affected by the virus, he had the more energy than ideal for parents and nanny who had all dearly been looking forward to getting back to the normal routine (walls and bouncing were frequently spoken of together.) “I suppose we want the very small person to get it too,” sighed his mother, weary after a difficult night.

Embroidered letter O with roses (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Meanwhile, back in Cheltenham, yesterday and today my husband led two more art appreciation classes for Cheltenham U3A. They are very much art appreciation rather than art history as he’s keen to get people to look at art and talk about what they see rather than what they think they ought to be seeing. People either get this sort of approach and come to enjoy it or they don’t like it at all and would really prefer to be lectured to (and these tend to not come again).  As people get to know each other and feel more comfortable, they become more confident in their comments and there is almost always a lot of laughter. What’s funny is how often people express a strong dislike of say a non figurative painting but 20 minutes later refer back to something about it that has, almost against their will, made an impression and stayed with them. Surprisingly often you can feel people changing their minds about a painting or a style as they speak about it –  trying out a new idea much like you’d try on a dress that didn’t look quite what you wanted on the hanger but suits you surprisingly well once on. If only such a tonic could be had on prescription.

Sketches of various Os found online

Sketches of various Os found online

But, to get back to embroidery, here is an O decorated with trailing roses, to remind us of a season now long gone. In fact cold as it has been recently, there is at least one rose blooming in our neighbours’ garden. Stalwart blooms, battered by rain but heads still held high, an object lesson in survival. It’s things like roses in November and tramping through a wet town to talk about what art’s all about that get us through winter – well that and family, friends, music, catch up radio and television, knitting, sewing, good food and a bit of chocolate from time to time that is (oh and reading …and all those other things I can’t now think of.) So for me this afternoon it’s catch up radio and a bit of embroidery.

Detail of embroidered letter O with roses (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

For more red roses, see here  and here  and for whitework ones, see here and here and for the funniest book I think I have ever read that takes Lewis Carroll’s painting of white roses red and runs amok with it, see here.

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A knitting interlude: Baseball style jacket No 3 with Fair Isle band


Baseball jacket with Fair Isle (from pattern in Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino bk 4)

A two week half term can be a terrible thing for working parents and their nanny, so we grandparents tend to gird up our loins, roll up our sleeves and throw ourselves in to help out as much as possible. It was useful having a second person around especially when the very small person of 18 months was staggering on with a grumbling infection and a constant runny nose. Fortunately she self medicates by settling down to a prolonged day time sleep and is still  happy to go to bed early in the evening. I held the fort at home while she slept, got on with some cooking, dealt with the washing and sorted out of the toys in the playroom. Meanwhile the nanny (aka daughter No 3) took the not so small person out to play and eat with friends, ride his scooter round the park and  join friends Trick or Treating. Perfect division of labour.

Baseball jacket with Fair Isle (from pattern in Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino bk 4): detail of Fair Isle and Swiss darnimg

I can’t make my mind up whether I heartily dislike Trick or Treating  or whether it’s rather enjoyable and a chance for children to learn about giving and taking. Being the one at home, I answered the door to about 15 children, mostly in groups of 2 or 3; all but one pair were hyper polite, were enjoying themselves … and were most amazingly dressed with great care paid to costume detail and intricate face painting. Parents hung back in the shadows on the pavement beyond the garden gate ready with a “and what do you say now?” if needed (just the once as their charges grabbed a handful of treats rather than taking just one). Our treats were Celebrations if you’re wondering – those little individual chocolates, clones of favourite bars and a jolly good treat even if you’re an adult.

The not so small person returned happy and exhausted from his peregrinations in another part of Islington and though a bit fractious for obvious reasons had the good sense to be asleep within a reasonable time after his return.

Sample Fair Isle designs for baseball jacket

One afternoon, with the babe asleep upstairs and the not so young one engrossed in his Duplo caravan of animals, sword wielding knights and magnificent, if unroadworthy looking vehicles strung out along the full length of the kitchen table, I found a Proms’ video of Holst’s Planet Suite on YouTube and set my computer up to be visible in the gaps between the cavalcade. I had hoped to introduce him to the music before we visited the Holst Birthplace Museum but of course, like the best laid plans, that never happened. Saying as little as necessary, I retired to the other end of the room and resumed mashing potatoes. After being introduced to musical instruments in Mini Mozart sessions, he has an eye for a fine bit of brass, synchronised violin bowing or a good set of kettle drums and he accepted this musical intrusion to his play with equanimity. I think we talked a bit about whether Mercury/Hermes (the subject of one of the movements) had wings on his back as well as on his helmut and boots but otherwise I left him to his own thoughts. I’d like to think it enhanced his afternoon – who knows?

Sample Fair Isle design for baseball jacket

This little jacket (3-6 months) is for a parishioner from Ipsden who had her baby at the beginning of last month. I finished it before going to London but felt it looked at bit drab – in spite of all those Fair Isles samples –  perhaps because I started out trying to make the colours work for boy or girl and ended up being not quite right for either. Once I knew the baby was a girl, a bit of Swiss darning saved the day and more mustard yellow and cyclamen pink gave the whole thing a bit of a lift. The top row of green blobs now have little pink centres and the row of pink crosses above what look like green stalks now have yellow centres and look more like little flowers sitting on those stalks. Now I am happy about it.

Fair Isle design for baseball jacket

For other baseball jackets I’ve knitted to the same pattern see here and here.

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