Saturday, February 7, 2015

Have a heart (or 2)

It's that time again. The time when anything that can possibly be adorned with a heart appears in the shops. Yes, Valentine's Day is approaching with a vengeance.

Now I am a lover of all things heart-shaped and a lot of my crafting endeavours include the heart motif so it probably won't be a surprise to anyone that Mike will receiving yet another heart-themed gift. We don't exchange cards (arty-farty composers can be easily distracted by a tune and have a tendency to forget things like that!) but we do sometimes mark the day with a special meal at home or a trip somewhere.

At the moment Mike is doing another painting of me, this time a full body one. I find it really strange looking at images of myself, whether photos or paintings, as the image I have inside my head is of a woman of around 30 years of age and about 2 stones lighter rather than the harsh reality of 2015! In the past he has written a clarinet concerto for me (although it was way beyond my capabilities as a clarinettist even when I played regularly) and set some poems to music in a song cycle he named 'Words of love and loss'.

Over the years I've made lots of hearts in different guises for him. One of my favourites is a pottery card and another is a heart-shaped flint that I encased in some wickerwork which you can see here, both of which he keeps in his studio.

This year I stumbled across something completely different; folded book art with a heart motif. Now I liked the look of this one by Foldilocks on Etsy (I'm not sure if you have to sign in to see it) and loved the idea of the 2 hearts so downloaded it straight away.

As soon as I saw the pattern I knew which book I wanted to use - this tatty old copy of Byron's Poetical Works. It belonged to my dad and I always used to snigger at the wording on the inside page which says "(In this Edition Objectionable Pieces have been excluded)"; isn't that wonderful!

I'm sure some people will be shocked that I should use a book in this way but I think this is a wonderful way of celebrating its beauty in a different form and I have plenty of Byron's poems in other collections.

I love the tooled engraving on the jacket and although it is well-worn and held together (or rather partly held together!) with what looks like masking tape, I think it has a certain charm. It was a perfect choice as I am a great lover of poetry which makes it an extra special gift.

I got rid of a few moths from inside the pages and checked for silverfish then did a quick repair on the spine and was ready to go.

What I hadn't considered was the size of the book and so I was dismayed to find that Foldilocks (isn't that a perfect name?!) said this design needed a book of at least 20cms to fit the 2-heart pattern whereas my book was only 17cms. However, by the time I'd read that I was so set on using the Byron book that I decided to adapt the pattern as best I could to make just one central heart.

The instructions are very clear and concise and basically all you have to do is mark some measurements on each page of the design and then fold as accurately as possible. It was incredibly absorbing and I spent a happy few hours marking and folding whist Mike was out at a meeting in London.

My folding is nowhere near as neat as that in the pattern but I'm very pleased with the result for a first attempt. I was lucky that the pages are edged in gold as I think that really helps highlight the design. In the link above, Foldilocks's example has red edges which looks even better.

I couldn't wait until Valentine's Day to give it to him as I was far too excited to wait so it's now sitting in his bookcase in the studio.

As a Valentine's gift to myself I've started some heart socks using the Lovely Socks pattern by Ann Kingstone as my existing heart socks, which I use as bed socks, are falling apart. They were a 'guilt present' bought by Mike at the airport on his return flight from Los Angeles where he'd been on a business trip which had involved more pleasure than business if I remember correctly!

I'm using up some 4ply sock yarn with red for the hearts and brown shades for the background. I started them last night and I rather like this picot edging on the top. It's created as a double layer which you start by using a provisional cast-on, work a few rows, do the picot row then work a few more rows. Then you double them over and work the front stitches together with the provisional stitches thus creating a double layer.

Tilly helping as usual!

The reason I started them was to cheer myself up. I have some hospital appointments looming and so they will make me smile as I'm waiting around to be poked and prodded, plus they are a good portable project.

Finally, I leave you with this doormat which I could not resist to brighten up our porch. It's seen here with my gingham kitchen hearts (made from fabric I found in my mum's stash and came from a skirt she made me when I was a child) and my heart bunny who I made out of a biscuit tin then painted and decorated. I copied the design from an old craft book. Bunny used to live in the kitchen of our first flat and she's a bit battered and worn now; a bit like me!

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