Sunburst Painting

Remember that general feeling of malaise I was telling you about? It’s still kicking around, but I’m working really hard to shake it. This weekend, I tried bibimbap for the first time (in an authentic stone bowl, in a tiny Korean restaurant that looked like someone’s wood-panelled basement) and fell in love. I ran a race that made me into a rainbow! I shared a few good bottles of wine with good friends (after finding out that good wine can be bought on the cheap, I’ve been making an effort). I baked cookies at a party. I read my book, and got caught up in its magic, whimsy, and sadness. I had a long shift at work, punctuated by watching that crazy guy jump out of space on a customer’s iPad. I had some nice talks. I found out about an awesome knitting store in the area. And I made this painting.

Practicing gratitude like that always makes me feel a million times better. All of those things, at the time, may not have felt like much – but they truly were all special and it’s nice to recognize that.

This painting was inspired by this photo and this version, though I liked the colour scheme of the first much better than the second. I’m all about bright, happy primary colours after all! I read in the comments on one of those two posts, someone suggesting an off centre midpoint, and I instantly loved the idea. I immediately saw a picture in my head of the way I wanted it to be laid out, and got the stuff later that day. I already had some paint leftover from this project, but I bought some orange and pink to go along with them. The canvas was a 12×14 canvas I got on sale. I used regular painter’s tape, but I had some problems with it. It didn’t like to stick down to the surface of the canvas, so not all of my lines were as clean as I would have liked them to be. Boo!

These projects always seem to be an exercise in patience, calm, and letting go. I always get into a “flow” state, where the time is passing and all I’m thinking about is how to solve the problems that are arising. It’s so calming to see a project take shape, regardless of how frustrating the process might have been. And I am always reminded to let go of the need for perfection. This painting is nowhere near perfect. The lines aren’t all clean, the colours aren’t all exactly what I wanted, some of the painting turned out a little patchy, the center where all the points meet is a bit messy.

But guess what? That’s not the point of this painting. The point is that I needed something fun to do. The point is that it’s bright and cheerful and lightens up my space. The point is it will only be seen from across the room, and from there it looks perfect.

I taped out the triangles one at a time. I mixed paint colours (on a pad of paper) using turquoise, yellow, orange, pink and white. (Creativity was needed, and I was happy about that). I went back and touched up sections. I learned a quarter of the way through to paint much thinner layers of paint, so it dries faster. I also learned to press the tape down very carefully. By the end I think I mastered it!

It fits absolutely perfectly into that space on my wall that looked unfinished. The colours look dull in this photo, because I took the picture late at night, but trust me it is stunning, and brightening up my whole space. Easy, simple, happy.

Happy Monday!

5/10: Red & Grey Checkered Blanket

Finally.

For better or for worse, that was the first thought I had once I was finished stitching together the last few rows of this blanket. That’s not to suggest I don’t love it with all my heart – because I do, trust me – but I was ready for this project to be finished. My sewing machine arrived the other day, and summer is fast approaching, which means it’s time to set my sights on other projects! Summery ones. As much as I have grown to love knitting, and as much as it entertained me during this cold winter, I’m ready to learn something new and come back to knitting when the weather gets cold again.

This blanket was not only a labour of love, it is a physical representation of how I learned to knit. Which means it’s totally imperfect. You can literally trace my progress: the first few squares I knitted separately, because I was afraid of messing it up if I did more than one at a time; one of the squares is slightly bigger than the others because I forgot to count my stitches before casting on; there are wonky lines from switching colours and forgetting to keep track of where I was before I switched. I love that I can look at it and go “here’s where I learned how to cast on! And here’s where I learned to switch colours!” It’s beautiful for that.

And it does the trick. All my friends love it, because it’s so soft and comforting. They don’t see its imperfections, and I’m starting not to either. I’ll never consider it a waste of time – it kept me occupied for several months, it taught me how to knit, and it keeps me warm. No, it probably won’t last forever. But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. I’m so proud and happy to have done this project and learned a great new skill in the process. It doesn’t bother me that it’s not an ‘expert job’.

I got my inspiration from Elise’s black-and-white blanket, but I think I went about it a lot differently than she did. Hers is a good deal more clean-looking than mine, by the way, so maybe go with her method! As for me, like I said I started quite slowly. I just did one square at a time, lining them up to make sure they were roughly the same size. The beauty of this blanket is that it’s so stretchy and cozy that it’s not too big a deal if all the squares are the same. I stitched the squares together with a darning needle. Then once I was more confident, I started switching colours (my favourite way is described here) – be careful to always switch colours on the same side! I made that mistake. Once I had a row of 4 squares, I cast off and stitched it to the previous rows.

My blanket is 3×4 squares, and it’s the perfect size for me. It’s big enough to comfortably cover a back, pair of legs, or a curled up napping body. It looks lovely draped on my bed. But it’s not huge, I didn’t want huge.

I used Bernat Softee Chunky yarn. It’s a pretty cheap, and comes in a whole bunch of colours. I’ve used it for most of my knitting projects, but only because I don’t have much selection at my local crafts store! I knit this whole blanket exclusively in garter stitch, aka plain old knitting.

I love it. I’m thrilled it’s done. I can’t wait to move onto other projects. You can see the rest of my 2012 DIY projects so far here.