Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where does the time go?

Well, hello there. Haven't posted in a while because I have been quite busy. I would like to say that I have been knitting up a storm and show you lots of pretty pictures, but I can't. Life has been pulling me in other directions. However, knitting is (almost) always on my mind and there are tons of projects bouncing around in my head just waiting to come out! Hopefully we'll get to some of those very soon.

In the process of cleaning out my studio-in-a-closet (those felted sweaters take up way too much room) the wee octopi you see below were born. They will make fun gifts for kids. It may be hard to split them up though as they have become fast friends. My husband is rather fond of them too. When he saw them he announced that he'd always wanted an octopus. (I believe he's always wanted at least one of every animal.)

The octopi are simple to make. Let me know if you interested and I'll post some instructions.

Hoping to see you again really soon. I have four knitting projects underway and a web page under construction so there should be lots to share. One of the projects is a beret pattern that I plan to post soon! Check back.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Using up the stash projects

Oh my have I had a busy last couple of weeks. I missed doing a couple of blogs but I did get some knitting done between running family here and there. Knitting is still more portable than my laptop.
One of my more recent projects includes a baby sweater for a family's first little baby. I wanted a quick and basic pattern that could work for a boy or girl so I chose one from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (p.72) by Joelle Hoverson.

The pattern called for a merino wool crepe but I used a neutral fisherman's wool. The lanolin content should keep the yarn soft enough for the baby's skin. The colorful beads used in the book were traded for plain metal buttons.

Since part of my goal is to use up my stash, this is where I got the fisherman's wool. I also had a bright blue merino sitting in there. Sadly, it never had a purpose. I bought 4 balls of it because they were the last in a dye

lot and marked way down. A camisole pattern, also in Last Minute Knitted Gifts (p.96), seemed a good way to use this yarn but it was too low cut for me to actually get any use out of it so I decided to alter it. The lace pattern at the bottom stayed because it is one of my favorite but it got a new top half. The neck was brought all the way up with a little cable twist added for interest. The armholes were made smaller to fit my petite frame and I crocheted the picot edge rather than knitting it. Since I knew that my yarn would not have the same drape as the silk yarn used in the book I knit it to a looser gauge. It is very, very blue and that is taking some getting use to but overall I am very pleased. The yarn is incredibly soft and the whole thing is light as a feather. And, there's almost a whole ball of yarn left!

What to work on now? Well my daughter is next in line for a sweater and she picked out a pattern from Garnstudio (see pic to left). Since I couldn't talk her into a very interesting patchwork sweater of my own design there was no way I could knit her something from my stash so I had to purchase yarn for it. I ended up with linen- colored CotLin from Knitpicks. Of course I will need to alter it a little -the gauge is a bit loose for me. Should be fun. I'll let you know how it goes!

Get outside and have a great Memorial Day!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fog Linen Dresses and Wedding Hairpieces

Have you been privileged to browse the pages of Selvedge mag? I think I ran across it online somewhere and still do not have a prescription, subscription I mean. The dry goods section of the website is my favorite and I always want to buy something, especially from Fog Linen. They make exactly the sort of clothes and linens that I have envisioned for my home. Simple, rustic and natural.

I visited them online again today and it seems that they have updated their website. It's hard for me to tell since I don't read Japanese. Very frustrating. All I want are a couple of simple linen dresses to wear to wedding parties this summer in DC. I don't get crazy about fashion so when I come across something to wear or put in my home that looks like it's been there for a century and could go another, then I get excited. The Fog Linen line meets criteria.

Fog Linen's house linens may be purchased through a few US retailers if you're interested. Maybe a unique gift for newlyweds?

Speaking of weddings... thought I'd share a couple of hair pieces I made last spring. They're made of hand felted merino wool, silk yarn, pearl beads and little flowery wedding doodads. I like the way that the leaves on the larger piece sticks out in crazy directions.

By the way, Happy May Day.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Finished Projects!

It's so great to finish a project. Part of why it's so nice is because then a new one can begin. Even before I'm half-way through my knitting I'm already thinking of what to do next and sometimes just can't wait to start another piece.

Recently I finished my husband's sweater (hence the black photo to the left) and though it is his new favorite I've been planning the next one for sometime. Maybe a vest for the warmer months. Knitting for him would be a little more exciting if he wanted something other than black. Actually, I'm exaggerating just a bit. He has picked up a couple of light colored linen guayabera shirts recently to wear in the summer months.

Sorry the pics aren't so great. I dropped my good camera (sorry Mom) so am having to use my daughter's. Looks like I'll be shopping for a new camera in the near future.

A couple of other small projects include another pillow with gorgeous wooden buttons and a belated gift hat.

I've been trying to work out some details in the pillow patterns so that there are no flipping or rolling edges and no pillow inserts peeking out of the opening.

To the left is a picture of the pillow before the buttons were sewn on.

The hat was a request from a family member. I had made one hat and when a second was requested I decided to play around with a more feminine design. The hat was knit from the bottom up and begun by knitting the lace within reverse stockinette so that when it was flipped up you would be looking at the right side. This also meant that I didn't have to pick-up stitches to create the band (which I avoid whenever possible). I was very pleased with the end result.

It'd be cute without the ear flaps. Maybe this fall. Spring is here however and I can't think of winter hats now.
And...my daughter finished her dad's socks! They look and fit wonderfully. She did a great job (even though the yarn was very rough). Sweet girl, she is now knitting a pair of anklets for me in an 80%cotton/20%wool yarn. Much softer than the last. The heels and gussets are finished and she is knitting away on the feet. The weather has just turned and I should have a new pair of summer socks! What a very good daughter. She continues to amaze me with her array of talents and I'd like to take a few lines here to dote on her if I may. Besides making beautiful handcrafts she also is a gifted musician. Though we recognized this gift early, she only began piano lessons a couple of years ago. She has progressed rather quickly and loves to pick up other instruments. This past Thursday she started fiddle lessons. The group meets at a local Irish pub and after lessons everyone stays to listen to a real session and students can take part as soon as they like. If you've never been to one, find a local pub and go. They're a lot of fun even if you don't play anything!

Comhaltas (promoting Irish music and culture) has a great YouTube page. Here's a video.


No, I'm not Irish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spinning and Plying

It has been a couple of years since I tried to spin. I did pretty well on the spinning wheel at the park district but did not have one at home and found the drop spindle too slow. The drop spindle is not really that slow -it was me being not only slow, but impatient and I happily distracted myself with other fiber adventures.

Above is a pic of my first ball of yarn from a spinning wheel. (Pay no attention to the drop spindle.)

For whatever reason I got the spinning bug again. In looking around for a wheel to possibly rent, I ran across the Windy City Spinning Guild. Probably most people would go about this the other way around (i.e., contact spinners, get info, get a wheel, learn to spin). Not me. Thankfully this is what ended up happening anyway, in spite of me.

While searching for a wheel-for-rent I found myself at the guild's website. I sent them an email and was told that they would be meeting that Tuesday. Great!

I drove the 5 miles or so to the public library location which is the designated meeting place and upon going in asked the young lady at the desk "Could you tell me where the spinning guild meets?".

The reply was, "What is that?" with a look of kind confusion and then, "They're probably upstairs. You can take the elevator." (pointing to it).

"May I take the stairs?"


Up I went. I was actually a little worried about showing up with nothing but my current knitting project. But there was no need to be concerned. Before long I was handed a homemade dropspindle accompanied by a short demonstration and told that when I finished spinning this that she would show me how to ply it. Wow! I get to learn to ply already?

I did finish and was shown how to make a two-ply from my single strand of yarn by using an Andean plying method. There is a very good article on this in the Summer 2007 issue of Spinoff magazine if you're interested in learning. I have to tell you that I am terribly excited about having learned this and hope to accomplish it next time without cutting off circulation to my middle finger.
Here's a nice little illustration of Andean plying:
Bumbling Bees has a pretty funny blog entry about Andean plying. Take a look.
Above and below is my tiny hank of 2-ply yarn from the guild meeting.

I had a great time and all the ladies were very nice and helpful. They even sent me home with more fiber and a dropspindle! Can't wait to go next month! I plan to take them some of our English Angora's fiber to see what they can do with it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Knitted Pillows and Spring Markets

I've been knitting more pillows and thought I would share some pictures.

The basic design is very plain, which I like. One of them does have a single cable going up one side to add a bit more interest. Cotton taping was used to make tie closures for a couple of them and buttons on one. The ties look very casual and the buttons a bit cleaner.

They are all filled with feather and down inserts and are some of the most comfortable pillows I've ever had. I want them to be imminently usable which is why they all close on the end so there is no front or back. Un-dyed eco-wool was used to knit these up. It has a very soft hand after blocking.

I'm still hoping to find some unique handspun yarn to make a couple from but haven't had to much time to pursue that option. Maybe soon! It's almost time for local festivals and farmer's markets and I may be able to find something there. Though I'm not sure about this option since the Midwest seems to be a little slower to catch on to this idea, but they are becoming more common and lively. Wouldn't it be great to have a year round market like some of the ones in Europe?
I'll be making a trip to DC this summer. Know of any good markets for handmade goods or antiques?
I found this website that lists a number of markets but is otherwise uninformative.
This one gave a bit more info on one market.
I'll have to check this one out...
where these sellers will be.
This one looks like fun.
I'd love to know if are any interesting places to go during the week too. We're going to DC for a wedding so the weekend of our trip is already full and any side trips will have to be squeezed in.
I love spring.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What is Natural Modern Country?

So what is the Natural Modern Country look anyway? It's my idea of a comfortable interior space, a mixture of Natural and Modern Country. Other styles may make their way into my decorating, out of the necessity to stay within a very tight budget. It may be interesting however to see what can be done on a (broken) shoestring budget -a sort of experiment.

I decided on this look because the images that most attracted me fell into these two categories. It is very difficult though! I also find myself being drawn to a comfortable Traditional Country (without the hearts). And while the Retro and Mid-Century Modern looks are not my personal favorites it is very possible that a bit of Danish Modern could find it's way in.

Natural is defined in The Home Style Sourcebook as having "warm tones and heavily textured surfaces". It is also eco-conscious in that it uses natural, sustainable, recycled and re-purposed (I love that word) materials.

Modern Country is described in The Home Style Sourcebook as using a "minimalist white palette in which various shades of white are exploited against each other...unusual sculptural objects, once practical...thoughtful mixture of modern and antique objects and furniture, with the emphasis on comfort."

I see Natural Modern Country as being a warmer, eco-conscious version of Modern Country.

Below are a few pics of the Modern Country and then the Natural styles from three of my favorite books, The Natural Home by Judith Wilson, The Home Style Sourcebook by Geddes-Brown, Sorrell & Wilson. and Simple Style by Julie Bird

Modern Country:
The architecture of the room is very country but the bed is dressed in a more modern way and there is a gridded rug on the floor.

This seems to be a cob house, probably in the Southwest of England in County Devon. No telling how long it's been there. A home such as this will stand for hundreds of years. That's the way to build!

This is an idea that I plan to use in my living room. I'll be exchanging my oriental style rug for a jute or sisal one and my heavy, gi-normous mission style coffee table for one that is visually lighter. My ceilings are 12' high plus a skylight and the coffee table really seems to weigh the room down and throw it out of balance.

There was a young lady who wed a philosopher
and all of his books were such a challenge to her!
Spread out here and stacked over there,
these books need a place if this house we will share!

All of my husband's (and daughter's) books are a constant challenge for me. He even has lesser used books stacked to hold shelves to hold more books!

If I could realize something like the picture to the left in my own home a major battle will have been won.

This pic is from Simple Style by Julia Bird.


You can really get a sense of warmth from this picture. It's not stuffy though and there are plenty of clean lines .

We have a couple of amazing leather club chairs that my husband purchased from craigslist. I look forward to achieving a more neutral scheme so they will standout.

This bedroom is very white but doesn't feel cold because of the warm color of the tiles, the extra fabric around the bed, the quilt over the table and the natural wood ceiling. It's actually classified as Natural Country in The Natural Home. I can't go this country since mine is an urban abode.
The gingham pillows let you know that this is a rural home.
I think its gorgeous!

These are just a few of the many, many images I am working with. There are a number of great books to help me along. Most of them are checked out from my public library. I use my digital camera to take pictures of my favorites and then build a gallery that I can refer back to.