25 April 2011

My New Summer Shawl

I'd started this shawl before I made the Camus Shawl earlier this year. It's my first attempt at any sort of lace knitting and I was able to successfully complete it thanks to a hint from Ms. Oberle herself on my favorite knitting site, Ravelry,  Now that I've got the hang of lace knitting I'm loving it ! The simple hint, which is probably obvious to most experienced knitters, was simply to use pattern markers. Worked like a charm!
Knitting is my favorite thing to do in the evenings - makes me feel less guilty about sitting in front of the talking box (aka the tv).  This shawl was knit with Filatura Di Crosa Maxime sock yarn. I love the picot edge detail - and that was a first for me as well. So easy and so effective! More techniques for my knitting arsenal tool box! The finished size is 36" X 90" (91.44 cm X 228.60 cm). It blocked out so beautifully. I had also never used blocking wires before and wondered how they would work - the answer is that they work like a dream and are well worth the investment!
This is the pattern I used. The "Heartland Shawl" from Cheryl Oberle's book "Folk Shawls". 
My copy of "Folk Shawls" is now quite dog- eared and heavily marked with post it's. I am, slowly, working my way through the book! I admire every shawl in the book - with one possible exception - so my small investment in the book is paying off handsomely. I find that shawls are the perfect accessory for the way the way I live and the climate I live in. This one is perfect for our cool early mornings and evenings - even in summer.

My next shawl, on the needles now, is the another shawl from the book - the "Lacy Prairie Shawl". The yarn is from Universal Yarns and features lovely color combinations - it's an acrylic  and  wool blend( 70% acrylic 30% wool). Not as lovely as  my favorite Kuryeon yarn but less costly too.  I'll be curious to see how much - or how little- a problem pilling will be. This colorway is called "Tutti Frutti". I wanted something that had blues and purples in it without being too blue. One look at my blog will tell you that I favor warm tones over cool - so I sometimes have to force myself to work on the cooler side.

24 April 2011

15 Minute Journal Page

One of my issues with art journaling - as much as I am obsessed with it - is that I take a long time to make a page. I think there are times when that hinders me. I have to accept the fact that journal pages are intended to be spontaneous - not always planned and, at times, over thought. There is a time and place for that as well but a journal page can be done more quickly. Some of you may know that I am over-saturated with all things that must be "fast, fun and fabulous". Ugh! I like slow cloth, slow food and slow journal page making.
The theme for this month's journal page at The SketchBook Challenge is " Out-On-A-Limb or Branching Out". I happened to watch a little doodle video there by one of my favorite art journalers Diana Trout, author of Journal Spilling. I thought it was exactly what I needed to do to get myself out of the "it-takes-a-long-time" rut. I challenged myself to make a journal page with 15 minutes. using only 3 colors (plus the white of the page and black for ink). No thinking - just doodling. This was the result.

It's not my usual page but it was really freeing to go "out-on-a-limb" to whip out a fast page that said what I wanted it to say. I think there is a useful place for both kinds of pages. Over thinking can be as much of a draw back as thinking too little. How about you? Do you work too fast or too slow? What's our favorite way to work through a page?

23 April 2011


If you would like a lager view -double click   
I ave been eagerly processing my adventures in PhotoShop Textureland thanks to an online class with Kim Klassen called The Art of Texture. AS I have mentioned before - I'd decided that the time was now to learn how to use PhotoShop. I am using CS3 and dearly wish I could afford the upgrade to CS5. One day I will! 

This has been my first adventure into really using one of my own images and trying to master some of the mysteries of layers. I love it ! This image began with one of my favorite photographs of  a "polly nose" from a Japanese Maple Tree to which I added about 7 layers and various other fun PS functions.

I added one of my favorite quotes from author Barbara Kingsolver from her book "Animal Dreams":

"... it's surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time...."

I would love to know what some of your favorite quotes are! Share them with me !

18 April 2011

If At First You Don't Succeed : In Case Of Emergency Redux

I wasn't happy with the page I made for Michelle Ward's Crusade #50 - posted earlier today. I just couldn't let it rest so I decided to take more drastic action rather than waste the background which I really liked. I cut out the offending areas and replaced them with old family photos that are close to my heart. Although I would perhaps still like more contrast in the piece I am much happier and now feel that I can move on to another page - of something !

In Case Of Emergency Remind Me ...

Each month the inimitable Michelle Ward from Green Pepper Press posts a challenge theme for the month. This month's theme was "In Case Of Emergency". I think the idea was of a more realistic case but somehow when I started working on the page my thinking became more abstract. Most of  my birth family is gone and so, in case of emergency I want to be reminded of things - about them and about myself. I want to know that tomorrow will be better and that I will still be loved and appreciated.
You can really see ( through some of this glare) how polished I got the surface of the Venetian Plaster that I mentioned in yesterday's post. I am thoroughly besotted with the stuff and have another page drying now. It takes colors beautifully - and, if I make a mistake I can remove color with alcohol easily and completely. I didn't like how bold the text looked on this surface and so I used an alcohol soaked cloth to take it all down a notch. There are some things I am not happy with about this page in general but I had fun learning about the characteristics of this plaster and may spend some time making another page that pleases me more
 It's the photos that don't seem to have a place in this page. although when I first added them they seemed to be right. I guess I better try again .. after another experiment. I guess I better fit in some cleaning and laundry too..... at some point...

17 April 2011

My New Favorite Mixed Media Tool

My newest favorite tool for mixed media use is Venetian Plaster. I'd never heard of it before II picked up a copy of "Surface Treatment Workshop" by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Sandra Duran Wilson. I have to admit that I hesitated to get this book. I am behind on my reviews of many great craft books and I wasn't sure that anything could be as good as my favorite book from these two authors "Image Transfer Workshop".

Happily this book is, indeed, as good. It's beautifully laid out, contains superlative instructions and has some amazingly terrific ideas. For some reason I was intrigued by the description of Venetian Plaster "...Venetian Plaster gives you a unique finish that cannot be replicated with any other medium...." Hummmmmmm. That's quite a big claim. I did some online research to learn a bit about this intriguing stuff and then went in search of a size smaller than a gallon. I wasn't sure that I could get this on or small island but thankfully the hardware store carried one brand - and they were able to order a quart of it for me. I ordered it on Wednesday and had it in hand last Friday. I couldn't wait to see what kind of surface this would provide on paper....and not even special paper at that! I am using an Aquabee Super Deluxe sketch book (one must wonder want a non super deluxe pad would be like!) The paper is 152gsm - what I think I would a mid weight paper. Certainly not as good as real watercolor paper but not as thin as many journals or sketchbooks either.

It really IS an unusual surface treatment and I am in love! It has a smoothness that is nothing like gesso - which is what I had anticipated it would be like. It also has the coolness of real marble - even on paper. I tried burnishing, tinting, and embossing it - all with great results. I bet I will be using this a lot...maybe more than gesso because it feels like silk on the pages and has a natural tactile feel. Very interesting stuff! I was so glad that I got this book!

This was my first trial of Venetian Plaster -building up layers; gently sanding in between and then adding wisps of color and other textures. You can double click for a closer look.
A couple of close ups of two different sections on the pages. I'm really looking forward to working through some more of the surface treatments from this excellent book. I've already chosen the next technique that I want to try. I know I'll be having some fun!

16 April 2011

Wanna Personal Make-Over?

I was web wandering today and somehow came upon Elle's Make Over App.I didn't really have much hope that it would work very well - mostly because I couldn't think of how they could make it work - but it DOES work. I tried to use the photo above (which is pretty indicative of the "me you would see on the street) and it worked okay but I ended up taking a "no holds barred",no make-up, hair pulled back, cruelly frank full face photo with my computer and uploaded that. No I can;t share that one because it might frighten you as it did me ! Like the old troll lady who lives under the bridge! With this app you have the ability to change your hair - many styles and many colors, jewelry, make-up, (from lipstick, eyeliner,brows, base etc) hats, and accessories. I learned a bit from this little exercise too because I was able to tell what colors work well for me- most I knew but some were a bit of a surprise - and which don't! I don't make a good blond at all and was surprised at how well darker hair worked with my coloring. You are able to adjust to the 'amount' of make-up you're "putting on" and you have the ability to move the hairstyles to fit to your head. The technology works surprisingly well. I was pleased to see what sort of earrings look best on - that was one of the surprises for me.

There weren' t too many short hair styles available but, thanks to this app, I am finally able to set aside my desire for long hair since I realized that short hair really does look so much better on me. This is style that is close to what I have - when I take the time to  brush my unruly curls out - but it is a much darker color than I have now sport - but it's close to what my hair was like when I was younger.  I love these earrings and they are similar to something I would wear too - as is the necklace. If you have a few moments to play you might have fun with this little app. It made me feel better about being older - I guess I can still look okay. Not 25 again but okay! Well done Elle -this little app works great.

15 April 2011

Our Cat-a-versary

It was a year ago yesterday that " The Till" aka The Tizz" came home with us. It has been such a pleasure to watch her come into her own. She turned 4 years old on March 28th and celebrated with a fish treat! Finding her was the best part of having back surgery. She blesses my life!

10 April 2011

Spring Themed ATC's

 This months inspiration for our ATC swap on "Arts In The Cards" was a poem by e.e.cummings called "In Just-Spring". Sometimes I love the whacky word art of e.e. cummings and sometimes it irritates me. It always provides imagery though and I like to think that this was what he would have wanted. I'll have the poem itself added to the end of my post today - maybe the imagery will speak to you too.
I found using the imagery of the poem a challenge - but decided that if I tried to base an image on the poem itself I would have a difficult time. So,rather than focus on the poem, I chose words from the poem that meant something to me.  I combined different parts of of several images to create the image I used for this card. I am really enjoying learning to us PhotoShop CS3 and now even wish I could manage to get the new version - though I am priced out of that high-falootin' market it seems! Each project is a lesson... it's a good way to learn!
 I had to play with the back of the card too - another of my photographs that I enjoyed playing with.
I had fun making kaleidoscope images of some of the cards!

I'm really behind in book reviews - and that is where some of my time this weekend will have to go. The publishers are owed reviews and I need to pick up my pace. 

I have been thinking a lot lately about what things I want to do and which can/might/could go to the back burner for awhile. I have been feeling "quilt guilt" - I am so intrigued by mixed media and pots of paint lately that I have neglected my quilting. I guess I can choose to do what I want - but it feels like I am a quilt deserter! I want to trim things down in a way but don't have a good handle on what I feel I could trim. I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on the computer and this is the one area that I think I can try to get a grip on. I enjoy blogging - but dislike the guilt I feel if I don't blog enough - why that even matters to me is beyond me but it does. How much is 'enough' anyway. Some folks say that daily is right some folks say that it's too much. I tried that for awhile and I got tired of it. Blogging without guilt is a great idea - but I feel like each day I don't post is a day further that folks are losing interest.

One way or another I must make some more time to work on my own art projects - other than cards, ATC's and 'group' things. I will always do monthly trades with "Roses" (ATC and& Inchies) and "AITC" (ATC) because I really enjoy these groups a lot - and I learn a lot from the friendship and fellowship. When I retire there is not going to be much money in the kitty for art supplies so I am trying to figure out some artistic thing to do that will allow me to supplement the funds that will be available...which is why I think I have been concentrating on cards so much - I love making them and maybe one day I can sell some. I should have given more consideration to retirement when I was younger - but I must have been busy having too much fun ---- yeah ---- that was fun right?!

Do you have trouble deciding which of your obsessions to carry on with and which are okay to let lie low for a time?  Do you have guilt about letting one thing that you've always loved to do take up less rather than more time? Any hints on time management for me?

AND - here is the POEM:

[in Just-]

By E. E. Cummings 1894–1962

in Just-
when the world is mudluscious 
the little
lame balloonman
whistles far 
and wee
and eddie and bill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful
the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and betty and isbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
it's spring
goat-footed balloon Man 
far and wee

03 April 2011

It's Spring - Except For The Weather- Plus More On Our vashon Island Trip

One of my personal favorite trees and a field of daffodils. I had to stop and snap this photo while I was on the way home last Friday. That's what I love about a powerful pocket camera. I always have it with me and now have no more excuses to not take the pictures that I used to say "dang, I wish I had my camera with me"! My camera is attached to my small pocketbook on a lanyard - and is always at hand - plus I now have my IPhone. No more bad excuses to miss these amazing photos!
For some reason I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. There are a lot of changes happening at work - employees who have been with the County for many, many years are electing to retire. Hey! I'm with them - and would follow immediately if I could - it just makes me feel like the earth beneath my feet is shifting. Change can be a good thing - and I have had to put my faith in believing that everything will work out for the best. If I was younger - and didn't have the back problems that I have - I probably would have leaped at the opportunity to apply for a better paying position, but at this point I truly want to work on my art studies  - in the hope that when I do retire I can sell a few things in order to continue to have art supply money. My pitiful retirement will not provided for those extras.
Several friends have also recently passed away - at young ages. One woman was the picture of health and vitality but she passed away alone in her house of an aneurysm in the leg. Makes one pause to consider the important things in life. I guess that what it has made me do anyway!

I have decided to finally buckle down and learn how in the heck to make fuller use of PhotoShop - so I have enrolled in some wonderful classes from Kim Klassen - and have been thoroughly enjoying my expanding horizons. If you have a desire to learn more about PhotoShop Elements or PhotoShop CS I  highly suggest checking out her wonderful on line classes - they're so well done! It's funny because I remember that when I was in photography school digital photography was just starting to creep in - and we all thought that it would never catch on! Ha! well, I love it and am stoked about learning how to make the most of the photographs I now take - digitally!
A recent sunset

These are shots of some of my favorite trees that we walked by daily when we were on Vashon Island last month. Awesome. It was the perfect time to be there too - the lushness of Spring greens and the arrival of Spring songbirds

Finally I can get to to showing you how amazing the Island Quilter quilt shop on Vashon Island is! They not only have more than 7000 bolts of fabric and carry the entire line of Kaffe Fassett fabrics but they also sell a modest supply of very nice yarns and fibers.

Looking down a portion of the" Kaffe Fassett aisle"

Another long aisle filled to overflowing with color and design. Heading down this aisle on the left is a large section of Asian inspired fabrics. The only fabrics that you will not find in this shop are reproduction lines - civil war-esque and 30's (alas because I love 30's!)
Another jog and another aisle filled with whatever colors make you swoon!

This photo was taken just a bit to the left of the door. As you enter the shop the notions are handy just to the right as you enter
 What's a quilting retreat without quilts?! Above is a beauty called "God's Eye" made by amazing quiltress Sheila Bishop (on the left). On the right is one of retreat organizers Barbara Gonce.
 This quilter was one of the most prolific women I've ever met. Her work is precise and beautiful...and I am embarrassed to admit that I cannot recall her name. My most sincere apologies for being bad at remembering names!
This pink and purple gadget is something that I thoroughly poo-pooed when I first saw it. It fits onto your ruler with suction cups . I thought it was a gimmick ...... until I tried it. It's a real help for anyone with 'arthritisy' hands and makes applying even pressure a snap. You don't have to "walk" your fingers along the ruler to keep pressure applied. I came away with one like this for larger rulers and a single for use with smaller sizes. This one is made by MHI and is called safe-er-grip - it seems that they are used in the shower too to give you something to hold to. I am very happy with the increased stability of the ruler and how much less pressure I have to use in order to keep the ruler secure and straight. It appears that Dritz and OmniGrid also made iterations of this handy implement. The larger, double size was 17.95 and the smaller, single was $12.95 at the quilt shop.

Below is one of my favorite quilts from the weekend. My friend Janet is on the left helping Kitty Sorgen on the right hold up her (Kitty's) latest beautiful work of art. Kitty is also a quilting teacher - and she gave the class that Sheila's "God's Eye" came from. Kitty also does some amazing work work empowering women in impoverished countries learn to quilt. She's been to Africa and goes to to the Aleutian Islands nearly every year to teach. She's a lovely woman and I was pleased to have had an opportunity to get to know her a bit better during this retreat, Obviously, she used all Kaffe Fassett fabrics for this inspiring rendition of tumbling blocks!

That's about it for me. I'm working on some cards that need to be sent - plus I have a lot of book reviews to get going on - so check my book blog soon if you have a mind to see what I've been reading!