19 December 2012

The Benefit Of Shifting Focus & Rest

I have to admit. I've been feeling rotten for more than a month. I've thought that I was fighting a virus , but kept plugging away without much thought about it.  The virus - or whatever it is-  finally caught up with me last weekend and I have been home sick for a couple of days. I have so many things to do, finish up some loose ends (so to speak) on gifts, wrap them - and did I mention mail them! Late again I am! I have ATC's and PC's to make and mail. A lot of things I should be doing.

I've realized, as I've rested, that my life has been filled a lot with things that I have committed to and it isn't that those things aren't fun, but I have not done much of anything simply for my own pleasure in a long time. Over the weekend, through emails, my friend, Sarah Ann Smith, mentioned that she was taking an online Watercolor Lettering Class from Val Web. Hummmmm thought I .. now that sounds like it's right up my alley.

You've probably guessed already that I went ahead and signed up for this class. Did I have the money for it? No. Should I have signed up? Probably not. Am I relaxing into it? Yes! It's just what I needed . It's just for me - not for the other things I have committed to, or for anyone else who has expectations for me. This was a good 'dose of creative medicine' for me. The people in the class all appear to be rather advanced watercolorists - either that or I am more than woefully below par! It's great  to be able to have people to admire and emulate! Classes are like stepping stones for me and, if I don't overdo them, they add to my creative tool box. I find the more I learn the more I have to bring to the table when I  create something in mixed media or textile art.

I love watercolors and have been using them for some time; without any schooling and only 'book' learning, this will be the first 'class' I've taken & it pairs watercolors with letters/typography/calligraphy which are also things that I love.

I'm wayyyyy behind the class work, coming into this class that began in November, I am 5 lessons behind already! Access goes until March though, so I should be able to catch up.

I made my way through Lesson 1 yesterday, and one of the techniques that Val uses is draw these 'pebble' letters as shown above. The simple directions utilized a regular 8.5" X 11" but I used a 4" X 6" size (it fit onto the journal page I was using for practice). The lesson was about brush control, and I found that working in this format really did provide a great exercise in brush control and watercolor use. I used Daniel Smith Mayan Blue Dark and Mayan Yellow (I must have been thinking about this coming Friday when I selected the colors!) You can see where I overworked the watercolors, and I have not added any white to the letters or decorations that might have made it look somewhat nicer. 

I am impressed thus far with Val's teaching style. Learning something valuable after one lesson is wonderful! I find the class format to be similar in presentation to the wonderful photography classes that I take from Kim Klassen. A combination of exercises and videos. If you like watercolor art do yourself a favor and have a look at  Val Webb's class offerings - there's another class that I have my eye on about herbs!

I have decided that I may need to more carefully consider what things I commit to in the coming year so that I can build in some time for a project that is simply about fun and relaxation - just for me - and with no expectations. I may concentrate on watercolor use since it's something that I do really enjoy and I could use some more 'learning'!  Lack of rest seems to be a big issue for me. 

Exhaustion is a real enemy for those of us who are plagued with fibromyaliga (plus the other pesky issues that I have). We all develop health issues - I'm grateful that mine are what they are. It could be so very much worse! I tend to work and play with focus and determination, but I need to remember that down time, sleep, rest and playful art are not luxuries - but necessary if I am to remain healthy. 

16 December 2012

Tiger Lily ATC's in Vintage Kimono Silk

This month's theme over at Arts In The Cards was 'Tiger Lily'. This has to be one of most favorite color schemes, but I wasn't sure how I wanted to present it. Should it be on paper or cloth? Stitched or painted? What was it I wanted to say about a Tiger Lily?

I seldom have the whole picture of what I want to do with a postcard, ATC, painting or art quilt. I may have the seed of an idea in my head, but generally I let the tools that are right in front of me guide me - the tools and colors tend to make my artistic decisions for me.

I was rooting about in my collection of vintage Kimono Silks when I spied this amazing piece of silk. I had been hoarding it for some years, but had never gotten around to making an art quilt or piece of clothing with it. I decided that it needed to be liberated, and thus, I hoped, appreciated. It became my simple rendition of 'Tiger Lily'. 

Kimono  silk, a bit of stitching, some faceted beads and a feather. I found some feathers in the yard one day and I promised the poor bird that had, presumably, given it's life to leave these feathers, that I would use it's plumage to make something pretty. I hope this begins to fulfill that promise I made! The bird had left me only clean, pristine feathers - perhaps it was a baby that tried to wing it too early in it's brief life?
I wanted a slightly more literal iteration of 'Tiger Lily' for the back, and came up with this design for the back. I appreciate making my ATC's for this group every month (it's nearly 3 years now!)  because it ensures that even when life gets hectic I can do something every month that soothes my artistic soul!

10 December 2012

When I Think I Haven't Been Busy ....

This was one of the very few mornings this month that included a glimpse of the sun - and at that the sun did not last long into the daytime hours!

When I think that I haven't produced anything I tend to think about where all of my time went.

That happened to me today, as I checked in here. I was amazed to see how long it has been since I have posted anything! One would think that I had fallen over a cliff or something. At first I thought that it must have been an extraordinarily slow month or that, somehow, I had not managed to use any of my time creatively; that I had had the ultimate of fallow month perhaps. Then as I reviewed where I'd been and what I'd been up doing I realized that I had been doing things all along. I suppose that I had no thought that any of it, at the time, was 'bloggable'.
I've been painting with both acrylics and watercolors - and each painting brings me closer to loving the process more and more. It's like magic to see where each piece ultimately takes me!
Finding myself with a dearth of spendable cash this year I have made many of my gifts, and that is where much of time has gone. Because there are gifts involved I have not been able to post some of them here - so there has work been done that hasn't yet become blog appropriate I suppose! Not yet at least!

I've been knitting a lot - as I do every evening! How could something that I did not know how to do 10 years ago have become so much a part of my daily life?!
I made this lovely long scarf - perhaps for myself or perhaps someone else - I'm not certain yet. It's from a pattern called Magrathea by Martina Behm knit in Malabrigo sock yarn in the Marte (#121) colorway - purchased at my fabulous LYS - Island Wools. The original pattern calls for another bit of open lace work on the bottom which I decided was just a bit too much lace for me - so I truncated the design and am happy with the results. It's a long, wrapable, scarf design that I really like. 
Whipped Shea Butter - a luxury cream !

I've taken some time to make some selections of cold process soap recipes. Also on the hand made list  have been a selection of lotion bars, hand creams and lip balms. It had been awhile since I'd made soaps so I purchased am updated list of supplies and used up what had been on hand.

One of favorites is whipped shea butter. It made, primarily, of shea butter of course, with a couple of other beneficial oils mixed in. It's been the answer to my own dry skin woes. I'm waiting for another shipment of shea butter now so that I can make enough to give for the holidays

I made hard lotion bars that are the perfect gift to anyone with hard working hands; stitcher, knitter, gardener - you get the idea!
Luxury hard lotion bars. Good for what ails your hands!
These lotion bars are harder than hand cream and made to be  more of a barrier protection. I use them all of time and decided that rather than spend so much money I could make them myself. I've tried a couple of 'recipes' thus far and find they are both good. I'll be auditioning other formulas as time goes by until I uncover the secret to the perfect combination of hand loving ingredients.
Lip balms for winter chapped smiles
I gave making lip balm a try - and found that it was easy to do. I'd thought that filling the tubes would be a challenge, but it turned out to be easy-peasy, and the lip balm seems as good, if not better, to me as anything I buy. I added very, very little flavor, and DH asked me why it didn't have any flavor?! I guess I buy lip balm to work well and seldom give flavoring too much thought, but perhaps I should in future batches! The pink color really does not show up at all when you use it (so it's okay for DH to use) and comes from the smallest pinch possible of Cellini red pigment. One lucky thing is that we have a nearly local supplier of all things soap and body care supplies. They, of course, on the mainland for once in a blue moon I can order and not have to pay the most postage and take the longest amount of time to receive my supplies! Brambleberry is an excellent source for inspirations and supplies !
One of several batches of cold process soaps.
 This one is made from coconut oil, shea & mango butters.
One of my "stand-by" CP soap recipes came out oddly for the first time ever. When I went to cut into bars it wasn't cutting up smoothly. I think I should have added more water to the original batch, but because of this mistake, I was able to try something I'd never done before - a process called "re-batching".  Essentially, you grate up the soap that you have made and then use a crock pot to "re-batch" or melt it down again and, for this batch, I added the extra water that I thought was needed. The process worked well and gave the soap - which has an ample amount of calendula flowers in it- a more interesting texture and creamy orange-yellow color.

The soaps all have to cure for awhile longer. I should have made them earlier in November to have the fully ready for the holidays- but I think I will still be able to use some for small gifts.

12 November 2012

Leaf Prints Shawlette by Anne Hanson for Kollage Yarn

This is called the Leafprints Shawlette by Anne Hanson for Kollage yarns. I knit this with Cascade Heritage sock yarn in Italian Plum which I like especially because it has undertones of red and is a deep, rich, purple. It's an unusual choice of color for me! I was a bit concerned about how this pattern would turn out because of the slightly higher percentage of nylon in the yarn and, also, the somewhat thicker weight of this yarn compared to the recommended yarns from Kollage; Creamy, 1/2 & 1/2 or sockalicious, but none were readily available to me. I shouldn't have worried because this project turned out so very well. The yarn is soft and, after blocking, it was perfect!

I had never used a HiyaHiya circular knitting needle before, and I have to admit to be verysurprised at how much I liked them! I've been an Addi Turbo gal since I first began knitting but I would love to have a set of Hiya Hiya interchangeable circulars now. What I like is that they are very light, very pointy and very, very comfortable to knit with. I looked at a set of their interchangeable needles that a friend has and the connection is super smooth with a very nice, smooth, flexible, cord. They are less weighty than Turbos and, in my opinion, knit as quick too. I had no hand or wrist fatigue using the the US3 circular. Less money and great quality? Yes, it's a good thing I think!

05 November 2012

Cocoa-Shea Hand Butter Bars: A Break From Class Notes

Cooling hand butter bars. I made one round shape which is why there is an empty in the mold.
 Today I was in the mood to make some soap - unfortunately I was out of a necessary ingredient!

I have very dry skin that gets more intense in the Winter.  I like to using a barrier cream - one that is not  sticky and that makes my skin feel quenched and protected. Since I couldn't make soap today I decided to made some hand butter bars instead.These bars are about 2.75 inches long and 1 inch high. They are made from beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, jojoba oil and avacado oil with a bit of neroli essential oil added for a heavenly scent. Yum! They really do the trick!
Finished hand butter bars. Divine! They are just a tiny bit sticky at first  because of the Jojoba oil that's in the recipe. That feeling disappears really fast however - leaving my hands feeling like silk! It's a good thing!

22 October 2012

Anne Bagby Class Day 1

Just the day prior to the class our weather had been the best of the year - but with the beginning of the class the weather turned to our more typical grey, sodden skies - all of which made the colors around me 'pop'! This is one of my favorite "fall trees' in town. I look forward to it's blazing color every year.
I'm still somewhat reeling from all of the wonderful information that those four days in class provided my with. I think it's slowly seeping into my brain - transformed by the ways I'm comfortable working. What an amazing four days that was! I have come to one realization and that is that I work so much better at home - where all of the things I usually use are available. Typically, I bring all of things on the supplies list and then I realize that "Oh! I could have used this or that" or "if only I had thought to bring...". It means tat I generally don't finish much in a class - but take the beginnings home to work on in my own environment. I've always wished that I was a fast worked - someone who could produce in class - but I have to admit, after years of all kins of classes , that I have to internalize the information before I can really use it. Any one else feel like that?
Wonderful team leader and owner of Wild At Heart Heart Studios, Jan Murphy, on the left and teacher extraordinare, Anne Bagby, on the right

Using an image of your choice and making into something that is, uniquely, yours. We used images from magazines, the web (toner copies) - practically anywhere you find them. They can be used for the face - or for the shape - the form of human figure - or both as many did. Not being much of a clown person I chose to interpret the idea as a 'masked' person. This photo is NOT my work, but is that of a talented class mate.
We covered SO much in the first day that my mind couldn't absorb it all. An extra added, optional, bonus was carving a large stamp (12" X12") the Anne Bagby way. I love carving stamps but I discovered a lot of new, very valuable, information form Anne about how to carve smarter and better. Below you can see the inspiration for a stamp in the background and the carved stamp, a la Anne, in the foreground
I admit to not really having my 'listening ears' on. Anne's directions were to draw some faces and I somehow got it into my head that she meant sort of caricature faces - not realistic faces. Being new to concept of collage and assemblage I had to swift paddle to keep up at all. Agin, the images below are NOT my work - but another class mate's. There were several amazing artist's in the group who had taken classes with Anne and Lynn before and they, naturally, "got" it well and got it right!
Photos below: Anne keeps an envelope filled with myriad faces that she says she draws before bed every night. These are some of her faces - the envelope provides her with so many perfect option - so that as she works on a piece she can 'audition' what sort of face will work.
 Faces, Faces and more faces
We were told to bring four 5"X7" inch substrates. Two black, one collaged with lights and one collages with darks. I found that I was unable to do anything with the dark because I wanted to take it home and texture it the way I wanted to before I could "waste" it and slap something onto the clean black surface. I think I must have to work on my 'spontaneity' factor huh?!
Below is the lovely and talented Dawn of Mother Rubber. She had everything a person could want  and then some - and she was very generous in lending supplies! She's a really lovely human being and if you check out her website you are sure to find some unique goodies - she also makes custom rubber stamps - that's a resource I was thrilled to discover!

This was the piece that I completed from day one. You can see this as it was, unfinished, in class on the second photo below.  Once again, I just HAD to take it home to finish it and once I had done that I was much  happier. Had I not mis-heard the simple instruction this 'cool kat' would have had a more realistic face, but since my 'listening ears' had been turned off and I 'heard' "quickly drawn facial elements" this is what I drew in class that day.  I left the face intact rather than replacing it as a reminder to myself to listen more closely!
 Such amazing, wonderful, work from all f these talented artists! What a feast it was !
 More from these workshops to come!

16 October 2012

Anne Bagby & Lynn Perella : 4 days of Inspired Art Making

My classmates. An amazing, talented group of gifted artists who came from many places!
Lynn Perella is on the top row, the third from the left.
Anne Bagby is on the top row, third from the right.
We had five local people (residents of San Juan County) in the class -
 the rest came from all over!
It's difficult to know how to begin to tell you about the amazing class experience I just had with Lynn Perella and Anne Bagby. Four days of inspiration, excitement, and learning that will stay with me for a very long time.

First of all I had only been able to afford the first two days of this four day workshop. The amazing, delightful and warm hearted owner of Wild At The Heart Studios, Jan Murphy, took a giant leap of faith and told me that we would work something out to allow me to be able to attend the second two days of class. For two days I had an angel sitting on one shoulder and a wee devil on the other shoulder. One telling me that I shouldn't stay because I need to not spend money; the other telling me that I should stay because of this unique opportunity... you get the mental tug-o-war that I was experiencing! Then I discovered that this was Anne Bagby's last travel teaching class. In the future all of her workshops will be held at her studio in Tennessee. And so, yes, I had no choice but to stay and take on the bit of added debt!

Wild At Heart Studios will be presenting many more workshops here in our vacation destination home. Quite a few of the class participants brought their spouses with them. Have a look at the class line-up - which will soon be filling up with many, varied, new workshops, and consider a vacation trip  and workshop vacation for yourself!

We have a wonderful mixed media ship, Vital Elements, owned by Retro Rose Rhonda Scott (6th from the right top row in the photo) . Rhonda hosted a spectacular meet 'n' greet soiree for all of us the evening before the workshops began. What a great way to begin the adventures - and people seemed pleased to find special mixed media gear to bring to class!

For those of us who live here being able to take a workshop like this and not have to travel is a very unusual thing. It was pure joy to be able to take a class and go home to sleep in my own bed. Because of some tiresome health issues I wasn't sure how I would deal with the intensity of this class experience, but thanks to a bit of Urban Moonshine Energy tonic and the ability to sleep at home I made it through three of the four days working on all cylinders - my energy stumbled on the fourth day but still I made it through!

From Lynn Perella's class.
My piece is on the left. A talented classmate's piece is on the right
I'd been enamored with Anne Bagby's work for many years. I have her videos but I wanted to experience a class with her. The videos will now be even more important to me because I will know what she means and will have seen her in action doing the techniques that she covers in her videos. The videos are extremely well done and, if you have an interest in her working style, I can highly recommend them - even if you will not be able to go to Tennessee for a workshop you will get a lot from them!

I've never taken a mixed media class before and this was an amazing place to start! I knew of Lynn Perella but had never considered taking a class with her - and I'm not sure why I say that - because I was not really familiar with her work is the best answer that I can come up with. Lynn is one of the best teachers that I have ever had in any medium. She's organized, calm, positive, encouraging and always has an inspired suggestion or two or three or four about how to make your design work better or differently. She's a truly gifted teacher and I am SO fortunate to have had this opportunity to learn from her. Her class hand-outs are artworks in and of themselves (photos will be forthcoming in another post).

An unfinished piece from Anne Bagby's class. (The face is a temporary).
The backgrounds are made from 'complicated paper'

The pace of the four days was fast and furious and I have to admit to not being able to keep up. Where some people would breeze though the required four panels I might finish one and a half. On the last day, when my energy lagged precipitously, I produced nothing whole. I set myself for failure by using a painted used dryer sheet as part of my base. We were working on gessoed red rosein paper. Although I was able to glue the used dryer sheet glued to the gessoed surface, nothing would glue (using ANY sort of glue) to the top of the used dryer sheet. So, rather than make myself crazed... which was sure to happen, Lynn suggested cutting out portions of the panel and making art tags from it. I did that and got some rockin' tags but not finished panel.
I was fascinated at how similar some of the techniques are to things that we do and use in textiles and quilt art. Complicated paper = fused fabric. I did use some fabric with papers to make some of the 'complicated paper'. Everything I learned in this class can be translated to cloth. An extra, added, bonus! I got to meet some of the most talented, wonderful, warm people too. Some I'd like to teleport to the island for days of creative play. It was a thoroughly inspiration four day!

I'll be covering the classes in more detail is a series of future posts. Now, I need to unpack, organize, catch-up and think of the 'real' world that I will return to (aka work) soon. This has been an amazing vacation. One of the best ever - and I didn't even need to leave home!

11 October 2012

Malabrigo Arroyo Yarn in 'Glitter': My New Favorite

I admit that I've been knitting a lot lately. It's just the perfect, meditative thing to do in the evening after work. I keep my other obsessions for the "brain awake" days of the weekends generally.

I've always been a huge fan of Noro yarns but my latest yarn love has been Malabrigo. I have become especially fond of this new colorway called "Glitter". It contains nearly all of my favorite neutral colors -even including my most favorite mossy green-y/gold-y color. My next project in this colorway will be Cheryl Oberle's Faroese shawl that I will use Malbrigo Rios (machine washable ). 

This is their Arroyo line:

Weight: Sport (12 wpi) 
Texture: Plied (4) 
Yardage/Meters: 335 yards, 306 meters 
Skein weight: 100grs, 3.53 ounces
Gauge: 20 to 22 stitches = 4 inches Recommended needle size: 3.5mm - 4.00mm, US 4 - 6
Fiber content: Superwash 100% Merino 
Arroyo is mashine washable, using the gentle cycle with cold water. Dry flat. 

In case you're wondering what's on these needles - it's the super cool, super easy, "Hitchiker Scarf" by Martina Behm - available HERE on Ravelry

Tomorrow I begin a workshop with Anne Bagby and Lynn Perella  (page down just a bit on this link to see the class I'll be in). I'm just about to head out to a little "meet'n'greet". Our weather, unfortunately, has turned to the more typical, sodden and overcast variety but I hope that the visitors who've traveld from far and wide for the class will still be able to appreciate our island beauty. I've been waiting about a long time for this class to happen - so hang on for some soon-to-be-published photos of the class!

08 October 2012

ZuZU's Petals Cowl by Carina Spencer


My new position (not a desired change) at work has meant a bit of extra hours. Not only is it a reminder of how low my energy reserves are it leaves with very little extra ''juice" the evenings. Thank goodness for knitting! Knitting is something that calms me and I find I can always find enough energy to knit some rows even on those evenings when I feel like crawling into be at 6:30 pm!!

This pattern is called Zuzu's Petals and it by Carina Spencer. Available HERE at Ravelry. It's bit different that other cowls I've knit in that it is rather like a collar - it goes all of the around your neck - joined in the round. It's not at all tight so it's not constricting in any way.  I was a bit concerned that I would not like it as I knit it but now it's swiftly become one of my favorite cowls to wear!
The pattern called for some awesome yarn from Twisted Fiber Art but the piggy bank would not spring for it this time. Maybe next time around I'll be able to try it! I used a lovely merino and cashmere blend that was hand dyed by our own Julie Packard, owner of Island Wools. Her line of hand dyed wools are called Whimsical Colors. Very nice stuff indeed! Next time you're in her shop try a skein or two!

22 September 2012

Photo Art Friday : Roadside art

This is a post from Musing Crow Images that I just had to share here.  Earlier this summer I took the image with dandelions at the same place. its the summer version. Yesterday, as looked at the ground in the same spot I discovered the Autumnal Equinox version of the image. I was enthralled by the colors and textures. Normally, I've been keeping my images separated to my photo blog, but I thought this might be of interest here on MC Designs as well

 Summer version

18 September 2012

Question Reality

I had an extra day off this weekend and yet time still seemed to slip through my fingers - leaving still with chores undone and art not made. I did manage to make this small 6" X 6" mixed media piece. 

I've been enjoying using Ampersand panels as my substrate. They are rock solid, take absolutely anything I can throw on it and are available in a plethora of perfect sizes and surface options. This was painted on an Aqua Board since I was using my favorite watercolors. I've also been using their Artist's Panels with a .75" cradle which I like the best because the cradle makes hanging so easy. I guess that theses flat panels could be hung with something like a "Command" adhesive strip though - so I guess that's not a huge thing.

I named it 'Question Reality' because that's what I seem to have been doing a lot of lately. I've been thinking about how what I think affects how I feel and that in turn effects what my 'reality' is. I've been doing a mental mambo considering the reality of routines of life. I've been surprised how much I have become a creature of routine and how much I seem to dislike my 'routine boat' being rocked. There was a time in my life when I really did not have much of a routine. My work life was composed of working rotating shifts with different days off each week and I moved a lot as I climbed the proverbial 'ladder'. All of that 'climbing' and moving and shifting left me empty and without roots.

I've come to appreciate the roots I now have and routines that make my life comfortable and somewhat predictable. There was a time when I disliked predictability but what I didn't realize at that time is that we all need some place of stability - some safe platform from which to dive off into the  future. I'm grateful for the routines in my life and for my quiet reality - in all of it's routine, predictable, comfort!

'Question Reality' is offered for sale- or maybe I'll keep it as a gift if it sits at home too long!

Happy Mid-Week to all.

17 September 2012

Where Did My Photographs Go?!

A brief change in presentation. Since I have been spending more time with images I've decided to dedicate a blog to them. Much of the new photography blog will feel familiar to you - but I know that not everyone comes here to Musing Crow Designs to look at photographs!

If you like my imagery I'd be most delighted & appreciative if you'd join me at:

No other changes - all of my usual bits of pleasure & joy will remain
 here at 'home' where they belong !

04 September 2012

Knit Swirl Done At Last!

This photo is the most 'color true'. I used black Malabrigo as a trim around he outside edges.You can see how long the sleeves are!
The sweaters from the book "Knit Swirl" by Sandra McIver are really unique in many ways. Unique construction method and unique patterns. Very flattering to all shapes and sizes. I've never been much of a sweater wearer - or knitter. I prefer to knit shawls. These sweaters were unique enough though I knew I had to give one a try.  I chose to make a size 3 - the largest of the patterns not because I'm that big (although plump may soon be a reality!) but because  I wanted a big "snuggle coat". This pattern is called "Shades of Grey". I chose to use one of my personal favorite yarns - Malabrigo Rios (a superwash worsted weight) in color #869 Cumparisita rather than the Cascade Rustic yarn that was suggested. I did get on Ravelry as asked Sandra if she thought that the Malabrigo would be a decent substitute and she agreed that it should work. I bought 11 skeins so that I would have enough for a scarf and a pair of fingerless mitts to go with the sweater. I sure wasn't going to throw that kind of money away by not finishing this sweater!

I began knitting this in May and, after several failed attempts to get the circular join done correctly, I nearly caved and shelved this project right away. I persevered.  You're dealing with a huge number of cast on stitches in this pattern (400+) and even following the simple directions to ensure that your stitches are not skewed - I failed. I failed three times before it worked. With that sort of beginning I knew that if I had to frog anywhere again it would mean that I would put the project away and never, ever, work on it again. I had to plug along and go with hope.  
The pattern is simple enough really - so simple and monotonous enough that I just knit along forgetting about decreases! Oh no! The construction is made of welts. 5 rows of knit, 5 rows of purl. Each 5 rows equating to one welt. You may be able to guess from that how I managed to forget the simple directions on decreases- especially in the evening after a day at work! I just kept on knitting or purling away. So I was left with some serious mistakes along the way - serious enough that I doubted that I would produce a wearable object. I kept on and hoped. Knit and hope. Knit and hope.

I finished it this weekend. I'd had only the final seam to do for a couple of weeks and finally decided that it was time to wrap this little project up! Because of my inattention and myriad mistakes I had doubts that it would even be wearable but it turned out to be far more forgiving than I could have hoped for. Perfect? Way-y-y-y NOT. Wearble? Eminently! The sleeves will need to be frogged 10 inches each since they reach nearly to the ground (another mistake) but all in all it's good news. As I knit this 'monster' I was certain that I would never make another - but now as I snuggle in it I think I may just have another go in another pattern - and maybe try a size 2 - with more perfection in mind! One of the beauties of this pattern is that any size will work really - A size one fits me but it's a it snug and far more fitted that I wanted. The 2 would have been fine - but i wanted the snuggle factor. I might try a pattern that is shorter (this is a longer version) next time. It's comfortable, unique and yes, it's delightfully wearable despite my many knitting blunders!!

03 September 2012

Shawl Collared Cowl - So Nice!

This wonderful little pattern is from Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting. I actually found it on Ravelry and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to make it. I used Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky in olive heather (#592). The yarn feel soooo dreamy in my hand but when I put it against my neck as I was knitting I wasn't sure if it was going to work on me. I washed and blocked it and that issue was a forgotten issue - it was just fine around my sensitive neck. I did decide that I wanted it a bit smaller so I did a light felt on it and I am so pleased with the results! It just made the fabric a tad more substantial and softened it even more. Now I'm in love with it and I know there will more of these on the needles.

Oddly enough finding a an appropriate bulky yarn to use was the challenge. The pattern called for Jimmy Bean's Wool Landscape Collection 108 yds/99m per 100 gms. My LYS, Island Wools, had this Cascade yarn and it was perfect - an exact yardage match. I used two skeins but had about a half of the second skein left over - possible enough for some fingerless mitts to go with this yummy cowl

26 August 2012

Reflections Of You 5 Facts Friday 2 Days Late

5 Facts Friday From Reflections of You

I'm late again! This is my 5 facts Friday posted on Sunday. It's one of those little things can make my week fun - I enjoy matching the 'facts' with the images. Maybe one day my 5 Facts Friday post will be posted on Friday!

Repetition: Kat Sloma's Exploring With A Camera

Kat Sloma offered a photo challenge based on repetitions - and when you look for them they're all around you!  The staircase at work has always fascinated me when the sun and shadows are just so. It looks like so much more than a stairway to and from work. To me it's become more of a metaphor - walking into the sunlight and leaving the cares of work behind.  I'm grateful to have these stairs to walk to walk from - in other words I am grateful to have a job - but oh! how I long to linger in the sunlight filled world of creativity!

21 August 2012

The Most Fun-To-Knit Hat Imaginable!

Pardon the occasional cat hair in this photo! 

This is the Anemone Hat in progress. I'm almost finished knitting the sides and will soon be finishing up with the crown.

This is a Cat Bordhi pattern. It's call the "Anemone Hat" and when I saw it on Ravelry over the weekend and just couldn't resist the urge to try it out ! The pattern has options for multiple sizes as well as the option to begin the hat with either a mobius or a simple circular style (my choice for this first attempt).  It's is SO much fun to knit! The tendrils looked impressive and complicated to me at first glance but in reality they couldn't be easier to make!

Wearing hats is new to me. I used to have very thick hair and never got that cold nor do I like the way I look in hats. With some years gathering on me though my hair has become thinner than it used to be and hats are becoming more of a desirable accessory to have on hand. That being said, I am terribly finicky about what hats I will or won't wear. This one couldn't be any more fun to make or to wear. Someone on your gift list needs to have this hat for a gift!

19 August 2012

The Weekend's Muse

A little mixed media canvas
The Muse was generous with her gifts this weekend. Things  seemed to flow with ease. Maybe that's partially because I got some projects that had been looming over me done and put of the way. It felt good to make things simply because I wanted to and not because I had to!

A Super quick little mixed media piece made using Ampersand's StampBord. I'd had these squares of it in my drawer for a long time and just decided that I wanted to give it a try before I ordered some Ampersand AquaBoard and some Artist Panels for other projects I have in mind. I LIKE this stuff a lot and will be ordering more. It takes anything and everything that you can throw on it and behaves well no matter what. I even painted this square, didn't like it, washed all of the paint off  and began all over again with no ill affects. Have I said that I really like it?!
This "purse-within-a-tote organizer" is a demo piece that I am just mailing out to C&T Publishing tomorrow. They are about to introduce this material as a  new product. Sixteen of us were lucky enough to grab a slot to make projects using it. My bag was made to look like aged faux leather. I stamped with one of own hand cut stamps and then colored it. I'll add more later about this great new product when I have discovered when C&T plans to introduce it to the public. Trust me though - it's a product that has many applications and I think it will be a great seller. Yes! You will want to try some.