19 January 2013

Zuzu's Petals Cowl

This pattern is called Zuzu's Petals (available from Ravelry). This is the second cowl that I have knit from the pattern. The first was knit using a fingering yarn. This was knit using a lovely DK weight yarn that I bought last year at the Vashon Island Pharmacy during our annual quilting retreat. The yarn is luscious; springy and made of 70% merino and 30% silk fiber. This is 'my' color - the one that I always look for and seldom find. I'd been saving it and decided that I really needed to use it for something!

Unfortunately, in searching the web I am no longer able to find any more of this yarn for sale. It's from Russi Sales distributors in Bellingham, Washington. They are a wholesale only concern so I don't expect that calling them wanting to buy more would help!

This is the first time that I have tried using these new interlocking blocking boards that DH gave to me for the holidays. I have had the large size, black felt covered, blocking board for many years, but with it's heft and large size, it was becoming cumbersome  to tote out for smaller projects. I was initially a bit leery about these boards, wondering if they would hold up to the repeated use of blocking pins. Turns out I had no worries. They are made of dense foam and will last a long time. They are 12" interlocking squares, so it was wonderful to have a small, but sufficient, area to block this on, and it was easy (and lightweight!) to move it closer to the heat for faster drying.

Next on the needles? The "Little Iris" Shawl  designed by Anne Hanson for Kollage yarns. I'm using my favorite Malabrigo sock yarn in Abril purchased at my favorite LYS, Island Wools.. It's an unusual color for me to use - purples and blues! The pattern is  a bit more of a challenge for me, but I'm liking it so far. I have a lot of art to do - fabric type things for a change ! Tomorrow I will begin to catch up on those projects. I'm itching for the sewing machine now!

14 January 2013

Once Upon A Morning Bright

The beautiful calm before my personal health storm!
As this delightful sunny day dawned I met with  a bit of a road block. It's called pneumonia. I've danced a time or two or three with this particular foe in the past, but I have to admit that this time rather frightened me. It was the first time that I saw the lethal potential for this malady. I was reminded that I probably need to update my pneumonia vaccine and that I need to respect my lungs when they speak to me! I had gone to work the day before and knew I was getting 'something' - I just wasn't sure what. I got to work on Thursday morning, and before I even had my coat off I knew I was in some sort of trouble. I called and got into the doctor's office right away - thankfully they had an opening, which they often don't have any more. All I can say is thank goodness for modern medicine! After ten days of taking anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and more than a week away from work I am happy to be able to breath well again! 
The 'Caladan' from Barbara Benson Deigns
The only things that I was able to do, sporadically at first, were read and knit.  I had been working on this 'Caladan Shawl' from Barbara Benson (see link above under photo). It was my first ever beaded knit project, and I had to admit to being hooked (teehee) on the technique. I knit this shawl using my favorite Malabrigo Arroyo yarn in their Candombe colorway with size 6 beads in silver lined 'oliveine' (from my favorite bead store 'Beyond Beadery'). I love the amount of beads in this pattern - not too many and not too few just enough to add textural interest and the perfect amount of sparkle. The beads dance along the outer border and in between the 'waves'.

Here's the 'wingspan' of the 'Caladan'
After I finished up the 'Caladan' I had to have something else to knit. I couldn't get to the yarn shop because I was sick, so I used this beautiful blend of neutrals in Madeline Tosh Merino Light in their 'Parchment' colorway to knit up the 'Biscuit' Cowl by Bonnie Sennott.
I have to admit to becoming bored with the 'biscuit' pattern and decided to finish the cowl one row short of the amount of 'biscuit' rows specified. Although this worked just fine and it looks really nice on I should have carried on and knit as much as I needed to. I say this because after blocking this looked amazing. The pattern includes photos of the unblocked as well as a blocked pattern. Because the Madeline Tosh yarn was a single ply and a bit thick & think I had not thought that it would look as nice as the project's specified yarn a yarn from the Woolen Rabbit. I like this pattern enough that I believe I will buy some of the yarn and make another one! That will teach me to just relax, believe and do it !

I hadn't made bobbles yet, and, my, but they are actually easy and quite fun to make! I can see playing with them in a variety of different weight yarns! So, I've managed to be productive at least. I am far, far behind on my Watercolor Lettering lessons - so that will be my focus as I head back to 'normal' - or at least what passes for 'normal' in my world!

01 January 2013

Beginnings and Endings

December 27, 2012 - a brief sun break in 60 days of rain!
2012 ended with an unexpected break from work, and 2013 began quietly, just as I like it.  The days have gone by quickly, like a fresh breeze that blows through, and clears things out. I love being home and having the time to at least think creatively. I had no pressures for parties - even as a youngster I was not very 'into' New Year's Eve shindigs. I always preferred to welcome in a New Year by going to bed early and waking up with a clear head.

We had a bit of a sun break on December 27th (the photo above). I think we've had about 60 days of rain and my feet are beginning to become webbed! I have a 'happy light' and it sits on my table. What is funny about my 'happy light'  is that now my feline angel, Tillie, jumps up on the table and paws the lamp to tell me to turn it on for her too!  We sit in the 'sunshine' together and I brush her or page through the web as we sit and enjoy.

My friend, Lauren, and I went off to the mainland on Saturday. We were in line at 10:00am for an 11:10am ferry. We rushed through 'must do' stops and then went to our 'play station', Michael's. Going there is a rare treat for us both. What really struck me about the day, aside from being exhausted when we returned home (getting in line at 5pm for a 6pm ferry) by 8pm was the crazy energy and exhaustion I felt. We had both forgotten the 'Saturday' effect; the day that people are off from work and are out and about doing their shopping. The energy of the mainland felt like someone stuck a plug in me and just drained out the energy. It took me a day to recover!  How did I manage to live in big cities for so many years. I've become a country bumpkin! 
One of the last things that I got involved in at the end of the year was a wonderful online Water Coloring Lettering class from Val Webb. Although I came in more than a month late I am thoroughly enjoying it. Most of the members are true professional types and I am happily challenged. Spacing in calligraphy has always been a challenge for me for some reason, but I'm finding that this class will be a help I think! I tried to work 'Become' in two ways last evening for New year's. 
This was my first watercolor lettering attempt.
 I discovered how different the pigment load in watercolors can be. I used the class recommended Cotman brand of watercolor here rather than the Daniel Smith brand that I am used to using. Yes, you DO get what you pay for !
Many people seem to be choosing a 'word' for the year. I haven't done that in the past, but this year, as I look towards the possibility of early retirement, I decided that the word 'become' might be fitting. If I choose to take this step I will be poor but I might just 'become'. I might just become the person that I always wanted to be. An artist. A little extra cash would be most helpful of course and I may become a person who can have the time to make things to sell. Of course, I may wait to retire, depending on a few things at work, but either way I hope to become more of the person I am, not the person who other people want me to be.  I lived my life, in large part, not taking responsibility for who I wanted to be. I let others make me think that I wanted to do one thing or another, so it has taken me most of a lifetime to appreciate the me that I am and the person that I want to become.

I just couldn't resist this last image. When I was off island I bought some news toys for my 'owner', aka my feline Tillie. When I looked down at her "toy box" I noticed what riotous, wonderful, colors there were! The colorful background catnip quilt was a gift from friend and master feline lover, and quilter extraordinaire, Stacy Hurt. They are available for sale on her blog. Your own favorite feline will thank you!