Friday, August 28, 2009

Floating Home Fridays

Moon Over the Willamette River by Tokiko Anderson

Is floating in the title a verb and home the direction?

One could imagine floating home after a a summer's eve ball where all the ladies wore white gowns and the gentlemen wore tails. The magic of dancing under moonlight and the remembrance of the eclectic music could cause an ethereal feeling while you meander home in a blissful state. I know this is true because is has happened to me.

More literally, if you had a little house along water, you could imagine floating home in a wee boat with your hand dangling in the cool water. Or if you knew how to pilot a hot-air balloon, you could surely float home in that.

What if, though, it is the house that floats, and floating is an adjective? This is the topic of a little series that I intend to pursue, on a regular or irregular basis on Fridays and which I hinted at way back when. It has nothing to do with my creative life--or does it?

Image Information: This is a print that I bought from Tokiko on the Last Thursday Artwalk in the Alberta Arts District of Portland. Tokiko's work really speaks to me. See more of her work by clicking on Tokiko's name in the image credit above.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

100 Posts!

Yeah! That last post was number 100! At the beginning of the blog, I wouldn't have dreamed to get this far. I thought there was too little to say but now there is so much.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Inner Princess

A favorite Midwest artist and storyteller is Brian Andreas. I first encountered his work one summer at a gallery in Galena, Illinois. Brian is the genius behind Story People. His illustrations and accompanying writing is pithy humor at its greatest. Each illustration has a story told in one or two sentences.

I was viewing/reading a stack of illustrations in the gallery and was laughing so uproariously that I attracted two saleswomen at once who came flying like crows to a feast. They both chattered on with more than characteristic zeal about this artist's work.

The story that most resonated with me in the most tersely cogent way ('though you'd have to see the illustration to get the best humor of it) was this:

"Are you a princess? I said. And she said I'm much more than a princess but you don't have a name for it yet here on earth."

In the fall of the same year, I featured handmade handbags at a juried art show and the theme for the year was "Inner Princess." Each artist was to make an item for the theme, which was so perfect for me as a fiber girly girl. This is the OOAK purse that I made and sold.

You might see this inner princess influence surface in my work now and again.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Betty Draper Sweaters for Fall

It's started: those mellow days of autumn when the sun is shining but it's cool enough for a little sweater. Just yesterday I was fantasizing about wearing a little Betty Draper sweater. She wore a lovely one last season on Mad Men that I covet.

A search through Etsy's vintage stores yielded these lovelies for your viewing and shopping pleasure. Click the photo credit to go to each store's listing for more detail on each item.

I love to knit, but rarely knit sweaters. Who has the time? Besides, why bother with all these lovelies in the world. Which one is your favorite?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another Treat!

Lady Luck is hangin' 'round me this month for sure!

I won some double-pointed knitting needles by Lantern Moon at the Sock Summit this month and the little beauties arrived in the mail this week.

Lantern Moon is a Pacific Northwest company with a global perspective and an environmental commitment. They partner with handcrafting communities in Vietnam, pay them a fair wage, and then sell the gorgeous products around the world.

Many months ago I had the opportunity to attend a local guild meeting at which Lantern Moon gave a slide show presentation of the people of Viet Nam crafting the products that they sell. The photos were stunning and really captured the hearts of everyone in the guild.

These are a few of their many cool products:

Especially for Sock Knitters (photo copyright Lantern Moon)

Gelato, Silk Taffeta Ribbon designed by Leigh Radford
in collaboration with Lantern Moon (photo by Lantern Moon)

Sunburst, seagrass woven tote with taffeta lining
Photo by Lantern Moon

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Freeform Punch

This past weekend Mr. Cha Cha and I hosted our annual potluck/dance party and the potluck hit the jackpot this year! People brought so many goodies--recipes that took time and forethought to prepare.

You know how sometimes potlucks attract a lot of deli items that are picked up at Safeway on the way over, and then the hostess gets asked to supply dishes and serving ware when the guests arrive with them? This wasn't like that. Most people brought things that they had actually made, on their own platters, in their own bowls, or in their own pitchers and stockpots.

There was a wonderful Pad Thai made by Linda, incredible desserts made by Cynthia and Carla, a killer soup and homemade ice cream by Jim, a sumptuous beet salad by Kate, and a wonderful non-alcoholic sangria by Kate and Nick.

The sangria, in particular, was a huge hit because it was so refreshing. What started out as sangria kept changing as the night wore on and more liquid was added to the yummy fruit.

I think here had originally been some white grape, lime, and orange juices, some soda, and of course, the fruit. During the evening there was added some limeade, peach iced tea, fresh berries, ginger ale, raspberry iced tea, more club soda, tangerine juice, etc.

People kept asking me what was in the great "punch" and kept getting the reply, "Hmmm, don't know."

The really cool part is that this week Kate insisted that I keep the pitcher, which she swears is really too big for her kitchen, bless her heart! So I started another batch of mystery fruit punch for us earlier this week. Who knows what's in there right now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Scarf from Cheater Homespun Yarn

In the last post I confessed to creating a two-ply yarn by taking a short-cut: Only one ply was spun by me and the other was a beautiful commercial single-ply sock yarn.

This variegated scarf (un cadeau pour moi) was knit with about half the yarn. The stitch pattern is linen stitch which on the facing side looks like it was woven and on the obverse side looks like seed stitch.

Since my spun single had a short color repeat and the sock single had a long color repeat, a lot of color gradation was created. The linen stitch pattern really helps to blend the colors as well.

One end of the scarf has a more purples and the other end has more reds. Yellows and orange are clustered in the middle. No two projects would ever look alike out of this yarn.

Knitting was fun because it was always a mystery what color sequence was about to emerge.

After the scarf was finished I remembered two of the sample bracelets that I had made for my bead crochet bangle class. They complement the scarf so much that I have decided to keep them for myself to go with the new scarf.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Spinning with Sock Singles

The Sock Summit marketplace was a fiber addict's delight. There must have been nine or ten long aisles of vendors.

I spent half of my budget by the second aisle. (Has this ever happened to you?)

What was in aisle two was a great booth by Wool and Company (They came all the way to Portland from Geneva, Illinois.) They had some spectacular sock yarn! What captured my heart was a lovely sock yarn with a single ply. It's called Poems Sock. I got a skein in the colorway called Tropical Sunset and another in the one called Cruise.

There are two very appealing things about this yarn: the colors are stunning and it is a single ply.

You may remember from this post what my attitude is about knitting wool socks. I don't do it so much. (Besides, I still have so much cotton for socks from the Liz Claiborne sweaters that I recycled.)

What I was thinking, in slacker mode, was this:
Say, that sock single ply is about the diameter of what I've been spinning lately for plying. Hmmm, I have some roving in that colorway.

Hey! I could spin one single and then ply it with this sock yarn and see how it comes out. That way it would only take me half as much time to create a 2-ply yarn!

(OMG, I could even ply from two skeins of sock singles and not do any spinning at all!) Well, that would be dumb--I like spinning!

The Poems Sock in Tropical Sunset is in the center. The roving lying around it is the Autumn colorway from Abstract Fiber in Alpaca/Merino/Silk.

There are 459 yards in the Poems Sock skein (perfectly enough for a pair of socks), but for my purposes there was plenty to ply with my four ounces of roving.

Here's a photo of one of the skeins of yarn that I made:
The roving was split into pencil sized sections lengthwise and then it was spun with short color repeats. The sock yarn has very long color repeats, so this created some great color gradations.

Next post I'll show you the scarf I've been making from it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sea of Knitters at Sock Summit!

The mayor of Portland has declared August 6-9 to officially be called "Sock Knitting Week"! He has also encouraged the general populace to learn to knit socks, but with his math skills, he might want to skip his own advice. (There are 7 days in a week, Sam!)

What's happening in Portland, for my non-knitting readers, is the first ever Sock Summit.

Sock Summit 2009

For a segment of the knitting populace, sock knitting is indeed the summit of knitting experience. The endless possibilities of knitted socks, and the challenging shaping required, inspire a passion that one can imagine could only be surpassed by the challenge of knitting a brassiere.

The classes for this event filled so fast! If you are a Knitter Centered on Socks (KCOS), you had to sign up right away! The classes by such knitting illuminati as BarbaraWalker, Meg Swanson, Nancy Bush, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Lucy Neatby, Charlene Schurch, Stephanie Pearl McPhee, and others covered everything you could imagine about sock-knitting.

On Friday, a very large group of knitters gathered in the ballroom of the Oregon Convention Center to try to break the Guiness record for the most number of people knitting simultaneously. The current record was set in Australia this past June with 256 people. Pshaw! So few? We had a ballroom with 1600 chairs set up. I haven't heard yet how many of us there were, but here's about half of the room 20 minutes before we started knitting together for the record:

(That's me behind the camera.)

A KCOS, endlessly fascinated with socks, has many decisions to make because of all the variations possible. A day spend in the incredible marketplace illuminated for me just how many decisions there were for the sock:
  • Should it be knit from the top down or the toe up? Is there another possibility?
  • Should it be knit with 4 or 5 double-pointed needles or with 1 or 2 circular ones?
  • What technique should it be--colorwork? cables? lace? ribbing?
  • What fiber should it be and how many paychecks should be spend for it?
  • Does it need to be warm?
  • Will it fit inside my shoe when it's done?
Notice that my questions all revolve around a singular sock rather than a pair. That's because it's so hard for me to think of making two of anything. Guess I'll need to consider learning how to knit two at a time using either one or two circular needles.

First though, I want to make a pair from the toe up. So I picked up this book from Portland designer, Chrissy Gardinier, and even got her to autograph it for me.

Today I'm off to listen to the luminary panel discussion. Since today in Portland is also the day of the annual Portland Bridge Pedal, it will require some planning to get to the other side of town.

Can you imagine the streets of Portland filled with hundreds of KCOS, walking around using knitting needles on sock yarn while trying to avoid the mass procession of Portland bicyclists? It's an image that seriously speaks of the soul of the city.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Gift From Australia!

What delight it is to receive something in the mail from a faraway place. Today this beautiful art collage print from Velvetwoods arrived all the way from Australia! It's what I won in her giveaway.

It's such a lovely print and there was a sweet note inside as well. The day is good! Thanks, Velvetwoods!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Home Alone with Thick and Thin Handwarmers but No Coyotes

Recently Mr. ChaCha was out of town for the weekend, so Samba and I were home alone. We had such fun!

Samba LOVES to be outside, but because we have a pack of six coyotes living in the park next to our property, she can only be on the deck which surrounds the back of the house at the second-story level. It's a very big deck with a collection of containers full of garden and surrounded by plenty of shade trees, so it's not like she's deprived.

(In the previous paragraph, the term park refers to a verdant 645-acre forest surrounding a ravine that contains the only creek in the metro area with a run of steelhead trout. That place is plenty big enough for six coyotes. Still, they get wanderlust-or I should say bloodlust--and scout the surrounding neighborhoods for small animals, including cats and dogs. )

One other weekend when Samba and I were alone, we were watching a movie around eleven o'clock at night when a blood-curdling, raise-your-neckhairs cacophony arose from below the second-floor living room window. The coyotes had surrounded and then dined on a neighbor's cat. We were both totally freaked out!

I digress--back to our recent weekend. It was sunny and HOT! It was so hot that Samba didn't even want to stay out on the deck. The air-conditioning was too inviting! When she wasn't napping she spend the rest of the time hanging out in various windows while I worked on handwarmers.

I got out the last pair of upcycled hand warmers shown in this post but I couldn't really get motivated by them in the hot weather and wanted a project that would be completed quickly. So I took the leftover hand-spun yarn from the thick scarf in this post and made these:

Here's a closeup comparison of the two projects:

Do you think I go to extremes?

After finishing this funky thick pair, I made myself a special meal, added a glass of wine, and was most serene.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Class Day for Bead Crochet Bangle

Today is the day I am teaching the bead crochet bangle class that I mentioned way back when.

I spent the day prepping handouts and supplies.

These are the practice spools of Mastex bead cord each with it's own little necklace. Those things that looks like berries are the starts for bead crochet ropes. Each student will get one of these for practicing before starting their own project.

The hardest part of making a bead crochet rope is starting. So early in the class each student can learn and practice the easier part of the whole process. Later, they can scream that I am an idiot while trying to learn the start-up part. (That's when I will bribe them with chocolate.)

Actually, after they try the traditional method of starting a rope, I have a little surprise for them.

These are little bead crochet starter tubes that I made for them. These goodies make beginning a rope a whole lot easier. To see how to use them, read the previous post.

Well, I am burning the midnight oil and better get some sleep. Wish me luck with the class!

Using a Bead Rope Crochet Starter Tube

Before beginning, string all your beads on bead cord in your desired pattern. Then add however many extra beads you plan to have in one round plus one more bead. For example, if you are working a six-around rope, and you have a six-around starter tube, add seven extra beads. (It is helpful to use some beads in a contrast color for these seven beads that will be removed later.)

The following instructions assume that you know how to make a bead crochet slip stitch. (BCSS)

1. Bring the end of your working thread underneath the uppermost bead of the starter tube from inside to outside. Pull at least ten inches of bead cord to the outside. Use a paper clip or bulldog clip to secure your working thread's tail to the tails of the starter tube.

2. Insert your crochet hook from inside to outside under the thread to the left of the lowermost bead of the top round of beads of the starter tube

and make a bead crochet slip stitch.

3. Working to the left, make a BCSS in each stitch around.

4. Continue in this manner until you have crocheted a one-inch tube of your new beads.

5. To start separating your work from the starter tube, gently pull out the very first bead that you crocheted onto the starter tube by pulling out the tail of the working thread. This is the thread that you originally passed through the starter tube in Step 1. (You may have to coax it out with your crochet hook.)

6. Remove the entire first round of beads one by one until your work is separated from the starter tube.

Now you can continue with your project while your starter tube rests.