Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Oregon Flock & Fiber Friends

I was too busy to write this past weekend and I am swamped at the day job this week.

Here in the way of an apology are some friendly faces from the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Looking for Baby Lambs to Pet!

The Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is this weekend in Canby, Oregon.  I am excited to go see sheep, baby lambs, llamas, goats, and rabbits!

Even more, I'm excited to visit the Blue Moon Fiber Arts tent where there will be lots of Socks That Rock in the most wonderful colors. The Knitting Mermaid and I just collaborated on a cool scarf out of this great sock yarn. (Why should feet have all the fun?)

Blue Moon also has some other lines that are calling me to come pet them: Baby Bouclé, Luscious Silk, Peru, Woobu, Geisha, and Seduction.  Be still my heart!

I'll bring back photos and probably a little yarn.☺

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beads, Knots, Knitting, Crochet, & Micro Macrame

Beads call to me just as much as fiber does. The sparkle and facets of crystals, the depth of color and vibration of gemstones, the variety and delicacy of seed beads--they all get my blood pumping and my imagination running amok.

Knots are my thing, so I typically pair beads with fiber, thread, or cord rather than wire. I've mostly design knitted and crocheted beaded jewelry, but the sensational result of Viking knitting with wire and the wild possibilities of micro macrame have me itching to learn more about these techniques.

My favorite local bead store in Southwest Portland is called Village Beads which is located in Multnomah Village. That is their wall of beads that you see in the first photo. The interior of this store is very cheery and full of light. It make your heart want to dance.

What really is a selling point about this place is the genuine friendliness of the owner and her staff. You know how when you go to some other bead stores (just like with some yarn stores) you are met with an attitude of superiority that makes you want to turn right around, march out of there, and go order online somewhere? You don't get that feeling at this store. Everyone is helpful and enthusiastic.
The classes at Village Bead are great. The class size is small so you get lots of help and the teachers are very good. This is where I first was brave enough to try bead knitting with seed beads.

This bead-knitted bracelet was a gift that I made this summer. I'll be putting up some similar bracelets in my Etsy store soon.
And this was a gift made of bead crochet. There will be some of these in my store as well.
Right now, one of my bead works in progress is this dancing donut-head doll that will dangle and jive from a macrame cord necklace. She was started in a micro macrame class at Village Bead. If you're in Portland, come to the village and check them out!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Star Signs, TKGA Conference, and So Little time

"There is so much going on that you might feel as though you have been working 23-hour days and then getting up early." 

I adopted this horoscope by Jeraldine Saunders of the syndicated column, "Star Signs," even though I read it many days after the day for which it was intended and even though it wasn't written for my astrological sign.  That's my approach to horoscopes--read them all and pick the one that feels right.

Last week I attended the Craft Yarn Council teacher training course held in Portland and taught by the knowledgeable and charming Dixie Berryman who also teaches a course for the Knitting Guild of America called Professional Finishing Techniques.  Her finishing course gets excellent reviews and has been recommended to me as a great preparation before undertaking the second level of the master knitter's program.  

A course on teaching strategies, taught the next morning by Joyce Renee Wyatt at the TKGA conference, was the perfect adjunct course to have as a followup. Joyce is very entertaining and offered a lot of valuable information about the challenges that face instructors.

Over the next four days I enjoyed some highly informative classes: on professional design with Melissa Leapman, on crochet pattern writing with Marty Miller, on cables with Janet Szabo, on wire crochet with Darla Fanton, and on cabling without a cable needle (sweet!) from Annie Modesitt.  To all of you, thanks so much!  You leave me inspired and challenged.

The next four days found me back in my cubicle at the day job, trying to get caught up.  Finally tomorrow I'm back to work on this blog, my business, and finishing those two swatches that were returned to me for Level 1 of the TGKA master knitting program.  

My head is so full it is about to burst; ten fingers are twitching to knit and swatch.  I need to go find a horoscope that talks about magically completing projects and juggling multiple tasks with finesse.  

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Mermaid's Later Bag

The Knitting Mermaid, as she has come to be known in recent years, works much like I do. Design a thing, make it, and then explore a bunch of variations. Hardly ever make the exact same thing twice. This is a fun way to realize the difference that choice of materials makes in a finished product, or experience the effect of a different color.

For example, in the last post were photos of the one of the Mermaid's early bag designs. It was knit of Noro Ganpi Abaka Tape (40% ganpi, 58% rayon and 2% nylon) and Filatura Di Crosa Millefili Fine (100% cotton) and decorated with various glass and enamel beads.

The same pattern was later used by the Mermaid in this bag called "Gold Glitz" which was inspired by some undersea treasure that she had recently seen. It was knit of rayon chainette. The beadwork was of strung and crocheted glass beads and Swarovski crystals which were then handsewn in place.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Mermaid's Bag

An old fisherman, who worked his boat alone, would spend some time knitting when the fish were not biting or when he just wanted a break. He'd turn off the motor, anchor the boat, and work on an intricately patterned gansey sweater. It was a lonely but contented life.

One day he spied the most gorgeous creature sunning herself upon the largest rock of a small outcropping. He put down his knitting and starting waving. She didn't notice him, so he shouted, "Hey! What's your name?" Of course the unexpected sound startled the mermaid so she dove into the water and swam away.

The fisherman was compelled to keep bringing his boat back to this spot, of course. He often would see his mermaid (that's how he had come to think of her--as "his"), but if he brought his boat too close, off she would go into the water. So he started anchoring his boat at a distance. He would sit and knit and watch her from afar.

Day after day, as his knitting project grew in his hands, the mermaid started watching the fisherman as much as he watched her. The movement of his hands and the rhythm of the needles intrigued her.

One afternoon, she cautiously swam close to his boat to get a better look. As excited as a schoolboy, the fisherman proudly held up his sweater for her to see. When she smiled, he got a great idea. He would teach her to knit! She would have to stay out of the water to do it. She'd sit on her rock, and he would bring his boat closer to instruct her!

The mermaid took to knitting, if you'll excuse the cliché, like a fish to water. She and the fisherman became great friends.

This bags was one of her early designs.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Little Gold Minx!

Yesterday I chose five handmade products from inventory to be guinea pigs for an two-day photo shoot. They were all pretty willing subjects at first but started misbehaving by the end of the second session today.

Mostly it was the fault of a golden-haired pouch that is small enough to fit on the palm of your hand. She may be little, but she has the scream of a banshee when she's irritated, and she likes to talk her compatriots into joining her in mischief. She's extremely sociable and spends most days chilling with her friends and partying, so getting her to sit still for photographs was a real feat.

This little tart really got snarky as the day went on. She kept whispering asides to the others about required 15-minute breaks and the need for a good handbag union. Every time when I wasn't looking she'd move a little bit so that getting a quality photo was next to impossible with her. Pretty soon she got them all doing it.

Honestly, it's a good thing digital cameras were invented. If I had to shoot as many photos with film as I took these last two days, I'd need a generous sub-prime loan to develop all the shots.

By mid-afternoon I had had enough as well. Thankfully, Mr. Cha Cha and I had plans to go to Art in the Pearl, a great outdoor art show that is held in Portland every Labor Day weekend. All the products were still lingering in the light tent when we headed out the door. All except for Goldie who was demurely sitting on a side table looking like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.

Little poser!

Here's how I found the sassy little vixen when we got home four hours later! Totally saturated!