Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Cool Photography Blog

Speaking of outdoor photography, check out this May 29 blog post on a favorite photography blog by Mario Crupi in Messina, Italy.  In this post he has featured some great photos of outdoor optical illusion art by Julian Beever and Kurt Wenner.

Blue Skies at the Oregon Garden

Friday's visit to the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon, offered an excellent opportunity for outdoor photography practice.

It was very hot in the garden because there are miles of concrete roads through the 80-acre botanical garden and the sun really reflects off the concrete. Additionally, there are limited areas of shade. If you go on a sunny day, be sure to take plenty of water, and plenty of change in your wallet for the periodic pop/water machine that you will find along the way (because you will need more water than you brought.) Also recommended are a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a good pair of walking shoes.

A great way to get around the whole garden and to hear about the garden's various sections is to take the free tram around the grounds. You can get off the tram at any one of five stops and wander for a while on your own.

Here are some of my favorite photos from our visit:

cedar tops in the conifer garden,

lupin along the road through the wetlands,

wisteria in a roadside room,

bleeding hearts,

a patch of calla lilies,

and a pair of water lilies.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Blues Ain't Just Music 'Round Here

If you look back, you can see where the blues started creeping up on me. Insidiously blue snuck into my life here and there, staring out as green, moving into teal, and then turquoise--like the colors in this purse I knit a few years ago and took on an outing today to the Oregon Garden.

From accepting these colors into my life it was a small drift into blue.

Recently, blue staring taking up residence beginning with the treasury I did in March. From that time, blue just started taking over more territory in my stash. Like the spread of a non-native plant, it just grew and grew and shoved aside other long-time favorite colors.

For example, look at these three lightweight travel scarves that I recently made for my Etsy store:



Does this explosion of blue in my life have a connection with the resurgence of our cultural interest in blues music? Am I sad and just don't know it? Or, does the appearance of blue, as the color of the throat chakra, signify for me that I am finally finding my voice and speaking my truth? Why is blue showing up for me all of a sudden?

The last item is a bracelet in my new "Love-Me-Knot" design. It too is oh so blue.

Recently I've been daydreaming about wearing a sweater in a beautiful pale blue that is a cross between aqua and sea foam green. The hunt is on for some yarn in such a color. If you see some, tell me where it is.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What's Up with the Blues?

For ten to fifteen years I wore mostly black. It wasn't that I was a goth girl--my brain doesn't get going until it's been awake for awhile, so black clothes for work was a practical choice. There were probably a dozen pair of black pants, half that many black skirts, and lots of black tops and sweaters in the closet, all ready to be accessorized with some bright jewel colors. It kept wardrobe decision-making to a minimum.

Something happened about five years ago. Black didn't look as good against my maturing skin. I started wearing a bunch of new colors away from the black and jeweltone palette. All sorts of reds, oranges, golds, and greens started appearing in the wardrobe.

But never came blue. It just wasn't for me. Too corporate. Too Brooks Brothers. Too boring, that blue. I didn't even own blue jeans because they were uncomfortable and tiresome.

So what's going on now?

Recently I spun the jumbo yarn shown above and below. It's named "Happy Skies".

This is a DK to Jumbo thick-and-thin 2-ply. There's about 50 yards of it--full of so many shades of blue they couldn't all be named. Below you can see it next to a laceweight yarn to get an idea of the size of it. (Note that the laceweight is also in blues.)

This yarn could be yours soon. For free. It's going to be given away, along with some other cool stuff, as a thank-you gift to readers in celebration of my one-year blogaversary. Keep watching the blog for pictures of other giveaway items and to know when to comment about which item you'd like to win.

Next post I'll show some more of the blues that have been happening around here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bangle Class

In August I will be teaching a class in bead crochet. The project will be a bangle bracelet of this design shown in these samples.

The 3-hour class will be held at Dava Bead and Trade on August 2, 2009 at 11:30. You can see a class description and get sign-up information here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monster Orchids

I recently returned from an eight-day trip. Upon my return this is what was lurking in the bedroom. It was shocking because the entire spray was all in bud form when I left town and now these blooms were about 50% larger than they were the last time the plant was in flower.

All nine orchids, 10 inches high by 4 inches wide, were open and reaching out to explore the space around them.

Stunning, but a little scary!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Experimenting with Stitch Pattern and Yarn

Variations are intriguing. If time were limitless, I would spend more time experimenting with them.

It is so much fun and such an educational experience to work up a swatch of a stitch pattern several times using different kinds of yarn--or to keep the yarn consistent and create variations in the stitch pattern. Usually driven by the need to finish a project, I don't often enough reserve time for swatching.

Currently what's scaling high on my intrigue meter is faggoting and rib stitches. A lovely pattern for experimenting with both at once is the lacy rib stitch used to create this scarf.

This is a rib stitch of Italian origin according to Barbara Walker who calls it corded ribbing. It is a ridged rib design with a lacy look. It's a one row repeat consisting of the repetition of SSK, M1, P2 with a knit stitch at each end of the row.

For such a simple stitch pattern, it has a lovely result. Varying the yarn and the needle size can really change the look. The bittersweet orange scarf above was done on large needles in a double strand of mediumweight Socks That Rock from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. It has a chunky look, but the STR fiber is super soft and so it feels great around your neck.

The next scarf was a charity scarf that was knit out of a wool/alpaca 2-ply fingering weight yarn donated by White Oak Alpacas. The scarf was knit using the same stitch pattern but with a smaller, size 10 needle. The luscious alpaca halo and the resilience of this fine yarn create a much different look.

The final example is a summer-weight cotton/lurex scarf which is soon to go in my Etsy store. The yarn, consisting of four unplied strands of cobweb-weight thread, creates a lovely loft.

Here's a closeup photo of the cotton scarf. The use of large needles created this lovely lacy look.