Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ready for a New Year? You Betcha!

Wow, some years can really knock you on your butt! This was one of those for me. There have been many demands on my time with many obligations to fulfill. It's not been a year to remember with fondness.

Happily, a new year begins tomorrow, and rather than dwelling on the challenges of the past year, I want to look forward with hope to the next one and express thanks for the good things that came my way:

  • My elderly mother moved to Oregon and now lives nearby. I have gotten to spend quality time with her and with my brother and sister. 
  • Some wonderful customers found their way to my Etsy shop, purchased some lovely one-of-a-kind items, and left marvelous reviews.
  • All the extra hours I've had to work at my day job this year have provided some needed income.
  • There are still quite a number of you who stop by the blog in spite of the fact that I've written such a scarcity of posts this year.
  • Mr. Cha Cha has been my absolute rock, especially today when we found our sweet Samba had passed away.
May your new year be blessed, and never give up hope.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Regaining Equilibrium

It's going to be a hot Saturday today in Portland. (There are so few of these hot days here anymore that it's easy to forget how the sun can quickly go from comforting to blistering.) I am not a sun fan when it gets over 85 degrees. According to the weather projections, I might get a little cranky over the next few days if not indoors.

Today I am working on a machine knit shawl, a hand knit hat, and two bracelets between recycling some beautiful emerald green cotton yarn, making a red quinoa salad for dinner, juicing some raw beets with apple, celery, kale and lemon, grocery shopping, and planning a salmon BBQ for dinner.

The quinoa salad became a metaphor as it was being made. You can put just about anything in red quinoa and throw some dressing on it and have something yummy. You don't really need a recipe--just grab what is on hand and looks good. Toss it in there and you have made meta-art out of nature's artistic bounty.

Today's salad started with a cup of cooked red quinoa. Also in there:

1/2 apple (leftover from the beet juice I was making)
3 radishes, finely chopped
3 small tender ribs of celery from the heart of the stalk, finely chopped
4 or 5 tablespoons of organic chia seed (Whole Foods 365 brand)
1/2 orange, peeled and diced
1 handful of dried Montmorency cherries (dried cranberries work well, too)
1 small (2-inch) red spring onion, thinly sliced and diced
2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
1 medium-sized cooked beet, diced
4 oz. (approx. 1/2 bottle) of Cherry Balsamic & Rosemary vinegrette*

* made by Lucini Italia

Life has been throwing some unexpected ingredients my way lately. That's why I haven't been blogging for a few months. My mind has been busy thinking of ways to blend life's ingredients into something not only palatable, but also tasty. You probably know the old saying about what to do when life gives you lemons.

You are owed a tutorial and a giveaway. So stay tuned.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fickle Weather and Color Choice

They say weather can affect one's mood. It can also affect one's color choice don't you think? In dreary weather I often dress in black or grey and on sunny days all sorts of color gets worn.

On a cold rainy day I finished this bangle with the most interesting colors that would work well for Summer and Fall. (It also is perfect for a miserably wet day in Spring when it can perk up a grey outfit with a little bit of color.)

You can see the cool colors of this bangle in this close-up photo: topaz, dusty pink, terra cotta, and bronze. The terra cotta-lined beads are no longer available and have been living in my inventory waiting for just the right other beads with which to mingle. They found the perfect partners in the other bead colors.

These colors are a departure from the Spring colors that I've been using, but the colors called to me in this damp, cold weather we've been experiencing. What happened to all that gorgeous weather we had at the end of March?

Oh well, who can complain--at least it's not a snowstorm.

What's your favorite color right now?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Seasonally Busy and Longing For May

This time of year my ideal blogging schedule just goes out the window. That's because this is the time when things at my day job get really cooking.

In the background, though, I am working on that tutorial for you of the braid that was introduced in this recent post.

On a personal level, I am dreaming of May, getting back to the Oregon Garden, and having some quality outdoor time.

What are you most looking forward to when the weather gets warmer?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Braiding, Memory, and the Smell of Palm Fronds

A distinctive aroma is the carrier of memories. It flies us faster than Pan Am to that exact moment in time when we smelled it before.

One whiff of the fresh sweet scent of palm fronds and I was back there in the Midwest sitting with the womenfolk on Palm Sunday afternoon. At Grandma's house, which was the place to go on Sundays afternoons, Mom, the aunts, numerous cousins, my sisters and I are all participating in the annual inter-generational craft of palm frond braiding.

Other years, after Grandma had passed on, my sisters and I would be at home with Mom in our living room in the early afternoon, after church and lunch, braiding the holy palms while they were still fresh and pliable.

Our little fingers started by splitting a long palm frond up the center into two pieces:

Then we would patiently fold the palm strips into interlocking loops. What we did not not know at the time is that we were making a centuries-old, two-loop braid.

You start by making a loop at the bottom end of each sliver of frond. One loop is slipped into the other. In the photo below, the loop of the left piece has been placed inside the loop of the right piece.

(You don't really need the paper clip, but if you're taking photographs, it helps to keep things in place while you take the photos.)

Then you make a loop with the right-side piece of palm and insert it through the loop of the left-side piece.

Here's a close-up of a loop being made in the left piece to go through the growing braid.

You keep doing this over and over.

Eventually you run out of frond and you tuck in the ends, tie them off, or create a little loop for hanging. This is the "back view" and the next photo shows the front.

Grandma believed in the old powers of the fronds blessed by the priest on Palm Sunday--powers now deemed as magical thinking or superstition by the church. The little braids we made were perched about her home (and ours) like little amulets hanging from crucifixes and holy pictures. Pieces of the palm would be burned to ensure safety in the event of a forthcoming disaster like a tornado.

I am no longer a "church-goer," but I made this braid for two reasons. Firstly because it's for my elderly mother as a reminder of those long-gone afternoons spent with busy hands in quiet contemplation of the Easter Sunday that was approaching. (Lest you think I was overly devote as a child, be assured that my thoughts were mostly of the new Easter Bonnet I was going to wear the following Sunday.) Mom has a bit of the old magical thinking in her makeup, and the little palm will bring her some peace of mind whenever troubles or natural disasters approach.

The second reason for the braid demonstration is that it's an introductory exercise to an upcoming tutorial in which you will learn how to easily make this braid, in a new way, out of other materials for a multitude of projects. You will be surprised by the cool effects you can achieve very simply.

Meanwhile, if you have a couple 2-yard lengths of narrow ribbon around, you might want to try this. Braiding is a relaxing little getaway, and who knows where your flights of fancy or memory will take you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Next Winter's Knitting

This month I am alternating work on some summer bead-crochet rope bracelets and knitting some scarves for next winter. This scarf is knit from some of my hand-spun yarn. I've been experimenting with different photo-styling ideas for the hand-spun yarn scarves in my shop.

Ribbon Candy Styling


The horizontal ribbon candy photo would probably work best in Etsy's photo aspect ratio, but I sort of like the stacked one. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wish I Was There

Sometimes you get so overloaded and getting going so fast you can hardly think. That's how things are going for me right now. Overtime at the day job. Sick relative. No complaints really, but I would rather be here shopping at this market in Venice:

If you could be somewhere else today, doing something else, where and what would it be?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Best of the Bunny Slippers

If you're ready to hop, hop, hop down the bunny trail, it's important to have the right footwear. Today's Friday featured artists can help improve your bunny hop.

Tell us, which pair makes you most want to hop a cha-cha around your living room?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pins Galore and Adding More!

By no means am I a pin-up queen, but I promise that you will find some interesting things on my pinboards over on Pinterest. Varied pinboard topics include knitting, crochet, whimsical home decor, travel, healthy food, fanciful hairstyles, dream shoes, and inspired jewelry.

There's a new "Follow me on Pinterest" button near the top of the blog sidebar, so you can pop over any time. You are not obligated to follow me on Pinterest by clicking on the button, but you might decide to follow once you see what I am up to over there.

Here are a few recent pins:

On the "Felt So Good" board is this cool St. Francis felt hat:

This wildly adorable pom-pom hat is on the "Fashion Fantasies" board:

You can find this lovely crocheted flower on the "Crochet" board, of course:

Do you Pinterest? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The March Issues

Twice a year, in March and September, the fat fashion magazines arrive. My semi-annual ritual of gazing into these editorial look-books began a few weeks ago.

I have clippings going back to the 1980s. Images that beg for scissors include

  • fashion that I or a friend might like to wear
  • fashion that I would not be caught dead wearing but which . . .
  • has some interesting embellishment
  • or draping
  • or twist
  • or color
  • or editorial storyboard

Interesting articles get saved as well.

These days, with Pinterest and various mobile apps, fewer actual physical images get clipped to be stored in chronological binders that gather dust on the studio shelves. No longer is it a monthly ritual,  but on a semi-annual basis I love to get a cup of tea and sit down to connect with hard-copy.

Are there magazines you prefer to handle rather than view online? Which ones call to you?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Blissfully Pretty for Prom or Wedding Hands

Worn with a pretty ball gown, these bead-crocheted bangles are like sweet icing for your wrist. Both can now be found in my shop. More will be coming as I get them photographed and described.

Ah...dancing the night away to magical music with a certain special someone who looks at you adoringly. Pure bliss.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wild Fiber Batt Makes Spring Candy Yarn

As a change of pace from spinning from roving, I recently made some art yarn from a wild fiber batt purchased from MadwomansDyepot on Etsy.

This batt had some beautiful Spring colors:

First off I spun a thick and thin, nubby, slubby single from this batt. Then I plied it with a smooth thin single to produce this:

The feature of this type of art yarn is that it is intentionally not smooth and even. Here is a close-up photo:

The pastel colors remind me of sweet candy confections.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bead Color Currents

In contrast to Friday's post, which featured dark wintery color, these pretty beads are waiting in the studio. More bead crochet bangles will be coming soon in these on-trend colors for Spring and Summer: