Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I finally got around to grouting my button pot. If you missed the last post about this, I made it for my friend from her mother's antique buttons. It still needs a little final cleaning, but the general look is there. I have to go through with something like a toothpick and get in all of the little crevices that are still holding grout remnants. The strings and cloth left stuck in the buttons looks even cooler after the grout. Yeah for mess!
I used a dark grout, almost a charcoal-like color. I wanted the buttons to pop as much as possible and if it had been a white grout, many of the white buttons would have been lost. When I mosaic I just let my hands place things without too much thought. I let things take shape organically. I like mosaics to be messy and crammed full so that every time you look at a piece you see something different or you find a new view.
Now I need to pop a little plant in there or a soothing candle. We'll see.
p.s. I started knitting a little stripey elephant today...
Saturday, February 24, 2007
I've been blogging steadily since mid-October now and it has been enjoyable, but I have made a few (or more) blunders along the way. If you missed them, let me be the one to point out a select few for your enjoyment this morning.
1. I could not for the life of me figure out how to get those links to work. I tried and tried to no avail. I just figured it out 2 posts ago and embarrassingly enough it is super easy! What kind of idiot could not figure that out? That would be me. So now that I have it down take a look at some of my favorite stops like here, here, here, and here. Oh, and here and here.
2) On a post awhile back, and I am trying to remember what I was talking about but I can't (maybe the marshmallow snowmen?), I tried to end up a project description with a bang. I ended up writing "wa-la!" when in my head I was combining voila and ta-da. That is embarrassing, right? My kindly friend was the only one brave enough to correct my humiliating blunder. I appreciate help like that when I am down.
3) Usually I am a decent speller, fifth grade champ (that's so pathetic to bring that up), but since I have been blogging I seem to be making silly spelling errors left and right. My most embarrassing recent errors have included the same word, twice. It isn't the error so much as the word's meaning that makes it especially humiliating. The word I am talking about is genius. I referred to Kate Gilbert as a genious, and Wenlan Chia as a genious. Who's the real genius here? That would not be me.
I can only laugh! As my daughter would say, human beings make mistakes, it's okay. I am sure there are many more to come. If you see any silly mistakes, let me know, I can take it. The "wa-la" moment made me laugh for several days, the "genious" moment made me kick myself, and the links thing, ugh, I still can't believe I couldn't get that. I have my fingers crossed that the links in this post will work. Boy, would that be embarrassing.
Okay, on to knitting now. The first shot is showing the progress I have made on the Lady Eleanor Shawl. It is Kureyon and it is a pleasure to knit. Secondly, that yarn above is yes, more Vesper. I know I showed two skeins the other day, but look what came in the mail yesterday! Sarah came into a windfall of Vesper. She actually was/is selling some of her extra and I took her up on it. Now I am the owner of Sweet Water, Knit and Tonic, Muddy Waters, and Neopolitan. It is beautiful and I am a proud mama.
The only other news I have came to me in an email from a friend yesterday. She knew where that stripey elephant came from (pg. 18, Itty-Bitty Hats, up on the shelf). These little crocheted toys are so cute, I just love them.
Today Madison is going to be hit by a blizzard. We already have quite a bit of snow and added some last night. It is a good weekend to stay inside and keep warm. I spy with my little eye: my husband!
Thursday, February 22, 2007
I don't have much time today, but I thought I would quickly share the scene of my ongoing crime with you and it isn't all pretty.
First of all, I have to eat candy while I am editing, somehow it makes the hours a little less painful. My candy of choice these past days has been sanded lemon drops, coffee nips, dulce de leche nips, and buttermints. Don't ask. I have the worst sweet tooth. I would easily skip a meal for a fantastic dessert.
Secondly, see all of those post-its sticking out of the top of the proofs? Those are all of the pages I need to revisit before sending it off. That isn't pretty at all! That makes me shudder.
Third, I shouldn't be working on anything else right now, so those socks are totally illegal. They are poison to me, but I can't stop. That is the Posh Yarns I got from here. It contains cashmere. Please release me, let me go. Do you even remember that song or am I way out there on that?
I received the cutest email from a knitter last night. She has itty-bitty and she loves the book, but she has become obsessed with a little elephant in one of the pictures. She wanted the pattern. I had to look for a long time to even find the elephant and it is really cute. If you have the book, look on page 18, up on the shelf. Unfortunately, I didn't knit the stripey elephant and it I am pretty sure it is a store-bought toy. I really love those stripes, those ears, and the size of that little guy. I may have to make one just like it! I'll let you know if it happens.
Much of the background stuff is mine in most of the shots in the book. Like for example on page 18, the hat the woman is "knitting" I started and sent to the photographer on about an hour's notice, the patchwork blanket is mine from Alphabet Soup (the staff made it as a group project), and also you can see my fairy's green foot and tulle skirt on the shelf. Throughout the book background items from my studio appear. I had never seen that elephant before yesterday, though, and I think I am getting seriously obsessed with it!
The other two most common questions I get in emails are, where is that bootie pattern on page 81, and on the same page, where is the bear sweater pattern? I need to write those up and I am seriously putting those two items on my things to do list as soon as I get a chance. I promise. I'll keep you posted on that!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
When I pick up my girls from school I always grab something to knit while I am sitting in the car waiting. Yesterday I was running late so as I ran out the door I grabbed these two skeins of Vesper Sock Yarn. The entire 10 minutes I sat waiting I admired this yarn, read the labels several times, breathed in the colors, and squeezed it in my hands. It kept me very occupied. Oh well, I thought it was pretty funny how looking at yarn can leave my mind pretty satisfied. I am easily entertained. The much sought-after Vesper is even more beautiful than I imagined and I can't wait to start working with it. The names are wonderful, too, Midnight Knitter and Meteor, so dreamy!
One more happy skein of yarn to talk about is this Sunshine Yarns in the Fiesta colorway. Dani designed this yarn when she saw Alison knit the Manos Cotton Stria Stripey hat from Itty-Bitty. She loved the colors so much that she designed a yarn colorway that incorporated the Cotton Stria colors. I feel so connected to this skein of yarn in a round about way, I just had to have some. To have a yarn inspired by one of your designs is so much fun. Dani has many other beautiful yarns on her etsy shop, so check it out. Fiesta!!!
I am knitting a bit as I am trying to finish up my editing, but not much. This is a future book project so I can't share too much. It is a fun one though.
This is the Breathmint Sknitches started up. I looove it!
My girls made these beautiful little mosaic tiles with some of my mosaic junk. This is a great and easy project for kids, no grouting, just cramming (my mosaic style of choice) with a little mosaic glue. I put felt pads on the bottom and if the tiles are flat enough these make great coasters. It is a perfect grandma or teacher gift, too.
I must carry on!
Friday, February 16, 2007
Don't you love Interweave Knits? I love this magazine and when it arrives in my mailbox I drop everything to do my initial quick run-through of the patterns. I get the lay of the land, so to speak. Then when I get a chunk of time I start reading, and I mean reading every word, looking at every advertisement, just soaking it all in. This is a top-notch production, period. I dog-ear pages in everything, even expensive coffee table books. I can't help it for some reason. In this issue of IK I have 7 pages dog-eared with projects and things I want to check out more thoroughly or pictures I am inspired by. Kate Gilbert, you kill me with those beautiful sweaters! You are a shaping genius. Gorgeous!
Then, out of the blue, I open to this! I had to laugh, well because, you know my issue with knitted underwear. This is a beautiful spread, I totally appreciate it, but will I knit a bra? Not on your life. What I looooove about this is the Ann Budd and Pam Allen designs and paragraphs about their knitted lingerie. Starting with Ann Budd, and I quote, "I'm not much of a lingerie type gal. Most days I can't even be bothered to hang earrings in the holes in my earlobes. So I had a little trouble getting my head around the lingerie theme for this staff project...until I realized that I do like to lounge on the couch while I knit or read. And I do love socks..." Okay, I love Ann Budd. I am with you on the earring thing. She made the most adorable, beautiful pair of light blue socks I have ever seen. They look like little clouds in a soft blue sky. Are socks lingerie? I guess I do have a thing for knitted lingerie then. Ann Budd is one of my favorite designers and especially her pattern books for the standards, she is awesome. I am going to knit those lingerie socks for sure.
Pam Allen was just as good in her lingerie paragraph and I quote, "...I can get chilly when I'm sitting up in bed reading. So it seemed that a soft, weightless shrug would serve me well. I won't be slipping it on over anything too brief, but it will still look good over the T-shirt I like to sleep in." Pam, that shrug is beautiful and delicate and airy. I love it, and I love it even more that you are going to wear that over your t-shirt. I can relate to that. I have been a fan of Pam Allen ever since she designed that beautiful coat with the appliqued mittens for her daughter in Knitting in America by Melanie Falick. Did you see that? Fantastic.
I think it is great that IK takes a subject that not everyone can relate to and makes it easily relate to everyone! That is a sign of creative greatness. What a wonderful magazine, even the lingerie.
Remember those buttons I talked about earlier on my light switch? Well, that dear friend of mine is going through a difficult time right now so I kept thinking I should do something with those buttons. Well, here it is. I am creating a mosaic pot out of her mother's antique buttons. I have to grout it still, but first it has to dry. Tomorrow I will grout and take another shot to share. What is so great is that her mother, who was 90 years-old when she passed away, left on threads and pieces of fabric on the buttons. I left all of that stuff on, it makes it so real and alive. You can imagine the clothes those buttons were on, how they fell off, and what they were intended for. This is my love for her all wrapped up around a little terra cotta pot.
p.s. I know I laughed at the knitted bikini patterns before and I feel a little guilty about that. I'll come clean about something in my past. When I was 19 I actually had a brown crocheted bikini that I got on a trip to Hawaii (I was a lot skinnier then). I wore that bikini out! I loved that bikini like no other. It did not sag when wet, the brown looked great on my brown skin, and I thought it was just about the best thing ever. My sister had the same bikini in light blue and she felt the same way. I should see if I can find a picture of us in those over at my mom's house. That could be funny. I am such a nerd sometimes!
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Are these not the best little bugs ever? I know nothing about who made them but I know where I bought them. Madison is a relatively small city but, boy oh boy, do we ever have great locally owned shops with a big city feel. You can't find better local retail shops anywhere. These bugs, which are pot hangers, to hang from your pots, of course, were at a kind of new Madison gift boutique/floral shop called Gratitudes. Any time I am giving a non-knitted gift this is where I shop. The owner has a talented eye for the unusual and the unusually cute gifts. They have the best flower arrangements and plants, too. I love this shop. The bugs were only $2.99 a fruity-pop. I bought some up for Valentine gift add-ons. They look like summer and they make me smile.
Twinkle, twinkle little knits, how I wonder where you are (going to fit into my schedule). Twinkle's Big City Knits is absolutely fantastic. I could knit just about everything in here, okay not the full-length skirt, but most everything else. Wenlan Chia is a chunky, bulky knitwear designing genius, which is no small feat. It is difficult to make this gauge yarn look shapely and spirited in garments, and she does it with ease. Wenlan divides her book into sections titled downtown, resort, night on the town, shop the town, twinkle tips, twinkle techniques and the twinkle patterns. Wow, what a ride.
Living in a cold climate makes this book appealing for the warmth factor, but she includes many sleeveless vests, and tops that you could layer or wear alone in warmer temps. There are scarves and hats that are a definite must-knit! Wenlan is innovative in her design, the shapes are new and fresh, the details are divine. She uses her own yarn line throughout the book, which I haven't seen before, but she gives resources to find her yarns and instruction and suggestions on how to substitute different yarns. The Twinkle Handknit yarns are distributed by Classic Elite and I plan on trying some of them so I will let you know what I think! This small town girl will be making many big city knits. If you like chunky, bulky knits on big needles then this one is for you.
Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy days to share in my knitting adventures, I appreciate you all. I flat-out love knitters. As the mason-dixon ladies would say: Mwah!
And a couple of hugs, too.
Happy Valentine's Day!!
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Here's one you'll want to make, and love to make. It's Banff by Jenna Wilson from the always wonderful knitty.com. I ran across this when looking through the archives and realized I had a boatload of the suggested yarn just sitting in my studio. It was leftover from my yarn shop that closed, as is much of the yarn I use for sweater projects. Odds and ends of this and that made it home with me to fill my studio. The yarn is Tahki Soho Bulky Tweed and it is delightful to knit with. This hearty tweed is filled with life and color and heft. Talk about a fast knit, this is it. Within a few short days I completed Banff. Don't just walk, run to your needles to make this sweater. I think this is my new favorite and I may have to make it again at some point.
Banff is cleverly designed and is all about proportion. The design is perfect for a petite person who wants to wear a bulky oversized sweater. If you look at the model on knitty you will see what I mean. The lengths of the sleeves and body are great although my favorite part is the cut of the sleeve. The ribbed cuff is slightly belled. I roll them up, just one fold when I need my hands for work. When I keep them down, I can't explain it, this sweater makes me feel so snuggly. The sleeves cover my hands to my knuckles, and usually I can't stand this, but this sweater makes you feel like grabbing a hot cocoa and a book and heading for the couch for a good long lounging session. I love it.
Here's what I am doing while wearing my Banff and it isn't lounging and it isn't snuggly. I am editing my proofs for book #2. It is so exciting to see what the pages are going to look like, it is a first glimpse at how things are going to come together. The same book designer and photographer are being used as on Itty-Bitty. I am pleased as punch! This book is the apple of my eye, a fantasy knitting book come true. I can't wait to share more. The book is set to be released in October 2007, which seems like a long time away, but there is much to be done before then.
My work table is a silly conglomeration of things I have collected. Some of these pieces are decoupaged on (mod podge of course!) and some I just slide under a plastic desk protector that is on top of the table. I save concert tickets, postcards, photos, subway passes, hotel keycards, cards, magazine pictures, etc., anything that strikes my fancy. Plain surfaces are hard to come by over here. I don't find it distracting but rather comforting instead.
As Simon Cowell likes to say, "Off you go!" That's exactly what I need to do! The editing is waiting.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
The best part of finishing a new pair of socks is....
starting the next pair. The vintage socks from yarntini are spectacular, warm, and squishy. They make my feet feel loved. You know what I mean. I ordered these next two future pairs of socks from theloopyewe.com and I am excited to get going. The Posh yarn, which I casted on this morning, is 30% cashmere and 70% merino. I can't wait. The sKNITches yarn is beautiful and is called Breathmint. Minty fresh! I fell for the name.
I have a major thing for color names from crayons, to paint, and most of all to yarn. I can, at times, fall in love with a yarn simply due to its name. I know Rowan used to have Biggy Print in a colorway called Cookie. Cookie. How can I resist that? I also have s'mores sock yarn from Knitpicks. Rowan Handknit Cotton has double chocolate that's hard to resist as well. Why is it all about dessert with me? I have such a problem. I can even recite all of the paint colors on my walls by name. It's all strange but true.
Moving on, tomorrow the beautiful and talented Betz White will make her debut appearance on the Martha Stewart Show. Everyone be sure to tune in. She is a new friend of mine and I am excited for her. I also saw that she has her birdie pouches in the latest issue of Adorn magazine. Congratulations to Betz! She is taking off.
I have a quick, funny story before signing off. I was in JoAnn Crafts last weekend where I ran across Knit It! magazine. I walked by it several times as I was with my son and we were picking out fabric and notions for his home ec. class. Finally, while we were standing in line to check out I grabbed a copy and flipped open to a spread about....itty bitty hats! Really, I opened directly to that page. I nearly fell on the floor. I had to step out of the line for a second to catch my breath. It was just a weird experience. There are 3 patterns from the book in the magazine. Stars, pink pastel marley and the upside-down daisy patterns are featured with a brief description of each. It was a funny thing to happen, so unexpected.
The proofs for book #2 are arriving at my house on Saturday and I have about 10 days to edit. Wish me luck!
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Did any of you make Tubey from Knitty.com? I did. I was intrigued by the construction of the design. When you've been knitting as long as I have and you see new construction in sweater design, you simply have to make that sweater. I had tons of single skeins of Noro Cash Iroha sitting in my studio which was a perfect choice for this Tubey. I had fun knitting this little gem, no seams, fast, fast, fast in the round knitting. It is a cute sweater.
The problem is that it doesn't fit comfortably. It pinches under the arms! I took painstaking care to get the correct measurement before I started the project to determine what size to make. I actually had my mom measure me. I had to stretch my arms out in front or something like that and measure armpit to armpit. Sorry mom! I like the sweater so much, I dislike the fit even more. Also, it is not good for the old undergarments. It is cut too far open to the shoulders at the neckline. To solve that a top or cami underneath or even a crisp white blouse would cover that up. None of these fit comfortably with the pinchy armpits.
It is a sad tale I have to tell about my tubey delight. I think I will rip, rip, and more rip! I made it a year ago and have worn it once. It is time to go and that Cash Iroha is too fantastic to waste. I think I may make the Hourglass sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, by Joelle Hoverson instead. The colors are good and the stripes, the best. It should be redone in a more wearable form, no?
I'll leave you on a positive note! I looooove this Namaste bag I got a little while ago. It is fantastico! Chic, huge, pockety, black, shoulder totey, you name it, it's here. Get one for yourselves quick.
p.s. If you are reading this from a warm spot, you wouldn't believe the weather here. It was something like 40 below yesterday, no school for the kids which is unheard of in Madison. We're a tough crowd when it comes weather. Our school district now closes when it hits 35 below. The last time the schools were closed for coldness was in 1994 when it was a 70 below wind chill. Brrrrrr, all the better for knitting...
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I was mentioning how I like to pull out older knitting books to look through on a regular basis. Yesterday I pulled out this special kids edition of Vogue Knitting. It was the fall/winter 1993 issue. If you can get your hands on this magazine, I say do it! The designers featured are Jil Eaton, Meg Swansen, Elizabeth Zimmerman, Gayle Bunn, Norah Gaughan, Lipp Holmfeld, and Nicky Epstein. The designs are fantastic, many of them are timeless classics.
One of the greatest features in this edition is two-page spread of little teddy bears in terrific knitted outfits. The outfits were designed by some of the greatest knitting designers ever. Added to the list above are Kaffe Fassett and now, who was that? Oh yeah, Jacqelyn Smith! Charlie's Angels' Jacquelyn Smith? Not so fast, I looked it up and she spells her name Jaclyn, but it's fun to imagine. Doesn't she have a popular clothing line at Walmart or something? Anyway, the bears in their outfits were auctioned off for The Children's Aid Society, a charity fund for kids. I love this idea. Also, they had a booklet with all 18 patterns for the bear clothes which you could purchase and the profits went to the charity. It's all adorable. Someone should do this again.
As I was leafing through the magazine, an ad caught my eye. Take a close look at that picture, come closer, closer......
That's right. You guessed it (drum roll). It's Lindsay Lohan! Yes, she's modeling ALPHABET FUN!! Lindsay is so cute in this picture, so innocent. Now, the ad is for iron-on transfers to add to this basic Vogue sweater pattern. You apply the transfer then duplicate stitch and embroider the letter and animal to the sweater front. They suggest these are for kids and adults alike! Sign me up, mom.
Now we jump to the fun stuff. I love Pier 1 Imports for pillows. They have great colorful pillows for low prices. It is inspiring to hang out by their pillow wall. I have to get over there to do just that. This set of 3 pillows came in a stack tied together with a ribbon. Isn't it delicious? I even got some orange cables in the mix.
Julia yarn by Kristin Nicholas is another fun thing. What glorious yarn in deep, rich colors. I definitely have to knit something with this treasure trove soon. I see Kristin has a new book coming out. I will buy it sight unseen. I am a big Kristin fan. She does it all, quietly and beautifully. I can't wait. I think the book is called Kristin Knits. Whatever it is I'm there with my check book.
I'm leaving you now with my thoughts lingering on Jaclyn (I always wanted her hair) knitting her bear outfit in full Charlie's Angels glory, sweet Lindsay modeling her C is for Cat sweater, iron-on transfers for your knitting and much, much more.
It's a fun world out there.