Friday, September 30, 2011

A Little Crafty Nighttime Crochet

It is yet another Fiber Arts Friday - and this week I have yet another finished object, I'm happy to report.

Several weeks back I provided a sneak peek at a large project I'm slowly but surely getting through. This is a companion piece to that much larger project:

Completed with stash yarn (in colors I just love this time of the year), I'm pretty flushed to show you my latest bedroom pillow cover. It's a riff on Sarah London's wooleater blanket pattern, which I adapted to work back and forth, as opposed to in-the-round granny square style. Because the pattern is easily memorized, this was my nighttime no-thinking needed crochet project for about a week. (BTW, Sarah has a new book out - and even though her current blog tour skipped yours truly [written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, although I have been a faithful reader of her blog], the book is worth a look-see. Mine's on back order. Sheesh.)
Additionally, I added some sweet buttons. I cannot say I'm usually much of a hearts kinda gal, but for the bedroom and bath, I like it in small doses. Besides, that square piece of bling in the middle nicely counteracts any potential suger overload.

Now, about the much bigger companion project ... well, let's hope I get that completed soon. :)

Make certain you check back with Andrea's blog to see everyone else's crafty pursuits this past week. I hope each of you has great fall weather to enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Signs of Fall

Ah, my favorite time of the year! I know fall has arrived when:

1. there are pumpkins and all sorts of
    gourds for sale everywhere (indicating
    the seasonal harvest has begun);
2. can fresh cranberries be far behind?;
3. that great nip in the air is interspersed
    with a few warm, sunny Indian
    summer days;
4. I notice the leaf colors everywhere I go;
5. I want to cook stews all the time,
    preferably with red wine;
6. I start stocking up on candles of all sorts
    (although tea lights are my preferred
    candle choice in winter); and

7. I want to use all the soft, warm yarn I can get my hands on, preferably in red and
    orange colorways.

I also wanted to provide a few photos of Andrea's Shawl of Red Awesomeness, now that she's received it. You can also see some sassy modeled action shots over at her blog. I absolutely loved making this shawl, and it definitely makes me feel the season.

Happy Fall, where ever you are (in the Northern Hemisphere, of course)!

Grape vines in the fall French countryside

Friday, September 23, 2011

Foiled by the Post Office

Well, while I have a completed FO this week, the post office has put a wrinkle in my blog copy plans. As you can see to the left, Andrea's Shawl of Red Awesomeness is finished. (I sent her the same sneaky peek earlier in the week.) I sorely wanted her to receive her package before Friday, and the initial post offfice indication was that it would be delivered by Thursday. But noooooooooo. Gah! I must admit, I think I'm just as excited as she is about this shawl. So, I'll just have to be a little more patient - I can't wait to see a modeled action shot next to the actual alpaca that donated all that gorgeous yarn.

Of course, it's not like I don't have enough other projects that need attention.

In the meantime, I'll live vicariously through everyone else's yarny pursuits this week - check in at Andrea's blog to get the yarny scoop this Fiber Arts Friday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Fan's Approach to Design

I am so thrilled about designs of mine that have been accepted for publication (and I'm starting to get a critical mass of them accepted!). However, I hope that I can still keep crafting projects from some of my favorite designers. Let me explain.

I've spent some time around wine and winemakers. If you've ever spent any time with a winemaker, you'll know that he/she spends a lot of time tasting and testing the wine being made. It's an ongoing process, more an art really. If the winemaker didn't taste regularly, that magical moment when it's time to bottle the wine may elude him or her. Disaster.

However, any good winemaker worth his/her grapes will also tell you that to drink one's own wine exclusively is to stop exercising an important muscle. If all the winemaker drank were his/her own wine, the tastebuds would become dulled to the other exquisite range of flavors and complexities to be found in other wine bottles. He or she must taste other vintner's wares regularly. In essence, the good winemaker must become a wine fan.

So, too, with design. I'm certainly fond of my own designs (!), but I don't want to stop appreciating and, hopefully, making other of my favorite designers' patterns. What would the world be without a great Doris Chan top-down crocheted cardigan, or Norah Gaughan's wonderfully unique knit cable creations, or a Susanna IC crescent-shaped shawl? A far less fashionably tasteful place, let me tell you.

So who are your favorite designers? If you had one last project to make before meeting that great Dodger in the sky, what would it be?

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Little Bit 'O Blonde This Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

I received a really great package in the mail this week. It contained this lovely laceweight hemp yarn.

I'm a big Blonde Chicken Boutique fan; I met Tara Swiger (yes, she's the Blonde Chicken!) during last December's Urban Craft Uprising event; I purchased some of her fiber - and of course, blogged about it at the time.

I'm happy to report that Tara is sending me yarn for a specific purpose - I'll be creating one of my designs, using her wonderful hemp laceweight, for the Fresh Designs Crochet Home book that is slated to be published sometime in the second half of next year. Yeah Cooperative Press for having the good sense to accurately interpret the crafty tea leaves: more households crochet than knit. Yes, folks, it's true according to the most recent Craft and Hobby Industry research.

It's fun to get yarn in the mail - especially when given to design with!

If you should ever have the opportunity to purchase Blonde Chicken Boutique yarn, I would urge you to go for it. Tara strives to be a responsible environmental steward while creating her wonderfully colored yarns, and she's probably got a story or two from the local fiber-producing farmers in her area.

Ok, everyone: you know the drill! Check back with Andrea's blog, and make certain you leave your bloggy footprint with everyone else this Fiber Arts Friday.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Vegetative Matter

Recently, I wrote about some handspun I'm using, and described it as including a very small amount of vegetative matter. I didn't realize at the time that my words would cause any discomfort, because I actually like a little vegetative matter in my yarn every now and then. Let me explain.

I'm a big lover of Noro yarns, especially Noro Kureyon. I think it is a stroke of genius on the part of Mr. Noro that he keeps a small portion of "the world of nature" in each
See the lovely Noro Kureyon on the top left side?
skein of Kureyon worsted weight. It is a subtle reminder of the process that produces the gorgeously-colored yarn that will become some thing that will bring me and others yarny, creative joy.

I also know that not everyone agrees with me regarding Noro Kureyon. I have had several exchanges with others who have expressed their dissatisfaction with either Kureyon's vegetative matter or its slightly rougher-than-normal texture. And, of course, vegetarians and vegans also couldn't be too thrilled to find reminders of the animals that produced the fiber, no matter how vegetative the form of the reminder. 

However, in a world of mass production and over processing (in yarns and every other aspect of our culture) I like Kureyon's more rustic characteristics. It has a definite place in my design scheme, alongside all the more refined yarns (and you can inject your favorite yarn of choice here - Kidsilk Haze, Tilli Tomas, Sundara - the list is longer than my arm).

All of which brings me back to the wonderful handspun I'm currently working with. I like the fact that I know exactly which animal, from which farm, and through whose hands this exact vegetative matter passed before it got to my project.

So to those of you awesome handspinners: proudly embrace your vegetative matter. It is a rustic, beautiful, unique thing. And I like it exactly that way, thank you very much.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Containing Things This Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

The bottom detail on my new 
rectangular yarn basket.
Once the Labor Day weekend hits each year, I usually go into reorganization mode. You know, fall cleaning and household crap purging.

Yarn wrangling was definitely the order of the day, so a part of this year's fall reorganization needed to include yarn containers. Using this Chunky Basket pattern as a template, I crafted two - one circular, and one rectangular.

Holding two strands of worsted weight cotton together, these baskets worked up lickity-split. At 4 1/2" high and about 14" in length and diameter, they also hold a whole lotta yarny goodness.They add a shot of clean white - and of course, I can look at more of my stash while I use it.

Additionally, I've been saving all of the yarn labels from the fiber I use with the thought that they would eventually find their way into some art. I also had an old wood box that I've had, like, forever, that needed a make-over. So, after painting the bottom of it with a little phthalo blue acrylic paint, as well as finding a theme in some of the yarn names (sprout, grass, dune, and of course that Noro "world of nature"), I present my first decoupage attempt:

This is the first time I've used Modge Podge, and I've concluded that I like using gel medium much better to afix things (I painted gel medium on top of the labels, that's why they're slightly shiny). Nevertheless, it's kind of neat to see the labels in my living room - it reminds me of some wonderful projects (can anyone say Inspira Cowl?).

Don't forget to check back with Andrea's blog to see how everyone else is wrangling their respective yarn this Fiber Arts Friday. And Andrea - I'm back on the shawl, so it shouldn't be too much longer now.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's a Process Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

I say it's all about process this week, because ... well ... it just is, at least for me.

Initially, I've got several projects in process, but the one that I can share with you right now is Andrea's shawl of red awesomeness. It's about 50% completed, and here's a process pic taken several days ago:
Even in this raw, unblocked state it is some kind of amazing. I cannot wait to complete it! I'm absolutely loving working with Andrea's handspun. It's very sproingy and has a slight thick and thin quality to it. Along with a few specs of vegetative matter here and there, it all adds up to rustic yarny goodness.

I also need to provide a word or two here on my blogging process. Since I've been using this new computer, with more internal safeguards and bells and whistles, there are some blogs on which I cannot post comments that I used to be able to before, and really want to again! I've changed my Blogger settings in the hope that might do the trick ... and it did for a few blogs. But the combination of my new security settings and certain bloggers' comment settings are making it impossible for me to completely join in the fun. So to those who I used to leave comments but haven't in a while ... it's not the copy. Really. 

Finally, what process discussion would be complete without the food that sustains the process? I had a great meal a few weeks back of charcuterie and frites that was just about perfect. I shall leave you with a wonderful pictoral food memory that I hope will inspire your Labor Day feasts (if you're in the U.S.):

These frites were perfect, the grainy mustard a nice acidic note
to the charcuterie, and the hard cider was almost like drinking
a cream and apple tart. Oh yum!
Definitely check out Andrea's blog to see how everyone else is exercising their fibery labor rights ... and have fun while not working over this Labor Day weekend.