Thursday, December 30, 2010

Photo Gnobility

The end of every year (as well as the beginning of each new year) finds me in a more contemplative frame of mind. 2010 is no different. I have, recently, been reading essays from The Best Buddhist Writing of 2009. The first essay, Jack Kornfield’s “The Wise Heart” discusses how Buddhist psychological thought can counteract western psychology’s seemingly Pavlovian focus on the dark side of human nature. Man, reading this essay was timed to perfection. It would be easy for me (heck, any of us who have lived through 2010) to focus on all that went wrong and the bumps - major and otherwise - in the last year.

Kornfield, however, also briefly discusses the concept of nobility. No, not any royal family or blue blood lineage, but the concept from the Greek derivation –gno- meaning “wisdom” or “inner illumination.” If one has the willingness to practice the ability to tap into one’s inner light and wisdom, then true freedom is possible, no matter the external forces that will inevitably swirl.

For me, that practice has taken a creative form. There is no doubt that my 2010 was marked by a shift toward my own creativity. It’s been there all along. I hope for more of the same in 2011.

So I leave you with a series of pictoral collages from my 2010. Some photos may be familiar to those that regularly read the blog; I expect many will be new. All are a reflection of my gnobility. May each inspire you in the coming new year.

These photos are in no particular order, and they range from the beginning of the year through just a few days ago.

Of course, glaringly absent are my final shawl this year, as well as my most recent painting (but I'll certainly post that in the new year).

Finally, while this blog is certainly not focused solely on my pet, my year would be incomplete if I did not mention George Bailey. He is my furry, sleepy co-pilot. He always presents me with his truth. In a world full of  manipulative and/or surface interactions, he is definitely my breath of fresh air.

Happy 2011!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Creative Grab-bag Monday

I received an unexpected gift yesterday. Remember the mobius wrap I crocheted for my Ravelry swap partner? (You can read about it here.) I had asked for a photo of her wearing it, if she was comfortable with that. (I am, oddly enough, notoriously photo-phobic. I would much rather be behind the lens.) I was absolutely thrilled when she obliged and posted a photo on her Ravelry project page. I was even more thrilled when Samira (yes, she does have a name!) allowed me to post one of them here for all to see. 

Doesn’t she look stunning in this wrap, which she’s stylishly doubled around her neck? (I'll be happy to forward any fan email sent to the blog.)

Samira also reports that her new puppy loves it as well. Recipient-tested and puppy approved – what more can a gifty crafter ask for? There is no greater thrill for me than to make a gift and have it well-received. Thanks, Samira, for yet another holiday present.

Finally, I have been spending some recent time with my paint brushes. 2010 is going out with a creative flourish. (Please pardon the less-than-perfect photo. I just stood the painting on my table and snapped so I would have a record of it.)

Coffee Table Chaos
Acrylic on Canvas, 18" x 24"
Sold, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It’s a Color-filled, Weaving Kind of Thing

Two projects recently completed have me in a “weaving” frame of mind. The first, a shawl interpreting the Rectangular Crow's Waltz Shawl pattern, uses a type of knit slip stitch that looks like woven fabric when completed. I used five different fiber colorways to achieve this finished look:

Since each colorway utilizes multiple colors to achieve its unique, variegated effect, all of them combined created quite a beautiful fall palate. Since that was my goal, I’m pretty pleased with the finished shawl - even if it is winter, now.

The second project, a scarf, comes from this pattern that utilizes a filet crochet mesh and long lengths of chain stitches that are “woven” into it. Since I stash-busted on this scarf (using up blue and green bits from the shawl above, in addition to other gold, blue and green laceweight and fingering weight yarns) I ended up with a tonal scarf with lots of pop. It's warm and colorful and perfect – well, at least I think so.

Happy holiday to you and yours. May it be filled with peace, love, joy and understanding – or, failing any of that, fragrant greenery and really decadent dessert.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


In terms of weather, the Pacific Northwest lowlands have been deluged in the past week. Roads have collapsed, houses have been washed away, and electricity has been intermittently knocked out to thousands. In the midst of all this weathering, Mother Nature smiled upon us yesterday – and I celebrated the gift with my camera.

This vista is truly memorable. In December. In the Pacific Northwest.

Additionally, I thought you might like to see, below, the neat scarf I received from my Lion Brand swapper, made with Amazing yarn.

I also received holiday ornaments (including little metal trees with bells on them!), as well as a few handmade items for donation – but more on that in a future post.

Have a great, last weekend before Santa’s big day – and may you celebrate all the gifts of the season, no matter their source.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sneak Peek Revealed

I have, for approximately the last six months, moderated a Ravelry forum in which we have swapped goodie packages with paired partners. The overarching thread is Lion Brand yarns, and each swap has its own particular theme. The most recent swap was holiday- and charity-themed. Each person spends a particular amount on items swappees have identified as favorites in a previously answered questionnaire, and at least one item should be hand-made using the aforementioned yarn.

And here comes the revelation behind the sneak peak – I made a crocheted mobius wrap (pattern compliments of Red Heart) for my swap partner, in one of her favorite colors – purple. As you can see from the photos, I added an edging of mohair and lurex in lavender and silver.
The edging gave the piece just that little pop of color and sparkle next to the face. I also positioned the twist in the back on my dress form for a different look.

While I can’t say I’m a huge Red Heart fan, some of their patterns are quite lovely – especially if you can imagine them made with different yarn weights. While worsted weight was super for this project to ward against the cold, this wrap would also look elegant in laceweight or fingering weight yarn (plan to use between 500 – 600 yards, depending on size and gauge).

Most importantly, my swap partner loved it! Additionally, we both made something for a charity each had respectively identified at the beginning of the swap, and I sent along two blanket squares for Project Night Night:

Since I am stepping away from my mod duties to focus on other goals in 2011, it was a nice note upon which to end.

So – go out there and make something for somebody, alright?!!! And, once I receive my package (which should be very soon) – I’ll let you know what goodies I get.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Crafty Weekend

This past weekend saw some glorious weather in the Pacific Northwest (meaning sunny and rain-free on Saturday), as well as me getting my holiday craft on. I completed a hand-made item for a swap gift (more on this in a later post - but see the bottom photo for a teensy sneak peak!), as well as checking out the holiday season edition of Urban Craft Uprising.

What, you ask, is UCU? Well, it’s a mecca for all things DIY and handmade. Over 100 vendors and authors – crafty artisans to be certain – are gathered for one weekend so that we, the crafty public, can ogle the wares and get some holiday shopping completed. At a great entrance price (it’s free!), plus swag bags for early risers each day, how could I not check it out?

The greatest strength of UCU is the varied selection of vendors, many of which offer a $6 special item in addition to their normal inventory. I checked out painters, jewelers, t-shirt makers, fiber spinners and dyers, and all sorts of textile crafters. There is something for just about everyone (including the family pet), and all of it original and not mass-produced.

A note to those who might take in a future UCU event: because virtually all of these artisans are small businesspeople, you may encounter some payment restrictions/irregularities. Some vendors might not accept credit cards for purchases under a certain amount, and/or some might request information because the credit card transaction will be completed later. While nothing to necessarily worry about, just something to keep in mind (and knowing where to find the closest ATM is helpful).

It was a mob scene, making browsing difficult at times (which was a happy turn from the summer edition of UCU I attended, which was a little thin on foot traffic). So, after completing my once-over circle of the room, I picked up a neat gift for someone (at least I hope it’s neat to the recipient!), and some fiber for myself. I am excited to try this hemp (on the left) in one of my future shawl projects from Blonde Chicken Boutique:

I cannot believe that skein contains over 600 yards of the slightly linen-feeling, yet surprisingly soft, fiber. Additionally, I am so thrilled with the happy-colored fingering weight skein I also managed to snag – it’s made from mill ends and hand-dyed. At 480 yards it, too, has a spring shawl (with beads, I suspect) written all over it.

If you are looking for unique, hand-made gifts that sustain artisans, are (in many instances) eco-friendly, and just plain cool, definitely look for an UCU-type of event in your area. For example, should you be in the Portland, Oregon area this upcoming weekend, definitely check out Crafty Wonderland.

And have fun getting your craft on!

The crafty sneak peak ...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pattern, Languish No More!

While I currently have two other knit shawls on the needles, I’ve just completed my eighth crocheted shawl in Ravelry's 10 in 2010 challenge – with mere weeks left. (December 31st at the stroke of midnight Norwegian time [!] is the witching hour; oh, the fun quirks of an international challenge.)

All my completed shawls in this challenge have a creation story, and this one is no different. A few weeks back (sometime before Thanksgiving), several of the crochet challengers were virtually chit-chatting about patterns and what we would next make. A few put forth new patterns, one of which was Lyn’s (Shepherd's Crook) Festival Shawl.  For those of you non-Ravelry readers, she also is CGOA's book reviewer. According to Lyn, she had worked on it a bit, but then just let it fall to the wayside, in a somewhat raw form.

Well, even though I am not too keen on triangular shawls, from the prototype photo she posted, it looked like something that I might find interesting to craft. I already could see the bead possibilities (which were not a part of the original design), and I wanted to complete at least one triangular shawl so I could learn about this type of shawl construction.

So, stash diving I went, and initially came up with about 800 yards of hand-dyed laceweight I had received in a swap, along with one ball of Drops Vivaldi in a honking green colorway. Hoping to be able to get my hands on more of the Vivaldi in online de-stash or trade, I tucked into the pattern. After using up all of my on-hand Vivaldi, here’s what it looked like:

Of course, I could not scrounge up any more of the Vivaldi, so I went to Plan  B. While visiting the frog pond (and it was quite a visit because Vivaldi is mohair), I ordered two balls of Drops Kid-Silk in an apple green colorway. My second attempt then looked like the next photo, prior to starting the beaded edging:

As I was working on the body of the shawl, I quickly got a vision of the completed shawl, and thought it would be perfect for a formal affair like - you guessed it - a wedding. So, after I added the simple, yet effective and very pretty beaded edging, as well as performed the requisite blocking spritz, I started to search for a place to take some photos. A few establishments into my research, on a cloudy and overcast Pacific Northwest early winter afternoon, I found Blue Sky Bridal, a consignment/new bridal dress shop with an eco-friendly focus. I knew my search was over even before I telephoned with my unorthodox request to take photos and received a warm yes from Jen, one of the co-owners.

I am so thrilled with the finished shawl. It has “formal spring affair” written all over it. Against the backdrop of a classically-styled off-the-shoulder gown, this pattern comes to life. I hope Lyn feels the same, so this beautiful pattern can be sent out into the crafting world. Yeah!

And, of course, thanks so much to Beth and Jen at Blue Sky Bridal for a friendly and fun photo shoot – even absent a blue sky.  Now, if only I could learn how to use my camera's flash ...