Sunday, January 29, 2012

Since It Was Requested ...

Melisa asked for a sneek peak of the green - so here it is. All of you may be mightily disappointed; nevertheless ...

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Artful Abundance of Fiber

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
                                                                                                    Henry Ellis

When it comes to design, every new one that makes it to a finished piece is like, I would imagine, raising a child. The designer nurtures it, watches it grow, makes adjustments along the way, and then releases it into the world to see what becomes of it.

Of course, if one is a needle arts designer, it all starts with the fiber. Here's what is currently on my fiber plate (literally and figuratively):

Biscotte & Cie
I let go of it last week. 

Cascade 220 Heathers

Nazli Gelin Garden Metallic Cotton Thread

Berroco Lustra

I'll let go of the above three between now and the end of February.

This living is indeed an art.

Check in with Andrea's blog to see everyone else's artful pursuits this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday.

Friday, January 20, 2012

And While We Deal With The Snow "Event" ...

... may Etta James rest in peace. The genuine article indeed - it was a soulful, voicey ride.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Slow, Wippy Start

This lace weight's colorway is
entitled Betty Friedan. True to
its name, it was pretty
obstinate while I was trying to
wind it into a ball at one of
the area local yarn shops. 
Well, it's Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday, and I'm definitely fee-fi-fo-fumming through my projects in progress (at least the ones I can talk about). I have two small projects going, one shawl (cause when am I not working on a shawl?) two sweaters ... and then other stuff. So I'll provide a round-up of the projects in progress:

1. My Cables 'Round the Nebula sweater: this test knit is coming along ... at a snail's pace. I'm past the first armhole, and am some ways into the back. Since it's a sideways-constructed sweater, I started at the left front and am working my way around. There is some short-row shaping in the back, and this is my first taste of working short-rows. Can anyone say wrap and turn?

My Cables 'Round the Nebula: this
photo was taken just prior to my working
the armhole and starting on the back.
2. My Marbled Cardi: this is a sweater I started last summer (yes, folks!) and with the camraderie of a few Ravelry friends over in the 52 Projects in 52 Weeks thread, I'm determined to get this completed. I'm done with the body, and am now working on the front trim before I tuck into the sleeves (which won't be for at least another week). I'd really like to wear it this summer. Ummm ... do you think I'm giving myself enough leeway?

3. A placemat for my dining room table: This is my small, hopefully quick project from Totally Simple Crochet. I wanted to use up some of my stash of cotton in addition to wanting a new something to brighten up my table, and this little pattern did the trick. I really like how simple single crochet and chain stitches can, when using different colors, produce an almost woven look (sorry about the crappy scanner pic).

4. And my new shawl: This pattern, while not mine, is going to stay under wraps at the moment. Suffice to say that this is, hands down, one of the most beautifully lace-y crochet shawls I've ever attempted. Started at the beginning of the year (right after I finished my last one for the 2011 shawl challenge) I'm about 40% done. I'd like to get it done by the end of the month, but that might be a little optimistic.

Finally, I'm also working on a certain scarf pattern with a certain alpaca and silk fingering yarn. Since a certain someone has hers in (much-needed) time out, I will spare her, and the rest of you, with the update. Mine is going better than hers - no time out needed over here. The perks of writing your own pattern.

Here's to hoping I actually have something finished for next week! In the meantime, definitely head over to Andrea's blog and see what progress everyone else is making on their respective projects. And to all in the U.S. over this holiday weekend - take time to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy in your own, unique way. For myself, beyond the myriad community service projects previously accomplished, it's always worth it to be mindful of his struggle as well as how far we as a country have come, in no small part, because of that struggle.

60s Redux, Divided
This is a portion of one of my recent paintings

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fun in Containers

I have had a fascination with shipping containers - especially since moving west. Architecturally, they are full of possibility. The Dekalb Market (go Brooklyn!), just finishing its first season, is one great example. I've reposted these photos from The Dekalb Market's site taken by its roving iPhoneographer Kathy Malone. There are tons more on the site - definitely check them out. We need one of these in the Pacific Northwest. We have plenty of containers.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's the first Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday of 2012 - can everyone believe it? This time between the holidays and mid-January is usually a time for me to be still, take stock of the previous year, and envision what I hope for in the coming twelve months. This year is no different, although I've also been incredibly busy with creative and other pursuits (more on this a little later down).

The most firm goal I articulated at the beginning of last year was to craft from my shelf meaning, if I wanted to make something, I would look to my own library of books and periodicals first for an appropriate pattern. Of the 40 projects completed in 2011 (40? That alone is amazing!), 21 of them were patterns from my library - either books or magazines or paid patterns. Of that number, 13 finished objects are from either my own personally designed and published patterns, or designed from books whose main purpose is to provide the tools for one to design one's own items. I'm not certain what measure of success in this goal 21 of 40 actually is, but I'd qualify those numbers as a mild success.

What is far more amazing to me is the number of patterns I wrote and published last year. Folks, I am absolutely blown away. At the beginning of 2011, I never envisioned publishing 7 patterns, never. I already have six confirmed and in the pipeline for 2012. No one is more surprised, pleased, excited, just a wee bit nervous, and absolutely, positively thankful than moi. I think I've envisioned living a creative life from a very early age, but it didn't start to take any real shape until 2007 (although I picked up my first 35mm camera on my way to South Africa in 2000 and that turned out to be a creatively momentous milestone).

I continue to learn that trusting in myself and my own decisions usually pays off. In a culture that constantly seems to reinforce mindnumbing conformity (despite the U.S. mythology of rugged individualism), or manipulating individual action for corporate or other gain, going my own way might seem distancing to some, but space and time are vital for me. I hope I continue to be able to take the time I need in 2012. That has been one of the biggest gifts of all to come out of the imperfect perfection of 2011.

And so, I start off 2012 the same way I started off 2011 - with a painting, a shawl and a book. For the last two weeks I've been painting up a storm, and although the photos aren't perfect, you can see a sample of one of them to the right. Humanity, a tryptich, is a riot of color. It was a lot of fun to paint, and with holiday music providing a great backdrop, I definitely hit my painting zone during its creation.

The shawl I have to share with you was finished January 2nd, but still officially made the deadline for completing my challenge of 11 shawls in 2011. Phew - I can't believe I did it! My Greeny Warmth Stole (from this Drops pattern) is all bulky weight mohair - lightweight and oh-so-warm. It's a generous 21" x 57", so when not around my shoulders, it will definitely keep my lap warm (as it did while I was crafting it).

The book I want to discuss is Tove Fevang's Totally Simple Crochet. Translated into English last year, this is one of the best beginning crochet books I've come across in a while. Fevang starts at the most basic beginning - with the humble dishcloth. Now, I'm usually not a fan of dishcloths, yet in her hands, the dishcloth rises to a thing of simple beauty. Really. And for the novice crocheter, making each of the discloths in this book is the perfect basis for the rest of the patterns that follow - including the stylish cover scarf and a poncho that I absolutely love. Where Marie-NoĆ«lle Bayard's Crochet! (reviewed here) has rather sophisticated patterns for the novice (which I admittedly love), Fevang's patterns are classic and straightforward. They eminate from a designer steeped in the home needle arts tradition. For a beginning crocheter, I cannot recommend this book more highly.

Finally, I want to thank all the blog readers who peeked in during the 12 days of George Bailey. Some of you left lovely comments (George Bailey was blushing, just so you know). If Baa-me Kniits, Erin in Beantown, and Nicole get in touch with me via email, each will receive my La Vitre scarf pattern (still only in limited release) for leaving pithy comments that made George Bailey smile from whisker to whisker.

Thanks so much for being one of the best parts of my 2011; I'm looking forward to more of the same in 2012. Now don't forget to check back with Andrea's blog to see how everyone else is starting off the new year. And to those of you who wish to join us, Andrea's currently hosting a JAL for the La Vitre scarf pattern here on Ravelry.