Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Sincere Thank You ...

... to everyone who visited my blog this past week during the 3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week. I have enjoyed reading your comments and checking out new-to-me bloggers. There are some seriously funny, creative, crafty bloggers out in the blogosphere.

If you've liked what you've read here this week, consider either following the blog and/or signing up for my new, quarterly-ish newsletter, the first edition of which will be published this fall. There will be new design news as well as goodies for everyone, so being a subscriber will reap treats!

Finally, I blogged about a paying-it-forward scheme right before this bloggy week. I'm still looking for two more people to surprise in the next year, so if you're interested, do feel free to sign up.

Happy blogging, everyone - and hey, be careful out there in the blogosphere. :)

P.S. - and for everyone who participated in Friday's Something A Little Different Topic, I'm one of the persons who provided a prize. I can't wait to see who wins my artsy Box d'Histoire!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Fantasy Crafty Fiber Day

Well, it's day 6 of this year's Knit and Crochet Blogging Week, and I'm officially exercising my wildcard right to fill you in on my perfect crafting day.  Remember, it's my fantasy.

Where: NYC (it could also easily be Paris or Milan)
When: Probably fall
With Whom: My guy (when is he going to show up, anyway?)
                      and then meet up with 4 of my fibery gal pals

Morning: My guy and I have a leisurely continental breakfast in bed, delivered by room service at our boutique and oh-so-fashionable hotel. We listen to NPR, he reads or gets updated on his electronic device of choice and I get some comfy crafting done on my latest project.

After dressing, my guy goes his separate way (hey, he's entitled to his own fun) and I meet up with the 4 crafty gals - it's time for fiber shopping. We take a quick horse  'n buggy ride through the park to get our green fix, then head first to the LB store - the window is always so enticing, and I can stock up on some of their LB Collection fibers. Next up: Purl Soho for more yarny fun (as well as some serious button stash enhancement). Finally (before lunch): Habu Textiles, for my fix of fiber inspiration.

Lunch: In Chinatown or Tribeca, me and the crafty gals enjoy great food and even better conversation during which we revisit our purchases and oogle over all manner of stash enhancement. Oh yeah.

Afternoon: We head to Brooklyn for a visit with Jared Flood (who has graciously agreed to see us), so we can get a tour of the studio (because he gives tours all the time), pick up some yarn (because of course he's got some at the studio just waiting for us) and we get a sneaky peek at what the studio is working on. Perfect. Then, back to the hotel.

Evening: Drinks with my guy and the gals (with their SOs) where we all compare notes on the day. Dinner someplace relaxed and very leisurely, sans electronic devices. A nightcap in the oh-so-fashionable boutique-y bar or perhaps a blues club, if one is close by.

My fantasy crafty day is filled with fiber, friends and city fun - not to mention good food and no chores whatsoever. Now that's inspiring.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Something a Little Different ...

... this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday, since we're just slightly past the middle of the 3rd annual KniCroBlo Week.

Queue delightfully haughty music ...

If you like my wee new magazine idea, you can nominate it as your favorite here in the KniCroBlo creativity challenge nominations. Just remember, it's about creativity - and only one person needs to submit a nomination, and then after that the nomination system will self-destruct (ok, just kidding).

Don't forget to check in at Andrea's blog to see what other out-of-the-box posts people have whipped up - and have a great, crafty weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Crafter for All Seasons? Well ... Maybe.

Here in the coastal Pacific Northwest, we're supposed to, in theory, experience four seasons. In reality, we only get two in full force: spring and fall, both of which are rather on the damp side. We do have a summer and winter, but we have such a temporate climate that the temperature rarely falls below freezing or above 80 degrees farenheit.  

Couple the above with the fact that I'm pretty much a polar bear (I love fall's nip, cold weather generally, and snow - my New England roots are showing through), and you arrive at a person that definitely crafts far more from colder-weather patterns than anything else. A quick look through my crafty magazines will confirm this: of those crochet magazines I've kept (quite a few), only 5 are from springtime, and fewer still are from the summer. The same would be true for the knitting side of things - in fact, I probably have even less knitting magazines from warmer months, yet far more from colder months.
You'll notice a pillow cover and two blankets behind
George Bailey. The pillow cover is my own free design,
the pattern for which can be downloaded from the
pattern page here on my blog.
However, I can't say that crafting items for colder weather was ever really a mindful consideration. I have a fair amount of cotton yarn, and love crafting things for my home that definitely fall outside the blanket category.

When it comes to garments and accessories, design is definitely the biggest consideration in what I decide to craft. Initially, I must love the design. Then I might consider time and my willingness to stick with the pattern (I love cables and crochet lace - those patterns are a go; brioche, not so much; socks - never). Fiber is important, but only in a tangential way, since I love fiber and will swap fibers at will if it serves the design and my own particular take on it.

My La Poétique Infinity Scarf
is a free pattern downloadable
from the Premier Yarns website
I definitely have a deep love of creating accessories - shawls and bags in particular. I love sweaters, but haven't made many, although that's changing this year in a big way. I also love crafting for my home. Rugs, blankets, and pillows all have a hallowed place in my crafty time. Additionally, I like creating items in non-traditional media, especially wire and beads. Finally, I do like creating things for others. All of this crafting can get curtailed by my design and other artistic pursuits - but I refuse to give them up and the delight and/or lessons I derive from them.

The free pattern for these great napkin rings can be
downloaded from my patterns page here on my blog;
if you'd like to purchase them as a gift, they're
available for sale (4 to a set) from my online store. 
What about you? Do you find climate affecting what you craft? Do you wish you could change the mix and try something different? Don't hesitate to let me know in the comments below.

We are more than half way through our Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week extravangza. I hope everyone is having a great time visiting and reading blogs. This once again has turned into a great thing to be a part of - dare I call it a phenomenon?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Crochet Hero

Inspiration comes when and where we least expect it. At least that's been my experience. The person I am about to introduce to you I first met in that now-infamous tunisian crochet course at Stitches West in 2009 (that alone would be reason enough for her to be my hero - who'd of thunk we would be in the same crochet course?). The course was quite enjoyable; at one point we were all talking about men we found attractive (ok, I apologize to any male readers - it was an all-female class). When I mentioned I thought Michael Bublé was quite hot (jazz singing and good looks all in one package), the instructor had no clue who he was. My crochet hero stepped right in and came to my rescue, agreeing with me and allowing me to beat embarrassment on a public, class-wide scale.

Needless to say, she's been a favorite of mine ever since. It helps that she's got several popular crochet books under her belt, and is one heck of a writer to boot. So, without further ado, I present to you another installment of The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire, as answered by my crochet hero - Doris J. Chan.

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
With Crochet Designer Doris J. Chan

Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design crochet garments and accessories?

My life BC (before crochet) was less focused than today; that much I can say.  Having dabbled for many years in other fields - music, radio announcing, commercial copy writing, and following the emptying of my nest after nurturing two sons - I listened to my inner calling and turned my hobby into a career.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a crochet designer?

It took a while to sink in.  Even during the production of my first design book, Amazing Crochet Lace, I resisted calling myself a professional crochet designer until it seemed pointless and disingenuous to keep denying it.  There was no ah-ha moment at all, but more of a slow burn.

Please describe your personal crochet design philosophy?

Please see Crochet Rules; that sort of sums it up.

What is your greatest crochet (or design) memory?
Doris, modeling her latest design,
the Spirals Top.
My greatest (fondest) memory connected to crochet is that CGOA summer conference in Oakland, California, 2005, particularly those evenings hanging out at the Atrium bar and swapping crochet clothes with the Musketeers. The friendships and connections I made during those earliest events have enriched my life immeasurably.

On the other end of the teeter-totter, the absolute worst crochet memory is a 36-hour marathon a few months earlier in spring of 2005; through horrible miscalculation I was obliged to pull an all-nighter in order to finish a project, which I then threw in the car and hand delivered to a photo shoot in New York.

If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

Elizabeth Hiddleson, one of the most innovative and prolific thread crochet designers of the 20th century; her personal story is lost to time and who can say if she’d be enjoyable company, but I’d love to find out about her life and career; Vashti Braha, because we never have enough time together and because there would be wine and crazy fun; and Jean Leinhauser, not primarily a designer but a publisher; because I never got to say goodbye.

My version of Doris's Lacy Top Cardigan, a
design published by Tahki Stacy Charles in 2007.

Pencil or knife grip?


It’s your last object to design (or make). What is it, and what fiber do you use?

Star Fleet uniform dress (from the 2009 film reboot of the Star Trek universe), in red Louisa Harding Mulberry silk.

What trait do you most admire in designers?

Gracious generosity of spirit

What trait do you most detest in designers?


You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which, as everyone knows, are quite beautiful!), what would you recommend?
The Undaria Ruffle Scarf, designed by Vashti Braha.  As the reigning champion of slip stitch techniques, Vashti’s work is lovely, shapely and fascinating. Here’s what she says about it:
This 100% slip stitch crochet ruffled scarf pattern features short rowing. Crochet ruffle scarf edging as you go: Undaria is self-edging, thanks to a 2nd type of slip stitch that helps to create a pearly scallop. Fine yarn gives it a delicate fluttery weight. Using a large hook size means you make progress faster than you might expect. These slip stitches have uncommon drape and translucency.
If I had time to crochet gifts using another designer’s pattern I might do this one myself! 

My sincere thank you to Doris for being so gracious - and I think Louisa Harding would be pleased with this inspired use of her Mulberry Silk.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Photography + Yarn + Art

Hello and welcome to day 2 of the 3rd annual KniCroBlo Week here at chez Voie de Vie.

When the blogging week's topics were announced at the beginning of the month, I immediately had a great idea for this day. I've been eagerly looking forward to it - not only for my entry, but to also see how everyone else is going to approach the topic.

However, with time came reflection ... and a change in game plan. I decided to post photos of the two things that have absolutely animated my life in the last three years - yarn and art. I am so excited and pleased that I am now designing (and the second half of this year will see multiple patterns of mine published), yet I am very shy when showing my paintings. I'm not exactly certain why this is ... so I decided to just take the plunge, look through my photos to find those that include yarn and paintings or in some way relate the two, and post them with some bits of back story. Here goes:

This is a bedroom in a former living space that contains reminders of where it all started for me. The bed cover is a blanket done in tunisian crochet after I attended a tunisian crochet course at Stitches West in 2009. From the blanket came the inspiration for the tryptich on the wall. The paintings remain a point of inspiration ... and the tunisian crochet course, well, just wait until later this year and you'll see.

Ok, so I realize there's no painting in this shot, but you know you needed a gratuitous picture of the friendly-yet-oh-so-sleepy George Bailey. And it is on the tunisian blanket of inspiration. Enough said.

I love Habu Textiles. Love, love, love. Packaging? Perfect. Color? Divine. I love this shot of Habu's cuter-than-cute mohair skeins. Someone really should paint this. I mean, really.

Two years ago I participated in a Ravelry cofee and yarn swap. The group needed a new banner ad and group icon. Someone in the group had a great idea, but no skill in bringing it to life. I loved the idea and immediately saw exactly how I would approach it. Thus, the Knitter's Coffee Swap icon and banner ad were born. It's my only attempt (so far) at representing yarn on canvas. I'm certain it won't be my last.

Finally, I've saved my favorite for last. I am really proud of this painting for a number of reasons, but mainly because I absolutely enjoyed the process so much that I forgot all track of time and completed it in one weekend afternoon marathon painting session. It represents some of my most confident and inspired work. Heck, it even includes yellow. However, someone walked into my apartment sometime after I had hung it and audibly sucked in breath - and not in a good way - before composing himself. It completely cut me to the core. He's never again seen the inside of my living space. He also clearly has no clue concerning art history. Nevertheless, I also haven't really shown this painting off.

No more, bloggy readers, no more. 

Additionally, I really love this photo's perspective.

Definitely share your photo stories (without or without paint and yarn) in the comments below. And I'll look forward to seeing everyone else's most excellent photos.

Monday, April 23, 2012

On Color and Stash

Welcome to the first day of KniCroBlo week here at chez Voie de Vie.

I love color.
It does not confuse me.
I once again (I did this last year, too) decided to take a photo of my stash. I am once again just slightly embarrassed to admit that this is not all of my stash ... but I did get all of the major color groups represented.

The greens and blues in the back are definitely my staple colors - I go to them all the time. I have many blue and green FOs. The peach, creams and red from the middle to front are colors I also love a lot, but don't always wear. Pink can get too sugary sweet; red is great but only in the right tone - too much of a blue undertone and it will wash me out. Brown and natural are great colors for me, but can get a little boring. I love purple and do have some of it in my stash (the middle of the picture), as well as a few FOs. The one color virtually absent from the stash is yellow. I am not a big fan of yellow - lemons are great, but not to wear. At least not for me. The orange side of yellow is just fine, however.

Because orange (even in muted form) is powerfully good.  
See what I mean?

If my designing hat is on, I will in many instances want to use orange in some hue. This has been a great year for orange (thanks, Pantone for naming a shade of tangerine color of the year).

And some of my FOs - can you spot
the blue/green theme?

I always think a lot about color. How about you? Do you know which colors work best for you? Did writing today's post illuminate some personal color insight? Definitely leave a comment and let me know all about your color theories.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

P.I.F. Playing in the Pacific Northwest

I love swapping and gifting things - I sponsor a large Rav group with a prize each month, and I have my own wee Rav group that swaps fiber and stuff. Well, I've found another way to share things with people, and this is sooooo much fun because you're not quite certain when you'll receive your gift.

Eskimimi Makes blogged earlier this week about a cool Pay-It-Forward scheme that sounded fun and right up my alley. After reading her post, and who replied, I then read one of the responders' blogs (who I just happen to know). I responded on her blog, and now am reposting the rules here:

1. I will send a surprise gift to the first three commenters on this post. The gift will be handmade by me. It will be sent sometime in the next 365 days. It will be a surprise. We all love getting surprises in the mail, right?

2. To sign up and receive a gift, you must play along, too. Pay it Forward on your blog, by promising to make a surprise for the first three people who comment on the post.

3. You must have a blog (that is updated, as I will blog stalk you to find the right gift for you).

4. After commenting here, you must repost this or something similar to your blog in 48 hours. If not, I will chose the next person who comments.

Not only will I (hopefully!) make three people happy sometime within the next year, but they also get to do the same thing ... and potentially read some new blogs along the way. Kewl.

So, who wants to play bloggy P.I.F.?

Friday, April 20, 2012

What Color Spring?

As I mentioned last week, I've been in the middle of a big spring clean/rearrange. Part of that process included organizing my craft area, magazines and books. Which led me to look at exactly which knit and crochet magazines I owned (even though I do have most of them catalogued in my Rav library). Which also led me to the realization that I buy far more craft books in the cold months than I do in the warmer months. Go figure.

I then thought it might be interesting to see how magazine covers have changed (or not, depending on perspective), so I pulled out all of my "spring" crochet magazines. I decided on crochet simply to narrow the field, but I'll probably do the same with my knit magazines (and I've already done it with my cooking magazines - I can absolutely tell you which colors scream spring in the cooking world - but I digress).

There are five covers ranging from 2006 to the present. I was amazed at how much blue appeared! Blue would not have been the first color I'd have blurted out if you had asked me prior to seeing the covers. And of course, lace makes the cover. (FYI - can you identify which is the Doris Chan design?)

These are also all American publications. There are crochet and knit magazines published in several European countries, so they might have a different take on spring.

What are your thoughts on spring colors? Do these covers scream spring?

Now head on over to Andrea's blog and check out how everyone else is defining spring on this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday.

Pssssst - don't forget - next week is blog-a-palooza!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Intermission at the Re-arrange

I'm taking a much needed time out from my spring interior re-design (it's definitely a seasonal kinda thing) to bring you a few fiber tidbits and treats.

Initially, here's a sneak peek of my design using that lovely Blonde Chicken Boutique laceweight:

I know, I know - it's not much, but a gal needs some super top secretz.

Next, I received the following great fiber recently in a swap. I love, love, love this color combination:

Since I haven't been willing to buy this particular line from Debbie Bliss (there's a labeling dispute), it's been great petting it. And the Schulana has a little bling in it - just my cup of fiber.

Finally, we're just a little more than a week away from the 3rd annual Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week, and I thought I'd provide a link to the list of topics. Even if you can't blog every day, I'd urge everyone to post on those days that the topic particularly moves you. I'm looking forward to a blog-reading frenzy - I found several blogs last year that I still read (albeit on a more limited basis these days).

Speaking of blogs to read ... now head on over to Andrea's blog to see what fiber topics have moved everyone else this week. And hey - enjoy your fiber responsibly.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Yarny Revitalization

Blonde Chicken Boutique hemp laceweight yarn in the foreground -
625 yards of slightly rustic awesomeness
While I wasn't thinking about the current season when I wrote last Friday's post about the ebb and flow in energy once a project is completed, it is appropo. Just as there's an energy ebb once a project goes out the door, there's also revitalization in receiving yarn for a new project: the buddhist principle of birth and death - continuous change - in action. 

I am just about ready to send out the completed project using the above yarn (and I am hooked on the finished project far more than I expected, truth be told), I have also received a box of yarn for my next commissioned project. It's in a very spring-like color and it has filled me with hope and a smiling optimism.

Whether you celebrate Easter or Passover or Beltane (or some other holiday not named) - one can't be in a better frame of mind than that of smiling optimism. And we won't even discuss the yarn that's also been delivered for my next personal project - it's one of my favorites - Drops cotton light.

Skip revitalization - go directly to yarny love.

Definitely don't skip your trip to Andrea's blog to get your yarny fix before this holiday weekend. I wish each of you an abundance of smiling optimism - or at least awesome stash enhancement + yummy chocolate.

It's coming, it's coming!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bloggy Happenings

In case you hadn't seen the icon on the right-hand side, the 3rd annual Knitting and Crochet Blog week is set to occur April 23rd - 29th. I participated last year, and not only was it a lot of fun, and I got to read and eventually follow a lot of great blogs from around the world, but it also illustrated just how much effort and talent it takes to write something witty and interesting every day. Let's hope I'm up to the challenge again this year. Definitely head on over to Eskimmi Makes to see this year's daily topics ... and then get ready to blog, be blogged and read blogs.

Finally, the random number generator picked number 10 (from the 2-11 I plugged in) - so Melisa of Toad in a Boat, you're the lucky winner of a small Box d'Histoire. I'll be contacting you to work out the details. Congratulations ... and I can't wait to see a photo of the box sitting on your desk.