Friday, July 27, 2012

Ravellenics + Fiber = 17 Days of Fun

Well, everyone, it's finally here - The Olympics! I'm a big fan of the games - and yes, despite the USOC, I'll be watching swimming and gymnastics and track and field and, and ...

Of course, I'll also be working on projects for Ravelry's companion event - the Ravellenic Games. With well over 500 teams and more than 10,000 people either participating or "watching" the fibery action in the dedicated Ravelry group, it plans to be an outstanding Ravelry community-building event. We love that. Here's a run-down of the particulars of my participation:

1. Team Cooperative Press Gearheads

I am co-captaining this modestly-sized team, and I couldn't be more excited. I've got fiber for my projects all ready (well, I do need to do some ball-winding today). At the moment, it looks something like this:

A combination of stash yarn + lovely Wonder Why Gal
handspun for my The-I-Can't-Think-of-a-Snappy-Name
Cowl, a Sarah Wilson design from Knit Edge Magazine


Another combination of stash yarn + the ginornous
hank 'o wool I won from Vivian over at Bits and Pieces. This
is going to become my version of Dawn Ellerd's Colour Revolt
crochet shawl from What Would Madame DeFarge Knit? 

a swatching project to be discussed later

2. Team 12 shawls in 2012

I'm one of over 100 participants on this team - we're going to be making a lotta shawls! My project for this team:

Absolutely gorgeous merino silk from a swap that is
destined to become Lily Go's Remember Me.

3. Team Hopelessly Overcommitted

While I am officially this team's mascot, it probably best describes my current state, so I'm going to attempt to complete a somewhat longstanding project that's languished since the end of February:

This is supposed to already be a
version of my La Poetique Cowl for me;
let's hope I can make it happen during
this uber-crazy Ravellenics challenge.

So what will you be doing during the Olympics? Do you watch, couldn't care less, somewhere in between? Do let me know here, as well as over at Andrea's blog. And whatever you do, have fun!

Monday, July 23, 2012

VK Crochet: 2nd Installment

Happy new week, everyone! In this second installment of my look at finished interperetations of crochet patterns from the recent Vogue Knitting crochet special edition, let's take a look at one of the most amazing interpretations I've seen yet.

Design: #7 Long Dress by Kristin Omdahl

Kristin Omdahl is known for her intricate lace crochet pieces, and this stunning dress doesn't disappoint. Ankle length, it's drama comes in equal parts from the length as well as the amazing lace stitch sections that are pieced together to make the skirt.

And now for the amazing interpretation:

Peggy has absolutely rocked this dress! She took her engineering background and re-engineered the entire pattern to fit both her figure as well as the yarn she used (green variegated Araucania Lonco Multi). She then created a simple green sheath to go underneath the dress, added some great chunky jewelry, et voila - she is so ready for sunset cocktails on the boat.

Who says you have to be runway-thin to be chic? Maybe we need to reimagine who's on the runway.

My sincere thanks to Peggy for kind use of her photo.

Look for another installment of real-life FOs from the VK crochet special edition next week.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday ... With Actual FOs

Oh ladies and gentlemen, I have all kinds of goodies to share with you this Fiber Arts Friday. Excitement definitely abounds here at chez Voie de Vie.

Initially, remember I mentioned my friend Nicole over at The Knitty Gritty of Hooking Around, and that she's just had her second child? Well, what I didn't mention is the fact that because she also helps moderate my small Ravelry group, I sent out the crafty word, assembled a group of gifts from group members, made a few myself for her petit enfant, and sent a large package winging its way to her last week. And, snap, she's received it! I am so excited about this you'd think it was my gift, for crying out loud. While we're waiting for her hubby to take photos of the entire package contents, I can share with you what I made for little Angelo.

First up, the cutest wee crocheted booties ever. This pattern, Criss Cross Baby Shoes, is one whipped up by another Ravelry crafty friend, so I just had to make them. The buttons were part of a lovely swap gift, and they highlight the colors of the Premier Serenity Garden sport weight yarn I used to perfection. I should also say this may be the closest I ever get to making socks.
Next up, this great little cardi! It's the inca dinkadoo cardigan from one of my personal library books, Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Small Indulgences. While the original was made in organic cotton, I used an alpaca acrylic blend which will be warm for Angelo, yet easy care for mom. Since it was a breeze for me to make, I think this is an all-around winner. It's sized for o-3 months, so let's hope it will fit him.

And finally on the baby Angelo front, I whipped up this great little baby blanket. It's a Lion Brand design that originally had a hood attached at one corner. I started to make it, but just wasn't thrilled with it, so I ditched the hood and kept the oh-so-squishy rest of the blanket. I also stash busted on this project, making it in cotton (the main color) and a combo of Drops cotton/acrylic and Debbie Bliss Cashmerino for the gray stripes. Again, easy care for mom, yet great for the little one. I do love cotton blankets. Yes, yes I do.

And now for some great news of my own - I am extremely please to let you know that two patterns of mine have finally been published! Eep, the excitement is almost too much. Remember this plate of red Berroco Lustra goodness?  It's turned into my La Symphonie Jacket Wrap, to be published at the end of the month in the fall issue of Crochet! Magazine:

Photo used with kind permission
of Annie's Publishing
You'll need to go to the Ravelry database here to see the front, but let me tell you, they did a superlative job styling and photographing this cardi. Doing a serious happy dance am I.

And, for the piece de la resistance, I know some of you will remember this other lovely plate of yarny goodness:
It has turned into the La Tunisie messenger bag!

I absol- utely love the stitch pattern as well as the great fabric lining and oversized dimensions. I may need to make one for myself, so I can alternate it this fall with someone else's most excellent gifted felt messenger bag.
Needless to say, I'm over the creative moon with happiness this Fiber Arts Friday. Definitely check back in with Andrea's blog to see what is making everyone else do a happy dance today.
And, if you haven't already done so yet, you should subscribe to the Artfully Voie de Vie newsletter. I've just sent the first one out with content not found on the blog, including additional photos. Don't worry, I definitely won't clutter your inbox (heck, it's supposed to be quarterly and I just sent out my first one!). Do also watch for a fun little give-away in the next month or so.

When it rains, it pours - for good, this time!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A New Series: VK Crochet

As any of you who read my blog regularly know, I am passionate about crochet. I also love books and magazines. I have been attempting to dispel hooking misconceptions recently using a little crafty data. Well, I thought data of a different sort was now in order. I'm going to be posting a series of blog entries over the next several weeks about one of my favorite recent crochet magazines - the Vogue Knitting Crochet special edition, using data of the very best sort: FOs from some of its' patterns. Wait until you see how some amazing, real-life knitters and crocheters have started to interpret these VK designs.

First up: #5 Wrap Tunic by Robyn Chachula

This tunic (the first design in the "A Fine Romance" section of the magazine) is motif work at its finest: hexagons of various sizes are made and subsequently joined, with the waistband and tunic borders all sleek single crochet (a design element after my own heart). Originally worked up in azure Louisa Harding/KFI Mulberry (more envy!), this is a stunning silk piece.

Leslie (LarcYarn on Ravelry) has turned this into one of the best summer bathing suit cover-ups evah. Just take a look at how this pattern worked up in under three skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh Sock.

That's Leslie in Jamaica - go Leslie, and your wonderful cover-up! She's also got a great shot of the cover-up on her dress form, below. Thanks, Leslie, for letting me use your photos to show off your most excellent FO.

Now for a different approach, check out Isabel's (hellogirl100687 on Ravelry) version, worn over a daytime dress.

Isabel also used a Madelinetosh yarn - Merino Light in the duchess colorway. She's also got a great shot of the waist detail and motifs (and a big thanks to Leslie for allowing me to use her photos).

While Leslie's been crocheting for a few decades, Isabel describes her crochet skills as "I'm not sure if you can count my crochet," yet both produced excellent results.

If I were Robyn Chachula, I'd be pleased as ... well ... summertime punch.

Friday, July 13, 2012

An Embarrassment of Goodies

Well, I'm all set for a proper FO post this week - as in, I'm posting in the morning. FOs? Well, they're coming folks. Really.

In the meantime, I received two great gifts this week. I'll start with the second one, because the first will take a little more copy. I don't know if you remember, but Vivian over at Bits and Pieces had an anniversary blog giveaway a few weeks back, and I was the happy winner. Well, my winning package o' stuff came this week. As you can see above, it was a bright, workzone-cone-like orange. Below, to the right, is the overview photo of the contents.

Vivian sent me (1) two skeins of yarn, one of which is rather ginormous (which she informs is from a cone and should bloom nicely after being worked up); (2) a Wild Fibers magazine from 2006 - I've not yet read this magazine, so I'm looking forward to checking it out; (3) a necklace of precious stones and freshwater pearls made by her mother!; and (4) a package of green tea because, as Vivian writes "... well, one can never go wrong with green tea, right?"

I love this package! The yarn feels either heavy fingering or light sport in weight and seems to be screaming for a treatment with an edging in a contrasting color. I need to mull over and generally meditate on the skein for a while for it to speak to me with any definitiveness.

And the necklace? I love, love, love this necklace!!!! I'm particularly enchanted by the pink/reddish section of beads. I wonder if they were added for good luck?

I must say, I am so thrilled with my Bits and Pieces bloggy anniversary package - thank you, thank you, thank you,Vivian. And you, too, Rascal. Paw up, buddy.

And the first wonderful gift? Kathryn over at Kathryn's Brain nominated my blog for a Lovely Blog Award. Now, I'm thinking great, a nomination. It's so great to be nominated. But this ain't no Oscar ceremony - the nomination means I actually get the dang award! Ok, minor duh moment.

So, I thank Kathryn for kindly giving me this award - I'm tickled pink. Now, the award comes with some conditions, which I am dutifully fulfilling:

A. I've thanked Kathryn. Very important to publicly thank the person making the nomination (once the recipient figures it all out);

B. Tell everyone 7 as-yet-unknown things about oneself. Ok, in no particular order:

1.  I've been skydiving in Pretoria (a total blast!);
2.  I've been on motorcycle rides in Capetown and Quebec City;
3.  I had a deep fear of crossing bridges (especially in a car) until I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge when I was 20;
4. During that walk, right at the midway point when I was having a major panic attack, a nice Asian couple, who spoke no English, asked me to take their picture. You should have seen the shocked looks on their respective faces when I started wildly gesturing and telling them that I was having a major panic attack and could they puhleaze ask some other poor soul to take the darn photo?
5. I have since walked again across the Golden Gate Bridge, and absolutely loved it, sans panic attack;
6. I love dry, crisp, cold rose wine on a hot summer day; and
7. I have never seen either The Wizard of Oz or Gone With the Wind, and have no immediate plan to change that fact.

C. Nominate 15 blogs, and leave messages on each blog telling each recipient of their

     Now, 15 does seem to be quite a few, but let's see how many I can genuinely nominate:

     1. Wisdom Begins in Wonder - Wife to Grumpy, mother to the Bears, mid-wife to
         alpacas, goats, geese, dogs, cats, and chickens, yarn spinner extraordinare and
         all-around nifty person, it's her blog that got me started down this Fee-Fi(ber)-
         F.O. Friday path of destruction;

     2. Woollove Functional Fiber Art - A true artist with fiber, Heather and I have traded
         projects (a wonderful felted messenger bag for a shawl) that I somehow feel I got
         the better end of the deal;

     3. Kismet's Companion - Vivianne, on the other side of the pond, writes (with the
         visual aid of the tarot deck) about life with Destructo Boy and Mini Diva (a/k/a
         her children). Oh, and she does knit a thing or two, and we've traded swap
     4. Toad in a Boat - Melisa, in the Big Easy, is one of the most amazing artists. She's
         got mad drawing skillz, amazingly good color sense, and has, herself, designed a
         shawl or two;

     5. Truly Myrtle - I first read this breezily written blog during this year's Knitting and
         Crochet Blogging Week, and found myself hooked;

     6. Knitspiring Odyssey - Kepanie writes about knitting and all things ohana-like in the
        Bay area. I started following her blog after last year's Knitting and Crochet Blogging
        Week (does everyone see a theme here?);

     7. Good Enough - Leah, a Canadian library school graduate has a wee blog of
         knitting and (now married) life in Scotland;

     8. Beck Brow Alpacas - Want to know about alpaca breeding in the northern English
         countryside? Barbara's got it covered, in almost surreal detail (she's had quite a
         time with some of this year's cria). Her photos are always amazing, and she's
         got a dry sense of humor;

     9. Bits and Pieces - I've not missed a Friday of reading about Vivian's knitting and
         yarn-related exploits, as well as her funny Rascal photos. Always no nonsense,
         yet with a definite sense of humor, we also get to see all the charity crafting her
         mom does;

    10. Yarn Dharma - Keri has a very well-written crochet blog (well, it's mostly about
          crochet) - and blocks are definitely her thing. Everyone should check them out ...
          and then (kindly) nag her to get on the blogging stick; and

    11. The Knitty Gritty of Hooking Around - Nicole and I have been online and Ravelry
           friends for a few years now. I've seen her branch out from crochet into knitting
           and spinning, as well as welcome her second child (Angelo is a sweetie and
           has already been introduced to fiber).

As you can see, there's lots of good stuff going on in the blogosphere, including over at Andrea's blog this Fiber Arts Friday, so definitely check in there - you never know what new blogs you might want to start reading regularly. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Some Monday Updates

One of my favorite patterns from
the new Noro magazine
Happy Monday everyone! Since I've written recently about some new craft magazines in the works, I figured an update was in order.

As Hannah Thiessen, the force behind the potentially new Genet Quarterly, sort of reported on her blog - her Kickstarter ultimately did not get funded. Unfortunate. So this great magazine idea will take further time and ingenuity to get off the ground. I hope it makes it to the crafty light of day.

However, Knit Edge Magazine has released a preview, "version zero" edition, and it's a great sneak peek at what we'll see in future from Cooperative Press's magazine effort. If you're into double knitting, there's an amazing article from Alasdair Post-Quinn, the author of Extreme Double Knitting. And the four patterns premiered aren't too shabby either. The link emailed out to those on the mailing list receiving the preview issue gratis (of which I was one) was so hot it actually felled the server and promptly wouldn't work. A substitute method of delivery was instituted, and all was well with Knit Edge's delivery.

And, finally, if you haven't seen it yet at your local book store, yarn shop or grocery store (!), definitely seek out the new Noro Magazine. Color, texture, and historical inspiration abound on each and every page. And the patterns (once again) aren't too shabby either. I can't stop looking at mine.

An additional, tangential update: Remember the handspun (shown below) I received from Andrea (the Wonder Why Gal) in thanks for making her a shawl?

Well, this gorgeous skein of handspun awesomeness is going to become my version of Sarah Wilson's the Chi-Chi Cowl, which just happens to be one of the 4 new patterns from Knit Edge. I'll be knitting it as part of my projects during the Ravellenic Games on team Cooperative Gearheads, of which I'm co-captain. I can't wait to use this amazing handspun; I think it's a perfect match for this pattern. Thanks so much, Andrea!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Who Says You Can't Post in the Evening ...

My Circle Love pillow cover, a little
indented on top from carrying it ...
... on Fiber Arts Friday? Especially when the camera gods and the errand gods conspire against you. Nevertheless, here I am, with a finished object no less. Ha! Take that, you gods, you.

Remember I wrote about a circular pillow cover I was making from the Japanense crochet book Star Crochet 2? Well, I'm happy to report it's completed. In fact, it's been done for a few weeks, but I just hadn't gotten around to taking any photos of it. I'm really thrilled with the way it came out. I made a few modifications to the original pattern: (1) made it smaller to fit my 14" diameter pillow form, and (2) made it a real pillow cover by not sewing both sides completely together, but left an open space and added some stash buttons. They button nicely into the stitch pattern of the pillow, so no buttonholes were needed. Very elegant, in an efficient sort of way.

See - five buttons did the trick.

I actually needed to add some filling to my pillow form, which was a little on the flat side. Since the form's cover had a zipper, and I had some polyfil on hand, that made this an easy task.

I am loving my new round pillow. It's sitting on my living room chair, and is very comfy.

I do hope everyone has gotten over to Andrea's blog to check out everyone else's Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday posts - you know they've been listed there a lot longer than mine this week!

Happy summer everyone (it's finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest - blue skies, high 70s/low 80s, and no rain sight - oh yeah!).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Happy Independence

"Our hope for the future of the human species may be reduced to three important points: the destruction of inequality among nations; the progress of equality within nations themselves; and finally, the real improvement of humanity.


Thus the day will come when the sun will shine only on free men born knowing no other master but their reason; where tyrants and their slaves, priests and their ignorant, hypocritical writings will exist only in the history books and theaters ... "

Translation of
The Marquis of Condorcet
Sketch of Progress of the Human Mind