Monday, December 31, 2012

As The Sun Sets ...

... on 2012, may the new year bring each of you calm waters and the ability to paddle your own canoe.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Gift For Everyone ... Including Me

I recently watched the movie Julie and Julia (I thoroughly enjoyed it - Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are quite good). There's a scene when Julia finally receives her copy of The Art of French Cooking, and during the sheer joy of the moment she runs her fingers over the cover of the book, almost to make certain her name really was affixed to the dust jacket. Whether or not the real Julia Child actually did that upon receipt of the volume that took up so much of her time and sweat and soul I cannot say. However, I found myself moved to tears by that little, almost throw-away gesture. I imagine that most authors who first see their name prominently displayed on dust jackets must go through some form of this act. It is a deeply emotional, universal moment I expect.

So as I was having an online conversation with one of my fellow co-designers, Underground Crafter's Marie Segares about the first published booklet (for me, at least) in which we both have featured designs, Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves: 9 Designs From Up and Coming Designers, she mentioned something rather similar to me about seeing my name and author in the same search query result. I had not ever really thought of my name and "author" in the same sentence (except in those long-ago daydreams that kept me going during the sometimes interminable evenings of a humanities and literature undergraduate degree), much less my name and "designer" in the same sentence. And even though I knew this booklet was set for a year-end publication, it's still amazing to be certain. A note on the linky above: this booklet is already out in print in the U.S., but the only quick and easy non-Amazon link I could find was to the U.K. version set for distribution at the beginning of the new year.

So as I have been given a lovely, creative gift from an unlikely source this Christmas, I will now pass it along to all of you: I have one copy of the aforementioned F+W Media booklet to give away to one randomly chosen winner. Between now and the end of the year (during which time I'll be taking a little bloggy break), leave a comment here about your favorite surprise gift moment. It can be creative, or not; a big moment or a small one - whatever has really stuck in your memory. One winner will be randomly chosen from all the comments left and announced on New Year's Day.

Let's let all good light and creative spirit shine during these final days of 2012.

Yes, I have two holiday trees, and one is of the
miniature orange variety.
Behold the power of orange, lit even.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Accessories: Autumne 2012 Update

Happy Friday - the final one before the big day! I hope everyone is on target with their gifts - if you're buying them, you've already done so, and if you're making them, you're done or are in the final stages (like I am as I type this with, among other things, a certain red shawl to be revealed next week).

In the meantime, I thought I'd provide a wrap-up of some of the FOs wonderful stitchers made as part of my Ravelry Accessories: Autumne 2012 join-along. Everyone had free reign and could make whichever pattern they wanted. Here are four of the lovely completed items (and each person gave me permission to use their respective photos):

First up - a beautiful black and silver version of the Piaf Scarf, made by a Louisiana Ravelry member as - you guessed it - a Christmas present for her sister-in-law. I really appreciated her project notes, which described it as "an easy, portable project." Right on.

She worked it up in black Berroco Ultra Alpaca and added gray Crystal Palace Yarn's Kid Merino for fringe contrast. Very sophisticated. I hope her sister-in-law loves it as much as I do.

Next up, an interpretation of my Rustically Elegant Shoulder Warmer. Some of you regular readers of this blog might recognize this face - Kim was one of my wonderful testy testers. However, no arms were twisted in getting her to make this, she actually wanted to (well, I also didn't have to twist her arm to be a tester, but you get my drift).

Kim worked this up in Orange Flower 50/50 merino/silk. It's a dk weight yarn, which Kim used to approximate the fingering weight yarn that I held double in the original sample. However, since her fiber choice has no halo and mine did, she decreased hook size slightly and achieved great stitch definition. Add some great silver buttons (chosen because, in her words, they looked "like hammered metal rings"), and you end up with one stylish shoulder warmer.

The next finished piece is another version of the Piaf Scarf - this time done by our very own WonderWhyGal! Andrea worked her version in Briar Rose Fiber's super bulky thick and thin hand-dyed yarn. Boy, I do love this colorway, as well as how the uneven quality of the yarn adds to the overall lacey effect in the final scarf. Andrea made her fringe using the same yarn - no contrast colorway needed on this one! And the best comment ever in her project notes - she said she would make it again. Can't get much better than that. Thanks Andrea!

And last, but by no means least, is Bits and Pieces' version of my Le Bouquet Stole. Let me say right up front I am so impressed that Vivian chose to work up a crochet pattern. She knits most of the time, so this was a real departure for her, and I truly appreciate her willingness to stretch her skills. She worked up the initial row of this intermediate lace stitch pattern, got comfortable, and just went with it. I like this approach. Using Newton's Yarn Country Cashmere Merino in a wisteria colorway turned this shortened-width version into a very pretty scarf.

There was one other finished piece that I would have shared here, but the crafter didn't return my request to use one of her photos ... so, Robin over at Crochet Nirvana, know that I didn't intentionally overlook your lovely red Slouching Towards Tassels cap ... I just won't use a photo without the owner's permission.

I also finished up an Enveloped Cowl as one of my model thank-yous - and please be patient with the dark photo. I snapped it at night with the cell phone camera just prior to gifting it. No light anywhere at the moment:

Wishing everyone who links in at Wisdom Begins in Wonder's Fiber Arts Friday a truly joyous holiday spent in whatever way brings each of you the most joy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Giftmaking on-the-Go and Rendezvousing Sweater Parts

Happy Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday my friendly fiberistas (now say that three times quickly). We are in the thick of gift-making here at chez Voie de Vie. I am happy to report decent progress on my red laceweight shawl:

I'm about one-third of the way completed with the main body, and it's coming along nicely. This lace stitch is going to block wonderfully, just you wait. This is the remainder of the Drops laceweight from my Rouge Que Sera Sera sweater, and these two hanks of laceweight have done me proud.

On Skappel sweater news: I am very happy to report that the insanely wide and boxy front and back have rendezvous'd at the shoulders in a most lovely three-needle bind-off:

Blocking: such an elegant affair.

If you've never done a three-needle bind-off, I'd highly recommend doing one. It's very easy and produces an incredibly neat and almost invisible seam. These photos were taken with the wrong side of the fabric facing the camera. I'll have better shots of the shoulders once I've completed the sweater, and I'll dare you to spot the seam absent my prompts.

Isn't that one, neat seam?

Finally, I received a most unexpected Christmas present from Heather over at Wool love-functional fiber art. She made me a quick, reversible felt cowl using some of the Premier Alpaca Dance yarn she won from me:

The cowl is green on one side, purple on the other, and the yarn makes waves in opposite directions on either side. Clever and very nicely done - thanks Heather!

Now don't forget to check in with the WonderWhyGal over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see everyone else's holiday gift progress.

P.S. - updated spelling, gah! Remind me not to write blogposts late at night that include riffed French words. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

On Mindless Projects and Musical Passings

Well, it's another Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday here at chez Voie de Vie. I am actually working on another sweater (go figure!) in the midst of holiday crafting and other design projects. Have you all heard of or read about the Scandinavian Skappel sweater phenomenon? It seems the mamma Skappel knit a sweater for the daughter Skappel. Daughter got so many questions about the sweater that mamma eventually wrote up the pattern ... and then created a sweater kit. The pattern eventually was translated into English, and 275 projects later, I'm making myself one. 

Yes, that's the back of my Skappel sweater, patiently awaiting the front.

It's garter stitch with 2x2 ribbing at hem and cuffs - truly mindless knitting, which is exactly what feels right to me at the moment. I'm making some adjustments and/or otherwise tinkering with mine so it will be slightly different than the original. I'm already done the back and just started the front. I do love wearing oversized, warm sweaters in the winter much like an outer garment since it doesn't get too chilly here; it very rarely dips below freezing, so a warm sweater, some neckware and hand coverings and I'm pretty much all set. This project is also allowing me to use up some mohair that I've had in my stash for quite a while, and that also feels good.

Finally, a true jazz legend passed on this week - Dave Brubeck. NPR has posted an educational tribute; I just know that along with a few other select works - A Love Supreme comes quickly to mind - Take Five is a jazz piece that transcends all time and space. I listen to quite a bit of jazz when I crochet and knit. What do you listen to when you've got the sticks or hook in your hands?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fiber on Saturday?

You know it, my fibery friends. It is December 1st, and November's NaKniSweMo challenge (knit or crochet a sweater in a month) is over. And yes, I was victorious; I present my Rouge Que Sera Sera:

This is my inter-pretation of Doris Chan's Sera Lace Top. I absolutely love how this turned out. Top down construction and almost no finishing, other than weaving in ends. Again, blocking really opened the lace and accentuated the picot edging.

I purchased the yarn for this top (Drops Lace + Elann Silken Kydd held together) back in September, and then found these shoes:

Oh yesssssss.

 I also want to thank each of the wonderful blogs that have hosted my Accessories: Autumne 2012 bloggy tour: Knitspiring Odyssey, Underground Crafter, Bits and Pieces, Life on the Double PointWisdon Begins in Wonder and Knitted Bliss. It was a pleasure awarding these prizes as well as reading all of the wonderfully warm comments not only about my first collection, but also about crochet in general. I cannot tell you how much it thrills me that my designs may get some to view crochet in a new, modern and beautiful light. I am also humbled by each of these respective blog mistresses' kind comments about the collection. I hope I can continue to inspire.

You can view and/or purchase the collection
patterns here

There's a join-along (JAL) still in progress on Ravelry for the collection through the end of next week. Feel free to hop on in, pick up a pattern or two, and share your version of these accessories. They also make great gifts. Yes, yes they do.