Saturday, December 17, 2005
Thursday, November 03, 2005
I confess I'm on so many e-lists, I have a hard time keeping up. But there is nothing I'd rather do at my day's beginning than reading mail and exploring links. As previously admitted, I'm easily enabled. I share the thrill of discovery of a new pattern, technique, resource, and I am always inspired by the work of others. I spend a lot of time looking at pictures, reading blogs and checking out enticing, fiber related websites. Along with the coffee my wonderful husband makes me every morning, this computer activity really jump starts my creative thinking.
My creative joy is in learning a technique and planning the project. I spend happy a.m. hours virtually selecting just the right colors and textures for a pattern I like. I should mention I do the same thing in my head nights when I can't sleep.
Lately I've been consumed by a vest called Blazing Sleeveless Blazer which I found in the Fall issue of Knitters Magazine. Yarns called for are no longer manufactured, so I've had hours of fun going over possible substitutes. I use Wordpad as my design board, copying color swatches from online offerings.
I feel blessed in so many ways, and one of my major gratitudes, I now realize, is freedom from boredom.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I tried adding coral eyelash on one side of the scarf only and added fringe. I had a turquoise eyelash that also matched, but I opted for the coral in hopes it would add some brightness when I wore it with my dark teal jacket or my purple raincoat. Also experimented with eyelash in the fringe, but it just didn't look right even when I used only a couple of strands. DH disapproves the lash embellishment, and I'm inclined to agree with him. Since it's just a surface stitch, I can remove it easily. You can see the plain version lower down.
There is a hat in Ginger Luter's MD book that I think would go quite well.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I knit this scarf with Cherry Hill's Rustic Silk, 50/50% merino/silk in "Wild Cherry". Made up the unique zigzag design seemed lost, so I reversed crocheted an outline in a contrasting color, Tahki's New Tweed,
which had flecks of color complementing the Wild Cherry. It matches my purple raincoat. Folks will think I'm a Red Hat Lady (in spirit I am). I want to do a hat to match this scarf and will use a pattern from Iris Schreier or design somthing on my own.
As soon as I learned about Iris Schreier's Multidirectional Knitting List on Yahoo, I signed up. The website is helpful with tutorials and comments from fellow knitters, and I've already come to love Iris' technique which eliminates seams and picking up of stitches through use of short rows. She has a new book out,
Modular Knits, a review of which appears in the current Vogue Knitting Magazine.
The Multidirectional (MD) scarf is the first project Iris recommends. Notice, the ends are squared off! The
list files contain photos of student work and databases with yarn and gauge info, a great way to see how different yarns work out. I did my scarf in the Landscape sock yarn from Knit Picks. I think I will add some flamingo fluff...
Yes, and if the yarn looks familiar it's because it is indeed the colorway I chose for my now defunct Crayon Box Jacket. I unravelled what I had completed and made Magic Balls which will no doubt find their way into something freeform. Tropical Sunrise will also work it's way into a matching hat.
Monday, September 19, 2005
newly aquired stash, one almost finished sweater, and countless projects I never even got to start (this means they're not UFO's, right?). Two months is a long time to be away from home, so I've been unpacking as fast as I can while clearing cobwebs and dust so I can get busy.
On the way to CA, we stopped in Davenport, IA, to visit relatives. My MIL lives on a beautiful
campus, formerly a nurses' college. Her apartment is a classroom in one of the renovated halls
and is adjacent to the most awesome Victorian mansion, totally restored. There are so many
window alcoves, sun rooms and porches with fantastic light , I fantasize about cozying in to knit or stitch. Unfortunately we're never there long enough for me do it. Instead I have to "settle" for dining adventure. To pre-celebrate my mother-in-law's 90th birthday, we enjoyed a champagne brunch at the Juber Lodge, and I made a new and instant friend. We were chatting away about all the things we had in common. Of course we were both mannered in not eating with our mouths full; I think we missed dessert not to mention several pourings of bubbly.
After brunch we went to my SIL's home, so Deborah and I just continued our excited talk in the car and nonstop into the house. Everyone else went to the deck. We talked fiber art and beading, and I learned she was a spinner. Before I could get out my books and samples to show
her what I would be doing my first week in CA, she had been home and back with a spindle she
made for me using CD's, a dowel, and a cuphook. My first spindling lesson ensued. I loved it.
I knew I would. I'm a retired teacher, Deb's a retired librarian, her instruction was excellent!
While I practiced under her watchful eye , she compiled a list of resources for me. We discovered we were both on Spindlers List, a Yahoo group for spinners and fiber artists. We
vowed to be roomies at a future Bead & Button Expo. I left promising to practice spinning with the wool she generously provided. I did. That night. Spindling is not something one can accomplish riding in a car, and, besides, I still had homework for my upcoming classes. Now that I'm home I'm looking for a local spinning and weaving group. I have to. I bought quite a bit of beautiful roving at the Chain Link Fibermarket.
I literally left my Sweetie on top of a mountain overlooking Lake Tahoe and sped ahead to my
dad's house in the Bay Area. Dad was on top of the mountain with my DH. I had looked forward to and got an incredible week to myself. I attended the classes at Laci's in Berkeley. I cannot begin to tell how much I enjoyed the sessions with Prudence Mapstone and Margaret Huber.
I took away a great deal from each and was inspired not just by their own work and expertise but that of my classmates, too. Many of the these are now faces to put with names from the
Freeform list. There were two 11 year old girls in the classes who intimidated me a little with
the speed and enthusiasm with which they grasped new techniques. I practiced bullions during
the entire cross country drive. They had bullions down pat after the first day. How wonderful to be young, fearless and completely open to new ideas. These darlings will be future stars of
My one free day I devoted to shopping and Casper's hotdogs. By now I should have part ownership in my favorite Castro Valley yarn shop. Knowing full well I had the Fibermarket
coming up the next day, I had to buy hank after hank of luscious mixed fibers -- um, just like I had to pick up a few fat quarters at the quilt store next door, and a small trove of beads for my FF brooch. And the hotdogs? Well, unless you've had one, you just wouldn't understand.
Friday is Fibermarket. Karn, my spinning and weaving friend whose mother is on the mountain with my dad and husband, accompanies me. I assure her it will be a grand experience,
more fiber than she's ever seen in one place, and that she'd better pace herself. Disappointingly there were not as many vendors as at Stitches West. We made several circuits of the booths hours earlier than anticipated. Karn breeds and shows Alpine goats. They're lovely, but where's the fiber? I've more than hinted she raise something hairier, alpacas or yaks or Angoras.
That evening I teach her to knit, despite her protests. She can do it!
The next day we meet at her house. I get to play with baby goats before we depart on our next
adventure, a quilt show at a winery. I tell Karn it will be a glorious exhibit of hundreds of beautiful quilts. It isn't. Lots of fabric vendors, but it's high 90's hot, and I know Karn has no need of fabric. She finds a shady spot and listens to the light jazz combo. I sample wine and wonder where the quilts are.
Next morning I follow Karn to Placerville to Lofty Lou's, a great yarn shop with weaving and spinning supplies. It takes me a long time to see and feel all the yarns; Karn has to leave for a
goat show. I purchase a few items I think will complement my FF stash and am told I've spent enough to get a Lofty Lou tote bag. It's a neat knitting tote, well constructed and cleverly
designed. I like it -- and I deserve it.
And it was all uphill from there. I joined my loved ones on top of the mountain and enjoyed day after sunny day knitting and crocheting on the deck. Just the neckline and sleeve caps remain to be done on the Diamond Patch Sweater. I did not work on Plumtastic at all -- but I read 5 or 6 books (what else does one do on a mountaintop with no electricity).
I have to share that the real highlight of my summer was celebrating my father's 90th birthday! What a wonderful party we had at 7500 ft. What a super summer we had.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Turquoise Spiral Necklace
Originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.
Technically this is an FO, a Finished Object, except it wasn't one of my targeted UFO's that had been sitting around awhile. In the midst of my knitting frenzy, I had a persistant urge to bead. True, I had acquired the materials for this project last year; in fact, right after I rediscovered the pattern in Bead and Button #47, February, 2002. Truly I confess there was a delay since my earlier posting about this piece. I misplaced the magazine -- again.
The only change I made from 's design is lengthening the rope so the necklace would slip over my head. The same #8 iris beads in the rope are within the gem chip section, but the chips are so dense, the sparkle doesn't show through. I will probably add a few to the surface to lend greater cohesion to the two sections. By the way, the chip section is a continuation of the seed bead spiral. You can't discern a twist because of the shape and size irregularity of the gem chips. Oh, and except for using 1 or 2, I eliminated the rose quartz from the soup mix.
Originally uploaded by Fiberdabbler.
Sometimes I just like to let the needles and hooks play and come up with their own fabric concoctions. I feel far less tension in this mode, and I know it's because I'm self-learning crochet and still struggling with printed directions. I will depend on both as I build up a "repetoire" of stitches.
What I've been doing lately is homework, not to be confused with housework, which I avoid. The homework is for two Freeform Crochet and Knitting workshops later this month at Laci's. I have been practicing specific stitches and motifs from books by Prudence Mapstone, Margaret Huber and Jenny Dowde (if you go to her gallery and scroll down, you'll see a hat I made from a pattern in her book) plus a wealth of info provided by the Freeform Crochet Group. Sometimes I just play in true freeform mode, letting the needles and hooks go as they want with the yarn. I have so much fun in this mode, not the tension I feel when I try to wield the implements according to directions. This is especially true with crochet since I'm a self-taught novice.
I will be taking classes from Prudence Mapstone and Margaret Huber. I know there will be veteran and talented FF'ers there and I can hardly wait to be inspired -- and without intimidation, as I am there to learn!
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
ribbon yarn in the same colorway by Moda Dea called Festival. Festival is really too chunky to use by itself, so I'll use it sparingly.
Monday, June 20, 2005
-- like to hide a messy seam (what messy seams!) or as surface embellishment to keep a stretching square in line. I'd have to make the jacket longer to be flattering, and I'd add triangles to the hemline, which I think would also tame the stretching.
To make up for the fluffy squares, I'm substituting textural stitches, striping, half & halfs, and lots of different yarns and shades within the colorway. It's so much fun to do because it's like experimenting and the possibilities seem
endless -- even moreso if one thinks about surface embroidery, etc. I'm having a ball playing with the colors. I'm trying to keep the majority of squares in the darker shades of turquoise, teal and purple, but the accent coral just jumps out and grabs you -- in fact, I've named the jacket Creature from the Coral Lagoon. Naming our projects was part of the excitement of the Crayon Group.
I'm sure I would look ridiculous in such a jacket, very possibly
clownlike. So I'm at a crossroads: continue the fun and maybe come up with a jacket, maybe a vest (wait -- I've already done the sleeves!), or maybe I'll go for a really in-your-face scarf using all the novelties: fluff, spangles, squigglies, the works. I could become known as the Flamingo Floozy. :-O
Friday, June 17, 2005
Folk Bags. I given it far more detail than the suggested embellishment. So
far I've used about 12 specialty threads and ribbon. The fish eyes (eye & gill only are repeated on the other side, which I wanted to keep smooth to minimize snagging)are vintage
The little "pouch" above the fish back is a pocket for the lining. I searched quite awhile for this fabric. I wanted something in orangey-red and obviously Oriental. I found this in a small quilt shop in Castro Valley, CA (my hometown!). The fish will have a zipper closure, and, naturally some kind of dangle for quick
I had the straps set up the way of the directions, bound them together at the top by wrapping with perle cotton. To
get the length right, where the fish
lay nicely above my hip, it meant there
were 3 I-cord ends hanging from either side of the wrap at my shoulder.
I undid it all because, first of all the wrap wasn't long enough and didn't feel comfortable on my shoulder; it had a tendency to curl. Secondly, what to do with the cord ends. Cutting them off never came into consideration because of the embellishment potential. At first I imagined a variety of fibers and ribbons to suggest seaweed, maybe add a few shells. But I liked this purse and thought maybe all that activity on my shoulder detract from the fish and place focus on me, the what-kind-of-woman-wears-something-like-THAT! person I'm really not.
I had decided all along the zipper pull would sport a Chinese coin. I realized a had a lot of these, so many I could use coins to dangle from the cord ends. But that's a lot of brass flapping around, and I didn't want to present the impression of self flaggelation. It's going to take me a while to think out the cord treatment.
Oh, I even considered beading caps for the ends. This is one of favorite parts, mulling over possibilities.
In the photo you'll see the fins, including the two tails, need embellishment. One of the reasons my
earlier progress stopped, was I ran out of a particular thread and couldn't find it in stock. The cords in the picture are shown in a braided experiment, the results not at all satisfactory both in appearance and in the awkward way the fish hung. Since the I-cords have been so overhandled, my next step is to re-felt them.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Earlier this week I hit the transporter button, and instead of beaming to my blog, a technical difficulty sent my post to the outer limits of cyberspace oblivion. My post was entitled "Additional Sightings". The basic gist was that I was going to enumerate more UFO's like the High Mesa Cardigan I recently did as a knitalong with the Ample Knitters group. I decided listing would be boring and would only account for those unfinished projects I could remember. Often my husband says I'm lost in space.
Where was I when choosing handles for the recycled silk bag? I thought of a possible fix if I wanted to keep these handles, but when it came to content capacity -- I'd lose space. This was
#2 of 3 UfO's I thought I could quickly fire off when I began the blog. Here there is only a delay
until I get new handles.
I thought I'd take a break from knitting. I've so many active projects on the needles right now, I just wanted a little respite. I opted to begin a beaded rope necklace that uses both seed beads and gemstone chips. I acquired my materials months ago, but put off starting because, yes,
I have 2 UFO beadings. Actually my record of completed bead projects is pretty good, probably because most were worked under deadline. You can view these at a new photo site I'm trying .
As said, I already had the essentials, but it took me a day and a half to find the directions, which, of course, were where I thought they'd be and where I first looked. Sigh. Sometimes I have to agree with my husband. Anyway, below is a picture showing beginnings of the spiral rope. I experimented with a couple of other methods before going back to the original directions. I put together a soup of chips which will be worked in the same manner at the front of the necklace. There will be additional beads mixed in to add just a tiny accent of sparkle. My soup recipe uses turquoise, lapis, amethyst and pink quartz that will turn out to approximate a 60-30-10 blend, a successful color proportion used by decorators , quilters and others creating a colorway. I have always gone by what looked right to me, and I certainly wasn't thinking formula when I assembled ingredients for the stone soup.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Friday, June 10, 2005
Nancilyn - 1
Reclaimed Space - 0 (finished objects require space, too)
I finished one of my bags, a knitting tote based on a pattern from Janet Scanlon's KnitKit.com
called Constant Companion. I chose my colors because I was of a patriotic mind, but of course
white would hardly be practical for a bag that sits on floors when not travelling. I plan to meet with other knitters and crocheters soon, and since so many are from Australia, New Zealand,
Canada and the UK, I thought my colors would reflect their flags, too. It was probably still snowing when I began the bag, so I was thinking of something warm and snuggly like a Hudson
Bay blanket, hence the stripes. I'm pleased with this sturdy bag. The knit-cord bind off makes
the top edge very stable so it doesn't collapse on itself. I might make the next one deeper, although this one is plenty roomy and shallow enough that I won't have to root around much to find things.
The bag took almost no time to knit up, and I couldn't run it through the washer and dryer for
fulling. I love the fuzzy look that resulted. In my stash I found two fat quarters of brushed cotton plaids. I used these for the lining. I tacked a piece of plastic canvas between the bottom of the bag and the lining. This helps keep the rectangular shape if the tote while ensuring a flat
surface. Tacking prevents the plastic from shifting.
I was in a hurry when it came to the outside pocket. Since it was attached separately, I wasn't worried; I could always knit and felt something suitable later. I did knit a big mitred square with some leftover yarn and threw it in the with bag for felting. Minds cannot imagine what it looked like -- a skewed potholder, maybe. I couldn't fathom using it as an embellishment, but
I really wanted to finish a UFO. I blocked it. Nice square, but still looking like a potholder.
I have a great collection of vintage and new buttons with a patriotic theme. I'd use these to
disguise the true nature of the square. Um, the various stars and bars combos just didn't
do it. Nor did little soldiers, eagles, anchors or liberty bells. Ah, stars. Assorted sizes of red,
white and blue stars. I tried myriad arrangements. The reds and blues just disappeared into
the fields. White would stand out, but as my helpful hubby pointed out, there is no white on my
bag. Eventually I gave up on a random strewing of stars, which more closely resembled the night sky of a galaxy far, far away. I decided on a circle of small white stars on the small blue
square in the upper left corner, and I would use 5 stars . I wasn't trying to replicate a flag.
I just wanted to suggest a theme of stripes and stars. Helpful Hubby indicated where my stars were out of alignment. Geesh. I repositioned them, sewing them down so thoroughly they'd never pull off. Still off. Reposition. Resew. Still not quite right. Finally I went with 6 little stars for a more symmetrical appeal. I guess. I usually try to avoid symmetry, as further evidenced in the widths and spacing of bands on this bag.
Red, white and blue potholder pocket not withstanding, the knitting tote is pretty much complete. There is another side to the bag! I'm thinking I could attach a scrumble pocket to
it. My mitered square could represent my modular efforts and the scrumble my love of freeform. I had an interesting post exchange with Joy Prescott after visiting her website.
http://www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/m/mickeyj/ I went there to look at scarves, but couldn't risist a look at her hats. All of her work is wonderful, but I was drawn to her Tglingit inspired hats. The Northwestern motifs are exceptional, and I wondered if it would be too copycatty of me to attempt a totem spirit of my own as part of my scrumble pocket. It would tie in with my Hudson Bay blankie thought and remind me of wonderful trips I've taken to the Northwest. This is still just a design afterthought. I may never do it. Of course it wouldn't become a UFO unless I actually started it at some point.
I did create an accessory for my knitting tote. It may look like fireworks, and in truth I built it as part of my knitting arsenal. By itself, it cannot take out a UFO. In my hands it's not even
dangerous. It is a quiver for knitting needles! Well, I had this fabric in my stash that went so well with... I covered a superstout mailing tube, too short to keep the needles from slipping out.
Of all things I found a cat treat container that provided the extra length and a suitable cover for the quiver. You have to look really, really close to read "POUNCE" on the endcap.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
My mission seemed simple enough: line 3 bags I knit this Spring. Constructing the linings was the easy part -- well, after I deliberated, for the umpteenth time, which fabrics from my stash to use for two of them; I searched four stores on a recent trip to find just the right material for the third, so I was determined to use it. I made templates, cut out fabric for linings and pockets,
and sewed up the seams after restoring proper tension to my machine (I suspect a curious grandchild, but didn't want to waste time dusting for fingerprints.). All of the linings fit nicely; surely all that remained was to stitch them in place. Sigh. That would be nice if I just wanted quicky, ordinary projects. No, no, these are my bags, intended to be completely unique with my special touches.
So there it is. The crux of my procrastination suddenly revealed. Finishing details. Those extra steps that make a project special. Embellishment! I'm not always sure when to stop. When is the lily gilded? I've yet to hear a muse whisper, "Enough is enough, Nancilyn." I keep waiting to blink my eyes and let my creative vision perceive a stopping point. Unfortunately the vision is
too often blurry.
Or maybe I'm too indecisive. How long does it take to determine color, size and position of stars
on a 6 x 6 mitered square? Hours. What did I end up with? Two white stars. Is there anyone who truly believes the elegance of simplicity is without extensive calculation, contemplation?
Can there really be random placement without exhaustive trial and error? So when does the lily turn to gold? Perhaps the change should be imperceptible. Or perhaps the lily shouldn't be gilded at all.
Monday, May 30, 2005
A solution is not as simple as one might suppose. It's said we can justify anything. I can procrastinate in the blink of an eye with instant validation. Although my intention to complete each and every project is genuine, I am too easily diverted to the next point of interest. It's not that I get bored. It's that the exhilirating temptation to learn something new or the irresistible opportunity to increase my stash is overpowering. Like anyone who's ever faced Borg* or Ferengi*, I've come to know the futility of resistance and the righteousness of greed.
I'm at war with the nagging notion that I should somehow manage the chaos of my creative pursuits. Doesn't crafty clutter reflect my out of the box approach to any artform once I'm comfortable with basic techniques? Isn't that why I'm drawn to crazy quilting and freeform needlework? Don't I need the array of my stash so I can spot what I need at a glance? And don't supplies need to be handy, ergo, everywhere? I don't need an excuse to put off tidying; I simply destest housework. I resent even the most essential chores because they keep me from doing something, anything, else that I'd enjoy more.
I'll deal with the UFO's. Even though I know one will replace another as fast as I can finish,
I will finish them. And therein lies justification for finding a new project, more stash.