Sunday, February 25, 2007

Before I learned to knit (continued)...

...I did beading. I made many necklaces and bracelets; sold some, gave some as gifts. The photo above is a closeup of an amulet bag I gave to my wonderful mother-in-law. The bag part is peyote stitch made with Delica glass beads. The fringe is Delicas and Swarovsky crystals, and the strap is crystals and Delica in peyote stitch and spiral rope stitch. I like the geometric look of the Frank Lloyd Wright design. On the back (which I forgot to photograph) are her initials.

Below is the first bag I made using a pattern by Carol Wilcox Wells. It's also peyote stitch using Delicas and a lot of other unusual beads in the fringe. Each of these bags is about 1.5" x 2". I also made one with a Southwestern motif for my sister-in-law who lives in Santa Fe. I don't have any pictures of it because I didn't have a digital camera then.

I still get a couple beading magazines and buy interesting beads when I come across them but this another hobby I've put aside to concentrate on knitting.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Before I learned to knit (continued)...

...I learned to make Ukrainian Easter Eggs. In 1987 I took a 3-hour class at a local museum and fell in love. I still love to do this but finding the time and the space is a problem. Being a draftsmen most of my life has lead to a love of geometry and drawing geometric patterns on the curved surface of an egg is endlessly fascinating. After the class I went home and immersed myself in egg decorating. I ordered more supplies and books from Hanusey Music & Gifts in Philadelphia. I made a lot of eggs and sold some in a gift shop and at a craft show. I taught classes and had a great time turning others on to this great art form.

The eggs shown in these photos are all chicken eggs except the one in the middle of the photo above which is a duck egg. I stick to the traditional Ukrainian symbols and designs because I like the idea that they started out as pagan symbols and even though they were later given new meanings by the Christian church the pagan influence still remains.

I won't go into great detail about how they are created because Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) did a great pictorial about the process. I have an electric kiska (the tool used to apply the beeswax) that has interchangable points for fine, medium and heavy lines. I think one of things that I like best about doing eggs is the smell of melted beeswax. What could possibly be closer to nature than raw eggs and beeswax?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Here's our boy, Barney Fife, posing for a photo. He's scary-smart and loves to smooch. He can't get close enough to my face, would lay on my face if I would let him. He insists on sitting on my chest with his face about 1" from mine and doesn't want me to look at anything but him. He likes to smell my breath and would put his entire head in my mouth if I could open it wide enough.

We found him at the barn in July 2000 but not with the other barn cats. His foot pads had been burned and he had upper respitory distress. We gathered him up and took him to the vet then took him home and kept him in the master bed and bathroom until he was old enough for his feline leukemia test. Now he has the run of the house during the day but he still spends every night in the master bath because he tortures his older sister Nubbin so much that she spends all day in hiding and only comes out in the evening when Barney is put in the master bedroom and fed. He eats in there because he would eat ALL the food otherwise. So when we go to bed I put him in the bathroom with some treats where he has his own litter box, toys and TWO cat beds.

His hobbies include playing fetch with his fuzzy ball, annoying his two older sisters, sleeping, eating, and pooping. He'd like to send out a big smooch to all of you and smell your breath.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Before I learned to knit...

... one of the things I used to do was Counted Cross-Stitch. I am especially fond of the patterns by Marilyn Leavitt Imblum. The photo above is a detail from Celtic Christmas. I finished this project in January 2000 and I guess it took me about a year. It's done on 28-count (28 threads per inch) linen with each stitch done over 2 strands (14 stitches per inch).

I have another of her designs about 3/4 finished. I really should try to finish it while I can see see what I'm doing. My eyes just aren't what they used to be and this is one craft that takes really good eyesight. I loved it though and did it with great gusto, taking it everywhere and stitching when ever and where ever I got the chance.

I have several more of her patterns but I doubt if I'll ever attempt them. Her angel patterns attracted me because of the flowing robes and the serene faces, not because of any religious connotations. I'm a heathern and proud of it! I particularly like her Angel of Mercy pattern because a portion of the sales goes to the Polly Klaas Foundation. But the best in my opinion is Peace Angel. How I would love to stitch that design. If you could see a closeup of her face (which you can't on her website, I'll have to dig out the pattern) you would understand what I mean about her ability to capture serenity. It's twice as detailed as Celtic Christmas, with the face and hands stitched over one thread instead of two.

Puffins and Diamonds

He knows how I love sparkly things and about my concerns about the ethics of the diamond industry so he gave me Puffins made by Swarovski for Valentines Day. We love puffins and feel a special connection with them because of the our visits to Eastern Egg Rock. Aren't they cute?

Meanwhile what do I do about my diamonds? I love my wedding and engagement rings but I just don't feel comfortable wearing them. I've been hearing about "conflict diamonds" for years and finally decided to quit wearing my rings about a year ago. I've told my husband not to get me any diamond jewelry. Today I did a google on "blood diamonds" and found this link. Do I believe it? I don't know. I'll have to do some more research.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chutes and Ladders and Shiny Snow

I'm working on the Mitred U Baby Jacket by Megan Mills and I'm either getting sloppy or losing my ability to knit because I have ladders. I've never had a problem with ladders in the past and I don't know why I've suddenly developed this problem. Once I realized that I had a serious problem I started transferring stitches around on the needles so that the transition from one needle to the next wouldn't always be in the same place and it helped but it's too late. I don't think any amount of blocking is going to help this.

I'm going to have to frog because it just looks terrible. I couldn't possibly give this as a gift to someone. Yuck! Thank goodness it's just a baby jacket and not something huge.

The yarn is Claudia Handpaint in the Pink Cloud colorway. It looks washed out in the photo because of the glare off the snow. Speaking of snow, we have what looks like plastic snow here in Western Maryland. Here's some photo I took Friday afternoon from the front of our house.

I took this one Friday night. It's a long exposure so the car headlights seem to be stretched out but look at the glare of the lights off of that snow! It's very hard, you can walk on it if you can keep yourself upright. It's slicker than snot on a doorknob and hard as... well... hard as ice.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Loopy Ewe Order and Snow

My latest order from Sheri at the Loopy Ewe just arrived! Three more orders and I'll be a Loopy Groupie! (Place squeal of glee here.) At the top of the photo are 4 skiens of Claudia Handpaints in the Pink Cloud colorway with which I hope to make the Mitred U Baby Jacket by Megan Mills. I say I hope because I don't know if the yarn is suitable, if I have enough, and if I really understand the pattern.

The lower skien is from J-Knits in the Maryland colorway. Since I live in Maryland I felt a special connection with this colorway even though I don't understand the significance of the colors in relation to the state of Maryland. Maybe it's referring to the melons grown on the Eastern Shore. It's 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon so it should make a good sturdy pair of socks. As usual, Sheri included some extras in the order. This time I got samples of Schaefer's Lola and Anne and the Little Red Sock Kit!

In other news, it's actually snowing here at the moment. Better look quick though because it will soon turn to freezing rain that is supposed to coat everything in 1/2 to 3/4 inch of ice. Then it's supposed to get windy. Can you say "Power Outages"? Here's the view from my window at work.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

These are my two Furry Princesses, Fran (top) and Nubbin (bottom). I have a Furry Prince too but I'll save his photo for another day.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

"Cuke, I am your father"

My husband gave me Darth Tater for Christmas. So I took Darth to work to keep me amused (obviously I'm easily amused) and he's just been hanging around on my desk breathing loudly so I decided to put him to work as a sock model. He had a little trouble at first juggling the Light Saber and the sock but he eventually figured it out and now he looks quite comfortable in his new role, don't you think?

This is the first Tofutsie sock almost done. As I said in my last post it's a little narrow for my poor ankles, both of which have been broken in the past and are now permanently swollen. One of my co-workers tried it on the other day and since she has slender, delicate ankles it fits her wonderfully so I'm finishing them up for her.

This yarn is great to knit with and the fabric feels really good but it's more like two strands of lace-weight plied together. I'm used to Claudia Handpaints, Fleece Artist and Cherry Tree Hill so my standard pattern is a little too small for this yarn. I use Wendy's Generic Toe-Up which calls for 64 stitches. My next pair of Tofutsies will have 68 or even 72 stitches because I really want a pair of these for myself!

Here's the vital stats:
Yarn: Tofutsies (50% superwash wool, 25% soysilk fibers, 22.5% cotton, and 2.5% chitin)
Needles: KnitPicks US#0/2mm - 24" circs
Pattern: Wendy's Generic Toe Up with the Feather and Fan top
Gauge: 10 stitches and 14 row/1 inch (I usually get 8 and 12/inch)