Friday, May 22, 2015

Chair thing

Years ago when I began to experiment with stitching shirred cotton, a distressed black, slat-back chair became my "dress form".  I made a wardrobe of slip covers for it and when displayed at craft shows explained that I couldn't sell it because the seat was broken. Brilliant marketing.

I spent last year settling into my sewing studio and exploring the Modern Quilt community in Portland.  After months of productive, but frustrating "Modern" quilt-making (due to my aversion to accurate quarter-inch seams) I returned to my shirred cotton work.  The dress form chair was left behind in our move from Long Island,  so I searched for a replacement, to no avail.

My next idea was to buy a chair from IKEA and slip cover it!  I was happily stitching enormous spirals of color in my new sewing room until I came to the realization I had to actually engineer those spirals into slip covers for the Vilmar chair.  I eliminated the actual chair, thus, eliminating that pesky engineering phase. A 2-D chair didn't need as much space and I could make any chair I wanted, this way! So began the chair series of wall hangings-

In the chair series I incorporated quilted linen as a base for my shirred cotton spirals and a hodgepodge of prints for the backs and binding. I liked making them.  I will be previewing them in my booth at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, June 25, 26, 27. You can also see my fringe-y "Fuzzy Haystack" sculpture in the Special Exhibit: On the Fringe: Today's Twist on Fiber Art.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fleeting pinkness

Dear Blog,

Since we last wrote I haven't been up to much. But I didn't want to miss posting pics of the Spring color that I thought you should see.

In Greenport there are a few blocks along Fifth Ave heading towards the bay where there is a concentration of ornamental Cherry trees that is not to be missed! The canopy of these trees creates such a luscious pink universe in Spring that I had my friend Sarah alert me when their blossoms popped. Their pinkness was so ready to be captured last week, I couldn't have asked for better weather! Ummmm...lovely!

Monday, October 24, 2011

dreaming of swans for dessert

I looked out my windows this morning to see a group of swans on our placid lake. Two things occurred to me: 1) the spectacularness of our Fall color was probably diminished by the rain this year (boo!),

and 2) when I see the swans floating on the surface of the lake with their bills tucked into their wings I think of the floating island recipe, technically probably Oeufs a`la neige. (I apologize for not knowing where the properly accented a and e's are on my keyboard.) I remember making Creme Anglaise in one of my many Pastry classes and talking about, but not actually poaching the meringues/swans that float in the soupy custard. Not sure, but I know I had the dessert in Paris decades ago.

Today, photograph the swans and just dream of Oeufs a la neige.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Yesterday I ventured into Manhattan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit. A friend of mine works there and has been encouraging me to come in and take advantage of their Monday visitor pass. Time was running out for the show and I had to commit. I was totally unaware of him and I'm not a fashionista, as proof I'm typing this in my Teva flip flops, $5 Danskin tee and red shorts of undeterminable age. I did zero research beforehand, so the show was an utter surprise.

Brilliant move, not knowing anything about him because I was amazed. Stunned by the excruciating beauty of his work. It was sculpture --- it was a dramatic and intimate theatrical staging of an open diary. Evocative, heartbreaking, sad. It left a lump in my throat as I walked through the several rooms of display. Expert tailor, draper, showman, romantic.

I was so knocked out after walking through the show that we just sat quietly outside the McQueen chapel. We went back in a second time. I focused on the pieces that attracted me the most---his tailored jackets from his master's show, a few of the pieces in the accessory room and several of the gowns in the glass cases. Whoa!

Opted for the book from the show instead of the refrigerator magnets (horror!) to try to hold onto this experience in some way. I've since skimmed through the book, took a couple of quick shots for the blog post and intend to sit down with it to find our more.

As I left the Met I was still somewhat suspended in time and place. I had a list of places to stop, so I hopped on the M4 bus and forged on to my next destination, the Magazine Cafe on W 37th. As I walked out of their storefront I saw the Tinsel Trader, though it didn't seem right somehow. I walked in and realized there had been a big change in layout or something. I perused the Tinsel Trading parallel universe and hurried on towards Penn Station,wondering what had happened since I was last there. And when was I last there?

Making one more stop on W 36th when I saw many, many of rolls of ribbon in the window. Shindo is the store. Tons of ribbon, huge palette of colors, giant array of textures. I picked up this linen/cotton ribbon with red stitching (Sheila!). Just didn't have anything else in mind, but I'll make sure I do next time I'm in the garment district.

Hurried into Penn Station just missing a train, but 15 minutes later I was seated in a cool train car with my current knitting dilemma in my lap on my way home. Mind still reeling with McQueen visions. It's not a show for everyone. But I would recommend it.

Thanks so much Cheryl.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What was I thinking?

Generally I don't take requests from the peanut gallery for blog posts, but my Mother suggested that I recount a craft-related incident, not only to her over the phone twice and in email with pictures but here too, in the blogsphere. She insists and her birthday was last week.

First though I must share the only inspiration that has almost made me almost post since December. Two weeks ago, I found a phenomenal specimen in the 5 lb bag of organic carrots I'd hauled home from the grocery store. I suppose if I was a vegetable gardener this would not be so special, but since I'm not and never will be...I have to share it with other non-vegetable gardeners.

There in my supply of organic carrots was one to be treasured, not juiced or roasted. It happened to be a two-legged carrot. As I am easily amused by mutant vegetables, it occurs to me that I should capture it on film for posterity, like the other mutant vegetables of history. Either it was overcast or I didn't have time to set up the tripod or I was too hungry. Who knows? Instead I scrubbed it, wrapped it and put it in a place of honor in the refrigerator to be ready for that moment with better available light for photography or possibly thinking that I would forget altogether and not embarrass myself, by giving it a name and taking a picture of it or by making carrot trousers for it and then taking a picture of it.

Okay, on with the main event of the blog post, to the more embarrassing moments that my Mom will find entertaining.

Recently I started to knit a baby sweater. A sweet little baby sweater for an innocent babe recently born. A cabled yoke sweater in a toasty fine golden yellow yarn was coming along nicely, relatively problem free, just about to enter into the cruise phase where you can knit and just measure and not read charts...

Then on one fateful tv-less evening I started to pick up my plastic seethrough knitting bag to tackle the last few chart-reading rows only to find a black spider settled in on the skein of yarn! I'm not a spider fan (Ugh!)and I really don't like seeing them on my sweet baby yarn. And well, earlier in the day I had been tormenting a thin column of marching ants on the floor with my Dyson vacuum because I don't have cats to torment them, it was handy.

My husband who is reading nearby and unwilling to save me from the spider says, Get the vacuum! In jest, I pick up the business end of the hose, replace the brush attachment with the infinitely more deadly crevice tool and press the on switch. Delicately I retrieved the knitting on the needles out of the bag and shoved the crevice tool in, quickly sucking it's way to the bottom of the bag! From my disadvantage point I couldn't see that I was sucking sweet baby yarn up and not the spider. I hear this voice shouting, Turn it off, turn it off! I did.

I had flung the knitting on the needles across the room to save it from the spider and the vacuum was now off. All I could tell was that yarn had gone into the crevice tool, not how much yarn had disappeared. I yanked on the strands to free them from the Dyson's grip. (One reason this is particularly painful is that I hate this vacuum. It is weighty, unwieldy and from the moment it entered the house I've been dedicated to hating it.) The surprised husband pulled the vacuum away from me and faced it towards the door, I think, because he could see how much yarn had accumulated in the seethrough canister and was sure I'd go uberballistic when I realized it.

How stupid could you be? It was late. I shouldn't even have thought about picking up knitting that needed your full attention at such a late hour or the vacuum. Whatever.

When I retrieved the cabled yoke from it's landing spot it bore no spider evidence. That voice is saying to me, will you have enough yarn to finish it? That's when I read the pattern. Apparently I'd overlooked the page where the required yardages were plainly written. Plainly written. The size I'd chosen required 110 gr of yarn. I only had 100 gr. of hand-dyed sweet baby yarn in toasty golden yellow. Double Ugh.

The next morning I grabbed the Dyson and ejected the canister. At this point I finally realized how much yarn had been sucked into the canister. Adding insult to injury.

I pulled it out in a tangled mess, wound it in a ball, made it into a hank and soaked it for hours in a bath of scented wool soap. The half-finished baby sweater, the sucked-up yarn and I have all recovered from the incident. I don't much care about the Dyson.

The lessons here are many. Read your pattern thoroughly, first. Don't do high maintenance knitting late at night. Don't fool around with the crevice tool, late at night....

Happy belated Birthday Mom!

Friday, December 24, 2010


The elves have knocked off early here. Craftmas activities have subsided. The last delivery was made yesterday. Provisions for a cozy weekend by the fireplace are in place. Plenty of food options were gathered (chicken soup for the elf with a cold), sufficient wood for the fireplace, digital connections tested and secured---what more could these elves ask for?

World peace, first. Second, that our families were just minutes away and not transcontinental plane rides away.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

knitting and shrinking things

For my birthday in October, I received a really cool project bag that a friend knit, felted (technically, the term is "fulled") and filled with a skein of yarn from her stash that I coveted. She included several really helpful knitting accessories which I put to good use right away. Aside from being a great gift it was also an inspiration. Thank you Cheryl! (If you're interested the pattern is available here.)

It started me thinking about my felted knit experiments from last winter. (Don't worry I'm not making slippers again!) I dug them out from their secure location in the garage and they spawned more knitting and shrinking experiments.

First, I was compelled to make a cover for my iPod. Covering it in wool was more important than actually mastering the use of it. When I acquired it in a birthday frenzy there were no lime green covers at the Apple store! I know, how could that happen? Under pressure, I selected a turquoise and orange cover which I now think is probably for a Miami Dolphins fan (I'm not even sure what sport they play, but I do know where Miami is.) That's beside the point.

I had an acorn design in mind and thought that making an aCorn for my iPod was just oh so funny! I knit a pile of acorn samples, using knitting techniques from sock and hat constructions. It took several generations to determine what gauge knitting would work with the fulling process to create the fabric I was looking for.
They're not all candidates for iPod covers and as yet there is no truly lime green sample, but there are several combo's I like.

The one that did become the iCozy was from the first generation of samples. I knit it's acorn cap with a buttonhole for one of my buttons. Found the perfect thread, maybe too perfect, and constructed the button.

Stuck it on and decided that I needed to search in my vintage buttons for an alternative to the perfectly matched thread that rendered it unseeable.

Vintage won! Ta dah! The winning iCozy combo!

I'm writing a recipe to knit an iCozy. Takes almost no yarn. It's quick to knit. And most importantly, it's fun to intentionally shrink your knitting! It is adaptable in the felting/fulling stage to fit similiar mobile devices. Hope to post it soon, but I've got more knitting and shrinking projects in the works too!