Tuesday, January 29, 2008

not joining YA

Hi! My name is Susan and I’m a yarnaholic! Or at least I thought I was until I saw some extensive yarn stashes on Ravelry.com and Flickr.com. I’m somewhat relieved to see that I really am not a candidate for YA. Yeh, but isn't denial the first sign of...whatever!

Sock knitting has gotten in the way of, well, real life. That doesn’t mean I’m a yarnaholic. Tax preparations swamp my desk, but until I can't see my laptop screen that’s not a problem. Yesterday two more knitting books arrived from Amazon, I'm sure that's not a sign of .... Anyway, I knit my first sock in the last week and I documented it’s progress for my Mom. She was my measure for knitting abilities as she had been a knitting instructor decades ago and she was not surprised by my sock pictures. For years I thought I was incapable of knitting socks. I found proof of that in my archival yarn stash (in your what?). Two skeins of teal blue sportweight yarn that I bought 20 years ago and had cast on stitches on a set of double-pointed needles and then abandoned it. I just didn’t get it.

Socks are a revelation to me now! One, two skeins of some hand-dyed yarn and you're ready to go! Right? Not exactly. You need three more sets of double-pointed bamboo needles or at least I did. And you need new stitch holders and then markers too. Next came Ann Budd’s book Getting Started Knitting Socks to bolster my confidence. (What obsessive behavior?) Finally I’d run out of things to buy to launch the socks. I had to actually start knitting the socks, though not without consulting a knittinghelp video for the new method of casting on required! My lovely skeins of Koigu KPPPM #100 are now my first sock (and probably the second sock). I’m intrigued by how you shape a sock and the possibilities for design seem endless. Not to mention the really cool yarn one will have to buy for all those endless designs! Oh no I’m not a …

Sunday, January 13, 2008

hearts in season

I've been stitching a pile o' silk hearts!

Heart sachets have been a constant in my Lavender Trifles repertoire and with the recent opening of my etsy shop, I'll be able to present them "in season"!

Lavender is such a nostalgic fragrance, it naturally lends itself to antique textiles. My sachets were first inspired by antique Crazy quilts saturated with embroidery, pieced in unusual color combinations and full of quirky imagery.

When I start on a group of sachets, I rely on the palette of intense colors that the dupioni silks come in and ever-expanding collection of embroidery floss to guide the way. Most of the time I have no plan or pattern for piecing, other than using up scraps. Once I have pieced the fabric, I use a minimum of embroidery stitches on the silk's slubby surface.

One thing leads to another and there are always ways to stray from the original intention. Now there's a pile o' natural linen hearts with ricrac and embroidery in progress. And with a work table full of embroidery threads I'll have to clean it up with my punchneedle and whip up some buttons! But that's another post.

Sachets. Fill em, shoot em and upload them before Valentine's day has come and gone.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Is it foamy vs felt?

In a recent copy of Selvedge magazine there was an short article about Pia Wallen. I have liked her simple, sewn, industrial felt forms since I first saw them. It reminded me that her work inspired the "foamy" gift packages I've been sewing for a couple of years ago.

I was wrapping some mundane birthday presents for my husbands special day when I got the inspiration to sew the foamy sheets together to make a more interesting gift wrapping. I bought two packets of the large Foamy sheets and then just started zigzagging sheets together on my sewing machine, cutting edges with decorative scissors and folding and restitching to form large envelopes or this year, large bucket-y structures for more bulky gifts like sweatpants. Paper punches worked to create slots for ribbon threading....

I get such a good response to the foamy wrappers when I give a gift, that I thought maybe I should really figure out how to get better stitching results on my Bernina sewing machine. Using a regular foot or even a walking foot on my late model Bernina (1001) does not produce even stitches and it's difficult to feed under the presser foot. My local source for Bernina accessories suggested that I get a teflon coated foot or a roller foot which would cost $52 -$80. So I'm hoping to find an online source for this antique foot or maybe I should just convert to industrial felt? Hmmm. I'll attack both fronts.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

out of the loop...

... I’m back. Happy New Year!

The holidays impacted me, in a good way. I love gift giving and I’m always inspired to make most of the gifts on my list. My ambitions out-paced my capabilities and time. Sure there was baking, and sewing, and knitting and punching-needling, and more knitting and yarn-buying and online shopping and actual bricks and mortar shopping and lots of package making (like my machine-stitched envelopes and bags below made with sheets of foamy from kids aisle in Michaels, Joann, etc) and shipping and still finishing gifts. Yikes!

Knitting dominated December and continues still into January. I just gotta knit, because I just gotta buy yarn, due to my limited self-control in the yarn acquisition department. Back in October I discovered that I too could knit in the round when I conceived of a bucket-ish kind of drawstring sack. With familiar circular needles I calculated and knit and calculated and the bag worked out shape wise and I also picked up the I-cord process. If I just hadn’t wanted to explore felting, it would have been fine. But no, I thoughtlessly washed it and dried it with a white towel, thereby destroying it’s rustic handspun qualities but overcoming my fear of seamless knitting!

Anyway… that in-the-round project gave me confidence to join the millions that knit socks and gloves on 3 or more double-pointed needles. I didn’t want to be left out. I selected a basic pattern online for a fingerless glove at and a learning skein of fluff from AC Moore. The biggest hurdle was in that first round, linking the two ends and then keeping the stitches from twisting long enough to see a tubular formation. I was just in too much of a hurry to check my gauge, so after conquering the first round and knitting my way up to the thumb situation and following the thumb formation steps, I had to rip it all out and start over, adjusting the gauge so the glove would actually fit my niece’s hand and not a gorilla’s hand. Though a shot of the fuzzy fuschia fingerless glove on a gorilla’s hand might have been interesting I opted to finish the two gloves for Meagan.
Proof of this pivotal moment is not well documented by an out of focus photo, here again enthusiasm got the best of me.

As it did again when the Koigu yarn array in my lys finally caught my attention and I took home 3 skeins of KPPPM blues and reds, envisioning piles of Koigu fingerless gloves for my Christmas list. After the first few inches of glove number 1, I realized there just wasn’t enough time for me to knit them and ship them to their destinations for Christmas.

Other Christmas preparations overtook me and after a week I had already abandoned the fingerless glove idea in favor of a feather and fan/ chevron Koigu scarf pattern from Joelle Hoverson's book Last minute gifts to knit. I have the book on my list now as well as other knitting books to inspire. Or for that matter, it's easy enough to go to flickr and see all the amazing knitted projects and get inspired!

So as I look back at December there were lots of susanbmade things to record---I just didn't realize it until yesterday. The Noro Sakura fingerless gloves (unfinished),

a brioche stitch scarf in cotton yarn from the Yarn Garden, Portland,OR,

the pile of wool and cotton floss punchneedle buttons destined for my etsy shop,

and more...if I could control the placement of jpgs!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Oh Yes! Happy New Year!

Since I'm into process and sharing process and January 1 has rolled by, it's okay to share a story about this year's holiday card-making.

For more than 16 Christmases my husband and I have made our holiday cards. Our friends and family tell us that they anticipate it's arrival and that it's collected by some.

It’s a collaborative project for us. Sometimes we work in a series. The year big Louie, a handsome 97 pound mixed breed rescue dog, came into our lives we started a family portrait series. The next year we continued the family portrait series including Louie's twin, Archie, a 14 pound tweener dachshund. (Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzennegger’s canine counterparts.)

This year as every year, we began the process on the eve of Thanksgiving, because the cook doesn’t have enough to do already, and that’s when panic is beginning to set in as the mailing date approaches. We started by taking pictures on a huge blue tarp on the back lawn. Our yard still had remnants of fall color and the temperature was 50-ish, snow was not in the forecast. Dressed in full winter regalia, down jackets, boots, hats and gloves for the shot, we each took our turn on the tarp demonstrating snow angels as the other one climbed the ladder with the camera. Archie and Louie had already been captured mid-snow angel a month before and archived. In between Thanksgiving preparations the work began on our respective computers to manipulate this snow angel imagery for the Holiday card. 36 hours later it still wasn’t gelling, it wasn't working at all. Set the pictures aside. Dump the snow angel idea altogether.

At this stage, and we usually have this stage, I turn to my stack of origami books for inspiration. As I opened the first book, it dawned on me that I could search online for any origami fold I could think of. I had an inkling of an alternative solution for the card, using an origami component and a card stock base like a series of cards we had produced years earlier. I wanted a fish fold and I found a great little video of a fish fold. Watched the video a few times with paper in hand and figured it could work. Dennis agreed and we started designing the fish paper and the card base.