Archive for June, 2007

Fruity Boxes and Stamp Swap

strawberries.jpgI love, love, love late June in the Northwest because this is when my garden favorites are ripening and blooming: strawberries, raspberries, cherries, snap peas, snow peas, carrots, rhubarb, fushias, california poppies, asiatic lilies, lavender, feverfew and more I can’t name.

We’ve been picking berries in our garden, went to a u-pick last week, and have bought many pints at the farmer’s markets. All of these berries have left me with a tall stack of little green containers on my kitchen counter. Normally, I would just compost the little cardboard boxes with the rest of my kitchen scraps, but this year something was calling to me. “Wouldn’t I make the perfect little holder for something?” I heard yesterday morning (my mother says she has never seen anyone with more containers than me).

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Since the mod podge was still handy, I pulled out some more textured paper and some stamps. I tore the paper into strips, layering paper on both sides of the container.

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Next I started laying on the stamps, overlaying, working to cover up all the corners and edges. When I was done, I painted the whole thing with a generous coat of mod podge, which was starting to give me a headache (note to  self: open the front door next time). When I checked on it this morning, the container was glossy and fully sealed. I have plans for many more, using more stringent selection criteria on the stamps. You see, I have a bit of a stamp stash, so I can afford to be judicious in my choices.

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There is a long story behind this duffel bag, and if you really want me to tell you sometime, just ask, but suffice it to say that the stamps were collected by several Rotary clubs in New Hampshire. This is actually, just a small portion of the stamps they passed on to my mother-in-law. I took roughly half of her lot home two summers ago, and have given away a few large bags to various classrooms. The problem is the pile isn’t getting any smaller, and even if I covered ever single berry box we eat this summer, I will still have more left over than I will ever need.

This is where you, the readers come in. I’m offering to fill a business envelope with 1oz of stamps from every corner of the globe for you. What is $0.39 between friends? If you would like more, this can be arranged. Just leave your name in the comments and I’ll contact you for your address.

Hodgepodge Boxes with Mod Podge

Yesterday we needed an indoor activity to fill our morning, so I pulled out some boxes, collage materials, paint brushes and modge podge.

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Sophie made a flower box for her grandmother in New Hampshire with pictures from a nursery catalogue and some strips of colored paper. She used modge podge as the glue and then covered it with another layer for gloss.

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I used some tissue paper printed with dragonflies, torn into strips and layered on a necklace box.

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This great thrifted balsa wood box came from a bakery; it will go into the long-range planning section of our storage room. The next time we get an invite to a birthday party, we’ll fill it with miscellaneous art supplies and give it away.  

Larkspur Wine

These beauties are finally off my needles and on my father’s feet, just in time for Father’s Day. I said these were for Lance all along, but I couldn’t really surprise my dad if I said I was making them for him, now could I?

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Much like the Yarn Harlot’s traveling socks, these socks have seen lots and lots of miles. I started them in January just before the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat in Tacoma, and then took them back to the Tacoma the following week for Wintergrass. They went to every parent meeting at my son’s preschool and my daughter’s elementary school, aikido twice a week, book club meetings, knitting group, back and forth to Vancouver to see my parents. They were my go-to project for six months, around and around and around they went. I’m sad to let go of them because they demanded so little of me.

I should admit that in the beginning, these socks were a bit of a challenge because I decided to do a toe-up magic loop construction for the first time (this tutorial from Misocrafty made the cast-on a breeze). Plus there were some winding difficulties that left me with two lopsided balls from a single 4oz hank. Not sure just how much yarn these socks would take, I decided to knit them two at a time. When I arrived at the heel, I took them off the needles and knit them one at a time until I was past both heels.

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Toe-up sock patterns generally call out a short row heel, but I didn’t think that would create enough room for a man foot, so I trolled around for ideas and didn’t really come up with much. I decided to just try a standard heel, upside down: I put two thirds of the stitches on holders, knit a heel flap for 18 rows, turned the heel, picked up the stitches on the side of the flap and then knit the instep. There is no reinforcing in the heel, but it works. Now that I’ve seen needlefelted heels on socks, I’m not going to worry so much about whether the heels and toes get a little thin with love.

Ironically, I did run out of yarn just past the heel; I broke down and bought a second skein of this yarn. Several people have told me how much they loved this yarn, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea. Perhaps it was the dark colorway, perhaps I just knit it at too tight a gauge, perhaps it was knitting in magic loop, whatever the reason, it seemed this yarn was forever trying to jump right off my needles. Picking up those impossible-to-see, tiny little stitches, that insisted on splitting instead of jumping back on my needles caused no end of muttering under my breath…never again. Anyone interested in swapping 3oz of mohair/wool sock yarn? For that matter, is anyone interested in size 0 needles? They deserve someone with a looser hand than mine.

Pattern: a hybrid; Turkish Cast-on for Two socks Magic Loop from Misocrafty
Yarn: Mountain Colors Bearfoot in color “Larkspur”
Needles: US Size 0, 40″ Addi Turbo

Lovin’ Lopez

We just returned from the most marvelous weekend of camping at Spencer Spit State Park on Lopez Island, a two hour drive and a 40 minute ferry ride from Seattle. Lopez is one of the San Juan Islands in the Straight of Juan de Fuca, between Washington State and Vancouver Island, BC.

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Saturday morning we drove down to the Farmer’s Market in Lopez Village where we met farmers, musicians, artists, craftsmen (of both genders), bakers, recyclers and many young entrepreneurs selling cookies, lemonade, felt sheep and jewellry.

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We ate pounds of snap peas, bunches of carrots, handfuls of strawberries, and seasoned dehydrated flax crackers. We rolled on the grass, ran in circles, sampled smoked salmon and chatted with artists. In NVC terms, our time at the farmer’s market met my need for community, fun and learning. I felt fulfilled and inspired by everyone I met.

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First, there was Beckie and Dave Heinlein of Arbutus Farm; they were selling roving and yarn from their flock of Romneys. Dave told me all about breeding sheep with a double-recessive gene for coloration. Beckie and I talked at length about the wonders of needle felting. She needlefelts purses until they are in the rough shape she wants, and then wet felts them to finish the fulling process.

I love the way she weaves the roving to form Celtic knots as she is needle felting. Then there was her sock solution that left me dumbfounded. She uses needlefelting to repair holes in socks instead of darning them, or throwing them away. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? There are two pairs of socks sitting under my knitting chair just waiting for such a solution.

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Needless to say, I brought home several balls of roving, and plan to buy more in the future. Because much of the undyed wool is a brindled blend of black and white, the dyed colors have beautiful variations. I can’t wait to work with it.

Marianna Haniger is an artist transitioning from video and film to sewing clothes from vintage fabrics. I spent at least an hour in her booth while Owen schmoozed the little boy selling cookies just across the way (he got three free cookies, and I bought a skirt).

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The yellow and red skirt in the middle was already sold, but I had to take a picture because it was so beautiful. Marianna said the vintage silk scarf used on the bottom was printed “Made in occupied Japan”. She described the origins of several pieces, recounting where she found the fabric and the challenges she encountered trying to make the pieces fit her vision. It was inspiring to hear about her process and work.

We have two weddings to attend this summer; I have my eye on either the seafoam skirt (top-right) or the orange medley (middle-left). Ironically, I made sketches for a very similar skirt in my bedside dream book months ago, but I’m not sure I’ll have the chance to finish them before we leave for New Hampshire.

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We bought a pair of knives from Wayne Hagel of Arrow-W Knives, handmade on Lopez Island. I should have taken a picture of the schematic Wayne posted next to his table; it showed the process he uses to create the knives from a piece of forged steel right down to attaching the custom handles. Each knife is unique; all works of art. In hindsight, I wish we had bought more because they would make such wonderful gifts.

As I was scrambling around, trying to buy one more basket of strawberries (the sweetest little berries I have ever tasted) before my family drove away (they threatened to leave me at the market several times), I realized I’d dropped my camera case. Retracing my steps brought me back to Beckie and Dave’s booth. Sure enough, someone had found my case and because of the needlefelting, presumed it belonged to them.

Forgotten in my excitement as I browsed was the woman who makes beautiful baby clothes out of recycled cashmere and merino sweaters. The pants, jumpers and sweater sets were well made and beautifully crafted. Sadly, there is no directory of merchants for the Farmer’s Market, so the only way to find these artists is to visit again. I wonder if I could write that off as a business expense?  

As I was writing this post, and trying to narrow down the pictures, I told my children I wanted to create a separate blog post just describing our adventures, our travels, and the wonderful campground (the quietest ever). My super-private son asked me, once again, not to. Since he is my son, I will respect his wishes, but I can still include a link to our flickr photos, can’t I? But if you see him, don’t tell him you’ve seen any pictures.

Shiny Rocks

These mosaics line the fence next to our driveway where I park my car. An otherwise bare strip of old fence and concrete is brightened signifcantly by these rocks each time I unload the groceries, open the heavy doors of our old Volvo for the little ones, or take out the recycling.

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We created these mosaics in 2002 as a Father’s Day present for my dad, in the weeks after Owen’s birth. I vividly remember limping and wincing around Bedrock, having just delivered a 10 lb 10 oz baby, carrying Owen in a sling, trying to decide on what type of rock to buy, and how much recycled glass we needed. In the end, I think I threw up my hands and retreated to the car, letting Lance make all the selections because I was in too much pain to stand for long.

If you’ve been to Bedrock, you know the tumbled glass is more expensive than the mixed bags, so he bought a little bit of the large chunky tumbled glass, and lots of the tiny, assorted colored glass chips. He spent hours and hours sorting through the chips with tweezers, trying to separate them by color before laying out the rocks. I say “he” because it was a joint project in theory, but I did a lot of pointing and suggesting from my position on the couch with a baby in one arm and toddler in the other.

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My parents decided to put the rocks in their front lawn so the neighbors could admire them as they strolled by on their evening walks. It wasn’t long before they started to sink into the soil and the grass began to obscure the designs. When they sold their house in 2004, we dug the stones out of the lawn and brought them back here to our house where I enjoy them every day.

 Note: We spread thinset, which is a concrete-like compound, directly onto the rock and then placed the glass into it. This meant we didn’t need to apply mortar after we were done. The glass is slightly raised above the surface of the compound.

Knights and Fairies

Lately, I’ve been faced with the dilemma: make stuff or write about the stuff you make. The choice seems pretty simple, but the voices in my head that dictate my blog posts won’t go away. I keep dreaming, writing, editing and framing the blog posts that I’m not writing. To date, I have four finished objects (two of them are knitting objects!) undocumented, three great field trips and a work in progress just sitting in my brain queue waiting to come out.

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For Father’s Day, I wanted to take something made by our children and turn it into art. I’m not sure how this came about, but Owen drew a tooth fairy on a piece of wood Lance found for him. It was his very first piece of representational art, a dramatic change in style for him. He was delighted to have it turned into a stencil for Lance, especially because I found a bright orange shirt at Goodwill (Owen eschews any color that isn’t orange).

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Most evenings, when I’m working on the computer, Lance keeps me company by playing multiple chess games online. Sophie learned to play chess at school this year and was an enthusiastic member of their chess club.

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 I had plans to make two more shirts for Lance, but ran out of time. They will appear some day.

Still Here

This has been a crazy busy week, and next week doesn’t look any better. My mind is brimming with things I want to write, stories I want to share, but it hasn’t been impossible to carve out a little extra time for blogging. Looking ahead, I imagine my contribution to the blogging world will be pretty spotty during the summer.

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For now, I’ll just have to leave things with a pretty picture hanging in our hallway, my favorite so far. Lance made this interesting piece of crisscrossed pre-felt, which I cut into petal shapes and arrayed in a pinwheel.

Petal Trees

I will always credit Emily Archer of Milkweed Arts  for inspiring my love of felt, and taking it from a mere appreciation to a desire to create. Lance and I bought these two pieces from Emily at a Christmas craft fair in Peterborough, NH in 2003. They hung in our living room while we lived in New Hampshire, and now they hang on either side of my attic bedroom window. I never tire of looking at the leaves, made from leaf impressions on handpainted silk, held in place by tiny beads along the center veins.

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Drawing further inspiration from Feltissimo, I made this card for Lance’s Aunt Sue, who lives in New Hampshire.

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Leaves were cut out of prefelt and layered onto a piece of wetfelt. The end result was embellished with peridot chips. A piece of card stock was sewn to create the card.

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There are more pieces in this series on Flickr.

Cool Toys

Once again, I think I may be the last blogger on the planet to try this. What was I waiting for? I didn’t think I was such a sucker for toys and gimicks, but I love the Mosaic Maker by fd’s Flickr Toys. That was so fun and easy.

With the bounty of growth in our garden this year, I’ve been taking lots of pictures to remember the shape, form and color grades in the various leaves, grasses, ferns and flowers. It is a good thing I put in so much work on the garden two years ago. I can honestly say that the only things I planted this year were the pansies (simply days before my mother-in-law arrived for Easter), and the centaurea montana was knicked from a friend’s house.

My plan is to use this mosaic to kick start my imagination this winter when I’m trying to recall the color that lit up my day during the long gray days of winter in the Northwest (though I just heard that Juneau has it much worse).
 

Errant Night

A couple of weeks ago, I started grafting the hood for Rogue, thanks to a lovely set of line by line instructions by PumpkinMama. I’ve grafted my fair share of socks in plain stockinette, but tackling 38 stitches of knits and purls with two cable crosses was too much for me to attack without some guidance.

It all started well enough in the afternoon, but things started to go downhill when I brought my knitting downstairs to watch a movie with my honey.

I spent another two hours grafting, only to notice when I was finished that there was not one, but two critical errors in my work. Determined that this was challenge was not going to defeat me, I tinked the grafting back to the hole, intending to finish it the next day. It languished for twenty days.

Last night, I read this brilliant post by Janine of Feral Knitters about the beauty of charm spots, also known as mistakes, a sign that the knitting was done by a person. She inspired me to pick up my hood and finish it.

It is amazing how good you can get at grafting knits and purls when you spend five hours practicing. I hope I never have to graft cables again, but should the challenge present itself, I’ll know what to do.

Naomi will probably be too humble to trumpet this, but I feel the need to broadcast to everyone that she was knitting Ruth’s Kauni Cardigan before the Yarn Harlot.


Flickr Photos

Likke felt collar

Gunnel Felt Collar

Gunnel Felt Collar

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