Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tiny Sweater

Last fall my FIL sent me his entire cotton crop. He had one plant.  He joked whether it was enough to knit him a sweater.

So, for Christmas, I have spun and knit this for him. You probably can't see the tiny saddle shoulders, but I used the EPS (Elizabeth's Percentage System - knitters will have heard of that, maybe.)

Back to your regularly scheduled programming. And back to my regularly scheduled, regularly sized knitting. This tiny stuff is pretty fussy, but it came out darn cute.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Fountain Pen Day

My posts seem to alternate between ink and wool. It seems I can't make up my mind which medium to focus on during my fluffing off times. Fortunately, I've not been forced to specialize.  Today being officially "Fountain Pen Day," makes it the easy choice of topic.

Got ink?
Here are some interesting factoids about fountain pens from the Pen Heaven blog. I don't have anything that comes close to the million dollar pen they mention - most of mine are in that cheap yet functional category. The exception being the unassuming green Sheaffer (5th from left) which someone told me was actually worth about $200! It would be terribly easy to pick out and order new pens every month, but I've limited my indulgences to joining a monthly ink club at Goulet Pens. I'm sorely tempted each week by their newsletters with all the sexy pen photos, and the Jet Pens emails too. November's samples are due to arrive any day and I haven't even used up a single one of October's five Ink Drop samples. (They're good for multiple pen fillings.) I guess that means I'd better get writing with a pen rather than a keyboard.

And for those of you who are stitching, rather than writing today, I point you over to my complimentary pen nib cross stitch design. Just remember to keep the ink away from the linen!!!
Click to get the full size pdf.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

That 70's Yarn

Ramblings about my bin rummaging yesterday:
I mentioned recently that we had a yarn shop in the house when I was little. I remember when it came to an end and having the 20% off everything sale, then 30%, and so on until Mum gave up and packed away what was left into boxes in the garage.  I didn't really pay attention to where everything went and what all there was, but as time went on the pickings got leaner. There weren't many good colors to begin with in our pile- the smart sale shoppers saw to that.

Good quality 100% Norwegian wool never goes out of style, but let's just say that colors do. I first overcame this obstacle by purchasing a few kilos of white and black yarn in the same brand. It wasn't hard to use a ball or two of a weird color if I diluted it enough. One of my favorite sweaters to this day is a black cardigan with hot-pink, grey, and white zigzags on the yoke. But that's no way to kill off a whole kilo (twenty 50g balls!) of a less-than-favorite color. I became a big fan of RIT dye, and still have several sweaters knit from overdyed wool.

Today's lucky winners

I thought I'd seen the last of the new old-stock many years ago, but I visited my Mum last summer as she was preparing to move to a new house. Lo and behold, a few more bags (kitchen-garbage-sized, not ziplocks) of the poor stuff materialized, and came home with me. I'm proud to have had the good sense to let the 4 other bags go to Goodwill rather than fool myself that I might use them someday.  We're talking stuff that is nearly as old as I am in exciting shades the likes of bubblegum, neon red, pumpkin, and taupe. There is some lime green has actually come back into style and some navy that apparently missed prior raidings. And not so much in the sport or dk weight that I'd want to use for a sweater-much of this is in the 8 stitches to the inch department. Good for mittens, and I'm anxious to try doubling it for a heavier, less-than-lifetime commitment sweater attempt.
The puppet mittens I made last winter- note the uvula on the palm side :-)
But there is still only so much bubblegum pink that I'm going to use in my lifetime, so I've turned back to the dye-pot. This time with some better quality stuff, although I had a few kinks this first time using it.
I made swift work of it.
First it gets skeined out; dyeing in ball format gives terrible unevenness. (You may think that is a nice red, but the photo hides just how much it makes your teeth hurt.)
Maroon, it's what's for dinner.
This is the dedicated dye pot. It has seen more color than the inside of a skittles bag.

Oh, don't these look lovely drying in the sunshine!
I was looking for a kettle-dyed look, but was surprised at the variation in how the dye took. I suspect the first wooly bits to hit the water hogged all of the dye molecules despite all my stirring, which wasn't much actually because I didn't want to felt the wool. I was quite surprised at how blue the bubblegum color turned - where did that come from?
would will totally knit with this!
I pronounce the experiment a success, although I never explained why I was revisiting the wool bins in the first place. I just got the Zombie knitting book, and was trying to find some dk scraps that would be the right colors.  Let me just state that I am the queen of mis-matched stash. I have bags of leftovers from 30+ years of knitting, bags of yarn that was bought on discount because it was lovely even if I didn't have a project planned, bags of handspun that I am afraid to use for fear of running out mid-project, bags of extra balls that I tossed in to my order from Knitpicks so I would reach the free shipping threshold... but not an ounce of decaying-flesh green dk to be found.  I wonder if that color would have been popular in the 70's?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another Kaleidoscope

Finished up this mandala painting that I started last weekend. This one is India ink and watercolor pencil.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Unpack - Repack

It's been a busy summer, with lots of travel, and I find knitting the perfect travelling craft. I'm getting ready to head off Wednesday to a cross stitch show in St. Charles and realized I needed to pack up my travel knitting.  More importantly, I needed to unpack these two finished items and the related remaining yarn.

First up, Kindle cover made from some of that unlabeled yarn I scored at Craft Warehouse this summer. Rainbow yarn knit with both ends at once in  2 x 2 stripes created a cool but simple pattern. I found a nifty neoprene Kindle sock at the dollar store for (wait for it) one dollar.  It was ugly and plain, but it performs its job of providing nice cushion to the device, and you can't see it at all now that I sewed it in.

And in the finally finished category, the Drunken Rainbow Scarf. Named as such because the silly yarn would reverse color sequence arbitrarily and because of a peculiar defect that had two balls wound together in parallel, creating a giant tangly mess. This yarn was also from the Craft Warehouse booty. It's a nice scarf, but a bit bright for me, so it may become someone's Christmas present.

Now, the only thing remaining is to decide what to pack for this upcoming trip!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Let's E'lope

With the UPS man's visit this afternoon, I am officially the "Envelope Queen" and I've finally unearthed the scanner from beneath a mound of linen and silk, salvaged electronics, artwork, knitting, and other things not properly put away.

Over 2000 of the little buggers in an assortment of these lovely colors. The dark ones look particularly cool if you write the address in silver or white gel pen. If you ever want a specific color other than what is shown, just mention it and I'm happy to sub it out.

Because I want to be able to make stuff like this for my Etsy shop. Mandala cards.

and these...

As you can guess by my envelope investment, I'm hoping to do a bit more in the Etsy shop. Wish me luck, or tell me what you'd like to see there.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beetle Tracks

Near our house on the dog walking route, we have a wide patch of incredibly fine dust. It's so soft and light your tennis shoes sink in a few inches every step, and if you don't walk slowly and ducklike, your shoes fill with dirt immediately. We also have a healthy population of various beetly bugs. Here is a survey of some of their different tracks left during the night. These range from half an inch wide to about two inches wide. They are really quite fascinating in their diversity, density, and busyness.

Monday, August 19, 2013

State of mind

Some small ink and watercolor paintings I've done recently:

My intent was to get this pair onto notecards on Etsy, but the image is more a testament to how I feel getting ready for the trade show in St. Charles in a few days.  So, perhaps when I get back.  So many ways you could caption this.

  • Ever have one of those days?
  • Ouch, that had to hurt.
  • Give me a call when you get free.
  • Hope you're back on your feet again soon.
  • The Twister Champion reigns!
  • Relax!


Don't forget to relax. Drawing mandalas is a great tool for me to unwind a bit. So, if the first picture is the "before" this is the "after."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bugs and Blooms

A small painting. I was trying to not be so controlled and tight as I am in my ink work. It is a Goliath beetle.

And in unrelated news, the Sansevierias (aka Mother in Law's Tongue) is blooming. It is incredibly smelly and can be smelled three rooms away. I kind of like the smell, but it is a bit overpowering. Some people's never bloom. We must be providing the perfect level of neglect. And if you can see those beads of liquid, I've learned recently from the font that is all knowledge called the internet that this phenomenon is called guttation. And also that this plant is toxic to cats. We no longer have a cat, but this plant had nothing to do with it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Traffic Patterns

I decided I needed to finish up this small acrylic painting I had started many moons ago and had put aside. I didn't think to take a picture of the starting point, but I snapped a few along the way. I must say I liked the original idea of roads making a Celtic knot pattern, but for the life of me I can't remember how I planned to do the water crossings. It's obviously quite easy for the road to go over the water, but not so much the other way. Hannah said I needed the cows, even though they are smaller than ants.  You can click to zoom in, or install that fabulous app called Hoverzoom.

Traffic Patterns 8" x 10", acrylic on canvas board
Getting closer
Two days into the renewed effort, with much detail still to go.
That was kind of fun. What's next?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Coyote Pups

We discovered three coyote pups this morning during our walk. I came by later this evening with a real camera and was delighted to find them back home, although only two came out to see us. No sign of the parents on either visit.  I hope they manage to survive without being driven off. The culvert leads to a densely sagebrushed area where they no doubt have their den.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


New digital painting to share with you today. I started out really hating this one, but vowed to keep doing things to it until it came out interesting, even if that included adding a new opaque layer that covered everything I had done so far.  I'm still at the very beginning end of the digital learning curve. It wasn't until the final tweaks that I began to like it. Hope you do too.
Psychedelica - a digital mandala painting
I'm realizing that I need to update my art website - I have been very sporadic in where new work gets posted. Sometimes Tumblr, sometimes Facebook, sometimes here, almost never on my site.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chicklet Migrates North for the Summer

Whitman commencement ceremonies were held this afternoon.  Hannah just finished her freshman year, so of course was not graduating, but stuck around so she could see the ceremony which featured guest speaker Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame.)  He closed out the event singing Always Look on the Bright Side.

Afterwards we said goodbye to Whitman's Prentiss Hall.

Last night Hannah sent me this photo, and asked if I thought it would all fit in the car. And, "Oh by the way, this doesn't include my clothes or bedding."

All clean and ready for the next kid next fall.
Extremely full Subaru arrived back home safely.
I don't even know how it is possible for time to be passing so quickly.
We'll be tossing the pod on the car and loading her up again to go back in the fall before we know it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mandala Pair

Two digital paintings I made this week.