Wednesday, November 29, 2006

some things finished, some things still in progress...

It's another grey and gloomy day here in western mass, but since the forecast varies between rain and overcast gloom for the foreseeable future, I tried to take some photos of various projects for your enjoyment. Please excuse any washed out colors - try to put your tropical glasses on and imagine things to be brighter and more cheery.

Here are some shots of the block printed cards. I'm really happy with the design this year, as well as the quality of the prints. For each card the linoleum block is rolled with ink, the card place on top and then is lovingly jumped up and down on by yours truly. It's great fun and the best exercise I get! If you're interested in purchasing any do send me an email: cherylatbusybeeppdotcom

I also whipped up a batch of paper quilted cards. I have a large pile of beautiful paper scraps from making books, and once in a while I pull them all out with my sewing machine and make tiny paper strip quilts and log cabin quilts to attach to cards. I like to leave the threads dangling and the angles kind of wonky. Here are some of these babies:

And yes I'm still knitting. One secret project that you can see after Christmas, and one "public" project. I've been wanting to knit the Shedir cap from Knitty so I pulled some Rowan DK Soft out of the dwindling stash to use. It's very soft ( as advertised!) and a nice cinnamon color so I think it will be a nice hat. I'd like to try another yarn as well, one that might show the cables a little crisper.

Monday, November 27, 2006

test knitting

Hi all,
Hope everyone had a wonderful and tasty Thanksgiving holiday. We had a fire cranking in the fireplace all afternoon, a friend over and a bunch of cute little cornish game hens with other delicious treats. and movies. and knitting. very nice.

Still motoring away on Christmas gifts here, but I also was able to do some test knitting on the meathead hat. I was able to get in on the meathead knit-along run by Larissa. It was a quick and easy knit with the fun joy of embellishing the hat any way you pleased. I was trying to decide between knit flowers, felted knit flowers, or embroidery with buttons, but I finally settled on making a flower out of a vintage button and some wool circles cut with pinking shears. The hat is so chunky - 2 stitches to the inch! - that the embellishment needs to have some visual heft to work with the hat.

I also blockprinted about 80 cards. I'm really happy with the way the design turned out - pictures tomorrow of the cards. We already lost our light for the day! sigh. More to come tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

making ingredients

It's all about the making here at yarn bee. I generally refer to this time of year as the "elven workshop". Even though I usually decide that I'm not going to make that much stuff this year, somehow things have a way of creeping on the list.

Here is the start of the blockprint for this year's card. I blathered a bunch about my inentions and plans for blockprinted cards in this post. My plan is to finish the block today, and print cards on Friday. I'll probably print some of last years as well for a craft fair I'll be participating in early December. If you're interested in purchasing any of these cards, please send me an email at cherylatbusybeeppdotcom. They come in various lovely colors on acid-free paper.

And here are some more ingredients I making - some handmade bergamot-scented paper to make cool car air fresheners outta. I think this is going well - time will tell, I suppose. It's certainly fun to make paper pulp in your kitchen.

Everyone have a lovely and restful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2006

still only secret knitting

for Christmas here at the yarn bee, so I'll have to spin a tale instead. The other night Elliott and I were waiting in line at our new found quick and tasty Mexican restaurant. They kind of place where you wait in line, order either tasty burritos, quesadillas or tacos, visit the fun salsa bar, and grab a table for a casual bite-to-eat or your bag to go. Bueno! We were in line weighting the various yummy options when a huge firefighter strides up past us in his overalls. This guy is huge, not fat, all brawn - we'll call him "doublewide". Then I notice the double parked firetruck with flashing lights outside. Then all sorts of guys stream in, other firefighters and police men, some with axes and crowbars. Doublewide comes back out to the truck to get an axe. Now we are closer to the front of the line and can see that they are trying to pry open the bathroom door. Yikes! Meanwhile people are quietly ordering and eating burritos not seeming to notice the new fun. Elliott and I speculate what might be happening in the bathroom - from one worst-case senerio to another. I'm not sure I want to see what happens when they get in there. Then the crew gets the door over - without having to axe it down and a tiny boy come out to be joyfully reunited with his parents. Hooray! Doublewide and the other firemen file out and get back on the truck. People continue eating burritos. As the family leaves the little boy says "look Firemen! they were really here for me?" And we get our quesadillas, and the firemen head out to resuce someone else.

Friday, November 17, 2006

we interupt this regularly scheduled broadcast of knitting progress...

to introduce Syd and Tomoko. Well at any rate, Tomoko's finger with a tiny sculpture of Syd the bird, that she made. Are you seeing how tiny and cute that bird is! Tomoko is an amazing crafter with a high attention to detail. She is also a wonderful and fun friend and the best craft buddy you can imagine. And even better than that, she enjoys birds, especially parrots, as much as I do, hence her rendition of Syd the cockatiel.

Syd is the curmudgeonly, middle-aged saucy bird that lives at chez yarn bee. His interests include wolf whistling and playing a vocal version of simon says. He strangely adores small fabric items like potholders, dishclothes, socks, and towels - go figure - a bird with a fabric fetish.

Here he is with one of his latch hook potholders.

And here he is with his "girlfriend", a plumpy stuffed bird that whistles when you squeeze her bottom. Keep in mind here this is a 5-year old relationship. When Syd gets a glimpse of her his puts on his best Al Green posture and sings a song to her I like to call "variations on a wolf whistle in D major"

Tomoko made a TINY version of Syd as an accessory for her new series of "po"s. Po's are the cutest things ever - even cuter than Syd maybe. Check them out at her Etsy store as well as her other great creations on her blog.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

secret knitting

I had a great weekend with a lot of movie watching and knitting. A netfix subscription and yarn are a good combination for me, but unfortunately colorwork and subtitles don't get along so well! I'm only go to show a few teaser shots, as I've started knitting a few Christmas and birthday gifts - and who knows who might be reading.

I am finding more and more that I am making less and less knitted goods for gifts, unless I'm pretty sure the "giftee" is really going to like the gift. I'm interested more and more in making what I think of as disposable treats - things that are a small extravagance that you might not get for yourself but secretly want, that will be used up and not take space in your house. Like, for instance: journals, bath products, candy, candles, cookies, even mittens and hats. That kind of thing. Any good disposable treat ideas out there?

Friday, November 10, 2006

a round and green friday

Here is the second yarn! I probably won't keep numbering them, and will just start to show you yarn creations occasionally, but for now the yarn feels like such a new fun unexpected creation that I feel like new parents do when they tell you exactly how old their child is down to the exact number of months and days (they could probably tell you minutes as well). This is an ounce of wool in a yummy chartreuse green color spun to a 2-ply fingering weight. I have no idea how many yards I have. Hmmm, probably enough for a decorative detail somewhere, not enough to make anything except for a doll sweater. This green is one of my favorite colors as it has a interesting tendency to make all other colors look great. I can't explain its unique power but I know it to be so.

For some strange and entirely enjoyable reason it continues to be about 60 degrees during the day out here in western mass. This makes me and my small collection of succulent plants out on the porch very happy, and they can be tricked into not realizing that this is not their climate.

I've always enjoyed plants, but about 6 years ago I was visiting a friend from California, and got my introduction to succulents. My friend is a ceramic artist and at that time was making whimsical ceramic containers for the most interesting plants I had ever seen - most of them in the succulent family. Talk about beautiful sculptural shapes and sophisticated colors! These plants had it all. On my way home, my friend loaded up my car with a few flats of these plants and assured me I could take care of them, they would "let me know what they needed". I was rather dubious and worried about killing them all, but in a way she was right. They have a way of letting me know what they need, whether it be water or light. Thankfully they generally thrive on neglect. We've had some disasters together, me and the plants, the dreadful sunburning incident of 2001 and the below-freezing holocaust decimation of 2004, but we've had some good moments too, some flowerings, new babies being offset and given away to friends, and plants busting right out of their pots. I have a pretty good sense now of which ones do better in this climate, and even have some of the original batch still with me.

Here are some photos of the succulents enjoying the fabulous day:

Thursday, November 09, 2006

sock got mate!

I've been a little too brain-dead to spend much time on the fair isle floral sweater with its pay-attention pattern, so the second Hedera sock, with its low-stress soothing repeat got my crafting-attention and is finished. The first sock is really excited to finally have its mate and I think they've been spending a little too much time in the sock drawer getting to know each other - if you know what I mean...

Sock specs:
Pattern: Hedera from Knitty
Yarn: Lang Jawoll Superwash color 198 green
Needles: #1's dpns


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

first yarn!

I made yarn! Here it is - isn't it sweet looking? Even resembles something I could knit, although I think for now I'll just enjoy it in its skein form. I'm pretty slow in the making of it, mostly parking and drafting the single plies. Making the yarn 2-ply was great fun using the spindle to twist them in the opposite direction from the single plies. I've definitely have much to learn and get used to, but it's great fun and my mind is racing with yarn ideas - both for the yarn itself and what I could make with it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

yo-yo flowers

A bunch of us meet every other Friday night for "craft night", an evening to get together and craft and eat and gab and so forth. We try to alternate between bringing your own craft: knitting, embroidery, watch repair, furniture building, sewing, writing, what have you and all making something together. This week I brought in the wonderful tutorial that Heather Bailey has posted on her blog on how to make yo-yos out of fabric. We all made a bunch of flowers out of yo-yos and buttons to fill our vases over the long winter months ahead. Here are some photos of what we ended up with. Heather's tutorial is well written, a snap to follow, and has beautiful photographs of the process. Thanks Heather!

Friday, November 03, 2006

keeping the creativity real

Ever get yourself in a rut creatively? Or worse of all, having the bug to make and create, but feeling like a deer caught in the creative headlights, trying to decide what you want to make and what purpose would it serve and how would you do it and so on and so forth. Myself, I really like pattern design. Patterns for paper and fabric, colors and repeating design motifs, I'm completely into it. This started out when I took a textile class in art school and designed and printed silkscreened patterns on fabric. I've managed to sneak in some pattern design occasionally in my graphic design day job. A few years ago I was both desperately wanting to work on some pattern designs and immediately tripping myself up wondering what their purpose would be, could I make a living as a pattern designer, would that suck all the joy out of it? So I got nowhere having this love-hate realationship with my creative passion. It seemed so fun and so overwhelming all at the same time.

In order to break myself out of the endless cycle of creative dispair, I decided to give myself a bite-sized project. I figured that I could make a simple design, carve it out of linoleum, blockprint it and have cards to give away for Christmas. A manageable idea with a end goal - perfect! Making block printed cards is great fun, especially mixing the colors and jumping up and down on the block to get a good print. I make about a hundred of the design and give them away to friends and family. Here are photos of the first two designs.

This week's goal is to finalize this year's design. I've got a few ideas and its time to sketch...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

more characters...

That's what our household needs! More characters. Currently on staff is Cena the cat who is always exhausted from her job of sleeping all day, and Syd the cockatiel whose favorite phrase is "Uh oh! Come here!" and "night pup!"

I've been working on more of the characters for the puppet show (see yesterday's entry) and took a pict of a bunch of them hanging out in the foyer, getting to know each other. Hopefully I'll finish them up tonight, so we can make their armatures and then the puppeters can practice for the show. Here is a link to a flyer on the show if you'd like more info. Come one come all!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

turkish puppets galore

Hi all!

Today I'm making shadow puppets for my husband Elliott's theater company - Ishah 'El Theatre Arts Collaborative. Their first performance involves shadow puppet plays featuring traditional characters from Turkish, Middle Eastern and Indian folktales. What is a shadow puppet, you ask? Essentially the stage is a big light box and the puppets show up as colored silhouettes against a sheer screen. It's very cool -trust me! The performances will be on November 11 and 12 at 3:00 at 6 Trumbull Road in Northampton, MA. If that's local to you please do come and check it out, should be a fun and amazing show for people of all ages and grown up kids.

We are using traditional Turkish shadow puppets as a basis for the designs and kind of winging it from there. I haven't done this kind of drawing and painting on a while and its really a lot of fun. Here are parts/pieces for a few of the characters.

In other news, I got a great package from my friend Rachel in Portland in the mail yesterday with this ball of orange baby alpaca yarn. I can't stop fondling it - its so soft and warm. I think I need to make something with it that goes around my neck, maybe a cowl - any good patterns out there?

And last but not least, I'm working away at the floral sweater. I don't want to bore you with photos that all look the same as I inch forward on the sleeves, but I'm almost at the end of the first one so that's worth a shot. Strangely, I thought the sleeves would be shorter than four repeats of the large floral design and I was coming up with other options, but when I tried it on, the tape measure lied to me and four repeats is good. Who knows? It's been nice knit the sleeves top down and try them on for length, but its a pain to have the whole sweater on my lap as I knit and have to twist it around constantly. It's slowing me down, man.