Saturday, July 29, 2017

Quick Cowl

I spent a weekend with my sister in Pasadena a few weeks ago. Out of character, I did not bring a project with me. Most of the time I bring something with me to work on wherever I go but then never work on it. This time I decided I'd packed enough and did not think I would have time anyway. Well...

I stayed an extra night and suddenly I was desperate for some handwork. Skein is a shop nearby that I had not been to in many years. I checked to see if the shop was open and I had one hour to get there and buy something.

The proprietor was great. She showed me lots of easy one skein projects I could pick up quickly. I settled on a cotton yarn and a sample cowl in the shop that I could manage without a lot of thought. Of course I needed knitting needles too.

This yarn...

Became this cowl...

Here it is flat...

Super easy! Using size 9, 16" circular needles, cast on multiples of 8 plus 7 stitches. Join in the round. Knit 4, purl 4. Continue until you want to bind off or when you run out of yarn. I cast on 95 stitches to make a tall cowl. You could cast on 119 stitches for a longer loop that's narrower.

I used the whole ball of yarn. I had 47 inches left. Did I say super easy already?!?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Studio 49 Retreat 2017 Challenge part 3

I changed my mind.

It happens often when thinking about a project. I start with one idea and it morphs into something else until finally I start. Then it morphs again. This is what's going on now with my Retreat challenge project.

The hand spun yarn was going to be a hat. I made a gauge swatch to determine what size knitting needle I wanted to use. I started with size 7 at the bottom of the swatch. That's what the pattern calls for. The middle section is size 6 needle and then the top is size 5. I placed the swatch on a stitch holder because I didn't want to cut the yarn. I intend to use every bit.

The change of plan arose when I realized that I was not enjoying knitting this yarn. I like knitting with my hand spun yarn but this one didn't feel nice or fun. I don't know why. The yarn is soft and stretchy. Lovely to hold and touch, but not to knit with apparently.

My eyes lit upon my 10" Cricket rigid heddle loom and BOOM! I had a new idea.

I am going to weave a scarf. Having limited yardage presented some challenges; 232 yards of white, 155 yards of grey. Not a lot of yarn for weaving. So I set about trying to figure out what to make with what I had. I started with the 10 dent heddle and a Fibonacci sequence in the warp. I calculated a basic scarf at 8"x72" and discovered I did not have enough yarn. I want to feature the white Polwarth with a few grey BFL stripes.

I was inspired by the Biscuits and Jam Scarf by Sarah Jackson featured in the May/June issue of Handwoven Magazine. I'm lucky enough to be a fellow guild member of Sarah's and saw the beautiful scarf in person at the SCWSG June meeting. She wove hers in cotton with beaded weft fringes. Then sewed the ends together to make a circular scarf. I really liked the weft fringe idea.

I made drafts on paper first. Then I made a yarn wrap to see if I liked how the Fibonacci sequence looked.

I drew a scarf close to 1/8" scale and made more calculations. One set with 80 ends for an 8" wide scarf and one with 70 ends. I have just enough yarn (I think/hope) to make a scarf 7" wide with a weaving length of 60". There will be a small plaid section where I put another Fibonacci sequence in the weft at one end of the scarf.

If I run out of white weft then it will be a little shorter. But that's OK since I want to sew the ends together to make a loop and wear it like a cowl anyway.

I think I'm ready to start...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Look What I Made!

I had the BEST birthday party ever last Saturday! There is something very special about celebrating your birthday with an intimate group of women with similar interests. This year it's the big 5-0. Hard to believe sometimes.

My friend Audrey set up a private ceramic throwing lesson at Muddy's Studio in Santa Ana, CA. A big spacious, well equipped ceramics studio.

Gina was our teacher. And she was fabulous! With only 6 of us, she was really able to give us each a lot of personal attention.

We each had a wheel and got almost instantly smudged with clay all over. We learned how to center the ball of clay (I almost wrote dough) on the wheel, how to start a shape with our thumbs and fingers, how to use our arms and backs to put even pressure on the clay, etc.

Look what I made! Four pots total. The odd shaped one on the top left was my first pot. Not sure where I was going with it but suddenly it turned and looked like a wave. Instead of a mistake it became art!

Collectively in the 3-hour lesson we made this many!

Then we had my favorite low brow spaghetti dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Fullerton.

Audrey brought a super perfect cake. White cake, layered with strawberry mouse and strawberries, all covered in whip cream icing and baby cream puffs. Can I say YUM!!!

And even though I'm 50, no longer a kid, I love, just loved having a birthday party. I act like a kid most of the time anyway so it's lucky I still look like one.

Love and thanks to Audrey and the girls for sharing the day with me. Just the BEST.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Studio 49 Retreat 2017 Challenge part 2

See this post for the beginning of this story.

I have finished spinning my yarn for the Studio 49 Retreat 2017 challenge. Yay! I scaled down my vasty many oz. project idea from last year. I decided that finishing it without undue stress and last minute spinning/knitting was going to be better for my health and for my family.

So the new project idea is to spin just the original 2oz. of creamy white Polwarth and 2oz. of lovely natural grey BFL (BlueFaced Leicester) I have in my stash. I will finish two separate yarns and knit a 2-color Mosaic Sampler Hat. A new technique and a small doable project! Sort of unusual for me. But smart this time around.

My singles.

I wanted a 2 ply yarn so I needed to divide the singles into two sections to ply. I didn't want to ply from a single ball for some mysterious reason. Here is my set up. I weighed an empty bobbin then weighed the full bobbin and did some calculations to figure out what my end half bobbin should weigh so I had two close to even singles ready to ply.

The red box is my homemade shoe-box lazy kate with tension device. I made her when I first started spinning in 2003 and she is still my go-to kate. Almost there with the divided singles.

Two pairs of singles!

Plying set up.

I used my 1970's Ashford Traditional spinning wheel with the jumbo bobbin set up to ply both yarns into big skeins. I added a couple extra treadle pushes to get the tighter twist I wanted.

My two finished skeins and a close up of the lovely yarn. The grey BFL is a wee bit thicker than the Polwarth.

The yarns wet finished nicely. Both are soft and squishy. The Polwarth in particular is stretchy and the creamy white just glows. It's going to be fun to knit the hat. But first...must knit a swatch!

Monday, May 8, 2017

School Play

I did theatre as a kid and as an adult. Both amature stuff and professional. I did lighting, set, and costume design. I acted for a long time too. I settled on costume design as a profession. I worked for a good 15 years in entertainment.

Then I got a straight job at a bank. Then I had a baby. Life changed.

But now my son is in elementary school. And it has a theatre club in its second year. Last year they put on a production of The Lion King. Lots of kids, lots of costumes. I worked on some of them.

This year the club is doing Beauty and the Beast. More kids than last year, more costumes too.

In neither production was my son involved in.

But I was. Of course. Why? Because I have sewing skills.

I haven't been backstage in more than a decade. This year I've been present for the last few rehearsals and bits of sewing. I even went backstage for the first time. I saw parents gathered to paint the set pieces as I was sewing in the multi-purpose room. There is a tremendous amount of energy and wonderful collaboration that happens when folks put on a theatrical show.

There were two separate casts for this production. These are my two Belle dresses.

Apron was finished the next day.

This is the Carpet with my son modeling for me.

This is the Teapot and Teacup I put piping on.

Cast member wearing the teapot.

This is me tea dyeing Belle's white aprons in the teachers bathroom at school. I brought a thermos of hot black tea, a bowl and a towel.

Rinsing above aprons in the bathroom sink.

Sewing in the dark during final dress rehearsal. This is so typical of almost every production I ever worked on.

While it is time consuming and sometime frantic, I was reminded of all the happy times I've had in the theatre. And I received the sweetest thank you card ever...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Thread Art

After more than 40 years of sewing both personally and professionally...I still make thread art sometimes...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Roarin' 20's

My son's public elementary school's Mandarin Immersion Program has an annual fundraising gala. The theme this year was the Roaring 20's. Such a fun and accessible idea for everyone. We had a "Bootlegger's Pull", special themed drinks and lots of sparkly hair ornaments.

Mostly I want to show you my outfit for the evening. While I was excited about the gala as a fundraiser, I have to admit to being more excited about having an event to dress up in clothes from one of my favorite time periods.

Way back in college, I made this dress for opening night of a production of Cabaret. It still fit albeit a little tighter around the hips (I blame my son Ian for that). I had to make a small alteration on the lower fringe which I covered up with a floral applique. You can see it on the lower left side.

I borrowed a long strand of pearls and long black gloves. I had my own vintage and costume jewelry for the earrings, necklace and bracelets.

I had new pumps from last year that I never wore. I added black ribbon bows at the ankle for a more period look. Someone described them as "naughty".

Amazingly, while randomly out shopping for nothing, I found this cut velvet cocoon jacket on the sale rack at Anthropologie. Couldn't be more perfect.

I purchased this peacock feather fascinator for my hair from etsy shop, Axentz. I put it on a glittery elastic headband and added a rhinestone clip earring on the other side.

With advice from a hairdresser friend and Pintrist, I was able to cobble together some semblance of a flapper-esque hair-do.

And wallah....a roaring 20's version of myself...

Me with some of my beautiful friends.

It was a grand evening!