Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friends, Fiber and Food

One of the very best parts of being creative is that you become surrounded by other very creative people. And I do mean very creative. One of the dearest creative women ever happens to live near me and I count myself so very fortunate to claim her as my friend.

Karen Eckmeier, in her studio located high above common ground on a quiet road in the quiet northwest corner of Connecticut, creates LOUD explosions of color! She has quilting fans all over the world and they just can't get enough of her or her loving encouragement. Why? Because her nature is peaceful and patient while her work pushes the simplistic to the limit through quilting techniques that are completely within reach of even a rank beginner yet offer a galaxy of possibility.

Layered Waves: A Fresh New Way to Quilt is her latest book and within its covers you will find delightful projects. I love the classic Log Cabin done in Layered Waves which amuse and seduce! You will also find a design from yours truly in the form of a garden hat which Karen pieced and constructed from my pattern.
The photo above was taken of Karen in her hilltop garden by her dear husband, Walter.  Sorry, the flowers were added on as a birthday treat but new from Ambrosia Cottage is the kit for Raggedy Ribbonry Roses, below.

On the drawing board in my studio are kits for my floral embellishments as seen here.  Available now are the Raggedy Ribbonry Rose kits with other designs soon to follow.  The price for the Raggedy Ribbonry Rose kit is $12 plus $3 shipping or slightly more for sending kits abroad.  Easy stitching and lots of room for play, these floral embellishments are simply fun to create, gorgeous to behold, and make adorable accents on hats, bags, lapels, scarves, gifts, and household items such as lampshades or curtain tie backs. Handmade elegance!

Felted Jewelry: 20 Stylish Designs (Lark Jewelry Book)
Have not totally abandoned the felting front as warmer weather approaches but would like to mention a new release by Candie Cooper.  Her book  Felted Jewelry: 20 Stylish Designs (Lark Jewelry Book) is now available in paperback.  Candie was co-editor with Terry Taylor who featured five of my designs in Designer Needle Felting: Contemporary Styles, Easy Techniques which also came out in paperback this spring.  A little more affordable and easier to tote!

And now, what to listen to while kicking back and creating?  Try checking out some of the audio books from Knitting Out Loud.  Kathy says:

South Wind Through the Kitchen: The Best of Elizabeth David"I only record books I love, so it is hard to pick a favorite. Our new releases are Knitting Yarns and Spinning Tales which has Meg Swansen reading her own essay (the narrator is knitter and Minn. Public Radio announcer Greta Cunningham), Wild Fibers Magazine: Five Years of Favorites Linda Cortright travels the world to find interesting fiber animals: Himalayas, New Zealand, etc, and a new South Wind Through the Kitchen: The Best of Elizabeth David a food memoir of Europe by Elizabeth David."
Inspired?  I hope so.  Nothing better than fine friends, fine fiber and fine food!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not-So-Quiet Valentine's Day

VALENTINE'S DAY was looking to be rather quiet until I learned of a benefit concert taking place at the Hotchkiss School. Donations cheerfully collected to benefit the Haiti Relief efforts and as a special incentive Haitian dancers from the Alvin Ailey dance company of New York performed to a Haitian drum to start and end the concert. In between we were treated to the enormous talent represented by our local private high schools and their vocal groups and the combined efforts of all as the gospel group of Michael Brown. When that effervescing personality sits at the piano and starts pounding it out on the old 88 and mouthing direction to those vocal artists, whatever could keep anyone sitting still? And just how does he get so much sound out of those seemingly small students? My, my...

So I give to you a belated Valentine of my Cheerful Cherries Ornament upon one of my favorite fabrics, cherries again on robin's egg blue background from Lakehouse Drygoods Doll Dresses, Holly Holderman. I love this fabric in all its innocence and purchased this piece a couple of years ago on Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound. I've not yet cut it for anything and still just love to sit and look at it.

My Cheerful Cherries Ornament is featured in the Lark book of Designer Needle Felting by Terry Taylor and Candie Cooper which first came out in Oct of 2007. Coming March 2 is the paperback version of the same. Thanks to dear people like you who have supported the book the printing continues its success around the world. I have already ordered a copy so I can take a look. Very exciting!

And as far as tools go, I mentioned the Clover Felting Tool in a post on Ravelry. This tool is the perfect piece for making such ornaments as you can use the three needles to work the background and continue felting through the details.

Meanwhile, I find myself humming the tunes from Michael Brown's tribute to the music of the late Michael Jackson. Now and then I burst out with a slice of "I'LL TAKE YOU THERE" and the not-so-quiet continues into the week.

Countdown to the UK: 6.5 weeks!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Scheming not Dreaming...

LIFE IS FULL of things without which we cannot live. Beyond the obvious needs, it is a blessing to know what your passion happens to be... and a curse when that passion is inaccessible to you.

For me, travel has always been a top priority. Not that I like rumpled clothing and bouts of dysentery along with bumpy flights but the lure of distant lands, fresh faces, discovery, the sunset from another vantage point. Just mention the word "passport" and I'm there!

However, the busy-ness of life gets in the way of living. Work schedules, relationships, a challenged wallet seem to demand our attention and resources until depletion is what we have left at the end of every month, only to begin again for the next go 'round on another date label "1" on the calendar. Tiresome. And then...

Every now and then there is a break in the gray clouds and the sun comes gloriously shining through to bless with an opportunity. An opportunity, for me, means dusting off the old passport and finding a ride to the airport. In this case my passport is stiff and new and waiting for stamps to be applied. Application of that ink on a virginal page is a gleeful prospect and I have officially begun the countdown toward an adventure of the most delectable kind, which combines many passions of mine into one tingling anticipatory thrill.

Travel, knitting, friendship, more travel, more friendship, food and laughter and more knitting. What more needs be mentioned? Aaaaah.
Destination: Fuzzpot Lane, which on the world atlas looks to be vaguely west of that little town called London and very much east of Connecticut.

Countdown: 8 weeks



Monday, January 11, 2010

Another New Year...

THE HOLIDAYS are a blur and were rather uneventful for me other than drama of an unhappy sort through jobs and expectations from the world at large. Finally on the first day of this new year I was able to connect with my young ones and hug and be hugged which is always a blessing.

This year has had a rocky start but is full of promise in many ways. Travel figures in for me and plans are percolating now for a bit of excitement dangling as a carrot in front of me and leading me through the frigidity of winter. Early spring is promising air travel to points distant and I've renewed my passport with glee. It has been too long between trips as I think I've started growing moss over my feet.

Next, we are adding to the family by expecting! My second son and his wife are having a dear little one at the end of May and this will be the first to call me grandma! Also a first for my parents as a great-grandchild. Ultrasounds suggest this wee one is of the male sort and his parents are proud and beaming. The mama-to-be has that firm little belly started and everything seems to be moving along as desired. Naturally I have already knitted a few baby things but now that we have an idea of who our little one will be, more knitting is transpiring in the appropriate colors and designs.

In June we gain another family member, by marriage this time. Darling Daughter will be reciting vows with her young man in a simple ceremony. The girl is going no-frills and has no patience for all the endless details most brides demand. (Whew!) We plan a relaxed atmosphere in a cozy and unpretensious setting. Nice meal, there will be dancing and plenty of room for joy. And then? More dancing!

My hopes for all are that dreams will come true, homes will be happy, many blessings will be counted and that the year of 2010 will bring us closer to peace, love and true compassion one for another.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Catch my Breath...

Embroidery details. Need I say I've been having fun?!

A different form of warmth and style, hoods.

Oh dear. Have been gently scolded for not adding to these pages lately and cannot believe how the time has flown since my last entry, Dear Reader.

Rhinebeck was a success story from my point of view. Loads of visitors at the booth, each with a countenance of a dazed variety due to the surprise of hat color thrust upon them! Sold a few hats and many patterns for anxious knitters minding their budgets and honing their skills. The introduction of Ambrosia Cottage Merino Love wool was a hit and at only $5 per ball, well, the yarn practically flew out of the booth and into the bags of delighted fiberphiles before they slipped away to more wonders of the festival.

Much of my time was dominated by teaching responsibilities throughout the weekend so I was unable to experience the show from the vendor standpoint or guest meanderings. Totally enjoyed my classes and the knitting friends who participated and supported me there. Always a joy to meet new friends and greet faces from the past! So many faces reappeared from the days of the Enchanting Yarns shop. A reminder of just how much we all miss those days!

Moving forward took a great deal of energy and my flounderings eventually gave way to fiber focus. Received an invitation to participate in a last minute Holiday Artists' Market here at home in Sharon, CT. A vacant storefront is offering wares from area artists just in time for holiday shopping or adding to the collection. The Market is open Thursday-Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My first time to show in Sharon, am wondering what kind of feedback I will receive.

Knitting, fulling of the Nellie Crush and a corsage of cut felt color pinned on.

Meanwhile, back at The Cottage, another invitation was too good to pass up and takes me in yet another fanciful direction. My thoughts have returned to my years in junior high school, seventh grade to be precise, when I was making cut felt Christmas ornaments and embroidering them with simple stitches in glowing colors. Candles, greenery, holly, french knot berries and stem stitch accents were artfully stitched upon felt cut in a stocking shape to be presented to dear ones. Do you know I found myself reaching for the same colors and re-creating those stitches in my folksy designs?! Just HOW MANY years later? Ahem.

Berets of a different color with their scrap embellishments.

The joyfully embroidered pieces are now on their way to Troy, NY, to be displayed at a shop just coming into its own---that of my friend Olga. Olga is an engineer from the Ukraine who was a frequent visitor and contributor to Enchanting Yarns over the past few years. Olga's talent lies in constructing fashion from geometric shapes, whether knitting or garments of draped fabric. Phenomenal knitting skills make any project a breeze as she creates as she goes along. Oodles of texture and lines, cable knots, cuffs, you-name-it to keep the eye moving and your interest piqued. A wonderful thing. Her fabric creations are simply cut and flow with unique fabric and color combinations. Perhaps a generous collar over a very simple cropped jacket, suitable for jeans and shopping or an elegant evening out. More to come---
with photos, I hope!

Details, details...

Scrunchy hats with needle felting embellishments.

Olga has invited me to share my hats with her clientele and this weekend is a kind of kick-off for the lot with a Christmas Walk scheduled for downtown Troy. So sorry I cannot be there to join in the festivities but I will be planning a trip in that direction soon. I have made a host of hoods, berets and scrunchy toppers cut from wool felt. Embellishments run the gamut with cut felt, felting, beads and bits. Also included a couple of knitted pieces finished since setting up for the Sharon show.

And today? I am trying to catch up with myself. Feeling slightly under the weather, it is a great excuse to stay covered up and warm in my cozy bed, with only my fingers and a few brain cells moving about. And so, Dear Reader, I hope this finds you checking items off your list as we warm up to the holidays ahead. Please DO remember your vitamin C and take a little time off for yourself. No point in getting to a frazzled state over the expectations of others! This seems to be a year in which we all hang back a bit and count our many blessings at home. I know I am blessed with Dear Ones all around, friends, family, and new faces!




Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rhinebeck!! Prep '09

Rhinebeck...just mention of the word causes fiber enthusiasts in several countries to start salivating and going glassy-eyed. It's much like a virus in the apparent symptoms but although it causes physical stuttering in speech and movement due to the psychological impairment of those afflicted, the symptoms are of a temporary distraction as the afflicted resume the daily grind. The cure is available but once a year at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY, where you will find the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in full swing October 17 & 18, of 2009.
The workshop roster includes two classes with my name on them and as if that is not enough, I now have a vendor space too! Building 36, booth Q, is where you will be able to view my dear hats and if not purchasing one, you may wish to take with you the pattern to re-create your favorite style---along with yarn, needles of a circular and double pointed nature, wool and felting supplies for embellishing. Oh, and don't forget to treat yourself to new stitch markers, the jewelry of knitting!
Dressing my booth has been a delightful exercise in list-making so far with a couple of trips to the store for research and development.
At home, I have been resurrecting bits, finding my spray paint and glue and have ordered bags, labels, a stamp, etc. Addressing packaging and pricing issues and more display props and furniture. Added roses to a couple of pieces.

Performed a major shopping trip on Friday and have only a few things left to check off my list. Have another four hats ready to go into the washer for fulling and am lining up the next round of candidates for embellishment. Loads of work and exhausting but I am truly in my element with the whole process of production and promotion. Some beautiful things are piling up around my cottage. Next, assembling kits.

Only one month left---begin the countdown!



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Knit with a View

I love the movie Room with a View. Helena Bonham Carter was eighteen at the time of the filming and so pouty and adorable. Juxtapose Julian Sands in his free-spirited masculinity and what is there not to love? As I have watched this movie countless times before, it makes the perfect foil to knitting mindlessly and so I have. One does work up an appetite with the clicking of the needles and since Mary the house servant is not around to bring sandwiches, as at the Honeychurch establishment, I am left to my own defenses.

Fortunately, indeed, groceries included almond milk and eggs, Nutella, bananas and ice cream! So crepes it is. My latest kitchen purchase is a crepe pan which comes from Italy. A 10" round griddle which is now dedicated solely to crepes and is absolutely perfect for the job. Using a generic recipe but sibstituting the almond milk for whole milk elevates the eggy yum and obvious filling choices had my tastebuds twirling to the opera as Lucy discovered and admitted her true feelings and put an end to all the lying. Is it Italy, or truly Fate? Is there a distinction?

Ooooh, salivating!

Almost ready and must fight the urge to devour on the spot.

Too wonderful! Heavenly Hash makes all divine.

We progress from the Edwardian period, leaving Lucy and George, poor, poor Charlotte and even the deflated Cecil to sort out life, and fast forward to the twenties where my Smitty Cloche becomes the focus. Tossed five into the washer for fulling and now have the delightful task of creating embellishment for all. Hmmm, remains to be seen. What did you all think?

Darlings all in a row. Knitted, fulled and drying.

Perhaps will do. Pinned on a crochet cord bow, a la Clara Bow. Could be IT!

Knitting as always,