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,


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Production

TOMORROW we set up for yet another Friends of Rose Algrant Art Show. Fifty years this show has been happening! Always interesting and I have exhibited in this show every year since moving to Connecticut--- only 21 years for me.

Rose was my next door neighbor in the early years but she has been gone now for more than ten years. Fascinating little bitty woman who had arrived on friendly shores from France at wartime and worked milking cows and teaching French to support herself and her son. Her stories were much bigger than herself! Taught many years at the local private school and became friends with talented artists, writers, creative, performing and thinking people who used to grace her table and conversation. She pulled everyone together in her way of supporting the arts and her tradition eventually became the annual art show in Cornwall.

I have been knitting and embellishing and sorting through projects. Have pulled out about a dozen hats to take to the show. August weather is not often conducive to selling wool hats. I take a card table in and drape it with something in the center to elevate that spot. I then perch hats all around and on top over hat stands and hat stand stand-ins like vases and giant martini glasses inverted. Whatever works.

Over the years I have exhibited everything from my handwoven baskets to painted floorcloths, English smocking, decorative painting on furniture, quilting and, yes, even fine art every so often. Sometimes I even sell a piece or three. I love being a part of the show and get to get and give a kiss on the cheek to friends I haven't seen regularly. There will be artists of reknown, Robert Andrew Parker (I've had a crush on him for twenty years!), Marc Simont, Scott Zuckerman, Tim Prentice and also artists you've perhaps never heard of but whose work is lovely none-the-less. Sometimes newsy notes are added to the Cornwall CT website.

Meanwhile, also am preparing for Rhinebeck, aka NY State Sheep and Wool Festival. But will fill you in on that story another day.
I guess I'd better go finish up my list and tags for the exhibit.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Fibergood and Finishing

So I couldn't stand it any longer, when I returned home from work the other night, and stayed up past the usual bedtime to over-dye a couple of yarn colors, coaxing them into even more radiant shades. Sherbet results are pleasing to the eye and now they are sherbet cakes after having been wound on my blessed contraption known as a ball winder. How I love that thing! Traditionally wound balls are a joy to behold but these yarn cakes are so convenient to stack and easy to pull the two ends at the same time for all this fulling madness. And did I mention beautiful? Oh yeah.

Today is my first day off for a solid week of days off and already the time is flying by much too quickly. I've got a gazillion things I'd like to do while home (yes, home) but am concentrating on finishing up some projects that have been languishing on the heap. Have finished an Amy Beret and a Smitty Cloche with the last of the details and also tossed several bits in the washer to full at lunchtime.

The Amy Beret is so fortunate that I went shopping last week and found these gorgeous beads. My intentions were to use these big girls as stitch markers for extra large projects but when I opened the package, they struck a chord and I immediately thought of this particular beret.

Very much a striking contrast against the mohair and the smaller seed beads swoop along underneath for drama. Notice how the random pattern of the mohair color helps lend the perfect backdrop. Makes me sigh....

Next, we move on to tackle a jaunty flapper cloche, the original Smitty which has been waiting ever-so-long for her embellishment. We have tried to keep this project going but every time I thought I had it right, my conscience was niggled into another direction. I had been trying to needle felt the spiral and spent hours on it only to rip it out again in frustration. The Look finally was achieved with the humble crochet hook and I worked the yarn right through the hat, gauging the width of the spiral as I worked. Pleased with that portion, I purchased flat black glass beads for the scattered trim. Vintage speaks, the crocheted bobbles dangle and add yet another textural treat for the illusion. Hmmm, visions of bobbed hair and blushing knees.

Enjoy! I think I'll go knit.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

New to the World

Is there anything more darned cute than a brand new prancing and curiously nuzzling baby? This doll is a prime example of adorable in its second day of life. I am told that Baby Iris is already running wildly around the barn and causing hysterical angst for her mother by the third day!
Iris is a baby miniature donkey. Her mother, Fiona, is a full-grown miniature donkey although she stands perhaps less than three feet tall. Both belong to my friend Tara along with Lukka the Icelandic pony who is a whopping thirty five years old! They live in a neighboring area that is delightful on a sunny summer day, rare, indeed, this year.
I grabbed another donkey-loving fiber friend and we visited the farm for the day, enjoying our time snapping photos of the newborn and progressing to the deck for egg salad sandwiches with asparagus and also fresh carrots from Nan's garden. We talked fiber and RHINEBECK and soaked in some sun. Delightful is the only way to describe the day! Don't you LOVE dear friends?!
Returned home to my kitchen and could not resist the pull of the wool--- mixed a little magic in over-dye fun. I promise pictures will follow.



Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lichened to None Other

The Lichen Beret in all its glory performed exactly as planned. The fuzz doing its best to create a cohesive color bond and the colors themselves play and sway with one another making it difficult to see any borders whatsoever. Perfect! A happy composition and am sure that this winter someone will be delighted, sporting this green loveliness.

Rain has continued but I didn't notice it much. Fact is, it became a comforting sound as it lightly pattered the roof, a backdrop. Some words can be very misleading. Sounding more like an Italian fashion term, the word "influenza" as it rolls off the tongue should bring to mind a bit of bare knee
beneath a flounce of a gown which taken as a whole could make a grown man cry as it influences fashion 'round the world. "In-flu-en-zaaaaa."
However, shortened to "flu" takes away any glamorous connotations and lands one smack into the center of reality-- a harsh reality in which any movement whatsoever sends one reeling and running for the loo. We shall spare you the details and suffice it to say that the last couple of days have been a challenge. Now that I've progressed to dry toast the world is vertical once again and I can appreciate the color around me. Perhaps it's the "aaaaaa" part that reminds you just how good you feel once the 'flu is gone.
Be well and savor the summer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sunshine and Green

Today was lovely. Really lovely after having so much rain.

You might think the very middle of July would be much too hot and sticky for wool but not so this year. We had our 90's in April and all our rain over the last six weeks. Highly unusual and the sunshine of yesterday and today seemed a dream. AND--- I've had an opportunity to knit and dye, and over-dye, and live to dye another day.

Inspired by the lichens covering the New England trees, I have knitted one of several hats planned in the misty lime to aqua over brown and gray colorways nature presents. I can never decide if I prefer the lichen on the trees or lichen on the rocks (sounds cool and refreshing!) as my favorite. They take on such beautiful shades with the rain and if trying to capture them and take them inside to savor, it seems they immediately lose their luminosity and go dull and lifeless. Studying their color outside and trying to duplicate that subtle glide across the blue-green scale is a trick indeed.

The Amy Beret will be snazzy and warm. This particular example will be fuzzy with the added mohair and subtle in changing color. The band on the edge is a golden glow, representing tree bark. I have used eight different colors for this project plus a single strand of mohair in one color throughout, which helps to marry all the colors. Is that legal? We shall see!

Knitting for a better world,