Monday, December 25, 2006

Peace and Joy

From Our Family To Yours!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Holiday Fun

First of all I have to show you the goodies Beth
sent me for trying to guess the purpose of a mystery object in her shop. 3 skeins of a beautiful red-orange Koigu KPM, and 1 of a soft yellow. There were 2 packets of gourmet hot chocolate, but one mysteriously disappeared before I could photograph it. MMM. And a seriously cute tin of apple mints. I wasn't expecting such a generous package. Thank you so much Beth!

Secondly. Have I mentioned I'm a cookie maniac? Not so much the eating of, but the making of. These are chocolate, hazelnut, ginger biscotti with white chocolate drizzle. Come over and have a cuppa with me, and I'll share.

I finally got our wreath made. I used the trimmings from our tree that have been sitting in a bucket of water for a week, and loads of nandina berries.

Finally, I've been working on another Fibonacci afghan with the acrylic. Instead of repeating the pattern, I'm doing an in and out thing. In case you aren't familiar with the sequence, it's just using numbers that are the sums of the previous 2 numbers:

0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13. That's the series I used on the first one.

On this one instead of going back to 1 after 13, I just used 1-5. When I got to the color using 5 rows, instead of going back to 1, I went in reverse:


Also, instead of repeating the colors regularly, I go through the sequence above, and then change the order of the colors. It's the only way I could do this and not run out of colors too quickly. I don't know if this makes sense, but I'm running after little boys and trying to clean my kitchen, etc. Believe it or not, I mixed up MORE cookie dough today. It's the ginger cookie recipe I mentioned in an earlier post. I think we'll make ginger bread men and have some friends over tomorrow to decorate them.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cookies and Stripes

I'm into cookie mode. I made about 6 dozen sugar cookies last night. This is how my kitchen looked at about 11 pm:

Here's a closer view of some of my favorites:

As for yarn related content: I've been trying to make my piles of crappy acrylic into something useful, if not beautiful. Several of the large skeins of it I had, were given to me by well meaning people. There was no real way to put these colors together harmoniously. I decided to use the Fibonacci sequence for the stripes and see if the natural order of those might bring the colors together somehow. Here's how far I've gotten:

I'll wait a moment while your eyes recover.




Better yet?

I would have it finished by now, except I ran out of the really radical 80's teal. Not really ran out, I guess, but I don't think there is enough left to make 8 rows. I will not compromise on this pattern, so I've gone in search of teal acrylic yarn. And you know what? I can't find the stuff anywhere. I've been to 2 stores (big box type) and NONE. This stuff used to be everywhere. Once again, I hate buying the yarn I'm actually trying to bust. Here's the innocent little ball mocking me.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ginger Cookies & A KAL

Every year at about this time, I go crazy making cookies. On my list are sugar cookies, butter balls (aka cocoons), biscotti, and a ginger cookie. Usually the gingers are disappointing. Either the flavor or the texture (or both) are off. But I'm determined. I've been trying various recipes for years and I think I've finally found a ginger cookie recipe I like. I didn't ice them with the juniper glaze, but the cookies themselves are light and crisp. The dough is easy to roll out after it's been chilled, then sits for a couple of minutes on the counter. The only thing I would change is I'd add more spice next time. Also, I'm rolling them out pretty thin, so I bake them for 9 or 10 minutes.

I've joined a knitalong with Susan , Amanda, and several other knitters. It's for the Enid Cardigan in the winter 2006 issue of Interweave Knits. I'd display the really cute button, but, I'm having a heck of a time figuring out how to do that. I know it's something easy, but, as you can see on my sidebar, there are NO buttons. If anyone would like to give me directions, I'm a willing pupil. Shoot, I'll display your button! Anyway, I've never done a KAL and I'm really excited. I should be starting on it around the first of the year.

(EDIT) As you can see, there are now buttons on my sidebar. Many thanks to Kate (A Strikke) who has a great tutorial for just this kind of thing on her blog, and to Beth (3 Sheeps) who guided me to her.

Other than that, I've just been wrapping up the semester and doing Christmas stuff. Tomorrow, I give my final exam for Art Appreciation, and receive my Design portfolios. Then it's grade, grade, grade, turn in grades, and I'm free! Free to wrap presents, send out Christmas cards, make cookies, decorate....Is there anything I'm leaving out? I'm sure there is.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Super Wonderful Day

I've been having a really great day. Why? Well, yesterday was the last day of regular classes. My students and I are all grateful for that. I got an early start this morning and went into the office to grade papers and finish up some leftover business. I was ready for a break around 11:30 and DH called to ask me to lunch.

We went downtown to the healthfood store where they have just started serving lunch. All they have right now is organic salads, but it was great. Just what I needed. After we were done eating, we shopped a little and here's what I bought:

They had these sesame sticks on the salad bar and they were so yummy, I had to buy some. The candied ginger is for some Christmas biscotti I'm going to make next week for gifting. And the other 3 bags are my sachet popurri makings. One bag contains rose petals, one contains lavender, and the other is flax seed. The girl at the store suggested that for filler. What a great idea. I hadn't thought of filler. But it's smooth and small and gives the bags a little weight, not to mention, it makes the smell good stuff go farther. I'm thinking these would make good teachers' presents. Here's a picture of 2 of the filled bags. I have 3 more to fill, but the liners aren't sewn up yet.

I couldn't show you the bar of organic dark chocolate with candied ginger in it, cuz DH & I ate it while we browsed the used book store across the street. There's nothing like a good salad and a bar of chocolate to make your afternoon a breeze.

When I got home, one of my colleagues sent me this in an email. It's an animated drawing of a female figure. It's really cool. Check it out.

Another good thing. I won some fantastic Koigu from Beth during her celebration of the opening of her spinning store. She sent me a message today that she's ready to ship. I'm super excited about it and very grateful.

Yes, yes, I know. I'm very lucky and quite spoiled.

Friday, December 01, 2006


2 hour drive in the dark in the pouring rain.

Medical emergency in my class. Had to cancel test.

End of the semester madness (both mine and my students).

Plagiarizer denying the obvious. (And I mean OBVIOUS).

Can I cuss yet?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It Seemed Like a Good Idea...

I had all this acrylic yarn sitting around not getting any action. I was in a mood to purge and it's about to get chilly in this drafty old house. Besides, I'm between projects and I want to destash. I decided to use up all my leftover yarn and make afghans. Mindless repetitive crochet.

My idea was to put all my scrap yarn in a bag and randomly use whatever I pulled out, regardless of color, weight or texture. Do you know how hard it is to completely random? It's virtually impossible. First, I realized there wasn't enough textured yarn to balance out the smooth yarn. I'd have a few textured patches and the rest would be smooth. Then, after going through everything, I realized I had enough yarn for 3, maybe 4 afghans. So I decided to start with what I had the most of: varigated purple (don't ask) and tan worsted weight held together. I used a size N or Q. I don't know. It's a huge, plastic hook with no markings on it.

I got about 2/3 the way done with it when I saw that there wasn't enough yarn to finish it, so I had to buy 1 more skein of tan and 2 more skeins of purple. Don't you hate it when you go to destash, and you actually have to buy more yarn? Anyway, it's almost finished. I should use up my yarn tonight and then it's done. Maybe I'll put a fringe on it. Whatever.

Then I put all my scrap Lion's Brand together, and boy, what a mishmash. There was everything from Microspun (I hate that stuff) to Chunky Chenille. This was my chance to make a true scrap afghan, in the vein of the wonderful crazy quilts of the 19th century. Each of these yarns was used to make something for either my kids or someonelse's. OK, there are a couple of Christmas scarves in there, too.

What a wonderful reminder of my kids' baby days, and old friends. And what a great chance to practice randomness. Well, not exactly random. After all, I did group them together as being the odd yarns. Then I thought, There is too much difference in the weights of some of these yarns, so I'll group them by weight and double strand the thinner yarns. I was going to try to be random with the colors, but the first time something really awful happened colorwise, I couldn't take it. Yes, I chickened out on total chance of colors. I ripped back and put something less offensive together. You can't really tell though, huh? I mean it looks pretty random, doesn't it? I call it my Crappy Scrappy Afghan. The kids love it, and argue about who gets to snuggle up in it. I'm just glad all that yarn is now in neat little rows that I can fold up and put away. I don't know why I care, that yarn wasn't hurting anyone, sitting in its basket, but I had to control it and make it into something, anything, even this:

I wish I had a better picture, but the camera battery gave out just as I was snapping the photo, and I don't have the recharger. But, you can see it, right? Something only a 4 or 6 year old could love? Actually, my husband likes it, too.

Now, all I have to do is use up my garish colors: oranges, blues, yellows, reds, greens, black and white. That one will definitedly be for the boys. And then my more subdued colors. I really want to use up all this stuff before 2007. Why am I so compelled to do this? Probably thinking about the new year, and a fresh start. Making room for the new stuff.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Dinner's over, the dishes are washed and the carcass is boiling. What a day. Actually I've been at it for the past 2 days and I'm beat. I thought I'd sit down with a cup of tea and unwind with a post. The turkey went in at 7:30 this morning and I was pretty busy from there on getting things ready. Every thing turned out great. My mom and dad got here around 12:00 and we ate around 2:00. The turkey turned out beautifully, but the pictures of it aren't so great, so I thought I'd show you some nice close ups of the other things on the menu.

My Poppyseed Rolls. They are 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white. I tried to make things as healthy as possible without sacrificing decadence. There's an awful lot of butter involved:

Here are the Brussels Sprouts before I cooked them. I've got an after pic, but the colors weren't as vibrant:

Mom's Cranberry Salad. Kinda looks like Borscht, doesn't it? Nice color here too:

Also, I thought I'd show a couple of pics of the lace bags I've been making in progress. Here are two different patterns blocking:

They are both make out of the same color Sinfonia, but the top one is dry and the bottom one is still wet. I learned 2 things doing this. One: Use quilt needles rather than short sewing needles. Really helps. Two: I need a blocking board. Can you see how crooked my edges are? Santa, can you hear me?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shopping Frenzy

From here on out, it's nothing but the holidays, my friends. This morning DH & I attended a Thanksgiving program at #1's school. He had 2 speaking parts, and used a microphone. No faltering, clear, strong voice, he delivered his lines like a pro. They all did really. The program went longer than I expected and then DH wanted to have an early lunch and I caved. I didn't get back home till 1 in the afternoon.

I rechecked my final Thanksgiving grocery list, and went shopping. First I tried Walmart, but it was too crazy. In this small town there aren't many options for grocery shopping, so the Walmart gets insane on big shopping days. Besides, they didn't have any Brussels sprouts. I went elsewhere. My other 2 options were a shop and bag-it-yourself place, a rather long drive, and the pricey boutique grocery store. Being the frugal gal that I am, I opted for the longer drive and found everything but whole allspice. Hmm. The pricey boutique store it was. They had the allspice and I was just ready to pick up the boys, when I realized, you can't have Thanksgiving without some kickass wine. So I pulled into the wine store and got some Charles Krug Merlot, and some Erath Pinot Gris. The Erath has a screw top, but is really good. I have a wine friend who told me that natural cork isn't as plentiful as it used to be so they are turning to fake corks and screw tops.

ANYWAY. Then I ran to get the boys and now I'm home. Shortly I will begin to prepare the ultimate feast. It is really an orchestration, but when it all comes together, how satisfying. On the menu:

Cider Brined Turkey (20 pounds for 4 adults. I just really wanted to make sure there were leftovers this year) with Gravy
Southern Cornbread Dressing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Bacon
Not So Sweet Potato Casserole (no marshmallows here)
Home Made Poppyseed Rolls
I hesitate to say that there will be canned cranberry sauce on my table. What can I say, DH must have his jellified-crimson-can-shaped-log every year.
My mom is bringing her famous Cranberry Salad, so that is a little redeeming.
For dessert, there will be home made Apple and Pumpkin Pies.
To drink: wine, iced tea (sweet, we're in the South you know), sparkling cider, and coffee.

Sound like enough for 4 adults (one of whom weighs less than 95 pounds and eats like a little bird, hint, not me) and 2 boys under the age of 7? I tend to overdo it when it comes to cooking. Just wait until you see what I do for Christmas cookies.

Now, as for yarn related things, I've made 4 sachet bags out of my Sinfonia and still have 1 skein of it left. I'll probably just use it up on some more little bags. They'll make nice gifts for teachers and other deserving people. Last night I started a ripple afghan using 2 strands of worsted acrylic held together. Nothing fancy, but I'm just in the mood to get rid of the stuff that has been laying around for a while. I'm using an "N" crochet hook, and it's going pretty fast.

Sorry, no pictures of ANYTHING. I don't have the camera and have been running around like the proverbial chicken. I intend to show some pics a little later in the week. If I don't see you before the day, then have a great Thanksgiving. Remember to be thankful for everything you have.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

They're done!

The last pair of Christmas socks has been finished. I can't believe it. WHOOHOO! That's one less thing to worry about. They are from top left: Snowflake Socks in Opal Uni, Cornflower; Manly Socks in Lorna's Laces Cedar; Manly Socks in Cherry Tree Hill Java. Bottom Row: Girl's Cable Socks from Bear Brand Socks in Opal Uni (I forgot the color), and another pair of the same, in the same yarn, color forgotten. There's one more pair I didn't show, the Manly's for DH, using Fleece Artist Merino. They're finished, but not blocked. DH couldn't wait for that. You can double click the picture to see the details better if you'd like.

Now what? I bought the Knitter's Bible, by Claire Crompton, and it has lots of little projects in it. I started a lace sachet bag last night using some sage colored Sinfonia I had in my stash. I figure I'll bust a little stash for a while and learn some new stitches and techniques.

I'm glad it's Friday. It's been a weird week and I'm ready for a break. We're having Thanksgiving here and I have no idea who's coming. If it's just us, so much the better. More dressing for me.

Ya'll have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rainy Tuesday Doings

I woke up feeling completely awful this morning. I didn't sleep well, and woke up nauseated and with an achy head. Felt a lot like a hangover, but without the alcohol. I think it is a mild migraine. Anyway, I decided not to paint. Instead #2 & I went by McD's and got sausage biscuits before I dropped him off at preschool. After that I ran errands and bought a new container for my stash. I put the natural stuff in the new container and the synthetics are safely hidden away.

I still have a lot of acrylic yarn. I hate to waste anything, so I'd like to use it up. I could make a crazy afghan or make blocks to practice stitches. I could make granny squares till the cows come home. Maybe I could make a crazy ripple afghan and just randomly put the colors together. I've already got a sampler afghan in the works, but the pattern has so many mistakes in it, and I keep loosing my corrections page...something tells me to let that one go.

Another thing sorting through my stash made me realize is how far I've come as a knitter in the past year. I taught myself to knit about 8 years ago and I worked in isolation until last year when I ventured into cyberspace. I joined a couple of online groups and started to learn about blogs. Through these media I learned so much about knitting, crochet, materials and other resources. I guess the acrylic represents the before internet knitting and the alpaca, merino, silk, etc represent the after internet knitting. I'm grateful to the friends who've helped me on the net. One of these days I hope to get some folks around here brave enough to try some yarnwork (I crochet and knit, I could teach them either). I've offered to teach several people, and they express interest, but nothing has come of it yet.

Anyway, my friends, thank you all for being such great blog pals and for coming around here every now and then. I don't have any knitting or painting pictures for you, but I hate to leave a post without a pic, so I'll show you the results of my creative endeavors from yesterday afternoon. Here's a preview of our holiday card. #1 is Mr. Blue-eyes, and #2 is Mr. Brown-eyes:

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I stole this from Beth.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The South
The West
The Inland North
The Northeast
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Maybe my Southern drawl isn't as bad as I thought...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This one's all about painting.

Sometimes I'm writing for you, but sometimes, like today, I just need to kick myself in the pants and tell myself off. So, pardon me, but here goes.

I know what I want to paint. I have an idea about how I want it to look. But it's like there's a glass wall between me and what I want to do. It seems easy to smash it, just throw a brick, but then you have all the broken pieces to pick up, and they're sharp! I guess we're all a little nervous about breaking glass.

My problem is I can make things look pretty much how I perceive them. I can paint tightly and realistically. I have been wanting to get away from that for a long time, but I hold myself back. There is a kind of abandon one must reach in order to just let it all come out. I'm reluctant to let go like that. Why is the image so precious?

Why not hold on to realism? Why not do what seems to naturally come to me? Because, especially in this instance, a sharply focused realistic image doesn't say what I want to say. I want to say something about the freedom and joy of being a child in the summertime. I want to show movement and delight. And not in a saccharine way.

So here's today's work. First I started another watercolor. I intended to work wet on wet, let the colors bleed and let the forms dissolve into one another. I started off pretty well, but a little timid (a little?!!) with the color saturation.

Then lunchtime came around, and so did DH. He wanted to go scout new vehicles, and because I'm the intended recipient, it wouldn't do for me to say, "Lovely, dear. You go do that and I'll stay here and paint." So I went along. We spent an hour looking at mommy mobiles, and then I came home. I went back to the painting, and was feeling a little impatient, and once again I gravitated back to the tighter image.

Now I'm not saying I didn't achieve anything today. Nor am I saying that today's work isn't salvageable. I'm just irritated with myself. I guess that irritation can be productive if I channel it properly. Working it out in watercolor and pushing myself with a quick and relatively inexpensive medium is better than wasting a lot of time and expensive materials using oils. Also, maybe when I go to do this in oils, I will feel relieved of a heavy weight and will let my arm go. Did I mention water color is HARD?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Some Days the Bear Will Eat You...

Watercolor is HARD! I mean to relax and just let the medium flow...I want to control it and tell it where to go. I worked on the first watercolor and started another. I promised myself I'd loosen up for the second one, but it still is too tight. Next time I'm going to start with wetting the entire sheet of paper, and letting the colors bleed together. I think I want to use more arbitrary color as well. One good thing I did was make the figures larger on the second one.

I know these pictures aren't very good, but you can see that the first one just got tight, and the second one is looser, but kind of crappy.

I finished the first of the Manly socks for my dad. It's a pretty simple pattern, so I just flew through it. Here's where I was with it yesterday afternoon.

The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill in Java and I just love the colors. Here's a closeup:

The problem is there is supposed to be enough yarn in one hank of this stuff to make a pair of socks, but the 1st sock used up a little more than 2 oz. of the 4 oz. ball. I weighed the remaining yarn before the sock was finished, and there was just a little over 2 oz. left. Now there's just a little under 2 oz. I ordered another hank of the Cherry Tree Hill, but I know it's going to be a little different.

The same thing happened with my husband's Manly's, except, I had almost finished the second sock before I realized I wasn't going to have enough yarn. I ordered another hank of yarn for him (Fleece Artist Merino in Ebony) and it arrived a couple of days ago. The color is slightly different, but it's OK for the toe.

Should I go ahead and start the second sock for my dad, and finish up the toe when the 2nd ball of CTH Java gets here, or should I wait and knit the entire sock out of a single hank? I'll probably go ahead and start it. I think having one toe different and having to weave in a few more ends is better than having the entire sock be slightly different.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Getting it Done

Today has been very productive. I finished the Snowflake socks for my mom. All I had to do this morning was graft the toe and weave in the loose ends. Then they were done. The pattern doesn't show up very well in the picture, nor on the sock. I'm hoping that after some blocking, the snowflake motif will be more apparent. I'm going to wash and block them and then I can put them with my other Christmas socks. Now all I have to do is get Dad's Manly socks made. I'll start them tonight while I watch Grey's Anatomy.

I spent a good part of the day in the studio. I painted on the last figure. It's staying pretty open, but looks a little muddy. I discovered my brushes were really too mucked up to function well, so I spent an hour washing them. They have to sit for a couple of days to let the water evaporate before I can use them with oil again. But they're clean. They'll work much better next time I go to paint.

Being unable to work with oil due to watery brushes, I decided to do some watercolor. I have all that great Arches paper that I've been too nervous to ruin. I got brave and started a compositional study. I have to say that paper is a dream to work with. It's heavy and has a nice tooth. It takes the paint beautifully. It's been a long time since I've really used watercolor and it took me about an hour to remember how to apply it. The study is kind of tight, and unfinished. I'll work some more on it over the weekend. When it's done, I'll probably do another one, and hopefully start it better and keep it more open. I can see the possibilities of that paper, and I want to use it to its fullest potential.

And to top it off, I mixed up my Christmas cookie dough this afternoon. I make sugar cookies for the teachers, the kids at school and friends. Making them is fun, but a little stressful because of exams and the holdiays. I promised myself this summer while I was sick I was going to avoid stress this year, so I planned to mix the dough in advance and freeze it. It'll be ready for rolling, cutting, baking and decorating whenever I feel like it.

WooHoo for getting it done. I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself just now.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Socks Saga and Fall Festival

By now I expected to have a finished pair of Snowflake socks, and a pair of Manly socks on the needles. And I would have too, except for a small sock tragedy. Here's the story. About a week ago, I was down to forming the toe on the 2nd Snowflake. I decided to try them on, as Mom's feet are about the same size as mine. I know you think the next thing I'm going to say is the damn thing was too small and I had to start all over. No. It fit beautifully. I was so impressed with myself until I saw a gaping hole about 1 inch above the heel. I must have dropped a stitch. I tried to pick it up, but I just couldn't cope with the lace. I frogged it to beyond the hole, and then realized I didn't know what row it was on. Then I figured, every other row was a knit row, if I could just frog to a knit row, then I could figure out where I was. I tried that, and I couldn't figure out what stitches to pick up. In the end I frogged the entire sock. I was that close! I rolled the yarn up into a neat ball and didn't look at it for almost a week. I started back on it a couple of days ago, and I'm to the heel flap. I'm thinking I could finish it in a couple of days if I don't screw up again.

In other news, I've been swamped. I've been making handmade watercolor cards for 3 packages I need to mail. Thank you's and an exchange. I'm way behind on the exchange, but it's finished and just needs a cushy package. I haven't done any real studio work. I've had soccer games, building dedications, Halloween parties and Fall Festivals (what happened to Halloween Carnivals? Are they too EVIL?) I baked a mean Lemon Ginger Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting for the Festival Cake Walk. It was gone by the time we got there, so I don't know who got it. I hope they like it. I brushed some Lemoncello over the cake before I frosted it, so I hope they don't object to a little kick.

And about that Fall Festival. We have (had) no pets. DH is completely against having another creature being solely dependent upon us for its well being. What did they have at the festival? Win a Goldfish by throwing something into something else. Both #1 & #2 won a little fishy. At first DH (let's call him Scrooge) told them to take the fish back and exchange them for candy, but I feeling all warm and motherly, said "Let's keep the fish. How hard can it be?" On they way home as the little ones clutched their little plastic baggies in ecstasy, I realized we had nothing to put them in and nothing to feed them. So I dropped off all my guys and headed to WalMart at 8:00 pm on Friday night. It was packed. I never go to WM at nighttime and was surprised at how many people do their shopping in the dark. Anyway. I bought a little bowl and some food and a cute plastic plant. We gave the fish their new home and put the boys to bed. I decided if we were going to keep these fish, I'd better find out what they need to live, so I looked them up on the internet. Turns out goldfish are very dirty fish and poop almost instantly after eating. They need at least 5-10 gallons per fish. Sheesh!

Next day, after 4 soccer games and a Mexican lunch, we headed to Petsmart. Bought a 10 gallon tank and natural pebbles (the fish dude said the colorful UNnatural ones could cut their little mouths). He also recommended live plants for oxygen and a "cleaner" fish, a dogo loach, to eat up the excess goldfish poop. We passed on the plants and the other fish because we had other errands, and apparently they would turn into fish stew if we left them in the car. So yesterday, I went back to Petsmart, bought the cleaner fish and the plants and put them in the tank. It turns out Dojos like a place to hide, so now I'm considering buying him his own sunken ship or treasure chest. You know, so he'll feel at home. So for 2 fifty cent games, we have made an approximately $100 investment. Those fish better live!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sienna with Buttons and Other Stuff

A cold front passed through last night, and it was chilly this morning. Perfect for wearing my brand new sweater. As promised, here are a couple of pictures. My faithful photographer Mac did the honors, but he doesn't really understand color, so the first one shows Sienna looking a little too orange.

Here's a closeup to show the buttons. I got them at Hancock's (no time for treasure hunting at flea markets right now). They are brass with brown glass eyes. They are kind of heavy, so on the wrong side, I sewed in thin, flat shell buttons, to reinforce them.

It's fall break at the university, so I did get some work done in the studio today. Here's the ugly thing that was driving me crazy. This is how I left it on Tuesday:

I worked on it today, and even though I'm not really satisfied, I guess you could say it's finished. The best thing about this painting is it led to the next one.

Here's the next one. Obviously not finished. Because I'm not going to paint again until next Tuesday, I wanted to use up the paint on my palette. Also, I wanted to redeem myself from the previous painting. Much looser. This is how I want to begin the final painting with all the kids in the composition. I really like the drips, but I always paint them out. I'm going to try to make myself keep them in and let this be a juicy painting.

Friends, I wish you had been here last night. Once again we watched Live Aid with some friends (this time at THEIR request, and no one really got drunk). I cooked Country Captain, a sort of southern version of chicken curry, in the crockpot, and made homemade brownies. MMM. This time I paid attention to some other bands besides Queen (the best though). The Who did a great job, especially on "Won't Get Fooled Again", and Elton John was really entertaining. Not that I'm a George Michael fan, but he covered "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me", and delivered a great performance. In case you're wondering how I can watch that concert over and over, the entire thing is 16 hours long, and I haven't seen every performance in it.

I hope everyone has a happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Frustration and Inspiration

I know, I didn't post anything yesterday. I did work in my studio, but things didn't go as I planned. Or I didn't plan as I went, or something like that. Anyway, the studio time was frustrating, and the work reflected that, so I refrained from posting. I didn't get much time in last week, so I was anxious to get started. I didn't clean my palette, and tried to use old paint that had formed a skin on it. I didn't properly clean my brushes, I closed down too quickly...I was making rookie mistakes left and right, and flailing about. I kept at it for several hours, though, and mucked something out of it. I'm going back in tomorrow, hopefully with more direction and clarity.

I have been knitting. I've finished one of the Snowflake socks, and am working on the second. I hope to have the second done by Saturday or Sunday. Then I'll make my dad's Manly socks. After that, I'm getting into the Regia Silk Color and knitting up a simple pair for myself. I can't wait to put my toes into that.

I've added a new link to my sidebar under "Some Other Links" titled VvG's letters. In case you didn't know, Van Gogh was a voracious letter writer and most of what we know about him comes from his correspondence with his brother Theo. What's really cool, is you can access all his letters, unabridged, online. I've read them all several times (hard copy), and he is incredibly inspiring. I really like that if you are wanting to find a letter about a specific subject, you can just type in a keyword and any letters with that word in it will come up. I am an advocate for humanizing Vincent, and making people realize that he was incredibly intelligent and approached his work analytically as well as emotionally. The letters illustrate this better than I ever could, so I direct people to them as often as I can. He wrote about virtually EVERYTHING, so it's fun see what he had to say about just about anything.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I'm Lucky

In the words of Joan Armatrading, "I can walk under ladders..."

I'm not sure exactly what's going on with me, but I have been so happy lately. This week has been particularly wonderful. When I went out of town to get my hair done, I visited an elderly friend I haven't seen in years. She is a wonderful, vibrant person, and she has meant a lot to me. She has over-collected glassware and insisted I take a piece home with me. I agreed and picked out this fruit bowl. Seeing her after all these years was sweet made me realize how precious life and friends are.

Several weeks ago I felt the need to reconnect with a dear friend from graduate school, so I sent her an email. Today when we got home from soccer games, there was a package in the mail. I don't have a secret pal, but it was the type of package I imagine I'd receive from one if I did. Anyway, my dear, sweet friend, a much better person than I, replied through the US mail, and sent me a lovely handwritten card, with two skeins of Regia Silk Color Sock Yarn. Turns out she's been knitting too, and she sent me a happy. How sweet is that?

To top it off, after soccer today, I was spent. I think I'm becoming hypothyroid again. I told DH, I was so tired and I had to lay down. He didn't complain, and kept the kids away while I took a 2 hour nap. That's a great gift, right? Nothing more needed there. When I got up, he said he needed to run to the store to get some vitamins for the kids. I said, run, my dear. When he got home, he brought me these. For no reason. What a guy. How'd I get so lucky? I'm blessed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Snowflake 2 and a Different Kind of Art

I decided that the Cherry Tree Hill yarn and the #2 needles weren't working out for the Snowflake sock. It was knitting up way to big. I switched to Opal Uni and #1's and here's how it looks. Once again, DH has the camera so I'm relying on Mac as my photographer:

And usually on Tuesdays I post something arty for you, but yesterday I traded a day of making art for a day of receiving art. I drove 2 hours to get my hair cut by someone I consider a genius. He started doing my hair 26 years ago. I was 15 and he was 22. He made me glamorous and I let him experiment with new techniques. It was a hair match made in heaven. We have been friends through the years, and though usually someone in town does my hair, when I really need a boost, I go back to Ralph. I don't have to tell him what to do, I just tell him how I'm feeling & what I've been up to, and how I want to feel, and he does the rest. Yesterday I said I wanted something fresh & sexy that didn't deny the curliness of my hair. Here's what I ended up with:

Front view

Side view:

I took a pic of the back view, but the lighting was off. I'm really happy with the cut. It's so easy to fix and it makes me feel great. Also, Jason did the color, and it looks just like what my hair naturally should. So I'm feeling sassy and ready for anything. The anything I need to be ready for is midterm exams and portfolios. I will probably spend all day tomorrow and a good piece of the weekend grading. Back to art making next week!

Friday, October 06, 2006

My Sock History

Having joined Socktoberfest, I decided I must PARTICIPATE in Socktoberfest. At Lolly's suggestion, I'm going to share my brief sock history:

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I started knitting socks last spring when everyone in my household had strep throat and I couldn't do much else. I looked up several simple sock patterns on line and finally taught myself on a small "training sock."

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?

My first pair of socks were from Joan Fernbach's pattern using Paton's Classic Merino. They were intended for my husband, but they felted down to my size. I made myself a pair using the same yarn after I finished his pair. Here they are. Can you tell which pair is mine? They haven't been worn much, so other than felting, they are doing just fine

What would you have done differently?

I would have used yarn that does not shrink

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

I've used several yarns I love. Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock, Fleece Artist Merino, and Cherry Tree Hill are my favorites

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

I knit my socks using DPN's. I prefer 4 DPN's, but am starting to get used to 5.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

I've only done the flap heel, so I guess that's what I prefer

How many pairs have you made?

I think it's about 8 pairs. I kind of went crazy knitting socks over the summer while I was sick. I've got 2 or 3 pairs to go before I'm satisfied I've done all my Christmas knitting.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Well, I didn't get in any studio time today. I had a doctor appointment midmorning, and a bunch of errands to run, so I decided to devote my day to dull, but necessary stuff. I cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen, to the amazement of my husband. I've kind of let things slide around here since I've been in the studio. I worked on the Snowflake sock some, but I'm not sure about the yarn. It's Cherry Tree Hill in a color called Spring Frost. It appears to be a subtly variegated grayish color, but it knits up much brighter than I expected, and I think it's going to compete with the lace pattern too much.

I may frog it and restart with some bright blue Opal Uni I have. Can't really decide right now. The good thing is, the Snowflake pattern isn't that difficult. The pattern is rated advanced, but it doesn't seem as difficult as Branching Out. There are 12 rows with 4 sets of 13 stitch repeats. In other words, you do the same set of 13 stitches 4 times per row, with a 12 row pattern repeat. Not that hard.

Well, this has to be a short one. Have a great night everyone.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sock, Block & Draw

Happy Tuesday, Everyone. Today I decided to join Socktoberfest. I've been knitting socks anyway, and any kind of knitting event that compares itself to drinking beer, sounds like my kind of fun. I'm almost finished with my husband's pair of socks and I have 2 more pairs to go. I'm going to make my mom the snowflake socks on Magknits, and I'm going to make my dad a pair of the same pattern I've made for my father-in-law and my husband. The Bear Brand Book gives this sock the charming name No. 2222. I've decided to rename it The Manly Sock. It's plain, and comfortable, nothing fancy, just meat and potatoes. Something just about any guy would like.

Sienna is blocking. She turned out pretty well. The pieces sewed up beautifully! I don't know if the pattern is just great, or my skills have improved, but this sweater went off with out a single hitch. Here's how she looks now. I haven't found the buttons, yet, but when I do, I'll show a pic with me modeling, to show the fit.

Well, I didn't get my canvases gessoed, like I wanted, so I didn't have a surface to start a new oil on today. I put a coat of gesso on the canvases, and pulled out some beautiful Rives BFK (printing paper) I've had around for a few years, and pulled out my acrylics. I just wanted to do a value composition. Here's the result. It was fun to mess around with acrylics again. Honestly, the only thing I enjoy doing with acrylics is drawing on paper with them:

I hope everyone is having as much fun as I am!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Some More Painting

First I'd like to thank you for all the kind comments about my painting and my knitting. I love hearing what you have to say about my work. I would also like to say that as much as I enjoy positive feedback, I'm not fishing for compliments. I figured if I said I was going to work in my studio on a regular basis, and showed pictures to everyone, it would give me incentive to continue. I mean, what could be more embarrassing than proclaiming my intentions, then not following through?

I have been so motivated lately. It's been a long time since I've had a really good go at painting, and it feels great. I used to paint all day every day, for years. I went through 7 years of college and graduate school completely devoted to the pursuit of painting and drawing. As I've said before, life in the form of kids and an old house stalled me.

Anyway, this morning I stretched 2 canvases and put a coat of gesso on each. I'll give them a couple more coats over the next 2 days, and they will be ready for paint next week. After that, I mixed a bunch of color on my palette. I wanted to have the approximate colors I needed premixed, so I could just paint and not worry too much about mixing:

So I painted some and kept the little girl fairly open:

And this is what I ended up with. She's closed down some, but much more open and loose than the paintings I've been doing. As Susan said in the comments of the previous post, I DO want the gestural energy to carry through to the final painting. That's why I'm doing all these little studies. I'm trying to work the kinks out before I invest in my large canvas.

Well, I've got lots of ideas swimming around in my head. Both painting and knitting. I've finished one sleeve on the Sienna Cardi, and will start the other tonight. I'm enjoying that sweater as much as my painting. This afternoon I'm a soccer mom, so I guess I'd better go get the boys!