Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Gift for No Reason

I haven't knitted in quite some time.  For some reason, lately I've felt driven to pick up the sticks and some nice yarn and complete something.  (It must have been sparked by my recent work with wool roving for needle felting). 

I found some variegated Kettle-Dyed Malabrigo 100% merino wool in a shade of red and pink that was like butter to handle.  It is my new favorite yarn - not that I've knitted with a wide variety or anything.  Buying yarn without a purpose is my usual M.O. and it often ends up tucked away in a box along with my guilt for not finding a project for it.

This time I found a very do-able pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts, a pattern which I will not divulge until the recipient has been gifted.  A hint about my methods:  I used double strands through out with a large diameter needle which made it a quick knit and so, so soft.  This is now my favorite way to knit.

This project was one of the most satisfying to knit as it was not intended as a birthday or Christmas gift - a gift for no other reason but to say I love you.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sewing Japanese

As some of you know, I love Japanese pattern books, especially those with modern patterns aimed at little girls.  The excitement in purchasing almost any Japanese craft book is the anticipation of its arrival, the fact that you don't know (despite a small preview of several patterns) exactly what you might get and the subsequent day-dreaming after it arrives.  They are very inspiring, but they can be quite pricey and often have to be shipped from Japan.  

As a result, I've been frequenting Japanese Craft Journal, a blog that reveals snippets of the Japanese Crafting world.  I was intrigued by these patterns blogged about on Japanese Craft Journal.  They can be bought one at a time, not in a book, which doesn't lighten the wallet quite so much.  Even though the surprise factor is gone, these patterns are so sweet.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nanny #1 - The Original

In an earlier post, I revealed one of many versions of "English Nanny" on which I've been working.  The Nanny in this post is the one that started it all - the original.  

She's constructed of a mustard-colored wool felt overcoat, a cream wool felt for the face, brown wool for the hair, a recycled and felted red sweater for gloves, and recycled and felted random piece of houndstooth wool for the boots.  The Nanny was machine sewn in black thread for accents.  The face was hand-embroidered.

Despite the fact that my 3 year old adopted her before she received her hat and scarf, Nanny 1 turned out just fine in my eyes.  I love her character with the oversized coat, the boots, the bun in the back of her hair.  I think I'd rather have seen her with a rounded butt so that she could sit down and to take away the pucker that happens around the legs.

Overall, with a few changes, I'd happily work on nanny again when I have time.  Until then, I'll just have to live with Nanny 2, the more sophisticated version in needle-felted wool.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stormy Fall

The colors on a wet fall day stand just pop and sing and inspire me.  We rarely see weather with all-day overcast skies and bouts of rain that just wet the pavement.  Florida's rainy season is in the spring and summer, when the thunderheads build within an hour and the rain beats down in a torrent for less than that.  Very few days are windy and overcast like the fall I remember as a child in Michigan. 

I am not a professional, obviously.  These photos were taken with my i-phone, but I think these conditions make the yellows, reds, oranges, and even browns dance in photographs.  So on this day, I was inspired to take a walk around my son's school and catch the colors, save the day. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pre-packaged Crafts for Kids

The kids love glitter and were not disappointed by Martha Stewart's pre-packaged, pre-stickies (no glue) mobiles.

I am usually a purist and like to search the dregs of the junk drawer, the recycle bin, and my art bin from school so the kids can really use their imaginations. I love to see what escapes from their heads, chocked full of ideas.

There is something to be said, however, about a pre-planned project where one can follow the directions or make them up. If the direction option chosen, valuable lessons can be learned by selecting the correct pieces and carefully placing them in the designated spots.

Either way, at the end is something worked on together and the satisfaction, for both parties, of having finished something you started out to do.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Needle-Felted Nanny

This is my experiment in needle felting.  It is an exercise in quiet contemplation.  Making the same small stabbing motions over and over until the wool sits in just the right place is so satisfying.  As I create the "body" of a piece, basically a football shape, I am afforded thinking time to get it just right.  There are no split-decisions in this art.  The work is purely meditative.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Small Magazine

The excitement of seeing something on which you labored for hours in an actual magazine,  photographed professionally, cannot be described. 

As some of you may already know, one of my Big Girl Bags made it into Small Magazine!  I'm very proud (its the one on the left with the buildings).  Thanks to Small for making my day/month/year.  And such interesting and beautiful layouts.

The bag is still on sale at Etsy

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Snow Women

I've noticed recently that during particularly difficult rough patches, I am ferociously creative. Doodles and drawings pile up next to patterns and books on my desk. If I can get to the computer, I run through the blogs, listed at right, just to see what they've made. It's as though I MUST make something.

The kids are allowed to use almost anything inside the art drawer (except playdough) in the hopes that I can steal a little more time with the pen and paper and, more importantly, that I can teach them to love creating too.

Part of the "great make" this time includes The "snow women". I've been drawing them, sewing by hand and machine from handmade and dyed wool felt. Making the felt is almost as satisfying as creating something from it.

Each is different from the last - evolving into something more my style each time. The first and third prototypes were bundled and bound in layers of overcoats and sweaters.

The second, the "English Nanny", got away with overcoat only as Livy stole her from my desk before I could finish the hat and scarf. She did return it briefly only so I could add the missing face, but she is still being snuggled as I type.

For now, I'm hoping the need to create will subside. I love making and get great satisfaction from it. But, I don't like feeling of being bound by a need that I can never satiate - like a thin coat on a cold day that doesn't quite keep you warm.

Dinosaur Eggs

On Thanksgiving, my in-laws brought a gift for my kids.  They opened the bags feverishly, flipping the tissue paper behind them.  Dinosaur eggs.

These mammoths could have passed for those of an ostrich.  We put them in a mason jar and covered them with water.  And then my children watched and waited for a good half an hour until my son said "this is taking a long time mom".  I explained the dinosaurs "hatched" over a number of days.  Patience was the key here.

When the first crack appeared in my son's egg it was midnight.  Because he had checked a number of times before bed, my husband brought the mason jar into my son's room to show him the tiny baby head of a yellow-green dinosaur poking through the top of the egg.  He didn't open his eyes, move his head, or show any signs of waking from his deep turkey and pumpkin pie slumber.

The next morning they discovered on their own that their dinosaur babies had made their appearance.  And that they'd have to wait a few more days for their full maturation.  The above photo is less than a half an hour after they officially "hatched".