Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yarn Giveaway Winner!

After running the numbered comments through a random number generator, we have a winner in the yarn giveaway, Lori Molowitz!  I've sent you a message via hangouts - if that didn't get through, you can contact me at the email given on my profile page.

Thank you so much, everyone who commented and shared your stories!  I enjoyed reading them very  much.  We are a well traveled bunch .... readers wrote of trips to Rome, Switzerland, Alaska, Japan,  Santa Fe, Prince Edward Island, the Pacific Coast Highway, Disneyworld, the Black Hills (we went there for our honeymoon), North Carolina, Estonia (I'm also fascinated with Estonian folk knitting), and Finland, of traveling through Europe, of seeing the ocean for the first time and snow for the first time.

Several of you wrote of how you are just learning to knit and/or crochet or are teaching children and grandchildren. Welcome to a pastime that will be rewarding, relaxing, and thoroughly consuming!  And congratulations to one reader who is knitting for two grandchildren and one great-grandchild who are all on their way!

I was touched to see how many knit or crochet and contribute their pieces to others and have a blog post coming up on donation work.  And thank you for sharing how you knitted/crocheted for loved ones with terminal illnesses and while on military deployment - there are times I have relied so much on knowing that pretty soon I can sit down and lose myself in my work.

I was glad to see how many of you also love pineapple crochet!  And thank you Dianne for the link to this beautiful shawl.

And thank you everyone for your wonderful stories of when you also "time travel!"  I loved reading of how hearing certain music brought back the ocean salt smells from an Oregon trip, of how finding old boxes brought back memories of first learning to knit and crochet, of how knitting and crocheting brought back memories of the great aunt who taught one reader.  I also flash to what I was last watching on TV when I sit down and pick up my work again - and will remember I was working on when I re-watch an old movie!  I too work while I'm riding in the car and always think about what trip I was on when I use one of several afghans.  And I too use brightly colored yarn that reminds me of summer to transport me out of the winter doldrums!

Finally, I have to wish DebMarche and her husband a happy 35th anniversary!  We will be celebrating our 40th this year ... how time flies!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Inspiration - The Art of Stephanie Carswell

If you've ever tried your hand at needle felting, you have to take a look at UK artist Stephanie Carswell's work!  For one thing, it takes me most of the day to create a small piece I can hold in my hand - Stephanie's work is much larger, so I can only imagine the time she spends.  Influenced by taxidermy, she creates pieces that while not straight copies of the original animal have that spark of life.

Be sure to stop by her website to see much more!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Working on the Pinwheel Quilt

After a few afternoons of sewing pinwheel squares, I finally finished and began putting the quilt top together.  Right away I had to decide what color of plain squares to put between the pinwheels.  Hmmm ... it seemed that white or black would be the best bet, so I arranged the pieces using both.

As you can see, each gave the quilt a very different feel!  The black looks more modern and trendy to me, while the white looks a bit more old style.  Since old style was the look I was working towards, I went with white.

Now I'm busily quilting!  

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Inspiration - Spring Fiber Art

Welcome to the first day of Spring!  To help shake off the winter doldrums, here are some pieces of fiber art that are currently inspiring me.

Wendy Sheppard's Spring Song has great spring colors, a quilting pattern that reminds me of spring breezes, and a great bluebird tending its nestlings!  She blogs about the quilt here .... and if you have or can come up with the April/May 2011 issue of The Quilter Magazine, you'll find instructions on making your own.

I've had Akiko Kuwata's Spring in Japan on my inspiration page for quite some time and still have not been able to find out much about her.  A Google search will bring up many of her other quilts, all using color and shape in amazing ways.  I love the motion in this piece!  I can almost see the movement of the cherry blossoms swaying in a gentle spring breeze.  This image is from Jessica Levitt's blog post on the 2009 Long Beach International Quilt Show.

And on the theme of cherry blossoms, this piece from LaurelSusan Studio is an amazing use of French knots!  When I first began learning embroidery (in middle school), I hated French knots with a passion.  Somewhere along the way, I learned to appreciate them and now actually like the almost meditative character of sitting and making large numbers of French knots.  This piece is from their Etsy shop here.

Spring means the return of birds!  This free pattern could be customized to any spring bird.  Marlo Cairn's pattern is on Ravelry here and the photo below shows birds made by Miss Annie.

Get ready for Easter with these darling, fuzzy chicks!  Find the free pattern on the Knitting Cuteness blog here.

One of my first memories related to spring is of pussy willows!  I must've been quite young and my grandmother cut some to put in a vase.  I remember being absolutely fascinated with those sticks dotted with fuzzy bumps!  Madebyjoey has an amazing looking tutorial on making pussy willows from sticks and wool - I'm going to definitely have to try these.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pinwheel Scrap Quilt

I have a hard time letting go of any fabric scraps over about a quarter yard!  But my fabric closet was close to explosion and when I got it cleaned out, the culprits were all the larger scraps I saved over the last 10 years.  The closet now looks great and the scraps sat in a heap on the guest bed waiting for me to have some sort of inspiration on what to do with them.

Thinking that sorting might help, I put them into smaller piles by color - it worked!  Looking at the kaleidoscope of colors reminded me of pinwheels .... what about a pinwheel scrap quilt?  My first thought was to use a rainbow of colors, but after looking at the huge pile of black fabrics I decided to go with black and white with a few red pinwheel squares thrown in for pop.

I made piles of 4 1/2 squares ....

.... and began sewing.  To make a pinwheel square, place a solid color square (I'm using white) on the right side of a scrap square.  Draw a line from one point to the point opposite.

Sew 1/4 inch on each side of the line.

Cut down the line and press open.

Line up the sewn squares like below.  Sew the top two squares together and then the bottom two squares.

Sew the two rectangles you've just made together and trim edges to make a 7 1/2 inch square.

And that's where I am - busily sewing more and more pinwheel squares while thinking about all the different ways I can put them together to make the quilt top!  And thinking about what other pinwheel quilts I can make with the other scraps ...

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Inspiration - Periwinkle

It's almost spring - something many of you were more than ready for weeks ago!  I'm going through my fibers, putting away the wintry colors and getting ready for some brighter work.  I think it started with the Malabrigo Hollyhock yarn I used for my cable knit hat .... purple is one of my favorite colors and it's never far from my thoughts when planning projects!  And in the last couple of weeks, I've noticed I'm gravitating toward one of my favorite purples, periwinkle.  I can still remember how much I loved that periwinkle crayon in my 64 packs!

Periwinkle's a bluish lavender named for the flowering plant of the same name - it's a type of vinca.  Malabrigo has a gorgeous periwinkle colorway and Cascade 220 comes in a vibrant shade.  OPI's You're Such A BudaPest would look great on springtime nails.  And Kathy Bankston has lampwork beads on Etsy that just may be finding their way into some of my springtime jewelry.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Time Travel, Pineapple Scarf, and a Giveaway

I did a little time traveling today .... for this story, we have to go back to June, 2009.  Before we had either of our grandchildren and before we bought our Oregon farm.  I was still teaching middle school art, working on my art ed master's degree, meaning to learn how to knit, and hadn't even started blogging yet.

That June, my husband and I spent a wonderful few days at Skamania Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge, winding down after a tough school year.  

We hiked, explored the nearby town of Hood River, rode the Mt. Hood Railroad, soaked in the hot tub .... and while in Hood River, I found a great little yarn shop, Knot Another Hat, and bought a few skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Indiecita.  A few days before we'd left home, a new Japanese crochet book arrived and I'd packed it, hoping to get in some crochet time.  And I did!  I whiled away the afternoons on a deck chair overlooking the gorge, sipping on sangria and working on a pineapple stitch scarf.  Heaven!

As all vacations do, that one ended and we returned home.  I ran out of Indiecita for the scarf and by the time I'd located, ordered, and received more, the scarf had been put aside and pretty much forgotten.  The summer of 2009 was also when I started using Ravelry and that scarf was the first project I entered - and was the only project until I decided I needed something to help me keep track of all my knitting and I re-acquainted myself with Ravelry.  Everytime I entered a new project, I'd see that pineapple scarf sitting there on my project page and wonder whatever happened to it.

So .... last weekend I accomplished a task I've wanted to do for a couple of years.  I totally emptied and cleaned out my fabric closet!  And tucked away in a corner, still in its Knot Another Hat bag, I found the almost finished scarf.  This morning I sat down and finished it .... and all the memories and the feel of that summer came flooding back like it was a few months ago, not a few years.  A very nice, time traveling morning and now I have a new pineapple crochet scarf!

About the pattern:  It's from a crochet book that's totally in Japanese (with nice charts) - I've been told the title translates to Crochet Accessories with Cotton and Linen.  I don't know if it's still in print and a quick websearch didn't turn up anything.  I ordered it from Pomadour24's Etsy shop - a good place to get Japanese craft books.

Which brings me to the giveaway.  I was so energized after finishing the fabric closet, I also tackled my yarn cabinet.  I am now vowing to not save all the little leftovers of yarn from finished projects - I think I had about 10 years worth stuffed in there.  There were also many, many skeins of yarn I know I won't use.  I saved the best ones out and the boxful will go to one of you readers!  Just post a comment by March 27th .... you can time travel and tell us about a great vacation, you can post a link to your favorite pineapple crochet pattern, or whatever else you think of!  Just no commercial posts, please.  I'll randomly draw one commenter's name on Saturday, March 28th.  Good luck!  The giveaway is now closed - look for more in the future.

Happy Creating!  Deborah