Saturday, June 30, 2007

Can't Touch This

It's Hammock Time!

I am on vacation this week - and away from the shop. Jessy is there, keeping things going. She hinted that she might do something kinda crazy. Please go see her, and let me what's up!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Have it Your Way

Special orders are my pleasure! I have structured my schedule so that I can dye yarns on Monday and Tuesday each week. Much of the time I dye yarns in color ways that are popular, or where there is "hole" in the color wheel. Sometimes I dye yarns based on something specific that inspired me. And a lot of the time I dye yarns as requested by a customer-friend. I like doing this - as it often pushes me outside of what I might normally choose to dye. This week was dedicated to special orders - and what fun I had. The yarns shown here are still wet, or still steaming, or still in the dye bath - but I just wanted to share my fun! The yarns pictured above are for Thomasean. The request was for these colors, all of them on each skein, but with a different color distribution and different color emphasis on each one. The yarn will be for an entrelac sweater. This is Kona Petite - a fingering merino superwash, for Thomasean, in a color way I call "Larimar"
This is not a very good picture of lace weight mohair, dyed black and blue and brown. The fuzziness of the mohair makes it look lighter, and the flash on the camera further washed it out - the colors are MUCH richer than they appear here.

This yarn is Safari III - 100% cotton - sort of slubby, dyed turquoise and black for Sally.

And this is nassau - 50% silk, 50% cotton for my new friend Sarah. It is in the rinse phase, and not currently very pretty, but I promise it will be!. Sarah is planning to make the Simple Knitted Bodice from Stitch Diva. She needed black silk to go with her Tilli Tomas yarn, and loved the feel of Nassau. Black is challenging to dye dark enough. I put in extra dye, extra assists, and left it over night. It is pretty darn dark, but it is still wet. I had dreams about this yarn last night. In my dream, when I squeezed it out - it was distinctly green. So I happy to say there is nothing green about this yarn. Sarah also works part time for friends of mine at Fringe: A Knitting Salon.

Say hello to Nancy and Veronica if you are reading this!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Morning

I might be crocheting in the car on the way to the wedding. Its an hour and a half drive. But, that's not what I want to do. I want to know it is finished and fabulous before I get in the car - at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Lots to inspire me lately. One of my favorite sources of inspiration is new yarns at the shop. And those are flying in the door. I am getting mental whiplash trying to decide if I should crack open one of the Habu patterns, and try my hand at reading the Japanese style presentation, (very tempting) Or, dive into one of the yummy Tillie Tomas yarns. This very special line of handcrafted yarns has gotten the attention of designers such as Stitch Diva

and Phoenix Bess.

While these patterns have been ordered, they haven't arrived quite yet. Plus, I love the use of the Tilli Tomas yarns in the neckline and other areas of detail. So, I decided to dye some yarn to match some of my new beautiful skeins.

They are still hot and in the pot - so I can't cast on with that.

Also very inspiring was my short vacation to Tucson to visit my middle daughter.
On this trip I got to see, in person, the beautiful mission call San Xavier, or The White Dove of the Desert. Several years ago, I wove an image of this for a wall hanging for friends of mine.

We also went hiking on top of Mt Lemmon.
This is Kristin in the ferns.

And I got to hang out at the drive-in, drink beer and eat Sonora Dogs, with these people. I would have felt like a kid again, if it weren't for the kids. Just kidding. We had a blast. We saw "Knocked Up". It was surprisingly funny - but I was the only one in the crowd who had been... well. I thought it was funny.

It was a great trip - so very different from my "everyday". That always gives me a creative boost. But, in reality, one of my very favorite sources of inspiration is deadlines. I created a new one for myself yesterday. I am going to a wedding this weekend. I successfully finished the wedding present :

It is now about 45 inches by 65 inches, and feels great. Very snuggly. But now, I need something to wear to the wedding. The attire will be afternoon, garden, cocktail. No, I am not entirely sure what that means. I went to the mall yesterday looking for inspiration. I didn't find it. It turns out that the dress I have in my closet is a better choice than what I could find out there. It just needs a little toss over the shoulder thing. Like a shrug. I didn't find one of those either. But then, I thought - wait a minute. I crochet pretty fast. I have a basic template for a shrug that fits me. I have yarn. I have until Saturday. This is Tuesday. Let's see what I have so far.

Argh. I really should work instead on the other deadline based project that I have on my needles. But that deadline isn't until August 7, or actually maybe even later, as intended recipient won't really need it until, um, late August.

I'll post the progress, if there is any.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Habu Shrine

A few weeks ago, during the East Lansing Art Festival I made a new friend, Ava.
She was brought to me by a mutual friend; Sharon. Ava is a fabulous knitter, and a great photographer. During the art festival I had put tall banners outside my shop. At the end of the day, after everyone had gone, I noticed that the banners had become tangled in the Charlie Brown Tree above. The only tools at my disposal were a short ladder and a yard stick. Ava came back, just as I was trying to kill myself in an improbable balancing act. She took lots of pictures to document the moment, until the Art Festival director and her husband came along. He helped me balance enough to knock the banners out of the tree. I won't show you those pictures - they are not my best side, so to speak. I'd much rather share the pics of my Habu Shrine that Ava found so enchanting :

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

What did I find at TNNA?

A present for Marge. See above.

Things soft

Things sparkly.

Great Design. On this note I have to add that a highlight of my trip was a delightful conversation with Louisa Harding as she told me all about her design philosophy. She has a strong background in both fashion and fine art, and as she showed me her designs and the thought process behind each one, I could see both art and fashion. Add to that a sensitivity to real women's bodies, and you get truly great design. Her Fall collection has two themes, Hummingbirds and Swallow Tails, and Venice Architecture. She is such a lovely and generous person. When I told her about our up coming "Yarnival" ( June 15, $15 reserves a seat, at Woven Art), she gave us some wonderful samples to try out.

Trunk Shows - booked lots of them!

Work shops and visiting artists - mark your calendars now for Takara of Habu Textiles. She'll make the trip to the Lansing area on December 7. There will be several workshops in reading Japanese patterns, as well as a lecture about her very unusual fibers. As a weaver, I have been a fan and buyer of Habu for a long time, but as a knitter and crocheter, I love the creative possibilities these yarns open up for me. So I restocked the best sellers, some new yarns and brought in several kits. The styles are classy, classic, and cutting edge, all at the same time. More signs of good design.

In fact I would have to say that would be the theme of this trade show - a real emphasis on good design. There are some glittery and novelty yarns making a bit of a come back - but now they are used to great effect - in a way that makes sense to the total project. Now, while the yarn and fiber choices are still very important, how they are used in the design sense is equally important. In other words - the best of both worlds. It is a good time to be a knitter/crocheter/weaver.

So, when I got home from placing orders with old and new friends, I was happy to have some boxes to open:

This is the very first shipment of Limited Edition Tofutsies! They call it Wild Kat. (I met Kat this weekend - what a cutie). The Blue label is the dead give away. A pattern has been written for this color way, and is only available with purchase. I only have ten. When they are gone, that's it - I can't get more and neither can anyone else. So - if you want it - call me, at 517-203 4467, or stop in at the shop - downtown East Lansing.

I also opened a big box of books from Unicorn. New Crochet titles as well as new knitting titles. I am really looking forward to spending some time with "Knit 3 Ways". I also had a chance to meet "GlampyreKnits", and get an autographed copy of her new book "Fitted Knits". It is, among other things a tutorial on making your garment fit *you*.

Friday, June 1, 2007

June is Busting Out

It's a new month - and that means it is time to introduce a new stitch challenge! This is a lace rib. It could be a fancy ribbing on a sweater, or maybe a whole tank top, similar to the Cabin Fever 4 x 4 rib tank. I also think it might be a very pretty pattern on a sock leg. It is pretty easy - to accommodate "Summer Brain", and to rest you up for the July stitch challenge which I suspect could be very challenging indeed. You can pick up this June stitch challenge and all the others as well at Woven Art, 325B Grove St in downtown East Lansing.

It is time for me to brag about a student. Here is Liz. She has been weaving with me for two years now. Last night she pulled her beautiful Summer and Winter (that's the name of the weave structure) off the loom. The fiber is tencel. The green came that way - but the brown was dyed for her (by me!) especially to match her hair. She still needs to tie off the fringe and wash it. It will have a glorious drape. Liz is standing amidst the work of Gretel Geist, MSU costume designer of the last 30 years.

And here is a closer look at the weave:

Pictured below is a coil basket I began work on about five years ago. Up until last week I was calling it "Unfinished Basket". Now I call it "Canyon", because it reminds me of the strata in the Grand Canyon,

and when I look at it from the top I get a slight sense of vertigo:
I needed to finish it up before sending it to the Pamela Tripp Gallery in Baldwin. If you are ever driving through Baldwin, please stop in to say hi to Pamela. You won't be sorry - it is a lovely gallery with very nice work. She shows quite a bit of fiber art, you gotta love that!

Tomorrow morning I get to go to TNNA. That is a trade show conference. I'll get a chance to see some of the wonderful friends I have made in the yarn industry, as well as get a feel for what the trends are, and what is new. I plan to take lots of notes, and gather as much info as I can to share with my fabulous customer friends at "Yarnival" on June 15. If you haven't reserved your "Yarnival"spot yet, you can do that today by calling 517-203-4467. The game plan for the evening is this: You'll choose two to three yarns to knit together, without knowing what the stitch pattern will be. You'll be given a card with a stitch pattern that incorporates both color and texture. the knitting part will be lots of fun - as you won't know what you're doing until you do it! Beginning knitters need not worry - there will be lots of support. Once you complete a swatch, you can turn that card in for a door prize drawing. That evening will also be a private sale for all who attend. I won't disclose the details here - but I promise it will be worth your while!

I am also bringing "Boot Camp" back from TNNA. South West Trading Company is sending Boot Camp kits out around the country to encourage sock knitters. I'll have Tofutsie samples, socks in progress, sock knitting educational handouts and more. In the spirit of Boot Camp I want to encourage all sock knitters to attend the East Lansing Jazz Festival (June 15, 16 and 17) with socks in progress. Show the world that music goes better with knitting! Woven Art will be your Jazz Fest headquarters - to replenish supplies, or refresh yourself.