Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Soft Sunset Sweater is Finished

I have been laid low with that cold that has swept the nation, but I managed to finish the Soft Sunset Sweater. I haven't blocked it yet or woven in the millions of ends, but here she is!

As soon as I have completely recovered, I will try to find someone to model it, and shoot it again.

Here is a close-up of the stitch detail. I used over 2 dozen different yarns in different combinations, never repeating them in the entire sequence. It was a dream to make, and aside from some major frogging where the sleeves joined the body (I changed the original design after seeing how it was coming together) it was a very enjoyable experience to make.

Reese's Birthday

Many years ago I went to a Moroccan restaurant on Sunset Blvd. called Dar Maghreb. I think it is still there, although we haven't been there in 15 or 20 years, ever since I learned how to make Moroccan food. I remember the dress I wore - it was an ivory wool, hand-knit dress with a fitted bodice and long, full skirt that clung in a demure way and that I wouldn't dream of wearing now, even if I still had it.

The restaurant was like entering a Moroccan palace. Made entirely of handpainted tiles in blues and greens, yellows and reds, with a fountain in the lobby and carved screens separating the diners. We sat on tasseled silk pillows on the floor and the tables were made of etched brass trays. There were belly dancers and waiters in Aladdin costumes with pointy toed slippers and fezes served course after course of the most exotic foods, which we ate and fed each other with our fingers.

Last night I made bisteeyah for my family.

Accompanied by chicken with lemon and olives and curried vegetables with cous cous.

Here are my own recipes, developed over the years and always subject to creative interpretation:

Chicken With Lemon and Olives
1 large chicken, whole
6 - 8 fresh garlic cloves
1 jar green olives with pimentos
1 onion
Lowery's Seasoning Salt
black pepper
cayenne pepper
3 - 4 small lemons (I use the ones from my Myer's lemon tree, if available)

Thoroughly wash chicken and place in roasting pan. Peel and quarter onion and stuff into chicken's cavity. Squeeze juice from lemons, pour juice over chicken and stuff remaining lemon halves into chicken's cavity. Pour entire contents of olive jar over chicken, including brine. Season chicken with Lowery's, black pepper and cayenne.

Place in pre-heated, 350 degree oven for 3 hours, basting frequently (about every 15 minutes)

To serve, remove skin, onions and lemons, slice and spoon drippings with roasted olives over meat on a platter.

Curried Vegetables
2 - 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 - 3 dozen baby squashes or zucchini
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 T olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
curry powder
Lowery's Seasoning Salt
black pepper
garlic powder

Preheat wok, add olive oil and butter. Stir fry vegetables for a couple of minutes on high heat, then reduce heat and add chicken broth and seasonings. Cover and simmer to desired degree of softness. Serve over cous cous.

1 small chicken
1 small onion
5 or 6 cloves garlic
8 eggs
1 bunch chopped green onions, including stems
1 - 2 chicken livers (Optional but they do add a certain texture you won't get without them)
1 package philo dough
2 - 3 sticks of butter (did I say this was a healthy dish?)
powdered sugar
pine nuts
slivered almonds
ground cloves
cayenne pepper

Clean chicken and place in roasting pan. Cut garlic cloves in halves and place under chicken skin evenly all over the chicken. Peel onion and put into chicken cavity. Salt and pepper. Roast in preheated 350 degree oven 2 or more hours, basting frequently and adding water if necessary to keep chicken moist. Roast until meat falls off the bones.

Remove chicken from pan and allow to cool. Remove skin, garlic cloves, onion and bones and shred chicken with fingers into bite sized pieces. This can be done the day before, up to this point.

Melt about 1/2 stick butter in saute pan. Gently saute chopped green onions with chicken livers, until liver is pink. Remove livers from pan and smash with a fork.

Beat eggs with spices and scramble in butter with onions on very low heat. Add smashed chicken livers and scramble together. Do not over cook.

Use a round pyrex bowl to assemble the bisteeya. Melt remaining butter and with pastry brush, coat inside of bowl with butter. Unroll layers of philo dough that has been warmed to room temperature. Place one sheet in bowl and press gently to sides, leaving remainder of each sheet draped over the edge of the bowl. *Brush the surface of this sheet with butter, being careful not to tear the tender sheet. Place another sheet in, forming an 'x'. In other words, one sheet goes north south, the next goes east west, followed by another north south, etc. Every 4th sheet, sprinkle some powdered sugar from a sifter over the bottom. Rep from * until you have assembled about 15 or 16 sheets, being careful not to use too much butter, but just enough to stick the sheets together. Do not be skimpy with the powdered sugar. This seems like a lot, but the sheets are thinner than paper and the crust will be thin, even if you use the entire package, which I never do.

Butter last layer and *sprinkle in a handful of pine nuts and a handful of slivered almonds. Cover with powdered sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add a layer of chicken pieces and then half the egg mixture. Rep from * one more time, then wrap with the layers of philo dough that are hanging over the edge of the bowl, sticking them together with brushes of butter. Wrap everything up tightly. It is not essential that these layers be totally stuck together, as this will be the bottom of the finished pie when removed from the bowl.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, (the last 45 minutes of the chicken with olives)

To serve, place serving platter on top of bowl and invert. If you used the right amount of butter, it will come out clean and dry. If you used too much, you will have to pour the excess off before inverting. (ask me how I know this)

Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. After everyone has admired it, cut into wedges and have everyone eat from the serving plate with their (clean) hands.

I recommend only making this for someone you really love, as it is a huge PIA and takes up a lot of knitting time!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

This is Totally Hysterical

Click here for your holiday greeting from Elf-ene! (Thanks, Cara!)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Design Process

One of my fiber-sister, favorite bloggers, Jane Thornley, shares some of her design process in her blog, which you can find here. Today she posted "Welcome to my Head" so I thought I would share a little bit of my own head.

This is the beginning of a new design, which I am temporarily calling "Sunset Sweater".
The colors were all inspired by a skein of Koigu Kersti (what remains is a little ball right above the spool of deep burgundy near the bottom left corner of the pile)

The colors remind me of the colors of the sky during the gentle sunsets we sometimes have, after the brilliant colors have sunken down below the horizon and all that remain are the paler reflections.

Toward the center of the photo are the beginnings of the body, knit circularly, and the sleeves, both sleeves knit on one circ at the same time. I am working a wavy stitch pattern adapted from one of my favorite stitch pattern books, "Ripple Stitch Patterns".

I work the body and sleeves at the same time because it's easier for me to keep track of the changes and also, when I finish one part, the whole thing is finished!

My recent visit to The Knitter's Studio for the first time evoked a buying spree that broke my yarn fast, one month earlier than I had promised myself. After that last glut of Koigu, I had promised myself not to buy yarn till after the first of the year. (the 2 e-bay purchases did not count)

But the way Liz arranges her yarn by color broke through my defenses. I had just been talking to Reese about astral colors and the yarns...well, you all know how yarn effects me.

At first I thought I would buy a lot more of the Kersti, and just put traces of the other fibers into the sweater, but I didn't want to wait to continue knitting and the prospect of driving through LA crazy holiday shopper traffic to get back to the Knitter's Studio swayed my decision heaviliy into the 'use what you already have' side of the process, so here it is.

So far I am pleased with the sweater. That's not to say it will reach completion. I have a terrible point in every piece where I think I hate it and consider chucking the whole thing. This happens EVERY TIME I make something, whether it is my own design or someone else's.

Will let you know what happens.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bee Socks and Vibrant Sweater

Some socks made for a dear friend for Hanukkah. Yarn: Lorna's Laces.

This sweater has pleased me to no end. The yarn was purchased on e-bay and was a great bargain. The body is a basic one that I find looks the best on me. I started it on Friday and finished it on Monday, knitting most of my waking hours while listening to Jane Eyre from Audible.

I have been wanting to submit another design to Creative Knitting and think I will try this one.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I Swear I am Not Awaiting a Sex Change!

No. I am all girl. Well, predominantly (see test results below)

I am just trying to learn how to make wigs and have no one to model my homework. Figaro (el gato) point blank refused, saying she is already covered with her own hair, thank you very much.

It took me about 20 hours to complete this goatee. It involved shaping the lace to contour the chin. You stitch tiny darts into the tulle with clear, monofiliment thread. The darts must be stitched RS and WS. I wasn't able to get a fine enough focus with my camera to show this step.

Here is the goatee nearly finished, before trimming. Remember Gabby Hayes?

Here it is trimmed and on it's own. Like a little living thing. A hedgehog?

It does contour to the chin quite well.

The complete set.

BTW, detaching the glue strip from my face was like using Biore pore strips.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Scarf Style 'Color on Color'

A super effective procrastination project. Instead of working on my next assignment - a goatee! or Reese's birthday sweater (almost done - just one sleeve to sew on and then sew up the side - I started this beautiful scarf. I always wanted to make it, and found an online store that was offering all the yarns in a kit. Now I'm supposed to be on a yarn fast, but something came over me and before I had time to pull my will power out of the closet, I had pulled my credit card out of my purse and ... ooops.

So you can see why when it arrived a couple of days later, I just had to start it!

And I HATE IT SO MUCH. It's not the colors - I ADORE the colors! I don't mind changing colors and the fairisle and intarsia. Actually, I have been playing with ideas along these lines in my designer dream notebook, and thought this project would warm me up for my own work.

What I hate is THE YARN. It is wool tapestry yarn. It is scratchy! It comes in these tiny little skeins. You must separate the 3 strands and use only one or 2 at a time. You must hunt through every skein for the correct number. Before you can change colors you must do this process and then wind the remaining strand around the band so you don't lose track of its number.

It is slow and painful and I don't like the way it feels or the way the stitches look. I actually started making it on the knitting machine, but I'm not about to turn every other row with a garter bar for the garter stitch. You can be sure the i-cord will be made on the machine. If I ever get to it.

There were a few colors missing from the kit. I didn't bother to inform the store because I don't want to wait to receive the missing yarn, so I'm improvising. I'm about a whisker away from improvising on the pattern, too, which is starting to get to me.

Here are all the remainders. You have to keep them because the pattern calls for them later on. Every time you get to a new color (about every 10 minutes) you need to look through each remainder and then through the unseparated ones.

I'm listening to Autobiography of a Yogi while I work on this, so it is keeping me from flipping out.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

How Feminine R U?

You Are 73% Feminine, 27% Masculine

You are in touch with your feminine side.
Sensitive, intuitive, and caring are all words that describe you.
And you're just masculine enough to relate to both men and women.

So you see, I am just masculine enough to have a (removable) moustache!!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

My Moustache

Thursday I had my first 'lesson' with Victoria Wood. She has a studio behind her house in Long Beach. I was amazed to realize it doesn't take me any longer to get to Long Beach (1/2 hour) than it does to take Eden to school. Of course, it adds up - 1/2 hour to school, 1/2 hour home, 1/2 hour to LB, 1 hour back to school, 1/2 hour back home. That means I spent 3 hours driving on Thursday!

Anyway, she has a small room with set ups for 3 plus herself. She also has women who sub-contract in their homes. In another room she keeps all her hair. Straight, curly, wavy, every color and everything in between. In another room she has shelves and shelves of head blocks, each customized for her individual clients. The names written on the heads read like the credits from every movie you've ever seen.

First she had 2 of her ventilators show me their techniques. This is a ventilation tool. You will probably have to click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see the teeny tiny hook.

This is what I have to wear to see the hook and the tiny threads of the net that you tie the hairs around.

She continued my lesson by beginning to discuss the techniques used to create the custom caps from nylon netting. I had no idea that netting has a grain and different bias grains. The bias isn't just at a 90 degree line from the length-wise grain. Not only does this make a difference in fitting the cap to the head, it will also be a factor in the way the hair falls. Using the wrong bias grain on a moustache, for instance, will make it so the two sides never lie equally smoothly along the face.

I got really nervous about grain. Imagine doing all the work of ventilating about a gazillion tiny hairs onto a head cap and then the hair doesn't move correctly and the entire film is RUINED! Well, not really ruined, but delayed and you are blacklisted from ever being called by a hairstylist to work on another film because you used an incorrect bias!

While I was there, Sam Jackson's hair stylist came by to discuss Sam's hair needs for his new film. He brought a couple of Vikki's older wigs with him (I'm not sure why). They absolutely blew my mind! One was almost white, but on closer inspection was really very pale grey with little bits of black. It was cropped very short and almost looked like it was felted (a knitterly interpretation) The hairline was complicated and incredible! Even on the head block, it looked absolutely real!

The other was from the film 'Jackie Brown'.

This is an amazing accomplishment because the hair is very thin on the top and sides and you can see his actual scalp coming through. I had no idea how this was accomplished before, but now I know the secret. I am amazed.

This makes knitting a sweater seem like a walk in the park. Will I ever be able to make something like this? Will I be able to see well enough? Am I insane to spend time trying to learn?

My first assignment was to make a moustache. Vikki says a moustache has all the elements of a wig without needing all the ventilating. It has an edge like a hairline and the hairs grow in different directions, just like on head. The color and texture has gradations.

Since I groom my DH's moustache, I am quite familiar with all that. I decided to make a moustache just like his. It took me about 8 hours.

Here is the unused hair - 3 shades. The curl on a moustache is looser than on the head.

Here is my finished moustache before trimming. Can you see the light hairs at the top?

After trimming. By the way, the black outline is a guide and is drawn on the form underneath the net the moustache is made on.

And here it is as if being worn. (I haven't learned what to do with the net edges yet)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Update on Ilga and What Else Is New

Back of Lace Vest

I have a couple of Ilga Leja's patterns. They lend themselves so well to Fleece Artist's yarn. I got bogged down after working the back of this one. I worked most of the first side of the front and made a mistake that I don't know how to correct. Sometimes when I make a mistake on lace, I just make it worse trying to fix it and have to frog the whole thing. It is okay because there is a tiny mistake on about the 3rd row that I was trying to ignore, so this gives me the excuse I need to just start the whole front over again. Also, I am very tense that there won't be enough yarn to finish the design. I bought it as a kit from Colorsong, and I am dead on in gauge, so I should have more faith, but if there is enough, it will be with about 2" to spare. These are the kinds of things that cause me to abandon new projects. Since the reason I knit other people's designs is to avoid the stress of writing patterns for my own, when the project becomes stressful, I just can't go on.

I finished the Charlotte's Web from the Apple Laine yarn and am dying to post a photo, but it is for my niece and I want to surprise her. Also a few bead knitted bracelets are finished. I love knitting with beads (big surprise, huh?)

Now I am working on a baby blue cable knit sweater for my husband's birthday, December 19th. I'm using some luscious cotton/silk from Misti and size 10.5 needles, so it's going fast and so far, I've only had to rip out the first half of a sleeve when I realized I crossed my cable the 2nd time two rows too soon. I am making both sleeves at the same time, so it was a lot to rip. I almost always mess up the equivalent of about 2 days work on every project. Does that happen to you, too? I always have anxieties and doubts as I get further along, too. Now I am worried that the yarn will pill. It is so soft and loose. Not that he will wear it enough to matter. My husband is a clothes horse and rarely wears anything I make him more than once or twice a year.

I have something new and exciting on the horizon. I have been interested in wig making for about a year. Specifically, wig making with African (kinky) hair. After much research, I found a woman, Victoria Wood, who is considered to be the best in the film industry at this speciality. We talked a lot on the phone and finally met in person yesterday. I was really gratified when she said the work I have been doing (self taught) was excellent. She asked me if I would like to apprentice with her and then she will hire me as a sub-contractor. I go tomorrow to her studio to begin! My goal is to be able to make wigs for African American children especially who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.

Here is the first attempt I made at ventilation. This is what attaching the hair to the cap is called. You use the teeniest, tiniest hook imaginable. I need special magnifying glasses to be able to see the hook and the holes in the net cap. One hair is applied at a time. I love the idea of blending the colors of hair. This little patch, about 1.5" square, took me probably 20 hours. At this rate, an entire wig would take about a year! Victoria assures me I will get faster, and also , I made it too dense.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Well, I Thought I Figured It Out :>(

I haven't posted for a while because I suffered a big letdown the next day. After working on the re-organization of my teeny, tiny studio, I pulled something in my back and then woke up to some kind of ache-y break-y flu. And when I finally sat down at the computer again, WINDOWS WOULDN'T WORK! *$?!@??!

I could only get as far as the Welcome screen and couldn't bear to try to reinstall, so I have (temporarily) given up on Windows.

I finally felt recovered enough to work on my studio reorganization again, and tonight I am starting to see some floor space!

It reminds me of the old Jewish folktale about the poor farmer who had a large family and a very small house. The wise Rabbi of the village advised him to move in all his animals, one by one, and when there wasn't an inch of air left, the Rabbi told him he could move the animals back out to the yard. The farmer was delighted with his huge, spacious house.

I would be so happy if I could actually use my sewing machine again for sewing instead of a place to pile things.

My real goal is to get one knitting machine unburied and find enough space around it to actually sit and operate the carriage.

In the meantime, I have begun a couple of projects from other people's patterns - always relaxing for me. One is a sleeveless lace sweater by Ilga Leja in Lady Godiva, a scrumptuous hand dyed silk and wool from Hand Maiden.

The other is Charlotte's Web from Koigu in a beautiful combination of 5 different colorways from Apple Laine. I bought the yarn from Earthfaire and am going to give this shawl to a dear relative for Hanukkah, so I'm not going to put the photo up till later, because she reads my blog and I want her to be surprised, but here is a photo of the yarn.

In fact, several other projects I've completed in the last 2 weeks cannot be exposed yet for the same reason.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Figured It Out!!!

Oh Hooray!!!
I decided before I took my Windows problem somewhere for help I would sit down with it ONE MORE TIME.
And I did it! It took about 3 hours, but I figured it out!!
I feel like a winner!

New Website Has Gone Live

Last night, Jordana pushed some buttons and Voila! the old website became the new website.

Click here to see it.

I sent out a lot of e-mails to the people in my address books I thought might be interested. It took a long time to send them out, and later on, I noticed that
a) I neglected to put anything into the subject line.
b) There was a typo in the first line of the announcement.
c) I used a link that had been provided by x-cart, my shopping cart software company. I had not tested the link first. Idiot that I am, I just assumed that if the link said, it would take you to my homepage. Ha ha. It took you to an x-cart page. There you found a link to click on that took you into my e-boutique.

It felt like Opening Night on Broadway and the curtain went up to reveal the actors running around getting dressed. Yes, once they found their places, the show went on. Yes, the curtain will go up at the correct time on subsequent nights. And yes, possibly the audience thought that actors running around in their underwear was the way the show was supposed to open.

But I was deflated and crushed. I went into Eden's room, crying, and he rubbed my shoulders and told me no one really cared, anyway. Was that supposed to comfort me?

Maurice was very comforting. "That's just the way things go. It will be fine, you'll see," etc. There, there, there. He did make me feel better, though.

But I got quite a few responses to my e-mail, and everyone was supportive. No one seemed to think there was anything weird about entering my new website through an x-cart portal. One dear friend even pointed out that if the home page had shown up first, some people might not have even realized that I had an e-boutique.

Now there are a myriad of little malfunctions. I await the first sale (to anyone other than myself for testing purposes)

My next major project is to get Windows to work on my MacBook Pro. I bought this specifically because it has the Intel chip and you are supposed to be able to run Windows on it. Come to find out, you need something called Bootcamp to run Windows on the Mac. You can download Bootcamp from the Apple website, but it is a beta edition and Apple does not support it. Also, you must boot up in either Windows or Mac, not run them side by side, like I thought. Also you have to buy Windows. It didn't come with the computer like the Apple OS did.

Listening to Leo Laport, the Tech Guy, I found out there is a program called Parallels that enables Windows and Apple OS to run side by side. Cost: $80. Not too bad. He also said run Windows XP Pro. Bought Parallels. Bought XP Pro. Installed Parallels. Windows wouldn't install properly. Microsoft will not support Windows on a Mac. Apple will not support Windows on a Mac. Haven't had an entire afternoon to sit around on hold hoping to talk to Leo Laport. I just gave up because I was still working on getting the website up.

Now I need to get that Windows to work. There are things I need to do with x-cart that would be so much easier if I could use a Windows based browser.

This is probably more technical bitching and moaning than the average reader wants to know about. Trust me, it's more technical stuff than I want to know about!

But I will persist and I WILL PREVAIL!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

New Pattern Finished

Reversible Cable Scarf and Gauntlets

I was in Stitches From the Heart last week with my Irish Hiker's Scarf and Ellen Bloom came in. "You know how to make the cable reversible?" She asked and then she told me. I bought 3 balls of Paton's SWS, went home, and whipped up this scarf and fingerless gloves.

I really like the yarn. It is wool and soy and feels a lot like merino and silk, very soft. There is no discernible twist to the yarn, so you can use my favorite join when attaching 2 balls - the spit join!

How do you do the spit join? Shred the ends of the two yarns for about 1.5", finger twist them together, then lick the palms of your hands and rub them together with the yarn in between. An invisible join with no knots or tails! It only works on animal fibers - you are sort of felting them together - and the lack of twist in the SWS makes it super easy.

I love the SWS long color blends. It would make a good substitute for Noro Kureyon if you think it is too scratchy. Of course, the colors can't be compared to Noro, my other favorite yarn besides Koigu.

I donated 25 patterns to SFTH to sell or give away with the purchase of 3 balls of SWS. I will also be selling the pattern as a download on my new website.

The new website is so ready to go live. If it were any closer, it would be breathing. I am just waiting for Jordana to tell me how to make it live.

I now have 17 patterns in my collection plus a kit plus a couple of downloads. It's funny - it takes so long to develop a pattern, knit or crochet the sample, photograph it, retouch the photos, set all the type, get the tech editing, and then print and package the whole thing. It seems like not much is being accomplished. Now I look back and see 17 patterns to show for a year's work (and that doesn't count all the knitting I did in addition) and I feel pretty good about the last year's productivity.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Foxy Knits Trunk Show

The weather was beautiful and the traffic wasn't too bad as I drove down the 405 to Long Beach on Friday morning. I had just dropped the child off at school and needed to get to Alamitos Bay Yarn Co. in time to set up my part of the trunk show before 10 AM. Merilyn gave me an area outside the yarn store annex to set up my display. The exposure was terrific but the problem was that once someone walked by my display and into the annex they were overcome by all that Koigu and my patterns were, shall we say, set aside. There were a few who committed to the patterns before seeing the yarn and walked in, pattern in hand, but I felt we could do much better. Merilyn agreed and on Saturday, the inside was rearranged to acommodate my little collection of patterns and samples. I felt like I had finally been invited to the party.

It was good and bad. Good because I could interact with the customers more fully, help them select their yarn if they wanted me to, and refer back to different patterns as they revealed their preferences and desires.

It was bad because I spent hours and hours in the presence of all that Koigu.

Now let me say that Alamitos Bay Yarn Co. is perhaps one of the tastiest and temptingest yarn stores I've ever encountered. The colors and textures are arranged in mouth-watering cascades that actually took my breath away and quickly overwhelmed my senses. When encountered with so many different choices, and no particular need or desire, I quickly go into overload and was able to walk away with only a set of #2 dpn's (I needed them)

But in a whole different manner, the longer I spent in the presence of Koigu, the more I fell in love. Everytime I helped a customer make a selection, I wanted what she was having. I actually became frantic with worry when someone was buying the last of something I had already lost my heart to. I embarrassed myself with my enthusiasm.

Finally, about an hour before the show was to end, I broke down and began to lay skeins out on a sofa, organizing and rearranging and adding and soliciting the opinions of Debbie and Sharon, who smiled at me in amusement. The thing about Koigu is it is like painting with yarn. And look at the title of this blog! If there were only one yarn company left in the world, I would be okay as long as it was Koigu.

Merilyn says she loves and appreciates the yarn, too, but she doesn't get attached to it. That is why she is such an incredible success.

This is what I came home with.

Don't worry, I did leave some for you. Foxyknits.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Earth, Wind and Fire - Let's Groove

Wow! This video takes me back. I made all the costumes back in my past life. Don't you love the funky camera effects?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Coming into Home Stretch

I've been working like mad (with only a little procrastination knitting here and there) on my new patterns for the Foxy Knits Trunk Show at Alamitos Bay this Friday and Saturday. There are:

Footless Socks and Fingerless Gloves
Ruffled Gauntlets

I only have 2 patterns left to finish up, and then I need to put together some more bead paks. This is the one I completed yesterday.

It is a collection of Cozies for i-pods and Nanos. I also wrote directions for turning the i-pod cozies into i-glass cozies. Most of the styles are crocheted, but I wanted to create one for knitters, too. I had originally intended this one to be included:

But after writing all the other patterns, I realized that the directions for this one would have to include directions for modular knitting, in case the customer had never done it before, and even at the most minimum verbage, the directions would take a couple of pages. I only had half a page left. So it was back to the drawing boards. I needed a design that would be easy to write but had a lot of pizzazz. I came up with this:

It was so much fun to knit that I also came up with a Nano:

And got some other ideas from this one, that are not about this collection. Can't wait to work them up.

My new ideas always overwhelm my enthusiasm for my old ones. Sometimes I long for the set-up I had when I had my store. I had a workroom of skilled craftsmen who would take my half-finished projects or sometimes just sketches and specs and complete them, leaving me free to move onto the next and the next.

What I also had was a huge monthly nut - rent, payroll, insurance, and taxes. I had personality conflicts among staff, equipment breakdown, exacting and sometimes outrageous demands of clients, constant need for advertising and promotion, and the necessity to compromise in order to meet said monthly nut.

So all in all, the frustrations of my slow output are less than the frustrations of expansive output. I am on my own time clock, have virtually no overhead, and prioritize according to my heart not my bank account.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Price Reduction

Remember the 'vintage' belts from my past life as designer to the stars that I found on e-bay? Remember they were listed at $79? Well, the price has been reduced to $14.99 and still no takers. Could that be because they are for a 22" waist? That wouldn't even fit around my head!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Won A Contest!

I am so excited! I won a haiku contest! Cara at januaryone
sponsored a contest to create a haiku from a list of words.

Here are the guidelines:
How to win: WRITE A HAIKU. But not just any haiku. YOU MUST USE AT LEAST THREE OF THE FOLLOWING WORDS IN YOUR HAIKU: january, one, rock(s), jet, fall, sheep, wool, feet (or foot), knit, yarn, pirate, fest, dude, fantastic, worm (that is WORM. With an O. My 5.5 yr old nephew gave me that one.) AND EVERY HAIKU MUST USE THE WORD SOCK. (So that means FOUR REQUIRED WORDS.)As a lark (and another great moment of procrastination) I submitted the following:

Glad I'm not a worm,
No feet, no socks, no fingers,
Couldn't even knit.

And today Cara sent me an e-mail that I was one of the chosen winners! You can read the others (really much better than mine) on her blog. And while you are there, be sure to check out her banner. The incredibly beautiful photos change (a great way to procrastinate getting back to work)

Here is a photo of the prize yarn. Will let you know which one she sends me.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Book Review: 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns by Jan Eaton

Buy this book here.

Although I was attracted to the cover, I didn't immediately purchase this book because I don't make afghans.
Finally, and just because the cover is so attractive, I did purchase it, and I am so happy I did! Of all the stitch dictionaries I own (and that includes all of Barbara Walker, Nicky Epstein, The Vogue series, the Bible series, and many more) this is now my favorite.
Why do I like it so much? Let me list the reasons:
* Beautiful, clear photos
* Knit and crochet instructions grouped together, not separated. I like this because often when I am searching for a stitch pattern, I don't care if it is knit or crochet, and this arrangement makes it easy to chose one just because I like the way it looks.
* Clear, easy to follow instructions
* Photos of yarn variations along side the original stitch pattern
* Minimal actual patterns. The author has included a few patterns, just to give you the idea of what can be done with the stitch patterns. Since I use books like this for reference for my own designs, I don't care to look at a lot of patterns for things I will never make
* I enjoy the Jan Eaton's sense of color and texture, toned down enough to feature the pattern, not the yarn, but colorful and attractive enough to suggest the possibilities.

The only thing I would have added to make the book perfect would have been charts for the patterns. Charts help a designer, maybe more than a 'user', but they enable you to work the pattern in the round, or to combine a few patterns. They extend the usefulness of the project.

So if you are thinking of purchasing only one new stitch dictionary, this is the one I would recommend whole-heartedly.

I plan on laminating the covers and taking it to Kinko's to be spiral bound.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I am Vintage

Out of sheer boredom, I did an ebay search under my name and was amazed when these 2 belts came up!!
As stated:
VINTAGE 80'S fabric Designer belt with lace, pearls, and stones, made by the designer to the Hollywood stars "Ellene WARREN." This gorgeous, sexy, ultra feminine pink fabric belt is 6 1/2" wide at the peak in front, tapering gradually to 2" in the back where it ties with a white satin buckle (buckle shows some yellowing due to age) . This elegant ladies' accessory is made in delicate white lace, embellished with small faux pearls, both embroidered and hanging, red and topaz colored stones, lined in rich pink satin fabric, and fits waist sizes of 22" to 24". Its ORIGINAL COST WAS $295.00. It was part of an extensive belt collection, so it was used only once or twice and is therefore in near perfect condition!!! You're going to love it! Good luck Bidding!

And the other one: VINTAGE 80'S fabric Designer belt with lace, pearls, and stones, made by the designer to the Hollywood stars "Ellene WARREN." This gorgeous, sexy, ultra feminine belt is 6 1/2" wide at the peak in front, tapering gradually to 2" in the back where it ties with a white satin buckle . This elegant ladies' accessory is made in delicate white lace, embellished with small faux pearls, both embroidered and hanging, red and topaz colored stones, lined in rich red satin fabric, and fits waist sizes of 22" to 24". Its ORIGINAL COST WAS $295.00. It was part of an extensive belt collection, so it was used only once or twice and is therefore in near perfect condition!!! You're going to love it! Good luck Bidding!

I am not sure who originally bought these belts, as I had several customers who collected them. It might have been Sheila E, or a private collector named Bari. They were listed at $79 each.

What a trip! I am vintage collectable!

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Well, working that scarf did inspire me to make something new. I made a pillow using some yarns I bought from Stitches donated bin. It was very simple and a little cuter than the scarf (but not stranded color blends - I'll leave that to CES) I will probably submit it to a mag first, and if not accepted, publish the pattern myself. I am constantly torn between getting published elsewhere and accumulating a body of self-published work.

Back of Pillow in Progress

My new website is getting there. I'm putting in all the stuff for my patterns first, then it will go live. I'll add the wearables later.

All I really want to do is knit. Everything else is a distraction.
There are several frustrating things in my life I can't do anything about and the knitting is like therapy. The other stuff - writing patterns and the website, present their own frustrations (four day process just to get a Thawte secure certificate, another few days before that to get the Paypal account changed to be able to accept credit cards on my site instead of sending people over to Paypal)

Now I am becoming incredibly frustrated trying to put my items onto the shopping pages. I understand how to get the pictures and text in, but the product variations (like color choices) are making me nuts.

Knitting holds its own frustrations, but they are acceptable and manageable to me. When they become unmanageable, I just start something new. That's why I have 47 WIPS.

I'm trying to make the pattern writing process less frustrating by taking better notes as I work. What that means is I now have a notebook with better notes. I still hate to stop knitting to write up the patterns. I enjoy taking the pictures and posting them here, though, even if I only have 4 readers. Hello, my friends. You keep me going.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Coincidental Centipede

Sometimes the coolest coincidences occur. I just answered a phone call, even though I didn't recognize the name on my caller id. It was a woman named Mary Ellen Hopkins
who found an old Stitches From the Heart flier from when I was teaching there. She was interested in knowing if I had the pattern for the Centipede Scarf class available for purchase.

I had completely forgotten about that pattern. It was a derivative of a scarf from that scarf book that is in a box.

We talked a lot about publishing and the difference in contracts between books and fabrics.

I felt like I had met someone from my 'karass'. I'm sending her the pattern and hope to hear back from her about whether she likes it. She hadn't seen a picture, just liked the description.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Disappointing Knitting

Remember the beautiful Candace Eisner Strick color-blended scarf I started last week? This is how it looked on Friday. I decided I would finish it over the weekend.
First I discovered that the progression of the colors changed after a while. You start out changing one of the 3 strands every row, but towards the middle, some combinations stay the same for 2 rows. No problem. There was plenty of extra yarn, so I adjusted my blending on the last 2 of the 8 colors. I wish she had put a note about that on the pattern, but it is typical of me that I think I understand a pattern and merrily knit away, missing something crucial and have to rip back when things aren't turning out right and I finally read the rest of the pattern. Sometimes I don't even read a pattern, just look at the chart and take off.

I finished the knitting and transferred the stitches to accomodate the 3 needle bind off that would form a seam down the center of the scarf.

Here is the first end of the scarf:

Here is the middle section of the scarf. You can see the place where the new strands are joined and I was pretty sure I would not be able to weave them in to my critical satisfaction.

And here is the other end of the scarf. Notice I haven't finished the bind off. Do you see why? It didn't say in the pattern: Join, being careful not to twist. In fact, the pattern forgot to mention joining at all. I just assumed that was what you were supposed to do since every other row was purl and the result was garter stitch.

Of course, I checked carefully to make sure the cast on was not twisted before I joined. I checked VERY CAREFULLY. But apparently, not carefully enough.

And as anyone who has ever created an unintentional mobius hat, sweater or anything knows, THERE IS NO WAY TO SAVE THIS!!! The first mobius scarf was probably the designer's way of saving her knitting!

I examined everything very carefully. I thought and thought. And then I frogged and frogged.

And here is my CES scarf now:

I will probably never remake it. But if I did, this is what I would change:
1) I would not knit it circularly. I would knit it in the same manner, but with a seam instead of circular. Since the strand changes are going to show anyway, no matter how careful you are, they would have to be camouflaged in the arrangement around the neck, anyway, so why go through the torture of purling? Not to mention not seeing the twist till the WHOLE THING IS DONE!!!
2) I would make it much longer. Instead of 300 stitches in length, I would probably do 400. This scarf ended up about 40" long - not enough to do an interesting knotted arrangement around the neck.

But finally, as much as I loved the yarn, the colors and the mitered corners, when finished, it was just a...disappointment. Flimsy, not drapey, and kinda... I don't know... insubstantial.

On behalf of CES, I must say that I saw her at a Stitches event and she was wearing one of her blended color vests and it was GORGEOUS!!! I think she is fabulously talented and I don't want to imply that anyone interested in purchasing her kits would be as disappointed as I am. I was just having a disappointing knitting weekend.

So I got out my current socks and finished them. I had made maybe 2 other single socks from the same yarn and frogged them, before I finally settled on the Jaywalker pattern again. I am especially happy that they both match perfectly. This yarn has such long color changes that if they weren't perfectly matched, I wouldn't have liked them. Yes, yes, there is a little brown spot on the toe of one. That's okay, I am not that nutz.

Am I the only one who makes and remakes and remakes the same yarn? It's not like I don't have a box of sock yarn the size of Detroit. I just hate to waste any of it. So this was a ball of Opal in beautiful Southwestern colors. This time, the pattern worked just as written, in the small size. I have come to the conclusion that my STR yarn was a bit thicker than fingering weight, and that's why I couldn't get gauge on the size 1 needles. (BTW, the recepient of the STR yarn, Barry, was very satisfyingly thrilled with them. His grandmother, it turns out, was a great knitter and used to make him many socks and hand knitted gifts and even taught him to knit! We are going to get together and refresh his knitting skills)

And finally, I put in some more time on my Lifetime Achievement Project, a Koigu Kimono. I actually finished the left front and started one side of the back. Then I realized I had done ANOTHER STUPID THING. I made the sleeve on the left front the longer length for the larger size, according to the chart! Accustomed as I am to making these stupid mistakes that cost me hours, days, and weeks of time, I almost began to frog, but decided to hold it up and see if maybe I like it long. I do! The smaller size has a shorter sleeve, like 3/4 length. I actually like the full length better, so now it's just a matter of adding some more modules to the right front and then finishing up the 2 back sections (maybe another year?) I only work on this project when the 6 or 10 other projects I have going have all stalled. It looks so exciting, though, I might just keep on with it, in between working on my new website and the patterns for the Alamitos Trunk Show.

Actually, one of the new patterns is four ipod covers, one of which is modular, and that's why I brought out the kimono. The sample is in some of the same yarns. The sample also came out too big and flimsy and I am now reknitting it on smaller needles. Grrr...

So... that was my weekend. Lots of time spent knitting with very little to show for it. Sometimes that's the way the ball (of yarn) bounces!

Will post photos of the finished ipod covers when completed.