Category Archives: Knitting

Of Dogs and Totem Poles

Yesterday I had a really great morning. I went to Woofstock! One of the nicest things about living in Toronto is that there is always something going on – and this weekend it is North America’s largest dog festival! The roads all around St. Lawrence Market are closed down and you get to see every kind of dog imaginable. It’s so fun. First the dogs take a stroll up the red carpet.

There are hordes of people with dogs, vendors, restarants, and it’s just a really fun, happy scene.

I will mention that I published my Totem Pole Socks pattern up on Ravelry as a free download – but then the rest of this post will be entirely dog related. 🙂

Grab it here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/totem-pole-socks

Ok, now on to the dogs!

First my favourite dog of the day – this sweet little girl in her roller cart:

She was so sweet, calm and gentle and her face had a way of melting your soul.

Funniest dog face of the day is awarded to:

Best tutu award….

Cutest toenails…

Best all-over face lick!

Best dachshund prarie dog stance! (This is a piebald – really rare..)

Most impressive fancy group of cute:

Best leash chompage:

Least amount of hair:

Today I need to get a little knitting in public done – WWKIPD was officially yesterday, but I am sure you can see why I simply didn’t make time.  🙂

Hold on to Every Loose Thread you Can!

The morning started out quite nice with homemade broccoli and cheddar quiche.  I didn’t get to snap a photo of it until it was half nommed…I find these days I love the stems of broccoli much more than the actual little trees. That is a complete turnaround since I was a child. I hated the stems when I was a kid.

I am working at home today, going through the dozens of emails and such that I have to deal with today. One of the nice things about working at home however is that you can take little breaks, and you can choose your background noise. I watch a lot of documentaries and one of the nice things about being a cable subscriber is that you can get ‘on demand’ channels and catch up on all the stuff you never have time to watch. I don’t have much time for television so I partly watch but mostly listen to it while doing other things. Today I queued up ‘Schmatta:Rags to Riches to Rags‘ directed by Marc Levin. This was screened at TIFF but I never had the chance to see it.  The context of the film takes a look at the garment industry in New York which bustled in the twentieth century, acting as one of the largest employers in the United States. Now, it dwindles by a thread literally…with industrialism pushing all of the manufacturing overseas. I think that when most people think about the economy, the terrible affects of Wal-Mart and other big box corporations, they think about the white collars, the banks, and so on – job losses, stocks falling, and so on. But, it really goes much deeper.

It’s sad to see the offspring of the immigrants who came to North America with a dream, lived it and hoped to pass it on – only ..they didn’t really get to because of the ‘me me me’ culture that we seem to plummet deeper in to with every generation. Consumerism and the low price mentality was defined in the film as ‘the race to the bottom’ and it is so true. It won’t matter that a dress only costs 8 dollars when you don’t have a job, and therefore the 8 dollars to pay for it.

The other side of this is knowing where your clothes actually come from. This is the part where you can actually get involved and try to make sure that wherever you live people are getting what they need, not being forced into labour that pays them poorly or treats them without ethics. Sweatshops are not a thing of the past, and are still very prevalent. The clothing industry in the United States went from supplying 95 to just 5 percent of the garments in it’s country. That is a stunningly scary number.

Save the Garment Center is spreading the word to save New York’s garment industry. I suggest checking them and the film out – both very worthwhile reminders.  Whatever keeps you out of H&M, Wal-Mart, etc.  🙂

I have also been spending a bit of time working on more pods. I went to the pottery guild lastnight and trimmed up a few of my pieces. Today’s result – a large pod.

And a new art yarn is off the drying rack, hanging out with the pod:

And, this morning I finished up my Totem Pole socks! (And cast on a second pair..yay!)

Catching up on Another Week!

So, perhaps last week (where does the time go?) was the Mississauga Potter’s guild potluck! I decided to make a couple of pies from recipes that have been in my recipe box since the dawn of time.

Pumpkin Dutch Apple Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

I got to spend a lot of time at the pottery guild last weekend and finally got to crack open a bag of the black clay that I bought. I really love it even though it feels like it is much messier/dirtier because it is black. It feels nice in the hands and seems to handle well. The only strange thing about it is that I find it harder to trip the strip at the bottom of the pot before removing it from the wheel head. It might just be me having a weird/off day so I will try again when I throw more of it and see if I have the same result.

The lighting is a little yellow in the studio but here is a picture of some of the forms I threw from it – I really love the colour.

Here you can really see the contrast between this medium white clay and the black.

On my adventures of book acquisition, I received a lovely book called ‘Nature as Designer: A Botanical Art Study’ by Bertel Bager and it is proving to be really inspirational for pottery. I am really wanting to take some time to make different pod forms.

This is the starts of a pod I was working on. It is now just about finished and drying up to be bisqued.

I have also been playing with fiber quite a bit (when not deeply entrenched in business plan and financial analysis – yikes). This is a sneak peek of a yarn I finished spinning today beside a bunch of little yarn orbs from yarns of the past. I usually collect them up in bunches and sell them off as little freeforming kits. People have a lot of fun with yarn scraps.

Speaking of yarn scraps, I am almost done my Totem Pole socks. This photo is from last week but I have now moved along quite nicely and I am just about at the toe decreases.

There is also a bunch of yarn dyeing going on as I am working on the Summer 2010 colourways of Doll Feet! I will announce when they are all ready to go to the shop. Here’s a sneak of some that are dry:

And my drying rack in the sunshine of the window – it seems never to be empty these days:

Long Weekend Bliss, Knit Like a Jester and Stuff!

It has been a fantastic weekend! Saturday was spent hanging out at The Black Lamb and doing some letterboxing and hiking in Port Hope. We managed to find this letterbox hidden in the rock cut and it was just a nice afternoon, despite the flash rain shower that seemed to happen just as we were hustling to stamp the letterbox.

This letterbox is planted along the Ganaraska river which is littered with beautiful scenes like this:

After searching out this letterbox, we took Hwy. 2 toward home again and decided to take in all the country air and nature we could find. There is this big field of cows that I love to visit on this route and this time there was a donkey hanging out with them. He was so adorable and when I started to talk to him in my signature ‘oh my gosh cute!!!’ babytalk animal-lovin’ voice, he came running right up to me and was adorably sweet.  Case in point…

We stopped along a stony beach and hid a letterbox, near the town of Bond Head. Then, we made our way into Oshawa and the rest of the routes going back home. I saw this weird anomaly at a car dealership – cars in a dumpster.

Sunday was my day of focusing on web design and lightening the load of the day by drinking lots of summer beer and taking breaks now and then.

Today was really nice too! The weather warmed up and I got some spinning done, photographed the new line of Bootsie sock yarn that will be coming, managed to design and order new business cards and yarn labels and just generally answered a lot of emails that needed answering and got lots done. I got some time in at the pottery studio and have a load of thrown forms to carve and embellish. I am thinking up some new fun themes. There is still loads for me to get working on but I am trying not to overly stress myself about any of it. Today is the day of the floating dandelion fluffs.

I think tonight I will do a bit of spinning and planning out my knitting project for a knit-along that I am doing with Velma and Jacey of our friend Tracy’s court jester cowl.  This will give me a chance to actually knit something with my art yarn which I have been meaning to get to forever. Here’s my beautiful Tracy modelling her own design:

If you want to join in and knit this cowl with us, you can find more information here on Ravelry. Ok, time to get spinning this palette:

Spoils of Late May

I hope everyone is as excited as I am to have a long weekend coming up! I have so very much to do – work on the website for my pottery guild, design and order new yarn labels and business cards, get some time to letterbox, knit, spin, get outside, go to The Black Lamb, etc. It is going to be a very fun but busy weekend! Phew!

Even Google is in a happy spirit today! To celebrate PAC-MAN’s 30th anniversary they have a playable PAC-MAN game as the header image above their searchbar. Check it out..today only – http://www.google.com

I have had a super busy work week but also managed to get quite a bit done around here. There are a few new skeins of art yarn hanging on the drying rack and I have finished dyeing the 2010 colourways of Bootsie sock yarn.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Also, I have finished one of two of my Totem pole socks. They are my project to use up my leftover sock yarn mini skeins. I cast on sock 2 today and I plan to work on it at drunken knitting at the pub tonight.

Also, I received some incredible mail today. A friend of mine traded me some fiber and yarn for a beautiful shawl that was knit for her but unfortunately she has a mohair sensitivity and it is made from Schaefer yarn with mohair. I of course love mohair…so guess what! I have a new swallowtail shawl! Yum!

I have finished up spinning this palette today:

And, I am about to dig into this one:

I hope everyone has a fun, long weekend (if you are Canadian). I know I will. I am almost finished getting everything together to release episode 10 of the Muststashyo podcast and I have a whole bunch of new stuff going on over the next couple of months that I can’t wait to share…once I get a lot of it ready..ahem. Where does all the free time go?

I think Bettie White will be my next spinning inspiration. She is such a doll.

The Race to Nowhere

I feel lately like I am on a race to nowhere in particular because there has been so much to do and so much going on from work deadlines to craft shows and needing to get things done. Since getting back from vacation, I want to run away on another one. I feel like I seriously need some time in a part to just sit and knit and listen to water crashing about and birds singing.

I have started to update Yarn a Day again. That blog is kind of my mojo to keep myself spinning, which I need to do a lot of because many people need yarn from me. So, I am working away on Mt. Yarnuvious! Lastnight I sat down and spun a yarn that I am so completely happy with. I am spinning a series of woodland yarns right now. I think that woodlands combined with kitsch is a decor that makes me really super happy. I wish I was more patient with sitting to felt little mushrooms and things. It’s just so much work and so time consuming to make certain kinds of supplies.

This yarn is called Autumnal Home for Birds and it has some black rubber grapes and those lovely little mushroom birds, orange ones.

I am also starting to do some early promotion for Worldwide Spin in Public day which is September 18, 2010.

You can do so by sending an email to editor@spininpublic.com with subject WWSIP DAY EVENT. Please include the following:
Date:
Time:
Location:
Tel# or email address:
Contact Person:
Website:
Ravelry Event Link(if you have one):
Any other important info.

Also, we have started a Ravelry event and a group for the 2010 event planning. You can RSVP on Ravelry here:
http://www.ravelry.com/events/2010-worldwide-spin-in-public-day

Join the Ravelry group here: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/wwsip-day-2010

Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=events#!/event.php?eid=105420532835552

In happy knitting news, I finished my Super Mario Bros. socks.

But, it is that nagging time of the morning where I need to get ready for work…so more, later.

PS…there are new yarns in the shop: http://www.studioloo.com/handspunartyarn.htm

Much Ado About Everything

I have been a lazy blogger but definitely not lazy at all. It has been a busy couple weeks..since having the stomach flu; I almost immediately contracted the sinus infection from Hades. I assume it was from not eating for a week and having a weaker immune system or something. But I am feeling loads better now and I am sort of just left with a bit of a nasally voice thing..which should be gone in a couple of days. I started recording for the podcast lastnight regardless because it has been eons since I have put out a new episode and I have so much stuff to talk about.  The agenda is written and I was almost ready to get into production mode, when alas…my external hard drive that contains most of the podcast files, and ahem, all of my mp3s….crashed. So, Mat is going to work on having the files retrieved from where we bought it and getting a new external hard drive. I hate that it is so hard to just keep things pristine forever. The whole purpose of buying that thing was to have a safe keeping for certain files. Ah well, it will get figured out I’m sure.

In better news, my membership to the Mississauga Potter’s Guild was accepted and I could not be more excited. I was able to spend some time there over the weekend just throwing clay on the wheel and practicing centering and form. It was nice to be able to do that outside of the time contraints of a class. It has given me a million ideas for different things I want to make and also fun giveaways for the blog or the podcast.

I have also been knitting away on the Willow Cowl that I am making for a secret friend and it is coming along nicely. I found that the picot edge was a little tricky, although it was my first so I can’t complain too much. I just found that it was hard to line up the cast on with the stitches on the needle and seam them together without any kind of twisty action. So, I decided to just stitch through the whole trim with some waste yarn and then pick up the cast on row to seam, then I pulled out the waste yarn and voila! It worked nicely.

I have also managed to spin up a few new yarns that I will be adding to the shop shortly. I plan to do a large update in a couple of weeks with more Candy Sprinkles yarn and art yarns.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Not Always Warm, but Always Fuzzy

Today is one of those days you just want to stay inside, bake cookies and drink tea, whilst curled up to a puppy with a good book. However, I am thankful I am not near the Mid-Atlantic where buckets of snow are falling.  I did venture out to the book store and the art supply store and I am glad I did! I found that  Intertwined has come out in soft cover which is lovely, as I lug mine around with me all the time and this will save the hard covered one all that travel.

Speaking of Pluckyfluff, I have finished my yarn and my statement on what spinning is to me and it is all ready to ship out for the Handspun Revolution in Lillehammer! Because we can’t all be in Lillehammer, I will share a sneak peek of my yarn and statement here.

I just sketched up a little drawing/writing and wrote whatever came to mind..because that is how a lot of my yarns are born, very spontaneously. The yarn I spun is one that I felt had my signature attached to it. It is white merino/bamboo and pink/purple Polypay locks with doll heads spun in.

I have picked the Super Mario brothers socks back up again and I just finished all of the gusset decreases so now it is just finishing off the foot and toe and I will have one sock done.

I have also been thinking a lot lately about the basic elements of art and wanting to sort of write something, perhaps a journal or activity book for myself, that I can go back to when I feel I lack inspiration to work on things. It doesn’t often occur that I can’t muster up an idea, but sometimes I have trouble harnessing what I am trying to start or finish. I think when you simplify and try to look back at the beginning, or your purpose in making something, things seem a lot less overwhelming and insurmountable.

  • Line:  A line is a pathway; either visible or implied, that moves the eye through a piece of work.
  • Shape:  Shape is the two-dimensional area taken up by an object.
  • Form:  This element refers to the illusion of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface.
  • Value:  Value is the lightness or darkness of a colour or of black.
  • Texture:  Texture in drawing or painting refers to the way we discern the qualities of the object’s surface.
  • Colour: We all know what a ‘colour’ is, but not everyone realizes how an artist’s choice of colour impacts the viewer.
  • Space: Space is the area within the borders of your work; it is what fills the length, width, and perceived depth of a work of art.

(As quoted – Elizabeth T. Gilbert)


The Planning of a Great Day

I have started to figure out what I plan to do today…other than the mandatory work stuff of course…

I received a gently used copy of Charlotte MacLeod’s (writing as Alisa Craig), The Grub-And-Stalkers Spin a Yarn and I really like the quote they chose for the beginning of the book.

Good-Fortune is a giddy maid,
Fickle and restless as a fawn;
She smooths your hair, and then the jade
Kisses you quickly and is gone.

But Madam Sorrow scorns all this;
She shws no eagerness for flitting;
But with a long and fervent kiss
Sits by your bed – and brings her knitting.

– Heinrich Heine, “Das Glück ist eine leichte Dirne”

I am excited to get in some reading time as I have new issues of Where Women Create and Stuffed magazine to check out.

I have been trying to get a lot of photos organized on Flickr today and found a really nice group called Gorgeous Crafting Details – check it out! The internet is such a great place for inspiration and pulling any day out of a mud puddle. I am constantly inspired by and having a great one-sided love affair with Helle Jorgensen – check out the process on her Linnaeus Coral Garden. It’s making me want to whip out the yarn and continue working on my own neverending coral garden.

I have decided to put down my Super Mario socks and work a bit on a wrap/capelet that I have been freeforming and planning for a while now, and as I mentioned in the last post earlier today. As these things usually go, my ideas change on what I want to do so I did a bit of sketching and now decided that I don’t want to trim the capelet. It might look too vintage. Instead I am going to do something with layers. I ball-wound the two skeins of Louet Kidlin for the poppy flowers that will adorn the capelet but won’t start those until I knit up the second panel in the variegated green Malabrigo then I will work on shaping and how I want to seam everything together. Here are some progress shots:

I have also set aside my palette of fibers to spin my Prince inspired yarn and I have decided to go with Purple Rain. In this basket I have set aside some kid mohair yearling locks I dyed last week and some purple bamboo mill ends with lurex thread in a slightly different shade of blue/purple. Blues and purples can be so funny sometimes. I think that I will always have a bit of a messed up way of looking at them. This comes from my experience in Kindergarten. My teacher always identified blue as purple and purple as blue. I have no idea why but in such a stage of discovery in my life…it has left me sometimes reeling back to that same place. For the record:

This is purple: 

This is blue:     

Anyhow, on with the fiber palette:

I also managed to finish up a couple Transcends yarns that will hit the shop with the next update. They are characterized by what would be long colour repeats except that each colour appears only once, but they do follow a theme:

Earlier this week I was talking about how my friend Michelle had asked me to work on a group project to turn an old chemisty textbook into an art journal. I luckily have had some time to work on it ..here are some shots.

The cover – unaltered:

My contribution so far: