Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh Noooooooooo!! Obsession

Just. Can't. Stop....

Finished my "Infinity Cowl"
It's cuddly and soft and because it's made from "baby" alpaca
it keeps me really warm!

Learned to knit cables in class last Thursday.
Definitely not the easiest things on earth to knit,
but as Mom says ... they are challenging 
and when you see them come into being
it gives a newbie knitter a bit of a thrill!

I bought some homespun yarn
at McKinney's Farmers Market on Saturday.
Just enough for a scarf so I opted for the "seed" stitch.
I figured it was time to start stretching my knitting wings a bit.

After finishing the scarf made from the homespun,
my wings still felt the need for more stretching
so I started to knit eyelets from some yarn I have on hand.

I played around with a couple other patterns, 
but settle on this eyelet to become another scarf.
A gal can't have too many scarves, can she?
And there are plenty of other gals in my life to spread the scarf love around!

I spoke with my Mom earlier today
and she asked me "why now" after all the years
she tried to get me to try knitting.
I guess I can blame this blog!!
But no blame because I'm having a fabulous time learning to knit.
I'm not sure why I avoided knitting all this time ...
but I'm very glad I finally gave in and started to learn.

Only problem ... I just can't stop!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Life Interrupted ...

... or was last week a period of Art Interrupted?

I did "art" every day since last week, 
but life was too busy to document the process.
Or should I say: progress.

I'm definitely becoming a knitter! And I love the process ... and the progress.
I've downloaded my next project from
I found this project by searching for patterns using the yarn I purchased a couple of weeks ago.
I love Ravelry ... it's one of the more addicting sites I visit.
It's a lens into eternity because it would take an eternity to do everything I've marked as "favorite" on the site!
And to think I've barely scratched the surface.

Anyhow, this is where I get to bore show you my progress:

"Basket Weave"
This is my homework for my Beginning to Knit class.
Tonight I will learn cables.

Progress on the cowl I'm making just for fun.
And practice. But really, this feels more like fun than practice.

So whether life interrupts art, or art interrupts life,
I figure it's all a matter of personal interpretation.
I would love to have been able to post every day
about the things I make and create everyday,
but as much as I love this blogging experience
and the participating in Art Every Day Month Challenge
I also love giving my attention to all the other areas of life,
of which there are many, in all our lives.

My projects are calling ...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Shopping is Art ...

... or that is what 10,000,000 Divas across the land will tell you.

Balancing my budget is going to take some real art.
Beginning to Knit class is going to cost way more than the class fee!

That's 100% Baby Alpaca yarn.
How can I describe the softness for those unfamiliar with alpaca fiber?
"Dreamy" just doesn't cut it. "Downy" gets close, but not all the way.
Baby alpaca is extremely soft ... incredibly soft ...
and for reasons I don't fully understand, but tried to comprehend
and posted about it here but it involves understand physics and high-level math.
I don't understand the physics or the math, I only know I love the feel.

I purchased the yarn, new set of size 11 needles
and that little red box thingee which I call my "clicker"
which helps me to count rows - a necessity in a lot of patterns.

In addition to my class project, I started to work on:

The cover project - the "infinity cowl" - looked like a beginner project
and my teacher agreed.

The pattern is in the current, Holiday 2012, copy of Knit Simple magazine.
Can you see this worked up with the baby alpaca yarn?

I think my teacher realized last night that I was a good mark!
After gravitating towards the baby alpaca yarns,
she started showing me other absolutely luscious pickings
throughout the store.
I told her my goal is to get good enough to knit lace,
and she proceeded to show me some drop-dead beautiful lace/art yarns.

I must find a good dose of self-discipline before going to the next class.
Although, last night I got my first $25 off next purchase coupon
at the bottom of my receipt.

This reminds me of the time I worked in a quilt store.
I told my family and friends I was earning 1 yard/hr.
I was not joking!

I've learned not to make that same mistake.
The next thread-type store I worked in was a Bernina store.
Needless to say, I did not earn a machine/hr.
I actually brought real dollars home to the bank account.
But I did leave some behind, bringing fancy feet and gadgets home instead.

I will NEVER work in a yarn shop!
(quit rolling your eyes, Mom!!)
(oh --- and don't tell George about this post!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Life is Art

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.” 
― Norman MacleanA River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Norman Maclean is my favorite authors of all time.
He was not prolific, which perhaps is a shame for the rest of the literary world,
but he was profound in everything he wrote.

Plus, he comes from Missoula, Montana.
Enough said.

I've been doing Art Every Day, but I figured I can't keep 
posting my "learning to knit" effort because I know that would be boring.
It would certainly bore the you-know-what out of me.

I have another piece of jewelry coming out ...
but not enough yet to post. 
It hasn't taken on it's full form yet; the beginning stages 
are not a whole lot to look at.

So, I leave you with the following pictures
taken last night, Wednesday, November 7, 2012.
These were taken by Hillary, my daughter's and my horse riding coach.

Forgive the blur, Hillary used my camera set on "simple mode"
because I didn't want to trouble her with having to learn the settings.

My darling daughter, her smile can light up a room!
She's on Shiner, her current lesson horse.
Well, pony actually, Shiner is a Pony of America.
She loves working out on Shiner as he's as feisty as she.
Plus, he's fast and nimble and trained in reining and barrel racing.
And he could even do dressage ... he has a very fancy trot.

This is me on my good friend, Review.
This picture reminds me I need to get back into counting calories
and get back into the gym!

This is me loping on Review.
Up to about three months ago, I was too scared to lope.
I had a real fear of falling.
But after my fear came to reality when riding whilst on vacation
in Missoula, Montana (visiting my Mom),
I realized that I can't let my fears of what could happen
prevent me from living to the fullest.
It helped that my fall did not kill me ... nor did it hurt too much.

Now, Review and I spend a good chunk of my lesson at the lope.
When we are done, I find myself totally, completely relaxed.
Horse therapy, for me, is better than massage therapy.

I've heard it said, by many people in many places, that life is art.
I agree with that statement.
To think, every single day we wake up,
we are given a fresh canvas on which we can put whatever we want.
Even when the day is spent doing things out of obligation,
at the core we are doing what we want to do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Paper Change of Pace

For Art Every Day Month, November 5, 2012

I've had this stamp set for a while, and the punches that go with it,
but never took it out to play, until yesterday!

Everything comes from Stampin' Up.
The Designer Series paper is from last year.
I wish they still carried it ... but I have 3 unopened packages.

Love the little bird ... the blossoms need something though.
I may break out the watercolors and play with them.
You cannot see it very well, but the two blossoms 
in the upper left hand corner have pearls in the center.

I think pearls are one of nature's greatest gifts!
(I know those are fake, but still ....)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Heart Afire for Autumn

Earrings made Sunday, November 4, 2012
These are made to complement the Heart Afire Pendant necklace
I completed at the same time.

Here's a close up of the pendant

I usually don't name my jewelry pieces, but when working with this, 
I kept thinking how the colors remind me of fire.

These are not my colors.
I cannot wear deep autumn colors without
looking drawn and pale and washed out.

Many, many years ago I was "draped"
to determine what my skin coloration was and what 
color palette I should seek when purchasing or making clothing...
especially the things that were to be directly against my skin.

I am summer.
My complexion is somewhat pale (when not kissed by the Texas sun)
and my palette are the pastels in the cool light spectrum.

But I always find myself drawn to the warmth of the spring and autumn palettes.
I cannot live with them 24/7
but I do enjoy their spark in small quantities.

I will not be wearing this set.
Hopefully a autumn or spring will come along!

The earrings are my #AEDM Entry #4

Sunday, November 4, 2012

AEDM Entries 2 & 3

I'm going to be one of those who posts the day(s) AFTER.

AEDM entry #2 (Friday):

In my definition, this is craft, not art.
But I am learning a new art medium, so I feel OK to post
this as an entry for Art Every Day Month.

Continental style of knitting works for me!
Before the change, I couldn't get past three rows without
fumbling so bad I felt compelled to start over.
I lost count how many times I has to start over.
But I got a LOT of experience casting on!!
I can cast on in my sleep now.

AEDM entry #3 (Saturday):

This is the actual project for my Learning to Knit class.

I really like the color of the yarn, but I do not care for the yarn itself.
While it is 100% wool, which is nice, I like natural fiber,
it's twist is not properly set so it splits way too easy.
Split yarn ruins the piece.
This yarn was inexpensive, and there was an additional 40% off the price.
The normal price was $4.95/skein.
Take another 40% and you got a steal for 100% wool.

But I should have remembered that we get what we pay for.
Even the teacher admitted the yarn wasn't very good.
That's why the store is discounting it ... they are ridding themselves of the stock.

Fortunately, I have plenty of experience working with yarn
that I can avoid splitting ... most of the time.
I did discover some splits, but frankly
I'm not going to undo my work. Not for this project.


Like the slub?

I don't. At least, not when it's an imperfection. Slubbed yarn can be absolutely wonderful when the slubs are meant to be, but I don't think this was meant to be. For commercially-made yarn, this is disappointing.

I'm not even sure about the color of the slub. I don't see this blue in any of the fibers that make up this yarn.  There are some much, much smaller slubs that are yellow and there is yellow fiber in this yarn. I think the yellow is what drew me to this yarn in the first place. It lends a pretty warmth to the overall color without making me look washed out and jaundiced when holding the piece next to my skin.

I love these needles! The others I was first working with are made from bamboo. The instructor says the bamboo are a tad "sticky" or whatever at first, but they develop a nice patina. I'm sure this is true, but when one is just learning to knit, everything needs to be nice and easy and smooth! I got these circular needles because I needed size 8 and the store was out of size 8 in bamboo. I was leery about at first because I have no experience with the circular variety. But they are actually better for me. I think I'm less inclined to have the piece fall off the needles and for a beginner, that is a very, very good thing!

All in all, I am really enjoying this experience! My head is reeling with visions of all the gorgeous, fine lacey things I'm going to be able to make once I get my skill set up to par. Why did I avoid knitting for so long? Especially since I'm learning to spin my own yarn, much of which is going to be a lot easier to knit than crochet.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Challenging Prospect

I think I needed a challenge.
I found this on my blog explorations and thought this is just what I needed.
Click on the badge over there in the right-hand column for all the details.

Basically, the challenge is to do art every day for a month.
And share it. Every day, for a month.

I am so amazed, and somewhat jealous, of folks who can draw, sketch and paint.
I know, in my heart, there is so much more that is Art other than
drawing, sketching and painting.
I know that what I do is considered Art 
even though Craft is more often use as a descriptive label.

I've had a few discussions ... and perhaps even tipping the scales
to argument ... over the concept of Craft vs Art.
Not that Craft is opposed to Art, not at all.
But to me, not all Craft is what I would call Art.

Art is creative. It's original. It may use a conventional process,
but the outcome is an original and something that comes
from deep inside a person ... brain, heart, really doesn't matter.

Art springs from something burning inside a person, 
begging for an expression in the external.
Craft is using skill to make something functional.
If that piece of functionality is original, then it steps into the realm of Art.

Both Craft and Art share many of the same media.
Some media tends to fall into the Craft realm, 
but when the outcome is an expression of internal thought,
then it also falls into the Art realm.

I do both. Sometimes it's all Craft, other times it's Art when
it is an expression of a thought burning in my mind.
If I follow a pattern set by some one else, I view it as Craft.
When I come up with my own pattern, I view it as Art.

Of course, there are plenty of times I deviate from a specific pattern
and come up with something new or different.
Art and Craft comes out of the same expression.
The demarcation becomes blurred.

Blurring demarcations is an Art unto itself!

Anyhow, enough of my philosophical blatherings.
I started my Challenge by challenging myself to learn a new medium.
I have been a crocheter for most of my life, well over 40 years.
I dabble with knitting once, learning from a book, and found it
lacking in satisfaction for me.

But over the years in my travels to yarn stores
and book stores and magazine racks with so many patterns of
very beautiful handcrafted woolen goods, so many of the
items I was drawn to were knitted, not crocheted.
So yesterday, November 1, 2012, I acted on an impulse
and signed up for a Beginning Knitting class that started
that very day!

My "cast on"

followed by my first few rows of "knit 1 row, pearl 1 row" pattern on the stockinette stitch:

Not bad, huh? Well, I cannot tell you how many times I ripped that thing apart!
I was up to 2AM trying and trying to get SOME WHERE with the project
we are going to be making for the class ... a really cool pocket scarf!

The process as shown by my instructor had me feeling 
like I was knitting with two left feet. *cries*
After hours and hours, I found myself on the verge of giving up.

I am not a quitter, but I know I have limits.
My problem, as I perceived it to be, was that I was trying to do something
that was completely contrary to a well over 40 year,
deeply-etched neural pathway.

I was supposed to hold the yarn AND the working needle with my right hand.
Crochet is different. The yarn is held by the opposite of the dominant hand.
I am right-handed, so for well over 40 years, I held yarn, with excellent tension,
with my left hand.

No matter how hard I tried, 
no mattered how calm and centered I tried to be,
it wasn't working.

This morning I got up, got my coffee and sat down with the piece
where I left off just 5 hours earlier.
I dropped some stitches because I was working with two left feet
and wasn't exactly sure how to pick up dropped stitches,
so I had to, once again, tear the whole thing apart
to start over.

Not going there again.
I know when I'm defeated.
Since my life does not depend on my knitting,
I know there is no shame is giving up and moving on.

But some thought kept nagging me ....
something I heard when sitting happily spinning and crocheting
amidst a group of lovely knitting ladies.
Something about "throwing over" vs "continental."
Terms that really meant nothing to me
except for the fact that when I was struggling with 
keeping both yarn and working needle in my right hand,
I felt like I was "throwing over" the yarn.
I recall voices expressing that for some,
continental is a better way.

So I fired up the trusty computer and went hunting on You Tube.
I found this:

Continental knitting calls for holding the yarn in the left hand
while using the dominant right hand to work the working needle.

I even noticed that she says this is her preferred method
to teach those who have crocheted for years.

Thank you!!!!!
Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood and Lorilee Beltman!
You may have just saved my sanity.

Now I'm off to the over-stuffed chair to practice a new way to knit.
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