Friday, December 26, 2008

Belle Armoire January/February 2009
















A couple of days ago, I opened the mailbox to find a copy of the new Belle Armoire January/February 2009 issue. Inside was a variety of wonderful delights including an article about one of my favorite designers, Claudia Grau. She is based in Southern California and I always look forward to admiring all the glorious creations in her booth at the Contemporary Crafts Market twice a year.

Additionally, the issue contained an article on a couple of my abstract freeform shawls. I love the way the photographs turned out and was really pleased with the layout of the article. I will be working up a tutorial for creating a leaf shawl in the next month or so and will post it in my Etsy shop when ready.

In the coming year, I will be teaching a lot more classes using some new techniques and materials. I am really looking forward to this.

Wishing you all a joyous New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday decorating and new ideas



The final Christmas orders were sent out on Saturday morning by priority mail. Hurrah! Now, it is time to play for a few days. So, in addition to my wonderfully tacky little lopsided fiber optic tree, I dragged an old Santa I made years ago out of the box for a few days hanging out to keep a watchful eye on the two presents under the tree.

In going through my button box, I found some cards of old cover-it-yourself buttons and decided to try an experiment. In my opinion, they turned out pretty nice. So, I have written up a tutorial with lots of how-to photos so others can try this too! They were fun and pretty easy and I can see all kinds of possibilities for creativity with these. More to come later....

Now, I am going to get busy with dyeing and carding art batts for a few days as my stockpile has diminished and besides playing with color makes me feel good. It has been cold, rainy, windy and even snowy around here in the past week with more promised. I am still working on the fashion show sweater jacket for TNNA in January but it is getting pretty close to finished. There are a lot of wonderful new things for Ozark Handspun which can be seen at the TNNA trade show coming up. I am getting excited!

I plan to surprise my husband and cook a nice meal for Christmas Day. He has been doing most of the cooking for a while as I have been knitting like a mad woman to fill orders. So, I guess it is only fair - he will even get home-baked pie for dessert! Poor guy, he will probably faint!

Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, I wish you and yours joy, peace and prosperity in the coming year!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sneak peek for fashion show TNNA January 2009



My fingers are flying these days, working up a new item for the TNNA January 2009 fashion show in San Diego, CA. These colors are so wonderful together (pics don't do them justice) and working with the combination of Opulent and Companion yarns by Ozark Handspun is fabulous! We are going to have some amazing new things to introduce at the show featuring all these yarns. I am so excited about all of this and can't wait to see how everyone responds to the new looks! Will post photo of completed project after the show.

Additionally, I am working on a how-to tutorial article on creating a freeform handbag for an upcoming magazine article so that will be fun to see how that develops over the next week or so. Furthermore, I have lots of holiday orders that are shipping out and am pleased about the response to the ruffled neckwarmers and wristwarmers this year.

Tomorrow, I plan to be at Unraveled most of the day, just hanging out and knitting. If you happen to be in the area and want to join me, will be happy for the company. Come in and enjoy this wonderful store! On Sunday, will be at the LAF Guild meeting in Los Angeles. I will have SpinOlution Mach 1 spinning wheel with me if you want to give one a whirl! Hope to see you this weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Winter issue - Knit 'n Style



Here are some photos of the cover and my design inside Knit'nStyle Winter issue (February 2009) on news stands now. This was a fun design to create. I love the way the mini-capelet and arm warmers look together. On the page where the pattern is given in the magazine, there is also a back view which looks wonderful and shows the armwarmers from a good angle. I made this using a combination of Ozark Handspun Opulent and Malabrigo. Now that the Companion yarn is available from Ozark, I would substitute that for the worsted weight portion of this design.

Currently, I am working on some new how-to articles for several other publications and am really enjoying sharing designs and techniques with new readers. There are lots of new ventures in the works for the new year and I am very excited about the prospect of these wondeful opportunities. Will keep you posted as things develop.

Thursday is a day of Thanksgiving here in America. From my personal point of view, I am grateful for waking up in the morning and having what I need to live another day. All the things, great and small, that we take so much for granted are the things I cherish. It is my deepest desire that our nation moves forward into the New Year with positive and healing change for all of us as well as for our planet and all who live upon it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spinning fibers at Unraveled


As I hinted before, I am going to be putting spinning and felting supplies in the store on a consignment basis as well as some hand knitted gift items for sale. Most of Sunday afternoon was spent at Unraveled working on all the hand-dyed rovings, art batts, drop spindles, niddy-noddys, nostepindes, spinning wheels and other fibers as well as mohair, Teeswater and Cotswold curls. On Tuesday, we should have everything ready for when the store opens on Thursday morning. I am really excited about this new opportunity to share my love of wool and other fibers with spinners and felters alike. Additionally, I am putting some of my handspun two-ply yarns and art yarns on the shelves. There will be some exciting new classes on many of my techniques and projects for knitters and crocheters alike. We are also discussing a dye workshop in the shop. Just call and ask if you would like to sign up.

Furthermore, I will be offering spinning wheels for sale. The SpinOlution Mach 1 is shown in the picture above along with a lovely vintage California Bulky Spinner from the 1970s made of walnut. If the response to all of my efforts is good, I will be adding more. Once I get things on the shelves, I'll take some photos to share what is available in the shop so you can see for yourselves. Unraveled is also carrying Ozark Handspun and the brand new Ozark Companion yarns as shown in one of my recent postings. These Companion yarns are gorgeous and are only available at Unraveled and The Shepherdess in California at this point. As I am the main designer for Ozark Handspun, you will find lots of projects, patterns and classes available using these yarns in the shop. Come check them out!

Do come in and sign up for the fiber cooperative as this is a great chance to be a part of a wonderful opportunity which will offer discounts on yarns, classes and other goodies. For more information go to: www.unraveledknitting.com or call (626) 256-6777. Hope to see you in the store soon!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A day of incredible highs and lows!

Barack Obama is our new president-elect based on the content of his character and not the color of his skin. The message of Martin Luther King Jr's speech so long ago has come to pass. This is a day filled with rejoicing and the promise of hope and promise. May he lead us well and may God protect him and his family and God bless our country!

On another note, here in California, voters said yes to proposition 8. This affects a lot of people I care deeply about, including my own son. No heterosexual marriage will be "restored" and no "religious rights will be protected" by the passage of this proposition. It just sends us backwards into a time of ignorance. When I married a Nigerian man (my son's father) back in the late 60s, it was illegal for us to be married in at least four states in this country into the 1970s. The miscegenation laws in place then were based on the same kind of fear and ignorance present concerning this issue.

Since so many supporters profess to be Christians, I submit if they believe that God made us in His image it means ALL of us. To me, that means there is a purpose for ALL of us, as God doesn't make mistakes. Voltaire (I am paraphrasing here) said that God created man in His image and man returned the favor. Knowing how petty and cruel human beings can be, in my opinion God must be pure love because if He was in the image of man, He would have given up on us a long time ago. So, today was a giant step forward for our country in one respect, but a giant step back in this matter concerning civil rights.

Also, today my cat Harley died. My heart is broken as he has been my sweet and loving companion for 17 years even when it seemed like no one else cared. He was always there to comfort me when I was sick and make me laugh when I was sad. I will miss him walking on me all night long and snuggling up on a cold winter's night and even on a 105 degree day. Every morning, he would awaken me with a paw on my cheek and a morning meow. Life will be very empty without him. He is being buried on a friend's farm near the sheep pasture so hopefully he will be chasing lots of field mice in his next life.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election day!


Today I have exercised my most important right as a citizen, I voted! At this point, all I can do is pray that this election is resolved for the highest good of all concerned.

ROCK THE VOTE!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My week in fiber and politics




A few weeks ago, I donated a SpinOlution Mach1 spinning wheel to the Knitters for Obama campaign fundraiser on Ravelry. A lot of other people donated prizes too and the drawing took place on November 1st and a brand new spinner in North Carolina won the wheel. Needless to say, she is very excited! Even more importantly, as a group, we were able to contribute over $42,000 to the Obama campaign. On Tuesday, the election takes place and we will have a new President of the United States. It is my fervent desire that it will be Barack Obama as I have not felt so much hope and inspiration about a candidate since John F. Kennedy ran for the office all those years ago. I believe with all my heart that he will be a great leader and one who will look to the future with intelligence, compassion and wisdom both for our own country and in our interactions with the world at large and the environment of our planet.

Now, concerning knitterly things, I have made a lot of progress on the modular jacket. It is coming along very nicely and certainly is a quick knit so far. Even though it looks quite complex, it is actually very easy. This is another pattern from Patricia Werner's Dazzling Knits book and is called the mola jacket. I have been fascinated with the optical illusion of this jacket and wanted to learn this technique so that I can take off in some new directions in designs of my own. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn modular knits as the author's instructions are very clear. Hopefully, by next week, I will have this project done and blocked.

At this point, I have been making new sketches for designs for Ozark Handspun combining the new Companion yarns with the Ozark Opulent and have some really interesting things in the works which will be ready for viewing soon. Additionally, a new opportunity has presented itself to me regarding selling my handspun yarns, carded art batts, hand-dyed rovings and finished garments as well as spinning wheels. As this is in the early stages, I don't have any pictures of how it will all look but stay turned. I am really excited about this!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Modular jacket growing



Knitting is helping to keep me from losing my mind during this contentious election process. As you can tell, this piece of modular knitting is growing pretty rapidly as the only alternative for the anxiety would be a good stiff shot of tequila. Working with yarn is safer in the long run even though I am using sharp pointed objects in the creation process. I am loving how this new Ozark Companion yarn is working up in this design and the variations of color within the skeins is delightful.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Companion swatches



Here is another little hint of what the new Companion yarn looks like when knitted. These are going to be great in modular work as seen here. Will post more as I make progress on this project.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ozark Companion - brand new yarns


Here is one more group of the new yarn colors in the Ozark Companion. These are worsted weight single ply yarns. Each skein contains 190 yards. Needle size: 7-9. Fiber content: 85% wool, 15% mohair.

Ozark Companion - brand new yarns






The most exciting box of goodies arrived from Dave Gentzsch of Ozark Handspun! As I cut open the box, yarns in glorious and luscious colors burst out all over the place. I felt like a kid in a candy store surrounded by all this beauty. Then, I calmed myself and began to approach things like a grown-up, going through them one colorway at a time. I must say that each one was more wonderful than the last. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world!

Next step, I corraled my husband to do his thing with the ball winder and swift. Twenty skeins later, I let him take a break! On the table was a stack of these wonderful yarns for me to create new designs for Ozark Handspun. I intend to combine these with the Ozark Opulent handspun as well. I have started making up some modular swatches with the Companion yarns too. As soon as I block these, I will put up the pics. In the meantime, here are a few yarn photos just to tempt you.

This new yarn in the Ozark Handspun inventory will be available soon in yarn stores throughout the country. In the meantime, the first store on the West Coast to stock this yarn will be The Shepherdess in San Diego, California. This shop is a little gem of a place with a beautifully edited collection of amazing yarns for the fiber artist as well as wonderful beading supplies and the most outstanding classes and teachers!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Woodland Elf neckwarmer



Neckwarmers continue to intrigue me. They lend themselves to such a variety of interpretations and when taken a bit farther become capelets. This is a new one using Ozark Handspun yarn as well as their brand new Ozark Companion yarn which is a single ply 85% wool, 15% mohair delight with 190 yds, worsted weight. Tomorrow, I will be taking photos of some of the glorious colors I have just received from Dave at Ozark Handspun to use in creating a bunch of new designs. The colors are absolutely spectacular and it is wonderful for knitting and crocheting. I can see some seriously incredible modular designs coming on!

This particular new neckwarmer combines a super-bulky handspun and worsted weight yarn resulting in this lovely ruffled effect and fastened with a very large pewter button. Last weekend, I scoured some of my favorite button sources resulting in some great finds including pewter, bone, wood and ceramic. Now that the weather is beginning to cool off a bit, I find myself more energized to be creative with wool and other fibers. Now, I can begin working up my sketches into finished projects. Hurrah!

Friday, October 10, 2008

dyeing, carding and spinning





This has been a hectic week of dyeing fleece and rovings, carding up fiber batts for spinning and felting as well as spinning yarn and some knitting. I have posted a few pictures of some of my latest adventures. In addition, there is a photo of an extravagantly flamboyant scarf made of lusciously beautiful pom-poms for that "stop 'em in their tracks" accessory.

Last Saturday, I spent the day at Unraveled helping out and even got in a bit of knitting time and did a bit of informal teaching drop spindle spinning. I also found some lovely yarns for a project of my own. On Sunday, I ended up in San Diego at The Shepherdess where Cooky and I spent the day spinning. She has a little Louet Victoria which she needed a bit of help with and I brought my Schacht Matchless. We had a great time playing with fibers and creating some lovely yarns. I also found some absolutely stunning Czech glass buttons. Additionally, I signed up for my first beading class - yes, I have finally been officially seduced by the lure of beads.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fiber play weekend





On Saturday, I plan to be at Unraveled to just hang out and play with fiber and work on projects. It has been a while since I got a chance to do this. Lately, I have been busy with all kinds of activities and ventures. Just recently, I became the Southern California representative for SpinOlution Mach 1 spinning wheels. I am thrilled about this and have them available unfinished and finished, wholesale and retail. Just contact me if interested.

Also, I have been doing some dyeing and carding spinning/felting batts filled with all kinds of goodies like gorgeous hand-dyed wool, mohair curls, silk waste, Angelina and Firestar as well as wool nepps and whatever fun stuff falls into the carder. These spin and felt fabulously and have been great fun to make. Additionally, I had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time and was gifted by someone I just met with some tribal Afghani jewelry pieces. The Universe is conspiring to get me into beading and jewelry making. I can see these combined with all kinds of wonderful fibers and textiles. Can't wait to start playing with these.

Anyway, if you are in the area on Saturday, come into Unraveled and hang out, we'll have a bunch of giggles and fun with projects. Look forward to seeing you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Adventures with a favorite freeformer




Yesterday was quite a day! It was a whirlwind of activity which started with picking up Jenny Dowde and her traveling companion/friend Sue at their hotel in San Diego. Jenny has made her first trip to the States at last and taught some workshops at the CGOA Conference in Portland, Oregon and in Carlsbad, California. She is an amazing freeform artist and author of three books. She and Sue had done quite a bit of sightseeing in the previous few days including Balboa Park (my personal favorite place.) We were on a mission to hit yarn, book and bead stores in the area in search of treasures.

We started out with a couple of places in Carlsbad with some lovely jewelry and amazing geodes. Next, we ended up at a wonderful yarn shop Black Sheep in Encinitas where we cruised all the yarns, beads and Jenny got a chance to see some of the incredible freeform garments and art dolls in the shop by the artistic Barbara Chapman. I have included a little snapshot of the owner Karen and Jenny. I love this shop a lot. We wandered down the coast past Mission Bay in all its' beauty and then headed inland to Old Town where we stopped at The Shepherdess and Lost Cities to check out yarns and beads again. Next was a stop for lunch and then on to find a Japanese book shop on the hunt for knitting and crochet books. This was an interesting challenge as all the titles were in Japanese but we did find some lovely books.

Our final stop was the climax of the day and was an incredibly overwhelming assemblage of beads of every kind and color imaginable as well as finished jewelry including amber (a personal favorite) which was stunning! On top of all of this, they were having a 50% off sale on tables and tables of beads. I have now officially been bitten by the bead bug and it is all Jenny's fault! We spent hours in this warehouse. We all made a bunch of purchases here. I found some beautiful coral and turquoise (see pictures) which I intend to combine with some old tribal Afghani metal beads and other goodies I have gathered over the years.

It was a wonderful day filled with laughter and good company. By the time we were done, we were all ready for supper and a good night's sleep filled with creative dreams of beads, freeform, yarns and new projects. Jenny and Sue are off home to Australia tomorrow and I can't wait until she plans to return and share all of her creativity again!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Awards, inspirations and new projects



I feel really honored to have received an award for my blog from one of my favorite fiber artists HarpaJ from Iceland. She makes the most wonderful and whimsical hats that you can see here in her blog so do take a look. Another of my particular favorites is the amazing Sara Lechner.

It is my pleasure to nominate the incredibly talented Mitsuko Tonouchi for an award whose work can be seen in her blog too. She is another of my favorite artists and her work is always inspirational! Go to my favorite blogs to the left and click on their sites. (I can't figure out how to put links into the text for some reason.)

Looking at the work of all these creative artists encouraged me to break out of the doldrums and starting working again. I spent the last couple of days sorting out the workroom and re-arranging things so that it doesn't look like total chaos. Hurrah! I then worked up a couple of simple projects looking forward to the autumnal colors. Hope you enjoy these.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Emerging from the shadows


Things have been a challenge since I last posted. Have you ever felt that everything you do goes sideways? Well, this past few weeks have been that way for me. It feels like I have been unable to accomplish anything I set out to do. Projects are unfinished, personal deadlines are in disarray and the workroom looks like an avalanche hit! Additionally, anxiety about our Presidential election has taken a toll on me. I have actually had nightmares about this. It seems like many people have lost all reason and want to drag us backwards into bigotry and narrow-minded religiosity with women having no rights to govern their own bodies. If my memory serves me correctly, it didn't work out too well for most people in the past except for the rich and powerful.

Now that Fall is officially here, I am looking forward to being revitalized in the area of knitting and crocheting as well as designing. Today, I am going to be playing with yarns and experimenting. A good reorganization of the work area is in order too. I am also thinking that spinning up some yarns and carding spinning batts are needed to inspire me to new things. Hopefully, this will perk up my attitude about things and result in some interesting projects.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What is she up to now?

As the calendar marches to September within a short time and the lure of Fall projects beckons to me, this is what I have been playing with this week.  Even though it is blazing hot outside I am still lured to create with wool and mohair!  The sleeveless jacket started in a dream which woke me and wouldn't let me go back to sleep.  I had begun this jacket sometime in the past but was not liking the sleeves and other things about it and set it aside for some time.  With the inspiration found in my dream, I got up out of bed, took a pair of scissors, hacked off the sleeves and slashed and rearranged things to create a new shape.  Then, fibers and embroidery threads, silks and mohair locks called my name and voila!  Magic!In addition to this coat, here is another ruffle neckwarmer.  This time I combined it with handspun and a great handmade ceramic button.  In my opinion, it turned out pretty nice.  I've also been making sketches of new ideas conceived in my dreams.  I love when that happens.  This Saturday, I'll be at Unraveled again and am bringing more spinning fibers and another spinning wheel with me as well as some knitting projects.  Hopefully, you will be in the neighborhood and can join us for more fiber, spinning, knitting and crocheting fun! 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fiber-wrapped bracelets on Saturday

Last Saturday (August 16th), I spent the day hanging out at Unraveled (my favorite place)and got to spend some one-on-one time with Christine as she opened boxes of stunning calligraphy pens and accessories as well as simply gorgeous Midori ribbons and vintage Noro yarns I have never seen.  These will all be available in the store for purchase.  I already staked my claim on a green feather calligraphy pen and stand which is luscious!  If you are a lover of beautiful things, come in and check them out.  Christine has impeccable taste when it comes to her choices in yarns, gift items and knitting bags.  Just exquisite! Well,the new Belle Armoire Jewelry fall issue is out and contains some wonderfully creative approaches to using crocheting in making jewelry.  My fiber-wrapped bracelets and cuffs are also featured in this issue and turned out pretty good.  My only note on this is that in one of the photos the millinery leaf is turned backwards for some reason and doesn't show the "public" side of the leaf.  Other than that the article looks nice.  Since the larger neckpieces seem to be a bit daunting to a lot of folks, this coming Saturday (August 23rd)I will be teaching a wrapped bracelet and cuff class at Unraveled.  It will be possible to complete the project during class.  Bring various types of yarns, embellishments, ribbons, fabrics, buttons, beads or whatever else floats your boat!  I will supply the cording and the mesh for the cuffs.  We will whip up delightful adornments for wearing and gifting!  Come and join us for a day of fiber play! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another lamb spotted on line


Here is a photo of Kyle's lamb from the class last Saturday. Is he the cutest or what? We all called him Elvis because of the black curl between the ears and he does look "all shook up!" You can see more of Kyle's wonderful creativity on his web site. Just click on kylewilliam in my list of blogs to the left. He always has an interesting project in the works.

Looking forward to this weekend, I will be hanging out at Unraveled for most of Saturday, playing with fiber and having a good time. If you have a project that needs a little help bring it in and I'll work with you. The Mach 1 spinning wheel is available at the shop for a test spin and more fibers for spinning. Also, we are going to be doing some photos of new garments and things as well in the shop. It is such a beautiful background, I love it. The Pasadena Bead and Design Show is also this weekend so hopefully I will zip through and check it out taking great care to not spend much money. I have heard it is a very tempting show for bead and fiber artists!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Flock of sheep spotted at Unraveled!





Amidst lots of laughter and flying needles, a wonderfully delightful group of eight knitters (Kyle, Roxanne, Anita, Susan, Mary, Lisa, Jeannine and Michelle) gathered today at Unraveled to turn Ozark Handspun and an assortment of worsted weight yarns into an adorable flock of whimsical sheep! They developed personalities all their own with help from each knitter. By the end of the day, we gathered the little critters together for their colorful group photo. As you can see from the photos, everyone was having a good time and had a productive day. Who could ask for more?

In addition to the class, there were several busy knitting circles happening in the shop which included Larry of knitdad fame, the gorgeous Hannah and her mother Lisa, Sylvia and Melanie. Fay Lynn was here today hanging out after teaching a class this morning. I tell you, the joint was jumping today!! Joining in was my friend Shella who was auditioning yarns and ideas for a new project. A few people including Melanie tried out the Mach 1 spinning wheel today and checked out the new spinning fibers in the shop as well. Susan was working on another fabulous pair of socks and Christine was working on her knucks (which are looking amazing as she is carefully blending her colors as she works.) Margie was working on another wonderful baby sweater too. Such industry on everyone's part!

There was a steady stream of people through the shop all day including friends I haven't seen in a few years. It was absolutely amazing! My heart was bursting with delight by the end of the day!

Afterwards, my husband and I met his oldest brother and his mom for dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant (Chang's Bistro)in Monrovia. Following that, we headed home and as we were driving down the little two lane country road near our house, I spotted a large flock of sheep grazing right next to the road with the shepherd and his dogs nearby. You have to love it! We also pass a dairy farm on that road and in the "maternity pen" were five new calves which weren't there on our way out of town in the morning. So, today was a busy day on the farm too! Great day!