Friday, April 11, 2014

Bringing New York "Down to Date"

To prepare for our week in New York, I've started reading H. Allen Smith's Rhubarb and E.B. White's Here is New York. Rhubarb is the story of a cat who inherits a baseball team. The book jacket claims the author "has batted out a double-header of a novel-every inning loaded with laughs." 

Here is New York was originally written for Holiday magazine in the Summer of 1948. The essay was published again as a book the following year, and in the forward White apologizes for "certain observations to be no longer true of the city, owing to the passage of time and the swing of the pendulum." He ends with, "I feel that it is the reader's, not the author's, duty to bring New York down to date; and I trust it will prove less a duty than a pleasure." 

I'm bringing my copy along as a travel journal so I can bring New York down to date in the margins and back pages and inside covers. I am looking forward to this.

The moebius cowl is my current obsession. I cast on 200 stitches using Cat Bordhi's cast on and two skeins of aran weight Malabrigo, then seed stitch until the yarn runs out. Sometimes when I am wearing it I like to take it off so that I can feel for a moment how chilly I would be without it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Avery cowl

This is the Avery Cowl by Melissa Labarre from Quince. I used two skeins of Osprey in Fjord and came in just a row short. The yarn blocks really beautifully. I have two more skeins in Malbec to do another, but it's that honey color they use in the photo that is calling me!

The runcible bin is sitting under my table mostly empty. There are a few books from Shakespeare & Co., some muslin scraps from a skirt template, and leftover bits of elastic from a costume. I need to start feeding it again!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

BT Men's Redford

I've been knitting away at Julie Hoover's "Redford" from the BT Men's collection. I tried on the sample at the trunk show Verb hosted, and I love how simple it is. I changed the shape of the side panels, making them slightly hour-glassed. I also dropped the neckline a tiny bit and finished it with a crochet stitch. I picked up stitches around the armhole and I'm knitting the sleeves on double points. The yarn is Geilsk Tweed in a lovely wine color. I don't usually knit things in pieces, but this has been a nice project, easy to cart around. I would like to make another. 

I've been thinking about combining knitted pieces with cloth after seeing this Bonnie Cashin piece. Maybe silk or linen knitted sleeves and yoke and then add a linen front and back? Redford would be interesting with side panels in wool or sewn with wool and add knitted panels and sleeves. I like this fiber Frankensteining, but I want to keep it all the same color.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Boardwalk top in Habu silk

This is Heidi Kirrmaier's Boardwalk top from Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People vol. 3. I knit it with  Habu's Tsumugi Silk held double. I began the neck shaping 1.5 inches lower for a deeper neckline. I think I will make another of these in wool, maybe one in linen too!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This seed stitch scarf is my mindless knitting, four skeins of Malabrigo on #8 needles. I am trying to work out the ingredients to a perfect scarf for myself, and I am beginning to think it may be a cowl. I like a very wide scarf that gets some structure from being folded in half. I like a stitch that looks good on both sides. I may embroider this with a map, like the walk to school, annotated with our snack stops.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Quay scarf

This is the Quay scarf from Brooklyn Tweed knit in a little over four skeins of "Old World" Shelter worsted weight. I used a #5 needle. There are so many BT patterns I want to knit.

My New Year's resolution is to write down a dinner menu for every evening, simply: mon=eggs; tue=pasta, wed=crepes, thu=burgers, fri=pizza.

Mr. Lear has excused himself from meat courses and sugar, which adds a slight challenge: wed=crepes/ham+mushrooms, thu=burgers/lentils. When one person at the table depends on vegetables and legumes, we all become more omnivorous.

Dessert is very interesting without sugar. A beautiful pear on an antique wooden plate with a small paring knife and a linen napkin would be very beautiful with a small glass of dessert wine. It is very poetic and thoughtful, but it is not a brownie.

Dessert without sugar feels very Little House on the Prairie: maple syrup on snow and cookies sweetened with molasses. I want dessert to be as much a part of the meal as the conversation. I want us all to be at table together. Please give me your dessert ideas.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Vera cushion cover

This is an old silk scarf by Vera, a little worn. A little iron-on interfacing has given it the strength to live on as a cushion cover. This would also be beautiful framed. Viva Vera!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Out of Print

As the holiday season begins, I am adding old books to my lists. Often the easiest way to find a gift for a reader (that hasn't been read) is to delve into second hand bookstores, in person and online. Slightly Foxed is a wonderful resource for discovering stories. 

A Christmas library addition from last year: The Coat-Hanger Christmas Tree by Eleanor Estes. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Handknit for Ft. Ross

My son asked me to knit this for his class overnight at Ft. Ross coming up next week. I started this at the beginning of the playoffs and here we are at the end of October getting ready to watch the Cardinals take on the Red Sox in Game 6 of the World Series. Oh this is not World Series knitting here!

The pattern is Dr. G's Memory Vest by Kirsten Kapur. I substituted some seed stitch for the side panels and sized it down a bit to fit my little guy. The problem is, he's not so little and now I have to rip back and size down a little less! The wool is Quince Yarn's Lark in Gingerbread.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Paper mache lanterns for Halloween

I've been making paper mache lanterns for Halloween. I have a bunch of those led "candles" that flicker to place inside. I'm getting picky about the balloons. I wish they were more globe-like. My first layer is leftover printing paper, it dries pretty translucent. Then I get fancy with strips from the Financial Times. I like to use the art and auction ads.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Market Bag Drafts

My first market bag has been coming along with me on small shopping trips. The straps need to be wider. It also needs a leash for keys and a phone pocket.  It needs a lining. I like to use oven mitt quilting to insulate bags. It gives them some heft and really makes a difference protecting ice packs and cold things. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kitchen Details

As September looms into view I am arming myself to attack the new year. The drawers in the kitchen have been brought to order with foam board dividers. I am going to be using a lot of felt and marbleized paper, because that is what I like to see when I open a drawer! I'm sitting here on the floor with my ice latte gazing into the cabinet and wondering if I could paint a mural in there. Happy Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


There is 15 inches left on my Evelyn Ackerman rug and I just can't lift it. I am resting with Anne Hanson's Fernfrost and some Fibre Company Meadow. I did not even realize it was lace weight when I bought it. I just loved the color, Larkspur, and the feel of wool and silk and linen. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

For the Makers project

Have you seen the craft project boxes from For the Makers? I am working on a drawstring bag from my July box and adding some embroidery. These ready to go projects get me thinking about other ways to make things. Sometimes I let my children do the projects.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fitted top

"Alabama Studio and Style" is my favorite Alabama Chanin book. I page through it all the time trying to decide on an appliqué pattern or embroidery pattern. I have made a few basic pieces without embellishment, each time I have altered the pattern a little.  I am thinking of making a poncho or wrap next, maybe with the fern embroidery. I am blogging from my ipad and do not know how to paste in links using blogger!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Evelyn Ackerman's Launch Pad

The Midcentury works of Jerome and Evelyn Ackerman include wall hangings, wood carvings, mosaics and more. I am knitting Evelyn's wall hanging entitled Launch Pad from fabric strips. There are 10 inches to go, but lifting and turning it is difficult and I am pretty certain I do not have enough black fabric to finish it. I need to order a very nice rug pad to place underneath, something with skid control and a lot of cushion. I am already planning my next rug. Next time I will knit more manageable pieces! Next time I will try to lure young children to help me. The Ackerman's web site is here:

Friday, July 5, 2013

More embroidery

I've been trying out some beads on my tote bag. I feel as though I can have large designs and beads on my tote bags, but not on my clothes. I've been sewing some Alabama Chanin pieces without embellishment to get the fit right. Now I need to come up with a subtle design. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Paper lanterns

Lanterns filled with votives or LEDs are so beautiful at night. The dark paper mâché figure to the left is a castoff I found at the thrift store. This folded paper lantern is a beginning to my lantern hunt. I want to make a large sample with foam board. I'm using Helen Hiebert's "Paper Illuminated" to work my way through lantern ideas. I would like to make some of these out of more durable material to hang outside, candle boats in the trees. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer embroidery bowls

This warm weather has recommitted me to some Alabama Chanin projects. I am trying out different designs on squares of canvas which will be sewn into totes.  I would like them to grow into very luxurious totes with linings and key fobs, interior pockets, and maybe one of those exterior wallets for change. I like to keep my tools in little bowls. Last winter I lined this one with wool felt. I can stick my needles into the felt and the scissors don't clang around inside. It's a sweet little bowl and I think that suddenly becoming useful has really perked him up.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

And simmer for 20 minutes

We have scraped 100 years of wallpaper from the bedroom walls and found the plaster beneath pink and a little vulnerable. I've been feeling very Jude the Obscure about the walls. Remember when he gets to Oxford and wanders around pressing himself against the stone walls? I took a break from scrubbing the paste and filth off to remove the door hardware and simmer it in a baking soda solution - instant transformation! They only needed a little salt and vinnegar, not too much, I don't want them to look new!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Library books

I highly recommend both Print Workshop by Christine Schmidt and The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr. They are both great inspiration for Summer craft projects.

Friday, May 13, 2011

More Any Way You Slice It

For those interested, Denyse Schmidt's pattern is in her book Denyse Schmidt Quilts. I used her suggested fabric color palette and chose worsted weight yarn from Harrisville Designs. I blew up her template to 10" and used it for my blocks. They are knit point to point just like the ones from the Community Afghan in Handknit Holidays. I threw in short rows where needed. The Harrisville yarn blocks beautifully which is wonderful since my blocks are all wonky and different sizes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Any Way You Slice It

This is my next blanket project - a knitted version of Denyse Schmidt's Any Way You Slice It quilt. I am obsessed with this pattern. I am putting together a cafe curtain in this design using muslin and linen in creams and whites. I am thinking of doing one out of paper to cover the transom in the kitchen now that the morning sun is so bright at breakfast.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Counting Pane

The Counting Pane by Wooly Thoughts just needs two borders and it's done but it has already gotten a lot of use. We've had a lot of discussions about the patterns that are visible when integers are represented by color. We used the colors of the Montessori bead chains so red, the color of ones is dominant and contrasts with green, the color of twos.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Camera Obscura Window Shades

Have you seen National Geographic's article on the camera obscura photography of Abelardo Morell? They posted directions on their site and so I taped some black plastic bags over my window and punched a small hole through them - what do you know? - my neighbor's home is reflected onto the opposite wall! This is very addictive. I've been contemplating making some quilted shades for our south-facing windows to keep the Summer heat out. Imagine if I make one for the bathroom window, and I include a 1cm wide grommet in the center. The trees outside will be reflected onto the shower wall! And the back bedroom! Our garden will be reflected against the closet doors!

Are you curious? Go see Morell's photos!