Friday, August 31, 2007

Blue Tile 4

This is really coming along. I'm not worried about what they will be anymore. When I'm done knitting blue tiles, I'll know what they are for.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Paste and Paper Pickles

Our paper mache seed pods have inspired me to repeat the project in December and use them as Christmas pickle crackers. I wish I had paid more attention to the initial layer of paper and paste. It should have been red or deep pink tissue paper. One idea for our botanical mystery party is that the seed pods are actually insect space ships. If I had know that a few days ago, I would have used xeroxed circuit board blueprints for the first layer. Unlike a pinata, a small paper mache object needs attractive insides as it lays there like orange peel in your lap.

This project also reminds me of the Horseshoe Crab Bag from The American Girls Handy Book, which reminds me of a purse made from a coconut that my grandma brought back from Hawaii. Wouldn't a small gourd purse be lovely for Fall? Everybody's carving them and turning them into lamps and bowls.

How about an eggplant purse made of paper mache with several layers of varnish? I'd like to get some of that fancy art store paper pulp mix and make purses from chocolate molds, or ice cream molds. That's it! a purse modeled after a Venetian ice cream bombe that sits patiently in your lap throughout dinner and never melts. I'm going to think on this some more.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Man Looses Mind at Purl Patchwork

I know you all recognize this shop simply from the light aqua paint around the door! Mr. Lear is in New York this week and used his precious free time to visit Purl Patchwork. From our phone conversation, it sounds as though he was overcome. Usually when people are overcome by too much fiber, they dart out into the street exclaiming they need air. Instead, it sounds like he darted around the shop scooping up Nani Iro!

The last time we were in a fabric store together was 1986, in the back of the Laura Ashley at Frontenac Plaza where I bought one half yard to make a pillow for my dorm room! (It was worth every penny - pillow is still going strong.) I don't even know if he knows about yardage. That's how wonderful Purl must be, they can take a mild-mannered gamer on an errand and turn him into a fabric fiend! Thank you Purl Patchwork!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Botany Mystery Detective Party

We've come up with a missing botanist mystery to be played out in the yard. We're going to create a research camp in the very back. We have a small table and chair to be the desk. There will be the remains of a small cooking fire with a camp coffee pot, a clothes line, and an old diary, microscope and index cards. The clues will lead to a series of large, ancient, seeds.

Inside, we're making paper decorations using up the last bits of the glassine you sent me last summer, Cristina. I was thinking of that Edward Bawden post and his New Year's party decorations. I pulled out all the black construction paper and some double-sided tape. It makes a big impact on the diningroom. I'll take the curtains down the day of the party.

To cover our broken chandelier I used twigs from the yard and some really nice crepe paper and leftover paper lanterns. If this were Marie Claire Idees, I know there'd be Christmas lights involved, but this is an afternoon party and will be very sunny. I may add some more leaves. I'd like to do the same thing to the livingroom light but add huge seeds that can be cut off the vine and go home as party bags full of little prizes.

We've had some trouble with the seeds. The initial wheat paste just took too long to dry. A second layer with Elmer's School Paste was much nicer. Next we need to figure out a beautiful seed coat.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Blue Tile

I should be planning a birthday party, at least cleaning the house. But I do my best thinking with my mind on the back burner while I knit something like this - a little tricky, but very forgiving.

Tonight I'm going to throw some Martha Stewart Kids mags, a Pennywhistle Party Book, some National Geographics and all my Marie Claire Idees into the runcible bin and see what the morning brings.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

More Night Sewing

I finished two aprons today and I'm feeling smug. So tonight I am attempting the Vogue sloper again! I have stuck red dots all over myself, tied elastic around my waist and rolled 3 yards of muslin out across the diningroom floor. Have you tried this? Sewer, know thyself!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Night Sewing

Every Fall I feel a little displaced as I help other people get ready for school. In the back of my mind, I try to remember what classes I'm taking; I worry about my school supplies. This year, after I tuck everyone else into their classrooms, I am off to my first pottery class. I have been meaning to get to this class for 25 years. The long anxious dream is over. Tonight Great Big Sea and I are working on a linen apron worthy of a river driver and a potter.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Windfall from the Frankfurt airport

I have my evening all set out for me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Angry Chicken's Vera Napkins

Sometimes when I am stuck, I page through Amy Karol's quilts at Angry Chicken. They are full of wonderful ideas. Her sewing book, Bend-the-Rules Sewing is also full of wonderful ideas, with the directions attached. Kate, this is the book I was telling you about.

The Modern Table Runner pattern caught my eye because of the lovely Vera napkins she pieces into it. I love this post about inheriting Vera napkins and the way they smell. My Vera collection began with eight blue flowered napkins from my Aunt Toddy's stash. I have since collected more napkins, scarves, aprons and cups.

I'm going to use the Vintage Apron pattern to make some more Vera-esque aprons, and then I'm going to use the Artsy Clutch pattern to make a lunch meat cozy for shopping trips, substituting some of that oven mitt insulation for the flannel. When we set out to run our errands, I'll just slip in a freezer pack!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Souvenirs of Summer

I've been thinking about the travel debris you find at the bottom of your bag after a trip that seems so exotic and romantic once you are home. Why not keep it there on the bottom of your bag forever preserved in laminate?
Linen Crafts by Florence Le Maux has an excellent idea for summer memories: the Souvenir Lamp is covered in a linen shade printed with vacation photos using transfer paper. The first time I saw Blade Runner I really wanted to make a lamp like the one Bryant keeps on his desk, this linen version is less x-ray-ish.

I had a bunch of our vacation photos made up into small cards at and then I hole- punched each one and slipped them on a string. Now they can be whipped out of my bag as soon as I hear the words, "what did you do this summer?"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Altered Knitting Book

The book is quite slim. The hands on the cover are about to purl continental style, which is how I hold the yarn. I want to find wonderful endpapers - worthy of a Persephone Book. Maybe I will fill it with graph paper.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Edward Bawden's Sahara Wallpaper

Edward Bawden's Sahara wallpaper inspired these mittens. I saw it in this watercolor he did of his grandaughter's attic room (World of Interiors, May 2003). I like the idea of images of heat on mittens, but I love the idea of camels and sand dunes stretched across the sloping ceiling of an attic room. One year for New Year's he covered his studio windows with colored cellophane cut into sea creatures and flames.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Carillon Bells and Hidden Staircases

By chance on our walk today we were at the foot of the Campanile at noon. We stood squinting for a while and then climbed east through campus, but the bells did not stop! What a concert! The Berkeley Carillon schedule is going to be the first entry in my new weekly planner. I must find ways to work bells into my life.

The staircase is one of the many turn-of-the-century Berkeley paths uniting those living in the hills with streetcar stops. The Berkeley Path Wanderers Association publishes a wonderful map. We try to include these passages on our walks - they are easily overlooked but direct. I thought the wall here would make a wonderful palette for one of Louisa Calder's crochet bags in 4ply tweeds. All her nicest pieces have beads and bits sewn into them - this bag calls for seed pod-looking bits or brass beads that jingle. This would make a wonderful Bonnie Cashin muff bag with a change purse on the front! I think muffs are overlooked these days.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The blue tiles

Another blue tile is off the needles. This would make a nice thin stripe down the middle of a gold linen blanket. I have been staring at the Eileen Fisher home collection too long! Suddenly everything makes me think of faded gold linen and silk!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Altered Books and Pop-up Sweaters

I find the idea of altered books scandalous and tempting. I cannot imagine finding a sweet old book and "altering" it, but I would love to fill an old book with pictures and charts and use it as a knitting journal. Right now I have three moleskins and a clipboard of magazine sheets and lots of paper bits. I've been looking through Paul Jackson's The Pop-Up Book for Christmas card ideas, but find myself thinking about pop-up knitting charts for sweaters knit in the round. Can you imagine if every Rowan came with a bonus pop-up pattern in the back, like a McCall's paperdoll? I am going to begin the hunt for a sweet old book to alter!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

First Tile in the Blue Series

If I can't manage 20 of these, they could always join the yellow tiles. This would make a great felted project along the lines of Carcassone or Waterworks. I also like it as a vest in tiny squares. I can hear Lily Chin speaking to me through the Vogue article - telling me to string a few vines down the front of a vest with dark colors on the sides, a wide neck, bottom ribbing ending just at the top of my jean pockets.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lily Chin's "Fits That Flatter"

Vogue Knitting's anniversary issue contains a great article by Lily Chin on sweater design. It is a concise set of options and silhouettes. I need reminders like this. No Roses for Harry! is a sweet example of how important it is to think about the person or dog for whom you knit, to consider not just the type of garment and the fit, but the fiber and the color. Bring on the Fall knitting magazines and books! I'm ready.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Three Knitted Tiles

I quite like how this turned out, whatever it is. Now for the blue version!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tiles and a Clutter Cloche

After this tile I'm switching colorways. The gold patches will make a very nice cushion, but my love for them has waned. I'm gathering turquoises now.

No headway on beehive tubing, but I am thinking of wire icord wound into a giant bee skep for hiding clutter - a huge clutter cloche with wifi magnifying properties made of little bits of leftover wire. This would be nice suspended over the kitchen table like a lampshade and then lowered by pulley to cover the mess. What a nice way to present dinner every night!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Into the bin

I'm sweeping this all into the runcible bin. Hopefully there will be a good idea come Monday. The Cool Corder has changed how we feel about spool knitting around here - a summer's worth of icord in an afternoon. This page from Marie Claire Idees showing the tulip on the pine table has me thinking about tatooing my own ornate silverware onto the table. And the FT article caught my eye because it is on the same page as Martin Lukes! The paragraph that caught me:

"Mr. Head, a clothing specialist whose 32 years in the industry have seen him "do everything from Beefeater uniforms for the Tower of London to chemical warfare suits", drew on such experiences to develop Silk Touch."
There's also a small beehive almond paste mold from Vienna. I want to make a beehive of gold icord.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Pringle Autumn/Winter 2007

I have this on my projects list from Pringle's Fall line. I like how it simplifies the top of a coat and lets you hide your nose against the cold. My ideal would be to find a blue coat and knit a matching blue topper in wool mixed with silk.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Pringle in pieces

More hidden project confessions: this is Pringle - before I ripped it all apart. I loved this sweater the moment I saw it in W. The cables are all in Barbara Walker; it took no time in Jo Sharp Ultra. I was horrified to try it on and find I hated it. The large sloping cable does not do much for pear-shapes. I'm going to re-knit it as an empire-waisted pullover! So many sweaters would look great adapted this way - I'm thinking about fair isle patterns, using one color for the bodice and sleeves and another for the skirt, making a sleeveless tweed version to wear over a dark long sleeve tee, a denim smock with pockets, a tweedy lace pattern!

P.S. Just got my Fall Interweave Knits and saw Mary Jane Mucklestone's Mirepoix Bodice! This is what I'm talking about!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Irish Wool

On a trip to Ireland in 1986 I ordered enough brown wool for a large cabled sweater. I recently found that wool again. I did not realize it was hand-spun. I hate to admit this, but I do not like the looks of it swatched up in cables; my Elizabeth Zimmerman Irish Knit coat made out of Sheepsdown (similar to the handspun) looks great in cables.

Perhaps I should forget about cables and get a gigantic crochet hook and try some funky lace and then felt it. I like talking big like that. The movie showing that day was Eat the Peach - "Eat the peach, Lady! Felt the stuff into a Planet of the Apes opera cloak!"

Monday, August 6, 2007

Calder Crochet

Louisa Calder's Creative Crochet is a simple little guide full of inspiration. It's mentioned in Calder at Home, Pedro Guerrero's beautiful picture book of the Calders' homes. The kitchen pictures are so inspiring. There is this balance of metal and wood and textile. These slippers are so simple, you try them on as you go. The teapot cozy has me thinking as well as the gloves. They have me thinking I'm a little too uptight with my crochet and I need to be a little more experimental. Crazy Missoni slippers.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Flea today

What a drizzly day at the flea! The sun never came out, but look at the lovely treasures: a surplus army canvas carryall, a blouse made out of a Venice print, an ice cream mold, and tiny tins. Mom, that Buss Fuse tin is yours. There's even two fuses still inside! The others will hold knitting markers. Now get a load of this baby, my new rayon crazy quilt housecoat.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The first tile

This tile idea has taken hold of me. I dipped into the stash and came up with enough yellows, golds, reds and dark browns for a long scarf. If my interest doesn't hold they could always band together and become a pillow.

Seherezade meets Signore Bialetti

We brought home this kavefozo from Budapest. The box says her name is Seherezade. She is pictured here with Signore Bialetti our other stove-top espresso maker. I am wondering if she noticed the Dali-esque knob on Signore's head - the result of an oven-cleaning oversight. What she doesn't know is that this is the second Signore. His predecesor behind the panetonne pans suffered a fatal accident by fire. We are keeping him in case we should need parts for the current Signore. I have to come up with a potholder/cozy for her ceramic pot so we can bring her to the table in style, something that won't slip. Her handle gets very hot. I must haul out the Marie Claire Idees for this!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Cafe Sans Souci Tiles

In the July 2006 issue of World of Interiors there is an article about Rezo Gabriadze's Cafe Sans Souci in Tbilisi: "The Good of Small Things" by Susan Richards, photographed by Ianthe Ruthven. They tell the story of how Rezo created the cafe from hand-painted tiles and recycled furniture. This bit here to the left grabs me every time I leaf through the issue. I think it would make the most wonderful scarf. It could be done in golds and oranges and browns like this or blues and greens and turquoise. I suppose I would knit it flat and back it with a patchwork of velvet blocks. Blue blocks for the gold one and copper blocks for the turquoise. I love how the background color would change with each "tile" as well as the vine pattern, sometimes skinny and sometimes fat. After 12 or so "tiles" I would arrange them on the floor and crochet them together.

Beach Tents under the Bed

There's a collection of beach tents in various dk cottons under my bed. I used Barbara Walker's garter stitch directions (from the fourth Treasury) while looking at Kaffe Fassett's Tents design (in Pattern Library). I've gotten too picky and keep setting aside the tents that don't really "go" with the others. I realize this is pointless; instead I should concentrate on making many many more so they all have a friend to sit next to on the sand. I feel the need to use up some of this yarn laying around.

I want to sit down with Kaffe's Pattern Library and decide on a design for a vest and then use up all my Harris/Yorkshire tweed: something like postage stamp, or houses or heck, beach tents! I should do it in vertical panels and then sew them together.

Another Pattern Library fantasy is to knit an enormous scarf (round and round in a tube with a purl stitch on each side so it lays flat) and try out as many patterns as I can make work in the round. After gazing at his wrap on the cover of Rowan 42 I want to go out and hoard kidsilk haze. I have other hidden projects which will be dragged out here into the light and harshly judged: to toss? to rip? to finish?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Game Quilt

I have been thinking about homemade games a lot since Maker Faire back in May. The game pictured below on the right is kind of like Candy Land with a simultaneous hand of Gin. But the book below left, Banners and Hangings by Norman Laliberte and Sterling McIlhany, has me thinking about quilted game boards.

There is a section on banners at a carnival, a lot of pin the tail on the donkey types and a handkerchief game. I like the idea of hiding things in pockets, so when you land on that space you can take out a prize. Imagine a huge toddler game blanket along the lines of of those cloth activity books, or a grand and goofy Candy Land kind of game for pre-schoolers, a maze blanket for driving cars upon.

Cloth Paper Scissors (Jan/Feb 2007) had an article about making a personalized game - I like that idea spread out upon a blanket with some iron-ons and a lot of embroidery. Imagine a birthday party hidden behind a huge quilt hung in the archway - and as the honoree walks up to the quilt in great surprise they hear the guests behind it start to sing.

Kaffe Fassett in Bloomsbury

I've been looking forward to Kaffe Fassett's new knitting book for a long time, but when I saw the UK cover featured in an article in the new Rowan 42 I just went bannanas. I adore Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell's paintings and needlepoint pillows of Charleston. I am certain that one day I will have a needlepointed day bed just like Duncan's featured on the cover. They have beautifully swapped out his pink and white polka dot pillow for Kaffe's. I have made three of the pillows from detailed instructions in Melinda Coss's book Bloomsbury in Needlepoint.

I have this fantasy of needlepointing all of Vanessa's book cover illustrations and making them into pillows so that you can throw yourself down on the couch and prop your head up on "Mrs. Dalloway" and squeeze "To the Lighthouse". I think I would use bits of cream corduroy along the edges to look like pages.