Friday, October 7, 2011

Day of the Dead Bag: Done and Done!

Finally, it's finished! I've been hoarding these Day of the Dead prints for awhile, wanting to make something special for myself. I'm a huge fan of this kind of imagery, especially when it focuses on La Calavera Catrina, "the elegant skull."

I knew I wanted a bag, and tried out a couple of patterns ... with mixed results. I finally went with this one, Serendipity Studio's Rita Reversible Bag. It's a tad bit smaller than I'd have liked, so if I make it again, I will change that. I have some other changes in mind, too -- particularly the strap. But basically? Great bag!! Pretty time-consuming, but of course I did the most complicated version, with front and back pockets, and contrast edgings, both inside and out.

One of the things I played with on this project was deconstructing the red fabric, and then putting it back together as it originally been ... "the same, but different." I've always been a collagist at heart - bringing things together (in art as in life) is second nature to me. Usually, I am combining different prints/colors/whatever. This time, I decided to just stay with the same piece of yard goods, and see what resulted.

Okay, no more words, just some pix of La Bolsa de Catrina: 

And, perhaps most fun of all, the bag is reversible. I'm totally crushing on this retro lamps print!

I do have some more Day of the Dead fabrics, including an amazing toile print featuring skeletons instead of humans, and some fun skull prints, so some new things may pop up at the Etsy Shop in weeks to come.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Letting the Cuttlefish Out of the Bag!

It's not a "sekrit" anymore, so finally I can disclose my recent stealth project.

On Ravelry, there is a very active board called "Yarn Hoars." No, it's not just a mispelling of "whores!" It's a loving reference to stalking and hoarding exceptional indie yarns. Our mods (who are marvelous and multitudinous) are quite indulgent of our antics, our obsessions, and our quirks and eccentricities. They "rule" by benign neglect -- we are a fairly irreverent lot, and when we title a thread "Random Chatter," you'd better believe that's what we mean!

It's a hilarious, supportive group of gals of all ages, all means, all walks of life, all political and religious circumstances, all 'round the world. Most of us have never met each other -- and yet, I tell ya, some of those hoars know me better than my own best friends!

From time to time, as a group or individually, we undertake some fundraising. For instance, we had a very successful raffle, and an auction, to benefit relief efforts related to the tragic Japanese earthquake.

Recently, one of our Texas hoars let us know about the destruction there, in the wake of massive forest fires. Some Austin-area LYSs (translation for non-knitters: "local yarn stores") banded together in a project called "Phoenix Rising." Fiber artists from all over made personal donations of yarns, project bags, patterns, etc. which were distributed to Texas textile artists who had lost so much.

Long story short: after hearing about the devastation in Texas, another DC area hoar (who shall remain nameless in this blog, tho the Hoars know who I mean) had the idea to do a fundraiser around this disaster. And so our scheming began!

We put together a package consisting of a pattern, the yarn to knit it, and a coordinating project bag. We chose a wonderful colorwork pattern, Emily Peters's Octopus Mittens, and Emily very kindly donated a copy of the pattern.

Two skeins of glorious Sanguine Gryphon yarns were purchased (Casco Bay in Traveller and Gimmizah in Free Range), and the fine folks at SG were kind enough to announce the raffle on their own Ravelry board. 

And then I made a OOAK piecework project bag, using mostly Spoonflower "custom printed on demand" fabrics. In addition to some wonderful cyanotype cuttlefish fabric by Trollop (wonderful name!), and "Inky cephalopods" by Leighr, we also chose Fireflies by Kelly "WeavingMajor",  and Donna Kallner's"Face Off,"

So there you are for now, I just wanted to show you some pics. The raffle is running now, and we're off to a good start, so that feels terrific.

And I've moved on to the next project ... more deets on that another time!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Trendy Critters? Cuttlefish, Owls, Birds, and Foxes

There was an interesting post on today's Spoonflower blog. If you're not familiar with Spoonflower, it's a wonderful group of folks in North Carolina who do custom-printed on-demand fabric. Their "catalog" has a kajillion fabric prints that you'll never seen anywhere else - ranging from the inspiring handiwork of well-known textile artists, to the dazzling doodles of school children. They'll custom print your artwork, if you want, or sell you some amazing yardgoods -- believe me, spending a few minutes on their site will make you smile.

Remember the cephalopod bag in my last blog post? Much of those fabrics came from Spoonflower; it's their quilting weight cotton, and it's great. I'll have pix of the next bag in that series to show you soon.

On today's Spoonflower blog, the topic was trends in fabric. You might have noticed that I'm not really a big follower of trends, and I often don't even know what's "hot." (And sometimes when I do know? I don't like it much, so I don't really care or want to work with it.) But in the past few years there have been some trends that have resulted in truly charming fabrics.

For instance, there were (and still are) owls: I've had some fun with owl prints, because really? They are adorable and quite endearing with those googley eyes! But I do wonder how owls got so trendy.

Theses are top-level carnivores we're talking about, with very few natural predators. A study of owl pellets (regurgitated remains of their prey, indigestible and coughed up as pellets) can be quite fascinating (don't ask me how I know.)

Ummm ... ok ... wait ... let me rein in my tangent. I really didn't plan to write about owl pellets today!

Where was I? Oh yes, birds in general are very "haute" in textile and jewelry design. As a bird brain bird lover, I've always sought out bird-related fabrics. I guess that makes me a bit of a trendsetter, given that I started this behavior, oh, 30 or so years. But I do love bird prints; in fact, a few posts back, I showed you a pile of bird fabrics ... some of which have now become this ...

Another trend I've really enjoyed the past few seasons has been Dia de los Muerte imagery on cloth, particulary those prints featuring La Calavera Catrina. I'm almost ready to show you how this project worked out, so someday soon, I'll post more about my love for all things Day of the Dead, and the inspiration I have found in Mexican textiles, particularly those from the state of Oaxaca.
Yay - this is well on its way to becoming a bag for me!
I'd have to say the knitting community agrees with Spoonflower, and is trending towards foxes, so if you're looking for inspiration here are some patterns to consider:

I'll leave you today with this pic from the Spoonflower site, and will wonder out loud if they are correct ... are foxes going to be the next happening critter to take the textile world by storm?

Want to read more and see more pix? Spoonflower Blog!
PS: There will be a small update tomorrow at the Etsy Shop. Here's a little sneak peek:

(L to R: Loopy Lulu $25, Med. Cinch Sack $35, Loopy Lulu $25)

(Three new Snapdragon Pouches, $10/ea.)
I hope your weekend is full of fun, friends, and creative endeavors!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cephalopods: Love 'em or Leave 'em? Discuss!

I just wanted to do a quick "drive by" blogging, to show you something I just finished that I am really pleased with! A lovely local knitting pal and I pooled our resources to create a donation for a very worthy endeavor. We picked out some of Spoonflower's wonderful custom-printed fabrics -- -- and I made a piecework project tote bag. The finished bag is about 11.5" x 11.5" measured flat, plus a 4" base. It's ample for a large shawl project, or many other kinds of WIPs (translated for non-knitters: "work in progress").

We loved the inky cuttlefish cyanotype-style fabric, which I used on both the front and back of the bag, combining it with a variety of water-inspired prints.

On one side, and the handle, there's also a fabric called "Face Off," by Donna Kallner, which I love. (It's on the upper left section of the bag above at right.) It is reminiscent of the textile art of a dear friend's mum, we'll just call her "Mother-of-Cynthia."

Here's a peek at the inside, just for fun. The lasso is handy for guiding yarn, or can be used as a keyfob or to hook a pair of scissors or phone onto.

So, yes indeedy, it's been a productive Sunday here! Now, I'm off to try a new recipe for Bourbon Corn Pudding (Well, maybe it's actually more like "Corn Pudding with a little bourbon in it," but doesn't it sound better my way?)

And after dinner? Time to kick back and do a little knitting! I'm still hard at work on my Catkin Shawl by Carina Spencer of Sweet Mama - Small Sugar. You can see her patterns on Ravelry at: Or check out her website:

Here's a peek at my progress thus far, just a few rows away from finishing Chart #1. And yes, that IS Madelinetosh merino light -- again! (I love it. I use it. Simple, right?)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm just asking: Another set of arms, please?

No matter how much I knit, my project queue grows and grows. Now that it's just moments away from actually becoming "autumn," many talented designers are busily releasing wonderful new patterns. There's no way to keep up, really. I just have to pick and choose how to spend my yarny money and my precious knitting time.

I'm knitting as fast as I can, and recently finished something I am enchanted with. So I thought I'd take a moment to show you my latest FO (aka "finished object" in non-knitter English).

I've mentioned Laura Aylor before, I'm sure. I find her shawl patterns to be very well written, ever-so-knittable ... and stunning! You've already seen my version of her Litchfield Shawl but heck, here's a second look:

Laura Aylor's Litchfield Shawl --
I recently finished another of her patterns, the beautiful Stella Luna. Here's a close-up of the colorways, at an early stage of knitting. Once again, I'm using beautiful Madelinetosh merino light (aka "tml") in William Morris and Mineral. It's astonishing how lovely these colors are together; the rich brown has flecks of the exact mineral green. Quite a smashing color combination, really, if I do say so myself.

Which (cough, cough)  I clearly just did!

Here's a pic of the now finished Stella Luna, still on the blocking board, but looking pretty good, I think. I'll get some "glam shots" later; but I have to say, this may be one of my favorite FOs yet. I look forward to a bit of a cool evening, so I can prance about town wearing it.

Yes, I said "prance." Get over it!

Laura Aylor's Stella Luna Shawl --
To learn more about Laura's patterns, please visit her blog. You'll find a link in the left sidebar, or just take it from here:

And if you're interested in more info about one of my favorite yarns, Madelinetosh, here's a link to get you started:

That's it for now! Time for some lunch, and then back to the sewing room I go. I have a personal project I hope to finish up today, and I'll be doing some cutting for a new batch of Loopy Lulu small project bags for

I hope you have a terrific weekend!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Losing Track of Time ... Again ...

Sometimes I lose track of what day it is. When you work for yourself, everyday is a work day. (Actually, every night can be a work day, too, if you let it.) But while all my days are  muchly the same, at least in some respects, there is still a definite rhythm to my week ...  even if only I can hear it!

One high note that adds to the rhythm of my week is my new-found love of our local park district pool. For all my Piscean characteristics, I've always ... always ... been truly and deeply (pun fully intentional) afraid of water. Never mind the "why" of it - we're not going there today.

But when my "day job" and I disconnected, I gave myself a challenge -- kind of an "old dog, new trick" situation. I enrolled in (of all things) a deep water aerobics class. Deep water. Me. Hah! I still don't know what I was thinking.

Anyhow, a few blogs back, I showed you a photo of this charming little girl's dress that I found in a local thrift store. The photo doesn't quite capture the vibrancy of the purple and acid yellow, sorry 'bout that! It was beautifully made with terrific attention to detail -- and there it was, hanging on the rack, looking forlorn.

I guess the fabric is what you would call a Dutch wax print; though I'm by not means certain of all the distinctions regarding what are commonly called "African Fabrics," I do know that this dress has the words "Guaranteed Super Deluxe Java Print" on its selvage.

I knew as  soon as I saw it that I wanted to upcycle the dress and its accompanying wrap into some special bags.  I estimated that I could do a couple of Snapdragons, maybe one or two pieced tote bags ... and have some goodly sized bits left for other piecework.

The first bag in the series is shown at right: a sweet little Snapdragon Pouch for my abfab water aerobics instructor's birthday. Being around Carroll (even when she is working us half to death) is always fun; she has the knack of creating a community out of a bunch of random strangers in a swimming pool. She loves purple, and yellow too, so it seemed like a good match. With my usual loathing for absolute symmetry, I fussy cut the print slightly off center ... and look forward to working with this fabric again soon(ish.)

In other news, there was a small update at  this morning; just a few Snapdragons Pouches to start the week off! There are a couple more in the darling grey and yellow fabric, and another couple  owl pouches. I think this will be the last item in the popular tiny owls fabric, unless I locate more. (Owl lovers, please note: I do have some different owl fabric on order, so stay tuned!)

Ah, well, "Owl's well that ends well?" (ducking and running now ... see y'all later!)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Do I have "Birds on the Brain?" or am I a "Bird Brain!"

First up, I must admit that it doesn't look like I've added many hexipuffs to my collection this week, but let's take a peek at my progress, shall we? I love the way they look in this supersize wooden bowl.

 Actually, I think some of the puffs are already feeling a little crowded, and are starting to make their way around the house, seeking adventure. A few of them made their way upstairs, to where I was trying to photograph some of this week's finished projects.

See what I mean, suddenly they're everywhere!

Earlier in the week, I posted a pic of some adorable tiny owl fabric. I've done up a couple of bags with that fabric, which will make their appearance in the Etsy shop in a day or two.

I've done an extra bit of piecework and applique on this bag, because it just seemed to  call out for it. I also added some antique pearl buttons for eyes, accented with orange beads.

On the left is a Loopy Lulu Small Project Bag and on the right is a Snappy Snapdragon Pouch.

In addition to the tiny owls, I seem to have birds-on-the-brain in general this week. It might have started with this old time Appalachian song I've been humming lately, "Little Birdie." There are lots of versions, but the one I hear in my head is Ola Belle Reed, singing and playing banjo.

Little birdie, little birdie,
Come and sing me your song
Got a short time to stay here
And a long time to be gone

I couldn't find a video of Ola Belle singing "Little Birdie," but here's her signature song for your enjoyment, "High on a Mountain," It touches my heart every time I hear it, I hope you love it, too!

Anyhow, I've been working on a large, pieced project bag incorporating two of my favorite
bird prints:

 And I'm working on some projects using these adorable bird line drawings, which I have in these three colors, plus a yummy cocoa brown. These prints are such fun to play with!

And finally, I still have enough of my little owls left to do one large pieced bag; I'm thinking of using these prints, as well as some autumn leaves fabric from my stash.

After I'm done with my bird phase, I wonder what will catch my fancy next? Hmmmm, is anyone besides me looking ahead to Día de los Muertos?