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? 

Monday, September 5, 2011

What a Hoot!

It's a dreary Monday, we're just waiting for more rain. That's kind of hard to even imagine right now, with so many people still struggling with post-hurricane clean-up. Instead of sitting around waiting for the next downpour, I decided I needed a new project to get my mind off the weather.

So here's a little look at what's on my sewing table -- I bet some of you can guess why I have tiny owls on my mind!

That's right, like so many members of the knitting community, I've started hexipuffing.

No, that's not some weird and obscure druggie thing!

 It means I've started in on a Tiny Owl Knits pattern, "The Beekeeper's Quilt." I'm not really aspiring to a quilt, but we have a beautiful twig chair made by my lovely MIL, and I think a seat cushion and side pillows would be perfect.

This will be a long-term project; it's designed to use up odd bits of fingering weight yarn, and is perfect for when you just have a few minutes to knit, and need something simple and portable.

Here's where I am so far; use your imagination, stir in several dozen (hundred?) more puffs of all colors, some striped, some embroidered. Will eventually make fun pillows, no?And what a good use of all those small-yardage scraps!

For more info on the quilt, or any of Stephanie's other patterns (did I mention her deer-with-atlers hat, or her hopsalot slippers -- oh my bob!) check out her Ravelry page or blog:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day, Oh Labor Day!

"Labors of Love," isn't that what it's all about? Well, make no mistake, art IS work ... it just looks like play!

I have deep respect and regard for all the working artists, musicians, and dancers I know; in fact, very shortly we're heading out to Brunch-and-Tunes, a monthly get together. Good food, fine friends, more music than you can shake a stick at ... sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky in life, this time around?

But first, there are a couple of pix I want to show you!

For the Multi-Color Project KAL on Ravelry's MadTosh board, here's proof that I have actually started my Catkin Shawl. Yes, I had originally planned to cast on for a May KAL. So ... yes ... I am just a tad bit late on that. Whoopsie!

So in the "better late than never" category, here's the 1st section, completed last night. I love the colors; Norway Spruce & Chambray, in MadelineTosh merino light (aka "tml.") Do you see how the chambray is a good bit fuzzier than the dark yarn? That is going to make this so cool!

Both skeins came from Knitty City: On my last trip to NYC, I discovered these skeins lurking on the shelves. Both are quite a bit different from other skeins bearing their same colorway names, so they caught my eye ... and seemed destined for each other

The "scary" part comes next ... this shawl is not "mindless knitting." Fingers crossed that I can stay on track!

(Psst: The Catkin Shawl is by Carina Spencer, "Sweet Mama  Small Sugar". You may recognize her name, or the names of some of her other wildly popular patterns, including Whipporwill, and the uber-adorable Convertible Baby Bloomers.)

I've also done a wee small update at Four new Snappy Snapdragon Pouches are now in stock!