Friday, September 28, 2012

More Incoming Froggy Swap Blocks

Happy late Friday to everyone out there! I have been busy with many things this week, so I'm extremely glad (for several reasons) that I can share with you more of the blocks I've received from my fellow froggy swappers.

Here's a closer look at the block on the left - isn't is pretty?

This is the Flower Burst Square, and while there are some really nice interpretations of it in the Ravelry database, I do like it a lot in these froggy colors.

This next block is Jan Eaton's Zig Zag Bobbles block. Her blanket blocks collection is a great resource for block patterns. And I readily admit that I'm biased - Jan Eaton's various crochet books have inspired and informed me for quite some time.
And I've saved one of the best for last - another Jan Eaton block pattern, I absolutely love, love, love this Chocolate Box pattern:

Done in these greens and espresso, don't you feel like you should be biting into a peppermint patty?

In case you haven't yet made it over there, do hop on over to the Wonder Why Gal's blog to see what Andrea and the rest of the gang are biting into this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Busy Behind the Scenes ...

... at chez Voie de Vie. In fact, preparations have been, and continue to be, ongoing for a very special project. I'm not a big one for supplying much information about upcoming projects - for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I'm just not that comfortable talking about in-process stuff.

Nevertheless, I provide you with a healthy sneak peak. Enjoy ... and stay tuned. 

P.S. - And if you're not on my newsletter email list, now would be a good time to sign up. You know you want to.

Friday, September 21, 2012

More Blocks Have Leaped Off The Lily Pad

My frog-themed block making continues, and this Friday I have four more to share with you (all which have been sent out to their intended swappees) :

This is the Embossed Bunny block from Nicky Epstein's Knitting Block by Block. I would rate this an easy block - it's a seed stitch border, with stockinette and reverse stockinette stitch used for the subtle bunny shape. I think the button eye actually provides a huge visual aid in identifying the bunny. This pattern isn't yet in the Ravelry database, so I'll need to add it. Other than color, this doesn't have too much to do with a frog ... however, this recipient's blanket will be made for a child, so I'm hoping she likes bunnies.

This is the Framed Flower Block, another of Interweave Crochet's Chain Reaction block patterns from 2010/2011. This went with the Embossed Bunny block, so I do hope it's well received. The block looks a little wonky because I have it sitting on top of a bush, but it is square and I do love how the colors played nicely with each other. I'd definitely rate this block, as well as the final two in this post, intermediate level crochet blocks.

This next block is Amelia Beebe's Yarn Clouds block. I love her use of post stitches to form the "clouds," as well as the corner treatment. In these colors, it's very soothing. I modified the last round I worked, using stitches smaller in height, in order to achieve a 10" square. This is definitely one of my favorite blocks worked thus far.

Finally in this set, Robyn Chachula's Lotus Blossom block, another from the Chain Reaction project. One can't go wrong with anything Robyn Chachula, and this block definitely didn't disappoint. I love it in this green tea-ish color with a little espresso around the edges for contrast.

I am so enjoying making these blocks. I've been able to craft from my magazine and book shelf, as well as make blocks that have been in my queue for quite some time. For me, it's providing a sense of fulfillment to do the above as well as share them with others.

Now I do hope you'll hop on over to Andrea's blog, where I'm sure all kinds of fun projects are being discussed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Postcards On My Mind, Not From The Edge

I have a good friend who has lived in Europe for quite a while. For a time when our friendship was growing, he traveled quite a bit, and managed to send me fun postcards from Europe and Central America. I always looked forward to these faraway missives: the smallest handwriting possible in order to convey lots of information as well as evocative art of some sort on the cover. I haven't received a postcard from him in quite a while, and I must admit I miss receiving them.

Well, no fear on the postcard front - there's a group one can join where people all over the world exchange postcards. Postcrossing was the brainchild of this guy now living in Berlin and has grown to include over a quarter million members worldwide. It's a pretty simple concept: receive random, worldwide addresses, send each person a postcard and receive postcards from other random people from everywhere in the world. Pretty cool, huh?

So, I've sent several postcards, and the image to the left is from the first card I've received. The artwork is from Charlotte Mutsaers, a Dutch artist.

I must admit, I do love my first postcard ... almost as much as one from my friend.

Maybe he'll read this and take the hint.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Block Receipt Has Begun

Two weeks ago I wrote about blocks I'm making for a current swap. I've managed to send out two, and have several more made (which I'll post at a later date), but since I received several comments concerning seeing the blocks I receive in the swap, I thought I'd post the first four:

These two were the first blocks I received earlier this week. I really like the color combination - more on the green side, with the browns as accent. These next two I received yesterday:

Aren't they lovely? I am enjoying the creativity that each person is bringing to their choices. Can you all see the froggy color theme? I've already got some ideas on how I might put my blanket together, but I'll know more once I've received all of my blocks. We have until the end of September to mail them out - good thing, because I need to kick my own block making into high gear.

On a slightly different topic, there's a knit and crochet show going on right now in Reno. The Executive Director of the Crochet Guild of America, Karen Knies, contacted Crochet! Magazine a few weeks back to ask if Karen might have my La Symphonie Jacket Wrap sent to her for wearing during the days of the show. I was thrilled by the request - so if anyone should happen to see Karen this weekend wearing a red cardi that looks like something they saw in a magazine ... well, they'd be correct!

Now don't forget to make it to Andrea's blog show this Friday, cause you never know what's going on with the fiberistas over there.

And have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Creative Approach After My Own Heart

I have taught basic and advanced English composition at the college level. Whenever I led an advanced English comp group, I always included graphic novel snippets, comic strips, even bumper stickers in the curriculum, since they are powerful and effective ways to get one's message across. In fact, I usually included a final project that instructed students to use pictures of any sort (photographs, drawings, etc) to construct an effective argument that would be easily identified and understood by fellow classmates. Of course, that always led to fun finals presentations, but I digress ...
Go here to see/read the brief in its entirety

Well, an attorney has finally swiped a page from my (I'm certain well-worn) play book and used it in a court of law. Bob Kohn, a music licensing law expert, filed an amicus curiae brief (that is, a friend of the court brief, not on behalf of either side in the dispute) in the form of a comic strip. He did so in response to the judge's order to limit his presentation to the court to five pages. Kohn then enlisted the drawing skills of one of his daughter's friends and created a pictoral argument that otherwise conformed to all of the court's requirements - in five pages (excluding the legal introductory and conclusory necessities).

Whether or not one is a music law expert, wouldn't you rather read this presentation than five pages filled only with dry legal rhetoric?

Since Kohn wasn't directly representing any party in the dispute (so the winning/losing issue is moot, although Kohn might take exception to that characterization), my only question: was the daughter's friend fairly compensated?

Friday, September 7, 2012

VK Crochet: 4th Installment

So, although we've just celebrated the traditional final weekend of summer here in North America, I thought it appropriate to celebrate one, last summer fling with a look at the most popular design (in terms of projects) from the special crochet edition of Vogue Knitting:

Design:  #18 Lacy Top

It is no surprise that this Doris Chan top, complete with signature exploding lace and top-down construction, has the most projects started from the magazine in the Ravelry database - 47, 23 of which are completed. The three I chose to highlight cover a range of sizes and wearing options.

The interpretations:

Photo used with Amy's kind permission.

Amy (Amerz on Ravelry) loves purple and blue - you don't say? Wearing this top over a dress is a popular approach to this design. Amy is a Doris Chan devotee (she co-moderates the Doris Chan Ravelry group), so it's no surprise to me that she has a finished project from this design, or that it fits really well. Of some note: technically, the neck edging isn't quite finished in this photo, but the average viewer won't spot that. 

Thanks so much for the use of your photo, Kristen.

Kristen (KristenJ on Ravelry) has one of the most elegant interpretations of this design (which is in line with her overall craft approach and personal design aesthetic). Kristen is one of many polycraftuals hanging out on Ravelry - she states she's been knitting and crocheting for over 30 years. I love her color choices in this outfit, as well as the simple yet effective pearl-like accessory. Amy does note to be mindful of the potentially not-so-strategically placed negative space in the front of this top. Noted, Kristen!

And a sincere thanks to Cyndi for allowing me use of her photo.

And the final interpretation, from Cyndi (cyndim on Ravelry) is probably my favorite. Great yarn choice (Cascade Ultra Pima - I love cotton, what can I say?), great color, and a perfect, casual summery approach. Can you believe this only took three skeins? Or that Cyndi has four, count 'em 4, grandchildren? You just keep rockin' that lace top, Cyndi.

I hope you are as impressed as I am with all of the finished projects thus far from the VK Crochet special edition. These designs are yielding great fashion bang from real-life, everyday women.

Now don't forget to check in with the blog of our very own super, real-life, everyday woman - Andrea, the WonderWhyGal.

Oh ... and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baking Ugly

I am a big fan of Christopher Kimball and America's Test Kitchen. While I have had, at various times in the past, subscriptions to several of the other big cooking magazines, it is America's Test Kitchen that I consistently keep going back to, so much so that a good while ago I signed up to be a recipe tester for them.

It must have been at least 18 months between the time I signed up to be a tester and receipt of my first recipe. It was so long, in fact, that I figured I wasn't ever getting a recipe to test. I shrugged it off, and so was all the more amazed when my first recipe found its way to my inbox.

I've received about 6 recipes in the last three months, but due to various other commitments, have not been able to make the recipe and respond to the requisite survey within the required amount of time. I was determined to make the deadline when I received a recent recipe for Berry Trifle. For some reason, I have been fascinated by trifle; I've never made it, it contains dessert elements I like (cake, fresh berries, custard) and it's from America's Test Kitchen. Definitely, on its face, a recipe for success.

I made this yesterday, and I must say it was ultimately a success, but not without some hiccups. Initially, I have no trifle dish (and the squared shape of the traditional trifle dish is rather important when composing the trifle), so what you see below is my next best effort - a rounded mixing bowl. At least it's glass.

Secondly, the recipe called for a rather large baking sheet on which to bake the cake portion of the trifle. All of my baking sheets were off by 3 inches in both directions; I wound up making a smaller cake. Fortunately, since my glass mixing bowl was slightly smaller than the required trifle dish, this turned out just fine.

And then there was the time element. This dish serves a whole troop of people and takes at least 3 hours of continued effort to complete. No breaks, no down time while things are baking. Then, at minimum, another six hours to set up in the refrigerator (a full 24 hours is probably better). I must admit, this was kind of a drawback - I suppose if I was a professional baker, the time commitment would be no problem. Unless it's holiday time (and then long baking sessions are a joy since I bake, cook and otherwise make most of my gifts), I guess I just wasn't into sinking three hours into one dessert on this particular occasion.

Nevertheless, it tastes great, even if it's not the most attractive dessert. I actually decided to show everyone the finished trifle because I think it's important for everyday bakers and cooks to see how things turn out in real life. While the berries garnish on top saves it, I've definitely put together better presentations.

Chalk it up to a baking learning experience. This recipe should be published in a future America's Test Kitchen magazine.