Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Little Color Adjustment

Hello everyone - I hope each of you had a great extended weekend! 

We are in the home stretch of my two-month-long Spring Flingy Thingy (it ends 5/31), so I am in the process of completing some projects and still working through others. 

As a result, I spent some of the long weekend doing some project color corrections. I am working on two cowls from Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace - a tri-color version of the Cracked Glass Cowl as well as a WASPs Cowl (which I blogged about here on Friday). Here were my original color choices for both cowls, respectively:

Greens for my tri-color
Cracked Glass Cowl

Initial blues and cream for
my WASPs Cowl
Looking good in theory, yes? So I tucked into the WASPs cowl yesterday and pretty quickly ran into a color snag. The mid blue-looking skein (it's really Teal shown here from the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm, LLC) in the middle was all wrong with the other blues. It was not playing so nicely; in fact, against the other blues it almost seemed to have a neon edge to it - definitely not what I had in mind for this cowl. Sooo, I ripped back and started to switch things around. I decided to break up all those cool blue tones and inject something with a warm undertone, as well as jettison (temporarily! this has a happy teal ending - just wait) the WWAF teal. Below is what I settled upon.
The cream skein in the background will remain for the cowl's edging. I swapped out the blue-green shire colorway (Madtosh Light) in the background of the before photo for the lighter gin blue Twisted Sisters yarn on the left in the after photo to the right, kept the Harrisville Design's deep blue and inserted a skein of Jamieson's of Shetland two-ply in the sand colorway which has just enough hint of peachy-pink to warm up the blues. As you'll see from the below photo, I think I made some excellent substitutions.
My WASPs Cowl - take two
I'm really liking how these three colorways are behaving together. That gin blue still has some pop to it, yet with the addition of the warm undertones of the Jamieson's the cowl will play nicely with my skintone. 

Now I still needed to deal with my small teal dilemma - I love the colorway and the yarn and wanted to use it in such a way to get the best out of it. I decided that if it didn't play nicely in the blue sandbox, maybe it would play better in the green one - and eureka! a greeny-blue star was born. Get a load of how I combined it in my tri-color Cracked Glass cowl.

My new, improved Cracked Glass palette

I swapped out the deeper green for the teal, and look how wonderfully it is getting along in its new home. I love, love, love this combination and cannot wait to complete a few other projects so I can resume working on it. There is nothing like a great (to me) color combination to get my project juices flowing.

Color only really comes to life when it's beside other color(s). I am so glad I adjusted the color palettes of both these projects. Now I need to hook like the wind so I can see how they turn out. 

Do take advantage of this last week in the Voie de Vie Spring Flingy Thingy and do something that will earn you an entry for the yarny prize draw at the end. Go here to check all the ways to play, including completing a project in our a-long. There's still time, everyone!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hey, I Finished Something!

Happy Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday, everyone, on this day leading into the long holiday weekend here in the U.S.

I am thrilled to show off the first finished project from my Spring Flingy Thingy: it's the tester Summer Leaf version of my Autumn Leaf Shawl. I am absolutely thrilled with how this version turned out. 

Initially, I used two different fiber types from deep stash, so there's 1 1/2 skeins gone from stash. 

Secondly, don't you love how these two colorways worked together? The main colorway, weeping willow green from Huckleberry Knits is all about summer, and the Wollmeise green (which I currently cannot locate on the Wollmeise site) has an almost camo quality to it. Together, this is a summer leaf come to life in a shawl.
Additionally, I made this version larger than my original sample, and this larger size blocked really well. 

All in all, a really wonderful finished project, and I finally get on the finished project board in my own a-long. Geez. I was hoping to have my second finished project done today, but it didn't happen. Next week, after the holiday.

Original artwork from
Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace depicting WWII WASPs

My ode to WWII WASPs,
the WASP cowl.
I hope everyone has a relaxing, long weekend. Do take time to celebrate the reason for the weekend - remembering those who gave their lives during duty in the armed services. Given my Spring Flingy Thingy focus (mostly) on Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace, I'd like to take a moment and remember those Women Air Service Pilots (the WASPs) who gave their lives during WWII but have never formally been recognized by any branch of the U.S. armed forces. They provided an invaluable service during the second World War, and there are very few still alive today to keep their stories going. I'll be making a WASP Cowl for myself to commemorate their service - in various blues and cream, the color of sky and clouds.

And I expect my weekend will include lots of great food and fiber. Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Huge Thank You

Happy Monday, everyone! Since I was blogging all of last week for the 6th Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week, I did not get an opportunity to wrap up the Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace bloggy tour.

Motifs in process on my own
Nichols Cardigan
First and foremost, I want to thank each blog tour host individually for a great week of posts: the wonderful people over at Dream in Color Yarn, Gwen Blakley-Kinsler of Crochet Queen: Royal Ramblings fame, Sarah Anderson at January Yarns, Karida and Kristen over at Neighborhood Fiber Co., Andrea Morrison and the whole menagerie at Wonder Why Alpaca Farm, LLCand (last but not least!) Stefanie at Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons. Each of these people/entities has provided wonderful support and exposure for the book and its designs. I am truly grateful.

Additionally, each person who commented throughout the entire blog tour has now been entered into my give-away at the end of May. I've also announced the winners of the e-books given away during the tour here in my Ravelry group, but in case you missed it, here they are again:
  1. From the Dream in Color blog comments, Jenni (Rav id: Jollylamb);
  2. From the Neighborhood Fiber Co. blog posts, Julie (Rav id: knitwit23);
  3. From the January Yarns’ blog comments, Jennifer (Rav id: Ironicalknitter); and
  4. From the Wisdom Begins in Wonder blog comments, (Rav id: jenlynheb).
There's still time to do any one of nine different things (!) to gain additional entries into the end-of-May giveaway (all of them described in the Rav group linky above or here on the blog). Anyone can have multiple entries, so get pinning or knitting or crocheting or joining while the getting is good. Do you know that the grand prize includes all the yarn needed to make your very own Cochran Puffy V Shoulder Warmer  as well as a scenic seaplane tour of the Puget Sound for two? (and of course, you'll have to get your awesome self to the Puget Sound to take advantage of the seaplane tour, but c'mon, you know if you do it'll be ahhh-mazing).

In the meantime, I'm going to continue finishing several projects I have in process as part of the Spring Flingy Thingy. I just might have a few finished things to show at week's end.

Have a great week, and I'll see you on Friday.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Where Do I Craft?

Well, it's the final day of this year's Knit and Crochet Blog Week, and while I'm sorry I didn't get to post a survey yesterday (and I really did want to, drat!), I'm back for the final day, when we're prompted to tell about where we craft.

I suppose the most honest answer is where don't I craft? I always have a project with me (especially if I know I'll be on public transportation, which is most times I leave the house), and usually have no problem using hook or sticks on it. Since I cover a lot of ground in the greater Puget Sound area on public transportation, I absolutely get a lot accomplished. I usually have at least one project going that's not secret (as in, not for publication) and which has a stitch pattern I've already memorized precisely for this reason.

However, one of the best places and times for me to craft is early in the morning, out on my deck. If it's not raining, this is my view:

The bottom shot does happen quite a bit, and the fog is really awesome. I usually bring out my morning cuppa, let George Bailey get some fresh air so I can keep an eye on him (he likes to escape and have kitty adventures) and get a great start to the day.

Thanks so much for a great week of blogging. It's been fun getting to see some new-to-me blogs as well as some I've read from past blog fests. Additionally, a shout-out to Eskimimi Makes for getting this all together in the face of a less-than-smooth pregnancy. I hope all goes well and you'll soon be furiously making more baby clothes.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

There's Only One Tool Worth Discussing

Hello my fellow bloggy-eyed friends, it's Day 4 in this year's week-long blogfest, and I'm here to talk to you today about tools. 

As you'll see to the right, I have had quite a collection of stitch markers. Many of these stitch markers have long since hit the marker dust bowl. I have discovered that, for me, dangling stitch markers are, generally, no good. I cannot tell you how many I've gotten stuck in fabric I was creating. So the kitty stitch markers in the photo have done a disappearing act, as well as the gray and gold round spheres to their left (way too clunky and not well made). 

My favorites are, oddly enough, the plastic split ring stitch markers at the top left (and I have them in two sizes), as well as the light-colored wires just below the gold and gray spheres - the wires are very light weight and can surprisingly fit larger sized needles. They are hand-made and were given to me in a swap. Honorable mention goes to the small silver hearts with the "love my cat" motto on them as well as the gold coffee beans - even though long-ish, their surfaces do not catch my fabric, although they only fit smaller sized needles.

However, the real tool worth talking about today is this one to the left. My kitchen scale is indispensable.I cannot craft without it. I have had it for several years now (purchased on Amazon for a very modest price) and while I think I've used it in the kitchen perhaps three times total, I use it at least a few times each week for knit and crochet projects. I weigh skeins before using them - you would be surprised how even commercially-produced yarn can range in weight from what's on the label. 

Additionally, I almost always use it to weigh any yarn left over once a project is complete. I also find it invaluable when trying to determine how much yarn I potentially have for any pattern/design modifications I might want to make. For instance, I'm currently making a version here of my Autumn Leaf Shawl that will be bigger than the original sample, because I want to use up the entire cake of a particular lace weight yarn I had in stash. Once I got to the last row of the main body as written, I weighed the yarn both before and after to determine how many grams I was using per row (as it turns out, 3 gms), and then I weighed the cake remainder to determine how many more rows/pattern repeats I could eek out (as it turns out, 3 more complete pattern repeats or 12 rows). Without my trusty scale, planning and (hopefully successfully!) executing designs and projects really is a whole lot easier.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Photography and Digital Filters

Welcome to Day 3 of this year's week-long bloggy Internet tour de force.

Our topic prompt today was fun with photos. Given that I took all the photographs for Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace, as well as created all of the book's artwork, I thought I'd share with you my new-found love of Adobe Photoshop filters. While I mostly did nothing more than crop the photographs used in the book, I did play around with the filters feature in Photoshop for the artwork, specifically I applied one of the digital filters in the final step of each pilot's mixed media portrait. 

So, I decided to take a photograph from my ample stock of extra book photos and apply three different Photoshop filters to it. Initially, here's the photo in its original form (of the Nichols Cardigan):

Now, here it is with the first filter applied: the brush strokes ink outline, which you can find under filters > brush strokes > ink outlines:

This filter applies some nice effects to the background as well as the outline of my model (particularly around her hair). You also still get to see a fairly good view of the cardigan, although some of the detail in the motifs is lost.

Next, take a look at the same photo with a different filter: the artistic palette knife which can be found under filters > artistic > palette knife:

I really like how this filter takes the photograph and makes it look almost like a painting, especially the background seaplane and dock. 

Finally, let's apply one more filter - the artistic neon glow, which you can find under filters > artistic > neon glow:

Isn't this just cool? You can adjust the filter's color, so while I chose a light blue gradient, one can call up a full color range and make any color adjustment.

I've also only applied one filter in each instance, but one could play around with applying multiple filters to achieve all manner of different effects. 

Because we are all so focused on showing designs and fiber work in the clearest and most straightforward manner possible (and in many instances, rightly so), I think some of the artistic element has gone by the wayside. However, filters are a great way to potentially bring a whole new dimension to one's fiber arts design presentation, so don't be afraid to test drive some Photoshop filters the next time you're looking for presentation inspiration.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Me In a Nutshell

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2015 week long knit and crochet blog-a-palouzza.

Today's topic? Write about ourselves when we're not using needles and hooks and yarn and stuff. Because I blog pretty much about everything that interests me, I thought I'd look to my label cloud to provide you with some ideas of what animates me and/or otherwise makes my day(s).

So, I suppose in some sort of alpha order, are the things I've blogged about that you can go and read about at any time (the links are to all blog posts about that particular topic):

1. I write something on many Mondays called "Just Another Melange Monday" (and say it to the Bangles tune "Just Another Manic Monday") and these posts contain a lot of what interests me - food (a real theme on this blog), a fair amount of fiber (sorry, just can't get away from it, no matter how hard one tries around here), films I've watched, a lot of photographs (another theme on this blog), a smattering of books and music, and some art. 

2. Art: While there is some overlap with Melange Monday posts (as well as some former Knit and Crochet blog week entries!), I spend a lot of time writing about art - art that I've made (both fiber and non-fiber), art that I've seen, and art that inspires me. 

3. Books: Well, since I've just recently published one myself (Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace), several of the posts in this category cover it. Additionally, I read a lot (although not as voraciously as I once did in my pre-fiber period), and I write about what I read. Some posts are in-depth reviews, others just mention books in passing.

4. Creativity: I'm not certain how to necessarily describe this set of posts, but they all have something to do with creativity generally, or my creative process in specific instances, or even the creativity I've shown in blog posts. It's kind of a catch-all word, yet if you read these posts you'll actually gain some insights into how I operate (with fiber definitely, but also in my non-fiber life).

5. Food: All of these posts (with only minimal duplicates from other topics) deal with my basic food obsession. I test recipes for America's Test Kitchen, so you'll see some results, as well as hits and misses from the recipes I've tried from my Pinterest food board. While that board isn't one of my biggest hits (interior design and a few fashion boards of mine whip the food board), I only have three other boards with more pins. To say I love food would be an understatement.

6. Painting: I paint quite a bit as well as create mixed media art pieces, and much of it can be seen in these posts (again, with loads of post overlaps with other topics above). Color and painting are a constant source of inspiration for me, and I like nothing more than to get lost in a long painting session.

And, finally, cuteness alert: check out these posts to see my ginger cat of awesomeness, George Bailey. I quite frankly don't care if it's somewhat of a cliche: I love my cat, so everyone can just deal with it. Besides, if you check out the posts, you'll see why. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Call Me Mohair

It's Day 1 of this year's week-long blog-a-palooza, and we're supposed to pick a fiber that represents our personality.

Well alright - this was easy-peasy for me: I must be mohair. Mohair, mohair, mohair. How do I reflect thee? Let me count the ways, people.

The beginning of a Flying Blanket worked up in gloriously
lightweight, warm and versatile mohair.

Mohair is versatile: from the catwalk to elite interior design showrooms, you'll find mohair because of its light weight and ability to insulate in winter and keep things cool in summer. It also can achieve multiple gauges for various effects. Want to see a different side to its personality - just change your hook or needle size.

Mohair is lustrous: whether dyed or au natural, this fiber has sheen to spare.

And speaking of dyes, mohair takes dye beautifully. Look at the wonderful blues above, and that's only two colorways from my stash. I think I've got mohair in almost every color except yellow and black.

Mohair is durable: basically, it takes a licking and keeps on going, and going, and going. 

Mohair plays well with other fibers: I love to work it with a strand of wool or silk (the fiber with which it's most commercially spun).

And let's face it - mohair has a unique personality. There is no other fiber like mohair. Its grand halo makes it instantly recognizable (ok, cue the angelic voices, like, now). 

While it might be slightly difficult to undo mohair fabric, who exactly appreciates being undone? This is a fiber that knows who it is and expects to be treated with respect. What you get in return is gorgeousness that will make you look good for a very long time. 

How can I not be the diamond fiber, mohair? 

Monday, May 4, 2015

It's Bloggy Tour Week!

Yes, it's a fact: Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace is on its very own blog tour. Visit these most awesome blogs, leave comments for a chance to win prizes in my end-of-May giveaway (as well as the chance to win one of your very own e-books at several of the tour stops) and, more importantly, get to know further the wonderful designs in this collection. Here are the tour stops:

                  Monday, 5/4        Dream in Color
                  Tuesday, 5/5       Crochet Queen: Royal Ramblings
                  Wednesday, 5/6  January Yarns
                  Thursday, 5/7      Neighborhood Fiber Co.
                  Friday, 5/8           Wonder Why Alpaca Farm, LLC
                  Sunday, 5/10       Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons
                                          (Stefanie of Knitspiring Odyssey's brand spanking new home)

See you out there on the tour!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Well, It's a Fiber Arts Friday Post ...

... on Saturday. That's just the way yesterday went for me. 

Nevertheless, this is an update on Voie de Vie's Spring Flingy Thingy, in progress through the end of May (and OhMyBob, it's already May!!!!). I've definitely been elbow deep in fiber, and have many WIPs to show for it, although no additional finished projects just yet.

Progress on my Frosted Espresso Cardigan
In my two public tests, here's where I'm at with both projects:

(1) On my Frosted Espresso Cardigan, I'm almost half way through the shrug, but I now need to wait for additional LB Collection Silk Mohair to make its way to me, since I can only purchase it online through the Lion Brand website (since I'm not in Gotham City). I'm loving both the yarn choice and working up this lace cardi - the main lace pattern is easily memorized so it makes for great night time crocheting - at least until I get to the front portion, but that's a little way off.

(2) I am super thrilled with my progress on my test version of the Autumn Leaf Shawl. Not only am I enjoying seeing the post stitch "veins" of the leaf work up, but people in the test are using such wonderful yarn - so far, Fyberspates Gleem Lace and Madelinetosh Lace - both in yummy colorways. I'm also thrilled with the fact that I get to use up lovely yarn from stash. Oh yeah.

The summer leaf version of my Autumn Leaf shawl design - aren't
those leaf "veins" great?

Now on to the main event of the spring flingy thingy - the Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace a-long. Since I started on two cardigans (yikes!) from the book's collection it's going, but slow and steady. Initially, I am now on the back of my own Definitely in Africa Cardigan. This also is an easily memorized lace pattern, and since it's worked in pieces, this will now become my travel project. In fact, I took it with me to my eye exam last week. Do you know how difficult it is to work on a crochet project when one is waiting for the eye pupil dialating drops to kick in? Ask me how I know. :) Nevertheless, I am farther along on the back piece than is showing in this photograph. I also switched up my edging yarn to something that is far more subtle than the cream I originally had chosen. This is turning into a cardi with a distinctly fall feel.

My current version of the Definitely in Africa cardigan. I don't know if
you can read the notations, but the first front piece is on the bottom of
the pile (notated at top left), the first sleeve is front and center (notation
mid-left) and the beginning of the back piece is at top right.
See the two different cream yarns
playing together nicely

My Nichols Cardigan is working up creamy good. I've got more motifs done than in this photo, and the shrug is also about half done. Initially I thought this project would take longer than the Definitely In Africa cardigan, but nope. I am whipping right through these pieces. I'll be thrilled once I make the strips for the lower portion of it and start the final construction. I'm definitely aiming to wear this sooner rather than later.

Speaking of these cardigans and Leather, Lace Grit & Grace, don't forget that its bloggy tour is set to start this coming Monday, May 4th. (Go here to see all the stops.) Several bloggers on the tour have been spending time and energy on their respective reviews, and I really appreciate the effort. This book is a little (ok, well maybe a lot!) like my child - I have put so much effort and heart and soul into it. The fact that these bloggers are taking such a considered approach to its review is a gesture I appreciate far more than I can convey in mere words. I hope everyone will take the time to visit each blog stop and give these amazingly talented bloggers some time as well. I will also tell you that the first stop - Dream in Color's blog - got a little help from me, since they are in the midst of a major move. I hope you all enjoy the design anecdote I share, which you'll only read there. On Monday. 

And don't forget, everyone who leaves comments on along the bloggy tour route will be entered into my give-away at the end of the Spring Flingy Thingy for a chance to win yarn, books, and even a Scenic Tour Flight of the Puget Sound in a seaplane! How amazing is that? (And of course, disclaimer: you'll need to get your awesome self to the Puget Sound on your own if you're not local in order to take advantage of this prize so, like, what are you waiting for?)

Ok, is that enough update for one blog post?