Studio Wednesday

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It’s a wild weather day outside, pouring rain, whipping winds and temperatures……..in the 60s.  I spent most of the day in my studio but instead of crouched over one of my worktables, I cozied up on the couch with my knitting and crocheting projects.

I love to use a lot of different colors of yarn but then end up with a gazillion little threads to weave in. There’s something very meditative about the movement of yarn and needles. Click, clack, click. With every stitch made, I send love and warmth into my creation.

The photo above shows an afghan stitch (or Tunisian stitch) with a gorgeous purple, red and orange variegated yarn. You use a special long crochet hook and start off by making a chain of stitches. Then you draw a loop through every chain stitch, leaving the loops on the long crochet hook. Once you’ve drawn a loop through every chain stitch, you place the yarn over the hook, draw through one stitch, place the yarn over the hook, draw through 2 stitches and repeat drawing through 2 stitches across the row. Then you start all over with drawing a loop up through every stitch. So, you’re basically repeating these 2 rows throughout the whole piece.

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This is a seed stitch which is a knit one, purl one stitch across your row. Then, on your next row, you do the opposite of the row before. Where there is a knit stitch, you purl. Where there is a purl stitch, you knit. It creates this wonderful bumpy texture. This yarn is a sage green with little flecks of silky blue, tan and green threads.

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This is also a knit one, purl one stitch but where it differs from the seed stitch is that you line up all of the knit and purl stitches. So, on your second row, you knit where there is a knit stitch and purl where there is a purl stitch (from the first row). This is called ribbing and is commonly found at the wrists and waist of a sweater. It creates a very elastic texture and the purl stitches recede so that it looks like all knit stitches on both sides of what you’re creating. My yarn is a rich deep wine red with flecks of silky red threads.

I had some very exciting news today. My son, who is in the Air Force, is finally coming home after completing his tech school training in Texas. He’ll be home tomorrow afternoon and will meet his one month old daughter, Ella, for the very first time. My heart swells just thinking about this very special moment.

Warm Scarves and Tissue Bags

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This is my faithful companion, traveling everywhere with me these days, and keeping my neck nice and warm. My Mom loves color, too, and she picked out this gorgeous watercolor yarn and knit it in a knit one, purl one stitch so it appears all knitted from both sides. I love wearing these soft muted colors. As I see them everyday, I am beginning to be inspired to pull out my polymer clay and mix up these colors. Hmmmm, what shall I create?

Do you have a favorite piece of clothing whose colors, pattern and/or texture inspires you?

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Every year at my show, I would bring tissue paper and stickers so I could individually wrap each item I sold from earrings to necklaces to bracelets. Well, this was a time consuming task, especially when the only surface I had to wrap on was a plastic molded chair. Also, my customers would have to wait in line while I wrapped each parcel. Not good for selling. I was trying to keep costs down by not purchasing gift boxes or bags so I could in turn have my jewelry more reasonably priced as well.

This year I sat and thought about this for awhile and I came up with the idea of taping the tissue beforehand.  And thus, my tissue pouches were born. These pouches are easy to make and so much fun!

First, you take one layer of tissue paper and spread it out. You will see that it has natural folds. Cut along each fold so that you have a long strip about 3 inches wide or so. The folds already there make it super easy to know where to cut. Now fold your strip in half lengthwise so you have a shorter strip double layered. Now fold up the raw end side (lengthwise) to about an inch or so below the folded end side. Tape the sides with scotch tape. Be careful here because once the tape is on the tissue, you can’t remove it. Ask me how I learned this! I placed half the tape lengthwise on one side and then folded it over to the other side, thus sealing that side. Once you’ve taped up a bunch of tissue pouches, you can have fun with your paint. I used Lumiere gold and copper acrylic paint. Now paint over the tape on the sides to hide it and paint along the bottom of the pouch. You can randomly paint on the pouch (as I did) or leave it plain. Now hang your pouch upside down to dry. I purchased some festive stickers for closing the flap. It’s a perfect size for a small gift. For larger gifts just cut your tissue paper according to the size you need and make your pouch the same way.

Now I’m thinking that I could do this with fabric. Oh, the possibilities…

The personal life deeply lived always expands

into truths beyond itself.

-Anais Nin

Saturday Morning Tea

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I’m up early on this cool late November morning, contemplating all of the abundance and treasure that fills my life. The hamster wheel of thoughts in my mind can often bring me back to what is lacking or missing in my life, all that I have lost. We all do that from time to time, right? If only I…I should have…why didn’t I? I try so hard not to get caught up in this negative spiral of thoughts. I have found that the best solution in the face of that downturn is to stop myself, take a deep breath and focus on what is actually here, what I do have. So, in the spirit of all that is present in my life, I am sipping a China white tea called Fuding White Treasure. This tea is grown in the Fuding hills of Fujian province.

fudingwtwet112908White teas are harvested from a Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (tea plant) varietal that will grow bigger leaves with more downy white hairs on the new growth. It is these fine hairs that give the leaves its whitish look and its name. The silvery white down is accentuated on the dry leaf which then turns a beautiful light green during a 3 minute steeping in 180 degree F water.

fudingwtsteep112908The green look of the wet leaf foreshadows its vegetal aroma and taste, much like that of a very fine green tea. To me, the difference lies in the soft delicacy of this tea, a gentle treasure. I find this tea much lighter in taste than a green tea.  It also has a whisper of sweetness that lingers in the smooth finish.

fudingwtpour112908White tea is hand picked in the springtime, most ideally in cool, dry weather. After picking, the leaves are withered (dried out) in the sun. During adverse weather conditions, the leaves are brought inside to be withered under carefully controlled conditions. The temperature and humidity will contribute greatly to the final taste of the tea so the tea master monitors all of these conditions very closely. After withering, the leaves are roasted or baked to further remove moisture from the leaves and halt oxidation (turning dark). White tea is the least processed of all of the tea categories so the leaf is the closest to its original state which gives it its delicate flavor.

fudingwtteabowl112908I wrap my hands around my warm teabowl and give thanks for this treasure that is now warming my hands. I love doing that in cold weather, a lovely little ritual that helps me stop what I’m doing and be present in the moment. I focus on the delicious warmth of my teabowl and how wonderful it feels on my cold hands.

What do you do that helps you become present in the moment?

Thanksgiving

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The other day I was sitting on the couch writing in my journal. As I glanced up, I noticed that the room had filled with light as the sun came out from behind a cloud. This hibiscus bloom had just fully opened that morning and it glowed as the light from outside came in and illuminated it from behind. I was so taken with the moment that I held my breath and just gazed at this magnificent flower. Then, of course, I ran and grabbed my camera.

I am thankful for amazing moments like these.

I am thankful for my wonderful family and friends.

I am thankful for being able to get up every morning, take a deep breath and then journey out to experience this beautiful world.

I am thankful for the ability to see and love colors, patterns, textures and shapes and express my authentic self through them.

I am thankful for everything warm these days – a steaming mug of tea, a roaring fire, a cozy scarf, a fleece blanket.

I am thankful for being closer to nature in my new home – the majestic trees, the birds and wood critters, our gardens sleeping now under big piles of leaves, the sunrises and sunsets, the clouds writing their messages in the everchanging sky.

I am thankful for all of the friends I’ve made here and the opportunity that we have to connect and share our stories and passions.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Gabriella

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When I hold Ella and talk to her, I feel like she knows so much more than I do. She holds so much wisdom inside of her and you can catch glimpses of it on her face if you look closely. Now some might think that’s crazy because she’s 2 days old and I’m 50 years old. However, to see her listen intently like this, I can feel how close her spirit is to the divine source and to the answers to all of our questions. She is so newly arrived in this world that I can feel how strongly connected she is with everyone and everything in this world and beyond. She just can’t tell us because of the limitations of this brand new tiny body she is in. It is there though and I am listening carefully. What do you have to tell us, precious little Ella?

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Can you tell how much I love her already?

Ella’s Blanket

Right around the time I found out that I was going to be a grandmother for the first time, my Mom, an avid knitter, gifted me with this gorgeous yarn and showed me a new stitch. It all flowed together so synchronistically that I decided to knit a blanket for the baby, using my new yarn and the stitch I just learned. We have since found out that she is a girl and her name will be Gabriella, Ella for short. She is due to be born at the end of October and we can’t wait for her arrival!

The stitch is not too hard once you get the hang of it. It creates little diamond shaped units that build upon each other. You create 2 diamond shapes (the bottom edge is curved instead of pointy) and then pick up stitches from the right side of one diamond and the left side of the other to create a new diamond that links them together. You continue in this fashion and can make your piece as wide or as long as you want.

I found a book through my library system called Domino Knitting and the pattern and stitches in that book reminded me very much of this pattern.

The yarn I used is called Noro “Matsuri”, comprised of 87% cotton and 18% wool, giving it breathability along with warmth. The only drawback is that it needs to be handwashed but I know that most washers these days have a delicate or handwash cycle so that should be ok. I also think that any handmade knitted piece should be delicately washed anyway.

As I write this, memories drift up of my daughter’s favorite blanket when she was a child. It was a pure white crocheted blanket, created by one of my colleagues at the bank where I worked at that time. She loved that blanket so much that…well…sorry, Aim….we ended up calling it the “string” blankie.  Memories like that fill my heart with warmth and love.

I hope that my new granddaughter will love her new blanket, too.

I’ve been Tagged

It’s wonderful when friends come for a visit. In that spirit, I’ve been tagged by Vivage for an internet meme. It’s a fun game where someone tags you to, in this case, answer some questions about yourself. It gives your friends, new and old, the opportunity to learn some things about you.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

10 years ago my children were 17, 14 and 10 so, depending upon the time of year, I was very much involved in their ice hockey, field hockey, baseball, band practice and various other activities. I was also working part-time at the tea company and creating jewelry and selling it at arts and crafts shows in my area.

2. 5 things on today’s to-do list:

*Work in my studio (yay!)
*Work on my April BJP page.
*Help my son take care of some things before he leaves for Air Force basic training next week.
*Take Jack (our dog) for a walk.
*Do some more unpacking (ugh).

3. Snacks I enjoy:

Haagen daz vanilla frozen yogurt with fresh raspberries (Yum!)
Any kind of fruit
Anything chocolate

4. Things I’d do if I were a billionnaire!

Wow, I’m such a frugal person who has always lived on a limited budget so this is a hard one to contemplate. Anyway, here goes.

Quit my job.

Travel all over the world, first to Hawaii, and bring my family and friends, too.

Pay off all the debt that my family owes like mortgages and student and car loans.

Build a beach house with a fabulous studio with lots of windows overlooking the ocean and have workshops and retreats there.

Donate a lot of money to help all types of living beings.

Play in my studio a lot more

5. Places I have lived:

New Jersey
Ohio
Illinois
Massachusetts
Kansas

6. Peeps I want to know more about

Anyone who would like to play along!