Studio Wednesday

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I finished my first sock! I have to say though that I found this very challenging despite my many years of knitting experience.I think that there was a typo in the directions when it said to knit one round with “waste” yarn. When it came time to remove the waste yarn and place the stitches on my needles, I ended up with the sock being split into two pieces. When I read the directions and saw that I was supposed to have a lot less stitches than I actually had, I knew there was an error somewhere. So, having just learned the Kitchener stitch to weave the toe stitches together, I wove part of the 2 pieces together (the sock “front”) until I was left with the correct amount of stitches to make the heel. Then I continued with the directions as they were written. Whew! Now that I have started my second sock, I know what to do about the waste yarn knitting round. I think… I do like the yarn but it’s very thin and would work better with another pattern and smaller needles.

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For my glazed heart pendant, I created some copper wire components, antiqued them and then glued them into the pendant with epoxy. I have a whole pile of antiqued wire pieces to be cleaned with steel wool first and then I can start assembling the necklace.

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I’ve also returned to my bead crocheting, this time with some gorgeous Montano hand dyed silk cord. I was concerned about whether the silk cord would be a good choice for bead crochet so I wrote to Lydia over at the Beadwrangler website. She was kind enough to write back, telling me that I could use any kind of cord I wanted as long as it worked for my project. She went on to say that she has experimented with many different kinds of cords, including silk, and encouraged me to do the same. Thanks so much Lydia! With a “bead soup” of coordinating colors and this silk cord, I want to create a multi-strand chain stitch necklace for my “Grow” pendant.

It is with great sadness in my heart to tell you that in a couple of weeks I will no longer be in my studio on Wednesdays. My life circumstances have changed and I find myself having to move again into my own place. So, I will need to work full-time again. That being said, however, I will still be working in my studio in the evenings and on the weekends and will be glad to share whatever projects I’m working on at the time. Even though I won’t technically be in the studio on that day, I will still be exploring the Artful Life and I invite you to join me in my explorations to be shared with you in my Studio posts.

A dear friend recently shared this poem with me. Called Love After Love by Derek Walcott, it really resonated with me at this time. Enjoy!

The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,


and say, sit here.  Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you


all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,


the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit.  Feast on your life.



Studio Wednesday

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Today brought a warm breeze and 65 degree temperatures to tease us out of the winter doldrums. I definitely have spring in my thoughts as I create my glazed polymer clay pieces.

An egg sits on her nest dreaming of possibilities…

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I had used my Makin Clay extruder to create polymer clay spaghetti strands for my glazed heart. Then I started playing with the strands and created this little nest.

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And these balls of yarn. Just playing but in my play some ideas were born.

I’ve started doing some research on the sgraffito technique. Practiced in painting, wall decoration and ceramics, this technique produces a design by scratching through a top layer to reveal the layer underneath. I applied many layers of glaze to my egg and didn’t think that it was exactly what I had imagined in my mind. My carving tool was close by so I started carving into the glazing. I would like to explore this technique further.

I’ve also started a few new knitting projects this past week. Last week, I knit another pair of handwarmers for a friend/colleague at work. Since I had some of this positively yummy cream and pink yarn left over, I started a cozy neck cowl. I found a really cool pattern here at t does wool’s blog. You knit a 6 1/2″ x 20″ strip in an interesting ribbed pattern (what does knit 1 in st below mean anyway?) and then create a 2 button and loops clasp so you can secure it around your neck. I’ve never seen anything like this before but I discovered that it’s apparently very popular with knitters. It reminds me of my free-form bracelets with the buttons and loops clasp.

Hey, I just got another idea…

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My Mom sent me some “sock” yarn in autumn colors. As you knit, the variegation of the yarn creates stripes. How cool is that.

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Do you see the stripe of blue yarn? Well, the pattern I’m making (called “All That Jazz” textured socks from the book “Vogue Knitting On The Go: Socks Two”) called for knitting one round with “waste” yarn. I wasn’t really sure what they were talking about but I figured that it wasn’t the yarn I was using to knit the socks with. Hehe So I just grabbed some left over yarn and knit around. At some point, I will need to take that yarn out and transfer the stitches onto my needles. Sounds rather tricky. I’ll keep you posted.

I find myself jumping around from project to project these days.  Polymer clay. Knitting. Art journaling. My acupuncturist told me that people are starting to feel spring energy already. That restless, jumping around, things ready to be born and burst type of energy.

I’ve got to prioritize my projects here…

Yarn Adventures

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I find that as I get older, winter’s icy fingers burrow farther into my bones and muscles and no matter how many wooly layers I wrap myself in, I just can’t get warm enough. So, before the holidays, my desire to steep myself in warmth gently nudged me to seek out one of my passions that was now buried in tote bags in the back of my closet.  Balls of yarn in colors rich as jewels – amethyst, carnelian and ruby – spilled out onto the floor all around me like found treasure as I rummaged through my bags. I sat down with my long metal crochet hook and my big round balls of yarn and created long strips of color blocks that I then wove together with a tapestry needle, one by one. As my blanket grew, it cocooned around me, warming my body and my heart with the rhythm of the colorful stitches.

I was happy when I finally finished my blanket but sad to give up the meditative state of the needles so I dug back into my bags to unearth another ball of yarn in a gentle sage green with silky flecks of brown, green and blue. I created a scarf and then when that was done, it was back to my yarn stash. Now a ball of shiny ruby red. Another scarf. Hey, this is as addicting as beading. I wrote about making the blanket and 2 scarves here.

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Before I left for my annual holiday trek to Michigan, my Mom told me not to bring any art projects with me because she had gone to the knitting store and picked up something for us to do. Oh joy, another adventure in knitting!  As the fairy lights twinkled like stars on my parents’ Christmas tree, I made my first pair of mittens out in snowy Michigan. While I was happily knitting away, I thought that it would be so nice to be able to wear my mittens while I work on my computer. So, I studied the mitten pattern and adapted it to create a pair of open mittens, that is, with no tips on the fingers. I know that there are knitting patterns out there for a pair of fingerless gloves, in fact, Dave has a pair where the top of the mitten flaps back to reveal the fingerless glove. I just wanted something simple with an opening for my fingers so I could type unrestricted. I used a double strand of wooly yarn for thickness and warmth and was able to make them in one evening. This is a great project for using all of those bits and pieces of yarn left over from other projects. It’s fun to use 2 strands of different yarns to create interesting color and texture.

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As we enter this last week of January, I feel a stirring in the inner chambers of my heart that whispers of thawing and melting. Perhaps it is just coming from the creative visualization that I’ve been doing for my frozen shoulder or just plain ol wishful thinking but I’d like to dream that spring is not too far away.

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.

Studio Wednesday

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It felt good to be back for a full day in my studio today! My last full studio day was 3 weeks ago because of busyness with my jewelry show preparations and the holiday last week.

I’m thrilled to have recently received a commission to create a freeform peyote bracelet in a green, brown, gold, russet and salmon palette. Here are the seed beads and pearls I’ve chosen so far. This bracelet will be smaller in width than the last one.

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I have some other projects in the works, like finishing my beaded turquoise cab necklace and creating a fringey bracelet with my citrus cane slices. I’m also working on some crocheted and knitted holiday gifts. I can post photos closer to Christmas so I don’t give any secrets away right now.

I’ve been thinking about what kinds of new projects I’d like to play with after the holidays. I find myself captivated by the book, “Wrap, Stitch, Fold and Rivet” by Mary Hettmansperger. Mary’s approach to manipulating metal and wire to create stunning pieces of jewelry resonates with my preference for creating in a freeform way. Her background in weaving and basketry brings a unique voice to these materials. I would like to try some of the projects in the book and see what I can create. Also calling to me are crocheting with wire, arashi shibori and making my own polymer clay beads for bead crocheting. I have many ideas floating around in my head and I’m looking forward to manifesting them in the New Year. Oh yes, I just got the book, “Masters: Art Quilts” out of the library and I am absolutely in love with the work of Cher Cartwright and her fabulous dyed fabric quilts. Grab a cup of tea and visit her website for an eye candy feast. Very inspiring!

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.

Saturday Morning Tea

Happy Fall! This morning I am enjoying a cup of rich, dark Yunnan Golden Tips black tea. While the tea itself is a dark chocolate color, the leaves are a beautiful golden yellow. These are the very tips, the new growth, of the tea tree. In Yunnan province, the particular type of tea plants that grow there are actually trees with very large leaves. The tips are carefully plucked and processed to create special lots of this tea.

I had some fun arranging the wet leaf on this misty rainy morning.

The aroma and taste is of exotic spices and dark honey with a silky smooth mouth feel. There is a hint of earthy smoke in the finish. This tea would go very well with milk or cream but I don’t think it needs a sweetener because of its natural sweetness. I steeped the leaves for 5 minutes in boiling water.

There was a period of time last year where this type of tea was very challenging to obtain. I think it was because of the quickly growing popularity of Pu-ehr teas. The leaf used in the processing of this tea comes from the same area and tea trees as Pu-ehr tea. I’m happy to say that there is a return of the Yunnan blacks this year but a lot of what I’ve seen so far is very special and more expensive.

The weather forecast is for rainy skies all weekend as 2 storms head up the coast to New England. I am going to devote most of my weekend to working (and hopefully finishing) a knitted blanket for my soon to be born granddaughter Ella. That’s why I’ve been quiet this week.  All of my free time has been filled with knitting needles and yarn! I’ll post a picture soon.

I’m also headed off to the Whole Bead show in Providence this weekend, too. I’ll post a picture of my newly acquired treasures as soon as I can!