Posted in knitting

A Year of Making Features Daily Fiber

Blogger friends, I was pleased to be selected by the folks at LYS Harps and Thistles to appear in their weekly newsletter. This yarn shop is in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, next store to where I grew up. If I only lived in Ohio, it would become my regular hang-out. (sigh)

Anywhoo, the newsletter is full of interesting articles and links to events. Here is the issue that features myself and my blog.

Their webmaster did a great job with the images and narrative. The only correction I would make concerns my mom. The newsletter says she was a quilter. She STILL IS a quilter at the ripe age of 90. She even has a high-end, computerized sewing machine with all the bells and whistles. Go, Mom!

Posted in painting

Final Lesson – Painting Shadows

Yesterday my husband and I returned from a week in Wisconsin. It was the baby’s 2nd birthday and we were there to celebrate. I loved my time there. My granddaughter had just broken the code on language, and words were tumbling out of her mouth in great abundance.

I had intended to post this blog last Sunday, but family life took priority.

The reference image for the lesson was a slightly decayed old service station in South Carolina. I will admit that I wasn’t terribly inspired to paint it. Bu I knew there were lessons to be learned from the effort.

First the sketch. Only a small number of pencil lines were used. I didn’t ink them.

There is a wide curving drive way across the foreground. The sun is coming from the right side of the image. It is high in the sky, but not directly overhead. First wash:

Next came the trees and shrubs in the background.

I was okay with this work, except for the dark tree on the right. The green doesn’t seem to fit with the other shades of green paint. Here is the final painting.

Posted in knitting

Finished Object Friday

I am remiss in not sharing photographs of the completed cashmere socks that I knit for hubby. They have been off the needles for about a week. I was hoping to take a photo of them on his feet, but alas, he hasn’t worn them yet.

They are slightly loose on my feet, but look okay in the photograph.

The cuff is a 3 by 1 rib which is carried on over the foot. I used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s method for heel flap and gusset.

The yarn is from Knit Picks. I enjoyed knitting it so much that I plan to buy more in other colors. Just think how nice a cashmere-blend cowl or scarf will feel around your neck on a cold, blustery day.

Posted in knitting

Wednesday Work in Progress

The weather has been so nice that I have started knitting outside. Yesterday during our weekly knitting session, my friend Kathy helped me fit and measure the top-down cardigan that I cast on last week. The body is already half-way done! Obviously, I am enjoying the process and have spent time working on it daily.

On this back view, you can see the yoke detail. The cables are finished, armhole openings are threaded onto waste yarn and I am speeding toward the hem What’s not visible is the small lace motif that I am inserting. It’s a six-row “snow” pattern. I am staggering the snowflakes about 15 stitches and 14 rows apart. This is my way of staying interested in a project that has long stretches of stockinette stitch.

The only point of suspense is the same age-old question. Will I have enough yarn? These Plymouth Encore balls are pretty hefty. I’m feeling fairly confident that the answer will be in the affirmative. Time will tell.

Posted in painting

More Urban Sketches with Shadows

I continue to work through Shari Blaukopf’s tutorials.

This week’s sketches focus on painting shadows of three dimensional objects. Shari chose three rather pedestrian objects. And yet they offer all the elements an aspiring watercolorist would need for practicing shadow painting.

Fire Hydrant

Waste receptacles, also known as bins or trash cans.

Car parked in bright sunlight.

I find that if I take sufficient time to make a good pencil sketch, the process of applying paint goes pretty easily.

If you are interested in Shari’s tutorials, you can find them here:

Posted in knitting

Cast On Monday

Yarn is Plymouth Encore

Good morning. The sticklers among you will point out that today is Tuesday. But yesterday I didn’t have time to write this post, due to a shopping trip to Tulsa.

My original idea was to make up my own design. It was to be a loose wrap-like cardigan, knitted from the top down, incorporating both cables and lace. I had a few false starts that didn’t please me. So I searched Ravelry for something similar and came up with this delightful pattern by Michelle Porter.

It has all the features I require and I can begin knitting immediately.

The lace pattern has no name, and it isn’t charted. But I am finding the row by row instructions pretty easily to follow.

The color number is 686. While it looks brown, in sunlight it is a heather merlot.

Increases are made by yarn-overs. I love the round motif that progresses into a twining cable. The original pattern has only two pattern repeats. I am considering modifying the back to take the cables all the way down to the waist.

Michelle’s pattern can be found here:

Posted in quilting

Finished Object Friday

It was with great satisfaction that I sewed my last stitch into “Under the Sea” quilt. Today is the big reveal. Since many of you have already seen the completed blocks, instead I will share the inspirations for my quilt’s design.

It all started with sea turtles. I painted the first one last April, on Earth Day. Ultimately, the sea turtle became the centerpiece of this project.

One thing I learned about these amazing animals is that they roam broadly over the ocean. Yet they always return to the place of their birth to start the next generation. It’s a hazardous journey across that beach. Many newly hatched turtles fall prey to other creatures. Even once they are afloat, life is precariously

As I spent time drawing various sea creatures, I realized that I would probably never see a healthy coral reef. Humans have done a poor job of conserving the world’s oceans. According to the National Geographic Society, a mere 7 percent of the sea has any official protection – and these are mostly weak rules, with multiple exceptions. Only 2.5 percent of the ocean is highly protected from human exploitation.

Most disturbing to me is the effect of global warming on the ocean. As more and more carbon dioxide is absorbed by the water, the ocean get more and more acidic. Following that process to its natural conclusion implies a great die-off of species. The acid water will dissolve the calcium in the reefs until they can no longer sustain life.

So my process of making “Under the Sea” turned into a love story about all the creatures living under the threat of extinction.

…….. and a plea to those who have the power to act on their behalf. If we do nothing, what we have left of the ocean may not be enough to sustain our own species.

Because there is always hope, I will leave you with this: The Pristine Seas project launched by National Geographic Society in 2008 has helped create 22 marine reserves across the world’s oceans. New research indicates that as a result of rigorous protection, fisheries adjacent to these no-take zones experienced a rebuilding of stock – almost doubling the catch.

Fish blocks pieced by flip and stitch. Turtles stencil painted, free motion quilted.

It is possible to keep our coral reefs and continue to feed ourselves and our children.

Posted in painting

Crayola Fun

For the past week, my head has been buried in this project:

Under the Sea Quilt – applying binding

Well, today I finally finished it. The big reveal will happen on Friday. You will have to check my post then if you want to see final pictures. As a little break from all the sewing, I took inspiration from Jennell Willey, of “In the Artroom” Check out her blog about using crayons with water color paint as a form of resist.

Because I have been watching hummingbirds whiz back and forth in my backyard, I decided to feature one in this little warm-up exercise. She is approaching a group of tumbling down trumpet vine blossoms.

Next comes a wash of color. I chose turquoise, orange, yellow and blue, to pick up on the crayons I used in the drawing.

A little splatter won’t hurt this painting.

After it was mostly dry, I added a bit of darker green to outline the vines.

And here is the finished painting, dried and with tape removed.

It took all of twenty minutes to make and was very relaxing. If I wanted to explore this technique further, I would sharpen my crayons a bit to get a more precise line. This would be a great technique to use in making greeting cards.

Posted in painting

Structure in the Garden

This blog is about my first watercolor on-line tutorial from Shari Blaukopf. She is a Montreal-based artist who specializes in urban sketching. First let me say, I enjoyed it. The reference photo is of a barn wood clad schoolhouse relocated to an urban garden somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

My first challenge was to draw and ink the essential lines of the image. I took my time over this step, since it is critical in setting up the rest of the painting.

By the way, I’m working on Arches cold-press watercolor paper for the first time. This premier paper is much beloved by watercolorists.

Next I completed the preliminary washes for the sky, building and flowers.

After letting these dry thoroughly, I went to work on the shrubbery and trees. Shari gave instructions on how to mix eight different greens using various blue and yellow paint. This part was really hard for me, partly because I didn’t have all of the paints that she used in her mixes. I had to substitute.

To me, the various green areas look like they don’t belong together.

I let the paper dry for almost a week before I got around to adding the final details. First the lawn went in, then dark green for underpainting the brighter greens. The barn wood got more shading before all final details were added using a small round brush. After drying, I dabbed some white opaque paint onto the flowers to give a little sparkle to the scene. Here is my finished painting.

This is the first time I successfully painted a mass of foliage. I also learned how to paint a lawn and the order to use in painting flowering plants. I’m betting that I will use these techniques in many future paintings.

Shari Blaukopf’s blog is found here: