Luscious Gracious! Look What We Made Today!

A blog devoted to the art of the Luscious Gracious clan.

Monday, August 29, 2005

In Between Days


Today (Monday) has been a little too much like the last several....days, years, whatever....

I don't know what to do with myself (so come on, am I quoting Robert Smith or Jack White, who were both quoting other people in the first place?).

I am bored. It's too hot to do anything at all, and things just seem ANXIOUS.

Usually, it helps to knit. But I just finished two big sweaters, and really don't have another project to go to (I am one of those very annoying knitters who finishes what she starts). I made the socks to match the ones I made for Illanna, out of that yarn I dyed some weeks ago. I think they are kind of ugly, but I have a closeness to them anyway. I am making another pair for Stephen, but they are far from inspiring (I don't blame the yarn. It is a very nice Lang "JAWOOL" jacquard, in color 82, which is basically brown on brown). Socks CAN be fun, I know that, but I prefer this mindless knitting in between other projects. I always make them the same way, and try them on as I go (this can serve as a bit of entertainment, as I made S take off his shoes several times while knitting at the City Bakery on Saturday. No Health Code Officials descended to break up our band of merry knitters, but you never know). I have a circular shawl in soy silk that I am busy designing, but it is not inspiring me either. I don't want to design. I don't want to knit someone else's patterns. I have plenty of new yarn, new books, new ideas....but BLAH!
I can't sit down, or relax, or even enjoy my nightly Green Tea Crack-a-Chino. We just said goodbye to two very special visitors, and are waiting for three more to arrive later this week. We are waiting for news about the hurricane and my free-spirit brother in New Orleans (Steve has taken to making jokes about Katrina and the Waves to relieve some of the pressure). We may or may not have FINALLY sold the Indy house after 13 months of nothing. The girls are back in school for the year, and are getting settled quite nicely. I am between a good and bad spell with my health, and I am frankly tired of waiting to see which way the see-saw tips.

Here at LGS we don't really care for being quite this "Bloggish" for the most part, but I feel a little dive into personal details and such is a needed indulgence from time to time, and when I hate myself for it in the morning, I will chalk it up to seeing Venus and Mars in the same week. I also know that in a day or two, things will be back to whatever normal is to me and those around me, but for right now, it is all just getting to be too much. Or maybe it's not enough. It is so hard to tell.

So, I ask you, dear knitters, help me out.....Tell me what to knit. Give me inspiration in what you are knitting. What do you do on in-between days, those days when you don't really want to get out of bed, but have to because you did sign up for parenthood or school or some other type of job once upon a time? LusciousGraciousStudios professes a strict "create something every day" rule, which is what keeps us going for the most part, but I can (and often do) accomplish that in my sleep. I have decided to take every single piece of advice from all of you and combine it into something smashing, or smash-worthy. It's a challenge, for both of us. You get to decide what you think would entertain and/or annoy me, and I get to take out all of my ennui on your recommendations. If we are all lucky, I may even throw a hammer at the finished object, a la Man Ray.....I am getting a wee bit encouraged already.

While I wait for responses, let me tell you a little more about myself (I figure if I am going to be "that type" of blogger, I may as well go all out, and even if no one ever reads it, the girls can look back on it and see what a nutter their mother was at this stage in my life, which may go a long way toward explaining whatever condition I am in at that time. I have a feeling they will be looking long and hard for clues).

I read "Old New York", a collection of four novellas by Edith Wharton (all very precise in their perfection), "Ripley's Game" by Patricia Highsmith (I couldn't stop picturing John Malkovich as "Tome"), and "Sins of the 7th Sister" by Huston Curtiss (chilling and heartwarming AT THE SAME TIME) this weekend. All three are worthy of a cheerful recommendation, but apparently not even the best of literature could break me out of this funk.

I could cast about for blame, and say it's the weather, or maybe it's our favorite yarn shop taking a three week holiday (grumble, grumble, but it IS much deserved, and who in their right mind needs yarn when it is almost 120 degrees outside, anyway?). Perhaps it's just the disease and the bad dreams and visions that come with it, or it could be that the children are back at school. Maybe it's the threat of turning another year older and not even being somewhere with beautiful leaf-turning to make it bearable. I suspect it all has something to do with the departure of a true friend of my heart...but the truth is it is all of those things and it is none of those things. Let's just chalk it up to a fibre deficiency and add a little more wool to my diet. I promise in a weeks' time to have something spectacular to share, some truly blog-worthy miracle of knitting. Or at least a photo or two of some more socks. Yeah for socks!

I know what I need. That big bag of chocolate, and Elizabeth's "Almanac". And I don't even have to get out of bed to get either one. I feel better already.

Sincerely,
kikiluscious, who has discovered that there are actually TWO bags of chocolate, and therefore may not leave the bed until October.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Felted Bags, Contact Us, and Labor Day Sale?

It has been 3 weeks since the Knitty surprise. Plenty of time to make a felted bag, right. So, has anyone made "Numbers"? I found a couple, The Knitting Mama made two and knitvixen made one. We love feedback here at Luscious Gracious, so if you've made this or any other of our patterns, please let us know. To make it easier to contact us. We added this Contact Us form over in the sidebar. This lets you let us know how to reach you if you aren't a blogger registered user and a way to not have your question or comment posted for all to see. Please use this for all hate mail!

Speaking of felted bags, I felted my latest pyramid bag this week. Here are some photos.

Front View

Top View

Detail of the very fuzzy Lite Lopi by Reynolds in Black & Light Fuchsia


I think this picture looks like it is trying to run away.

The pattern for this bag will be available shortly.

Labor Day Sale? Well not really. We are extending the special $25 price for The Official Luscious Gracious Studios Complete Organizational System through Labor Day, 9/5/05. After that it will cost you more. This lovely item includes one-of-a-kind cover art, a nice printed copy of all the free stuff on our website, some LGS goodies & samples, and the Henri pattern pictured below.

All-in-all it is 30 pages of knitting patterns, tutorials, and tips in a pretty binder. So buy it now! Obey My Dog!

Steve

Monday, August 22, 2005

For The Love Of Color

a little something by kikiluscious
(file under More August Tips)


When it comes to color, Stephen is the LusciousGraciousStudios resident expert. He can group yarns in a shop (or from the baskets at home) better, and faster, than anyone I have ever seen. He can also read people, and responds quite naturally to their own sense of color. No matter what, he always looks nice. On the other hand, I think I may be the only woman that I know who has never had her colors "done". When in doubt, I wear black. Otherwise, I tend to dress as though I am a "Halloween" with "Mardi Gras" undertones.

So, if you need help choosing a color of yarn (or paint, or car, or hair, whatever), ask Mr. LusciousGracious. But if you want a little advice about what to do with color, I may be able to help you. I grew up surrounded by color, texture, nature, and other artists. I always knew what I liked. But when I started playing with stacks of beautiful fabrics I learned more about color than I thought was possible. There are great books, classes, and articles about color theory available online, at the library, at art centers, and at the bookstore. One of my own favorites is the essay in "Last Minute Knitted Gifts" by Joelle Hoverson. She gives great basic information, and tells you how to learn more in her recommended reading section.

You can learn so much about color by studying theory, and knowing how and why value, hue, and tint change in relation to color combinations is important. Knowing about light, about purity of tone, and about complimentary and contrasting shades can help you when you are ready to plan, design, or create something. Structured learning is vital to a complete understanding, but I dare say that you can only get to know color (or anything else, really) from the inside out by experimenting. Here are a few ideas to get you started, and a word of advice: It's just yarn. Use it. Don't be afraid of waste. Any time and material spent on learning something is never a waste.

First, try saving snippets of yarn. Collect those snippets from weaving in ends in a plastic bag or clear jar, and look at them every time you sit down in your favorite knitting corner. Arrange small leftover balls of yarn in bowls on the coffee table or on your dresser. Take small strings and staple them to a white card. Now try a black card, or an orange one. You can just wrap the yarn around different cards instead, or braid several strands of yarn and observe how the colors look together. See what you come up with on your own. Getting ideas yet?

Next, make a little random project. This is a good way to try out color combinations that you may have never considered otherwise. This project doesn't have to be large or take much time at all. Put those leftover bits, along with small amounts of whatever stash yarn you have on hand, into a large paper bag. Reach in and grab one without looking. Knit a row (or two). When that yarn is gone, select another, again without looking. Even if you would never put those two particular yarns together, keep knitting. See how each color changes the other. Keep going. Make a child's hat, or knit a Fair Isle design into an entire sweater

(that's how I made this beauty. I had nothing to do with it. It is a very simple design, and the colors did all of the work). Some colors will clash. You will cringe, and possibly grit your teeth. It's good for you. Persevere, and wait to see what happens with the finished project. Take some notes, and use them when choosing yarn online or at the store, or when you are ready to dye your own at home.

When you are working with several colors, you may want to consider the following:
1. Try charcoal and cream instead of black and white, which don't really blend in with a multi-colored project. But that contrast can be great when it is what you are trying to achieve.
2. Yellow is usually the first color to draw the eye. You may want to use it sparingly and distribute it equally throughout a big project. Or, if attracting attention is what you want, go all out and make yellow a predominant theme (think traffic signs, police tape, Ali G., and bumblebees).
3. Don't be afraid to mix pastels with brights. Throw in some neutrals. If you have twenty colors, and it is just not working, add ten or twenty more. Additional shades can help the eye bridge the gap between clashing colors. As boring as it may sound, bring in some shades of brown. Browns make other colors appear richer. Also consider greys, which can really tone down something that has become too boisterous.

Overwhelmed with "busy" colorwork? Even working in all the same color can be rewarding and surprising. I learned this while making an all-red quilt. Someone told me that "all reds match", but I could not believe it. After all, would you put the garish red of Raggedy Ann's hair next to the deep burgundy of your favorite dinner wine? But I started to study monochromatic pieces of art done in paint, stitches and paper. I also began to collect a stack of red fabrics. Again, the solution came in variety. You may not like Cherry Kool-Aid next to that Merlot, but when you fill out the palette with cranberry, bittersweet, crimson, pinkish strawberry, and rust, you will stop seeing orange-reds and blue-reds and begin to see just RED!! Whew!! I found out that all reds DO match (or at least they can survive side by side). Now, you try it, this time with green.

I hope that this little essay is helpful, at least to someone. At LusciousGraciousStudios, we may be able to put yarns together, but don't ask us to pick out your clothes in the morning. We are still waiting for someone to create Garanimals for adults....Who's with me?
Kikiluscious

p.s. Here's a little something for everyone who commented on the sweater I completed over the weekend. It's especially for Adrian over at Hello Yarn. She doesn't need a lecture on color, but we have this mutual admiration society thing going, so this crazy hand-sketched chart is in her honor. Go Hello Yarn!!

As for Fair Isle patterns, this one is really a breeze. First, there are only two stitches at a time (no wrapping those annoying carries!) as it is a four-stitch repeat on each row. This also means that it is easy on the tension-impaired among us. Each symbol on the chart represents a different color. Make it up....you can use just a few colors or go all out. Use colored pencils first, if you are anxious. Second, the pattern repeats every eight rows, which makes it easy to memorize. It is also easy to "read" the stitches on the row below to tell what you are ready to knit. If you want to learn to knit with two colors, I have included a complete tutorial along with my "Kate" pattern. It teaches both the one- and two-handed methods of Fair Isle knitting, and has been a successful teacher so far.

I am including the chart because I have never seen it anywhere else. I don't pretend to be the only one to ever use this combination before (come on, it's so simple), but I didn't take it from anything I have ever seen.

I am not including the pattern for the sweater because, while I did not follow a certain pattern, I also did not make up the technique. It is a simple one-piece raglan, made in the traditional way. I like to weave the underarms for added stretch, so I like the instructions for the technique that Elizabeth Zimmermann perfected. See any of her books. Even if you don't want to make a raglan sweater, you should read every single word she has ever written. I would read this woman's grocery lists if I could. I am sure that they, too, would keep me up at night, fantasizing about wonderful meals from simple ingredients, just like her knitting.

Another tip. All of those colors equal hundreds of ends to weave in, right? Nope. I hate that part, so I am a spitter. I cut the yarn I am using just where I want it to end, then I backstitch (tink) a few stitches to leave that little tail. I then tease out the end, tease the end of the new yarn to be joined for an inch or so, and spit on them both (this only works if the yarns are wool, another reason to knit with animal fibers). Now, overlap those ends and rub together in the palm of your hand to felt the fibers. Voila. Now your sweater contains your spit AND all of your hair that you've knitted in, so you better watch who ends up with it......it's ripe for a voodoo curse.

Speaking of who ends up with it, any suggestions? Too hot for Arizona, this little ditty is up for grabs. Should I host a contest? I don't think Steve will let me.

-k

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Art, Rock, & Rock Art

Lily went to her first Rock Concert Friday night. She took her Dad to see The White Stripes. You know how Kiki loves wristbands, so she knit Lily some special White Stripes-Wear for the event.
The White Stripes have red & white peppermint swirls as a recurring theme in their look.

Kiki made the headband and the wristband from Cascade Fixation.

Kiki even made an extra wristband for fellow White Stripes fans & knitting friend, Mel, who went with us to the concert.

Lily loved her first concert! Jack & Meg put on a great show, and still had us home by 10:30. Which was a good thing, since we woke up at 6 the next morning to head north.

One of our dearest friends and fellow photographer, David Liggett (a.k.a. cute-David) is visiting. So the girls put on their hats & sunscreen and we headed for Sedona.


We started our day at the Palatki Heritage Site. Here we were inspired by lots of pictographs or rock paintings left behind by the Sinagua.

This one looked like the moon over the AZ mountains to us.

The pictographs were mostly red & white. These had turned black from smoke.

Many animals were pictured. We saw pictographs of what looked like goats, bears, snakes, turtles,

antelope(?),

jellyfish???(not really a pictograph, just Mother Nature's version), and of course...

the foxbot.

At Palatki we also were able to see the ruins of a Sinaguan village.

After Palatki we drove Red Rock Loop road where I took this picture of Cathedral Rock.

We then went down to Crescent Moon Ranch for a different view.

I know everyone who visits this place has this same picture (with or without clouds). Heck, I'm sure if you look hard enough you can find one just like it that I took before. But who cares, it is still one of the most beautiful places I've seen.

While there, Kiki sat in the shade and finished her Fair Isle Sweater!

This beauty is made of many different scraps of wool. Left-overs from other projects and even donated left-overs from friends.

I love the way the inside looks too. Here you get a peek on the neckline. Now Kiki just needs to find a home for this gorgeous sweater(a little warm for AZ).

While Kiki knit in the shade, the kids played in the water, and David & I took many photos. Check David's out after he returns at www.daveliggett.com, but here are some of mine now (the instant gratification of digital & 1 hr processing).

Prickly Pear.
Not sure what kind of flower, but pretty none-the-less.

Striped rock formations at Palatki.

More stripes.
Rocks at Crescent Moon Ranch.

More rocks.

Today we went to Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. Not nearly as photogenic as Sedona, but located right here in Phoenix. The museum was very informative about the Hohokam and their life here in AZ.

They were very successful in trading their cotton and jewelry with other tribes. The museum credited their expansive canal system, cotton monopoly, and artistry for their success. I think it might have been that they built their village right next to the airport! The museum is worth the trip for locals. I'd recommend visiting on a cooler day if possible.

A few more knitting goodies for those of you overwhelmed by the amount of photography content in this post.

I finished this pyramid bag (triangle version) over the weekend, pattern coming soon. Just need to felt it.

Kiki dug up the yarn for her next project. It was so pretty it deserved a picture in the pre-knit stage. Stay tuned to see what she makes of this.

Steve

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Luscious Gracious Knitting Tips #2

Tips From The Luscious Gracious Children (clarification of children's handwritten ones from the other day)

We at LusciousGraciousStudios have been accused of running a bit of a sweatshop here in Phoenix. But we ask you, how else could we serve our public?

So, here’s a little something garnered through those long, hot hours of knitting with wool in temperatures exceeding 115 degrees.

Lucy’s Tips:
Always have yarn.
Knit what you feel like knitting.
Have a good yarn store to visit.
Have fun with your projects!

**Editorial Comment** Hmmmm. Surprisingly Zen-like for a Fiber Apprentice. Note to selves: Work her harder.

Lily’s Tip:
When you knit a sock on double pointed needles, always knit two extra stitches from the next needle before changing to the empty needle. For example, you have Needle 1, empty, in your hands. You knit all of the stitches from Needle 2 onto N1, but instead of using the now empty N2 to knit the stitches from Needle 3, you should knit two stitches from N3 onto N1, then knit the remaining stitches from N3 onto N2, and knit two stitches from N4 onto N2 before knitting onto N3, which will then be empty. Again, to clear that up, I will give you Lily’s exact words, “When you knit a sock, at the end of each needle, knit two stitches onto that needle.”


Why, you ask? Why, to get rid of pesky “ladders” where you switch needles, of course. Use in any type of double pointed needle knitting.

The rest of today's tips deal with the controversial. You have been warned!
#1 Choosing Yarn

This tip always gets people in an uproar. So, I am just going to come out and say it: Knit with your favorite yarn. What feels best to you in a yarn shop? Feel ALL the skeins, balls, hanks, cakes, cones.....and then buy some of what makes you melt. Favorite doesn’t have to mean expensive. You are going to be spending a lot of time with that yarn, especially if you are making yourself something you really want to wear. Time is more precious than money. Knit with the best (whatever that means to you).

#2 Steve says to felt whatever you want to, as long as it will felt


Girlfriend freaking out that you are putting angora or cashmere or hand-dyed alpaca in the machine? Laugh maniacally and throw it in for a hot bath! IT’S ONLY YARN, PEOPLE!!!! Felting doesn’t necessarily make the fibers more rough. You may be surprised at just how soft that little piece of knitted bunny hair becomes after a severe washing.

#3 Life Is Short Don’t waste time knitting something you would rather not. If you know that a new mom in the family is going to shrink whatever hand-knit dainties you give her, she would be happier with a gift card from Baby Gap. Brother-in-law want you to knit seat covers for his truck? This, the same guy who gave you a can of peanuts from the gas station on your 50th birthday? Naw. Tell him your arthritis is acting up, then give him the name and number of your knitting nemesis. Let her deal with his wacko requests. On the flip side, if your three-year-old niece asks for a fuzzy lime-green raincoat, and you’ve been dying to try out the pattern, start knitting. Shorten that “must knit” list, and start in on something that truly inspires you.

Also, if you get through a year of constant knitting, and see that you have nothing to show for it in your own drawers and closets, set aside the upcoming month or two for yourself. Knit ONLY things that you will wear or use. See how quickly your fingers fly when you know that you will be modeling your latest creation. Knitting for others, especially charity knitting, is very important. Just don’t forget that the knitter needs a little luxury, too.

So, what is Luscious Gracious suggesting? Treat yourself well. Try something new. Experiment. Jump off the bandwagon.
You know, same as always.

P.S. LouLou from Nova Scotia left a tip for our LuLu. Knit both socks at the same time. This is a great tip that Kiki usually follows for all the reasons LouLou mentioned, plus your tension may change before you get around to that second sock (even on the same needles with the same yarn, same # of stitches and rows). Don't let this happen to your socks....

Luscious Gracious

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Look What We Made This Week

Look what we made this week!

Lily made this camera bag. It says "Lily's Camera." She knit it with Brown Sheep Bulky. The cute sheep button came from Jessica Knits.


Lucy made this pretty little sock out of green and pink Cascade Fixation. The other one is on its way soon!

Steve made this houndstooth pocketbook using Kiki's Kate pattern. This was my first attempt at Fair Isle. I learned from the pattern how to knit with multiple colors both one- and two-handed!

I need to work on my tension, as I knit even tighter with 2 colors (hard to believe that is possible, but the bottom with 1 yarn isn't supposed to flare out like that). I love Fair Isle so much, I may never knit with 1 color again! My next project is underway & I am working on the tension thing. By the way, Lite Lopi by Reynolds in Black & Light Fuchsia used here. My button also came from Jessica's.

Kiki made this pretty pink sweater using the Elizabeth Zimmermann method with a few modifications. It's from exactly 5 skeins of Cascade 220 wool in a rose heather.

Kiki added ribs on the side for a little shaping.

She also changed the neck to include this lovely ribbed design.


All of the above photos were taken Saturday at City Bakery, our favorite Saturday knitting spot (Yum!). They are in this old warehouse called the Bentley Projects in downtown Phoenix. They share the space with a book store and a gallery. The food is fabulous, the staff is attentive, and we usually go for breakfast, stay for lunch, and knit until they kick us out at 3 pm. That's every Saturday, people. Come knit with us (Exception: This coming Saturday, Aug. 20, we may be somewhere else with guests. Check out the bakery anyway). Outside, the building provided some inspiration for me. I took these industrial photos there.

I think I might have to knit something based on this last one.

Steve

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Girls Are Back In Town

Hi! We've been back from Indiana for a week or so, but this is our first blog post since returning. In Indiana we taught our grandparents, cousins, and aunt how to knit! Since we've been back we have been busy working on items for Luscious Gracious Studios (we allow child labor in our family). Today we put out our free tutorial on pattern plotting. We haven't knit anything yet using this technique, but it is fun just to plot the patterns.

Also, we made some drawings for our first couple of orders of The Official LusciousGraciousStudios Complete Organizational System. Lucy drew this picture of disguised knitting.

Lily made this picture of a basket of yarn in front of wallpaper that has stripes and cats playing with yarn.

Here are the knitting tips we came up with recently.

Lily

Lucy

It hasn't been all work and no play since we've been home. We've enjoyed knitting with our AZ friends that we missed while we were gone.

Lucy & Lily

Monday, August 08, 2005

Surprise!


The wait is over! The Knitty Surprise is now online. See my pattern here and my article here. Hope you enjoy. In case anyone anyone is curious, here is a picture of my the original bag I made using this pattern. A gift for my favorite yarn store owner, Jessica, a.k.a The Recipient.


Steve

Friday, August 05, 2005

Free Stuff

Since we are all waiting patiently for Steve's Knitty Surprise, we thought we'd post some other Free goodies.
Just look for the symbol over in the sidebar.

Enjoy!

Kiki & Steve

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Yarn Photos


While the kids were away, it was too hot to go outside and take photos. So I stayed inside and used my favorite fibers as subjects. Here are the results.






If you are really bored you can try to match the picture to the project.

Steve