Luscious Gracious! Look What We Made Today!

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Spun Out

Ahhh, the good life.

And this is why, my friends, we live in Arizona. After a summer of living in the frying pan, we are reminded of the two good things about this desert. Fall and winter. And about a week of spring, you know, when the sun feels good, before it bubbles your insides into molten lava...So, now it is time to set myself up at the pool for months of knitting and chasing the shade while it travels around the water. At least this is what I did last year at this time. This winter I plan to be even more active. I've added spinning to my activities, but don't be thinking that I'll climb aboard a stationary bike down at the gym and listen to someone screech encouragement to me. Nope, this is the GOOD kind of spinning, you know, making wool. Your own yarn, imagine. And I don't even have to smuggle sheep onto my little patio. And I don't have to break a sweat, either.

This is the gorgeous box of fibery goodness that arrived from Adrian at Hello Yarn. It was beautifully presented, all wrapped and ribboned, but this is what it looked like by the time I got it to the pool. Her kits are terrific, and contain plenty of hand-dyed roving, ready to spin. No carding. No washing and picking weeds and mud (I always pretend it is mud) out of the wool. The price is right, more than right, considering that the kit includes the best spindle I have ever seen....it is heavy, but in the good way, and works really well for me. She even includes basic instructions and other encouragement. These are my first little pieces. The orangish one is the main wool, 8 oz. included in the kit. The one in the middle is from a sample of Churro sheep wool, grown locally, from Lisa Takata, a fantastic spinner here in the valley. Those hairs are long, and very sheepy. I am in love. It even has a greenish cast to it.... The third, the little blue, is a sample to "try first" from Adrian. I am amazed at how easy this is, and relatively fast. Even after only a week, I am getting much more yarn per hour than I imagined. This is only my second attempt at spinning, and I find it hard to sit up for very long, but am happy that this spindle even works while I recline. In the evenings, I finish spinning a ball or two of 30-70 yards, then rinse and hang to dry. It is the desert, and by morning the yarn is ready to knit up, which I do. Wait until you see what I have made.....


Look at how crinkly and pretty it looks before rinsing and stretching. Adrian's color sense is terrific, and this wool really reminds me of Indiana this time of year. The desert doesn't have everything....
Enough pictures, at least until next time.

The answer to my little contest, now.

The items in the photo are some of my favorite things. The Coke, of course, I cannot live without. I refuse. I have given up almost everything that I love to eat or drink, but I do not consider the quality of life to be worth it without Coke or chocolate. Also in the picture is my notebook, the Luscious Gracious Official Big Red Book of Knitting. We all use it to design. Also yarn, my new spindle, and the mystery object. That little pile of something (someone said lichen, which I find very funny) is my baby blanket, Monkey. Not to be confused with this monkey, she and her sister are my other favorite things. It used to be 36"X45", and it used to have pastel stripes. At least that is what my mom said. I only remember it in its current grey shredded incarnation. It is so small now that I can hide it in my tiny hands. Great for when you need to sneak it into a doctor's appointment, not so good when it disappears at night. Alison wins. Thumbsuckers unite.

A side note to this side note, my older sisters (there are three) used to try to scare me with a picture of the albino gorilla on the National Geographic cover. I was sort of scared, but mostly intrigued. I stared at it for hours. His (her?) name was Snowflake (I think), so I named my baby blanket after it. I think it was an early attempt to conquer fear of the unknown. And now that I think about it, it is even funnier. My sister Melanie, the second one to come up with the contest answer as well as the one responsible for the magazine teasing, is actually an albino. What a crazy coincidental world in which we live, ehh? At any rate, I called it monkey, even though Cute David would later correct me on a regular basis. It is an ape, not a monkey. He should know. He's the expert. Talk about full-circle, this month one of his photos of his "babies" is in the National Geographic Kids magazine, October issue, page 17. There is even a sweet article about Dotty and her adopted mother Pongi. David worked for years as a gorilla keeper in the zoo at Columbus, Ohio. He loved to work in the nursery, and rocked many more babies to sleep than most mothers do. We love David. His babies have been willing and beautiful subjects for his lens, and you should check out his work at www.daveliggett.com. He is anxious to get back to Africa, where he is active in conservation of gorilla habitats. Can I tell you something else about David? He's called Cute David for a reason....

Anyway, Alison won. What? Who knows. I offered a prize, so guess I better come up with one.

To all of you, knit on.

Sincerely,

kikiluscious, who misses cutedavid more than he knows.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Bon Appetit & Baby Feet

Bonjour, and let me apologize to my French, Cajun, and culinary friends because I cannot remember how to add accents to words that need them while I'm here on the laptop. SHHHHHH......don't tell the little lusciousgraciouschildren, as they are correcting my French pronunciation and punctuation on a regular basis already.
Anyway, it's better than the Saturday Night Live "Jeopardy" sketch. Ask Illanna, or Alex. At least I remembered that second "p".
This week promises to be an emotional and interesting one for many, many people. Brother Kent will be returning to New Orleans to help prepare his restaurant for business and help with general clean-up until he can return "home". His boss, and owner of Cuvee (again, no accent available), will be putting him up in the meantime. Lucky for Kent; a job and a place to stay. He has also heard from his landlord, and is hopeful that he may have a place to move into someday, and until then he has assured me that his "couch surfing" days aren't too far out of his memory. That is surely one of the positive aspects of being as social and caring as Kent is.....lots and lots of friends.
While we can't speak for every citizen of that great city, we know that Kent is glad to be going back. He knows that there are hard days ahead, but also knows that the work is worth the effort. I think he is excited to see the people he loves. Places, too. We wish him the best!
Have you seen the September issue of Bon Appetit magazine? It lists the top 5 US food cities. Yep.....New Orleans! And guess who gets to represent? Cuvee....complete with a picture of Chef Bob and his staff, including Kent (he's the guy with the red beard, not the guy with the dirty apron, on page 153. AND, Kent wanted you all to know that even though the young lady to the left of Bob is wearing an apron, it is just there to balance the photograph. No one with open-toed shoes is allowed in that kitchen. She's a hostess! I was more concerned with the dirty apron on picture day, but Kent seems to think that the Board of Health is checking magazine photos for imaginary violations....).
While our baby days are LOOOOOOOOONG behind us, we are suddenly awash in anxiously awaiting the parenthood of several friends. You know, people our age, just now deciding to start the family. Won't they be tired? I'll just be tired for them....
No, really, it all just makes us jealous, and a little bittersweet. Ummmmm, baby feet.
And what do baby feet need? Baby socks.
Good thing they are quick. And addictive. And, they use up the little tiny balls of leftover sock yarn. I have boxes of that.....



Both pair are quite boyish. Anyone having a girl? I can't resist hats, either. But they all end up too frilly for even modern parents to put on a boy.
This one is made up, using some little edging from Nicky Epstein's book and some of that ever-present Cascade "Fixation". I crocheted the flower in my own backward way.

This tiny hat-like item is Stephen's swatch for a bigger baby gift. Hey, it's felted!

Here's the real thing, in progress. Still a surprise.....

Speaking of "In Progress", this is my own work of the weekend. Those pretty birthday yarns are speaking to me, and designing themselves as I go.
Pinky lace.

And Koigu curling. More to come.

Here's what Lily Grace is doing for her friends at school. Apparently it is VERY difficult at the beginning of the year to remember group numbers. Or, maybe it's the new uniform, you know, my evil plan of outfitting everyone in fancy wristbands finally coming to fruition. This one is for a friend in Group C.
Here's one for Group D. It's in the washer as I speak (both are Brown Sheep Bulky).
And what is Lulu up to while not knitting? Her newest love, the clarinet! I don't even have to make her shut the door anymore while she practices (WORST MOM EVER). Honestly, I was prepared for years of awful squeaks and gasps, but that shows how little I know about musical instruments. Or maybe she really is a prodigy. Better save her a place in the orchestra, Uncle David. Lucy, we are proud of you, and of your love of art, music, reading, and learning in general. Your enthusiasm for school and life are catching, as is your sweet smile.
Look at the sisters. They are so happy to be at the City Bakery. We always meet up with such great knitters and other artists. Lily loves to tell them the latest in scientific exploration and knock-knock jokes. She spent most of Saturday planning and scheming for future projects in her special version of the Big Red Book of Knitting (her's is the Little version). Oh, and let's not forget the wristbands. I am so proud! Lucy continued work on her second sock of the pink and green pair. It's always a crowd-pleaser, a young one busy with dpn's.
Know what that is in the glass? The BEST lime-aid in the world. Homemade. Just like the gorgeous centerpiece. It was a gift from our favorite waitress. When we arrived Saturday morning, we thought that the place had been rented out, and that our tables were reserved. They were, FOR US! K. had decorated our usual places with the flowers and be-ribboned flatware. Add the to-die-for almond croissants, and the place is heaven. Thanks to her and B., our Saturdays are extra-special.

So much more has been going on, but it will keep for a future post. In the meantime, enjoy the clues below, and try to divine the fibery-goodness coming your way. And, if anyone can properly identify the object to the left of the Coke can, there's a prize in it for you....

Have a fabulous Monday,

Sincerely,

Kiki, who WILL have a better week this time around.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Are all Virgos this lucky?

I know that you all wanted to know what was inside of that BoxFot that the girls decorated so beautifully for their grouchy mother. Much more than I deserve, that's for sure. That's right. All 30 luscious shades of Knit Picks "Palette" fingering weight wool. My favorite? Tan, of course. Another Fair Isle goodie in my future?


Tan - second column over, fourth row down. Underneath? Twig. My second favorite. Like tan, only twiggier.
Then came something nice from Jessica and Mark, who does not yet knit. Thank goodness she's open again, after her summer of playing hookie.....No, really, after dealing with the LusciousGraciousClan for a year, even a saint would need time off, so we are just happy that things are back to normal for us here in the desert, with woolly goodness available for Steve on his way home from work (Jessica Knits is a little like Cheers for the guy). She has tons of new yarn and other knitterly must-haves, all artfully arranged to tempt me. Who needs groceries?
This is GGH's "Soft Kid", 70% superkid mohair, 25% nylon, and 5% wool. It's a pretty dark rose color (#073), and there's enough to make anything my heart desires from the special Rebecca mag put out to sell the stuff. I love that magazine. I also got two Rowan magazines, but I am too lazy to hunt them down just to tell you what numbers they are....one is the vintagey one, and the other is the new one. You get the idea. The magazines and my yarn purchases of Koigu and Blue Sky Alpaca Silk are thanks to Stephen and a homemade gift certificate. Thanks to Jessica for honoring it. Like printing your own money! For me anyway. I think that for Stephen it involved the check card.
And what's this? That crazy foxbot Illanna gave me two varieties of Noro laceweight. It's a crazy Noro, with a crazy wrapper. It's called MIHO, my favorite Japanese name, after Mami. There's enough of each color to make, well, whatever I want to make. She's the best....how did she keep it hidden for all of these months? She picked it up (I assume she also paid for it,) when she was summering in New York City in this quaint little area called Queens. It's where all the people with dual citizenship inside a novelty greeting card escape to during the dog days of summer.
pretty.....................
I call this one "Freckles". It looks like my veiny skin and freckles.

And here is the Koigu (PPPM #P714) and Blue Sky (Alpaca and Silk #I33 soft pink). They are married now. Yep, I've started another sweater. It's piece-y. I hope that Mamie Mary likes it.

And look at this. Illanna, ever prolific, made me this sweet little bag. The yarn is called Lily and the color is called Grace (or the other way around. It doesn't matter, it's still my baby's name). It is the perfect size to house the gift-within-a-gift....Yarn Harlot's book. Signed. On page 197(everyone go read that), my favorite page, and the one I e-mailed to Illanna the second I read it. Isn't it nice to share your passion for knitting (or rooster collecting, or bungee jumping, as the case may be) with a dear friend? I know that my entire little family also adores the sticks and string, but Illanna doesn't steal my yarn and then pretend like I gave permission (NOTE TO FAMILY MEMBERS -- Don't take advantage of the memory-loss game. I am crazy enough without thinking that I actually encouraged you to knit with my good stuff, let alone felt it in a hot washing machine. Really now. This means you...).
What else, you are wondering, no? How about this ultra-hip bag that Lucy made for me that holds a fancy 12-ink pen. Lily presented me with a keychain Sharpie, in green. It's mini. And, the gambling addict that she is, also made sure that I had a PowerBall ticket (we didn't win, but if you ever need to know what the Jackpot is up to, ask Lil. She knows). The girls also made sure that I had lovely hand-made cards and special decorations, and we went to share Green Tea Crack at that neighborhood coffee shop. You know, the one on every corner. Even in Paris.
You would think that was enough for any girl, but NOOOOOOOOO. Here's the icing on the non-existent birthday cake (I am NOT bitter, pastries at Starbucks filled in quite nicely). For the first time in our sixteen years together, Stephen managed to really surprise me. He made this beautiful Calla Lily for me, just like the ones I carried in our wedding. He made it up, this knitting. Of course it is dyed with Kool-Aid, and it is felted. Don't worry ladies. It's only Point 5.

I look a little grouchy in this photo (a recurrent theme?), but I was not. I imagine it had something to do with looking directly into the sun for lighting. Anyway, we were trying to go for something like this old picture. And look, a Big Green sighting. Really, these people that I love, they make life so sweet.

Phew....I am exhausted. And since then, so much has happened. Stuff involving Sweaters, and Socks. Even Spinning by the Pool. And Baby Things. Also coming soon, Kent: The Update. Stay tuned, fellow Bloggers.

Knit on,

Sincerely,

kikiluscious, who got sunburned while sitting in the shade today. Just so you know.

Friday, September 09, 2005

HKB




Happy Kiki's Birthday!
Nothing to post, we've been busy making super secret surprises for her. Wish her a happy day.

We love you Mom/Katie Jo

Steve & The Girls

Monday, September 05, 2005

Our Summer of Knitting

First, thanks to all who have generously donated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Our personal connection, Kiki's brother Kent, will be back home in Indiana tomorrow. Thanks to all who purchased the Kent Pattern with the proceeds going to the Red Cross. We will leave it available indefinitely.

So how about some knitting? Here is how we ended our summer of knitting. We went to our usual spot Saturday, just to find it closed for the holiday. Too bad for our usual waitress. She will have to wait another week for these socks Kiki made for her.


We ended up at A.J.'s with many of the usuals (Sorry we couldn't reach the rest!). Amy from Amyville gave gifts to all of the Luscious Gracious clan. Check out what she gave the kids. The little items are very cool stitch markers that she makes, doughnuts and fortune cookies.

While at A.J.'s, I gave Illanna an early birthday present, because I couldn't keep my first sweater quiet any longer!

The yarn is Point 5 'Mushroom' by Collinette and pink yarn with Copper in it from Habu. See the detail shot at the top. Illanna gave me the yarn, so I returned it in sweater format.

I used the Scribble technique from Debbie New's 'Unexpected Knitting' and the pattern came out of the brain I share with Kiki. It was knit in the round starting at one belled sleeve, split to knit across the back & rejoined for the other sleeve. I then picked up stitches and added a ribbed border to make it more sweater-like.

We have updated our Bound Off and On The Needles sections with our summer of knitting projects. Look at the blog history if you want to know fibers, but the galleries have all the pictures in one spot.

We also added to our 11 things about section. The girls best friend from France & honorary Luscious Gracious sister sent us her 11 things about Ippolyti Hall Hartley. Number 7 & 8 are my favorites.

Hope you all had a great holiday,

Steve

Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Orleans, Home of Kent



I don't really know where to begin. First, I want to say that we feel very, very fortunate that my brother is safe. He has called New Orleans home for many years, and we know that it is the true home of his heart. We waited for several days before hearing yesterday that he is indeed physically safe and sound. First he was in Baton Rouge, now in Shreveport with a friend. But Kent, like most of his friends and neighbors, has lost everything. His house is gone. So are his possessions. He doesn't know the status of several friends. He is fairly certain that he will not have a job for a very long time, and has no other source of income. It will be weeks before he will be able to get back home, and even then there really isn't a home to go to....and it will be months before the true losses are known, even longer before things can get back to normal, and how normal will that even be? He is surely in shock; everyone is in shock. How can an entire huge city just be gone?

So many of us feel very, very helpless, and what does a good knitter want to do? We want to knit. We want somehow to wrap all of our loved ones, their friends, their neighbors, and strangers who could have been us in something warm and soft ... a substitute for holding them close. While we waited, I was paralyzed. I couldn't knit a stitch. I didn't sleep. That very close bond with Kent made me imagine every possible situation, and how I knew he would react. He did try to stay, just as I thought. He was lucky enough to be riding out the storm in the third story of a friend's home when her mother managed to get through on a cell phone and demanded that they leave. Thank God for mothers. He wanted to stay, to help other people. I know my brother. He gives his last penny to strangers. He often takes food from where he works to feed those who are hungry. That's who he is. Kent is a chef. His greatest joy has always been to feed everyone around him, and he's a damned good cook. He also lives (lived?) in the Ninth Ward, one of NOLA's worst neighborhoods. Most people are terrified to walk around there, even during the day. But not Kent. He is social, and knows everyone around him. He and his group of young friends have done what they can to improve living conditions in the area, and it's just another way that helping out makes him who he is. He doesn't brag about it, but we know him, and I'm his sister, so I'll do the bragging.

New Orleans has always been famous as a food city, and Kent found his true calling after living all over the U.S. in his younger days. He managed to work his way up in several kitchens, learning more on his feet than most people learn at culinary school. He is passionate about his work, and just as passionate about music and art. He is a little famous for playing bass in bar bands, and he is very good. He surrounds himself with his "family" of musicians, artists, foodies, and other friends. They all take care of each other. Now they are scattered, and in his line of work (fancy schmancy restaurant/resort cooking), we know that it will be a long time before that arena can offer paying jobs to even the best of the best. I want him to come out here. Mom wants him back in Indiana. He has friends and offers all over the world, but I know Kent. He will be back in his town, feeding people, one way or another, as soon as he can.

After catching my breath today, I made him a hat. People don't really need hats right now, they need money. We will send him all that we can. I await word on what else I can send, but I know that the emergency is for money....to the people, and to the right organizations. SOOOOOOOOO, I hope you like my hat. I hope you want to make one. We are offering the pattern for sale, with every single penny going to the American Red Cross. They are usually the first organization able to set up shelter and provisions for people in America after any kind of disaster. This is the first time that LusciousGraciousStudios is offering an electronic pattern for sale. Pay with PayPal, and we will send a pdf file directly to your e-mail address within 24 hours. You can enjoy your purchase right away, and know that your donation is working quickly during this critical time. If you don't want to use PayPal, send us an e-mail at www.stephen@lusciousgracious.com and we will let you know where to send a check.

I hope that together we can do something, and I know that knitters are generous people. Thank you in advance. Thank you for your kind words these past days, for holding my hand in person and in cyberspace. Thanks to Carrie W, who got me thinking about Fair Isle Guitars in the first place. And if you don't want the pattern, donate to your favorite organization anyway. You can usually do it quickly and painlessly through internet sites, especially at times like this.

Now, I will dry my tears (tears of sweet relief), and tell you about the pattern.


KENT is for a hat that will fit a youngster up to adult male. It is made of super stretchy yarn, so yes, even bigheads like Mr. LusciousGracious can wear it. So can the little ones. It features two guitars stitched in Fair Isle, and is easily made in the round. Don't like the idea of stranded knitting? You can also make it plain, or with stripes. Hang on to the Fair Isle chart for when you get around to learning about it (you know you will.....I hear there's a bandwagon 'a comin'). You can also use the chart to decorate a sweater, a bag, or your favorite and mine - a wristband! The directions are clear, and you are always welcome to e-mail me for any technical support.

MEASUREMENTS
The hat measures 16 inches/41 cm around and 9.5 inches/24 cm high before it is stretched, and will easily accommodate a head up to 28 inches/71 cm around. Just for reference, my biggish head (for a woman) is 23 inches/58 cm. No wonder I have to make my own hats.


MATERIALS
YARN
For comfort in all types of weather, as well as for the stretchiness factor, I made this hat with two colors of Cascade "Fixation"
{98.3% cotton, 1.7% elastic - 50 grams/100 yds (before being stretched) per skein - less than 1 skein each of Black and Red}

*Note: If you would like to make a warmer hat, I recommend worsted weight wool, usually 100-150 yards is all that is needed for a hat. Remember, though, that wool (or any other yarn) will not stretch as much as Fixation. You will need to use larger needles to get the right size of hat. Please swatch.


NEEDLES
US # 6/4.25 mm - 8 inch/22 cm or 12 inch/30 cm circular needles, or size needed to achieve gauge
4-double pointed needles (dpn's) in the same size
*Note: The entire hat can be knit on the dpn's. I prefer circular needles, especially when knitting with two colors.

NOTIONS
6 stitch markers - make sure one of them is different from the others and use it to indicate the start of the round
Tapestry needle

GAUGE
22 stitches = 4 inches/10 cm in stockinette stitch before stretching, and up to 12 stitches = 4 inches/10 cm when fully stretched

PRICE
$5.OO. Yep. Only $5. Go HERE. Please. I won't even try to hypnotize you, or tell you to ignore the beautiful celebrities.

So, that's it. Get knitting again if you have been in any type of a slump. Knit on to most of you. Thank you all for taking the time to read my post, and for getting to know just one of the many, many people who make New Orleans a very special place. At least you got to know him a little bit. Someday I'll tell you about how he dressed up the dog. I love that boy.

Sincerely,
kikiluscious, who may finally sleep now