Luscious Gracious! Look What We Made Today!

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

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Lily decorated this pumpkin for the pumpkin walk at school.

She also made this apple-o-lantern picture.

Lucy drew the traditional jack-o-lantern.

If you are like me & too old to still trick or treat for UNICEF, check out this video, then download the song to support UNICEF.

Now for the Hall Hartley gallery of Halloween!

Lucy 2005

Lily 2005





Lily 2002

Lucy 2002

Ippolyti & Lucy 2001

Lily 2001

Lucy 2000

Lily 2000

Peas & Carrots 1999


Lucy 1997

Lily 1997

Lucy 1996

Lucy 1995

Lucy 1995

Hope you all have a great Halloween!

Sunday, October 23, 2005


We didn't disappear, we just went on vacation to San Diego.

We saw Pandas,
and Beaches.

We will tell you all about it later, along with all the knitted goodies we've been working on. But please, give us time, we are still recovering from the loss of the best doughnut shop in the world.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

When Bad Ponchos Go Good!*

Apparently the Luscious Gracious Girls disagree with Martha & all those book publishers about ponchos being "in." Here they are out, or at least out of our knitted stash. Apparently Saturday was Official Recycle Your Poncho Day in the Hall Hartley Household.

Lily is modeling The Dress Formerly Known As Poncho. Notice the tassels!

This was a pink poncho last week, but with a little un-seaming, re-seaming and a pretty collar it is now a dress.

Below is a lovely butter yellow poncho modeled by the equally lovely Jaclyn.

This poncho is no longer poncho-shaped, but destined to become a lovely baby blanket/nursing wrap for an expectant friend.

A third poncho, which sadly I have no before or after picture to show, has now become Kiki's favorite wrap. She uses it constantly now that it has cooled down to the 80s! Too much yarn goes into a poncho to let it sit unused due to high fashion concerns. Wear Them or Recycle Them!

I've also done a little recycling lately. I added some purple to this photo of Central Park. Of course the original is in the "What's New" section of the photos, since it is only 2 years old! You think it might be time for an update over there?

Anyway, here is the new and improved version. Central Park in color infrared, with a little extra colorwork.

The girls have been getting ready for Fall. Lucy knit this fancy birthday scarf for her friend Sofi.

When we asked Sofi's mom if we could put her picture on our blog, she said of course, and told us to Google Sofi to see more about her on the www. It turns out Sofi is quite famous for naming the Mars Rovers "Spirit" and "Opportunity"! You can read all about it and see her with a model of one of the rovers here. Congratulations Sofi, Way to go!

Lily made this lovely picture to celebrate Fall! Don't you just love all that movement?

Not to miss out on the recycling theme, the girls found this old Burger King chicken mask, which was apparently important enough to move all the way from Indiana. One of them took this creepy self-portrait! I am terrified of birds so it is extra spooky to me. Consider it a Halloween preview!


*No offense to those who love ponchos, Kiki thought hers were just plain ugly. No pretty ponchos were harmed in the making of this post.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Steve's Old School Shot Of The Moment #4

Since Kiki is busy working on her month of sweaters, and I am in the middle of several knitted baby items, how about a photography post. Knitters, feel free to ignore this one. I promise not to cry when our average visit length drops to 10 seconds.

This is the 4th installment in a continuing series of posts where I show some old photos & usually end up whining about the elimination of all my favorite films and techniques. Click here for the previous installments - #1, #2, & #3.

Keeping with tradition, today I am going to cry about a film that was discontinued shortly after I discovered an unusual technique that it was perfect for. The film is Konica 3200 speed print film. The technique involves cross-processing the film in slide film chemicals. With the correct exposure (approx. 800 ASA if anyone has any of this left), and a high contrast image, this film would produce a slide that has positive highlights and negative shadows.

The results are quite striking and unique. This process worked best when this film was out-of-date by several months. This was a good thing, because it meant the film was 1/2 price, and since it was on its way out, you couldn't get any fresh stock anyway.

I have tried this technique with limited success with other print films. High speed films seem to work best, but I have yet to find one (including Konica's 1600 speed) that produces such consistent results.

This shot in Times Square is one of my favorites that used this technique. It is titled Night Vision. The one below is another image of this type that I have displayed in shows. Boy I miss this film!

I know, I know, stop your bawling, can't this be done in Photoshop? It can, and I use it on occasion. You use the Invert function and layer the positive and the negative images selecting which part you want to be which. To get that print film mask look, add some reddish-orange to the negative part.

The advantage of Photoshop is that you can be very selective in which part of the images stay positive and which go negative. It can be used very subtly to change colors of the image. The below Katie Klimt-like is really taken with a blue background. It also helped me achieve that Klimt gold I was going for.

In the shot below, again blue wall, and the sheet was pink. I also mixed the positive & negative to get that almost black & white skin-tone on the legs.

I find the photoshop images a little more sterile & less organic feeling than the film version. I also miss that gorgeous grain of the high speed film which is exaggerated even more by the cross- processing.

Hope you enjoy these little diversions from our usual knitting content. There will be more knitting soon. But since Kiki suggested I post for a while, I plan to continue showing some of my favorite pictures of my beautiful wife (she is the model in all of the above).


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Full-Sized VS Mini

Lately we at Luscious Gracious have needed some smaller, in-between, projects. Thing like socks, bags, and these tiny sweaters. I used scraps of Cascade Fixation to knit socks and sweaters just like I knit the big ones. No pattern, but much, much smaller. They can be completed in just a few minutes, especially if you are blessed with a "benign tremor" that makes you knit like a madwoman (amazing how horrific "flailing about" can be transmitted into something productive with the simple addition of a set of dpn's).

If you don't have the directions for socks and sweaters memorized (and frankly, who can spare the brain space?), you can find a nice little pattern for these wee knits in the famous-for-yarn-porn publication of "Last Minute Knitted Gifts". I believe it's similar.
Lucy finished a few little Illanna gifts last week, and then wound up a week of knitting with her pair of socklettes, also Cascade Fixation.

They are as soft as they look, and something quite special. Hooray for ms. lulu for finishing her very first pair of socks ever!!! There are so many adult knitters who have come up to her in a daze, amazed to see such a little thing working the dpn's like a pro. They usually whisper reverently, "I have been knitting for years, and I am too afraid to attempt socks!! You are so cool!" or something along those lines. Socks marked a turning point for me, too. I know lots of knitters who became die-hard fanatics when they magically turned that first heel. Lucy is working hard at stick-to-it-iveness, and her mom is working hard at no-nagging-at-the-startitis-in-others. Between the two of us, we are getting it worked out, and Lucy is able to finish many projects, all the while starting as many as she likes. She even made an entire gift in less than 24 hours, but we'll wait until after the party to post photos of that one. And we won't talk about the four sweaters that momkiki has in the works right now. I finished number 5, and here it is.......TAA DAH!

This lovely piece is called "Priscilla", and it was a surprise gift for Illanna's birthday. I decided, designed, and knit the whole thing in about 3 days. Even without my "gifts" of sleeplessness and super-fast needle jerking, anyone should be able to whip one up in less than a week. It's made with laceweight yarn, but don't let that scare you. Knit entirely in the round with big needles and lots of yarn overs, it is a breeze. You can learn more about it HERE. Dear darling Letoya gave me the hand-dyed yarn awhile back, but I don't know much about it, other than there is a bunch left and it has some cashmere in it. The greens and blues of the sea are perfect on Illanna, and I loved working with something that was so lovely, and that had a history. With each stitch, I was reminded of the love in our little knitting group, and the sharing of things bigger than yarn. I don't know how common this is, but in our household, the things we love the best are those that the "yarn decided" what to be. Has that ever happened to you? Do you listen to yarn? Ever NOT listened, despite screams of protest? Me too. Ponchos come to mind.....

Here's a detail of the Random Lace and pretty ribbed collar. I have had problems in the past with variegated laceweights used in pattern knitting, but was thrilled to see that neither the beauty of the yarn nor that of the pattern was compromised here. Not to blow my own horn. I know that the sweater is most beautiful because Illanna chooses to wear it.
I was so happy to be able to surprise Illanna (see last post if you need to know how important she is to me), and to spend so much time with her on her special day.
In other knitting news, is it foolish to hope to finish 4 important full-sized sweaters in less than 3 weeks? Should I stick with the mini-variety?
Let's let Stephen blog for awhile this month, shall we? Especially if I'm going to be doing all that knitting.

kiki, who is really liking the bulky end of worsted these days....

Saturday, October 01, 2005


by kikiluscious, on the occasion of Illanna's birthday, the First Day of October

For months now I have been scratching entries in my various notebooks, and on the backs of bill envelopes, along the very lines of why indeed Illanna makes me so darn happy. I decided that this, the most auspicious of days, is a good time to try to pull them all together. So, forgive me if things seem even MORE disorganized than usual (Gee, didn't I used to be a writer, for gosh sakes?).

First things first, go wish her the very happiest of birthdays here, on her blog, which you should visit twice a day, at least, just because of how upbeat and fiber-rich her posts always are. For a Foxbot, she really is an incredible blogger. That's actually the first thing that I have on one of the lists. It says, "Her blog is full of knitting goodness."

Perhaps the most important thing about Illanna is that she gets it. She just gets it.

The only thing bigger than Illanna's smile (which is huge) is her heart.

Illanna has good taste in the important things. Things like yarn, shoes, and friends.

She bought me yarn when she hardly knew me, just 'cause I was sick. And it was GOOD yarn, too. First Koigu, then Noro. Both because she had seen me admire those certain colors of those certain yarns once. Knowing Illanna as I do now, she probably even bought me the same dye lots of the particular skeins I fondled in her presence. Knitters among you will recognize the significance of "That Kind of Friend". The sky blue socks make me happier than just about anything (they are the first pair I designed myself, and lacey at that), and the Noro strip is perfect for Steve's big "Yarns of Japan" blanket. She shares my belief that yarn can, or at least should, ease any pain. At the very least, wool soaks up a lot of tears.

Illanna is not afraid.

She will do anything once. Or twice. Or, in the case of the Hourglass Sweater, three times. But she likes to get things right, and it's worth it. You'd know that if you could see in person all of the glorious garments she whips up....and she isn't so bad at the rest of her life, either. I want to be Illanna when I grow up, seriously.

She will listen to me babble on and on about lace. She did this even before she learned the truth about its beauty for herself. She even trusted me on that, although at the time, I am sure that I sounded more than a little far gone on what we like to call "the medication."

There is something weird and wonderful about discovering that another adult likes to eat Onion Rings from Sonic with Mayo. And, she will pick up the Slushes for us during Happy Hour, just so I don't have to ride in the car.

This quickly changed to a shared addiction to Green Tea Crack-a-Cino at least once a day all summer long. Hey, we got a lot of knitting in, sitting under those misters, and we ate a lot of pastries. By "we", I of course mean "I", as in "I'll take a fudge bar and a pumpkin loaf for later".

Nothing gets her down. Illanna can run through Chinatown, upsetting elderly men and their vegetable carts, just to catch the last bus, and then she will laugh about it. I am telling you that she will laugh even if she misses that bus.

Illanna's laugh is contagious, and not in the bad "Cooties" way. Not so long ago, I laughed with Illanna the way I had not laughed in years. I even told insane stories about people she didn't know. There were not even cocktails involved (well, several of the stories starred many, many alcoholic beverages, but there were none present on the day in question). Even after hearing my sad attempts at humor, she just kept laughing, and didn't run out the door when my "chicken meets Scooby Doo" laugh frightened her. Even my pitiful, frustrated tears are not enough to drive her away. I am thinking about asking her to hold my false teeth for me when we get old.

On a bad day, she is who I want to see. On a good day, I want nothing more than to share a cup of tea with her by the pool, over knitting, of course. I even answer the phone just because her name comes up on the caller ID, even when I keep my calls under a minute. A lot can be covered within sixty seconds of "What is that? What are you knitting? Foxbot. Obey my Dog. See you later".

Looking over this list, it looks like I love Illanna for all that she does for me, and gives to me. Not true. Another reason that I love her so much is because Illanna is gracious. She accepts small tokens, things like rocks, snippets of paper, and cheap beads, as though they were precious treasures. Whether it is a huge fountain Coke or a hand-knit sweater, Illanna recognizes the heart-felt. She even accepted my blundering attempts at friendship. I am not proud to say that I am a very bad friend, and have little experience in that area. Thank you, Illanna, for overlooking that, and seeing the intention through the stuttering and flinching. In that way, I love her because of what she takes from me too. Most of all, we all just love her for who and what she is, and that is all that matters.

She is willing to take my kids out of the house. No questions asked. On one particularly Very Bad Day at Work for Steve, she took one look at him as he came in the door and took Lucy to the pool (and where was Lily? Not here. That's the point). She will even take both kids at the same time. Man, her love knows no boundaries.

While on the subject of The Kids, let me tell you something else. Illanna bought them both yarn for their birthdays. It gets better. She wasn't sure what they would prefer, so she bought yarn that I would like. See? She gets it (I later used Lily's Illanna yarn to make Lucy a dress - the "Illanna" dress, actually. I swear, I FORGOT, so forgive me already).

Illanna is selfless. She didn't blink an eye when she had to take over a strange party of twenty first- and second-graders, who were jacked up on ice cream, cake, and soda at the same time that they were armed with scissors. Her only concern? That the birthday girl knew that she was the center of the entire universe that day.

I hope that our dear Illanna, our third child, my Sister from Queens, knows that SHE is the center of everything today, on her special day. Last year, National Knit Day was on Illanna's birthday. It was actually during a meeting of knitters to celebrate that I met her for the first time. I remember when she came in the door, looking so sweet, with her big hair and her nice bag of yarn and presents from PurlSoho. I knew I liked her right away. She just glowed. I was so happy when, a few weeks later, she sat beside me in a crowded room (neither of us knew how to behave in public, and may have been frightened of so many people crammed into one coffee shop, all armed with sharp needles) and wanted to know about, sigh... knitting lace with cashmere. Ahh, the memories. So today isn't just her birthday, it is a celebration of having her in my life for one whole year. I am so fortunate....there really are no words. Notice how I used about a million of them anyway. She is so important in the LusciousGracious household that we couldn't do this whole "Arizona Thing" without her. But even more than that, she means the world to me. She brought sunshine during a very dreary winter, and continues to make this adventure worth it for me. Thanks, Dear, for being not only my friend, but my Foxbot. I love you.

Happiness to all today, as we celebrate another beautiful weekend. Do something lovely for someone you love.

kiki, who needs to go get a tissue now

*this refers to a song called "Tijuana Makes Me Happy" by the Techno-Mariachi band Nortec Collective. Their music is like Mano Chao meets Devo, after you've had too much sugar. Every single time I hear that song, I swear that they are singing "Illanna makes me happy", which makes me happy. As does Illanna herself. You get the idea.