Luscious Gracious! Look What We Made Today!

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

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Lily Grace!

Today our baby is 9! Happy Birthday to our little Gracie!

It was Easter Sunday when our beautiful child decided it was (finally) time to meet us face to face. We knew that because I was waaaaaaay overdue (it was nearly a month), that Monday morning meant tests and an immediate birth-at the hospital, and probably not the way that we had wanted things to happen. Somehow, she sensed that, and announced her intentions on Saturday night. Our team was called, and two midwives, our doula (and video camera operator), and three out of the four of Steve's parents drove the distance to our apartment. We had delivered Lucy at a birth center, also with midwives, but decided that a home birth would be more to our liking the second time around. It was the perfect choice for us. I know it is not for everyone, but the entire experience was a joy. The grandparents took turns tending quietly to Lucy, who was 21 months old at the time, and helped her understand what was going on. She got to hold her sister when Lily was only a few minutes old, and didn't want anyone else to hold "her baby". That was the start of a great love affair, and I know that it was the right way to begin.
When Lily was born, everything was so clear to me. Sure, there were hormones flooding my brain, but I also saw this tiny angel who healed me with her very presence in our lives. Our family was complete. The only mistake I made was thinking that she was tiny. Well, compared to our toddler, she seemed very small. The midwives laughed, and brought out the fish scale. Hartley babies are not small. This "tiny" baby was 9 pounds, and gorgeous. How did both of my children arrive with such dark, such thick, hair? Wide-eyed, alert, and snuggled next to Dad in an instant (he actually delivered Lucy, but with Lily, he got to watch in a mirror as he helped me deliver while standing. Yes. Standing up. Basic physics, people, and probably not good knit blog material, but think about it).
Anyway, we are continually amazed and so grateful to have her in our lives. We thought we'd take a minute to tell you some of our favorite, very random, Lily Grace moments. For those of you who know her, you won't be surprised by any of them. To those who know us only through the blogging world, it will help you understand a little about who she is, and why we are the kind of family that we are. And by that I mean strange. Or, as a friend told us last night, "so normal, so healthy, it's weird". We take that as a compliment.

Lily Grace was known as Gracie for the first 7 years of her life. Having a Lucy and a Lily was just too much for us verbally. But when we moved to Arizona, she chose to go by Lily, which was fine with us. For a long time, people who met us thought that we had a third child named Gracie who always stayed home by herself. Probably in a cage.

Our little Grace has always be the adventure seeker in the family. She could crawl at 5 months, and continually got her head stuck behind the toilet. We still don't know what she was looking for back there.

By 8 months of age, she was walking, and running at 9 months. We could not then, nor can we now, keep up with her.

When Lily was 4, she went to school for the first time. It was a full day school, five days a week (all pleasant plans of home-schooling our two children vanished on the day I changed 52 diapers in a 24-hour period. And they were cloth diapers. I really, really needed to know that there would be some rest in my future before they were ready for college). But our girls couldn't just go to a regular school, they weren't old enough. But they could read, and needed a challenge. So, French school for them, with no English spoken until they are in first grade. Remember, we speak NO French at home.

Anyway, we nervously arrived to pick her up at the end of the day. One by one, the other pre-schoolers filed out, most of them crying. The ones that weren't in tears looked shocked. But then Gracie ran out of the room and into our arms. "It was great!!!" she exclaimed. "I didn't understand a word!"

She's kept that great attitude about school every year, and counts the days until vacations are over so she can get back to her social life, and learn a little more about life. She has gone from digging at recess and smuggling home rocks and bricks to teaching her teachers and friends how to knit. Walking into the school or any school event with Lily is like being on the Red Carpet on Oscar Night. She meets and greets like someone running for the senate, but she's earnest. As anyone who knows her can tell you, she is a true friend to all.

Thank you, Lily, for making us all whole. Your smile, your wit and wisdom, and your joyful experience of life is a lesson that can't be forgotten, no matter what else is. I love you, my sweet Henri Violette. We all do. We love you so much, we are ready to help you knit that platypus.


Mom, Dad, and Lucy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Kiki follows a pattern!

Not since 7 tanks in 7 days has Kiki followed a sweater pattern. This one is the Chevron Rib Tank by Ann Budd. It's a free download from Interweave, and has been sitting in her pile of "somedays" since Indiana, so it's kind of old. But always intriguing. Add some Optimum dk (gift from Jenny), and a few hours on the way to California, and a new tank was born. -Steve

Kiki here-I don't know if I really haven't followed a pattern for that long, but maybe....At any rate, this yarn is a treat, and, like the best gifts, forced me out of my comfort zone. I love tan. And brown. And even beige and grey. So, when I get gorgeous yarns in fabulous colors, like that Phildar cashmere in ruby red, or this bright turquoise, it reminds me that there are no "good" or "bad" colors for an artist. And now it seems that I can't get enough of this shade. I see it everywhere, and think about how to use it all of the time. That's why I can't remember that I was supposed to do other things, like order birthday cakes....

Lots of our knitting friends and acquaintances were excited to see the finished article, mostly because they had this pattern in their very own pile of "someday" knits. It does not skim my features the way it would on someone less "curvy", but that's ok by me. And, it makes the pattern that much seems to work for just about anyone, without any major alterations. Perhaps using the cotton yarn that the pattern called for would change the way the sweater drapes, but we all know that it is woolwoolwool for me. I used three skeins, and about 3 yards from a fourth one, if that tells you anything. What it means to me is that there is almost another full skein just waiting for a new project. What should I make to match?

I really like the way that the sweater comes to a point in the front, but is straight across the back. Also, because I am short, that length covers without overdoing it, if you know what I mean. As in, it covers the right places without needing to be a tunic, and without me adding 6 inches to the length so that my belly is not showing.
Below is a detail of the center front. It's a very simple rib pattern. The back is worked straight, and the front is just a series of decreasing and increasing in sensible places. The pattern was SO easy to follow, and I didn't suffer the usual "Why in the world wouldn't they make this one in the round?" that I do with most knitting. I actually liked making this one in pieces.

Here's a peek at the inside, which is also an interesting visual texture. I am thinking about wearing it wrong-side-to on purpose. Both sides are pretty, and I tried to be careful when weaving in ends to make sure that it is really reversible.
This is the only place that I made any change to the pattern (really!!). I added one stitch to the beginning and one to the end of each row. I usually do this when I am knitting in pieces, and I slip the first stitch of every row purl-wise, and then knit the last stitch, no matter what the row instructions say. This leaves a very neat edge, and makes sewing up almost painless. Also, in this case, the side seams really echo the middle stitches in the front of the sweater, where the stitches come to a point. I like those little details.

Just remembered something.....I also added three rows at the top of each front strap because otherwise the sweater strangled me. I don't think that this would be a problem for everyone making this sweater (again, I blame the Breast Fairy), but I do encourage you to try it on before binding off those last rows and sewing up the shoulder seams.

Thanks to Letoya and Jenny and Cynthia, our Lulies are busy creating a stitch marker inventory. Here are some recent examples. Thanks for the lessons and the supplies, dear International Knitters. The Hello Kitty beads are from Jenny, who spotted them in NY. They are ceramic and absolutely perfect. Don't tell the girls, but I already have two of them buried in my latest project.
Aren't these great? The girls are so much better at this than I am....

My beading skills are severely limited. I did manage to make this beaded cuff for Letoya's birthday over the weekend. The yarn, you may remember, is the handspun that I made for the edging of the sweater I made last week. There's something about this combination of colors (peach and ice blue) that I find very striking on Letoya. I think I have to make her a sweater..... Peach with a Fair Isle yoke of cream and ice blue. What do you think?

I decided that I needed to worry Steve some more, and found another pattern to follow. Thanks to E2K, another IKC member, the new book One Skein by Leigh Radford is the hottest thing in LusciousGraciousLand. We can't get enough. I immediately cast on for this little bag. I didn't realize until I got home from Jessica's that the color is almost the same as the tank. See, I told you that I can't get enough. And there were dozens of tempting colors to choose from, including my very favorite of all time, M-07, Sable (yes, it is brown). I used one skein of Lamb's Pride Bulky (the pattern actually called for that, right? What in the world is going on with me?) in M-124, Persian Peacock. I have yet to choose the buttons for decoration, but plan to dig into my vintage collection and follow the pattern suggestion, again. The only change that I made? I added a little loop with a snap closure to the inside for a place to clip my keys and phone.

This was such a fast knit. The longest part was picking out the yarn, and then waiting for it to dry after felting. I want to make dozens of these bags. All for me. All to match my many, many sweaters. All in shades of pink and peach and other girly, sickening sweet, lipstick colors. Must be spring. After all, why else would I be following the crowd?

Knit on, and enjoy the process.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Steve Built A Monkey & Other Birthday Gifts

I built this monkey for my good friend Little Lily. Now that she is 2 we can't call her Baby Lily any more. I used the Baby Spider Monkey pattern in World of Knitted Toys by Kath Dalmeny. Thanks to Fannie for introducing us to this fantastic book!

I tried to make it less Spider Monkey & more like Curious George. So I added eyebrows, shortened the legs & left the tail off. The yarn is Palette from Knit Picks.

Here is the birthday girl with her new monkey.

And here she is modeling the very girly dress that Kiki knit for her.

The dress is made from all kinds of fun yarns including Noro Lily.

Kiki also made beaded bracelets from her handspun yarn for a few of our other friends who also have birthdays around this time of year.

Our own Lily has a birthday right around the corner. I wonder if she'll get any hand-knits for her big day?


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Handspun Sweater

Kiki finished this sweater in time to wear it on our little vacation, did you miss us?

She spun both of the yarns in this sweater using a drop spindle. The green fiber was from the foxbot queen 2006, Illanna. We picked up the orange fiber at Tempe Yarn & Fiber, where Kiki has also been learning to spin on a wheel.

The antique buttons are from the Hall family collection.

The back looks like this. Did I mention Kiki designed this herself?

And here is a detail shot of the edging on the front.

We hope you all enjoyed the Poetry Week we had the last few posts. Today we received a happy ending to the sad tale of Ezra's lost bunting. It was returned to us, and still in one piece. So we will try again to send (FedEx) it to Ezra. Let's hope for a cold Spring in the Midwest!


coming soon - Steve builds a monkey & Kiki follows a pattern!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Poetry Week - Day 7

My girls have been asking for my contribution to Poetry week. So here is a very sad poem that I have adapted from a Mother Goose nursery rhyme.

Bye baby bunting
The mailmen have done their hunting
to find Ezra's gift lost in the mail
for more than a month to no avail

By now it would probably be to small
and winter is almost over after all
so Ezra, I'll start you something bigger and cooler I guess
and when I finish it, this time I'll ship with UPS


p.s. Ezra's bunting was my own design. I used Lopi, and Cascade 220. It was felted, of course.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Poetry Week - Day 6

Here are some vintage Kiki poems.

Also back in the day, we made an art piece & book together called Agreement. There is even a song for it. Check it out here. I wonder what Lori & the troupe are up to these days?

For more vintage Kiki check out the words section. Don't be confused by the "What's New" section, we still consider anything circa 2004 as new. About the time we really got into knitting...coincidence?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Poetry Week - Day 5

2 short ones from Lily about our past pets & one longer one from Lucy, our thinker.

Squishy Fish
Beta fish
Aggravated and dirty
Insane, old and tiny
Likes living in her own filth

Sticky Feet
Tree frog
Exciting and sticky
Climbing, jumping and smiling
Always smiling his lipstick smile
Best friend

Thinking is hard to explain, but I will try as best as I can. For I am human, and that is what humans must do, explain. The voice in my mind starts speaking. It says many things. It will talk about moments that have past, plans for things to come, or will say something that if I don’t stop thinking about I shall be driven mad! To think is what I love to do. I think all the time. When I write, I think. When I read, I think. When I sleep, I think. When I do anything at all, I think! Thinking keeps me on this world, for should I stop thinking, I shall be gone from it forever.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Poetry Week - Day 4

Here is one of my favorite Kiki poems.

I thought this photo of Superstition Mountain went well with it.

We put them together as a piece for our TEXTure show, now on clearance sale here. I know, poetry & commerce don't mix, but thought you might like to know anyway.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Poetry Week - Day 3

Monday, March 06, 2006

Poetry Week - Day 2

Hello everybody! Welcome to Day Two in Poetry Week! Today it features me,Lucy. So, here's my poem!

The way a thing is
Has to do with what it is
Is it happy?Sad?Great?Bad?Or maybe...
None above
Get the things you do...or don't
Sometimes things just don't make sense

That poem is an acrostic one called Things.

Well that's all for now folks!

YFB(your fiber blogger),

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Poetry Week - Day 1

Lily starts off Poetry week at Luscious Gracious with a Haiku about yarn.

Yarn can be scratchy
Yarn can be very soft, smooth
Yarn is for knitting

Stay tuned for more poetry this week. Kiki has several poems under the words section of our website. Also, several pieces in our TEXTure show (on sale now!) contain poetry.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

TEXTure Sale

We are having a clearance sale here at Luscious Gracious. Some of you may remember the gallery show we had last spring titled "TEXTure - What I Felt". The artwork from that show is now on sale with many items more than 50% off! For all of you that have always wanted a piece of LG art, here's your chance. If you haven't looked at the items from the show, now would be the perfect time. In TEXTure we combined our love of knitting, writing, and photography to create many one-of-a-kind art objects. Click here to view & shop.

Speaking of writing, tomorrow we will kick off Poetry Week at LGS with the first of what we plan to be daily installments of poetry.

Don't fret knitters, we have more knitting goodies coming soon.