Luscious Gracious! Look What We Made Today!

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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Knitted Gifts - Post #96

We are a little slow to join the bandwagon here at LGS, but better late than never. Kiki made this Kitty Bed for Lily for Easter. It is the perfect size for her littlest pet shop kittens.

I jumped on the bandwagon by knitting this Booga Bag for Lucy for Easter. I made it miniature by using Knit Picks Palette and smallish needles & cut the recipe in half. Just the right size for all those stitch markers she's been making.


Kiki also made these cool wristbands for the girls. The above is part of the Jaywalker pattern made with the mysterious green hand-dyed yarn from Interlacements at the Scottsdale Yarn & Fiber show. It was a "Dyers Special" which apparently means they aren't even sure what fiber content it is.

Lucy's wristband is made from Optimum DK and is Kiki's own lace pattern (coming soon to a bandwagon near you).

Speaking of Kiki's lace patterns, she sent this scarf (her Eleni pattern) to our dear friends in France, Ippolyti & Eleni. The yarn is Baby Ull by Dale.

Kiki also made these cute socks with Ippolyti's name on them. Cascade Fixation of course.

I made this hat for Ippolyti (modeled by Lily).

It has a swirly top. It is some wool we had. I made up the pattern.

I also made Eleni this felted bag. I used the extra yarn Illanna gave me with my Fish bag.

I put this photo of Ippolyti in AZ on the bag.

And closed it with a fancy button.

Kiki can't decide who to give this gift to. It is kool-aid dyed boucle. Maybe she'll keep it for herself.
This pretty pink hand-spun yarn is a gift for me. Kiki spun it from a bat purchased at Tempe Yarn & Fiber and made by Stephanie. It was supposed to be a gift for Illanna, but she was usurped! In Yo' Face!

Lucy made this pillow case for her friend's birthday. She stitched this cloud

and knit this fair isle swatch to put on the pillow case. It says "Hello World".

Back to the bandwagon, we've all joined our first secret pal exchange. We joined the One Skein one. We formed teams Kiki & Lucy vs. Steve & Lily. We love the book, so this should be fun.

Remember we have a big surprise coming up for post #100, this is #96. Hopefully the next ones will come quicker than this one.

Meanwhile. One more gift to report. I surprised Kiki with this new wheel on Saturday. We got it at TYF. It is a Kromski Minstrel. Kiki is still trying to decide a name for it, any suggestions?


Steve

Coming soon - post #97 & #98.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Steve's Old-School Shot of the Moment #5

In an effort to document our past, I've begun to add images from our shows to the gallery section. The first one is my photography show from 2003. It was called absolute value and focused on the use of positive and negative images.

Although I say right there in the artist statement that the technique is not important, I'll give you a photoshop tip to get something similar (only 2 of the images in the show used photoshop). For this one below I used the Solarized filter. Made a copy of the now solarized layer. Inverted that layer and changed the blending to difference.

The cool thing about photoshop is that you can mess with these things for hours! Here I used solarize & invert so many times, along with adding color layers, making blending changes and flattening layers, I could never reproduce it. Who says photoshop lacks the mystery & surprise of a darkroom?


Of course, I still prefer the original.


So check out the gallery. We will add more shows to it soon.

Steve

p.s. Knitting fans hang in there, this is post #95.

Friday, April 14, 2006

COTTON!!!!

That's right, Rae, cotton!

In case you were curious as to the second sign of the apocalypse that I referred to a couple of posts ago, here it is. Kiki actually knitting with cotton. Not just a little knitting, a whole sweater's worth.

This photo is from right after Kiki finished the sweater at Whole Foods after Starbucks closed & kicked us out. This picture would have been a lot better had the yarn been recycled silk or something, but really it is cotton. It is actually un-dyed Inca Organic Cotton from the Village Spinning & Weaving Shop from that we picked up at the Yarn & Fiber show here in Scottsdale a couple of weeks ago.

Here is a better photo. You can see more of the detail of the cabled raglan & bell sleeves. Kiki designed the pattern (knitting with cotton from someone else's pattern is too much for us to handle at once). For those of you new to our blog, you might wonder what the big deal is. Kiki hates cotton! She cannot stand to knit with it. It hurts her teeth or something.

In other news, we recently Kool-Aid-dyed some yarn. This one is Jamaica & Grape started by me & finished by Kiki. The yarn is thick & thin wool.

Kiki did this one. She used Lemonade, Pink Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, & Orange for this wool (Optimum DK from SWTC).

The spinning frenzy continues. Here are a couple from this week. The purple one is a sample from Stephanie's carding demonstration at Tempe Yarn & Fiber this week. The little green one is more of her Bursage, this time spun on a wheel. The green background is some dark green woolish yarn from Interlacements (also picked up during the Scottsdale show).

Coming soon - some more old school photos, recently knitted gifts, and something special to celebrate our 100th post (this is Number 94).

Steve

PS Yes, it hurts my teeth. Why, oh why is it that only the GREEN organic cotton doesn't bother me at all? For those of you not in the fiber world (Sister Mel), this cotton is grown to be green, not dyed before or after spinning. There are also organic reds, creams, browns, and white....but all of those feel like......well, like cotton. And did you know that Egypt and Arizona are the best climates in the world for growing cotton? Little known fact. Unless you already knew that.

-Kiki (Hey, Muffy, do you like my Carrie Comer bangs?)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby

Oh, Stephen and his catchy titles...
In case you were wondering, this is what a nice pound of fiber looks like. It is hand-dyed, and was purchased at Tempe Yarn and Fiber. Merino, and dyed and carded by someone....Terry told me who, but I have forgotten. And I forgot to tell her that I forgot when I saw her tonight. Grrrrr....memory.

Anyway, it is the prettiest stuff on the earth, and perfect for spring. Locals, though, don't get excited, you can't go get some. I bought it all. There are other colors, and about a hundred other choices of spinnable fibers at TYandF though, so hurry on down. We mean it. It is the best little yarn store for all spinning goodness. And owners Terry and Jen not only LET you play on the spindles and wheels, they almost force you into it (in a good way). I had always thought that I wouldn't be able to use a wheel because I cannot sit in an upright position for very long, but Terry hooked me right up with the Kromski "Minstrel", which is sooooo perfect. I can even spin on it for over an hour on my bad days, which is saying a lot.
I still like my Hello Yarn drop spindle. Especially until I can afford a wheel at home (please, Mr. TaxMan....). See here? I have spun about 500 yds. on the spindle, and another 150 yds. on the wheel, and my spinning is fairly consistent, even when switching back and forth from one to the other. All of that wool, and there is still so much more on the big ball....It seems to be magic wool....my favorite kind. I hope to get a twin set out of it.

It's amazing what that batt looks like when spun. I wasn't expecting all of the sorbet-like goodness. It always makes me want sugar....spun sugar and spring time.

Here's the little swatch, knit on size US 2 needles. I carry it in my purse to pet and show off to other knitters and spinners. "Regular" people, strangely, think I am crazy. Imagine.

When we visited our local fiber show a couple of weekends ago, I purchased this little bag of 8 colors of wool. These are the hues of a desert sunset. I was going to spin them all separately, then make a striped vest or something. But I spun a little sample ball first, and liked it too much.


Here's a sample of the skeins I've been making.

And here is the same spun yarn knitted into another swatch. Maybe I'll just make swatches. I like the appearance of the singles. I did some plying, but the striping wasn't nearly as interesting, so I am sticking to this. Still for a vest, I think.
And here comes something you'll really enjoy.

This lovely green number is a bit off one of my Stephanie batts (this one is "Bursage", and the mixture of greens and sparkle is perfect). We were able to see Stephanie give a little talk tonight about her drum carder, also at TYandF. She is such a pro, and everything she does is gorgeous. Check out her shop, and don't worry about saving any for me, I got some more tonight. It is so pretty, but I am NOT going to show it to you, no matter how hard you cry.....I may actually use it for a surprise. For someone. If I don't forget before I get around to it. Remind me, huh? After all, it could be for YOU!


And how does every nine-year-old spend his or her birthday money? Hand made spindles, of course!!! Lily purchased this one at TYandF (seeing a pattern here?). Terry's son makes them by hand, and Lily's new jewel is nice and heavy, with a beautiful inlaid design. These spindles are works of art, and Lily is no fool. She knows a good thing when she sees it. She is having a blast learning more about spinning. Daddy Steve even had to learn the basics so he could help out.....I get "flustrated" more quickly than I should, and am not a very good teacher. Terry, however, has the patience of a saint, and is a born teacher. Every single time we go there, we all learn at least one thing. Tonight, thanks to Stephanie, we learned that a drum carder is better left in the hands of the professionals. Just as long as she keeps making the pretty stuff, we'll keep buying it...

Lily is still in that gorgeous "thick and thin" stage of knitting. She and Lucy produce some awesome fiber, and I really do wish that I could be a better guide to them, mostly so I could take some of the credit.
I DID manage to start them on a wheel. Pedaling and drafting and STILL pedaling was lost on them at first, but they started to get it after we were all sore in the leg from keeping the wheel going. This little skein is the result of that evening. Gee, I miss vodka.

Enjoy one for me, huh?

Knit on,

Kiki

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Watch Out For Snakes!

I made this snake for my nephew Connor. When he was out here over the holidays he was fascinated by the Checkered Garter Snake in his Easy Field Guide To Southwestern Snakes. So after I built a monkey for Lily, I thought I'd give a snake building a try.

I had a black and white drawing in the book and a description to go by. I started with an I-cord tail and then knit back & forth until it was big enough to fit on my 8" circular needles. I knit the rest in the round splitting again for a little bit for the decreases by the neck. The yellow was added later with crochet. The eyes were embroidered post-felt. The picture above is pre-felt.

I love to felt everything & wasn't sure how best to do that with this snake. Do I stuff it & then felt or stuff it after & sew it up then? I didn't do either. Instead I came up with Steve's Self- Stuffing Felted Snake Technique. Here's how it works. I made the snake wider than needed. Once finished, I used the mattress stitch from one side to the other gathering the extra stitches into the inside of the snake. Next time I'll take pictures and describe it better. One word of caution on this technique - make sure to dry thoroughly as you have wet wool inside the snake, not a problem here in the desert, but maybe elsewhere.

This picture and the top one are post-felt. I used Cascade 220 for the Yellow & Black, some cool snake colored yarn that Letoya brought back from Stitches for the rest. I thought the coloring turned out pretty good considering I didn't see a color version of the snake until after it was all done. Here is a picture.

Lily received a couple of other hand-made goodies for her birthday. Mel made her this felted rock.

Pam crocheted her this Hermit Crab. His name is Crazy Joe. Sometime we'll have to make him some puppets.

Joe can come out of his shell!

Joe likes to climb on the rock.

Lucy wanted to post a couple pictures of her "Century of Progress" on her cabled sweater.

She is ready for the sleeves! Isn't that cable cool? And how about those stitch markers!

Steve

Coming soon -
A spinning post that will make your head spin
The second sign of the apocalypse - Even More shocking than Kiki following a pattern (the first sign).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Congratulations Lucy!

Tonight we went to the opening of the Scottsdale Unified School District's Visual Arts Honor Show. Our own Lucy was one of the few students who had a piece of art selected to represent her school!

Here is Lucy by her artwork. Hers is the one with the Chinese characters and Haiku poem, not the one with the big smile & crazy hair.


Here is a picture of Lucy's art. In case it is too small to read, the characters are Sunrise, Beautiful, & Tree. The poem reads -

The sun is Rising

Color fills the forest sky

Very beautiful

Very beautiful indeed! Lucy, we are so proud of you! For the locals, the show is up until April 17th at the Rural/Metro fire department at 4141 Granite Reef in Scottsdale. It is a great display of local young artistic talent.

We will let Lucy tell you more about her art in the comments.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

If Nautical Nonsense Be Something You Wish

Ms. Lily turned 9 last week, as you will remember. On Saturday she celebrated with a Learn-To-Knit party at City Bakery....featuring two awesome cakes. One was made of wool, and the other was the Official Best Cake Ever!!! Otherwise known as the Strawberries and Cream cake from Arcadia Farms. The wool was part of the goodie bags for the seven little girls who learned to knit (infecting others with the knit bug is our goal in life). And the strawberry cake was for me. Just for me. The other 25 people there had to split the tiny little chocolate cake in the corner.

In other birthday news, Lily drew a design for a sweater, a fancy beach sweater, when we were in California for Spring Break. As soon as she drew it (on a placemat, in a cute little pizza place in Claremont Village), I knew that I had to knit it. But could I do it in a week? Of course!!!
Here is that famous drawing, which is soooo cute as a piece of art on its own. I pasted it in our red notebook.

TAAAA DAAAAAA!!!!! I stayed up all night two nights in a row, but I would have anyway. And the results are worth it. Stephen helped by knitting the pink shell before felting. It was scrap angora/wool (Classic Elite "Lush"), while the other felted pieces were Cascade "220". The tiny orange Fair Isle fish across the chest are from my own handspun, the green sideways cable is Lopi "Lite", and the body of the sweater (turquoise again?!?!?!) is also "220". Yum. Wool. Too bad it is already 85 degrees here....


This is the octopus, otherwise known as "Dr.Puss", which is what the girls used to say. To turn him into the official doctorpuss, I am going to use two sequins to make a stethascope and one of those fancy head-reflector-thingys. I have some purple sequins left over from my senior prom dress. Of course. Doesn't everyone?

He already has glasses, which indicates that he is a doctor of some sort, right?

Fair Isle Fish close-up.

Felted Starfish. Please ignore my less-than-perfect handsewing.

The shell has tiny pink shell lines stitched on. I may go back over the lines with a darker pink, so that they are more visible. We may also make a tiny hermit crab climbing out of the shell. Notice the cable detail at the raglan decreases.

Here's that cable. It kind of looks like sand dollars, or like those salt water taffy candies. Either is perfect for a beach-themed sweater, and Lucy helped me translate the pattern for this cable from the new Phildar magazine. As you can see from the shot below, we left the back mostly plain.

Lily was so happy with her party. Lots of our knitting friends of all ages were there, and so was her teacher. This is the yarn that Lily dyed especially for her beloved teacher (Lily taught her to knit as well). It was a grey Lopi, and Lily added some greens and blues with Kool-Aid. It really is a pretty yarn. Ms. J thinks that she would like to make fingerless gloves with it. Good choice!


Hope everyone out there is enjoying Spring, and that not too many of you are stuck under drifts of snow. Remember, it's time to celebrate a lot of things.....especially the return of the Green Tea Frappucino at Starbucks. And tell them, "Melon, not blackberry!". Ummmmm. Matcha.

Knit on (and send thousands of Starbucks giftcards to...),

Kiki