Luscious Gracious! Look What We Made Today!

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

Friday, January 11, 2008

HSB!!!

Look! Steve has finally come out of hiding, just in time for Happy Stephen's Birthday 2008!!! We won't tell you how old he is (older than me again; that's all that matters...), and we won't even begin to wonder what in the world he is doing in this photo, or why there is an outhouse, as well as an antique car, in the background. Steve has repressed a great deal of his childhood. Apparently it was too wholesome. And it encompassed multiple time-space continui. Isn't that the plural of continuum? Any Trekkies out there? Heck, the spell check is now telling me that "Trekkies" is also misspelled. Can't win.

Stephen also used to be a member of the Kennedy family. Back when he was blonde.

At any rate, Happy Birthday Steve!!! May all of your creatures continue to be creepy, and may you never run out of ping pong balls.

Geesh, we've been busy. We gave up trying to blog last year. Probably because it sucked. Last year, that is. Not necessarily blogging. But recently we've been harassed from across the ocean, in another language, by a poor village-stranded family who is dying to see what we're doing. And what the hell. It's a new year, and we are ready to put the past behind us. There's not a better way to start than by showing a giant pumpkin,

and a terrifying praying mantis.
Steve took both of these photos on a trip to Circleville, OH back in October. You can learn more about the giant pumpkin HERE. We'll just tell you that we know the guy who grew this thing, a record breaker at 1524.5 pounds. Cute David's dad, Dr. Bob (also Cute), is the master pumpkin grower behind Cream Puff. And David managed not to break the pumpkin while loading it onto the scales. It was nerve-wracking to watch, and more exciting than I care to admit. The Midwest....gotta love it. They even name their pumpkins. And the pumpkin doughnuts? Heavenly.

Kind of like the scenery. We tend to forget the simple joy of a cornfield framed by maples and a grey sky.

Steve is going to be an uncle, again. I knit this circular baby blanket (a la EZ) from some superwash merino from Spritely Goods. "Winter Lotus" is the color name, with stripes and a knit-on border from one of Stephanie's blue yarns.

I also finished the sweater that I was supposed to make a couple of years ago. A sweet friend from Chicago sent me the yarn (Noro "Kureyon" and Cascade "Pastaza") with very explicit instructions to make something for MYSELF with it. I finally cast on in October and quickly knit my very first steeked sweater. Notice the lack of close-up photos....

I wore it a couple of times. As you can see, Lucy wore it.

So did Lily. We all agreed that it was just too hot for our climate, even up in the mountains, so we sent it back to Chicago to dear Becca, who deserves it. She thinks I'm naughty, but we put all of our love and hugs into it to keep her extra warm, in case the llama isn't warm enough. She thinks it is a bit like the Sisterhood of the Travelling Sweater. I like that idea....Oh, also, in the background of these photos you can see our new house and garden. We are loving it! Especially this time of year, which really began with Halloween.....

Happy Holiday Post!!!!

Lily was a Borg (nerd). Lucy was a witch (as always). And we were all afraid, just absolutely terrified, of the infestation and out-of-control spawning of a horrible nemesis.....

No, not Lucy......................We mean UNKNIT YARN!!!!!


AHHHHH!!
These are photos of our wrangling process. We weeded out the bad and the tired, consolidated by fiber, and managed to get most of the yarn into a bit of order.

A very good thing about our new house? LOTS of closet and cabinet space, more than we've ever had. That means not only a cupboard just for yarn......(here all properly labelled and stacked according to frequency of usage),

but that the doors actually close and the whole "mess" is out of sight.

Ahhh.


And now onto the gift-giving season.

Lily made a "Bob" for her girlfriend Lucille's birthday. Bob is just Bob. This one happens to be made of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky.

Stephen used Malabrigo to make this jacket for our niece Ashley's birthday. He used a Barbara Walker Mosaic pattern and his own mad skills to create, and then felt, this masterpiece. Maybe he felted it a little too much. We think with some more blocking, it will be fine. Ash loves it, but we haven't heard the latest on the fit issue all the way from Indiana. If all else fails, it may become a bag.



I used DiVe's "Autunno" merino to make this little hat for our nephew. We'll just call him Jughead from now on. The points were fun to make....I made up my own pattern, but there is a cute one in the Domiknitrix book if you want your own Jughead hat. I used a little hint of orange to edge it. Wish I had one of my own.

Hat, I mean. My own hat. Not baby. We have lots of them in the family right now, though, including the Twins in California. Remember those Baby Surprise Jackets? I finally sent them out for Christmas. Fortunately, they are stretchy, and twins are smallish, so they still fit. I also sent along these little baby socks.

The striped ones are "Galway Paint" wool and the white ones are "Indiecita Alpaca" by Plymouth. Very soft, and both in the Little Coriolis pattern from my new favorite sock book by Cat Bordhi, New Pathways for Sock Knitting. I highly recommend it. Seriously. Genius. I didn't think I could get more excited about socks. I was wrong. Yes, I know those of you who do not knit (Muffy, I think I only mean you, and maybe Fabrice and Evelyne) cannot possibly understand, but that's ok. There are lots of you who do, and that's all that matters - having lots of enablers. I don't have photos here (we'll save that for another day), but I've made maybe a dozen pair using her techniques. Most are for me. Hey, if you bother to send me detailed measurements of your feet, maybe I'll knit you a pair too. Maybe.

Baby Twins have a Big Brother. He and Lily are very close in age and have a close understanding of each other. He's a great kid, and I sent him this pirate hat. He wore it in his school holiday program! I love that!!!! We had a little holiday entertainment here in Phoenix, too. Lily's class put on the Iliad. Cuz nothing says "Happy Holidays" like the Trojan War!!!! It was awesome. Not to ruin it for anyone, but everyone dies at the end.


Other Gifts.....

I "baked" a Christmas-y cupcake (inspired by Leigh Radford) for our favorite baker, Melati. She runs Sugar Blossom Cupcakes, which means that she bakes and delivers couture cupcakes to your door. And they are truly the best we have ever tasted. Our knitting group is addicted. And Melati is a blast. She should learn to knit, so she can join the International Knit Circle. Waiting for cupcakes to cool is just the right amount of time to knit a couple of rows on a pair of socks, right? If you live nearby, you should order some of these cupcakes by e-mailing Melati at orders@sugarblossomcupcakes.com. Tell her we sent you & maybe she'll give us some extras!






This is an Amoeba shawl of my own design. I used 2 skeins of "Inca Alpaca" by Classic Elite, color number 1105, a dusty red, for the center, which is knit in the Spider Stitch from page 268 of Barbara Walker's Second Treasury.

The stitch is easy to memorize and the yarn is sooooo soft. I edged it with a mitered Feather and Fan design using "Kid Merino" by Crystal Palace (#9798 reds). I then bound off with a thicker wool.....same colorway, but no label. I think it may have been a leftover bit of Patons wool, the plain orangey-red heathered one, perhaps.

I knit this shawl for Stephen's mother, the most beautiful woman I know. Cathy is amazing, and always looks so wonderful in red. She brought three-year-old Cali with her to visit us over Christmas. That was a true treat.


We spent part of the trip in Sedona (cold!!!!). Steve's sister met us there, and brought along her son Connor. Here you can see that only some of the LusciousGracious cousins have mastered the art of smiling for multiple cameras!!



Lucy made a gorgeous hat for Grandma Cathy, out of the world's softest Malabrigo. And it was cold enough to need it!! We are wimpy now, even running our heat in the desert. That first winter we never thought it would happen. Maybe we're just old.




I whipped up this hat for Lucy's Secret Santa exchange at school. It is Malabrigo (greeny-blue) striped with Cascade 220 (orange heather) and I knit it from the top down in simple stripes. The recipient? The coolest boy in her class. He's awesome, and he actually liked the hat. I guess I've still got it!! Whatever that means. Have you seen what kids in middle school will wear on their heads? Yeah. I hope I don't really have "it". Although anything they have has to be better than what pre-schoolers "share" in their hats. You know what I mean. I won't say the word, knock on wood. Rhymes with "spice".

Back to Cousin Connor, who is almost 7. He and his mom are busy reading the Harry Potter series, so I thought he might like a few things from the book, like tiny "Weasley Sweaters" with family initials (and a stocking for the nanny!). Also, a stripey hat for him. In Gryffindor colors, of course. I was tempted to make it reversible, with Slytherin colors on the inside. But 4 layers of wool? HOT!!! The fair isle snitches are like the ones from the Dobby socks in the Charmed Knits, the Harry Potter knitting book by Alison Hansel.

What else???? ...... simple knit and beaded poinsettia pins for teachers, to go with other goodies.

Lucy knit this awesome headband and cuff set for Aunt Shannon. I want some of my own (do I have the "gimmies" or what?). I love the lace-up details.

Out of the leftover Malabrigo from Ashley's birthday sweater, Steve knit and felted this elf hat for Christmas. It fits her!!!! He did some cool increase-arranging from the top down to get the shaping at the top. It's really a wonderful thing. He made another one, unfelted, for our little niece Chloe. We're waiting on photos of her. She looks like Cindy Lu Who (sure that Grinch fans are making fun of my spelling, but hopefully you know who I mean).

Below is a gorgeous scarf that Lucy knit for Aunt Carrie out of a beautiful skein of Manos. It is knit length-wise, and is so warm and pretty. Lucy really knit her heart out this holiday. Way to go, and we know it wasn't just because of what Dad said to you!! Steve actually forced the girls to participate in our pre-holiday knit-a-thon by telling them that, "every time you don't knit this season, an angel loses its wings." Remember that....Every Single Time.

She also made this tiny kitty for Lily out of scraps from some of our other felted projects. This is from the Aranzi Aronzo books (The Cute Book, The Bad Book, etc.) that we are obsessed with currently.

Lily also picked up needle and thread to create the lizard from those books for Letoya. Oh, he's so cute!!! They are simplistic designs with so much character....you'll want them all.

And now for something completely different. As in "not simplistic". But you may want them all!

Steve is a genius. He continues to make cool creatures, and has been on a spree since the fall. This is EraserHead, my own baby. Brown Sheep Bulky and other wools, felted.

Yes, he has butt cheeks!

This guy is Froggy with Pants. He has pants. Painted Pastaza, other wools, felted. Ping pong balls. Tongue.

Cali didn't know about this guy. She asked Steve, "What is this? Some kind of spider?" Maybe. He has 9 legs with suction-cup ends. Fair isle with a cable (?), twisting, braiding, intarsia face, etc. Malabrigo, Cascade's Lana D'Oro..felted.

This is She She. She is out of a mystery yarn that he bought just for her and lost the label, all in one day. It's wool, though, cuz it felted. Also it is stripey. She has wings and a stinger at the end of her tail. Also fingers. And Ceramic Owl Eyes from the days of macrame. Crazy!!


Geesh, I'm getting tired. This cataloging is hard. We should update a little more often, ehhh?



This is a simple bag I made from some soft Rowan sparkley wool with a crocheted drawstring. I used some burgundy cotton tape and some glass beads to dress it up, before I filled it with chocolate for a knitting buddy.

This little purse is for my dear little Lily Pants. The Fair Isle argyle pattern is adapted from page 102 of Knitting Over the Edge by Nicky Epstein. I used Lana D'Oro by Cascade (alpaca and wool) to make the bag in the round. To hide all of those carries, I lined the purse with a bit of a pillowcase from Ikea (didn't want to risk losing the cool pattern detail by felting the yarn). Can you tell who loves the White Stripes???




And did I make hats? More hats? Yes I did!! This time in cotton, as they are for Arizona dudes. The one at the top is for Steve, and the one below is for Jeff. It looks like an Atari game, I think. I made up my own top-down pattern and used a fair isle design from EZ's Workshop book along with some ideas of my own. Awesome.



Not as awesome as Jeff's ability to wear hats, any hat, and look good. Or at least only slightly goofy. There was also spinning involved this holiday. This is supposed to look like a bunch of sunshine, or Indiana Sweet Corn, for my dear Stephen. The yarns on top are from a Spritely Goods batt called Daffodils. I love that stuff. Have I said that lately? Also included are some random yellow and cream merinos that I plyed together to round out the collection. I also spun some wool for Lucy, SG Sage superwash merino. Don't know where that photo is, though.

And I made socks. Lots of socks. These are for Lucy. From "Lifestyles" superwash merino by Zitron, color 1861. I used my own toe-up techniques and actually like the inside (purl) side better in this yarn because it looks woven. Both ways are shown below, with the purl side on the bottom of the photo. Yes, I have more. Three balls of the green (color 1860) for myself. Knee socks, or maybe a vest.

These little footies are also for Lucy. I used Cascade Fixation for toes, heels, and cuffs, and divided a single ball of Ornaghi's "Merino Kind 5" for the rest. Just the right amount of wool for a springy, quick knit.


Poor Lily. Her socks are still on the needles.

On New Year's Eve I made this little blue hat, with some help from Lucy. Wool? Yes. Which wool? Big fat wool. Can't remember. Maybe she knows. I'm getting delirious. (update: Lucy says this is Bulky Cascade - 128?) Top down, earflaps, crocheted white edging. I tried it on and looked like a demented baby in a bonnet. She looks gorgeous. Must be those blue eyes. Or her ability to "work" anything.

Lucy knit this pocket with a fair isle cow for her friend Kari. I made a Fixation bag to put the pocket on.

It says "moo". Of course.

I don't think that this hat and mitt set actually went to anyone.....I knit it a bit ago, and think it is still under the tree. Forgot to send a package, apparently. Any takers? Who is cold?

And now for more of Steve's Creatures.

This episode is sponsored by E2K. Or rather, by E2K's Organizer. For the last few months E2K has been amazing all of us at The International Knit Circle with stories of her time with the Organizer....a woman who is slowly but surely getting E2K's house and life "under control" (E's words, not mine). This is great for her, but our house has seen an influx of toys and other cute things for the girls that used to live at E's house. Hmmmmm. There was a very funny rubbery floppy disk holder thingy in one little box of key chains, playing cards, and other fun stuff. Remember floppy disks? Apparently neither does Steve. He decided that this holder needed to become the spiny protrusions of yet another creature.
This one is pink and purple Malabrigo and Manos, felted and over-stuffed, with those green points from the thingy on its head, back, mouth, and tail. The best part of this story? In the true spirit of recycling, he gave it back to E2K, which means that the Organizer gets to see that floppy disk holder again. Wonder if she'll recognize it?

We had a little International Knit Circle "New Year's Day Holiday Recovery Party" this year, and handed out a few goodies (like Spiney Guy, above). Lucy owed Letoya a wristband from LAST YEAR'S party, so she delivered this skull and crossbones one to dear L on the first.

Stephen used some of that beautiful neon green mohair that Illanna bought on a cone (and redistributed to the group) to make little gift bags. Each one held a hand-crocheted and beaded bracelet made by Lucy and/or Lily.

This photo doesn't do them justice, but you get the idea. And the bracelets are long gone, adorning wrists far away at this point!

I made and beaded these wrist warmers out of Koigu for someone who didn't bother to show up. Ahem. They are from the One Skein book, and are a classic. I made other pairs as well, including a pair I just now remembered are hiding under my bed!!! Bonus! That's what I get for starting my holiday knitting early! (update: J-Dub showed up tonight, and received this gift. She's out of the dog house now, but right into the cat house).

Steve knit this great hat out of super-chunky wool for Letoya. She looks great in it, and people at her job are JEALOUS!!!!

Back when I used to do other things that didn't exclusively involve yarn, I painted some silk. This orange and pink piece is a scarf from that period. I knit up a loose tube of Malabrigo laceweight (2 different colors held together) with different sizes of needles until it was "long enough". Then I gave it to Betsy, who can wear the two pieces separately or with one inside the other, peeking out through the lacey holes. Inspiration? Leigh Radford (again) in her Alterknits book.

These are just some cables that I made out of soft wool. I sewed bits of elastic to join them into headbands.

Aha!!! Another fabulous Stephen creation!! This is our idea of a Spritely Goods Mascot. He made it for Stephanie using only her yarns. The faery body is knit from her Aeval merino-silk blend and then felted (heaven - by the way, this is Steve's favorite yarn of all time....I bought him some more in blue for a gift...can't wait to see what he makes me out of it! Update: Stephanie gave Steve another skein for his birthday, this time in the militia colorway. So spoiled!) The clothing and hair are from some of her hand-painted sockweight yarns. Most are limited editions, so this little faery can serve as a bit of a time capsule for Stephanie. Her work really is amazing (as is Steve's), and these faeries are dear to us both.

He made a couple of other ones. Two tiny ones still need clothes (I think that's my department), but this one is for Lucy. Same details as the one above, but this one stays at our house!

And now, what has to be the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life. A knitted hermit crab. Made of bulky and very soft baby alpaca. And Steve didn't even felt this one, if you can imagine such a thing. He knew what he wanted, and just sat down with the yarn, some needles, and his little brain going a million miles an hour. Over a few days and nights he sculpted a perfect little creature (well, actually quite monstrous in size when you think of it). Crabbie has one claw bigger than the other, and actually looks like they really do when out of their shells, creepy tiny claws/legs and all. His name is Crazy Joe. We hired him, and his puppets, as our financial advisor. Look out, IRS!!!

He used a self-striping wool by Universal to make the shell, also just created out of his head and magic knitting needles. The man is so cool. Did I mention that he's my wonderful husband, father to my children, and best friend AS WELL as Best Knitter Ever? This week we celebrated being married for 14 years. I am so lucky.

So is Lily. Not only did she get Crazy Joe, but her dad helped her to design and make her very own earflap hat out of Burlyspun wool.




So, it's Stephen's birthday, and we just had another anniversary. I feel so fortunate....I cannot really express everything that's in my heart. I try with my needles, but they often fail. Even in cashmere, even as a warm hat. I made this one out of two skeins of charcoal grey Schulana Cashmere Fino by Skacel. I adapted Barbara Walker's X and O cables (p. 255, first Treasury) to fit the top-down hat...and it is the very first, out of many, many, many hats that I have made for him over the years...that suits him.

Honestly, the man is responsible for all that is good in my world. My girls, for instance. Steve is such a kick-ass father, and he taught me how to parent from the heart. And without him, I wouldn't understand beauty the way that I do now. His work, both in fiber and with film, continues to inspire me. I knew nothing about color, about really "seeing" anything at all, until I began to see through his eyes...through his lens. He is astounding, and I am so honored to be part of his life. You should spend some time, when you have time, looking at this photo

and many more HERE. He took these over the summer, when he took a trip with David to see more of the beautiful Southwest. And after you look at that, come back to see us. We promise you a present for being such loyal readers. Not only did you wait so long for a post, you made it through this HUGE one. You rock!!! Leave us some comments & Steve promises to upload some more free patterns.



AND TO WRAP IT UP.......

2007 was an impossibly hard year in our lives, but we made it. I know more about family thanks to the many people who helped us through the past months, and we have so many memories that mean the world to us. These things we make are tangible reminders of the time we spend making them. Each brings to mind people and places that are otherwise too fleeting to catch. Working together, making beautiful things....that's why we started this blog. That's how we live our lives, and that is what makes us a family....THIS family. Here's to 2008, and to all of you.

Thank you,



The LusciousGraciousClan (kiki, lily, lucy, and steve)