Luscious Gracious! Look What We Made Today!

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

Sunday, September 21, 2008

HKB Handmade Gifts

Luscious Gracious! Look what they made for me!

Every year I say, "Best birthday ever!" And every year, the girls tell me, "That's what you said last year!" So I guess my life just keeps getting better, or my memory keeps getting worse. Either way, this year was my best birthday ever.....or at least since the one in 1989!

As always at CasaLusciousGracious, little elves were busy stitching and gluing and felting in the days leading up to the event, and here are some of the results. Lily Grace used green wool and Aranzi Aronzo's "Car Folk" pattern in the book "Fun Dolls" to make this happy replica of the green station wagon we had when the girls were small. They called her Neener because of the noise she made to remind them to buckle up. "NeeeNer, NeeeNer", quite like a British ambulance,.....and the girls would reply, "Yes, Neener!" as they tumbled into car seats and waited for us to secure them.

Also, we all have a bit of a thing for green station wagons!

SEW cute, Lily!

Ms. Lulu designed a scrapbook with photos of her summer....Florida with Grandma, Indiana with all of those cousins, and even a bit of her trip to Catalina Island. I was hoping for a photo of her on the ferry, but she was too busy with her head in the toilet to take any!
Lily and Lucy also brought home some of the pottery they made for me this summer at The Artist Within, their grandfather's shop and studio. They learned to throw pottery on the wheel this summer! No photos at this point, because I immediately put them on my bedside table (as holders for lipbalm, stitch markers, tapestry needles, candy, dental floss, etc.)

When Illanna came to visit this spring, she brought the girls Japanese felting kits, complete with a crazy looking magic wand that turns bits of wool fiber into round little beads. Thanks Illanna! It's a REALLY cool invention. Lily is smitten; any chance to play in the water is a good thing. And it's better than playing in the dirt!

These are some of her creations, looped into a special necklace for me. It makes me think of the goofy aunt in "Home for the Holidays". Robert Downey Jr. congratulates her on her stylish necklace, and she happily replies, "It's made of Fruit Loops!" This one is so pretty it makes me want to eat it!

So, back in 1989 on my birthday, Steve kissed me (awwww) for the first time and we started dating. Therefore, we celebrate our real anniversary on September 9 as well. And he's been my boyfriend ever since. Well, until now!

Look at my new Boyfriend! Shown here holding hands and skipping happily along with Girlfriend. There's a bit of a height difference (she's 7" short and he's 11" tall), but who cares? They make quite the striking couple!

Don't tell her parents, but here's a photo of Girlfriend in the nude. Long before she decided to run for office. She was young, inexperienced, looking for a good time! Don't judge her for her youthful indiscretions!

And those little cheeks are so cute!!

Also, Girlfriend was waiting for her laundry to dry, just like every other college student!

And after felting, we had to wait for her to dry. Steve tied her to the ceiling fan, and she became more and more lifelike as the hanging progressed! Girlfriend is so awesome just the way she is, and we decided to leave her hollow, which lends her a very ghosty, skeletal, and slightly alien appearance (what more could you want?).

Girlfriend started out as Nashua "Natural Focus Ecologie Wool", color Indigo (white with an almost invisible blue cast to it). And Stephen made her a hoodie dress from GGH "Vision"(66%wool, 33%polymide, 1%elastin) that looks straight out of a Rebecca magazine. All bits and pieces, including dress, just out of Steve's fantastical brain and fingers.

Girlfriend has been a very special pal to me, and I use her as a focal point when contemplating the so very empty nature of her head, and of the universe! But like all dieties, she was a little lonely, a little tired of living her life on the pedestal. She was looking for love.

And "love" started out as a floppy, stripey dude made in "Heaven" (yarn by fibranatura,50%Merino wool and 50% silk). Who wouldn't want a self-striping boyfriend made in Heaven?

After felting and the ritual hanging, Boyfriend came to life, just like the Bride of Frankenstein. But with better self esteem. He decided, hollow or not, to stick around with the woman he was made for.

Here's Boyfriend on the stripey side, showing his bumpy head protrusions (a "crest",Lily informs us) and his cute individual fingers. Steve was very inspired by Hellboy II this summer, and started this multi-striped guy soon after seeing so many incredible creatures on the screen.

I particularly like the eyes! Hollow and big, just like Girlfriend, but Boyfriend was blessed with big, bushy eyelashes! His mouth is open, a bit like Mr. Toad from "Wind in the Willows". Actually, he looks A LOT like a toad!

Remember that mitten challenge? We need to show the finished products still....yikes, how time does fly! Anyway, I collected and used some leftover bits of the Harrisville "New England Shetland" that Steve picked out for our Mitten-a-Long this summer to make this pillow.

I had charted and knit almost all of it when Illanna's package arrived the day before my birthday...and her scraps (the black and grey) were the only ones missing! What a fortuitous event! I was then able to add our names and date to the pillow on the ends.

I finished it just in time to give to my dear Stephen on our anniversary. Nineteen years. I remember when that seemed like a loooooooong time! It went by in such a flash, measured first in college exams and papers, then in laundering cloth diapers, then in endless school functions with the kids. Now each milestone is measured in knitting projects, great and small.
Good old "Extreme Trapping!!!" Please learn it if you don't already know's so much more fun than the bobbins of intarsia! Stephen learned how from our Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen "A Knitting Glossary" dvd. The technique is also called Armenian knitting, and Meg, along with Joyce Willims, has a newish book out by the same name with great instructions and incredible projects (our hero, Meg!). Check out that Lily Coat!!!

Lily's first Creature!!! Dad is sooooo proud! She used scrap pieces from Girlfriend's coat that were in Steve's knitting bag, along with some bright blue Malabrigo in her bag to stitch this little one (4.5" tall) together origami-style!

Here's the back view, showing his cape. Now Boyfriend and Girlfriend have a pet! They think they're people!

The girls have always liked to make pop-up cards, and this summer Lily made them in Indiana with and for her relatives there. This one came home to that painted heart!
She sent this cactus version to JDub.

Ahh, JDub. We miss our far-flung friends! But sometimes they come to visit!

For example, Letoya just spent a few weeks back in the States, and stayed with us for the Arizona part of her trip. She cracks us up, and brought us all kinds of wonderful goodies from the UAE. Letoya also kept us entertained and spent a lot of time with the kids. That was an added bonus, and came at the perfect time! Lucy and Lily are very close to our knitting family, especially since we really are far away from the other kind.

I spun this merino single for Letoya...180 yards of fingering weight in a deep plum heathered color. We really liked this one, and it changes according to the light. And it is BEAUTIFUL on Letoya; she can make anything she wants for herself!

Also some handspun for E2K! The one on the bottom is a way-overdue skein of laceweight 2-ply spun from a Spritely Goods "Southwest Sandstone" batt (Merino, Tencel, Firestar and Angelica). The slightly thicker 2-ply in the middle is 100% Tussah Silk (also from Spritely Goods). The top, also a 2-ply but quite a bit loftier, is a combination of Tussah Silk, Merino and other wools, bamboo, Tencel, and maybe other scraps, all in the same color family as the Southwest Sandstone.

This little skein was an experiment of combining one ply of Targhee top dyed by Mountain Colors with one ply of various colors of Merino I had in a bucket by my wheel. It's a little muddy, even worse than this photo makes it look! I spun the rest of the Targhee into singles, but can't find them....let alone photograph them! Did I give them away? I think I just gave it to Steve, but where did it go!? Did he felt it already?

One of Stephanie's newest fiber colors is "Sand and Sea", a brown and blue multi-hue with a bit of sparkle that really and truly captures a day at the beach! Go Spritely Goods! I spun it as a thinnish single (1.9 oz & 276 yds). It is a combo of Merino, bamboo, Tencel, Firestar and Angelica, and I want to knit it RIGHT NOW!! I finished that Bog Jacket!! It's not like 50 people I know are having birthdays in the next two months, immediately followed by those dreadful winter holidays! Not giving this one up-it's all mine! Suggestions, Illanna and other friends, for what I should make with it that isn't a shawl or scarf?

I've been doing quite a bit of spinning in the early mornings lately. It's not all photographed and/or shown here, but here's a little close-up of the skeins I made for E.

And here is an extra photo of Lucy's birthday sweater, this time with her in it! Look here for details....I followed a pattern, knit with actual cotton, and LOVED it! She says it's her favorite sweater, and it really is pretty. Hey Muffy, doesn't Lucy look like Megan here?

So, that is a little about why I had the Best Birthday Ever!!! I didn't even tell you about all of the great things my friends did for me....shawls (yes, plural!), yarn, books, even gourmet cupcakes and Japanese potato candy! Thanks to all of my wonderful family and friends who make every day a good one, and do so much to show me the beauty of the world. I love you all.



We've been playing a bit on Ravelry lately, so you can see more stuff there. In other news, Steve is making more strange & beautiful monsters, Lucy is sewing, Lily made her Domo Frankenstein guy pants out of duct tape, Kiki is making a 19 stitch Noro Kureyon Sock umbilicus on #00 dpn's, and we are still trying to get that mitten update ready!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Win (or do I?)

Haven't CONFIRMED, but as far as I know, I think I'm the first to finish our latest KAL.
Yes, it's the Bog Jacket (Elizabeth Zimmermann's design, from "Knitting Around", a fantastic book).
I have to admit, I didn't really enjoy this knit. But I guess maybe I did. Let's clarify. I didn't enjoy making THIS model! The entire time I was knitting was one giant, elongated, beautiful "A-Ha" moment in knitting. I was so excited about the construction that I didn't really pay much attention to this (like a test pancake, or your first child). I was already designing the "Bogs to Come" in my head and in my notebook.
Details - 14 skeins of Plymouth Alpaca Boucle (90%Indiecita alpaca, 10%nylon), spun in Peru, 50 gr=70 yds per skein. 2 skeins med grey brown (#4), 3 skeins dk grey/black (#14) and 9 skeins med brown (#2). Size 10.5US addi turbo needles, 24" circulars. One row of crochet edge in Lamb's Pride Worsted (85%wool,15%mohair) color M-05Onyx. Single random big button for closure.
I did almost all of the additions to the basic pattern, except for the phoney seams, which wouldn't have shown in the boucle yarn. I did do the shoulder shaping, which does not show, but does give the shoulders the drape needed to take this design from The Dude's bathrobe to a semi-stylish coat. Waist shaping also a must. I used random short rows to shape the cuffs (every other garter ridge worked for me, at a different point in the 18 sleeve sts I added to each side of the original pattern).
My gauge was all over the place. Stretchy boucle on big needles PLUS garter stitch, not my best idea ever. I had to rip back and start over twice. No biggie, but if I hadn't, man it would have been one HUGE coat!!!! Probably should have used yarn that worked up to equal stitches to garter ridges to make the construction easier, but one of the semi-rules we agreed upon was using stash yarn. I think most of us have run out and re-ordered at least once so far, am I right? Except maybe JDub, who is using LINEN st to make hers (awesome!).

But the randomness, fear of running out of yarn, and overall puzzle-like construction just added to the fun. I'm very happy with the way my stripes turned out (not at all what I had first pictured, but the SAME thing happened to Elizabeth and Meg, so I feel like I am in good company!). Speaking of good company, can't wait to see what the rest of you are doing. Think I'm about 12 days away from the deadline. Maybe I'll make another one! This time, one for me!

This one is for a very special newly-retired very-important saint of a woman who deserves alpaca only because I didn't have enough cashmere in the stash!!!!! Did I mention how SOFT this is? And how very, very, very warm??!!

The entire time, I was sure I was giving this away, and even tonight, sewing up those origami-like seams, I thought, "man, this looks like a bathmat". But lo and behold, it fit! And looks almost ok on me! Everyone who knows me said the same thing, "Just can't picture you in boucle!" Me neither. But I told JDub today that when I time travel (a la "party crashing") back to the Harvard v Yale football game of 1919 in my Stutz Bearcat, you better believe I'm sporting this baby!

Extra points to anyone who gets any part of that reference. But you still didn't win. I did.

I said, "HAHA!"


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mason - Dixon - Kiki

Kay Gardiner & Ann Shayne from Mason - Dixon knitting have a new book out today.

They have included a pattern based upon this sweater that Kiki knit a few years ago.

We will let you get the book to see how they used this colorwork pattern. They do suggest it as a good first Fair Isle project, we agree! If you are looking for another first Fair Isle pattern, check out Kiki's Kate pattern, which contains a complete "Learn Two-Fisted Colorwork" lesson. It is how Steve & Illanna learned Fair Isle. To read more about Kiki's original sweater & colorwork that inspired the pattern in the book click here or here.

Thanks, Ann&Kay, for including us! The book is a real gem, front to back! And we're not just saying that...can't wait to try that word sweater....ohhhhh!Ahhhh!Words AND knitting, together at last!

Coming Soon - Kiki's Monster Birthday Gifts, final Mitten-A-Long, and maybe some more patterns.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

HKB 2008

HKB - Happy Kiki's Birthday!

Steve, Lucy, and Lily

Monday, September 01, 2008

Desert Botanical Garden

Here in Phoenix we have a fantastic Desert Botanical Garden. It was one of the first places I visited before moving out here. Between DBG and The Sugar Bowl, it was enough to convince me to move our family across the country. Ice Cream & natural beauty, what more would we need?

This summer I have made a few trips to DBG. A couple are documented in the photo section of our website. We took Grandma there to visit early this summer or late spring, it all seems like summer out here. We were quite lucky that day. Not only were there butterflies,

but it was also the day after the Easter Lily Cacti had bloomed.

These cacti bloom 1 night per year, and since we had gone early to beat the heat, they were still open. (kiki adds,"some of you may not know that Easter Lily is our favorite flower, since our own Lily Grace was born on Easter. Very appropriate!")

Later in the summer, I took a photo class at DBG. It was a night photography class. We were too late for any blooming cacti, but there were still several things to point our cameras and flashlights toward. I even took some infrared pictures.

Most of these pictures I played around with the time machine, my favorite feature of the Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 software that I use to edit my photos. Most of them will have that black smudgy border and have traveled back in time to be cross-processed, one of my favorite film tricks. For you purists here are some of the photos before their time travels.



Coming soon HKB, maybe some knitting related posts, finished pictures of those pesky mittens, and even a pattern or two if we get our act together. No promises though, don't want people to get upset if it is delayed, like they did over the Harry Potter Movie.