Tuesday, March 10, 2015

All the Things!

I think I see a trend starting. Update blog, ignore for a month, update, repeat. Lately, it's just seemed so tough to want to update. Probably because I don't really like stopping to take photos, and what fun is a blog without photos?

Although I have lots of things on my needles and planned, today I am just sharing some recent stash additions and art happenings.

I have been eyeing the pattern "Bad Oyster" ever since I discovered it last month. Fringed scarves seem popular right now and this is a cool pattern to make one. I had a skein of Malabrigo Sock, Archangel in my stash, but I wanted to play with it a bit, so I purchased a skein of Malabrigo Rios in Pearl Ten to pair with it. I am thinking maybe doing dark stripes with laced orange stripes. I'm excited to get started. 

My current LYS, W.C. Mercantile, also has spinning tools and fiber. She has been making up grab bags of random fiber and I was super excited to pick one out. I am thinking of just randomly grabbing a bit, spinning it, then randomly grabbing another and attaching, until it's all spun then I can ply it on itself. Talk about epic crazy fun yarn!

Universal Bamboo Bloom has been super popular around here since the shop started carrying it back in December. While I am not always a bandwagon jumper, I finally caved. She has a self written cowl pattern that highlights the thick and thin nature of this yarn that I will be tackling soon. 

In art world, I finally finished a painting last week. It's my largest to date, at 50 inches long. I can also happily say that is is my favorite. I love how it turned out with color and shadow. 

I am hooked on trees, now that I have a large tree painting, and want to do a whole series. That being said, I decided to actually make some trees, with polymer (oven bake) clay and knitted balls. I have 5 of these made and they are currently arranged into a still life to start my next painting.

Weekly Inspirations:
Knitting: On my needles: Rainbow cowl (just finished), fire opals tee (starting front panel) and handdyed coffee cozies. Notice how none of them have recent photos? 
Food: Ever think of Chickpeas as a sweet desert? Me either, but I found this recipe and had to give it a try. Luckily, the peanut butter masks the chickpeas and overall it's a win!
Art: I have new artists moving into the residency this weekend. Heidi and Jessica. Both are super talented and I cannot wait to spend six months making art with them.
Life: I finally have a bit of financial freedom, with my first paycheck coming in last weekend. Explains all the stash additions right?

Hope all are having a great beginning to the week. Mine is pretty good so far :)


Thursday, February 12, 2015

On My Needles

Another week is flying by and I feel like I have been widely unproductive. Despite the fact that I really have gotten a lot done. Anyone ever feel that way?

On my needles this week I have three new projects.

Last week I talked about how I am designing all of my socks this year. The next pair has begun and I am really liking it. I settled on a mock cable pattern that I altered a bit to look like large "V's". basically giant knit stitches that have been knit. Clever right? Lately I have really liked putting the stitch motif on everything. From shoes to mugs to scarves. So why not put them IN my knitting too? I still need a name for this though, suggestions are welcomed.  :) 

At this point, you are probably thinking I am having a love affair with purple. That's kind of true, although I started the above before my socks. The sock yarn was grabbed at random from my stash. And these are the only two purple yarns I own. Go figure.

But seriously, the above is a new tee, Fire Opal Tee, from an issue of Knitscene. What I like about this project is the way it allows the yarn to really shine. It may not look like much now, but once it's done you drop some stitches and the cables suddenly appear. I wish it knitted up faster though. 

Finally I have the Gap-tastic cowl started also. This is my new "movie theater" knit. It has quite a few mistakes from my last go, but I guess that's what happens when you try seed stitch in the dark. Honestly, I don't mind. It keeps my hands busy and uses up old yarn. Win Win in my book.

Weekly Inspirations:
Knitting - I'm knitting a scrap yarn bra! Before you get any ideas, it's for a fundraiser. I hope it works out. I'll share pictures when it's done.
Art - I have a couple of pieces in the show "From Every Fiber" in College Station, TX. The whole show is amazing. Art ranges from a giant knitted portrait to homemade paper flowers to felted paintings.
Food - If you have a Trader Joe's near you, I highly recommend buying a jar of the Satay Peanut Sauce. I had some that I have been putting with veggies this week and it's been a real treat.
Life - It's been 60/70 here all week. The best weather for coffee shop patio knitting. This week's adventure took me to The Village Downtown and an amazing Sangria Sunrise (who said coffee shops had to include coffee?)

I hope that the rest of the week and the weekend brings you great joy. I am hoping for a relaxing one.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Sock Stories

Since 2015 began I have been hooked on socks. I have other projects on the needles too, but it seems like the sock project is always the one I focus on. No surprise I have finished two pairs already!

I discussed my "Show off stranded socks" in the last post, and since then I have started and completed one other pair. 

When the time came for my next pair, I decided to literally reach into my stash bin and grab a skein of yarn. If it was sock yarn, it was my next pair. The lucky winner was Merino Twist DK by Sweet Fiber. This skein of 100% superwash merino was given to me in a swap last summer and has been hanging out in the bin since. 

Such a dark yarn needed a nice lacy pattern, and I just couldn't find one on Ravelry that really fit the bill. So.... I designed my own! 

Nothing goes better with lace than waves, and I found the perfect motif in my "365 stitch calendar". Sadly, it didn't translate well to working in the round, and I had to change things up a bit. I was able to find another wave pattern online and went to town swatching. After ripping out the toe (these are toe up) for the 4th time, I finally got the design down! And the rest flew off the needles. 

Good news for you all also, I decided to publish the pattern! You can find it here - "Midnight Surf Socks" And if you use you the code "2015SOX", you can have it for $1 until Friday, Feb 13th.!  It hasn't been tech edited (yea...I know...) but I read it over three times and really worked to make it perfect. 

With this pair done, I decided I wanted to keep the "Grab and knit" trend going, even though I have two other projects on my needles. I also want to keep designing the socks myself - I have decided that every pair of socks I knit this year will be my own personal design! The next pair? With the solid purple shown above. Blue Ridge Farms Subtle Shades. I am thinking something a bit more solid, since the yarn is solid it can show off design work more. Maybe cables, or twists or both or lace. Who knows.

Weekly Inspirations:
Knitting: I haven't posted mine on Ravelry yet, but one of my other projects is the Fire Opal Tee in Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton. I started it last week because I needed something new on my needles.
Art: I started teaching this week and working with the kids is giving me lots of new ideas. I actually am really enjoying coming up with fun projects like scratch art and homemade sketchbooks from envelopes.
Food: This week I tried a baked oatmeal recipe and fell in love. You will too if you check out my food blog!

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading my adventures. Any ideas what kind of stitch would look good on that purple are happily welcomed. :)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Been Too Long (again)

One would think that having no real job, but lots of time to create would give me time to photograph things and update on here more. Yea right....

I have lots of new knit things to share today! Maybe that's why it's been so long - I was waiting to share all at once.

I don't think I've ever started a finished a pair of socks in a week, so doing so with this pair made me really happy. The reason, not so much. I started this pair right before having to emergency fly home to attend a funeral for my last living Grandmother. It was a sad time, many tears were shed (but not me - I don't get emotional).  But back to socks. I was able to get the first one completely finished in transit back to KS.  I stayed the whole week just for kicks, and ended up finishing the second one during that time. The yarn is Verdant Gryphon Bugga! that I received as a gift. It's probably been my favorite to work with, what with the cashmere content. The pattern is Show Off Stranded Socks by Anne Campbell. Yet another "Almost Vanilla" project that I loved! 

After finishing the socks at home I ran into a dilemma. I had packed my sweater project, but in the rush I didn't pack enough of the yarn. So I couldn't finish it like I hoped. And I had no other projects other than my needles and the left over Bugga! I COULD NOT spend another day flying and layovers without a knitting project. The result was a quick Hobby Lobby run (when you're poor and it's a hat, you make do) for some basic white DK yarn. I was able to start and almost finish this hat that day as I traveled back to Texas.  The pattern? Fruju Hat. It actually calls for self-striping, but there is no reason you can't just use two yarns ;). Yet another pattern I will remember for the future.

And now the big reveal. I am farely certain I have mentioned my "Tell it Slant" sweater on here at least twice. The yarn was purchased at my new (and favorite) LYS, W.C. Mercantile on my birthday weekend with the intention of making this sweater. I loved the pattern and design and use of short rows. And my use of blue really helps it pop! I ended up redoing the sleeve cuffs three times because of length, but otherwise there were really no kinks. My only wish is that the neck wasn't so scoopy. But I could have fixed that if I really wanted to. The pattern is "Tell it Slant" by Mary Annarella. The yarn I used was HiKoo Simplicity. I have a little less than one whole skein of each color left, which means I need to find it a good colorwork project to become. 

The irony is that it is currently 70 out here in Texas. But I am still wearing this as much as I can, after all, a good sweater means you don't need a jacket!  And it's fairly light weight, so I think this spring I can still get away with it.

Weekly Inspirations:
Knitting: I am currently designing some toe up socks to use with this yarn. It took me forever, but I think I finally got a good thing going. 
Art: I hit up some art shows in Houston last weekend. I got to see some really inspiring works. Especially at this show. And the interesting thing is that I realized after that I remember seeing Jackie Titleston in a magazine in undergrad and loving her. So amazing to see it in person!
Food: No new recipes, just random experiments. But if you feel like reading a rant, I posted my opinion on restaurants and calorie lists on my food blog. 
Life: Maybe I should eliminate this category. Life is usually everything I already talked about on here. 

I hope that weather you are enjoying the warm weather or snowed in and cold you are able to have a good week !


Friday, January 9, 2015

Art Happenings

Finally Friday! Although it's been a cold, wet one here in TX. I am not enjoying this weather...

I realized earlier this week that I haven't shared any of my most recent art on my blog lately, and I knew that needed to change. So today I finally got around to taking some photos. 

Since around Thanksgiving time I have been working on a larger scale knit sculpture. I really want to start creating human sized, full room knit installation worlds. This is the next step for me. The big cone is about 2 feet tall and took over 2 months to knit. I was actually going to have it be a giant bowl when I started, but I got impatient and decided to make a cone instead. I am not sure if this installation is complete yet: I feel like it needs something. 

If it took 2 months to knit the one cone, than this full room idea is going to take longer than I thought....

"Whispering Dawn Thunder"

Also after Thanksgiving, I decided to start painting on wood panels. I had done a bit on smooth surfaces since moving to Navasota and enjoyed it, so I wanted to give it a try in my own art. I also wanted to go back to the landscapes - I missed them after painting the weird ball sculptures - and simplify my colors. Working on the smooth surface really helped me to do that. Wood doesn't absorb paint like canvas, so you end up just layering on strokes and if you're not careful you can get a muddy mess. Luckily I was able to figure it out. 

"Cold Dandelion Trickle"

These are also smaller, 12 x 16 to be exact. This is mostly due to me not wanting to pay a ton for my wood. But I'm really liking this size. If you look at my website you will see all four of my new works since I started this. I have two more in process and am hoping to keep making these for a bit. Another thing you may notice if you see my 2015 art page is that they all are more cohesive in theme. I am trying to branch out a bit and start making more "Series" of works that revolve around a single aspect. This group of paintings is all about being trapped/restricted/caved in and wanting to get out. I hope it's showing through in my works. 

And finally, a gallery shot of where my art hangs at the house ! 

I also wanted to take a moment to share some spectacular news. As this residency program ends in a month or so, I have begun a lot of soul searching about my next move. It's been so tough trying to decide if I want to stay in the Bryan/College Station area of if I want to move somewhere with more art (Houston, Austin...). Well after talking to some of my good friends in the Bryan art area, they convinced me to stay around. And after I decided on that....wait for it... The Arts Council (that hosts our program) offered me a job! So I will be staying in TX for a while, working with the council and teaching all of their workshops and classes. I am really excited for the opportunity and the fact that they believe in me so much. 

Weekly Inspirations:
Knitting: I love the Brazos Valley Knitting Guild. We had our meeting last night and show and tell time is always my favorite. So many amazing projects were shared and now I want to cast on everything! Pine Bough CowlNurmilintu, and Tenticulum are just three of the lovelies.
Art: Something that has really been inspiring me lately is Mic Check Poetry in Bryan. I got almost every week and the poets and their words always leave an impact.
Food: I finally updated my food blog. I keep taking pictures and then never sharing them! Over Christmas I made-up a gnocchi recipe with canned tomatoes. I really liked it (but my dad, Mr. Picky had other thoughts).
Life: New Year, new resolutions> I am trying really hard to get back into my old exercise and eating habits, but it's harder than it should be. Especially with this nasty rain.

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet. I always love sharing my life with everyone and hearing what you all have to say.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Next Big Thing - Product Testers Wanted :)

I hope that everyone had a splendid week and a wonderful new year. Mine was pretty casual - stayed up late watching TV shows and knitting. But isn't that the best way to spend the holiday? 

I am writing today with a request for all of my friends in blogland. 

This past holiday, I wanted to give my brother's girlfriend a homemade gift. Knowing that she was going to be student teaching this coming semester, I thought some sort of lesson plan book would be a good idea. After doing some googling and shopping, I decided to try my hand at making here a homemade binder. 

After finishing her's (which I never did take a photo of...) I got to thinking about knitters and how we all have so many patterns floating around. We all need a place to keep them right? Thus "The Pattern Keeper" was born (title may change). 

Each binder starts with archival matboard for the covers, and is then assembled using simple material. The cover features a beautiful, handpainted watercolor stitch design.

The binder portion is created with 3 binder rings inserted along the spine. These are just simple rings like you find in any standard binder. The only thing is they don't have the fancy mechanism to open and close. 

Inside each binder is matching paper to cover the fabric. The front cover also has a pocket to fit all of your random papers. The plan right now is to also include blank dividers and some of the page protector sheets to get the user started. I am also considering adding graph paper for the budding designer.

So what I am asking all of my readers is for opinions. I have 4 of these made up, and will send them to you, completely free, to analyze, test, and review. I really want to start selling these on Etsy - I think they could go well - but I want to have real feedback before I jump in,

Interested? Comment here or Email me - Lisa(dot)Urban(dot)24(at)Gmail(dot)com. I would love to send you a handmade binder to try and use !


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Knitting

It's been so long since I posted about my knitting life - there have been so many other things happening and so little time to really blog about anything. Things are finally slowing down, and I'm headed back to Texas tomorrow, so now's the perfect time to share my recent projects.

With the holidays this past week, I found myself making lots of holiday knits for my family. The first was for my sister. When I was home over Thanksgiving, my sister loved my Temple Cats hat, and casually mentioned wanting one in purple and blue.  Luckily the LYS had a Black Friday Sale and I was able to get the yarn I needed for a great price.

The yarn I chose is Cascade Yarns Elysian, a nice blend of 60/40 Merino/Acrylic. It's really soft and worked up great, although it was a bit splitty at times. I decided to use the purple for the base color, so the cats could really pop. And I also added the aqua stripes to the top because I thought it would add nice accent. She really liked it :) 

My sister has a birthday three days after Christmas, and I had extra yarn, so I decided to knit her a pair of mittens to go with the hat as a birthday gift. I reversed the colors and found that I really liked the cats against the blue. The patter was completely charted from scratch, with only a basic mitten pattern to give me stitch numbers. She has really long fingers, and thus they turned out super long. But working on these really made me a colorwork master! 

When I asked my brother what he wanted for Christmas, he replied "A black hat would be nice". Of course he chose black - the one color that I didn't have wool in my stash. Luckily the LYS is five blocks down the street and they had exactly what I needed. I have since lost the label, but it was a nice super wash, aran weight wool. I paired it with some leftover handspun alpaca for the brim (originally used for this hat) and then I found some simply soft here in my KS stash that I used to pair it with for the top. Considering that I improvised the design, he really likes it and I know it will get good use. 

As for me, it's not winter in Kansas without a nice warm scarf. I finally finished my Scotland scarf a few weeks back, and have been wearing it everywhere since. The yarn is a nice angora blend and so warm and scushy. I am really pleased with this scarf because it was also my "movie theater scarf". I took it with me to four different movies (Plus a couple of knit club days) and only had eight mistakes through it all. I learned that I can knit basic in the dark, which is a huge plus for me. I definitely plan on taking more projects to movies from now on. 

Weekly Inspirations:
Art: On my trip back home last week I stopped in Fort Worth. I was lucky enough to see some amazing art by really famous artists at The Fort Worth Modern, The Kimbell Museum , and the Amon Carter Museum. Seeing works by Georgia O'Keefe, Keith Herring, Paul Gauguin, Picasso and the likes was really inspiring. 
Food: Although I didn't get good photos, I made some really good Italian Chicken Panini's last week for my family and even my dad liked them!
Knitting: I am dying to cast on more socks after reading so many posts about socks the past few weeks. Specifically after reading Kiwiyarns Knits post about her year in socks (thanks Andi for sharing) I have so many lovely yarns to try out also. 
Life: I start driving back to Texas from Kansas tomorrow, to finish up the last 2 months of my residency. I am ready to get back into painting, what with a couple of shows coming up. When I get back, I will of course share my new works with you all.

I hope the New Year finds you making happy, healthy resolutions and finding new adventures in knitting and life. I know that 2014 has been so life changing, I can only imagine what 2015 will be like.