fiber diva

This is the chronicle of one woman's forays into knitting, crocheting, spinning, embroidery, papercrafts, and whatever else catches my fancy at any given time. Oh, and I talk about my cats a lot, too.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving break, or the joys of ignoring your in-bin in favor of eating turkey for 4 days!

Thanksgiving at the fiberdiva house went well, I'm happy to say. Between my 2 sisters, one bil, one brother (with accompanying sil), 2 nieces, and my dad, we have a pretty full table. This year I did pretty much all the cooking, but my sister and 1 neice came early to help with the peeling and cutting. My brother and sil usually take Thanksgiving and I get Christmas, but this year I may end up with both, since they are having some work done on their house. I'm crossing the Christmas bridge when I come to it, though, and in the meantime, I'm refusing to worry about cleaning and decorating and cooking and finishing almost-finished objects to give as gifts until at least December 1 (and no, no one should point out that that's only 4 days away, thank you very much!)

In the meantime, I thought I'd finish up posting my exchange pictures with the tote photos that blogger decided not to post last time. First are the pictures of the tote that I made Chrissie in Singapore. This is tote in pieces on the drying board. and a photo of my trying to decide if 3 flowers was too many. Of course, the photo of the finished bag confirms that it's not, in fact, too many. The flowers were from a Noni bag pattern, but the bag itself is the Kiss bag from Sally Melville's book on color, using just 2 colors---Patons classic merino (in black) for the background, and Noro kureyon (don't remember the colorway) for the contrast. I used the two-handed stranded method on circular needles. With this technique, the yarn in one of the hands will tend to ride on top, and show more in the finished project. In this case, I wanted to kureyon to show more. You can't tell from this picture, but since I couldn't remember which hand needed to hold the "showier" yarn, I had to do a little experimenting at the bottom. Even worse, I now can't remember again. Yeesh! This is where a knitting notebook might actually come in handy, if I could remember to use one instead of just buying pretty notebooks for that purpose and then leaving them unused!

I found this bag a frightening, for 2 reasons. Not the applied I-cord bind off, which I've used before and feel pretty comfortable with. And not even the 2-handed stranding, which went well once I'd figured out what my hands were supposed to be doing (though, that's probably true of most new skills ;-).

No, my main worries with this were lining (ack, even though I sew a little), and applying the grommets for the strap. (Double ack---no---No punching holes in my knitting. I don't care if it is felted!) I don't have a picture of the lining, but it turned out that neither thing was that scary once I got them started. (ok, I was nervous the entire time I was doing the grommets, but I think it came out nicely.) In fact, I like the look of the grommets so much that I might use them more often, rather than trying to remember to make buttonholes in the fabric while knitting.

But again, I'm really pleased with the whole bag. In fact, I'm thinking of make something similar for my sil and one of my nieces (probably not the same shape, though---like to vary things a little bit, and I do have that noni pattern that I bought just for the flowers ;-).

As for my bag from Louise in Maryland, I got this great felted bucket bag with felted flowers and "vines." Louise used magnetic clasps on either side of the tote, and plastic handles, which I've never tried before. Also, I'm not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but the centers of the flowers are very stylish black buttons! Louise also lined the tote. She actually did me one better, because (you can see from the below picture) her lining has pockets and machine-stitch embroidery! Pretty cool. I also love the little feather butterfly on the blue flower (above). The open bag photo also shows the goodies---flavored coffees, a cute mug, and a chocolate spoon---that Louise included with the bag.
And here's another shot of the bag and all the goodies included. I took this bag to Stitches with me, and got a lot of compliments on it (you can see why), but I was good and didn't try to claim it as my own work ;-).

Although I've enjoyed the swaps, and you can see what great stuff I got, I'm trying to resist joining any more for alittle while. I'm currently finishing up a breed swap (more on that later), and I have a couple of spinning swaps about to start shortly. I think between those and the holidays, I'm probably going to be busy enough for a little while!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving

Want to wish everyone (ok, ok, the 2 or 3 people who manage to wander past my blog) a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving. And just for giggles, here are pics from my (finally!) finished scarf and tote exchanges. First the scarf exchange:
This is the scarf that I made my pal, Kate, in Australia, and that, I'm happy to say, reached its intended recipient without any postal issues at all (yay)!
I don't know that it's the best thing I've ever done, but the yarn (silk rhapsody by artyarns, which includes a strand of silk and a strand of silk/mohair, run together) and the colors really are nice. The lace pattern was interesting, because it's not just the same number of stitches each row. Which is why it's blocked with scallops---they are really supposed to be there.

And then the wonderful scarves from my "upstream" pal, Deborah, also from Australia. She made me two (both modeled here by the shelf bear from the powder room, who also usually sports my minatiure top-down sweater. The purple and pink one is a lovely feather and fan, and the maroon is an openwork, both in mohair. Very, very pretty, and we're starting to get weather cold enough to wear them!
And a beautiful surprise that Deborah also sent: This gorgeous purple and blue handspun yarn! She had started this with the idea of making the scarf out of it, but ran out of time. So, lovely woman that she is, she sent the handspun to me. I just love it, it's such a beautiful color range.
And I'll post about the tote exchange in the next post, since blogger has decided that it's tired of putting up pics for me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More pictures from my travels

Well, it's been an eventful couple of weeks, and I'm just finally getting the pictures uploaded. First, here are a couple from Stitches East (11/2-11/5). I keep saying that I'm not going to take so many classes, and then I end up taking just as many classes! Ok, maybe I took one fewer this time. My favorite class from SE this year was domino knitting with Vivian Hoxbro, who is a very nice lady. She told the class that she was planning to take a break for a while and stay in Denmark until late next year, but if you get the chance to take a class with her, I'd say go for it. Here's a picture of Ms. Hoxbro showing off a domino-knit class, and next to it is my in-class project. I'm seriously considering turning it into a hat, despite how bright it is. ... or maybe because how bright it is---I figure I'll be easy to find in a crowd!

Another resolution that I wasn't able to keep (along with not taking so many classes) is not buying so much yarn, and definitely not buying any more kits---since I have so many now that are just waiting to be worked on. But then, last day of the marketplace, and the Harrisville designs booth, which does the Hoxbro patterns and kits, decides to have a sale. Sure, the kits weren't cheap and the 10% off didn't exactly make the one I wanted cheap, but it was a sale. And the word sale just...well, it's like a little temporary lobotomy, I think. Especially when sale and yarn are used in the same sentence . I'm convinced it's some kind of Pavlovian response. Perhaps I'm being kidnapped in the night without my knowledge by sheep-hearding aliens and conditioned to buy more yarn (and now roving and spindles).....hmmmm.

Or maybe I can just resist anything but temptation! But anyway, I ended up with the Ida vest in a lovely periwinkle colored silk-wool blended yarn. Well, at least the wool-peddling aliens have not messed with my color sense. (It really is pretty yarn.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And even more pics from vacation!

Still quite behind in my posting, and I do promise to write about Stitches East (11/2-11/5) and the knitting retreat (11/10-11/12), but I first wanted to get some more of the shots from Cape May up. The Christopher Gallagher house, which my little book on Victorian architecture tells me is the Second Empire style, is a private residence not far from the the Washington Street mall. Since it's not a bed and breakfast, we didn't get a chance to tour through it on either the "Inn-terior" (yeah, I don't write 'em; I just pass them along) or "Historic Haunts" tour. Though I have to say that if I were a ghost, I might want to haunt it just because!And it definitely gets a little creepier when you peer at it from a different angle!
Speaking of ghosts, this porch chair on one of the stops on the Historic Haunts tour (I'm afraid I've lost track of the name) is reputed to be haunted. Apparently, one of the former owners of the house, a slightly crotchety ex-military man, still setting of an evening, enjoying the cool sea breezes.
The Queen Victoria Inn, on the other hand, apparently does not still house any departed former owners, despite being used as a guest house from the 1930s through the 1980s (and being painted white for a good 30 years, which I would think that any self-respecting Victorian era ghost would object to!). However, according to its current owners, a second building across the street that is now part of the bed and breakfast does have a spectre or two. According to male guests who've stayed on the top floor, several of the ladies who lived there when it was a brothel are still looking for husbands to take them away from the life and have been known to tap on the doors of the guest rooms. When the inn keeper (a woman) stays on that floor, on the other hand, she rests quite undisturbed, or at least that's what she tells us
And finally, just for fun, I just thought the flower-decked streetlamp on Decatur Street made a nice composition.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More pics from vaca

Trying to catch up, I'm posting a couple more pics from vacation.
Here's the famous Cape May lighthouse from a boat we'd taken around the Cape. The scenery wasn't bad, but the best part of the ride was seeing the many dolphins that apparently are so used to seeing the whale watching boats that they practically swim right up. I've heard of dolphins riding the pressure wave created in front of the boat by the water it's displacing, but these also seemed to really enjoy "surfing" on the boat's wake. It was a hoot to watch them. This is just a nice shot of the empty beach. I liked the way the fence made shadows in the sand.
And finally, 2 shots of Cape May point (the southernmost tip of NJ) at sunset. The structure out in the water in the first picture is the Concrete Ship. It was one of 38 experimental ships in WWI made of concrete because of the shortage of steel. This ship, the Atlantus, was a prototype that actually was put into service. After the war it was decommissioned and stripped. In 1926, it was towed to Cape May to be used as a reef (I believe---I've read about it but am still not sure what the plan was exactly). But it broke loose in a storm, drifted to Sunset Beach and got stuck to the point it couldn't be moved. And there it stayed as a local landmark. The amazing thing to me is how eaten away by the relentless surf the hull has become. My family have been going down to Sunset beach since I was a little kid, but I haven't been there for a couple of years and in just that little time, it seems so different. Ah, the impermanence of human-made structures! In the second picture, you can see the ferry that runs between Cape May and Lewes, Delaware, in the background.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pics from vacation (better late than never)

Well, big new from the tote and scarf exchanges. First, I got both my tote and my scarves (plural)! First, on Halloween, I checked my mail, and there was my package from the lovely Louise, my tote exchange pal. She made me this fabulous "evening garden" tote, with beautiful ruffles and flowers on the front. Just in time for Stitches, where I intend to take it to show it off!

And then, I came home yesterday to a package tucked into my screen door, all the way from Australia, and opened it to find not one but 2 (count 'em, 2!) lovely scarves. The first is a beautiful lavender and pink lacey mohair feather and fan pattern and the second is open-lace pattern in a deep magenta (one of my absolute favorite colors) with beads! So, so pretty. And to make it even more special, Deborah included a huge skein of her beautiful purple and blue hand-spun yarn, which is both beautiful and really soft. I'm just thrilled.

I've taken lots of pictures of both tote and scarves, but probably won't get them posted until Monday, since I'm heading off this afternoon to the aforementioned Stitches East and will be away from the computer all weekend. (and have work I'm frantically trying to do before I can leave!)

But in the meantime, I finally have pics from my vacation to the beautiful seaside town of Cape May, New Jersey. Ok, so I'm running anywhere from 2 weeks to a month behind in posting pics of things. I think we should focus on the fact that I am managing to post ;-).
This is the view from the hotel room. Course in the summer, that beach would be full of beach chairs, umbrellas, and people! I love the beach in the fall, though. With a crisp breeze and very little to interrupt the sounds of the surf against the sand. You can feel the wildness of nature, that even on a beautiful, calm day, there is still power in the ocean, waiting just below the dappled surface, for the next raging storm.