Sunday, November 29, 2009

Creative space, sisters, and more

The four-day weekend sure flew by. I'm feeling pretty good because I finally organized my creative space. It was getting out of control with bits of paper, felt pens, colored pencils, stencils, inks ... well, you get the idea.

Yesterday the electricity was out for most of the day, so I spent several hours working on my artist trading cards. It was wonderful having my supplies easily accessible in plastic drawers instead of having to paw through folders and bags.

I recently won a giveaway from Photo.Dog.Knit, and the yarn arrived this weekend. Thanks, Lina! It's Sqooshy Sock Yarn from Fiberphile. It's lovely yarn, but I'm not sure yet what I will knit with it. I saw the cutest knit socks at Thimbleanna and Maiden Jane, but I'm not sure I have the skills.

I'm so proud of both my sisters. Lisa is participating in the Loosely Gathered Holiday Art & Craft Show next weekend. This is the first time she'll be offering her paintings to the general public, and I think it's an act of bravery when an artist chooses to put her work out there, especially when it's deeply personal. If you'd like to see more of Lisa's paintings and read about her creative process, please check out her blog, Feltypants: Art & Artifacts.

My younger sister Hilary recently founded a non-profit called Community Counseling Connection to facilitate connections between mental health professionals and the public through education and other activities. This is a valuable service, and Hilary inspires me with her courage to start this project and her amazing business skills. Please check out her blog!

Hope you have an excellent week.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Golden leaves

I woke up this morning to a pleasant surprise: rain! I went outside shortly after the sun came up to take pictures of the golden leaves on the ground before the landscapers arrive and blow them away.

Last night while walking Charlie I thought those leaves looked like stars glowing against the backdrop of the dark lawn.

As I'm writing this, Apollo is perched on my lap. He's purring madly, and every so often he gently touches my arm with his paw, politely asking for attention, which I am happy to give him. He loves to have his face stroked.

This is the artist trading card I created for my swap group this month. The theme was family. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house last night, and family is one of the many things I am thankful for. This year I am especially thankful to have a steady income, a comfortable home, wonderful friends, and my two little furry buddies, Charlie and Apollo. I am also thankful for the blogging community and the friendships I've made with all of you. I'm inspired by your warmth, generosity and creativity.

It's so nice to be off work today. I never shop on Black Friday because I'm allergic to crowds, so I have a quiet day at home planned. I want to organize my art supplies, something I've been trying to do for several months, and catch up on my reading. I'm sure there will be a bit of napping, too.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wild Geese


Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Moon = Excellent

Guess what I saw this evening?

The restaurant adjacent to the theater offered some tasty Twilight specials.

Fortunately, me and Hil arrived early because the place was packed! (Just kidding, it was a ghost town. I guess not even a Twilight movie can bring out a crowd on a Monday night.)

New Moon is excellent. It is ten times better than the first Twilight movie ... the acting is better, the dialogue is better, the pace is better, the makeup is better ... it's all good. Before I saw the movie I wasn't sure Taylor Lautner was right for the role of Jacob, but as it turned out he was perfect and had great chemistry with Kristen Stewart. The director did an outstanding job bringing the story to life and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Can't wait to see it again!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cozy rainy day


It was cold and drizzly today, and I spent the day snuggled inside, working from home. Charlie napped on a heating pad with Apollo curled up beside him.


Now that the day is done, I'm going to knit and watch DVDs. I've been watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, which I never watched while it was on television. Today on the way to the library to return some Buffy DVDs and check out new ones, I noticed that the license plate of the car in front of me read, "I ♥ Buffy." Isn't that a funny coincidence?


Last night I started listening to the Summer on Blossom Street audio book, the latest Blossom Street book from Debbie Macomber. The series is about a yarn shop and the characters that visit it. If you like knitting and are in the mood for light fiction, you might enjoy the series. This is the first time I've listened on audio rather than reading the book, and it was enjoyable to relax in bed last night, knitting and listening.

I started knitting fingerless gloves in Cash Island yarn from Noro, a blend of wool and cashmere. If everything goes well I'll post the pattern next week.

I'm excited to report that my Mesh Bamboo Scarf knitting pattern was featured on FaveCrafts and TipNut. Both of these websites have lots of free patterns for knit scarves that you can see by clicking on the links, as well as craft tutorials, recipes, and more.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ghosts of knitting projects past

I wish I could show you my current knitting projects, but they're holiday gifts and I want them to be a surprise. So instead, here is some of the knitting I completed before I started blogging earlier this year.


This baby sweater is the first and only sweater I've ever knit. It's done in feather and fan with a garter stitch yoke and was ridiculously easy to knit. I got the pattern from a wonderful book called Knitting for Fun & Profit, but sadly I left the book on the trunk of my car one afternoon and then drove off, never to see it again.


This small bag is one of my first felting projects. I wasn't at all interested in felting until my older sister made this bag-- the moment I saw it I wanted to make one of my own. The yarn is called Boku and the pattern was free with the purchase of the yarn from a local yarn shop.


This is the same bag using Paton's SWS yarn.

This is the first of many feather and fan scarves. I tried and failed to knit this scarf several times before I finally got it right. Soon after I started knitting I attempted to sell my stuff at craft fairs, and this is one of the first things that ever sold. A little eight year-old girl bought it after quizzing me about how, exactly, it was made.


This is my favorite scarf. It's knit in bamboo and is SO soft. I love the colors, too.


Last but not least, the mini-drawstring bag. I learned to knit these early on using tiny circular needles and couldn't stop. I thought for sure they would be big seller filled with dried lavender at the local flea market, but they were a flop. My mini-drawstring bag phase was about four years ago, and I knit so many that I still can't bear to make another one. Or can I? Hmmm, the more I look at, the cuter it gets ...

All of these projects and more are on my project page in Ravelry and my user name is goldenbird. Please stop by and say hello if you're in the neighborhood :o)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas came early

I live in a very nice apartment with very, very thin walls. It's a problem because I have super-duper sensitive hearing and low tolerance for noise. Lately the sound of my neighbor's stereo and television has been driving me absolutely crazy. It's been so bad that I started looking around for a new place to live. But after checking out several places, I realized I do have a great apartment that I'm not ready to leave.

So I went to Best Buy yesterday and purchased a couple items to help deal with the noise-- a portable CD player and noise-canceling headphones. I rarely buy electronic gadgets (I bought my cell phone three years ago for twenty dollars), so it seemed extravagant to buy these things. But it was an investment in my sanity, and oh, I'm so glad I did it. With those headphones on all I can hear is the lovely music that I choose to listen to.


I treated myself to several CD's, too, which also seemed indulgent (even though I haven't bought a CD in over a year), but I'm enjoying them so much I might buy a few more this afternoon. This Glee soundtrack is awesome and has a bunch of great songs from the television show sung by the characters. Listening to it makes me so happy.

Last night I drifted off to sleep listening to lullabies by Jewel. This is a Fisher-Price CD, but it's for adults, too. (It said so on the label!) She sings a beautiful version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

I also bought "The Ultimate Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe." Corny title, but it does have some wonderful pieces from Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and others. I laid in bed this morning listening to it-- such a pleasant way to start the day.

On a different subject, I bought yarn online for the first time and it arrived yesterday. It's called "Popcorn" and it is for a scarf I'm knitting for someone special.

I know I promised not to mention my slippers again, but I just have to tell you one more thing. The piece of paper with the slipper pattern is on the floor in a corner of the living room (yes, that's where I keep it :), and Charlie keeps laying on top of it like it's his little security blanket. I wonder if he's trying to hint that he'd like a pair?

Hope you're having a relaxing and quiet Sunday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chocolate

Do you like chocolate? I sure do. Last Saturday I took my annual trip to the DeBrito Chocolate Factory for caramel apples. It's about an hour drive each way, but well worth it.

I bought a Rocky Road apple with caramel, pecans, marshmallows and dark chocolate. And an Extreme II apple with cashews, pecans, and almonds. Oh, and the best English Toffee and chocolate-covered almonds. Yum!

I just finished reading Attachment by Isabel Fonseca. I couldn't put it down, but have mixed feelings about it. It's the story of a woman who discovers her husband is having an affair and begins an email correspondence with his mistress. She makes many questionable decisions about how to handle her husband's infidelity, and the thing that bothered me is that there was no glimpse of any inner conflict or explanation for why she made the decisions that she did. But it was a page turner and I enjoyed the way the author writes.


Today at the grocery store I picked up Glamour magazine to read the interview with Michelle Obama, whom I admire very much. She's so genuine and down-to-earth. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet-- maybe tomorrow on my lunch hour.


I finished knitting my second slipper, so now both of my feet are warm! (Okay, this is the third post about my slippers, I promise not to mention them again for a long time.)

Good night!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Slippers knitting pattern





Here is the knitting pattern for these cozy slippers in a medium adult size. I didn't design the slippers, this is a classic pattern that has been around for ages. The slippers are knit on straight needles with two strands of yarn and seamed at the heel and front.


Supplies:

Two skeins of worsted weight yarn

Size US 9 needles

Tapestry needle for seams

Abbreviations:

K2TOG
: Knit two stitches together

SKP: Slip one stitch from the left needle to the right needle, knit the next stitch, and then pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch and let it drop.

Gauge: 8 rows of garter stitch with two strands of yarn = 1"

To knit the slippers:

With two strands of yarn, cast on 29 stitches.


Row 1: K9, P1, K9, P1, K9 (this is the wrong side).


Row 2: Knit.


Repeat these two rows until the piece is 6 inches long or 2 inches shorter than your foot, ending on a wrong side row.


Begin the toe ribbing
:

Row 1: P1,*K1, P1, repeat from *.


Row 2: K1, *P1, K1, repeat from *.


Repeat until the ribbing is 2 inches long, ending on a wrong side row.


Shape the toe:

Row 1: Rib 7 stitches, SKP, K1, K2TOG, Rib 5, SKP, K1, K2TOG. Rib to end of row.


Row 2: Rib 7 stitches, P3, Rib 5, P3. Rib to end of row.


Row 3: Rib 6 stitches, K2TOG, K1, SKP, Rib 3, K2TOG, K1, SKP. Rib to end of row. You will have 21 stitches.

Finish the slippers:

Cut the yarn with a 24 inch tail. Thread the tapestry needle and slip it through the stitches once, and then do it again in the same direction. Pull the stitches as tightly together as possible to close the toe of the slipper.

Seam the front portion of the slipper one inch in to the garter stitch section.

Seam the heel until you reach the purl stitched edge of the sole. Sew an overcast stitch all around the edge and pull tightly to close the heel. Secure the yarn with a few stitches and weave in end.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Late Friday night

Woo hoo! I managed to knit a slipper using the pattern I mentioned in my last post. And it fits, too! Now I need to knit a second one.


I thought the slipper looked awfully small while knitting it, but it's quite stretchy and the smaller size makes it nice and snug. I'll post the pattern in a couple days.


I used a scratchy wool yarn that didn't feel very good on my hands, but does feel surprisingly cozy on my feet. Normally I don't knit with wool, but I wanted to use up some of the yarn in my stash, plus the slippers need to be nice and thick. I once tried knitting slippers with acrylic yarn, and they immediately got stretched out and wouldn't stay on my feet.


I recently read Coaching the Artist Within by Eric Maisel and really liked it. He offers great advice for completing your creative projects, like how to get a grip on your mind and commit to goals. The book includes exercises and interesting stories about the clients he's coached.


If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have a thing for owls. This one arrived in the mail recently, a surprise from my buddy Dogwood. Isn't it cute? It's perched on an easel on my nightstand.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Painting & knitting

Okay, I admit up front, I don't know how to paint. I've never taken a class or made a serious attempt to learn how to do it correctly from a book or any other resource. But I love how it feels to paint, to dip the brush in a mixture of gooey colors and sweep it across the canvas. I love being totally immersed in the process of painting; it is so soothing and satisfying.


Last weekend I was feeling that melancholy that comes when the days get shorter and colder. I got out my paint and a blank canvas and let myself just play without worrying about making something pretty. It made me so happy.


I want to decorate my bedroom in blue and white with a beachy theme, but because I'm on a tight budget I have to do it little by little. I painted this picture to hang over my dresser and feel pretty good about how it turned out. It would be nice if I knew how to draw and could add a sailboat or a bird, but I'm afraid I might wreck it.


With the holidays just around the corner, I'm starting to think about handmade gifts. This is an attempt to knit a slipper. The pattern is so simple, but I've never had good results. I'm hoping my skills have improved and it will work this time. I'll keep you posted.

Well, there's a little black cat peeking over the computer screen, his eyes begging me to play with him, so I better get going. Hope you're having a good week.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

De Young Museum

Last weekend I went to the De Young Museum in San Francisco with my family in celebration of my little sister's birthday. I'd never seen their contemporary art collection and enjoyed it so much. As I walked through the rooms, absorbing each piece and listening to the narration on audio, I kept wondering, why don't I do this more often?

The above painting is Petunia by Georgia O'Keefe.


The Blue Veil by Edmund Charles Tarbell.


Easter Morning (Portrait of a New York widow)
by Frederick Childe Hassam.



This is a sculpture called Anti-Mass by Cornelia Parker. The pieces, which are suspended from above, are the charred remains of an African-American Baptist Church in Alabama that was set on fire by arsonists. It was so moving.


Winter's Festival by Willard Leroy Metcalf. This is a scene I will never see outside my bedroom window here in sunny California, which is why I like it so much.


We ate lunch at the museum cafe, and I had this delicious chicken curry salad with figs, grapes, and mangoes. I didn't eat the figs because, as I explained to my family, I only like them in newton form.


Sculpture of a giant safety pin outside the cafe window.

This is the botanical garden where we took a walk in the afternoon. It was a surprisingly warm and sunny day in San Francisco, and there were squirrels everywhere. They've been fed by tourists so much that they run right up to you and look up in to your eyes, waiting for food. I was constantly explaining to them I don't feed wild animals.

I'm having a lazy Sunday today, laying in bed reading and writing. I can hear my neighbors yelling at the football players on television, and my cat Apollo is curled up against my feet. It's supposed to be 80 degrees today, but I'm pretending it's a cozy rainy day so I can slow down and enjoy being at home. It feels so good to just stop for a day ... stop running around, stop trying to accomplish anything, and just be present in my life and feel gratitude for all that I have.

Happy November to you ...