Monday, March 30, 2009

Pretty in Pink

I love to take photos - now that I write a blog about my town - in addition to this creative posting, that I am still trying to sort out the who and what of, I am taking many of them. Photos. Everywhere. This small, almost dwarfed tree has the most lush and beautiful blooms of any cherry blossom tree in town. Only one side of it has any color at all. It stands near a funeral home that is slated to be sold and probably put asunder in the name of downtown "progress". This tree is a local pioneer - a remnant from days gone by - when our high street, main drag, had cars cruisin', people walking, a warm hubub of commerce that did not overwhelm it's occupants, but lived beside them. I see it all getting older, growing smaller under the pressures, like this gnarled tree. I will miss it when it is gone. When I pass it's way, I gaze fondly at it's branches - they are laden with the color of love.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Claes and me

I feel vindicated= not only because some of you so kindly let me know that it was indeed, understandable, if anything, to be on my chickie making spree - but that all of us go through it at one time or another. The descent into cuteness.
Then, low and behold, I come across some work of one of my all time favorite and inspiring sculptors, Claes Oldenburg, that makes me want to both laugh and cry. Calico Bunnies, 1997 - silk screened on canvas - 10" x 6" approx - bunnies.
Now, I won't play you - I have often dreamed of doing installation art on the scale that Claes has done. The fact that he did soft sculpture back in the day, just brings him even closer to my heart/art. But, damn, if it isn't refreshing to see these little bunnies cascading over the pages of my borrowed art book - the sheer whimsy of them lightens my very being today. Thanks, Claes.
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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Art is not dead! Only the squirrel is...

I am laughing at myself even as I write - I had to go back - see if the knit up was still alive, thriving, reminding the souls that cared enough to come and pay their respects to our brother, dearly departed Mr. Squirrel of the drunken condition, that we were a community that cares. Cares enough to bring out the artist in all of us.

Some of you may only see roadkill, but others see a tableau of the human town condition - ready for us to inhabit, engage with and add our element of beauty and tongue-in-check humor.

He was embalmed by his own bad drinking habits, but the city took it upon themselves to give him a proper viewing - dress him with knitty debonair care, express dear sentiments on his behalf. Parks Department - we love you! You are inspiring a whole new crop of aspiring, insurgent artists within!

Who is the masked wonder of this canvas work? Will the world ever know? We give thanks to you as you help spread the word of Arting Out even further....
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Knitters catch all the blame

I am certain you get the little knitter pun I left for you in this roadkill diorama. Don't get me wrong - I have plenty of cleaner ideas for places to put knit-ups, but this bit of knitting guerillism came about naturally and with a gentle prodding from a painter friend that I know. Let me tell you the story of the "knitter be damned."
Not too long ago, you might remember the Global Guerilla Knit Up called for by Grrl + Dog down Austrailia way. I was immediately smitten with the idea, and let some crafty gal friends in on the idea of throwing up some fiberfriendly graffiti of our own in our little town. Somehow, it came down to just two of us hardy souls - could not have done it without Mary, my cohort in crime. The girl has tree climbing skills, let us leave it at that. But, the man showed up, gave us the warning, and by the next a.m., 4 big strapping lads of the Parks Department were tearing it down.
This poor drunken soul has been on the sidewalk near our fair Library for about 4 days now. Someone put the bottles around his sorry corpse to remind us all that "Alcholism Hurts Everyone". We seemingly don't have a lot to do in our little burg, because we have been laughing about this for days! I put it up on my blog, The Picarron, which I write about our city.

My question to you is - why does the roadkill with alcohol on his breath get to hang out for days on end, while the beautiful knit tree art that was so lovingly tailormade and installed have to come down before a day transpired??
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chickie Wonderland

Some of you - my very dear and few - were kind, loving even accepting of the birth of an entire chickie nation over here at chez madly. So, I thought I would share with you the third and final of the chickie variations to come out of the knitting hatchery - the "loopy" chickie! The one above is the vintage family treasure that I am recreating and making a pattern for - and is she ever one intense chick! This is defintely a work of love - and I have not even made it to the very tiny crocheted hat on her cute little head.
I have never done this loop stitch before. Not all of the stitch dictionaries even carry this one. You should see the cute hat and collar pattern I found in my 70's stitch book using this wild stitch work. I am sorely tempted to make a collar for myself. I am getting good at this loopiness.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Crazy knitting 101

I am trying to get past all the knitting that I have been promising to people. Finishing my "creative commitments" to others so that I can go on and discover that other artist that I so long to be. But I keep coming across stuff that I still have to do - like these Easter Chicks.
My sister's mother-in-law's grandmother made this little chickie. Last year she asked if I could make up the pattern for her - and I am just getting around to that promise now. At least it is time for the holidays - this year.
So what I have been doing all weekend? Instead of making things for the Etsy shop or for a shelving area that I hope to fill in a local store, I am making chickies. I am making enough chickies so that everyone in the family gets a set for this Easter. I am making chickies until I am blue in the face. And I haven't even begun the part where they get the cute little button or sequin eyes, the felt or crocheted cockscomb and the whole formatting of the pattern. Nor have I begun the one that has the ever so special "loop stitch" and little crocheted hat.

I am crazy. How far must I go before I am at the end of my tether here? Will the serious art ever begin? Maybe I am just a "chickie" at heart.....
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Saturday, March 21, 2009

flowers, photos and a good walk about town

Today felt like Spring - smelled of it, looked of it and inspired thoughts of rampant color and bright corners filled with sunshiny hope.
I have never been afraid of the vibrancy of saturated color - as a girl, I remember choosing a special new short set of tangerine and dark lime for our first family outing to Disneyland. I flirted for the first time, intentionally, with a boy twice my age. Only one of us was aware that anything was happening. The color palette of my wardrobe that day had filled me with a new sense of daring and dreamfilled destiny.
Writing through this piece of wire and plastic, this box of amazing interconnected efficiency has unleased the writer and photographer within, and tapped into a deep resevoir of personal memories, stories and inventions that want to spring, fully formed, into the light of day.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hats, Heads and enduring friends

I inherited (yes, you heard that right) a singular skein of Noro yarn with lovely angora accents and I was beside myself. Noro creates some of my favorite colorways and fiber combinations - they are little bits of color wonderment and are to be treasured. Like many yarns I own, it is necessary to wait and listen for the muse to speak her piece and divulge just what project is right for said fiber treasures. This process, at times, can take years....the yarn being considered a good investment, not unlike wine, left to chill in the recesses of the properly and specially built cellars, away from prying eyes who might not understand this small, but ever so necessary obsession.
This hat was inspired by a blog the I love to frequent, Brooklyn Tweed. There you will find a hat entitled Montera. A lovely, slouchy thing that looked just right for my Noro. All of a sudden, the muse was speaking loud and clear - had to get knitting immediately - but the pattern was in a book I couldn't get in time. I mean - I had to make this hat now. I am certain you will commiserate with me on this, when I say that patience went out the window and now I was stalking this hat from every angle, trying to absorb it's very essence, so that I could create one of my own.
It was a leaf pattern - not hard to find in my cornucopia of stitch dictionaries - and comfortable in size (read slightly big). Then someone on Ravelry posted the dimensions and recommended needle size for my hat in question, and that was all I needed to be off!
I am not a perfection knitter anymore - I had my days. I have ripped and knit another day. Now, I allow that the small little oops are part of the grander scheme of things and I live with it, I deal. So - when I knit this baby in the round and had to fudge a little to get the leaf pattern to work, I did. I just added a couple of stitches when I realized what was going on. I did not retrace my steps. The angora thing was allowing me to be ultra forgiving to myself.

However, for those of you who would like to try - here is my list of updated information on making this hat. Then find a friend, like Mary here - who was willing to bear the cold, sit outside on a damp chair with a towel underneath her butt and smile for the camera. By the last shot you can see that the the cold weather is overcoming her ineffable graciousness. But isn't she cute! Her wardrobe of the day matched the hat to perfection. Ah, sweet serendipity and friends that are enduring.

Needles: US 7 circular needles, 16" and then US 10/10.5 circular needles, 16"
Cast On = 92 st
Approx. 4 sts = 1 inch
Length of hat = 10 inches
At the end, I just decreased as I did in my earlier post on the Adult Cupcake hat - but with, again, a little fudging (as the leaf pattern is a mulitiple of 12 plus 6, with an extra 2 stitches I reccomend adding so it works out) and no beatiful leaves coming together to a crescendo of nothingness - no, just some plain old decreasing for me.

Leaf Pattern - pattern which is a multiple of 12 plus 6 (can be found in most stitch dictionaries - if you really want me to - I can send it to you - no problem)
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hmmm, this rain...

Pug Tug and D Dog didn't mind a little rain - good for the soul, cleansing for the spirit - that sort of stuff. But often, they found themselves alone where those type of sentiments were concerned. Days went by and the town was muffled and quiet beneath the rain cloud and eruptions of wind.
Daily meanderings were slightly minimized, but never put on hold. A intake of fresh, if slightly wet, air was like a small mediation of spirit. And the boys had plenty of spirit.
The horizon felt as if it was beginning to clear - the heralds of Spring trumpeting a tune just out of hearing range. Listen, listen, listen .... it required a degree of attention that needed to be relearned. Ahhhhhh....that may have been the opening note. So hard to tell what is being said between the raindrops these days.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

And while it was still cold, she continued to knit hats

My brother's favorite holiday film is A Christmas Story, and we will all watch it with him at least once over the holidays when it plays for 24 hours straight on a TV station that obviously holds it in as high a regard as he does. When my friend, Miss Aimeekins caught sight of it - there was a loud squeal. She and my brother, it seems, belonged to the same fan club. In a moment of weakness, I agreed to make her just such a hat sometime.
Sometime finally came. And it did snow at least 2 more times since she received the hat, so in my book it was still, like, holiday weather. Aimee could still pretend to be an elf in need of a warm hat. I could still pretend that I was working on only slightly belated Christmas gifts.
The hat was a great success. Aimee was a very willing model. Glee is always so good on a person.
This hat was super simple to make. I used worsted weight yarn and US 8 circular needles. I even found another gal who had made the very same hat (here) and had a great link to a site that reminds you how get your stripes to line up straight (here) while working in the round.

I know that it's starting to be Spring, I should be moving on the other, more seasonal subjects - but the fact is that last week at this time there was snow flurries in my town. Cars were still driving around with a rim of frost and more as hood ornaments. It is still cold and I am still knitting warm, winter hats. Today - that is my reality.
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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Yarn + Anarchy = Yarnachy

I called for a community Yarn Bombing - and it rained, then it slushed, then it snowed and my troops huddled inside and called for a "do over". Yesterday was sunny with blue skies and warm air that brushed our freely exposed body parts. We weren't really believing the weather man and his promises of more of the white stuff.
My knit up, however, demanded to be seen and so I took off the gloves and got down to business. The bright pink, yellow and green will inspire more acts of artistic exuberance, I am certain. So the word "Hope" says it all.
Just when you thought you should head in and cover yourself with the quilt, the sun shone. The others, however, had gone home already to warm their toes, eat soup and ponder how they would add splendor to the tree at a later, and warmer time.
The tree is loved and inspiring to us all - an Empress Tree - and that, at the end of the day, is all that matters
Joyful installation - private property with happy supporters of the arts cheering all the way. Pooh on you, Mr. Parks Dept. - you will just have to sit this one out.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cupcake Hats for big people

It's hard to be an adult - you're expected to be so well mannered and rational, when all you really want to do is lock yourself inside all day and play with your toys. Well, this Cupcake Hat Pattern is for you - to help release the Strawberry Shortcake within and let your childish wonderment roam free and have a super cool hat at the same time.
Be sure to make the hat while eating your favorite flavor of real baked goodness. These photos were taken at the Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes Shop on South Third Street here in Downtown Renton. You can grab a seat and knit away in a cozy chair, while Hang and Crystal make you up a little latte action.
Thank goodness I have the kind of friends that jump at the chance to share a little frosting while posing in hats. The don't grow on trees - so be thankful when you find them.
Crystal, Brandie and Pinky model the adult Cupcake Hats with such suave sereneness - you can hardly tell that they are pretending to patiently wait for me to finish my photo tasks so they can get their cupcake grub on.
Cupcake Hat for Adults
Materials : Worsted Weight yarn
One skein of the main color and about 40-50 yards of the ribbing color (here in brown)
Needles: size 8 circular needles, 16"
Cast on: 80 stitches

Knitting in the round, cast on 80 stitches in the ribbing color of yarn and work in a rib stitch of K2,P2 for approx. 2.5 inches, placing a marker at the beginning of the row. Then, purl a row before switching to the main color of yarn. The first row will be knit, the second and third rows will be purled - this gives the rim or edge of the cupcake. From then on, knit every row until the hat measures 7 inches from the cast on edge. Now you are ready to decrease.
Decrease Rows:
Row 1: *Knit 6, K2 tog* all the way around
Row 2: *Knit 5, K2 tog*
Row 3: *Knit 4,K2 tog*
Row 3: *Knit 3, K2 tog*
Row 4: *Knit 2, K2 tog*
Row 5: *Knit 1, K2 tog*
Row 6: K2 tog until you have about 6 stitches remaining. Use your tapestry needle, cut yarn with at least 6 inches left, and thread through the remaining stitches - pull tight and secure end by weaving through the back to the stitches on the inside of the hat. Make and attach a small pom pom, sew buttons on, make a strawberry - you are set.

Wear your Cupcake with pride - many will envy you, some quietly, wishing they had your flair

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009


PugTug and D Dog look out the window, scanning the sky, breeze, tip of the trees for a sign. Any sign.
Change felt close, a bit tangy on the taste buds, possibly slightly unnerving. Both contemplated the possiblities in silence.
Maybe a cup of tea would help, or a gander at a good book - you know the kind you hide when someone cute appears next to you. You never want anyone to see your creamy insides too soon.
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