Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday sale at ArtFire

I'm not usually the sales/promotion type but I like that ArtFire has a "sale" function so here we go! My shop is 25% off today and...well maybe longer, we'll see. I have prints and original paintings for sale but I'm also adding a few knit/crocheted items. For instance, this pair of fingerless crocheted gloves. I started with a star pattern that I liked, made a band of single crochet and finished with a shell pattern to make a unique, bohemian little eclectic design with this multi-colored yarn. I am very happy with them! They are super cheap with this sale, too, and they are one of a kind.

I'll try to have some more items up today but I have imported a couple of Etsy items over to ArtFire for the time being to give special deals on them as well. Check back to see what i have in stock!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chunky yarn and granny squares

Among the many gifts I've been making lately (which I'm still not posting pics of, ha!) I managed to make something out of some fantastic chunky yarn I got, with a simple knit stitch that shows off the interesting textures. This is my first knit item that I'm putting up for sale, it's on ArtFire. I like ArtFire a lot, you can put stuff on the site on your Amazon wish list and you can purchase without having an account on the site itself. I know that the arts and crafts sites are overflowing with knit and crocheted items but I'm going to be pretty picky about the things I offer -- it's going to be all things I'd want to keep for myself if I needed this many scarves and things!

Meanwhile, I am working on two or three paintings that will also be gifts, so I also can't share pictures of them yet!! Oh my goodness! It's going to be such a relief after Dec. 25 when I can finally share these things. I did crochet seven squares for my afghan though which I talked about here. I didn't finish my flower scarf yet though, I got sidetracked. It's hard to make things for myself when there's so much else to do. But I am very devoted to my afghan project!

Here's a pile of unfinished squares...

And a slight close-up. I was very happy to be able to follow the instructions and actually make these happen, having never done anything like them before. The instructions for doing a "cluster" were long as you have 5 loops on your hook at the end of each go-around you're good, but the instructions just say "pull through all loops on hook" without specifying how many. Well it's five. So there you go!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Accidental art

I had a positively bizarre experience the other day when I walked into a park where I frequently take walks, and came in through an entrance I haven't used in awhile. I started to see burned book pages strewn around a paved area where there were a couple of benches on the mulch. There were several scorched books and many fragments of pages all over the area, and the pages were from two or three different sources. I don't know the story behind why all this was there, but the page fragments had fallen in a way that begged to be photographed. I have a folder of more than a dozen of these over at Flickr, but I also chose three to put on deviantART and make them available as prints in a variety of sizes. Two of them are visible here -- one titled "Ecstasy," above, and "If You Meet the Buddha," below. A third, "A Hell of a Cat" is visible in Flickr. A bad word is dimly visible in the background on that one so I put a mature content warning on it just as a safety measure so the internet doesn't yell at me!

Below, here is another that I like a lot, I called it "Eels Swam In." I just titled these with whatever words jumped out at me on each page.

And here is a large portion of one of the burnt books. I'm curious to find out what the story behind this is but I somehow doubt I'll find out.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Knitting vs. crochet

After making fifty zillion things for other people for fun, I am doing a little something for myself, i.e. making as many colorful flowers as possible (or 16, whichever comes first) to create a rainbow flower scarf. I am going to use that gorgeous green yarn I got the other day to make a hat (with another flower on it) to go along with it. Hooray!

I don't draw much of a distinction between knitting and crochet normally -- I just call it all "knitting" if it involves yarn, but there's obviously a huge difference. I just figure out what project I want to do first and then think "Oh, I don't know how to do that" and go ahead and figure out what I need to know. For instance, flowers happen to be crochet items usually. But other things I've wanted to do came with knitting instructions so I learned what I needed to know to make them. If I could only do one though it would probably be crochet. For one thing, look what I needed to knit a hat:

A set of circular needles and a set of double-pointed needles, neither of which I particularly knew how to use. I figured it out and it wasn't hard, but it still gets a bit messy at times. When you have 100 stitches on your needles you have the possibility of dropping all of them. Whereas with crochet...

You just need this. And there's just one loop on it generally, so that's all you are at risk for dropping. And it's small! And it won't poke holes in your purse! But that doesn't mean I don't like knitting...I just never thought about the differences before I have been heavily engrossed in both this month.

Here is the beginning of the monster hat project I began a week or so ago. You can see that at this point I had moved to double pointed needles and was learning how to pick up stitches to add something to it. I did the teeth "wrong" technically, but they look the same as if I had done them "right" and they are just as sturdy. But the directions to pick up stitches just didn't make sense until I had done a few of them...

See, it all worked out in the end! I also had to learn how to do an I-cord. So for this project I learned three major new things as well as a half a dozen new stitches I hadn't used before. So that's how I do things...if I want to do it badly enough I just assume I can do it, and plunge into it.

Below, is a picture of something in a book I desperately want to make for myself -- sorry about the glare from the camera, I didn't have a scanner -- but I really love this color combination and I want to learn to make squares. I guess I'll finish the flowers first!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Knitting adventures

I did a little knitting and crocheting when I was a child but didn't pick it up again until two years ago, and since then I've just done a little during the months of October to January usually -- I get sidetracked by other things for the rest of the year -- but the madness is upon me again. So far I had really only done knitting and purling, though I started trying to use double-pointed needles to make socks, but lost my place and moved on. This year though something has clicked into place. In the last two weeks I've done a ton of things -- completed gifts for seven people (plus tiny little extra things to throw in with them) as well as several things for myself, which when I think about it is complete madness. I guess I haven't been doing anything else!

Pictured above is my first attempt to use circular needles. Although it called for a 40" circular I realized later they meant the Magic Loop, and the 32" I got was about as big a size as could accommodate it. What I'm trying to make is this:

The Brainmonster hat

I also don't know how to pick up stitches or do half a dozen other things, but the only way to do stuff is just to bloody well do it!

I also learned a new stitch -- which took a couple of tries to get right, but I think looks really nice, for this Nook/Kindle cozy which I can show a picture of even though it's a gift, because my friend already knows she's getting it! ;) This pattern is on Ravelry though you have to be logged in to see it.

It is surprising to learn that these two colors are actually the same -- the Cinder color from Loops & Threads at Michael's, in the Chelsea striped roving variety. It changes from one to the other throughout the skein -- I like both on their own so I think it would look lovely in anything. I might make myself a Nook cozy with that. I don't know why, I just think they need a cozy!
Doesn't EVERYTHING need a cozy??

And finally, from Pins and Needles yarn store in Princeton, I got a couple of skeins of really nice yarn -- the colorful one is by Punta Yarns, and the other by Manos del Uruguay. I usually just buy Vanna White and Red Heart yarn as I learn how to do stuff -- or the Michael's brand, Loops and Threads, so this is all very exciting, I assure you! It's too nice to use! But I will use it...just like fabric, I can't resist...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Red leaves in photo and paint

This is another in my experiments with taking photos and painting from them. Which is something that I guess most people probably do but I have this tendency to say "But wouldn't it look better with a unicorn stuck in the middle of it?" and shun realism. Well this still isn't attempting to be realistic, but when I look at the thumbnails on my computer they look pretty similar. Trying to get all of the details of how the leaves overlap would probably overload my brain so I am going more for the impression of leaves and light than a photo realistic rendition...

Oh yes and the painting is for sale on Etsy.

You may remember this photo from several days ago, but here it is again!

I have one more canvas in this size so now I'll have to find something else to paint tomorrow...

Meanwhile, I'm learning how to knit on circular needles and it's going swimmingly!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mysterious blue creatures of the deep

Since I'm in denial about winter, rather than do some snow/winter art as I often do in November, I am doing some nature art with some frosty hues and blue tints! Here are a duo of jellyfish that i painted from photos that I took in the aquarium at the Houston Zoo. Taking pictures through glass with a non-professional camera of course is challenging at best but I think it worked out. This painting is now for sale on Etsy.

You can see the photos that I worked from below:

I usually don't work from photos, but just go straight to the imagination, even though I really enjoy having a reference photo...most of the things i want to paint don't exist in the real world so that's a bit challenging!

Lighting is (well, almost) everything when it comes to photography, isn't it, because I took some pictures with the "museum" setting of the rocks and crystals at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and even though I wasn't doing anything but pushing a button, some of the pictures turned out quite lovely. If this was in a catalog I'd want to buy it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

still hanging on...

This is the kind of picture that I assume people take when they want to create a peaceful fall feeling. Or maybe it just looks lonely, I'm not sure! At any rate, the leaves are extremely vivid and colorful despite being mid-November -- usually they have all blown off the trees by now. I would normally be posting new art here but I have been knitting/crocheting instead for the past week and I can't share my work since it is mostly gifts, and I don't want to post photos until I have given them!
It was in the 60's today which is unusual for this time of year, and a few dragonflies were buzzing around, well past the time of year I think I usually see them.

The frogs were still awake too! Curses on the leaf that cuts the picture in half though, argh!

A popular question has always been -- what colour leaves are your favourites? I think the bright yellow-orange ones are mine but I pretty much like all of them, let's face it.

Especially flame-red and orange against a darker pine green background. Goodness gracious!

The standard "I am a deer and I am looking at you from the path right before I bolt away" pose.

Ahh la lune! In the blue sky! That means one week until the full moon which means...hmm, the perfume web sites I have traditionally bought perfume from, will be posting their monthly updates. Yes, this is how I tell time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Autumn leaves

I didn't miss all of the leaves this year...

You know, I'm no photographer (though my dad was an excellent one and my mom is handy with a camera as well) but I find that if you use the 16:9 setting your pictures suddenly look really classy and important! These looked pretty drab in the regular view, but the ol' widescreen makes it look rather impressive I think, even on my cheap camera.

Ah! How pretty! This is at one of my favorite little parks.

You can also see my other great photographic trick in the second to last one: "hold the camera at a slight angle" - ooh ahh, instant art!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Autumn yarn cravings

Every year for the past couple of years around October the yarn starts to call me. After a month (October) in Texas, where the temperatures were usually around 90 and the leaves do not turn quite as noticeably, if at all -- I am in New Jersey in November and catching a glimpse of golden leaves here and there. And the cold temperatures mean...the yarn is coming back out.

I had not knit or crocheted since I was about 12, but two years ago I relearned the basics and made a 12-foot-long Dr. Who scarf (below). Since it's 12 feet long the only way I could photograph it was to drape it over my curtains.

Well that was knitting, but I am equally fond of crocheting -- in the past I made some little animals and things, amigurumi, but I don't seem to have the knack for it this year. I do appear to be able to make scarves with a double crochet all of a sudden though. I am not trying to post a how-to or anything, but I must say that the patterns that Lion Brand puts out with Vanna's Choice yarn, have the best instructions. I've never had a problem following them. Here's a photo from one of their $5 pattern books that caught my eye because I like the idea of sunny hues in the winter:

And here are my inexpert, unmanicured fingers attempts to do a double crochet for the first time. Since taking this picture this afternoon I'm all the way up to the dark, brick red yarn. This is a 2-day project if you have nothing better to do with your time!

I love this rainbow yarn though, I keep buying skeins of the larger one and forgetting what I've done with them, so I bought more today. I'm not sure what to do with it. The smaller piece, called Mardi Gras, makes me think "wrist warmers!" because those are easy and a nice way to display something colorful.

So....back to the hook!