Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Jan 31, 2006

Kaleidescope Painter

If you, too, would like to become addicted to creating one-of-a-kind mandala/kaleidescope paintings with your mouse , just click on over to Kaleidescope Painter.

I prefer to use the smallest size paintbrush, sometimes over a background done with one of the larger brushes. It's a bit fiddley saving your finished creations, but essentially you save the whole page, open it in your photo software and crop to get just the painting. There are complete directions on the page for both Macs and PCs.

I'm having a great deal of fun playing with this and using bits and pieces in creating collage artwork in my paint and photo programs. Like this:

And some of the results have definite possibilities for crochet and knitting inspiration:

It really is addictive, so be forewarned!

Jan 30, 2006

My Secret Pal is Awesome

I haven't written a thing about my wonderful Secret Pal yet. She has been thoughtful and attentive, sending me postcards and ecards and good energy. Then Saturday, I received my first package!

What a lovely surprise when I opened it and a helium balloon floated out. So now I not only think my Pal is thoughtful, but ever so clever as well. My family is impressed, too.

As you can see, my SP totally catered to my passion for purple....with her hand-dyed purple Finn roving, some multicolored Jaeger Baby Merino (I'm thinking some longish wrist warmers), purple floating candles, lollipops and jelly candies, a pretty Spring-reminding flower candle, bath beads....and even a purple wee matreshka doll (my AOL screen name is matreshka):

Last night, I discovered, attached to the purple curly-ribbon balloon strings a whole bunch of handmade stitch markers, in the larger sizes I was just thinking I needed to get!

Thank you so much, SP!
You're a peach!

peace, love

Jan 27, 2006

Illustration Friday - Glamour

Glamour, painted in AppleWorks, altered in Photoshop.

My goal with these Illustration Friday subjects is to work quickly and intuitively, without a lot of Thinking and Pondering. Until I get my scanner working with this computer, I am doing all of the artwork with my computer. I'm a real neophyte with this and it's proving to be a great way to explore AppleWorks and Photoshop.

Jan 24, 2006


Alas, I've been ill and sofa-ridden for days this past week. Just a cold, but asthma is always lurking around so had to up the meds for that and try to stay quiet and calm. I didn't even feel like knitting for the first 2-3 days, and Inclination to Knit is probably as good as anything in assessing the seriousness of an illness for me.

On the other hand, I did sit and spin a bit each day, and am now plying 4 oz. of the Blue Face Leicester. I've been spinning bulky thick-thin singles for a long time now, and I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoy seeing the results as two finer yarns twine together in the plying process, especially when it's a random spinning of a multicolored roving.

I finished my Clapotis just before I fell ill!
Here it is, fresh off the needles and not blocked in the slightest. Remember, this is a narrower version as I didn't have the amount of yarn called for in the pattern, it's about 15" rather than the 21" in the original. The original skirts the boundaries between shawl and scarf, whereas mine is definitely in scarf-land.

It is not blocked for two reasons.

The first reason is that I really like how it looks at first glance like an ordinary ribbed scarf, but then you see the ribs are kind of swirling to the side, and....oooh, what's that peeking through, a ladder of dropped stitches? It has a sort of lively effect, a scarf with stuff going on. And it feels lively, too.
And the other reason it's not blocked in the slightest is that I usually block only by steam ironing pieces and this is what my ironing board looks like right now:
'Nuff said.

Jan 20, 2006

Illustration Friday - Cat

Self Portrait: Mecat

My first Illustration Friday participation! I've been doing a bunch of little self portraits in my AppleWorks program and decided to do one for this week's Illustration Friday subject: Cats.

Jan 19, 2006

Personal/Political Thursday-Sun, DP, Gandhi

Sun! Blue sky!

I've been thinking I need one of those light therapy boxes, it's been so cloudy and gray for so long and my mood has been very, very low.

Of course that could be because I had to have a major eye exam on Monday and nearly 3 hours in the dental chair yesterday, with my dentist wrestling an old crown that needs replacing. Those sorts of things tend to get me pretty anxious and depressed. Actually, I used to be truly phobic in regard to the dentist - but over the years, my dentist has been very patient and helpful with that, so anxious and depressed is an improvement.

In any case, with the sun shining and the blue showing and the major part of the crown stuff mood is much improved. I'm looking forward to getting back to some creative knitting and fiber work very soon. And bookselling....

On the politics front - last Sunday I attended a meeting with several people in regard to the three Federal executions scheduled in May. This meeting brought together local, state and national activists, most of whom I've worked with before. Abe (from Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty) drove over from Ohio and it was good to see him again, though, as always, the reason for our getting together is lamentable.

There are many reasons I oppose the death penalty, moral and practical reasons, but the bottom line for me is that I truly believe we cannot hope to create a non-violent society as long as our collective response to murder is to commit another homicide. As for execution vigils, I believe that even those who believe the death penalty is moral have an obligation to pause and reflect, to mark the moment with solemnity. We must all bear witness since it is an act of killing that is done in our names.

I've been thinking today about violence and about non-violent conflict resolution and about how violence is so much a part of our lives, that we entertain ourselves with violence. I was thinking about how powerful an active non-violence can be. And how difficult. Power-over, brute force, verbal or physical....those are the easy ways, but the kind of energy we expend depletes us and sometimes leaves us feeling ashamed, even if we win. But resolving a conflict creatively and with compassion, going for the win-win resolution....ah, that is more difficult, but empowering and energizing I think.

So this thinking about non-violence reminded me of a little book I got a while back: The Gandhian Philosophy of the Spinning Wheel by Mohit Chakrabarti. I had to order it from India, through a listing at Advanced Book Exchange. I looked through it, then put it on my shelf and simply forgot about it until now. I think I will try to delve into it a bit more this week.

For Gandhi, the spinning wheel was a powerful symbol of non-violence, and the act of spinning a fundamental practice, with immense spiritual and social significance. The philosophy is bound up in events and conditions of Gandhi's time and place, and sometimes the book travels a complex path, but it's awfully compelling to me as a spinner interested in the issues of violence and non-violence.

I just found this page which has quotes from Gandhi on the spinning wheel and spinning. Just scroll down to Charkha (Spinning Wheel). I think my favorite one is:

"My heart is drawn backwards and forwards between spinning wheel and books."

Or maybe:

"The music of the spinning wheel will be as balm to your soul."

Gandhi spun cotton on a very portable wheel called a Charkha. One of these days I think I'd like to get one and learn to spin cotton - I think it will be quite challenging! There's a good page on Charkha spinning in the Gandhian way, and I've seen several places that offer Charkhas for sale. Both The Woolery offers an Indian Charkha and Journey Wheel offers pricey but beautifully handcrafted Charkhas.

Meanwhile, I've spun half the peach roving - just a lightly spun bulky single. I really want to make a shawl from my handspun, something like the gorgeous shawl Adrian at Hello Yarn created. Be sure to click on the links to the close-up pictures.

I'm also spinning some Blue-Faced Leicester roving dyed at Winderwood Farms in shades of red and pink:
This one I'm spinning as a two-ply. This is the first time I've spun Blue-Faced, it's soft and very pleasant feeling. A balm, indeed.


Jan 17, 2006

SIPs (Socks in Progress)

I can hardly wait to wear these socks - these are Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted in Wild Violet with accents in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Carrot. The Wild Violet is a color that absolutely perfectly plugs into the purple receptors in my soul. I am going to stock up on this color for sure. I already have it in both the worsted and bulky. There's another new Brown Sheep color that goes quite nicely with the Wild Violet - Pistachio, a pale green. I am seeing a Wild Violet hat with Pistachio accents. Can I write Wild Violet one more time? Even the name is a delight to me!
I have also finished one of the socks in the Cascade 220 dark pink and light orange. Cascade colors have numbers, not evocative names.

Not sure if I ever posted this Noro Iro scarf - I bought a couple of skeins on eBay at a very good price, just to use to play with the yarn, make a few different swatches, etc. I did that, then used the remainder to make a scarf, finished mid-December, I think. It's nice and long and I do love this yarn, kind of bulky, a combination wool (80%) and silk (20%):
A while back, I couldn't resist picking up a couple of skeins of this alpaca:

I haven't yet decided what to knit with it, but there's something special about knowing not only the person who raised the alpaca (Jane Connor who used to direct the Terre Haute Children's Choir my daughter sang with one year), but having a picture of the actual alpaca who grew the fiber himself.

Gloomy and gray and rainy for the first half of the day and now it's snowing. Clover is snoozing nearby. While I felt rather low (due to light-deprivation more than anything else, I think) earlier, I have eaten lentil soup and rosemary bread and eaten chocolate cookies, and my mood is looking up a bit. Snow is an improvement over the rain, too. I think I am ready to turn the heel on that second Wild Violet sock...

Jan 13, 2006

Clapotis in Progress

I'm so glad I appreciated the sun the other day, for today is unremittingly gray, bonechilling, and wet, with rumors of snow later on.

Here is the ever-vigilant Clover, peering out into the grimness, undoubtedly checking for squirrels, who seem to delight in popping their heads up over the fence to drive her crazy.

It is a good day to settle down with some knitting and here is the project I never thought I'd be working on: Clapotis!
For some reason, I have been resistant to the charms of this pattern. I remember when it first appeared in the Fall '04 Knitty and I truly liked it, and then it seemed as though everyone was knitting it and I got this attitude about not jumping on the bandwagon. And I always wondered what the heck Clapotis meant. Because the pattern came from a knitter in Paris, and was pictured draped around the neck of a woman sitting in a cafe, I just kept thinking it was some kind of French pastry!

I finally bestirred myself to find out what "clapotis" actually means:

"A French term for a standing wave phenomenon associated with the reflection of an ocean wave train from a vertical surface, such as a breakwater or pier. A standing wave is a periodic vertical motion of the sea surface that does not propagate horizontally. It can be thought of as being created by the superposition of two identical waves propagating in opposite directions." from the Glossary of Meteorology

Well, that did it. I just had to knit Clapotis! It's a knitted meteorological poem!

That lovely wool is Mountain Colors Mountain Goat - 55% mohair, 45% wool. It is one of the solid colors, Brick, that isn't really solid at all, but an evershifting cascade of closely-related reds. This is a stash yarn that I kept getting out and fondling, hoping it would reveal what it wanted to be, but it wasn't until I wanted to knit Clapotis that this yarn spoke. The color variations are rather too subtle for the color pattern to "propagate in two directions " very apparently, but I'm completely enjoying knitting this pattern in this yarn. (I recently acquired 2 skeins of Mountain Goat in Deep Purple and look forward to working in this yarn again very soon.) It's also a great lot of fun deliberately dropping stitches!

I only had 2/3 the yardage called for, so I cast on 2/3 the stitches. We shall see if this works out well. Instead of being 21" wide, it looks to be about 12-15" which is fine for a scarf. I'm just hoping the length will remain about the same. Now, if I could only possess what the pattern designer Kate Gilbert referred to: a Frenchwoman's ability to ".....
just wrap the scarf around [her] neck in a "Je suis belle et ├ža ne demande aucun effort*" sort of way..." and off she goes. (The phrase means "I'm beautiful and I don't even try." )

There's another French phrase," Il faut souffrir pour etre belle" (It's necessary to suffer in order to be beautiful ). Perhaps all that suffering is how they discovered the painless beauty secret of a great scarf attitude.

Jan 12, 2006

Personal/Political Thursday

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be about my fiber arts projects, writing and books. I've been fairly conscientious about leaving highly personal writing for my private handwritten journal. And I will continue to do so, but every once in awhile, I feel like I need to post more of myself here - especially as my art-making evolves.
I want to continue to make pretty, whimsical, quirky sweet things, yes, because I think that kind of energy needs to be in the world in abundance.
But sometimes I create things that release other energies, that communicate about darker things.
Last Thursday, I posted a more personal episode about coloring my hair. Not particularly meaningful in the grand scheme, but personal.
And today is another Thursday and I'm thinking about posting more personally, so I've decided that Thursday posts will be my Personal/Political posts. If you hate my politics (decidedly to the left) or my personal posting, but like to see my work, just skip the Thursday posts!
And here we go:
  • I continue to be very stressed by my mother's condition and some of my family responsibilties. Knitting and other artistic endeavors are the most amazing de-stressers for me. Better than drugs - I get calm and peaceful and get something to wear or look at afterwards. Try doing that with a Xanax.
  • I am opposed to the Iraq war and have been so from the beginning.

I Feel Safer Now, 2004,
Poster board, picture of Pentagon, plastic, duct tape

Homeland Security Wear, 2004
plastic, duct tape, cardboard
  • I am opposed to the death penalty and have been actively involved in protesting it, since we have the only Federal Death Row in the country right here. Behind the mall. In May, there are 3 executions scheduled within a 6-day period....
There. That wasn't so bad. Was it?

Jan 11, 2006

Where I Knit (and read,drink tea, nap....)

I haven't been tagged with this meme, but have seen other knitbloggers who have, and thought it was an interesting one.

The Knitting Throne, 01/03/06

Here is the cluttered place where I do most of my knitting: in my living room in a big fat chair that is comfy enough for a person to turn sideways, legs over an arm, and take a wee nap. The ottoman would be the place to put the nappee's legs, but it's always covered with some variation of:

If the stacks of books to the left get higher than my head, it's time to pare them down.
That purple velour thing folded on the top of the chair is a wonderful microwavable heat wrap - which smells like cloves and lavender and other herbal delights. There isn't much more relaxing than putting that over my shoulders, snuggling into the cozy chair and knitting something with a meditative rhythm to it.

Over to the right, unseen in the picture, is a perfect little space where my trusty old Louet and I spin.

Also unseen in the picture, but certainly close by, is a perfect little dog being, my trusty midde-aged spirit mutt, Clover, who adopted me 6 years ago.

Clover, 01/06/06

Pretty chilly but sunny here in Indiana today. Sun has been a rare jewel lately, and it's lovely to see it.

Jan 9, 2006

Felted Hat, Sockosis, Roving Riches

Found my way to this felted hat pattern from Ulla's blog. She writes it in Swedish, but captions her many pictures in English - well worth checking out to see her great fiber work. She spins and dyes as well and she is quite prolific.

I made mine with a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Potluck worsted and 2 skeins of LaGran Mohair. The CTH was a nice purple, pretty much obscured by the green mohair, but it peeps through here and there.

This picture doesn't show how very huge the unfelted hat was, but trust me, it was BIG!

I have always done my felting at the kitchen sink, by hand, for a lot of reasons, but I decided to do this in the washing machine.

I ran this through twice, on the longest cycle and I let it go through the spin cycle both times. I did not check on it, except when the first run-through was complete.

It came out an almost-perfect size, just a teeny bit on the small side.

One thing: the pattern says turn the hat inside out before felting. I didn't do that, but it did try it after felting and it gives a different-looking brim, more like Ulla's hat looks than this one. I like the look of the other brim, but the hat seems too small when turned, so I've left it this way.

Recently, I've traded my scarf obsession for a sockosis, discovering a few things about my preferences in sock knitting along the way. Now, this is subject to change in the future, but I've decided that:
  • I don't like self-striping, fair-isleing sock yarn
  • I don't like knitting socks with fine yarn and needles under #3
  • I love Cat Bordhi but don't share her bias for socks on 2 circs over dpns
  • I shall knit socks in worsted weight on #4 dpns
  • I like a basic sock pattern and striped socks
  • I can conquer Second Sock Syndrome by knitting several pairs at once
  • I have way too many sock books for someone who has decided to knit only basic, striped worsted weight socks on #4 dpns

This was my socks-in-progress picture from several days ago.

From left, clockwise:
  • an all-but-woven-ends finished pair in Cascade Quatro and a light purple Cleckheaton from deep stash (bought from closing yarn shop about 7 years ago).
  • A one-row striped sock in 2 colors of Cascade 220, a dark pink and an orange
  • 2-row striped socks in Silk Garden and Lamb's Pride in a fantastic heathery brown called Sable

Current status of my sock knitting is that I finished the Quatro/Cleckheaton and the Silk Garden/Lamb's Pride pair, have worn and washed them both already and they are currently drying on a rack in front of one of the heating vents. I am working on the second sock of the orange and pink-striped pair. I have also completed one sock of an unpictured pair - a solid sock in a Lamb's Pride gorgeous new color called Wild Violet, with cuffs, heels and toes in KnitPick's Wool of the Andes in Carrot.

Below you can see my latest hand-dyed roving acquisitions. These are from Deb who is dudleyspinner on eBay. She has a blog , an Etsy shop and as I was checking these links, I found more of her delicious rovings at her website! Whoo-hoo, now I've got to go back and see what else I can't live without....

The roving on the top below is a colorway she called Goldenrod, but to me it looks like all the colors you might see in a juicy ripe peach, it's glorious. The roving on the bottom is shades of deep purple, and purples will get me almost every time. I've already spun half the peach roving, very lightly and thick and thin, for some of the felted bowls and pots I love to do but haven't done in a long time, being distracted by scarves and crises and socks.

So....I'm off for the day on appointments and errands. Hope all have a lovely day and get to create at least one thing.

Jan 8, 2006

Secret Pal 7 Questionnaire Answers

More than anyone (except my Secret Pal ) wanted to know about me:

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?

If preferring natural fibers and avoiding Red Heart and Lion Brand makes me a yarn snob then I guess I am. However, there are exceptions - one of my favorite notions is "plastic can be redeemed by love" (found in this essay relating to Waldorf education) and I have occasionally fallen in love with a synthetic yarn, its colors and texture resonating with something in my spirit.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?
I spin and crochet.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
Some of my vast number of needles are in vases, some in see-through plastic pouches, others are residing in various UFOs kept in baskets and bags here and there.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I've been knitting on and off for decades - seriously knitting for the last 10 years or so. I think I'm probably an intermediate in my general knowledge and skill.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
Sandalwood, patchouli, violet

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
My sweet tooth is my downfall. I love dark chocolate, jelly candies.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
I'm not doing much other than spinning and knitting and crocheting. I felt/full a lot of knitted and crocheted items and I'd like to do more needle-felting. I'm hoping to learn to dye and handpaint yarn and roving and I'd also like to learn beading and wire work techniques.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
My favorite music is New Age, Celtic. I've been listening to a lot of Indian sitar music lately. Folk music, 60s rock and classical also amuse and soothe me. I'm pretty sure my computer will play MP3s.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
My favorite color family is purple. I can't stand aqua, teal.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Emptying nest. Husband, a daughter still at home who will probably be going away next fall. We have a dog, Clover.

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I wear lots of scarves, some hats, occasionally mittens. No ponchos, but lots of shawls.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
Wool and wool/silk blends top my list. Right now I'm loving Noro-Kureyon and Silk Garden and Iro. Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride and NatureSpun are perennial favorites as is Cascade 220.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Generally, I don't like synthetics and novelty yarn.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
My obsessions change constantly-right at this moment, I'm knitting socks in worsted weight wool.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Shawls and scarves and hats. I also like to knit leaves and spiral embellishments. My fulfilling creative endeavors are in the making of small pots and bowls and other rather impractical woolly objects - needle-felted spirals, roving-covered river rocks....

17. What are you knitting right now?
Purple socks with orange cuffs, heels and toes. A Clapotis scarf in Mountain Colors Mountain Goat. A scarf in Silk Garden and Lamb's Pride.

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
No preference - I use what works best for my project.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Bamboo usually, but I love my plastic Denise circulars.

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I have a swift and ball winder, niddy noddies for winding skeins of handspun.

22. How did you learn to knit?
I taught myself from a library book when I was a teenager.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?
Nearly a year old. That is relatively youthful - I had 8 year-old UFOs a couple of years ago. Moths finally decided their fates.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?
Betty Boop (gosh, is my advanced age showing?)
I'm drawn to turtles, bluebirds.

25. What is your favorite holiday?
Winter Solstice / Christmas

26. Is there anything that you collect?
Children's books, esp. books featuring intrepid girls or old women. And all the better if they do knitting, spinning or needlework!

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Creative Knitting and InKnitters are my only subscriptions. I buy all the rest of them at my LYS or bookstore.

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?
I have an embarrassment of riches of all the above. I'm looking forward to Carol Cypher's upcoming book, Hand Felted Jewelry and Beads, which won't be out until spring.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I would like to better grasp the concept of short rows, so I can use them in my own patterns. I've never done cables and I've been thinking it's high time I set myself to learning how.

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Love to knit socks. My foot is 8" around, 9" long.

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

And that's the end of the official questionnaire. I'd like to add:
I am allergic to cats
I love roses and irises and purple coneflowers, morning glories and moonflowers.
I read a lot (for fun I love mysteries and science fiction), write poetry (my favorite poet is Pablo Neruda ), belong to a food co-op, meditate and am drawn to many things that probably reside at the edges of Bell curves.

Jan 5, 2006

Very Personal Fiber Project

A while back, when my daughter took photos of me in my Silk Garden 3-Square Shawl, she was astonished at how old I looked in the pictures compared to how she actually sees me. I took a good look at the pictures and realized that I look just like I expected/wanted to a Wise Old Woman. However, I am not yet very Wise and, at 54, don't really want to look like an Old Woman....I am just a baby crone. SO....I started thinking what has up to now been the unthinkable. I started thinking about coloring my hair.

For years I've joked that my husband and I will wind up looking like Barbara and George Bush. Now that he has been running a gazillion miles a day for a couple of years, he has become svelte and trim, while I have gotten stouter and grayer. The joke was no longer much of a joke. And I wasn't feeling much like laughing.

In any case, I astonished my entire family by announcing that I was contemplating coloring my hair. I believe that no one actually thought I'd go through with it. And I probably wouldn't have, if I didn't have a daughter-in-law, DeAnn, who is an incredibly knowledgeable and artistically talented hair stylist. DeAnn is the lovely mother of the amazing Sophia and she owns her own shop in downtown Terre Haute, The Parlor. I had already let her have her way with my long hair, and she did what I thought was a perfect cut for me. She is very intuitive about my sensibilities, and it still remained longish, but thicker and healthier-looking. Even when I didn't fuss and blow-dry, it dried naturally to my liking.

So I put myself in DeAnn's mega-capable hands and she very thoughtfully came up with several options to deal with the gray fiber growing from my head. After reacting badly to a skin patch sensitivity test to her first product choice, I tried the second and had no reaction. It was a go. And here are the results - after DeAnn artfully mixed two shades from the dark blonde range: Mango and Saffron and highlighted with Honey Blonde.