Lizards in the Leaves

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

Feb 27, 2006

Another cakey hat

Not a very good picture, I'm afraid.
I really want to get a mannequin head to photograph hats. When I'm the model, it's a long photoshoot. I worry too much about weird shadows, double chins and bizarre skin tones. I decided to wear this mask so I wouldn't fret about those things and get a good picture of the hat. However, I have to take the photgraph in the bathroom mirror and the light is never right in there. The colors came out too dark, and the freeform meandering detail just doesn't show.

In any case, I'm on to something here - liking the two hats I've made very much and wanting to make more. I've already started a new one in greens, and I have a bluesy bunch of yarns set aside. I may take this one down to the Titzer Art Studio and add it to the things I have on consignment there.

It feels truly excellent to feel this excited about a fiber project again!

Feb 24, 2006

Illustration Friday - Tea

All the Tea
Illustration Friday 02.24.06
Theme: Tea

I love tea. I have a whole cupboard full of tea.
Behind the tea in the picture is much more tea. It is three layers deep.

Read on only if you'll enjoy seeing some of the thoughts, notes, photos that preceded choosing my final illustration.

Immediately after I saw the week's theme of "tea", I wanted to do something about having tea with Gertrude Stein. Lots of people had tea with Stein, served by Alice, of course. And I always liked that poem of hers with the lines:

Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.
Susie Asado.
Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.
Susie Asado.

Notes I made when I googled: "Gertrude Stein" tea
02.24.06 - TEA
From Tender Buttons: Lovely snipe and tender turn, excellent vapor and slender butter, all the splinter and the trunk, all the poisonous darkning drunk, all the joy in weak success, all the joyful tenderness, all the section and the tea, all the stouter symmetry.

[emphasis mine]

It's Down to Earth for Gertrude Stein A biographer charts the reality behind a legendary life. by Dottie Horn 1920
Paris, 27, rue de Fleurus. Friends and strangers, aspiring writers and others, drop in around tea time at the Paris apartment of American Gertrude Stein, famous after having published the novel Three Lives in 1909 and the long prose poem Tender Buttons in 1914. Gertrude's lover, Alice Toklas, serves cookies she has made and tea in white cups at the gatherings, for which no invitation is required. Gertrude talks about writing, about the importance of concentration, of tapping into the essence of being, or soul.

11. Ernest Hemingway Like a museum ... we ... loved the big studio with the great paintings. It was like one of the best rooms in the finest museum except there was a big fireplace and it was warm and comfortable and they gave you good things to eat and tea and natural distilled liqueurs made from purple plums, yellow plums or wild raspberries. (...)

Other photos:
the cup and mug cupboard:

I moved a couple of cups so I could call this "Time for Tea with George Orwell" but the Orwell mug isn't very clear...

and finally, the detritus of my cup of tea this morning:

This appealed to my minimalist urge and was very nearly the picture I chose...but I'm not feeling very minimalist today.

I almost took out all the tea from the cupboard to photograph. But that is probably a picture to do for my decluttering blog.

If you've read this far and love tea, you might enjoy the Tea Mind, Be Kind blog of Maitri Libellule.

be kind,

Feb 23, 2006

It's a cake!, it's a hat...

Big sale at my LYS this week. I picked up a super-bulky Tahki yarn called Uma
and had a vision. Now, various yarns always give me visions, but what is unusual is that I came home and began to work on my vision immediately

I combined the Uma with my precious one ball of Malabrigo purples and a novelty yarn called Calliope and ended up with this freeform-y confection of knitting and crochet:

I started by making a 10-stitch garter stitch strip with the Uma, about 19-20 inches long, joining the ends together to make the brim. This gave me a good base upon which I was free to crochet upward toward the crown with abandon, mostly single crochet, switching yarns, doubling back, and occasionally chaining 9-12 stitches and working a corkscrew spiral (by working 3 stitches of half-double crochet into each chain st).

I actually made the crown separately, starting with a fairly uniform circular shape in the Uma. At some point, it was apparent that it was time for the crown piece and the base piece to be joined, which I did with the Calliope, using single crochet and slip stitches randomly around.
Two evenings work and it was finished.

I tried it on. I loved it - it's ME! and it pretty much resembles the vision I had in the yarn shop. Which makes me rather happy. The corkscrews are like my thoughts popping out...
Then, I realized this cake-y hat was the perfect prop to make a visual for my new slogan, which is supposed to help me stop eating the dreadful delicious things that have put 20 pounds on me in the last year:

Will it help? I'll let you know.

Feb 21, 2006


I've been going through my swatches and these seemed worth sharing here. And they have tentacles!

These were color/stitch experiments with Lion Brand Homespun and Lily Sugar 'n' Cream cotton. At the time there was no LYS here and Hobby Lobby was the only yarn source in town. I had become rather enamoured with the Homespun (so soft) despite my yarn snob pure-natural-fiber predeliction and the Lily is inexpensive and I wanted to see how they worked together. I did wind up making a vest with Homespun and Sugar 'n' Cream. I also made a cocoon from the Homespun alone. I was very disappointed with the pill propensity of Homespun. I rarely wear the vest, but the cocoon is a pilled-but-cosy item of warmth and comfort wear.

In all these swatches, the Homespun is not actually knitted together with the Sugar'n' Cream. I was experimenting with a technique of carrying the Homespun with my left hand and weaving it in as I knitted the Sugar 'n' Cream. It's woven in by flipping the yarn to the front on one stitch, knitting a stitch, flipping the Homespun to the back and so on.

This green combines with Mardi Gras and Mexicana. The green is garter stitched. On both the following swatches (Grape and Black) I used Mardi Gras, Corinthian and Mexicana, 3 panels in garter stitch, 3 panels in stockinette. I just realized I should have photographed the reverse sides, as that gives yet another texture and appearance for this combination.

I have never actually knitted anything more complex than a scarf using this weaving-in technique as it is rather tedious and there are issues with the edges, you have to be careful as you carry the weaving yarn to the next row or you get an ugly sort of diagonal stitch at the edge. On all of these swatches, the borders are 3 st in garter.

I had forgotten about this technique and am glad to be reminded of it. It is a very good way to utilize an expensive yarn - you will use a lot less if you weave it into a piece knitted with a less costly yarn.

I'm thinking now about some felting experiments with some of this weaving/knitting....
have a joyful, creative day!

Feb 19, 2006

Bluebirds, Felt Tentacle Pot

One of the pitfalls of decluttering is finding things you love, that you'd forgotten you had. That is also one of the joys. The pitfall is, of course, in wanting to keep all those wonderful rediscovered objects. Luckily I am in ruthless mode, so I have been pretty discriminating about what deserves to remain part of my life. This passes the test.
It is a 36" square cloth, white cotton, embroidered with bluebirds and the saying, one line around each side:
"There'll be bluebirds
Over the white cliffs
Of Dover tomorrow
Just you wait and see"

That's how I tend to read it, but you could start with almost any of the lines..."Over the white cliffs of Dover tomorrow, just you wait and see, there'll be bluebirds."

I got this on eBay for about $9 (eBay's also a joyous/pitfall thing) and it somehow wound up being buried on The Chair that started me on the decluttering journey.

I wish I could get a good photograph of the whole thing, but parts and your imagination will have to do. There is an embroidered bluebird at the center of each side, and as you can see, the edge of the cloth curves around the bluebird's breast.

Each corner has a pair of bluebirds with flowers. The interesting thing to me is that the birds are tinted blue just a bit. At first, I thought the dye from the embroidery floss had bled during a washing, but the tint clearly remains inside each bird outline. This cloth was a preprinted design to be embroidered over and I guess came with the pale blue tint already on the cloth.

And what can I say about bluebirds? Powerful symbols to me for a kind of pure optimism I like to call upon...promises of all the bright little joys that fly in and out of our lives.
As I said, this is a keeper - fiber! needleart! bluebirds!

Let's move along from bluebirds to tentacles....
Here is one of my felted vessels from the fall, a piece that is more in line with my most extravagant visions for my fiber art future.

This was knitted with some lightly spun roving from Deb Brandt ( DudleySpinner ) dyed in darker shades: green, brown, black. I do my felted bowls and pots from the bottom up, because it seems easier to play with the edge of the vessel with all the live stitches at the end. This was the first time I really let myself go with that edge in a kind of freeform way. But I didn't pursue that and create any case, I wanted to remind myself of my vision and hopefully I will get back to exploring more on that path.

bluebirds / tentacled pots - it is an odd mixture of things that speak to me!
stay warm,
'zann in single-digit Indiana

Feb 17, 2006

Illustration Friday - Song

Painting in AppleWorks & Photoshop

Illustration Friday
Theme: Song

Feb 16, 2006

Travelin' Turtle

I'm making this entry especially for the LusciousGracious family whose intensively creative life and blog always provide inspiration to me. One of the many projects their lovely girls have created is a set of Noah's Ark cards as a gift for their cousin, with an animal for each letter of the alphabet. They have been sharing this work, a few cards at a time, on the blog. Their smiling, standing Tom the Turtle reminded me of my Travelin' Turtle and I promised pictures for them.

You can see Tom here. Just scroll down, but not too quickly! Take a moment to admire the gorgeous sweater Kiki and the girls made - one sweater which all three of them can wear! Not all at once, of course. And if you have time, take a good long look around the LusciousGracious studio - there is a wealth of knitting and photography and writing and love.
Turtle is one of my totem animals and this little statue came to me during some of my most stressed days in the last year. She perfectly epitomizes the qualities of Turtle that resonate with me - carrying all she really needs, a protective shell to retreat into when necessary, and the reminder of the possibility of slow, but steady progress....

If I was an innkeeper in Middle Earth, my inn would be The Sign of the Travelin' Turtle.


Feb 15, 2006

My Secret Pal's Valentine Extravaganza

And here it is, in all its glory (well, except for a fair number of edible goodies...) I unwrapped things every day for four days! And if it was candy, I ate it: Aplets & Cotlets, jelly babies, Japanese gummies...
Pictured are Jan Brett's Beauty and the Beast; Mary Engelbreit note cards; a heart punch; embossing templates; note pads; little ceramic magnets of a heart, question mark, and four letters: Z-A-N-N; beautiful handmade items (detailed below); 3 balls Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (oooooh, so soft)....closeup of the goodies I didn't consume by picture time:

a heart mug filled with Stash (one of my faves!) herbal tea and a scrumptious-looking raspberry hot chocolate; jellies attached to a sweet 'n squishy little bear, a purple tube of M&M minis attached to the cutest little tin suitcase (certainly to become a holder of something in my knitting basket), and of course, a little traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates.
I love everything, but will play favorites to the things my SP created with her own loving and talented hands.
A pink-and-white washcloth with heart and embossed heart-shaped soap that smells terrific, but I can't seem to identify the scent! I think perhaps it must be a combination of a couple.

This is a little beaded bag, white cotton and pink beads. Tucked inside was another matreshka doll (hmmmm...the first tiny doll in my first SP package just fits inside...) and in that was tucked wee bits of nature: shells, seeds...

And here is a pink crocheted teeny bag with a heart button - tucked inside that a glass heart on a pale pink ribbon - just sweet and lovely!

Ahhh...I actually can pick a favorite from all the abundance of gifties...this purple crocheted pouch. I love love love it. Not only did my SP crochet it in my favorite color, but she dyed the cotton herself - with blackberries!
I have a Blackberry Thing - I love to eat them, but I also have precious memories of picking them wild in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina on family camping trips. And one summer, I was staying near Penland School of Crafts with the family of sculptor Al Vrana (my first husband was his assistant ) and we had an amazing day of picking blackberries and making jam (and of course eating at breakfasts thereafter.) While we were out picking by railroad tracks, a train roared by - I've never been so close to a train... my goodness, this pouch seems to be my Proust's madeleine...
You can't see it in the picture, but the cord is purple and green (a very, very, very favorite combination of color to me ) and my SP also dyed the green, with Queen Anne's cool is that?
She says that I should not be surprised if the color changes as it ages...and that is okay. That means it's alive.
A 3-language thanks to my dear SP- Danke, Merci, Gracias!!!

Feb 14, 2006

love, 'zann

Feb 12, 2006

Spindle Spinning & Pie Wedge Shawl

Today I was ambitious and made my decluttering task be my spinning area (details & gory pics at my other blog) and here are two things I'm very happy to be reunited with, even if their re-discovery increases my already staggering UFO count.

First, here is a project I started many moons ago, one I used to take to the bookshop and work on while I was there. (The shop closed at the beginning of September...) I was really happy to see this project, unfinished as it is. It is a Coopworth Swirl roving from the good folks at Jehovah Jirah Farm, (all their fiber auctions were ending when I wrote this, but do check back as they offer some neat color combinations ) and I decided I wanted to spin it and ply it using only my drop spindle.

I thought it deserved to be worked on again, so I put it in a special place, my new Lantern Moon twisted palm tote (this was the perfect place to stash the silk hankies, too.)
And then, I found my first Pie Wedge Shawl - the one done with Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace from the pattern on the skein band.

It just needs those ends woven in and some blocking to make those gorgeous points show their true elegant selves.

This shawl, besides being the first lacy sort of thing I've ever done, is crisis knitting - and carries a lot of painful memories. I had just started this when we got the terrible news my husband's twin brother had been killed by a drunk driver. I worked on this for the next weeks and shed many tears over it.

Then it was put down (and I accidentally pulled one of the needles out and just stalled on trying to get all those stitches properly back on the needle) and not picked up again until another tragedy. Our son was in a wreck a few months later. This was the knitting I took with me after he had been airlifted to a hospital 80 miles away. This was the knitting I did during the 5 hour surgery he had two days later. I think I've been so slow in finally completing it because it does carry memories of such difficult times. At the same time, I love it fiercely, for the comfort the knitting of it provided me - the familiar, unchanging rhythm of the needles that lulled and soothed me.

And one of these days soon, I will complete it and wear it and be warmed by it.

Feb 11, 2006

Oh, That Secret Pal O'Mine!

She is spoiling me to the nth degree!
An incredibly weighty box arrived yesterday and when I opened it, I discovered it is just crammed with gifties:
You are seeing just the first layer!
At first I thought I'd be patient and wait until Valentine's Day to open these. But, unlike what I did to my Pal, there was no note that said DO NOT OPEN UNTIL FEBRUARY 14TH.

So....I am opening at will, spreading out the fun as long as I can. Maybe I'll still have some things to open on Valentine's Day (there are an amazing amount of wee wrapped packages!). I shall photograph all and post then.

Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee all the edibles will still be around then. Especially the Aplets and Cotlets!

Thank you, thank you, dear SP!

Feb 10, 2006

Illustration Friday - Simple

Illustration Friday
Theme: Simple

This was a theme which caused me to think a lot. I started thinking about small things that seem quite simple but which possess great power. Hammers, nails, fish hooks.... Needles have always fascinated me, partly as symbols of traditional women's work, and I've sketched out several art projects which feature them. I remember reading once about needles being so precious and scarce that a group of women would have to share one needle between them.

I found this theme to be very interesting and fun to contemplate, especially since I have embarked on the journey to organize my life and home for once and for all. I looked up some quotations on the theme and would love to share my favorites:

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. ~Hans Hofmann, Introduction to the Bootstrap, 1993

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction. ~E.F. Schumacker

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. ~Lin Yutang

Material blessings, when they pay beyond the category of need, are weirdly fruitful of headache. ~Philip Wylie

'....weirdly fruitful of headache" - now that is an amazing phrase!

Here is a simple valentine for all of you who have ventured to read my blog:


Feb 8, 2006

Spinning, lizards, planning

Just finished this skein of wool/mohair (all fiber in this entry dyed at Winderwood Farm):

and now I'm starting to spin this merino/silk blend:

First time I'm doing any spinning with silk. These colors are just so lovely, it's a visual delight to contemplate while spinning. I have 8 oz. of this and am thinking I'll make a scarf. I once read that spinning should be project-driven, that you should decide just what you want to do with the yarn first, what pattern and needles, then spin. I have never done that in all these years of spinning. I just spin and stash and then one day want to make a hat and go browsing in the spinning and even just being pretty sure I'll make a scarf is also a first for me.

Yet another first for me! Silk hankies:

I'm not even quite sure how to work with this fiber in this form, but I couldn't resist when I saw Bob offering them in his eBay store. I think you create a yarn of sorts from this by hand, pulling at a corner of one of the hankies and attenuating it. I know somewhere I have some instructions and I'm sure I can find something online.

Yesterday I wandered into Waldenbooks at the mall while waiting for my son and they were having a sale on calendars and datebooks and planners - $1 each! At that price, I could afford to buy some $16 calendars just for the pictures. One of the calendars I got had lizards in leaves!

and I couldn't resist these little datebooks:

I'm going to use these as project planners, I think. The black-and-white one is already designated for my big decluttering journey.

It's been sunny here for the last few days - I don't know if that is why my mood has improved so much or if it is because I feel I am at last working on gaining some semblance of an orderly life. In any case, I gratefully enjoy the change in both the outer and inner light and warmth!

Feb 6, 2006

Back to Fibery Matters

I am still working on numerous UFOs: socks, Raven's poncho (beginning to think this should be made to fit her for next winter ), and something using delicious Malabrigo yarn. I say "something" because I have no idea what it is going to be!

I can say that my intention when I cast on was to get back to creating felted vessels...but this may wind up being a bag....or...or...something.

I've also been spinning some and have finished a skein of that Blue Face Leicester hand-dyed I bought from Winderwood Farm. This is about 4 oz. and 220 yards of 2-ply. I still have 4 more ounces to spin, but there's a lot more of the pinker colors in that batch, so I imagine that skein will look a bit different.

I swore that I was going to limit my Noromania to Kureyon, Silk Garden and Iro (with a little Blossom once in awhile) (oh, okay, and some Kujaku, but ONLY color #22!) Then Martha at RiverWools got in a color of Kochoran that sang a siren song to me and so I acquired the following:

and at the same visit to RiverWools, I took a good look/feel of Harrisville Orchid, which is a soft spun blend of mohair, wool and silk in solid colors - very complimentary to mix with Noro wool/silk and with great yardage for the price, about $10 for 245 yds. So these came home with me as well:
I'll finish up this entry with a return to Raven's (my 10 yo granddaughter) poncho. I titled this picture Calamity....
.....because my Denise circular needle just SNAPPED right off at the join! It made an absolutely sickening cracking sound. My astonished face must have looked comical.

I do think it was entirely my fault though. I was horrified to realize how short a cord I was using, I should have switched to a longer cord many, many rows back. I had been having a lot of difficulty moving those stitches around to work, and just kept on of those d'oh moments.

Anyway, I'm really close to being finished so I hope the patient Raven will be able to wear it a bit before warmth returns.

Feb 5, 2006

A New Project / Blog

I have had more comments on my last post (my Illustration Friday submission) than I've ever had on a post. Something about my cluttered-up chair resonates I guess. It gave me a very warm feeling to have people like ( dare I say identify with?) my interpretation of the theme of "chair."

More profoundly for me, creating that picture has also created a path for me - I see a way to deal with the clutter that has become a real problem and has started to interfere dramatically with my life.

And so, I've created another blog to document my work on the situation.
If you've a mind to peek in:
A Chair Is

wish me luck! energy! joy!

Feb 3, 2006

Illustration Friday - Chair

Synchronicity...pathology as art.... I saw Dr. Phil the other day and it was a show about packrat/hoarders and while I'm not quite as far gone as his guests, I'm pretty bad. I certainly saw what might lie ahead for me if I do not deal with my clutter. I thought about sharing my struggle here....and then Illo Friday's subject this week led me right back to that thought.
This picture, of a chair in my living room, is absolutely emblematic of My Problem.

Feb 2, 2006

Brown Sheep Sable/Silk Garden/Cascade Socks

I finished these a while back and I ADORE them! They are perfect sandal socks and the weather has been so warm lately that I have been able to wear and wear them.

Paradoxically, my perfect socks are quite imperfect:
*they do not match
*one sock is, for a reason I cannot figure out, slightly bigger than the other, width-wise.
*I forgot that I wanted to do the toe in black as well

Wabi-sabi? Perhaps.

I enjoy wearing them, the way they feel on my feet and I enjoy looking at them when they are on my feet.

Yarn: I used three different yarns:
Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Sable (this is a fabulous heathery brown)
Silk Garden (cannot find band for color, but am pretty sure it's 204)
Cascade220 Black
Needles: Size 4 dpn

I wanted to do the heel and toe in the Cascade both because I like to have the heel and toe in a different color and because I thought the Cascade 2-ply would wear better in those high-stress areas than the BS 1-ply.

Pattern: A hybrid which combines two basic patterns, one for a beginner sock using worsted yarn and size 6 needles, and one for a Basic Sock which was printed in Spin-Off magazine about 10 years ago. CO 48 stitches, work 2/2 rib for about 7 rows, then did 2-row stripes in stockinette with the Silk Garden and Lamb's Pride, worked the heel in heel stitch with the black Cascade 220. I meant to do the toe in the black as well, but simply forgot.

Personal/Political Thursday -Brief Note

Personally, I'm feeling just yucky all around. Lingering virus, possibly. Effects of 2+ years of terrific stress, probably. This picture perfectly describes the weird, unsettled way I feel lately.

I did not watch the SOTU address. I just cannot stand That Man from Texas and the hypocrisy that oozes forth when he speaks. I'm tired of the war, the lies....this picture could be me dizzy from all the spin!