Scarves unraveled and good foundations

I am working on a delicate, lovely scarf for someone who has made such an amazing  difference in my life. The yarn recommended for the pattern, Rowan kidsilk haze, had this lovely pink color called Grace and I knew that was it. That is what this person has brought to my life (I would name her but she might be reading!) It is the thinnest, softest yarn I have ever used and the hardest pattern I’ve ever worked.

divine lace scarf gauge swatch
divine lace scarf gauge swatch

After doing the gauge swatch, I knew that this yarn was not going to be easy to work with. I actually did a practice round with some cotton/poly blend yarn – I never do practice rounds. I just jump in and woo! come what may! Once I’d done the practice round, I cast-on the good stuff and worked one round of the pattern. Counting the stitches as I was going through I realized I didn’t have enough stitches so I adjusted the stitches to fall in the right place and then added them on in the final row of the pattern as it was a simple row of purling/knitting. Time passes…

I knew I was putting it off but I didn’t know why. Part of it, I’m sure, is the yarn/pattern combo but the other part is because I knew that the foundation wasn’t right. I couldn’t decide whether to unravel or keep going. I pulled it together this weekend, sat down and worked the first row of the pattern. If it went well, then I would keep going. What was already done really didn’t look so bad now. Well, after the first row of the pattern, I lost a stitch. So I took one off, added a stitch with a yarn-over, knit the final stitch and counted again. Still off by one stitch. I’m thinking not only can I not KNIT I can’t even COUNT! Ugh – ok. Time to unravel. It came down to this: the foundation just wasn’t right and if the foundation isn’t right, then the rest of it is going to be skewed. And maybe the recipient wouldn’t know it but I would and it was going to stop me from going forward.

Things don’t have to be perfect the first time out and I fight that – I want it to just happen, right out of the gate. Sometimes I don’t want to keep going because it’s not right the first time but that really never accomplishes anything, does it? You just end up with a bunch of half-assed stuff lying around in your brain and your life, taking up space and niggling at you.

So. I am unraveling the scarf and doing another practice round. It’s a hard pattern but I think the end result is going to be so soft and pretty that it’s going to be worth the extra effort. And I’ll feel better giving it knowing I spent the extra time. Stay tuned…

New for Fall!

There was nothing between winter and summer to spruce up our bland hallway door – our building is fairly new but the hallways look like hotels or dorm rooms with no carpets. Light green doors, door number, bell, bland hallways. I put a mat in front of the door but sometimes you just need a little bit more. It’s much nicer to come home to a little personalization. The other apartments are following suit! There is a door with sugar skull decorations for Halloween/Dia de los Muertos! (you see what I mean about the doors…)

sugar skull masks

I dug around on the internet for some inspiration. I found some brown yarn in my stash (from a very early attempt at knitting a sweater… that didn’t go so well… ahem), found some floral stuff on sale at Michael’s and voila! Not-so-bland door for fall!

fall wreath


Global Sketchbook Project Day

Today was the Sketchbook Project meet-up day at the Brooklyn Art Library. I almost didn’t go – it was such a perfect Sunday to do nothing. Just sunny enough, just breezy enough. Did I really want to go hang out with people I didn’t know, who might not even show? But I did go and I’m glad I went!

Initial Sketchings
For one thing, I got the first 3 layouts outlined for the 2013 Sketchbook Project. I wanted to do the sketchbook project last year but it didn’t happen. This gave me a good jump-start on the project. What will be interesting, of course, is to see how they actually end up from their little humble sketched beginnings.

Then I met a really great person who I intend to stay in touch with. She is here in New York for the summer for graphic design internship at Bon Appetit magazine (nice!). She was starting a new, personal sketchbook that would most likely document her time here and I made it into her book! I gave her my card to keep in touch and she gave me my own page as her first friend in New York. Sniffle. How could you not want to be in touch with someone who makes such a nice gesture?

On top of all that goodness, I bought a design book I had been wanting to read, There is Nothing Funny About Design, AND I came away with two small piece of collage that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Now THAT is a perfect Sunday!

Initial Sketchings
Initial Sketchings

Seeing Visions

all three vision boardsI am part of this really cool 8 week coaching intensive program, the Live Your Dream Challenge with Jenny Fenig, success coach to savvy women-on-a-mission, and our first assignment was to create vision boards – a way of seeing what your dream looks like to better help you achieve that dream. You can use magazine images, typography, anything you want really, that will convey what you’re wanting to happen. It’s fun making time to just sit and pull out pictures and words that you really like and focus on yourself!

I was reading Inc., a magazine for entrepreneurs, I found this quote:

“If you have any more than three priorities, you have no priorities.”
– Maggie Fox, CEO, Social Media Group

When I read it I thought that would be a great starting point for the vision board assignment. I’ll choose my three and then give each of the priorities its own board. It’s so easy to have all these goals lined up and be surrounded by to-do lists that are just over-whelming sometimes but what are the three most important things to me right now? What do I really need to focus on to get all those other lists done? It didn’t take long to choose my three areas – Business/Career, Self-Esteem, & Home.

business vision boardBusiness/Career
This one is high on my list right now because I am currently working on a re-launch/re-branding of my business as an independent designer & consultant. I thought this board would be harder but once I saw the title ‘The Business of the Studio’ in Where Women Create (Spring 2012), it all fell into place. The office space, the charts of details and always leaving room for the self and growth both as a person and as a business-woman. The little green ‘Au’ boxes say Autonomy underneath. Judging by how many I included those little boxes, I’d say that’s a pretty important part of having my own business for me!

self esteem vision boardSelf-Esteem
This one actually proved to be the hardest. I originally started with ‘Health’ but couldn’t get the images quite right – I was choosing a lot of exercise images which is definitely something that is important to me – so I let it sit overnight. I realized this morning that it wasn’t physical health that needed focus but mental health. I am very upbeat and positive about the goals and dreams of other people but don’t really save any for myself. My inner dialogue is really quite rude and that’s quite enough of that thank you! I chose two of the exercise images to keep because exercise is a big part of my self-esteem and feeling good about myself – I danced for years so any extended periods of inactivity really drag me down. The serene background and the quotes are about finding inner peace through listening to yourself and finding what makes you happy.

home vision boardHome
I want one! A home, a house, a space to decorate, to entertain friends – I used to do this all the time when I lived in a bigger apartment and I really miss it. Also, a house would mean more room to create art. My little apartment is so cramped (and it looks like a hotel room – all it needs is the check-out sign on the door!) it’s hard to store all the bits and pieces needed to create the kind of art I really like much less have the space to do the art and display it or store it. This one will take awhile but it’s on my radar! In the meantime, I’m trying to clear as much clutter out of my apartment as possible so that I can do more to make it feel more inviting.

Thai Vegetable Noodle Soup

I’ve had this carton of College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Broth in my cabinet for quite some time. I always have chicken or beef stock around but bought this ‘culinary broth’ on an impulse in part because it had this delicious recipe on the back.

Last night, I felt like cooking something different and decided this broth had spent enough time hanging out. (I’ve been trying to get back to creating in general after a few very long, busy months!) It was so delicious. I did add the chicken for a ‘heartier soup’ as suggested at the bottom of the recipe but it doesn’t need it. I WISH I had taken a picture because it cooked up so well and looked quite lovely in the bowl and they don’t even have a picture on the College Inn website to share.


A Certain Shade of Lipstick

I was so excited when I received the most recent Anthropologie catalog. The cover was perfect for a poem I had been saving from a magazine that I didn’t want to get rid of but didn’t know what to do with, either.

Ink Outlines
The poem starts out “I like a certain shade of lipstick…” and goes on with references to war, cabaret and far away places covered in snow. I felt that the lighting in this catalog cover image conveyed that feeling of another time and place. And of course she is putting on that certain shade of lipstick!

I started out with a sponged layer of gray paint and then mixed red and black to deepen the tone. I really like the pops of red because it pulls in that distant war that is going on the background. When I first glued the image of the woman down, she didn’t stand out against the strong paint so using a black outline technique I read about recently, I outlined her and the mirror and even added some lines to the image itself to give it some movement.

close up of lantern
For the text, the paper was so new looking and even with the edges torn, it still stood out too much. I took a Prismacolor Marker in 10% Cool Grey and colored over the paper and then, with a Pigment Pen wrote over the typed letters to soften the it and make it feel like the woman in the image had written it herself. I ran the marker over the text again once I was done writing. Once the glue was on the paper, it thinned it out even more allowing some of the bumps from the paint underneath to texture the paper and with a few more dabs of paint, the paper blended in really well. I then used some of the thick, leftover paint to really add some depth under the lanterns.

Poem is ‘Instant Past’ by Elaine Equi, featured in the 2008 issue of Pool poetry magazine.

Photo Gallery
Clicking on the photos will open a full-size version.

Summer Wreath

I was determined that, before I went on my three week trip to visit my mother, that I was going to finish my summer wreath. I think that green yarn covered circle had been sitting on my desk staring me down for around two months! Enough is enough!

The base of the wreath is the same as my Winter Wreath, two circles of cardboard glued together. I got the flower pattern from Purl Soho – a winter wreath, yes, but the flowers worked! The leaves are from a stock image that I downloaded, printed and pinned to felt. I cut two of each and sewed them together for thickness and depth. It’s very simple but I really like how it turned out especially the leaves because that was the first time I used my sewing machine for something fancier than a straight line!

summer wreath

Let Me Eat Cake!

I went to a at a BBQ this past weekend and one of the fellas made these absolutely wonderful red velvet cupcakes. They were just perfect – moist, even texture and the frosting was even edible. I’ve never been a big fan of red velvet cake though I’ve always assumed it’s because I’ve only had it from big grocery stores. Always too much sugar in everything especially the frosting. But these… these lovely, luscious, little pieces of cake-y heaven. Sigh.

red velvet cupcake