Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Angry Knitters?

Warning: Today's post contains controversial, disturbing content. The photograph that follows graphically portrays yarn in extremely troubling circumstances. Sensitive knitters and crocheters are urged to exercise caution.

My friend Clarity snapped this shocking photograph while traveling in Argentina. If you are a fiber person of tender sensibilities, you may wish to stop reading now ...


Caged yarn, yearning to be free!

My first thought on seeing it was, hey this could be the basis for a new game: Angry Knitters. Just like the bluebirds and redbirds and whatever those yellow birds are in Angry Birds, you could have a game where knitters hurl needles, ball winders, tape measures, sock blockers, etc. in an attempt to free caged cashmere.

And what if the knitters hurling the knitting paraphernalia were dead ringers for yarn world celebrities: the Yarn Harlot, Cookie A, Norah Gaughan, Jared Flood?

Imagine what fun you could have with the environments. One could be the WEBS warehouse. Another could be Rheinbeck. Another could be the Shetland Islands.

Every now and then, instead of getting a golden egg, you might collect free Signature Needles, or perhaps a set of Addi Lace interchangeables.

The possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cute Pattern, Cute Name

I'm a sucker for pretty washcloths, whether knit or crocheted. This one went off in the morning's mail to surprise a very kind person ...

Nubbie Scrubbie_1
Pattern: Nubbie Scrubbie, by Angelee Marie, from Simple Sweet Yarns
Yarns: KnitPicks CotLin (linen); Berroco Pure Pima (teal)
Hook: 3.25mm/D

Nubbie Scrubbie_2

I also enclosed a bar of Lime and Black Pepper Daisy Lamont Soap. Vickie, the proprietress of Daisy Lamont, was one of my cabinmates at Squam Art Workshops in June and brought her soaps to the Squam Art Fair: Guinness and Honey, Hawaiian Ginger, Basil Pear, Orange Spice ... such delicious scents! Some scented soaps are overpowering, but I thought Vickie's were "just right." My favorite so far? Pink Lady, a delicate blend of geranium and bergamot.

Nubbie Scrubbie_3

This washcloth's got great texture thanks to treble crochet. If you aren't familiar with treble crochet yet, you will be expert at it by the time you're done! The pattern calls for one color and ends with a round of single crochet. I decided to gussy mine up by working two rounds of single crochet in a contrasting color, then improvising a "fancy" final round. (The "fancy" round consisted of: *3 dc in 1 sc, ch 1, skip 3 dc, rep from *. Right before and after the 3 dc on each corner, I only skipped 2 dc, to create better ease and prevent the corner from curling up.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Changes Afoot

The old blog's getting a facelift--starting with a new template and a banner similar to the one on my Etsy shop. Stand-alone pages that better organize things will be coming soon, too.

It's time for a change. You may have noticed I've been expanding the scope of the blog in recent months. I began this blog in pre-Ravelry days, for the purpose of sharing my knitting projects. Six years later ... a lot's changed!

Ravelry has become as essential a part of knitting as needles and yarn. You no longer need to Google a pattern and search for blog posts to find out what yarns people are substituting, or how the garment looks on a real person. (Not that models aren't real people. but you know what I mean!)

I don't mean to suggest that Ravelry has rendered knitting blogs obsolete--not at all. I still read knitting blogs and I still like blogging. But I don't feel Blue Peninsula needs to be quite so narrow in its focus anymore. In recent months I've watched to see if there is interest in posts about drawing, or embroidery, or visits to art exhibits. Much to my delight, it seems there is. So, I'm going to continue to let the blog be more "holistic," more true to myself and all that I do.

A couple of years ago, I gave myself permission to focus more of my free time on knitwear design. I needed to find out whether designing was something I wanted to get serious about. Turns out it is--in fact, I enjoy it immensely. I especially enjoy getting feedback from all of you who make my patterns. I love seeing your versions on Ravelry.

At about the same time, I stopped painting. I felt I had come to a dead end. For many years I had worked within a rather strict compositional format of square paintings divided into grids. Exploring the grid and its possibilities was a fruitful avenue for a long, long time. But then it wasn't anymore, and I couldn't see a way forward.

You can't force insight. You just have to wait and hope and pray it will return. (The waiting is not fun, believe me.)

I made some knitted artworks here and there. But to knit garments as well as art was asking a lot of my hands. I kept drawing, though, filling sketchbooks with views of nature--hills and clouds mostly. And finally, since last winter, I've been making paintings again--small improvisational abstractions that I think of as "pocket paintings." Maybe my studies of fluid, ever-changing clouds opened up a way back into painting? To draw a cloud you really have to work lightly and freely--it's moving fast, and you have to move with it!

They are small first steps toward a vision I've had in my head for a long time, of paintings embellished with embroidery. Organic, abstract images, inspired by nature, created in an improvisational process, with no sketches done beforehand, no blueprint. (Quite the opposite of knitting, no?)

For whatever reason--a combination perhaps of the fullness of nature in summer, coupled with taking Rebecca Ringquist's embroidery workshop at Squam--I've finally felt ready in recent weeks to give my "painting + embroidery" idea a go.

Embroidered Painting
This is a prototype (and a work in progress, so please judge it tenderly). Due to the width of the stretcher bars, there isn't a lot of room for embroidery on this little prestretched canvas. But there will be plenty of room on larger canvases--I've got several stretched and ready for gesso.

Embroidered Painting_detail

I'm generally reluctant to share my artwork until I'm actually having a show "in real life." But, along with abandoning the grid and the square, I'm going to take the risk of blogging occasionally about artworks in progress. One lesson I've learned from knitwear design is not to get hung up on every pattern being a success. Some are hugely popular, some aren't--life goes on. I don't worry about it much. It's time to extend the same relaxed attitude to my artwork.

Wish me luck! I hope you won't mind the changes here at Blue Peninsula. Maybe every post won't be your cup of tea, but rest assured--there will still be a lot of knitting going on.

Threads
By the way, if you embroider, where do you get your thread? I've been using three weights: the very fine French thread I got from Purl Soho, DMC size 8 pearl cotton, and DMC size 5 (the heaviest of the three). I'm finding I use the DMC size 8 the most, but I don't have a source for it within driving distance. Joann's has a few neutral colors, but mostly they carry size 5. Do you have a favorite online source? So far I like Knitting Warehouse. They carry a wide range of colors, delivery's pretty quick, and their prices are reasonable.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rrrrrrrrrrr

R is for rojo, rouge, rot, red, rosso ...
R and Y
These are the latest developments on my Stitch Dictionary embroidery sampler. (Y is for yellow, of course.)

R is for Rockywold Dining Hall, where we had all of our meals at Squam Art Workshops, and for Rockywold Socks, which is what I've decided to call these ...
Rockywold Socks
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Liberty Fibers Merino Superwash Sock, purchased at the Squam Art Fair
Needles: 2.50mm and 2.25mm dpns

I'm going back and forth in my mind as to whether I should write up the pattern. What do you think?

Last but not least, R is for raspberries, fresh from the South Hadley Farmers Market ...

Happy Friday!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Brought to You by the Letter S

S is for Squam Memories socks  ...
Squam Memories Sock
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Liberty Fibers fingering weight merino/nylon, colorway Totem LE, purchased at the Squam Art Fair
Needles: 2.50mm for the cuff; 2.25mm for the leg

S is for sock yarn ...
String Theory Caper Sock Yarn
String Theory Caper Sock, in the Sandy River colorway, a thank-you gift from my sister Jackie for TigerCare (looking after her cat Tiger while she was in Portland)

S is for seeding stitch and Stitch Dictionary Sampler ...
Stitch Dictionary Sampler in Progress_2
(the paired stitches in orange thread)

S is for swatch ...
Pomegranate Swatch
Final swatch for a new sample of this pullover. Pattern writing has commenced. More info on Ravelry.

S is for scrubbie (for somebody special) ...
Nubbie Scrubbie_Start
Pattern: Nubbie Scrubbies by Angelee Marie
Yarn: Knit Picks CotLin
Hook: D/3.25mm

S is for Santosha Secret Swap ...
Santosha Secret Swap Package_1
Santosha Secret Swap Package_2
Santosha Secret Swap Package_3
Santosha Secret Swap Package_4
Santosha Secret Swap Package_5

The Canada Post strike delayed the arrival of the package from my Santosha Secret Swap partner for a little while, but it finally arrived the other day in perfect condition. I am just blown away by Ellysa's generosity and thoughtfulness! Tucked into the box were dark-chocolate ginger candies (so good!!!), teas, Louisa Harding yarn in a gorgeous brick red color, papers for using in collages, a hand knit lace washcloth, a cotton lace bag in yarn that's the colors of peonies, and photos and "small treasures" from a walk along the beach that Ellysa took to find santosha (contentment).

All of these things touched my heart. But the gift that brought tears to my eyes? A print of one of my photos from Squam Art Workshops, with the colors altered and intensified by Ellysa. Whatever she did, she made the image feel exactly the way Squam exists in my heart: beautiful, intense, exquisite, far off yet always near. I remembered I had a spare picture frame that was just right and put the photo in the frame immediately ...

Santosha Secret Swap Package_6

S is for feeling so happy, and so blessed, by the gifts I've received this week.