Archive for May, 2008

Here’s a picture of a pretty little knitted gift bag my Taos knitting friend, Laura, gave me.  Tucked inside was a safety pin full of pearl and bead stitchmarkers.  I’ll be reminded of her every time I use them.


Laura is the one who “founded” our knitting group that has become so close-knit (pun intended) over the past five months.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been meeting such a short time, because we’ve all become fast friends.  I will really miss them when I’m in Virginia, but I know that whenever I come back for visits they’ll be there on Wednesday nights.

Yesterday John, Mishka, and I went for a four mile mountain bike ride on a new trail.  It’s actually a short forest road off of a tight curve of hwy 64 as it heads up the mountain towards Angel Fire.

What a gorgeous place.  The road had only a few really technical spots for riding and it was bordered by a meandering creek and lush green grass.  Mishka was in the creek right out of the truck.  I don’t know how she knew it was there, but she was in it.

While we road she ran in and out of the creek, and the grass, and ran up the hill on the other side of the road, chasing who knows what.

At the end of the road was a pond surrounded by aspen and another track where we left our bikes and walked for a bit.


We found patches of wild iris all over the area.



In one place they were blithely taking over the human-made road.


Coming down the hill we rode about 10 to 12 mph and Mishka kept up the whole way.  After her running, sprinting, and generally nosing about, she was filthy and pretty tired.

When we got home, she laid down by my sewing chair while I worked on a new project.


Here’s a teaser.  I’ll post more tomorrow.



Read Full Post »

In spite of the high winds we’ve had in Taos lately, I’ve been able to get in a little knitting in the garden.  Our garden walls block some of the wind, and the light is wonderful for seeing small stitches and true colors of yarn.

I’ve gotten to the heel flap on the first of the socks I’m making for John with Interlacements Tiny Toes yarn, but my camera battery conked out before I could get a picture this morning.  I’ll have more finished to show tomorrow, anyway.

I’m also making progress on my Branching Out alpaca lace scarf.  The perfect project for garden knitting.


Next to one of my garden sitting and knitting spots our first iris of the season has opened up and it’s gorgeous.


We haven’t known what color any of our iris are since they were put in a year ago in April, and by the time we arrived in June they were already finished blooming.  So we’re having fun guessing what colors we have this year.  We have only a week left, so I’m hoping more will open before we have to head back to Virginia.

This morning a Ravelry knitter from Lawrenceville, about 18 miles from Emporia, contacted me, so I know I now have at least one knitting friend ready and waiting for me when I get there.  WhoooHooo for Ravelry!

We’re off this morning to explore a new mountain bike trail.

Read Full Post »

For the month of May Sharon B issued this challenge:

What do you call yourself, and why? 

This question has a very specific focus with regard to those of us who work with fibers, fabric, color, design, etc. 

The challenge color palette uses these colors:


At first I wanted to make some kind of garment, either a jacket or a clergy stole, because it would be a very visible symbol of “what I call myself”, and carries the theme in my faith tradition of “putting on” a new garment or name to fully describe oneself after a period of transformation.

However, I knew that would be pretty hard to design and complete well in one month, so I’m setting that plan aside and will work on it later.

I decided instead to make another journal using a gel print on cotton that I had made before this challenge, but seemed to fit.  I added hand embroidery and beaded sequins to this flowing ribbon design.  The ribbon design came from a series of doodles I did that came out like ribbons.


It’s one of my favorite doodle motifs, and is a motif that symbolizes much of my life:  like a flowing, shifting, floating, turning ribbon, that has a different appearance as it flows, yet is still the same ribbon.

To illustrate what I call myself, I used this ribbon, then embellished it with fibers that flow around it, adding beads and sequins for sparkle and texture.  I continued the flow of the ribbon beyond the cover bounds with an organza ribbon tie.  With the journal cover alone I think I can explain to people who ask what it means to be a fiber artist.



I have resisted for a long time calling myself an “artist”, thinking of myself more as a skilled craftsperson.  However, as I have moved more and more into the realm of creating pieces from my own designs I feel more comfortable with the term “artist”, even though I am pretty much self taught and have some trepidation based on my lack of formal knowledge of art technique and history. 

With that said, I believe artists bring together elements in ways that haven’t been brought together before, often bringing order out of chaos of element and arrangement, producing design. 

It is, I believe, the creative character of all human beings, in many different endeavors, that gives us the deepest connection to the divine.  When we create, we transcend the mundane–even when creating with mundane elements–and we sometimes, thus, are able to glimpse our true selves.  That transcendence does not come without struggle, however, if it is true creation.

I chose to make my gel printed embroidery piece into a journal cover that encloses pages for recording quotes, ideas, and goals that are bounded by signature covers of hand dyed fabrics.  On two of them I have placed triangles to symbolize the work I do with piecing and quilting of fabrics. 


The inside cover and pockets (front and back) are also hand-dyed fabrics. 


If I carry this journal with me and am asked about what I do, I can use it to tangibly show:  painting and printing on fabric, stitching with fibers and beads, hand dyeing fabrics, sewing, and quilt making.

Throughout this month’s exercise I have tried out different word descriptions of what I call myself and why:  craftsperson, quilt maker, embroiderer, artisan, textile artist, and fiber artist.

I keep coming back to fiber artist.  It’s the nomenclature I’ve most often used, and feels most comfortable rolling off my tongue, even though it means I usually must add an explanation.  In that explanation I am able to open people’s vision to a broader idea of what the word “artist” encompasses.

My palette is not just paint, but an entire array of textiles, fibers, dyes, beads, and even found objects.  Creations are usually multi-dimensional with both visual and tactile texture. 

I am also a writer in my professional career as a clergy woman, so placing my fiber art around pages for writing adds another dimension to the descriptive piece. 

In the same vein as this month’s challenge, I have begun to read sociologist Richard Sennett’s latest book, The Craftsman.  It explores what it means to do or make something well simply for the doing of it as opposed to as a means to an end.  He posits, I believe, that our post-modernist cultures have lost that value in many areas, while engaging it in other ways that are new and unexpected.

I’ve just begun the book, so I’m looking forward to seeing where he takes this theme.        

Read Full Post »


Yesterday I blocked my Diamonds and Pearls Shawl and today it is off the board and ready to wear.


I am quite pleased with how it turned out, although I’m not sure I blocked the shoulder shaping correctly.  And I did have trouble with the bind off, as many other people have had. 

I sent an e-mail to Knitter’s Review asking about the bind off because I couldn’t figure it out, but got impatient to finish, so I used the crochet bind off some people on Ravelry recommended. 

I should have held off, though, because Clara Parkes, the author of A Knitter’s Book of Yarn and editor of Knitter’s Review very graciously answered my e-mail  yesterday.  She sent me a close up picture of the edging and walked through the pattern instructions step by step.  I couldn’t believe she took the time to do that! 

I will definitely try this shawl again, and will try the pattern bind off with some scrap yarn following Clara’s instructions and picture to get it right first.

I’m not sure if I’ll use this yarn, though.  I bought the Artyarns Silk Rhapsody to try out with this one-skein project, and while it is gorgeous yarn, it does have a strong raw silk odor to it, which did not diminish with soaking in a Eucalan bath before blocking as I had hoped.  I’m going store it with a lavender sachet and maybe that will help. 

There’s a larger piece I want to make with this yarn, but I’m going to hold off for a while and see if the odor goes away.  It’s not terrible, but I would not have expected it with a yarn as expensive as Silk Rhapsody.

While Diamonds and Pearls was on the blocking board I started two small projects:


A pair of simple k3,p1 rib socks for John with one of the skeins of Tiny Toes yarn I got at the Pagosa Springs Fiber Festival Sunday from Interlacements

As usual, my camera shows these colors bluer than they are.  The blue in the yarn is a deep purplish blue–sort of cobalt–rather than the bright blue the picture shows;


and a Branching Out lace scarf with some sage colored lace weight alpaca yarn I picked up out of the mix and match basket at Victory Ranch in Mora.

I don’t have to think much while knitting the socks, while the scarf provides a little more challenge, and since they’re both small they’re good projects to carry me through the next couple of weeks as we begin to pack for our move back to Virginia.

My plan for today is to try to finish my May Take It Further Challenge project.  

Read Full Post »

I finished the knitting on my Diamonds and Pearls Shawl yesterday and it’s ready to be washed and blocked.  Lace blocking takes quite a while to get just right, so I am anticipating a pretty intensive time getting this piece blocked.  I want to handle it very carefully because the yarn is mohair and silk.

It was another very windy day in Taos so I had to take the picture inside.  I’m still working on trying to get better inside lighting for pictures.  


This is another little shawl that, while finished will be larger than it is just off the needles, will just float across the shoulders and a little ways down the back.

It was an amazingly quick knit, even though I had to mess around trying unsuccessfully to get the pattern bind off to work, and finally had to resort to a crocheted edging that was suggested by a number of people on Ravelry.

Besides blocking this shawl, I’m hoping to make significant progress today on my May Take It Further project.    

Read Full Post »

We couldn’t have asked for a better day.  We kept saying that over and over as three of us from the Taos Yarn Lovers knitting group traveled from Taos to the Pagosa Fiber Festival in Pagosa Springs, Colorado yesterday.

The sky was crystal blue punctuated by fluffy clouds that appeared to be painted onto that gorgeous blue background solely for our pleasure.


Snow capped mountains border the valleys through which we drove, and in many places there was still snow along the sides of the road.  Sparkling streams of snow melt water ran through the brilliant spring greens of the valleys.  It was a day on the edge of winter into spring where aspen were fully leafed in some spots and still winter bare in others.  Spring calves and foals were abundant among the herds grazing in the valleys. 

The Pagosa Fiber Festival is quite small compared to many–only about 30 venders.  But that was part of its charm.  All of the venders had quality products to choose from, and the lack of crowds made it easy to casually chat with the folks displaying their wares.  It was extremely hard to narrow our choices of what to purchase.

I wanted to replenish my sock yarn stash, since I’ve used up all but two pairs’ worth of cotton for sports socks.  I had lots to choose from.


Judy Ditmore of Interlacements, LLC has some truly passionate colorings in all of her yarns.  While I was tempted by the crinkly rayon yarns among many others, I stuck to my plan to purchase sock yarn and picked out two skein pairs of Tiny Toes II.  The teal, blue, burgundy, brown colorway is #218, and the blue, green, gray colorway is #403.  Both are 100% superwash merino wool and machine washable.


I really enjoyed meeting and talking with Judy.  We not only talked about the yarns, but about Ravelry and using the internet to promote yarns and share information about all things related to yarn and yarn lovers. 

Another vendor with wonderful sock yarns was Crazy Monkey Creations.  We had a lot of fun talking with the Christina Cooper who dyes the lovely colors of yarn hanging on the display rack.  Christina graciously allowed me to take her picture while she was working at her spinning wheel.


Look at the yummy colors of sock yarn I got from her.  I love the colorway names almost as much as the yarns.


Left to right:  Grapefruit Diet, Amethyst Dreams, Greens of Summer, and Rushing Water.  Aren’t those fabulous?  These are all 100% superwash merino wool (Monkey Toes), except Greens of Summer (Panda Toes) which is 65% superwash merino, 35% rayon of bamboo, and are all machine washable and dryable. 

I have some great sock knitting ahead of me. Now to pick out patterns that will show off these great colors.

Although it was terribly tempting I managed to resist buying any fibers for spinning.  Meredith got some great ones, though, including an angora rabbit/wool blend and some tussah silk that just begs to be touched.

We lunched outside on the lawn at Victoria’s Reign which houses both an antique/gift shop and a lovely little cafe on the main street.

Before getting back in the car we walked down to Edelweiss Needlework Chalet which has a really nice selection of quilting, needlework, and knitting supplies. 

On the way home we made a quick stop into Tierra Wools in Los Ojos, NM to see their magnificent handwoven rugs and to touch some more wool before returning to Taos.

Altogether a perfect day.   

Read Full Post »

Great Desserts

Most of my creative activity Friday and Saturday went into making desserts for our neighborhood Memorial weekend block party.  Several of the people who have homes in our little subdivision in Taos do not live here full time.  So whenever nearly everyone is here we have a party.

It’s become traditional for me to bring dessert, so I made two, both from Colorado Collage by the Junior League of Denver.

Citrus Cheesecake:


and Peanut Butter Brownies:


They both turned out great and everyone really liked them.


Yesterday I bought my very own drop spindle so I can return the one I borrowed.  I also picked up some Australian Coriedale roving and a book, Spin It, for a little extra instruction.  It’s already helped me to understand more fully some things Linda was trying to teach me that didn’t quite click on Wednesday.

I’ll finish up the dark green roving before I start on this.  Dare I hope to make some actually usable yarn with this next batch?

Today I’ll be away in Pagosa Springs, Colorado for the Fibre Festival.    

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »