a rock and a hard place

Posted on 12 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls


do these boulders excite you the way they excite me? sometimes people ask me where my ideas come from and i’m at a loss to answer. they come from everywhere; i can’t pinpoint one reference over another. i just react to certain things at certain times, collect all manner of visual images and then designs sort of emerge out of the chaos.

for instance, these boulders. the colors speak to me yes, but even more exciting is their scale in relation to everything around them—THAT will stay with me as i explore motifs for a shawl or ponder the impact on a single design element. or maybe i’ll be perusing a stitch dictionary and a cable will suddenly jar loose the image of them and the two will become forever married in my mind as something important to knit about (in fact, now that i’ve rotated my inner eye that way, they do appear rather cable like in their arrangement, don’t they? hmmm . . .)

anyway, during my recent trip i got out from behind my desk both literally and figuratively and rediscovered for a little while the joys of wandering the earth. i’ve brought back treasures to share, my dears; take a look.


almost as soon as we started walking along the lory state park trail, i began spotting rocks heavily armored with lichen of all types and colors. the light and my phone camera cooperated brilliantly with each other and i got  series of stunning photos


lichens are one of my favorite life forms; their creeping growth patterns and ethereal colorations just fascinate me; i find their ability to multiply in mixed company extremely interesting. they look soft and moldy but they are hard and brittle to the touch.


how is it that those soft greens tan ones are happily thriving in the exact same condition—nay, the same spots—as bright mustard and orange ones? the way they pile up and overlap each other, it’s a veritable orgy of fungal growth. don’t even get me started talking about what they really are—i could talk all day (and did you know you can make dye with them—i KNOW!). they are just so weird and wonderful; we should take a lesson from them!


just look at this hairy old goat of a lichen; i bet he’s got some stories to tell.


i really can’t believe my good luck in getting all of these shots from my little old iPhone camera; this hardly ever happens.


i don’t know where this particular series of images will lead, but for now i’m happy to just be excited by it.


i’ve got tons of these kinds of photos in my archives; i’m not really sure what i’m going to do with them or that i’ll ever “do” anything specifically with them, but one thing i can point to is the textural interest; i am all about that allover texture.


and right after all of that there was this—how cool is this stump? and how well it echoes some of the lichen forms, but is different, too.


and omg then there was this one—i love this even more. we are getting very close now to an actual connection with my current knitting.


one of the new tops that i’ve been working on has that same gritty look to it—in spite of its super organized appearance.


i cast on for the first sleeve just before leaving home so i’d have something to pull out and work on in odd places, like the airport waiting area. nothing about this knit is particularly chaotic the way the lichens are and certainly no dye is involved, but for some reason they are linked in my mind to those magnificently curly, gnarly life forms. and the sandy stump.


further along i saw these submerged rock ledges, holy cow. i don’t think  need to point our the obvious.


again i am working with our ginny sport yarn, this time in mississippi striped with georgia (oh man, do i love that brown, wow). i can also totally envision this in a single shade with just the textured lines for “striping”. for this version, i will use the lighter contrast color for the placket and collar—i like the loose placket look for summer, so no buttons for me, but you could add them if you like.


i found this inspiration photo after a long search online for something that put an image to the  memory i was drawing from; while not exactly the same construction, it definitely has the feel of what i was envisioning. i’m naming this top janet guthrie, after the first woman to qualify and compete in both the indianapolis 500 and the daytona 500—it just seems so in step with the period i’m summoning up.

i knit the sleeves and started the front piece during my trip—i even got to use the sleeves in a demo for my craftsy class. the top will be shown both sleeveless and with sleeves; this top is inspired by those fitted vintage sport tops you used to see all the time in the 60s and 70s.


yesterday i finished up the front in my spare time—a little in the morning over coffee and the rest while watching TV late last night. i wanted to get this piece done so i could block it and determine if my pattern needed any adjustments before sending it off to the tech editor for sizing. you can see that the striping causes it to be pretty crinkly right off the needles and i need my next measurements to be super accurate.


so, while i usually use steam blocking as my next step, this time i went for a full wet blocking to make sure it would relax to the size i really intended. wow, what a difference, eh?


much, much smoother after a nice soak relaxes that fiber.


and that ginny, wow—it is both cashmere-y soft and fuzzy, while being cottony smooth and cool. i don’t know how it does it, but it does.

i know that my inspirations are coming from a lot of different directions and none of them seem to connect, but there you have. for me, they all meet up in the design.


this pine cone looked so restful to me; i had to photograph it.


closer to the water, there were lots of clay rocks in various stages of breaking apart. apropos of nothing, this one reminded me of tuna sashimi.


nearby i found a little rock of clay that encased a small geode—kinda looks like the lichen a bit doesn’t it?


randomly i am am also attracted to this spidery skeleton of some sort of desert shrub. it doesn’t matter what it was, it’s the blackness and its wandering lines that i love.


more lines, more rocks, more lichens—this time in a different arrangement.


back home david has been busy tearing the last frontier of our house apart for renovation.


when i explore what’s behind the zipper, i find textures and lines that call back the images from my hikes last week—sweet.


this is the biggest room in our house and the dark, depressing wallpaper was pretty much holding up the plaster on the walls and ceiling (yes you heard right—wallpaper on the ceiling. yep, so ghetto. still cannot understand how matching and glueing wallpaper up on the ceiling is easier than fixing the ceiling).


behind the curtain, wallpaper is down, ceiling is down and things are already looking brighter in there.


we have not really discussed how this room is to look afterward, so i’m a bit concerned, but hopefully david isn’t going to just move forward without talking about it. but you never know, haha.


outside in the yarn, mother nature is doing a little redecorating herself—it’s been a little warmer in the last couple of days and suddenly we have tulips!


and daffodils!


and garlic!


plus some spinach that is still alive from last fall. i gotta hand it to this plant; it’s a trouper. i guess i’ve got to start thinking about the garden; must order seeds.

and with that, i think i will close. i’ll be back soon with updates on all those yummy knits; i should have lots more to share by the time you’re ready to hear from me again.

another a maze ing day

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls


the best thing about my visit with luci and scott last week was that we spent every available minute outside—even if it was just hanging out in the yard, bundled up to catch the rays. i even arrived at the craftsy shoot with some healthy color in my face from being outdoors.


i would have gladly stayed with them longer, but by sunday, it was time for me to get back to denver  and prepare for my craftsy shoot on monday. not to leave things on a sober note, luci decided that we should get there by going the long way, stopping off in estes park and the rocky mountain national park, before heading to denver on the peak to peak scenic byway.


any first time stop in estes park should probably include a peek at the stanley hotel, where stephen king conceived his novel, the shining. luci and scott stayed here one night in the winter.


we walked around a little bit inside, which indeed is imbued with a rather creepy atmosphere as well as possessing an air of shabby elegance.


and no wonder really, as it receives a steady stream of tourists walking through its lobby and lower level.


the newly completed hedge maze is just one of the features of the more beautiful surrounding grounds and the views from the hotel are pretty great. we didn’t stay long; they just thought i’d enjoy seeing it.


up the road just a bit was the much more inviting and interesting rocky mountain national park, where just inside the grounds, we found a huge herd of grazing elk—now THAT was magnificent and we spent about thirty minutes just being there with them, taking photos and enjoying their quiet occupancy of the area.


they were so close to the road you could practically pet them, though i didn’t think about doing anything that rude.


this was one of the highlights of my whole trip.


i did take a little video footage if you’d like to share the experience; truly just one of those quiet moments of awe and appreciation.

again, we caught this event as the sun was beginning to sink, so the light was fantastic; constantly changing and adding a new dimension of glow to this pasture.


when we drove up a bit and turned the car around to leave, we saw that the light was even more gorgeous from the other direction so luci and i jumped out to snap a few last shots. what a sight . . .


we took the peak to peak byway to denver, first driving through  thompson river canyon and the roosevelt national forest.


this is a seriously amazing drive; in many sections the cliffs feel like that are tilting over the road. and just look at that blue sky—it reminds me of something i’ve just got started on the needles that is NOT for the blue club


so i can share it here; isn’t it pretty? it is of course nona from none other than the brilliant jen of spirit trail fiberworks, corfu colorway. more about this later


while my photos out the window of the back seat show you just a bit of how i saw the drive, you really should take a gander at luci’s film from 11/14; it’s a real front seat experience.


you know how i love pine trees and the forest running alongside the road is some of the densest woodland i’ve ever seen.


as the light paled, we found a spot to pull over and watch the sunset


as my friend alice would say, trés great!

but what was really cool was that as the sun set on the right side of the road


the moon popped up over the horizon on the left side—and nearly full, too—aMAZing


it played a cat and mouse game with us all the way through our descent, as i tried over and over to get a good shot and finally we were in a position for scott to pull over so i could run across the road and take this photo.


a little later i got this one too, from the moving vehicle


and finally, my last shot of the day as dark truly enveloped the earth. soon after we entered denver and i was saying goodbye; it was such a wonderful visit, so good to spend time with these friends. i am very grateful that i get to keep in touch in person as a benefit of my work.


the next morning i was up bright and early to get to the gym before my makeup call—stop that laughing!—when i’m away, i find i have more energy all day if start off with a run or some time on the bike (even if it’s an exercise bike).


we put in some long, fast-paced days during a studio shoot, so i need all the help i can get; it’s a lot different work than my usual.


and the closeness of all those lights can  be a little disorienting after all that natural light i soaked up over the weekend.


it looks MUCH friendlier from your side of the camera, haha. but all went well and my producer, evan seemed very happy with our work. your should have access to the result in just a couple of weeks, from what i’m told.


one of the perks of being in downtown denver is that there are plenty of good eats around—more than one could possibly appreciate in just a few days. on my last evening there i went to dinner with the delightful anita grossman-soloman, who has been described as the elizabeth zimmermann of quilting. she was so cute when she told me that story, because at the time it was said, she didn’t know who EZ was and she had to look it up, haha.


we had a blast sitting at the chef’s bar in this nearby eatery while enjoying a wonderful dinner and watching the show. also teaching this time was faina goberstein, who i got to spend time with as well. we had a nice little knit n chat on our last morning; that’s when i got that blue lace shawl on the needles. later, we rode to the airport together.


speaking of the trip home, with the sleeves completed, i decided to put my top aside for just a bit and start on a sleeve for another spring knit; i was ready for a change of pace and i enjoy having tandem projects. this one uses a motif from an early design, the curling mitts and cowl. i just love this pattern and while fooling around with our summer yarns in january, i realized it would translate really well into a fabric for warm weather garments.


at the airport, i settled into a chair and cast on for the sleeve cuff; in no time i was changing needles and well into the lower sleeve.


i’m knitting with our ginny sport yarn, which is a 3-ply cotton/alpaca/merino/nylon blend. erica likes to call it the cotton yarn for wool lovers and she’s right—it has all the delicious qualities of wool, plus the softness, sheen, and drape of high quality cotton.


this sweater will be a looser-fit boyfriend sweater with that sexy motif running right up to the top of the sleeve and then down the front from the v-neck (not too deep, but not too high either). it’ll work great as a beach coverup or something to throw on when things get chilly at the beach or cabin. but it will be dressy enough to wear to dinner alone with dressy trousers or shorts. i just can’t wait to try this one on. our hempshaugh fingering yarn will also knit to the same gauge and drape, so i’m planning on knitting one of those for my own self, too.

can i just say?? these summer yarns are really something else; i just adore them. coincidentally i’d decided before my trip to name this one illas cíes, after an archipelago in the galicia national park in spain that is preserved as a true wild area, very difficult to get to and stay at. but the coastline there?? just stupendous. i hope some day i get to see it . . .

i can’t wait to show you more of what’s in the works for the spring collection; i am SO excited about it all. of course, i have to make it so i can share it right? which is just what i’m going to do for the next two+ weeks—design and knit. infant, i am most likely i flight as you read this, on my way to NYC. i have several designs that are well on their way and i’m terribly excited to be in the city to knit, design, and imagine the rest.


on thursday, we’ll talk texture; i can’t wait.