Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Trip to Florence ~

A trip to Florence street in Sebastopol, California that is!  This Thanksgiving we were fortunate to visit Steve's family who live in this quirky little town in Northern California and whilst there happened upon this residential street filled with whimsical sculptures.  Come stroll along Florence Street with me in my new Asking For Roses wrap and imagine living on a street where an artist in residence has made the neighborhood his gallery with sculptures scattered throughout.

Northern California and the Sonoma/Napa region in particular is a very progressive area where green living and recycling have long been the norm.  This artist (Renga Arts) makes all his sculptures from products that are reclaimed and reused materials and has the motto Reuse Reclaim and Reimagine as his inspiration.  Which reminds me I need to do better about recycling.

We had a lot of fun playing on this street and Steve (an artist himself) enjoyed talking with the sister of the sculptor who was in the midst of painting a newly commissioned piece.  For those interested there are additional photos of his sculptures on my flickr page here.

Did I mention that I really love my new wrap?  It's actually too small to call a wrap.  Instead it's more a scwrappy wappy wrap which means it's more than a scarf too.  Whatever it is I loved wearing it because it's just right for our climate and worked perfectly with this outfit.

Particulars:  Asking for Roses by Amy Swenson (Blogs as Indigirl); 2 skeins Hedgehog Fibers Blue Faced Leciester Wool (colorway Rusty Nail); US 8 needles.  No modifications (other than yarn and needle size).  I knit this very loosely and hardly blocked it at all.  Post "blocking" dimensions: 64" x 12" (at widest point).  The wrap is crescent shaped.

Cashew Shortbread

Rustic food is at no time more appealing to me than than around the fall harvest and Thanksgiving.  This simple cashew shortbread cookie is a favorite of mine for its simple but rich buttery flavor.  Recipe from Moosewood Cookbook found here (I often half the recipe for myself).

This Misadventures of Simcha

Simcha loves to work and I've discovered that it really doesn't matter the nature of the job.  Here we are working on the commands "show me some intensity" and "hold that pose."

He's beautiful isn't he?  When I walk him and men call out "hey gorgeous" they aren't talking about me.  Really, it's okay.  I'm completely over it.  Sorta.

Simcha is modeling the Annie Wrap from Queensland Collection by knitwear designer Jane Ellison.  I love this over sized wrap even though it's simple because it has great texture using a basket weave stitch and a mohair trim (2 colors held together). Dimensions: 70" x 20" (excluding fringe).  Knit using Rowan Felted Tweed and US 8 needles.

Until next time, be well and love well and may this holiday season be a special time for family, reflection, and sharing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Finishing Touches ~

At this time of year our thoughts turn toward the holidays and I find it helpful to have a few quick and easy gift ideas and reliable recipes to make the season a little less stressful.  To dispel a common perception, a knit gift does not have to be fancy, expensive, or take weeks of complicated knitting to be a gift you are proud to give or wear.  It's all in the finishing touches.

Both pairs of gloves in this post are based on a basic pattern that has used a simple but effective design element to elevate it to gift giving or holiday wearing status.  All that is required is a single skein of yarn, a tried and true pattern that has been made successfully time and again, and a few notions in the way of buttons or beads to add a finishing touch or two!

Lately I've been thinking about finishing touches and not just in the context of knitting.  It strikes me that of late I haven't devoted nearly enough time (truthfully no time at all) to reading good literature, listening to fine music, or devoting my efforts to a worthy cause.  In other words, I'm in serious need of some finishing touches!  One's self is the most important work in progress we have.

The second pair of gloves is a personal pattern utilizing design elements from a variety of patterns.  I love to wear something a little fun and frivolous when I'm out and about over the holidays.  The contrasting reverse stockinette border and flower embellishment are just some of endless ways to personalize a basic pattern to your taste, just as your choice of yarn and buttons will personalize any pattern.  Adding a faus black pearl bead to the flower's center is the final finishing touch.

Particulars: Blue Gloves:  Welted Fingerless Gloves by Churchmouse Teas; US 5 and US 6 DPN; Mandos del Uruguay - Silk Blend; no modifications whatsoever.  However, as I have a tiny wrist, if I were to knit these for myself I would reduce the number of stitches cast-on and probably use the smaller needles throughout the project.  These gloves were gifted away to the lovely Dilshani (Rav Profile) as part of a German Shepherd Lovers swap hosted on Ravelry.  The second pair of gloves (Brown Gloves) is knit using a composite of several patterns and is very similar to the evening gloves I knit last Winter for Christmas.  I used a single skein of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino; US 5 needles; and a small amount of contrasting yarn.  I knit the flower using a pattern I found in the book Knit 2 Together.  Using resources you already have or that are free on the internet is a great way to find ideas to embellish patterns.

Dried flowers in the fading Summer sun are a reminder that time is always passing leaving only traces of what once was behind.  Wet felted flower made by following the Tutorial by Ingermaaike

Pistachio and Currant Biscotti

A seasonal recipe that I make this time of year is Mary Kay's Pistachio and Currant Biscotti.  I like to have a few cookies on hand that go well with coffee or tea.  Try serving them on a paper doily ~ it adds a nice finishing touch.

I will be away and busy much of the coming months and will be spending less time online, although I will still be knitting and continue to add posts.   So until next time, be well and love well and I hope this season of holidays is a time for you to reconnect with what is important in your life.