Amy Artisan

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Month: April 2006 (page 1 of 2)


* Yellow & Orange @ Home

Before April slips away from us I thought I’d post some yellow & orange scenes from around my house.

The March colors of pink & red weren’t too common in my house – I felt like I was really on a scavenger hunt to find things to put in the collage. This month was much easier. In fact, as I’m writing this entry I’m thinking of several other things that I forgot to capture & include.

The “biggest” orange thing in my home is also the hardest to capture. The walls in my entry, living room & dining room are a terra cotta color. When I was first looking at this apartment I asked the landlord “Now you’ll repaint the walls before I move in” (because the color didn’t go with the previous tenants decor so it looked horrible) – the response was “No, I like it.” When I got back to my other apartment I started looking at my things & realized that they all would work perfectly with the colored walls. When people come to my place for the first time they are often amazed that I didn’t have to buy any new things to make my stuff work with the terra cotta walls. The color on the walls give my space a cozy feeling & seem to pull everything together. (Sidenote: Several months after moving in I was scrapbooking & using the color wheel – I noticed that orange makes the 3rd to green & purple…as I have been creating my home style I had been picking a lot of sage & eggplant in my decor – so the terra cotta truly was a great fit for me.)
Yellow & Orange @ Home
Looking at this mosaic of yellow & orange I find that several of my collections are represented in it:
Sunflowers: Being a Kansas gal I’ve always enjoyed sunflowers, although just because something has a sunflower on it doesn’t mean that I like it (a bit of a sunflower snob). The pillow is a needlepoint done by Artisan Dad.
Salt & Pepper Shakers: I don’t have a specific theme to my collection – some are vintage, some are new.
Vintage Brooches: Such a fun way to accessorize & add a bit of color to any outfit!
Cool pottery: Fiestaware (these are new pieces), a bit of McCoy, other cool vintage pieces – I really like California pottery.

That’s all for April here at Amy Artisan – looking forward to being in the green in May!

Artisan Dad & Mom are flying in this evening – this weekend we road trip to Ohio for my aunt’s birthday. See you next month…

Fiber Fun…

That was the subject line of an email I sent to my friends Jen & Kristy on Friday suggesting a Sunday outing and it pretty much sums up my weekend activities.

I discovered on Friday morning that Debbie Stoller was coming to Arcadia Knitting on Sunday afternoon to sign books & talk about SnB: The Happy Hooker. The afternoon was a lot of fun – we all managed to pick up some yarn – I picked up some yarn for a current secret project as well as some Lorna’s Laces “Glory” that was on sale & also the HH book.

Debbie’s talk about crochet (& a bit of knitting) was very fun & we all enjoyed the modeling & passing around of some of the items from the HH book. Afterwards I had her sign my copy of the first SnB as well as the HH – on our way home I realized that she signed HH to the name of the woman ahead of me, oh well.

When my grandma gave me her stash of knitting needles several years ago she also gave me her crochet hooks – they have just sat unused since then. Over the next couple of months I want to learn some of the crochet basics & then maybe make a few of the items from HH – the one skein scarf looks fun. Of course, any adventures in crochet will be chronicled here.

After the yarn store we all came back to my place for an evening of knitting, dinner from our favorite Thai place & watching Sense & Sensibility. I got both of them started on knitting in the round & we are all now working on our first felted bag projects. Kristy is doing the clutch from One Skein, I’m doing a bag based on the tote from One Skein & Jen is working on a bag based on a couple of felted patterns. I also got started on the secret project with the yarn I picked up in the afternoon.

    Help Please: Does anyone have any experience (good or bad) with attaching circular bamboo handles to felted bags? It dawned on me this morning that we might have crossed bag concepts when we were yarn shopping a few months ago…maybe the circulars were when we were thinking non-felted bag & then when we moved to felted bag mode we didn’t ‘drop’ the handles. Any insights will be greatly appreciated!

In other Fiber Fun this weekend…

Yarn Organization – Saturday afternoon included a bit of time working on the stash & getting yarn organized. All partial skeins have now been wound into balls, similar yarns are all grouped together in ziploc bags & I now have a better handle on what I have on hand & what projects I want to make with them.

The Clara Pearl Afghan – Over the weekend I also finished up the lap afghan for my Aunt – this weekend I will give it to her for her 70th birthday.
Clara Pearl's Lap Afghan

The Knit Details: Lion Brand Homespun WATERFALL; about 2 ¼ skeins of yarn; size 17 circular needles; it is 70 stitches wide in celebration of her 70th birthday.

I love the way that the Homespun colorways reveal themselves as you knit and the end result feels so soft and cuddly. However, the actual process of knitting with this yarn has to be one of my least favorite. Why? The kinks & fluffs that develop as you go.
Homespun Kinks & Fluffs
You know what I’m talking about – the yarn bunches up all tight ahead of your needle & as much energy is spent relaxing the yarn before it goes into stitches as is spent on the actual knitting. I had several instances where the yarn got so bunched that when I tried to loosen it the center string just snapped & I had to cut the yarn & restart it. As for the fluffs, the tail ends of the yarn become a pile of fluff & can be hard to sew/weave into your work. Any suggestions for how you handle these ‘issues’ with this yarn?

Monthly Dishcloth KAL – I got a late start on the mid-April Monthly Dishcloth KAL & I have to admit that I don’t know when I will finish it. The pattern is fun; however, in the practical kitchen use category I think it is scoring low.
April Mid-Month KAL
Since I make dishcloths to actually be used (vs. “oh, they are too pretty to use, I’ll just look at it”) and have a lot of other projects to be working on in the coming weeks I won’t be rushing to get this off the needles. The yarn loops that form the “bow ties” seem like they are in a prime position to get snagged or cut when in the water actually washing dishes & especially utensils.

Socks – While at Arcadia yesterday I signed up for a 2 session sock class “Sock on Two Circular Needles” in early May. I took a sock class there (um, 3 years ago) & never finished the 2nd sock – since being in knit blogland I’ve loved seeing all the socks being made, have picked up some pretty sock yarn & decided that this year I would get going with socks again. For this class I’m to bring my favorite sock pattern – I think right now a simple sock pattern is in order. To my sock knitting friends – what pattern would you suggest as a good “reintroduction” to socks? This class comes at a great time for me – there is a possibility of work related travel in the coming weeks & months – socks seem to be a great travel project.

Easter, Etc…

Easter Weekend!

I spent the weekend in Dallas with close friends who moved from Chicago last fall. They have 2 adorable daughters that will be known in this blog as “Miss Butterfly” (my adorable 34 mo. old goddaughter) & her little sister, “Miss Mouse.” The weekend was a lovely blend of “on the go activities” & just hanging out at home – the perfect anecdote to a stressful week at work.

Dallas Arboretum
On Friday “the girls” ventured to the Dallas Arboretum to enjoy the beautiful flowers & take some pictures of the little girls. It was a lovely day to enjoy a picnic on the main lawn after taking pictures of the girls. (Notice the handknit, an Amy Artisan blanket, that the girls are sitting on.)

Girls in the Garden
We were not the only ones with photo plans for the day – many families were there taking pictures & we saw at least 12 brides having portraits done & 2 girls taking quinceanera portraits – Miss Butterfly called each of them Cinderella. There was a piano player by the main lawn so Miss Butterfly had a fun time dancing & twirling to the music. As Miss Butterfly & I wandered around while Miss Mouse was being fed we managed to get a good self portrait of the two of us. (see below)

M'Amy & Butterfly

On Saturday after Miss Mouse’s morning nap the girls headed to McKinney for a bit of shopping and lunch. With two girls in strollers we didn’t wander through too many shops; however, we enjoyed a yummy lunch at Spoon’s Cafe. We anticipate future visits to McKinney to visit more of the cute shops.

Easter Girls

Sunday was a whirlwind day: Early service & pancake breakfast at church; opening Easter baskets; taking the requisite Easter pictures (above); Easter dinner with family & friends in Lewisville – 16 adults & 4 kids made for a fun afternoon. Even in the 90+ degree weather the Easter Egg hunt was a lot of fun – the adults had fun hiding the eggs & then watching the oldest 3 hunt for them. One dozen confetti eggs also added to the fun. As we left all the girls/ladies were given lovely spring mini-bouquets that included roses from the hostess’ garden – I managed to get the bouquet home to Chicago without any damage. The flight home was a bit delayed – but that did nothing to lessen the fun weekend in the Big D.

In addition to these snapshot moments from the weekend there were so many other fun times with Miss Butterfly & Miss Mouse – the countless smiles from them both, storytimes, playtimes & just the joy that is both of them. And of course, catching up with Maya & Matt – including lovely dinners on the patio while enjoy yummy grill creations (tuna one night & pizza the next). While I don’t have another trip booked yet I can’t wait until the next time I see them all!


Thanks to everyone for your leaving your Ramona (& Beverly Cleary) memories on my last blog entry. On Sunday’s flight back to Chicago a little girl (about 8 years ago) in the row behind me was reading Ralph S. Mouse the entire time. I just had to smile at seeing BC in action.

I’ve mentioned previously that I enjoy knitting for others – baby blankets have been the most frequently gifted item in recent years. Last Thursday I had another “joy of knitting” experience in the form of a voice mail & phone conversation from my vice president at work. His daughter was the recipient of the grape & mint “Baby Maggie” blanket. Unknowingly I had made her blanket in her nursery colors so the blanket has been used from the start. Now that Maggie is starting to squirm more in the crib they had decided that this blanket is the perfect one to use because the “holes” in the knit mean that she can’t suffocate in it. Mike & his wife have decided that this is a “perfect” baby blanket & I should open a side business to make & sell them. I had to chuckle at the “side business” – Mike said there was no way he would let go of me at my day job but he would help me market the side business. Of course I was flattered by the compliment but I told Mike what I’ve mentioned to others before – I enjoy knitting for others for the sheer pleasure of doing it & I wonder if it (or any of my other artistic endeavors) became a job would I still find the same joy in it? (And even with the occasional stressful weeks, I really do enjoy my day job.) What are your thoughts on knitting, crafting, art for pleasure vs. making those same activities your source of livelihood?

In addition to the yellow flower pics from the Dallas Arboretum, I have Project Spectrum blooms in my front yard now. Here is one of my daffodils.
1st Daffodil

More knitting content in coming days & weeks. I continue to make progress on the lap blanket for my Aunt (must finish by next weekend), I need to start start on some other projects that won’t be discussed while in process, the felted tote needs to be picked up again & oh there are so many other projects that I want to tackle! Let’s not even talk about all the scrapbooking that I need to do!


Happy 90th Birthday to Beverly Cleary today!

Drop Everything and Read!

In addition to being her birthday, it is also National D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Day – a celebration of reading inspired by the clever Ramona Quimby.

How many of you read the Ramona books while growing up? They were a favorite of mine. Who can forget Ramona’s signature with the cat formed out of the Q in Quimby? I also remember the fruit fly experiments in the classroom.

I hadn’t thought much about these books in recent years. Recently there was an article in Newsweek about Beverly Cleary and it has me wanting to reread these favorite books from childhood.

What were your favorite Ramona memories?

Update: Listen to an interview with Beverly Cleary on NPR this week, here.

Sunny Sunday!

After a chilly Saturday today is a spectacular spring day! The sun is bright, bulb flowers are in bloom, neighbors are mowing the grass & the birds are singing loudly. As I finish up this post the ice cream truck has just come down the street on his first run of the year.
Spring at home!
In my front yard the crocus are blooming. At my back door, Doris the dove is a proud mama to 2 baby doves.

Colore Rosso e Colore Rosa
First up today, a belated Red & Pink Project Spectrum entry. These are the postcards from my March postcard swap. I was paired with Karla who is living in Rome with her family for a year. (How fun!) Her postcard shows her red & pink interpretation of Rome.
March Project Spectrum Postcard Swap

This image is even more appropriate for me because of my trip to Italy & Greece last year. When we toured Vatican City we were able to go into the Sistine Chapel – it is truly amazing to look up at the ceiling & all the details of the mural. You are not allowed to take pictures while in there; however that didn’t prevent some from blatently framing a shot & using the flash – ouch! I have seen an amazing “no flash” picture of the center of the ceiling where a random snap at the ceiling yielded a great shot.

My postcard included a detail of my double ruffle pink hibiscus from on my deck last summer.

Introducing iPocket
I have finished up the cozy/case for my iPod. I have dubbed this “iPocket” & it is loosely based on the Techno Cozy from the first SnB. iPocket is larger than the iPod & is meant to house my iPod & the headphones & be easily found in my purse or other bag.
The Knit Details: Cascade 220 (7814, 7803, 8886, 7919, 7827) on size 8 needles. Knit as a rectangle with decreases to form the envelope flap. Sides seamed together. One large snap to keep it closed. Yellow button is decorative only.

Simple Knits – Springtime Gifts
The April Monthly Dishcloth KAL was a watering can pattern. I had previously seen the pattern when I discovered the double heart pattern & planned some springtime dishcloths to match some spring towels. Some of these will be gifted around Easter with some fun spring themed towels.
Water Can Dishcloths
The Knit Details: The Watering Can can be found at Melissa’s Knit Dishcloth Page. All on size 8 needles. Sugar’n Cream yarns (Daisy Ombre, Playtime, Cool Breeze Ombre, Yellow). This pattern definitely shows up better using a solid yarn; however, the variegated yarns are very springy & match some towels. Since each of these includes orange or yellow they are part of my Project Spectrum craftiness for April.

Warming Grace (& Simone, too)!
Warming Grace
One of the things that I have enjoyed about being a part of this knit blog community is the way that everyone comes together when a need is identified. After the blue square for Christine’s Comforting Jef project I have been busy with pink squares for Cynthia’s Warming Grace project. Cynthia is creating 2 blankets of 5×5 pink squares for her neice, Grace, & Grace’s best friend (Simone) who are both battling cancer. These will be on their way to Canada this week.
Pink Squares for Grace & Simone!

The Knit Details: Frog Tree 100% Alpaca Wool, Sport Weight, Pink (#208), Melissa’s Knit Valentine Dishcloth pattern (removed 4 stitches from each side & 4 rows from each end), knit on size 3 needles (Hero brand, from my Grandma’s collection of needles).

Italian Reading
Italy Reads
In addition to finishing up all these knit project this weekend I also managed to finish up my most recent fiction read: The Almond Picker by Simonetta Agnello Hornby. This was a great read about a Sicilian house servant. The story begins with her death & over the next couple of days & months the details of her life begin to unfold through gossip and flashbacks. I had never heard of this book prior to my last visit to Costco – it was another excellent Costco find. The trip to Costco that yielded this book also included the purchase of The Silver Spoon cookbook – the classic volume of Italian cuisine. This is a huge book that is a delight to look through & contains thousands of recipes & lots of great pictures. Dinner tonight will come from these reads: Chicken in Almond Sauce & Asparagus with Orange.

Looking Ahead…
Last weekend’s road trip to Michigan got us looking ahead to summer & on Monday we booked our annual girls weekend in Michigan for mid-June. I can’t wait to go back to Harbor Country! This month I joined the Vacation Knitting Swap & look forward to creating a vacation knit for a fellow knit blogger. Also, now that I have the Oneskein book I have joined the One Skein Knit-Along. Links to both are on my Joining In the Fun! page.

In Project Spectrum news, I didn’t have a chance to do the Orange & Yellow hunt around the house this weekend – pictures to come in coming weeks!

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