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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Few Clever Pre- and Post-Holiday Ideas

Greetings and Salutations! How you be?
Oh - Merry Christmas, Happy New Year…Happy Holidays in general!

School finished a little over a week ago and then I dove into finishing knitted gifts, wrapping stuff, doing some baking (cardamom cookies {from a 2004 Sunset Magazine) and real pound cake (from my German Godmother, Elsie)}, delivering the baking and wrapped stuff, exercising to offset the baking-sampling, cat-sitting, and {grin} I'm still writing/mailing my Christmas Cards. Ah, well.
Whilst I am seriously enamoured of the Yarn Harlot's "End As You Mean To Go On"/everything-clean-tidy-caught-up for the new year concept, the actual implementation of such order in the week following Christmas is pretty much beyond my comprehension.

I aim to do better next year! {Oh, that's tomorrow. {grin}}

Inspired by my own challenges, ideas from friends, and bolstered by the recycle flyers from the city,
here are a few clever pre- and post-holiday ideas:
Do you-all have any to add? Please do share!

Holiday Cards - Gift Tags
  • I'd like to resurrect something a friend and I used to do. We would meet the first Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving and get our Christmas Cards started. {I'm sure you understand my current interest in resurrecting this tradition…{wry grin}} We'd have lunch and hot chocolate and enjoy each other's company!
  • I liked the clever suggestion from FizBirch Crafts that the Cards could be trimmed down post-Christmas to be used for gift-tags next year! 
Christmas Tree - Trimming & Recycling
  • A friend of mine recently commented that she may not put up a Christmas tree next year. Although she loves having the tree up and seeing all the ornaments and visiting the memories they represent, with the kids out of the house, it's just her doing the trimming/enjoying. I offered a suggestion based on something another friend of mine used to do - have a tree-trimming party. Enjoy friends, sharing stories and memories and the trimming of the tree. Pot Luck, brunch or dinner - it would be an excellent way to kick off the season. 
  • TreeCycle! The City of Tucson has had a Christmas Tree recycling program for 15 years! {I'm a little proud of our Recycling pursuits.} There are 9 locations that will accept Christmas trees through January 12, 2014. Is there a TreeCycle program in your area? 
  • And just a few more Holiday Recycling options courtesy of the City of Tucson. Essentially it's a Holiday-perspective on our regular City recycling.
    My favorite tips are:
    #2.   We can recycle "Wrapping paper with non-metallic finish or glitter".
    #11. "New Electronics? Then recycle or donate the old. Visit KnowWhereToThrow.com to find the recycler closest to you".
     (World Care also does electronics recycling events occasionally.)

I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year! 
Please have fun and be safe!

{See you "next year". I have to go write up some more Christmas Cards.} ;-)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Things that made me laugh today...

Last week, I tripped over the copy of Mark Twain's semi-autobiographical "Roughing It" that I had been reading but put aside for a while. This morning I was reading a bit and this part made me laugh so I thought I would share it with you.

The setting from the Table of Contents:
"Chapter XXXI
The Guests at "Honey Lake Smith's" - "Bully Old Arkansas" - "Our Landlord" - Determined to Fight - The Landlord's Wife - The Bully Conquered by Her - Another Start - Crossing the Carson  - A Narrow Escape - Following Our Own Track - A New Guide - Lost in the Snow…..171"

The Setting from me (and Mr. Twain): 
Our hero, Mr. Clemens, and a few other gents have been trapped by a flood for a little over a week at Honey Lake Smith's Inn on the Carson River. They are attempting to leave because "life at the inn had become next to insupportable by reason of the dirt, drunkenness, fighting, etc.".

The waters have receded and after a failed attempt to cross the still over-full Carson river (where the canoe overturned, saddles were lost and another night had to be spent at the inn) our group is again attempting to leave.
But now it is snowing heavily. Following the instincts of Ollendorff they set out for Carson City, assured that if Ollendorff were to "straggle a single point out of the true line his instinct would assail him like an outraged conscience". After a short time they come across some tracks in the snow and Ollendorff is positive his instincts have them going in the right direction. The company hurries to catch up to the folks ahead of them on the trail.

These are the comments made me laugh out loud:
"Boys, these are our own tracks, and we've actually been circussing round and round in a circle for more than two hours, out here in this blind desert! By George this is perfectly hydraulic!
Then the old man waxed wroth and abusive. He called Ollendorff all manner of hard names - said he never saw such a lurid fool as he was, and ended with the peculiarly venomous opinion that he "did not know as much as a logarithm!""

{Happy Sigh} Gotta love the wondrous mind and writing of Mark Twain.

And a more modern collection of giggles - "I'm Climbing Up the Christmas Tree NEOW 2013" by Shorty and Kodi.
{This pretty much embodies why I haven't put up a tree since we got Gryphon aka The Gryphon-ator.}

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What a difference a year makes!

Hola, Folks.
Crimony! It's been over a month since I last posted a blog. Sorry about that.
When I consider that I posted a blog nearly every day in November and December of 2012 and then I look at the paltry number of posts for this holiday season…
{sigh} Ah well.

However, when I consider that since last November/December I have been actively pursuing a Fiber Arts degree, that I have met a wide range of radically interesting and inspiring people in the last 10 months, and that my creative interests have bloomed dramatically in 2013…

What a difference a year makes. {Happy Sigh}
But I do miss writing on the blog and seeing from whence visitors come and if comments are left. As I'm sure you've guessed, I have been spending a great deal of time in the Ceramics and Weaving labs. And I am generally very pleased (and surprised) with the results of my time. The semester is nearly over and my Ceramics and Weaving projects are done/turned in/pending grading. I still have some more work to do for the Clothing Construction class so I'm not done yet.

But a little bit of down time before the next semester is up-n-coming and my to-do lists are being jotted/revised and "Blog" appears often on those lists. A fair amount of knitting and UFO pursuits are plotted as well.

Until the next blog "to-do" is fulfilled, here are a couple of quick pictures from the school adventures of the last few weeks.

Two "nose-level" views of my final project from my Weaving I class:

The collection of pots that came from the 2nd Glaze firing in Ceramics I:
{Yes, I like throwing pots on a potter's wheel!}

And…here's 3 more pictures.
These are the photos I entered in the 11th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest.
I know - it's ok. I don't actually expect to win.
{grin} I've seen the winning pictures from the 2012 contest.

However, I'm glad I did it. It's something I've never done before and I like the idea of trying even though I'm well aware of how remote the possibility of winning is. I'm mostly hoping that one of my pictures might be deemed interesting enough to be posted on the Smithsonian's Photo of the Day.
The finalists will be announced in March 2014 and the winners and Reader's Choice Winners will be announced in Spring 2014.

You've seen this picture before. I included it in the September 28th "More Landscape - this time in ink. Plus Photos from an Inky Dark Night" blog post. I took the picture a little after midnight with a flashlight held between my knees (so the camera could "see" to focus) and whilst dodging a large sphinx moth. {grin}

I tweeted out this picture in October after pausing in the breezy pre-sunset afternoon to take the picture at the Pima College West campus. This was taken with my aging iTouch - and the Smithsonian has a new category this year for photos taken with phones-n-such. 

Hmmm - I'm not sure how well this will come through on the blog (or to the folks at the Smithsonian).
This is a 360 degree picture taken with my iTouch and the Occipital 360Panorama app as I stood in the back of my little pickup truck and viewed alllll of the sunset-drenched Tucson valley and sky. It was spectacular and the photo doesn't quite do it justice.

You can also view this photo on the Occipital Website as a larger "flat image or in the original 360 degrees (use your mouse to click-drag-shift the image left/right). 

I plan to post again soon. Hope your holidays are going well!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Color & Composition Final Project - in Triplicate

Continuing the belated Spring 2013 Fiber Arts Degree posts with the last of the Spring 2013 Color and Composition Class Posts:

Our final project for the Color and Composition class required visiting the same drawing 3 times with different mediums or effects.
For my picture-in-triplicate, I chose to use the shadow outline from my Drawing class.

Part I of the Triplicate Project: More fussy-cutting.
The first step of our Final project - we had to emulate the Color-Aid Adventure and clip un-patterned, colored sections from magazines, cut them to match the pieces in our picture and then glue the cut pieces over our picture.

I pulled out a variety of magazines and looked for pages with larger sections of solid colors.

I pulled pages I could use to generally emulate the color reality of the original photo I took of myself standing in my back yard squinting into the sun.

The fussy cutting ensued and a magazine collage was created. I tried not to get toooooo crazy in selecting a lot of colors because it would have an effect on Part II of the Triplicate Project.
{Again, sanity was retained during fussy-cutting due to the stellar efforts of Heather Ordover of the CraftLit Podcast and the excellent presentation of "Jane Eyre" read by Elizabeth Klett. Thank you, Ladies!!}

Part II of the Triplicate Project: Paint Mix-n-match.
As I understand it, the core colors used in magazine ads are the same as the paints we were instructed to purchase for the class.
The 2nd Part of the Triplicate Project was to mix paints to match the solid colors we'd clipped from the magazines and paint the drawing to match the magazine collage. If we matched 12 or more colors, we would earn an "A" for this part of the project.
{I added notes a la "Paint by Number" to this version of the drawing.}
So, the experience gained in creating the Grey Scales/Color Wheel earlier in the semester was applied to mixing and matching a lot of paint to quite a few magazine clippings. Kindly, our instructor reviewed our paint mixing efforts and would nudge us in the right direction. Her color sense/eye for color was like magic. Or more than one occasion I'd be reallllly close to a match but stumped and she would say "This needs a little yellow" or "Magenta" - where I didn't realize that color would be involved.

{wry grin} Fussy cutting paper suddenly seemed a lot easier than mixing paint to match over a dozen colors. Moreover, I realized the larger paint brushes from the supply list didn't do much to enhance my meager drawing/painting talent but then, the paint-by-numbers kits attempted as a child had never turned out particularly well for me. ;-)
Per my notes/clues from the instructor - there is
yellow and magenta in the "brick mortar" paint!?! 
I was a little off matching the shirt colors but I did earn an "A" on this part of the project. {Whew!}

Part III of the Triplicate Project: Originality/Composition {not so much original}.
The third part of the Triplicate Project was to recreate the drawing as an original composition; applying something we learned in class - transparency, light, texture/ pattern shading...
One of my favorite "revelations" of the Color and Composition class - the explanation of light at various times of the day:

  • Dawn - Strong, diffused light. Bright with low contrast.
  • Noon - Strong, directional light. High contrast in value, hue (to an extent), & intensity.
  • Dusk - Low contrast in value, hue, & intensity. Dark and dull. 
  • Moonlight - Dull, light colors (a lot of white in them).

I traced the now too-familiar squinty self-portratit onto an Illustration Board and started mixing paints.
My original intent was to utilize the above light explanation to change the colors/light/time of day in my picture to a Moonlight scene.
That intent devolved down to trying to add shading based on my introduction to shading from the drawing class.
The result - my "Creative" portion of the Triplicate project was a bit stunted and beyond my abilities.
The class review noted that the wall in this painting looks like it's about to topple - on top of me. {grin} I got a B+. {Happy dance!} Probably for the time/effort I put into it. {Certainly not for my painting talent.} {wry grin}
Ah, well. I did learn a lot. Mostly I learned that I have A LOT to learn about Color. And that I'd like to learn more.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sock Club and a Local Yarn Bombing Favorite

Earlier this month, I stopped in at Kiwi Knitting to visit Lynn {owner of Kiwi and purveyor of fine yarns and good company}, inhale some yarn fumes, and attend the monthly Sock Club meeting. It was pretty much a stellar day.

We had an unusually large group attending the informal knitting time that is Kiwi's Sock Club.
{wry grin - we do not police projects to ensure socks are being knit or that only sock yarn is being knit upon}.
We were joined by a few spinners and a ?sweater? class of some sort. T'was a fun and fascinating gathering of personalities, yarn, and talent.

I always meet interesting folks in our local yarn shops. A few Sock Club meetings ago, I met a nifty non-knitter who came in - with her 2 dogs - to have them measured for sweaters. ;-) And then it turned out we share Ceramics Lab at college and now we see each other often. {Typical of Tucson's 2-degrees of separation...)

The day of the October Sock Club meeting, a young lady/school teacher stopped by Kiwi to pick up some more yarn - having just come from a "Hooping" class. Of course, we asked what Hooping was - "Hooping? Is that the dance/gymnastics stuff I've seen in the Olympics?". She explained it was for fitness and dance and her passion was evident.  Not only did she bring in her adult-sized, colorful and perfectly-balanced-with-weights Hula Hoops to show to us, she did a Hooping routine for us outside in Kiwi's front parking lot! I think she was rather good and very graceful. It seems the routine she showed us is being developed to go with her Halloween costume and she will be preforming it for her students!

Whilst researching links for this post, I came across this charming and graceful video (Sapir is Hooping 2) that reminded me a bit of the live Hooping demonstration we were gifted with that day:
{I actually got pretty well distracted with quite a few videos on the Hooping.Org Blog.}

On Kiwi Sock Club day, I also took the opportunity to snap some pictures of my favorite local Yarn Bombing installation - The Kiwi Bicycle. It can usually be found near the front door unless it's raining and then it can be found in the classroom/kitchen area. I understand a variety of knitters contributed to it's creation and that new pieces are still occasionally added.
{As always, please click on the photos to enlarge.}



Sunday, October 20, 2013

30-day Sweater Challenge

In late September, I noted 2 tweets (from @ShepherdSusie and @CloudyNatKnits that mentioned a 30-day Sweater Challenge. I took a quick glance at the referenced website, and bookmarked it for a closer look later.
The closer look later intrigued me, gifted me with the very nifty "Ultimate Sweater Planning Guide" and I decided I'd take the challenge and try to knit a sweater in October.
{Pssst - I understand there is also a spiffy eWorkbook, online course, video tutorials, sweater calculators and more to support knitters on their sweater journeys. Oh, and the folks that purchase one of the books can also enter the Sweater Design Competition!}

Initially, I plotted to knit the Notre Dame de Grace with some spiffy denim blue Berroco Remix yarn.

The swatch convinced me that the yarn knits up very nicely but it did make me question if it would be a good match for the Notre Dame de Grace. {More swatching, this time with-pattern is planned.}

So....what else would work for a quick-get-ready sweater project?
A perusal of the stash found me looking at this:

It was part of my sister-in-law's stash that I'd purchased from my Big Brother. The pattern was included and she'd even started knitting on the Tofu Tee. There were 8 balls of Tofutsies yarn in the bag and I added a 9th from my stash:
The pattern is pretty much knit side-to-side so the yarn stripes run vertically. The pattern allows for a variety of modifications and calls for 5 balls of Tofutsies. Hmmmm - I literally had more yarn than I knew what to do with.
My SIL had an excellent sense of color. Mine is much less developed {understatement}.
Based on the sleeve the SIL had started, I was guessing this was the color plan she'd had:
The middle ball and next ball to its right have a bit of Olive green in them (a great color on her). While I do like those two balls of yarn, I like them more for... socks. And I must confess with a mildly heavy sigh - the other 3 balls of yarn contain a distinct amount of Pink. {sigh}
I generally abstain from pink stuff so there is more available for everyone else. {That's my story and I'm...} Actually, as previously confessed, I have an aversion to the color pink.

I decided to stray from her original plan, discussed it with some friends {one who is particularly known for her amazing color-sense} and I'm planning to knit the TofuTee with this color progression:
There is still some pink involved, but the progression to the red/grey and then teal/grey to the enticing ball of rainbow yarn {which still contains pink} should make this a Tee I'll wear without grimacing.

I researched the Ravelry project notes of the people that had knit this before me and there was a nice range of helpful comments and pattern alterations to consider. {My thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences on Ravelry!}

I swatched {I know, but I keep hoping}, achieved gauge on the first needle-try {bizarre}, and I even virtuously washed my swatch to see what would happen. The yarn (Superwash Wool, Soysilk, Cotton, & Chitin) behaved very nicely and did not shrink or turn all pink.

It'll be bright, that's for sure. But the pink isn't bugging me too much and there will be a bit more yellow in the Tee since I swatched without doing a section of yellow by itself. Since the swatch, I've decided to include that section.

After all this quick-get-ready considering, researching, and swatching, I sat down and cast on my Tofu Tee on .......... October 17th! {grin} Speedy, aren't I?
And then...I ripped it out last night, having decided to include the yellow section mentioned above.
{wry grin}
Odds are I won't finish the Tee in October, but I'm still hopeful that I might be able to knit it in 30 days.
{No, we're not going to discuss the Hitchiker scarf I cast on in early October for the Knitmore Girls Behm-a-long and the hats I'm also knitting for Halos of Hope. Yet} ;-)
Wish me luck!
The Hitchiker - about a week old

Friday, October 18, 2013

School Clothes (or Crimony I have a lot of T-shirts!)

I know I haven't posted for a bit - I've been immersed in school stuff.

We've been exploring free form tapestry in weaving and I've been expending a lot of lab time trying to get that project done within the 2-class period time frame. {tapestry seems to take a VERY long time and it wears out my brain and seems to burn up calories. No, I'm not kidding - I'm ravenously hungry after about an hour and a half. What is with that?}
The start of my Free Form Tapestry project
I struggled to learn to how to throw a cylinder on a pottery wheel for over a week and then I accidentally threw a pot {with some coaching from the instructor}.
I was very surprised to create this. 
Now I seem to be able to make pots on purpose. Mind boggling.
My 2nd Thrown Pot. I'm still surprised.
Oh - there's this paper I have to write about a favored ceramics artist and then give a presentation....so as usual, there is plenty to keep me occupied. {Yeah, I'm stressing some about the deadlines this week.}

I wear a large denim shirt in ceramics class to reduce how much clay I wear home, but I still leave well-marked with clay and sometimes with spots of clay on my face. It all seems to wash out pretty well {so far as I can tell}.

And the silly point of this post? Yep, my school clothes. Specifically, the shirts I wear each week.
I have noted on a few occasions that I am easily entertained. This is another of those occasions.

A few weeks ago, I was choosing a shirt to wear to school and there were several "contenders". So - I decided to wear them all - throughout the week. When I realized the shirts were of a similar theme, I liked the concept so I started picking a related 3-fer set of shirts to wear to school each week.

It am a bit agog at the number of t-shirts I own and they seem to wear the years lightly despite being hung outside {albeit inside out} in the Arizona Sun to dry.

Here's a few of the weekly themes for my school clothes:
Red Cross Blood Donation Shirts {aka "Bloodletting Shirts"}:
{Vintage} Arizona Renaissance Festival Shirts:
Shirts from the Tucson Botanical Gardens La Fiesta de los Chile festivals. These are also vintage shirts - TBG stopped the Chile Festival years ago when they started Butterfly Magic.
Not surprisingly, I have several Firefly/Serenity Shirts (2 of them were gifted to me). Obviously Gryphon chose this set of shirts to begin helping me take pictures. {wry grin}
{Appropriately, the back of the "BrownCoat" shirt he is laying
upon says: "I aim to misbehave"}
 A few of my t-shirts from the Bear Cabin Retreats:
Well of course I have shirts that represent my fondness {addiction} for chocolate! {wry grin} The two shirts on the left were gifted to me.  I purchased the two on the right at the M&M store in Las Vegas {along with a colorful range of M&Ms!}. {grin-er}
 Gryphon was still helping:
 Lastly, from a little black cat on shirts to the big cats on shirts:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

More Landscape - this time in Ink. Plus Photos from an Inky Dark Night

Continuing the belated Spring 2013 Fiber Arts Degree posts:

After the intro to Landscape drawing, we embarked on a larger landscape project.
Outside. In early April.
It was still pretty nice outside and a lovely way to spend our morning class time.

The instructor walked us over to the Library complex and asked us to draw a part of that building - particularly the windows - including the reflections and whatever we could see inside. He also introduced us to drawing leaves in sunshine and shade.

After our sketch was setup, we were to consider the levels of shade involved and we were to paint our drawing with Indian Ink.
Did you notice the per-drop ink gradation test I did on
the right side of the watercolor paper?
I worked on this in my Cat-Free "Studio" - our backyard porch.
(You are correct. There was NO Way I was going to have glasses of watery Indian Ink available to the cats for sniffing, pawing, splashing, paw-printing....{shudder}.)

Obviously, my grasp of sun and shadow and, well, drawing in general still has quite a ways to go.
However, I decided playing with watered down Indian Ink required a fair amount of patience, was very meticulous, and rather fun. If it weren't for the due date, I could have worked on that landscape for a  month.

But I didn't have a month so this is what was turned in:

In a more current timeline, last month I realized one of our Night Blooming Cereus plants had blooms on the cusp of opening:


I stayed up late and went to look at the open blossoms...but...they weren't quite open yet.

Days later I was up late again and went to go look at the Night Blooming Cereus and it was blooming. At the time, I didn't connect my collecting a flashlight and the camera with the pictures I'd seen on the Touch the Wind blog in July, but his lovely nighttime bloom photos most likely did make an impression on my brain and inspire some of my photographs.

I took over 50 pictures - generally holding the flashlight between my knees and, at one point, fending off a large Sphinx Moth that may have felt I had loitered over his flowers for too long. {wry grin}
Here's a few of the keepers:
Did you notice the other insect in this photo shoot?
{Bottom, just off center - on the petal...}