Sunday, February 26, 2006

Post Olympic Wrap Up

Here are the official Olympic Sweater photos:


Pattern: Bonne Marie Burns' Sitcom Chic, size small
Yarn: Austermann Mayfair, about 6 balls
Needles: Size 8
Begun: Friday, February 10, 2006, about 2:18 PM
Completed: Sunday, February 26, 2006, noonish
Wind chill during photo op: 16 degrees F

I've been wearing my new sweater since I finished it, and it's very comfortable. If I were to make it again, I wouldn't use two circular needles to make the sleeves as it produced some laddering. Instead of using the front bands from the pattern I made a two stitch seed stitch border, knowing that at the end of the games I wouldn't want to pick up all those stitches. The neck is finished per the pattern instructions. I opted out of using a button, and instead intend to use various pins/brooches as a closure. The one I'm wearing today is a gecko pin made out of shell.

It seems like I should end this post with some deep, meaningful thoughts, but right now I'm fresh out. It'll be nice to relax during the closing ceremonies tonight.

Olympic Madness and The Gold!

It's been wild, but I finished!

Official photos later. The white balance is off on these. I'm headless due to not enough sleep and no grooming.

More details later. I have to catch up on other stuff now. Congratulations to all the medalists, and big Yeah! for everyone who tried.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Quilting Content!

So the deadline for two upcoming shows, SPUN- Small Art Quilts and ARTQUILTS images, is this Friday. I felt confident that it would be really easy to enter them. After all, I already had slides! Instead, it became more of an "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" scenario. This is one in a series of books by Laura Numeroff in which the scenario is that if you give (name some animal) something, it reminds them of something else, and then something else, and so on ad infinitum, until chaos ensues. I didn't quite reach chaos, but here is a brief list of the challenges I faced:

(OK, wait, I'll insert a picture of the SPUN entry first so that you don't have to read the list if you don't want to)
"Memories" 12"x12" copyright 2005

"Memories" was my Fine Focus '06 reject. This got in instead

"Marsh Grass I" 9"x9"?

OK, here's the list:

- The printer didn't want to print on envelopes. How sad is this for someone who uses a printer to create quilts on a fairly regular basis?

- For SPUN, I needed a detail shot. I only had full view slides, because it's a very small quilt. This meant I needed digital images. No problem. Until I knocked over the expensive camera, and it wouldn't turn on, and then I figured out that the battery compartment door was open. (Vince, sweetie, it's OK, really. It's working fine!)

- And then I needed to create a CD, which I almost never do. And the first software I tried to use wouldn't work. Thank goodness I had Picasa.

-Then I needed a suitable envelope. This envelope was big enough that I needed to get it weighed at the post office.

-That meant I had to get two children in coats and shoes to go with me. And even wonderful children aren't always helpful in this department. And one of said children is recovering from strep, that presented itself as a seemingly innocuous rash that alarmingly quickly became horrible and required a trip to the emergency room on Sunday. But he's been on antibiotics for 48 hours and that means he's no longer contagious.

-When we got to the van, the smallest child's seat was not installed, because the van had been used to haul something big over the weekend. And we hadn't all been somewhere together because of the kid with strep. I don't mean the child safety seat, I mean the seat that fits into the tracks in the vehicle.

-I'm on the small side of the size spectrum, never having attained even 5'2", but I wrestled that seat into the van. And then we got to the post office right before they closed for lunch and everything was OK.

Knitting Olympics update: it's playing with my mind. I kept doing row calculations in my head before I went to sleep last night. I'm more than half way through the last sleeve, and still have the yoke to do, but I think I'm going to make it.

I hope that wherever you are your day is as sunny there as it is here!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Timeout! Equipment Upgrade Needed

Quilters, I know I'm boring you to tears, but cheer up! The Olympics end on Sunday, and we'll return to more quilt related content.

Progress continues on the Sitcom Chic. Sleeve #1 is finito, sleeve #2 about 25% finished.

In my last post I referred to magic loop knitting. I'm really using two circular needles - I told you I didn't know what I was doing, I can't even write the correct name! One of my needles is a Denise Interchangeable (love it!). The other is an Addi Turbo. When I first starting reading knitting blogs, I saw many testimonials about Addi Turbos. These testimonials often ended with something along the lines of "You'd have to pry them out of my cold, dead hands". They are certainly fast. In this instance, they were a little too slippery and blunt tipped for me. I had my knitting arranged so that every time I did the increases they were with the Addis. It was very difficult to do the make ones with the blunt tips. And my hands were hurting some.

Saturday I was knitting away on sleeve #1, and couldn't take it anymore. I headed to the LYS, and ended up with some Addi Naturas (there was a limited selection of brands). Big, big improvement. Knitting the sleeves is much better now, though despite my best efforts I'm still getting some laddering.

My proudest Olympic moment? I can now a) usually spot problems before I go past them, and b) if I miss a problem, I can often go back and fix it. Like this:
Just six months ago this would have made me quiver, but Friday night I did this with no problems. Even if I don't finish the sweater this week, I've still put my knitting skills, such as they are, to the test.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Struggling to Keep Up the Pace

Olympic knitting - they don't call it Olympic for nothing.

Tuesday I didn't knit at all. I did make these
and these
for my Valentines.

Wednesday (late) I finished the body of Sitcom Chic up to the underarms.

Then I started on a sleeve. I didn't have the requisite DPNs, so I used the magic loop method. I had no clue how to do it, but learned how from the excellent directions here. I'm about a third of the way finished with the first sleeve.

My plan was to quilt my little butterfly quilt yesterday, but I've been under the weather all week. Twice this week I've fallen asleep while "helping" my littlest guy to start napping. I still have hopes for this weekend. A flyer announcing that the theme for this year's Aullwood Audubon Center exhibit is Insecta made me feel better, as if I don't finish this quilt in time for the PAQA South exhibit I have another option. (I'm still going to try and enter Bayou Reflections in the PAQA South exhibit.)

Enough whining - onward and upward!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Here's the image I used on a bunch of Valentine's cards years ago. I had to dig through the stacks, way in the back, to find it. This Cupid is now nearly as big as me.

His mother might have been inexperienced, but at least he was well fed. Note the carefully handcrafted bow and arrow, made completely of baby safe materials. I also made the wings - now you know for sure that I'm certifiable.

Progress on Sitcom Chic - I'm about 11" through the body, and need to get to 13" before I start the sleeves. I figure it will take 8 balls of yarn, so that's 1 ball every two days. I'm just barely making that pace.

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Fabric Printing Tips Part 2: Digital Manipulation

This is a hard post for me to write, because so much of what I do is experimentation, pure and simple. There have been many nights when, too tired to quilt, I sat down at the computer and just fooled around with Corel PhotoPaint and/or Adobe PhotoShop. Sometimes I ended up with something I felt was worthy of being printed on fabric.

That said, here are some general things that I do. Almost as soon as I open an image, whether it is a photograph or a scanned object, I adjust the color and contrast. This alone makes a huge difference. Usually I over saturate the image, as when printed on fabric it will not look as saturated. I crop a lot, and zoom in to look at small portions of the image that intrigue me. If I'm going for something abstract, I literally play around with almost every filter the program I'm using has. It costs me nothing but time to try them out, and I can always save incremental versions of an image. In other words, just play! See what happens and have fun!

Mary was wondering how I made the butterfly image I posted the other day. I started with three not so great photographs.

A blurred picture of some lichen. Should have used macro.

A butterfly or moth that was resting on some leaves. Notice that the butterfly is not perfect, but in the end result it's not very noticeable.

An aster on a rock.

All of these pictures were taken on a family camping trip to Skyline Drive in early October, 2004. At the time I was using a borrowed 4 megapixel camera.

I miswrote that I created this collage in the fall of 2005 - I'm pretty sure it was in 2005, but I think it was earlier than the fall. Prior to that time I didn't know how to use layers in Photoshop - I just fooled around with my programs, sometimes using both Corel and Photoshop on the same image. For this image I followed the directions for layer masking for collaging in the book The Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby.

First I enhanced the color and contrast of the blurry lichen. I might have also used one of the artistic filters on it, and used it as the bottom layer.

I upped the saturation and contrast on the butterfly picture, then used artistic filters (I think maybe crosshatch and posterize edges?). I made this middle layer have a gradient.
The topmost layer is the aster. You can see that I only used a small portion of this photograph. It looks like I also used some filters on this one, maybe paint daubs.

When all three layers were combined I flattened them. I'm not sure, but I probably upped the saturation and contrast a little bit more before printing the image.

So there you have it.(This is a close facsimile of what I printed out. I don't know where the file is, as we had two computer crashes last year.)

When thinking about writing this post I realized that now I take two kinds of pictures. The first kind is to capture a moment, or memory. Typically this is a photograph of people, and of course I am concerned with both capturing the moment and composing a good picture. The second kind of photograph I take is to capture an image. In this case I don't always worry about making the picture perfect - I know I can use Photoshop to sharpen it, up the contrast, etc. Sometimes I take photographs of things just to capture their colors, and it doesn't matter if the picture is super sharp or even underexposed. My current camera has 8 megapixels, so I can crop to my heart's desire.

I hope this helps answer some of the questions folks have been asking. I encourage all of you to lose your inhibitions and play with abandon using whatever photo editing software you have!

Knitting Olympics Progress Report

The games have begun! I'm almost half way through the body section of Sitcom Chic (below where the sleeves are joined).

Friday afternoon, 2:18 PM
Ready to cast on

Just before I went to bed, 12:30 am Saturday

This morning, 9:33 am

I haven't made any progress yet today. I have been delayed by being just a little bit sick (but better than yesterday), and the excitement of SNOW.

During the opening ceremonies my pace really slacked off. I couldn't figure out why when the athletes were marching in to the Italian Olympics the music was American pop hits from the 70's and 80's. I confess that those songs have a special place in my heart, considering that they were all quite popular when I was a teenager and young adult. It just seemed like maybe they had a problem with the music, and they connected someone's ipod to the speaker system as a last minute fix. And that person is still trapped in the glory of their youth.

Mary and Deb, I'm not forgetting you. I'll make a separate post, and yesterday I didn't feel up to doing anything but lounging in a comfy chair (with the knitting).

Friday, February 10, 2006

Butterfly Top

Well, I didn't finish my little butterfly quilt, but I did whip the top into shape.

I took lots of pictures, thinking I'd provide a blow by blow. When I looked at the pictures, it was worse than paint drying. "Wow! She put another oak leaf on the border. Fascinating!" So I'll just show two pictures.

Borders added, leaves fused to the top. Normally I'm a finish the edge kind of gal, but I guess I've been reading Melody's blog too long and I'm leaving these raw.

The subtle difference between the top picture and the bottom one is that I used colored pencil to add shading and veins to the leaves. Gabrielle Swain wrote an article about this last year in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine (maybe the September issue?). I knew the leaves needed some kind of shading, and I didn't want to do all of it with thread.

I hand dyed all the fabric for the leaves and borders - not recently, they were just in my stash.

And now, a portrait of the artist at work. Note the fierce concentration. I cut the leaves out without the wonder under backing paper attached, and since they weren't as stiff I found it slightly more difficult than normal.

Mary asked in the comments about how I created the butterfly image. I don't have time to address that today, but I'll try to do it sometime this weekend.

I had lots more to say, but I gotta go! It's time to cast on for the Knitting Olympics.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Catching Up

It's been a busy, mostly non-creative week- annual checkup, parent/teacher conferences, children not in school, husband under the weather, book club at my house must cleanup kind of week.

The fabulous Grandma Carol (my mother) came Tuesday to enable me to get some of the above done. You know it must be nearly Valentine's Day when Grandma Carol brings over the cookie dough.
Cookie Credit: Child #2

I really admire her patience with the kids, especially with messy cookie making. One of my fond childhood memories is the annual Christmas cookie baking extravaganza. She had little rolling pins for us, and lots of different sugars and sprinkles, and there might be the four of us kids plus various neighbor kids all busily working in harmony to create our own masterpieces.

I told myself I wouldn't do it, but the deadline for ARTQUILTSimages has been extended, so I'm going to try and finish this today.

I created the collage and printed it back in the fall. I'm thinking of making a border of one of the dark fabrics, and layering oak leaf shapes over top in the orangey and brown colors.

I nearly finished that list Ribby Cardi sleeve. I hope to finish that off tomorrow, just in time for the Olympics. I guess I also have to work out my swatching issues before then!

Thanks for the nice comments some of you, especially Elle and Miriam, have left in the last few days. I've just been too busy to do any blog related activities.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Happy New Year!!

Exit the Dragon Lion

Today was the Chinese New Year celebration in Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown. We headed down to check it out. I, of course, had ulterior motives - maybe I could get some good pictures to use in future quilts.

We got a late start. The paper said the parade/celebration would be from 2 until 5. We got to Chinatown at about 2:30. Parking was scarce, naturally, and there was traffic. As we slowly drove, I started taking pictures of architectural details out the window.

I think this was on a Masonic Building on H Street.

Wouldn't this make a cool thermofax screen?
I also like her with increased contrast and saturation. Note the reflection in the window (the blue part).

OK, if you're looking for art content, we're just about done at this point.

We finally parked in a lot that had strips of this embedded between the rows.
(End of art content.)

We didn't try to understand it. The glass didn't appear to be sticking too well, but it was a cool idea.

On to Chinatown!As we approached the gate, we couldn't help but notice that many people were headed our way - away from the parade route. The parade was already over! We hung out to see about the fireworks that were supposed to go off in a little while. Some lion dancers were going in and out of nearby restaurants. Here are my fantastic (snort) photos.

Look!! The side of a lion dancer!

And here's one behind a pole!

So much for my fabulous pictures of the parade/celebration.

We continued to wait for the fireworks. What I can't show you is the noise - the beating drums, the snaps that everyone seemed to be throwing:

Fast forward to after the fireworks (which were really lots and lots and lots of firecrackers) and the drum players and more lion dancers and a dragon. Very loud, very fun. After all that, when the crowd thinned, I was able to get at least one picture of a dragon.

Then we had a wonderful Chinese dinner. At one point, a lion dancer was just 3 feet from our table. Unfortunately, the camera was in the restroom with my husband.

A truly fabulous day, even without the photos I expected to get.

Good night, lion dancers.

Good night, Chinatown.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Fear of Seaming

I've been making progress on the Ribby sleeve. It's now nearly as long as the first one was on Tuesday when I started back up on this project.
(The background fabric was made with leftover dye on Wednesday.) I'm nearly ready for blocking and seaming. I've never done any substantial seaming on a knitted garment before. You'd think that someone who's been sewing in one way or another for about 35 years wouldn't blink in the face of seaming, but you'd be wrong. I'm sure it will be OK once I get started. Seaming has also been the holdup on the pink baby bonnet.

Other than that, we've been having garden variety excitement such as this:

This is what happens when one of your helpers "washes" the dishes, using lots and lots of Dawn. Then you load the dishwasher, thinking you've rinsed off the dishwashing liquid enough, but you haven't! I wanted to post pictures of my husband using the wet vac to suck up the bubbles, but he felt it wasn't a very flattering pose.

Glacial progress continues on the paper piecing project so I'm not providing a photographic record. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

When the Going Gets Tough

I was sure yesterday was going to be a great day! Water sprites were happily entertaining themselves. (Note aquatic menagerie in sink.)

Birds were singing, the sun was shining. I guess I was just feeling waaay too virtuous about the six extra large loads of laundry I'd done, the straightening up, the basement cleanout progress, the prepackaging of meatloaf and meatballs before freezing the ground beef, yada yada yada.

Before I knew it, there was a major Disturbance in the Force, or something, and my day tanked. Since this is a family blog, I won't go into any details, other than to say that it was not the fault of any human. (Hint: we live in a heavily wooded area. With animals in the woods and fields.) An extra hats off to my husband, Vince Charming (and I call him that quite sincerely) for going above and beyond the call of duty to try to make me feel better after The Incident.

My recourse? I used up the last of that old dye (photos at 10!), and knit.

Dinosaur provided for scale

Last year, after knocking off a few scarves, a cowl, and a hat, I decided to jump on the Ribbi Cardi bandwagon. Unfortunately, my particular wagon lost a wheel on the drive to Disney World at Easter. The fronts and back were already finished. I started decreasing a sleeve on the wrong side or something, and there was an obvious error. But I didn't know how to fix it, nor could I see what I was doing because the yarn is so dark.

Poor Ribbi was set aside, and I didn't figure out how to correct the problem until recently. Yesterday I finished the first sleeve from the armhole shaping up, and got a good start on the second sleeve.

In completely unrelated news, another photo for the Ooh!PC archives. Evidence that if I want to run outside in my pajamas to take a photograph of knitting or something, my 8 year old is suddenly big enough that I can wear his snow boots. How did that happen?