Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Elinya Shawl Completed

Two weeks ago I started a new knitting project and today I am happy to report I completed it! It was an absolute joy to knit. As I keep saying, the yarn was like butter running through my fingers as I knit. I'm allergic to wool and this shawl doesn't make me itchy like so many of my other projects do. The combination of cotton and cashmere is a dream to wear and to knit with. Rumor has it the combination is known to pill, but I'm okay with that.

The first time I tried this pattern I really didn't understand the directions of how to do the picot bind off and it came out rather flat. The end result still looked alright to me and nobody would know unless I told them. This time around I decided to do some research and watch a YouTube video on the process to see where I went wrong. It took me a quarter of the way into the bind off to totally understand what I was supposed to do and understand the mechanics of the stitch. After fighting and fumbling my way through that first section it was a breeze after that. So glad I was able to pick up speed too, it was taking an eternity to bind off! 

Elinya Shawl pattern

I blocked it all out this morning and will weave in the ends tomorrow during my weekly knitting group. If you are a member of Ravelry.com here is the link to the pattern.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vintage Fountain Pens

This summer I was asked to help my friends go through their mother's craft room. She past away and had two rooms filled with years of art supplies. I was able to fill my small hatchback with all the goodies I helped sort through. Most of the supplies are going to be used in my classroom for future generations to learn from. There were a few choice things I kept for myself such as easels, palettes, and acrylic paints.

Among the those choice things, I found a cigar box filled and with an  assortment of calligraphy pen holders and nibs. Mixed in with these were the fountain pens and ink shown in the photo above. I love fountain pens and have bought myself very inexpensive ones from JetsPens.com over the last few years. I have fallen in love with the smooth lines they create and you can only imagine how excited and giddy I was to find such treasures hidden amongst the supplies. I went to work researching the pens to find that they are lever pull fountain pens from the 1930's. The last of the three lever pulls is a radiograph style fountain pen that has a small wire at the tip that releases the ink as you write. With love and care I spent hours cleaning them and turning my hands black and blue in the process. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

Other treasures I found were the vintage mechanical pencil, on the bottom of the photo, with a tiny cardboard tube of replacement lead. I immediately added these to my father's old drafting tools he passed onto me. At the top of the photo you can see replacement graphite and a red lead holder. I have always wanted one of these and was pleasantly surprised with how nice this one is weighted. It has become one of my favorite writing utensils to draw with and I carry it with me always.

After helping my friends sort through their mother's art supplies I decided I needed to clean and purge my studio too. This was one of the inspirations for the new and improved studio as discussed in the previous post regarding the new light and plants. My hope is when I die that my art and supplies will go to loving homes and to people that will cherish them. So back to work I go, creating as much art as I can, while I can.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Switzerland Day 2: Buren an der Aare

On our list of "must see" places was Buren an der Aare, the birthplace of Stotzer. We woke up early and drove out to meet the lovely people in charge of the archives at town hall. While we were there, we met other Stotzers and learned the history of the town and its inhabitants. We come from a long line of farmers and metalworkers or schlossers. Downtown is only has about a one block radius that is surrounded by farm land. I loved the colors and architectural details.

Illustrated Map of Old Town

Mold from creating the town's bell for the clock tower which includes all the families' crests.

Detail of the bell mold with the Stotzer family crest. It is the arrow between two stars and above three hills.

Original clock gears for the clock tower.

We had lunch down by the river Aare by the historical covered bridge. The weather couldn't have been nicer that day. We soaked in the view and digested all the new knowledge of where we came from. 

Down town as seen from the window of town hall. One of my favorite things in Switzerland were the arched walkways.
The most elaborately decorated building was that of the police station and jail. 
Interior of town church with the pipe organs and elaborately carved ceiling.
Ceiling of town church

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Newest Knitting Project

Back in February I posted about the Elinya Shawl that I had completed. Last week I decided to start another one. I enjoyed knitting of it as well as the results of the striped color work. As I was rooting around in my stash, I came across some yarn that I had not only forgotten about, but had set aside for another project. I felt they would be perfect for the Elinya shawl instead. The yarn had been bought at Tuesday Morning a couple years ago and is Louisa Harding Aimee in the colors Storm and Seagrass. It is made of 90% cotton and 10% cashmere and is so ridiculously soft. I love the softness running through my fingers as I knit it and can't wait to snuggle into this shawl when it is all done. Heaven!!!!

I've made it quite a bit farther than this photo, especially since getting stuck at the car dealer for three hours and then again at the DMV for another two and a half hours. This is the best photo of the yarn and color striping and I promise to show you the completed project.

Thanks for letting me share!

Knitting: Blue Boxy

Last year at this time I bought myself the yarn to make a sweater. A little birthday gift to myself if you will. Last week after 10 months of working on said sweater, it is finally complete. This is only my second sweater I have ever made and it's very obvious that I am still learning the ropes. In the end, I feel since I'm the one wearing it, the mistakes don't matter. The yarn couldn't be any softer and the color is simply stunning. Now I just have to wait for this Vegas heat to cool down to really be able to enjoy it.

In the beginning...

Completed and drying

The pattern is called Boxy by Joji Locatelli and I created from Cephalopod Yarn's Skinny Bugga in Fluorescent Millipede.

Etsy Shop Update

It is official! I finished adding all the listings for the dioramas to the Etsy shop this morning. I hope you enjoy them and are able to give them new loving homes.

Thanks for stopping by and checking them out! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Adventures of Being a Home Owner

      In 2009 when I bought my condo the garbage disposal was already limping along. I rarely used it, only on those occasions when it would back up and I had no choice. It required using the unjamming hex wrench to give it a jump start. Always an ordeal and it sounded like the loudest lawn mower chewing rocks when it ran. Just one of those things I kept putting off. Well, the monstrous thing finally died last night and I had to buy a replacement. I ended up buying a mid-range disposal that has a 7 year warranty. When I uninstalled the previous disposal I found that it had a good sized crack on the back. Yikes!

Needless to say, I am happy that everything went smoothly. I followed the directions and now have a wonderfully quiet new garbage disposal that runs beautifully. Playing with my tools was also a lot of fun. I love building a making things. It has given me such a sense of pride to know that I was able to accomplish this all by myself. 

Pepper doing the initial assessment.

Crack I found on the back of the old disposal!

Boo helping with the final inspection.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Straight from the Springs Preserve and into your House

I have been honored to have been exhibiting my work at the Springs Preserve since February.  I had to pick up my work yesterday which is great news for you! I am slowly taking photos and adding them to my Etsy shop. Some of the work is getting purchased as fast as I can load it. (Very exciting!)

Here is just a taste of what you might find:

Common Buckeye butterfly, dragonfly, and cicada

Hummingbird with Yucca

Gambel's Quail

Kangaroo Rat

Switzerland Day 1: Old Town Bern

Three days after school ended my sister and I embarked on a journey to Switzerland. We landed in Geneva, where our cousin picked us up. He drove us to his home in Bern where we stayed for a few days. His house sat on a hillside over looking the valley with farms above and city below. I fell in love with the neighborhood there. It reminded me of living in Oakland with the tiny streets, gardens, and the array of flowers in everyones yards.
City of Bern as seen from behind the Bundeshaus, Federal Assembly building

City of Bern as seen from behind the Bundeshaus, Federal Assembly building

On our first day we explored Old Town Bern which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture was amazing with all the ornate details to look at. We began in Barenplatz with the farmers market and continued walking the streets admiring all the historical buildings. The store fronts had a covered archway to walk under with glass cases filled with items advertising the different merchandise sold within. We eventually came to the Zytglogge clock tower originally built in 1191 as the town's west gate.

Zytglogge clock tower
Zytglogge clock tower close up of zodiac clock face
Zytglogge clock tower
We continued on until we reached Bear Park, which is a miniature zoo to house the Bern's brown bear that are a symbol of the town. We followed a path through the woods along the river Aare until we reached the Bernisches Historisches Museum. They had an amazing exhibit on the Pile Dwellers, Switzerland settlers of the Late Stone Age and Bronze Age. The early settlements are another UNESCO heritage site, but this exhibit was much more extensive than to have actually visited the site. It was incredible to watch the live demonstration they had out in front of the museum. The recreation of an actually house of that time using the type of tools the Pile dwellers used centuries ago.

River Aare

Bergisches Historisches Museum

Bear Park

The Munster St. Vinzenz (Bern Minster) a German-influenced late Gothic style cathedral, was next on the places we visited. It was so inspiring and a dream come true to finally be able to experience and witness in person the art and architectural style that I have studied for so many years. The pure magnitude of the height of the building reaching towards the heavens and the intricate details of the stone work as well as the wood carvings is simply awe inspiring. 

Bern Munster as seen from across the river Aare

Our very tired feet led us back to the Bundeshaus where we picked up a bus back to our cousin's house for dinner and a nap.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Let There Be Light

Sorry, I got distracted from the task at hand to tell you all about my Switzerland trip. I have spent a lot of time since I've been home cleaning and purging my house. Summer vacation is usually when I do this, but having been inspired by how clean and clutter free Switzerland living is I needed a change. I reread the Apartment Therapy book by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan "The Eight-Step Home Cure". Max made a great point when he stated "we are into hypernesting and that instead of asking ourselves what would really make our home work better, we usually jump to the conclusion that there must be something to buy to solve our home's challenges (flatter tv, closet storage unit, etc.)" The issue then is we continue to take more into our houses, but rarely does anything leave. I am a single person in a small condo. There is no reason it should be bursting at the seams with the amount of "stuff" I have. So I have been figuring out what I truly need and not hanging onto the things I "might" need.

Most of the house didn't take very long. The beast that I left for last was of course my studio. My friends mother passed away about a year ago and I recently adopted a ton of her art supplies. Fantastic, right?! Except for the fact that I was trying to down size. I would say it has taken approximately a week, many different renditions, and a lot of break throughs to get to this point.

The biggest break through I had this weekend was finally letting the light in. After all the years I have lived in my house, I have had box valances over the windows in my studio. They came with the condo when I bought it. I simply reupholstered them with new updated fabric and that was that. I kept them up as well as put up blackout drapes in an effort to keep the room cool. My studio bakes all day and is at least 5 degrees hotter than the rest of my place. This isn't pleasant to work in when I set the house at 82 degrees to save on AC over the summer. So there I am sweating in my cave of a studio. Yuck! No more I tell you! I decided to take the boxes down and what a difference it makes. The room glows! What about the heat? To regulate the temperature I have a fan in the doorway blowing cool air into the room and all is well.

With all this new found light pouring in it looks like a brand new studio! Where there is light, there is life! I immediately ran to the hardware store for shelves to cover with plants. I have been going through withdrawals from the greenery and vegetation I grew up with. Life can seem so desolate in this desert landscape I am trapped in. Breathing new life into my house and my studio has been so rejuvenating! It is the studio I have always wanted and been craving! So, without further ado, here is the new and improved studio!

I’ve been gutting my studio recently. I took down the box valances above the windows and am in love with the light! Put in shelves this morning for plants. #studio #wip #plants #shelving

Here is another shot of my studio with the other plant shelf I added this morning! Feels like I can breath again! ������ #studio #wip #revamp #fresh #constantlyconstance

This is my other plant shelf I added to my studio today. I feel like I can breath again!! This is starting to resemble my dream studio!! ������ #wip #artstudio #freshair #plantlife #reorganizing #constantlyconstance

I haven't taken down the L-brackets from the valances, because I was trying to figure out if I could use them to install hanging plants. I finally figured out what I want to redo the floor of my condo with. I have struggled to make up my mind until now. I just need to save up the money to do so. Aye, there's the rub!