May 24, 2008

Been Knittin' and Stuff

I've been knitting again after a short break. I completed this sock last night made from gorgeous Noro Silk Garden yarn.

I got the pattern from this great little book, 'One Skein' that I have mentioned before. This sock took less than one skein of the Noro, so I could have made the ankle part longer, but I just followed the pattern as is. The toe turned out kind of pointy. The pattern doesn't do that, but I thought it looked cute, and elf-ish, so I left it. Maybe a little bell on the end?

Now I just have to knit another one just like it. The pair is for my Mom, but she doesn't know it yet. She has been looking over my shoulder and oo-ing and ah-ing over the colors.

Big Creative Step

Today I placed a huge order for tools and supplies for silversmithing. This was a big step for me because it was quite a bit of money to spend and on many levels, I have been resisting moving forward on this (it's been a mixture of fear of failure, fear of success and many other heavy emotions in one big ball of confusion). But I am walking through that and now that I have taken action, I am SO EXCITED! My new motto, 'Move Forward."

I bought a torch, and all the related equipment so I can start doing some soldering. My Mom has a great workbench that she says I can adopt while I'm here, so I'm going to get set up and work on some things. Most of the stuff I can take back to New Zealand with me, with the exception of the torch and a few chemicals.

Art Chix

I was turned on to this website ( by the teacher of one of the classes I took recently. This is a GREAT website for romantic, whimsical images to be used in collage, scrapbooking, jewelery and other crafts. What fun stuff!

More Lampwork

The last two days, I had some personal instruction on lampwork from a well-established and talented artist, Lisa Claver ( who lives nearby. She is a friend of my Mom's and has shown her beads and jewelery at the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach in the past. I won't have my beads until early next week, so I'll post photos then. I learned some very valuable tips and techniques.

Lisa's fish beads. She also makes wonderful flowers and goddesses. I learned more about using copper and silver leaf on beads and also how to embed cubic zirconia crystals into beads! So exciting!

May 20, 2008

Venice Art Walk

Yesterday, on a sweltering, record-breaking Spring day in Venice, California, I went to the Venice Art Walk with some friends. The art exhibition and benefit, staged on the grounds of an elementary school, included silent auctions of art works, ceramics and cartoons, plus an elaborate system of buses taking folks around to all the artist's galleries located around Venice. There was live music and delicious food from many local restaurants.

I didn't take many photos -- many of the artists didn't like photos being taken in their studios, but I did manage to get these (with permission).

Giant dogs (and other critters) are made from recycled plastics.

A different take on the glass vase. So gorgeous in the sunlight.

Will this fountain fit in my suitcase? Because I really, desperately want to take it home with me (that is grass reflected in the side of the fountain -- water pools at the top and cascades down all the highly reflective sides).

We hopped on a bus and visited the studio of Larry Albright, who is well known for his work with "plasma" globes and neon since the 1960's. Click here to visit his website. He's done a lot of work for movies such as Star Wars, Star Trek (movies) and Close Encounters (OTTK) and for theme parks such as Disneyland and Universal Studios.

Here is a giant tube filled with excited gases producing electricial bolts that look like lightning.

'Tubes' of the trade...

The workshop of a Madman... or Genius?

I was so bummed Antz couldn't see this... he would have loved it. I certainly couldn't 'talk shop' with Larry like he could.

Another artist I was particularly moved by was Fortune Sitole. He is a South African artist that does these amazing scenes depicting South African life by using corrugated aluminum, used soda cans, bright colors and rich textures. I was mesmerized. I very nearly bought one and sitting here now, I'm not sure why I didn't bring one home.

Aren't they amazing?

And who wouldn't appreciate this ride? The paint job is a sparkling orange that turns yellow in the highlights.

It was a fabulous day, despite the heat and I hope I have a chance to go again someday.

May 15, 2008

I'm Back!

It's been a while since I posted, for a lot of reasons including a family hospitalization and a couple of whirlwind trips taking me from San Francisco to Phoenix in less than a week's time. I have a lot of catching up to do. This will be a long one. Put on your jammies and make some popcorn.

San Francisco

About two weeks after I got to Orange County (on April 15th), I drove up to San Francisco for the "Ice People" premier, a film by Anne Aghion, at the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF). I stayed with a friend of mine that I knew in high school and it had been 23 years since we had seen each other! Heidi Jane is a brilliant violinist and musician and is almost done with her second album.

Having breakfast at Boogaloo's down in the Mission District where she lives.

San Francisco is a cool place. It was an unseasonably warm spring weekend and EVERYONE was out working on their tan. I was a bit taken aback at the number of people in this park. I definitely felt like a country mouse.

Getting off a bus, we were greeted by a flock of very friendly pink bunnies down at 18th and Castro.

A few more things that struck me about the city. Here's a classic SF home. This city reminds me of Wellington, New Zealand.

Street name embedded in the sidewalk.

Amazing architecture.

At the premier of Ice People, I ran into some Ice Friends including Rhonda Rodriquez, Bruce Iler, Kelly and Andy Lawson, Tizoc Spears, Sandwich, and a few others.

Over the first two weeks of my stay in California, I knitted these two hats made from awesomely gorgeous Noro yarn from Japan.

Phoenix, Arizona

Two days after arriving back in Orange County, I was off again and across the desert to Phoenix in a fiery red rental car. I stayed with my 86-year old Grannie in Apache Junction, about 60 miles east of Phoenix. Months ago, I had signed up for a couple of jewelery classes at the Bead Expo in downtown Phoenix so I had to high-tail it in order to make the dates.

I had a lot of fun at the Expo. The first day was a class called "Frame It." It was using silver and copper sheet to make little frames that go around laminated images. You then texture the frames using hammers and metal stamps. On the back we wrote little messages using letter stamps then embellish with beads. Here are the two I made. The red one was for my Mom for Mother's Day.

The second day was a class in making PMC beads. These are my creations. Aren't they cool?

Of course there were a lot of vendors selling all kinds of beads and other great stuff. I spent a little money on some great tools, some beads, Swarovski crystals and some great stone cabochons to be used for a future silver smithing project.

I also spent a week with my dear Gramma and helped her get some things done. Here is a great picture of her playing her organ (I love her joy in this photo -- this is her essence).

Spring in the desert is amazing. All the cactus are blooming.

Lots of Quail around too. They are very cute with their little top-knots bobbing as they walk.

Oh, and I turned 41 on May 8th. I spent my birthday with my Gramma and she took me out to the favorite local buffet.

Back in Orange County

While in Arizona I started knitting a felted bag. I finished it on the last day of my visit, then took it back home to my Mom's house to felt it.

When you felt a knitted item, you need to make it way bigger than you intend the final size to be, because the felting process shrinks it. It got this pattern from a great little book called, "One Skein" by Leigh Radford. It has tons of cute projects using one skein of yarn or less. Of course this bag took more than one skein, but I think the pattern is intended for using up all those little bits and pieces of yarn that are laying around. I ended up using 4 skeins of yarn -- 2 solid colors (mohagany* and dusty pink* in Cascade Peruvian highland wool) and 2 balls of self-striping Noro Kureyon to get the striped pattern. Normally you would use scrap yarn to make the stripes.

*not the actual color names from Cascade.

Here's the knitted bag. It measures 19" high by 15" wide before felting.

To felt, fill the washing machine on the lowest water level with HOT water and add a tablespoon or two of dishwashing soap. Put a few tennis balls in there for friction.

I threw in the knitted bag and let it agitate for about 20-30 minutes, checking every 5 minutes or so. Eventually the wool shrinks and binds and the knitted stitches seem to disappear and become a dense wooly fabric. Then it's done. It took out the bag, squeezed out the water, shaped it and have been letting it dry for a few days. It shrunk to 13" x 13" it did not shrink evenly. It shrinks more vertically than horizontally. Cool. Here's the bag today.

Cascade felts up REALLY NICE. I recommend it for this purpose. The Noro did okay, but came out a little fuzzy. But I absolutely LOVE Noro's colors. This colorway reminds me of Tourmaline (a semi-precious stone that commonly varigates from pink to green), so I'm calling this my Tourmaline Tote! It has a little pocket on the inside that I knitted and attached before felting.

So, I've been back in OC for nearly a week and catching up with family. On Mother's Day we hung out with my brother's family. Here's my neice Taylor and nephew Hayden helping me with some sewing.

Okay, am I just being a squishy aunt, or is the cutest face you've ever seen?

Life is good.