Sunday, December 28, 2008

Featured Artist: Bonnie Rollin

Bonnie Rollin (aka: Mom) is a sculptor, poet, painter, and musician living in Sacramento, Calif. Obviously, if someone is that talented, the sky's the limit. She's done more than I could ever list, and everything she's done has been fabulous.

For example, I remember living in a town house in San Mateo Co., Calif., when I was in third grade. At that time, it was just mom, my sister, and me...a very unusual situation in the mid-1960s. Mom worked hard to make ends meet, but she also managed to make time to create gorgeous oil paintings.

A handful of fabulous tomatoes.

I can still see them, on the kitchen counter, leaning against the cupboards while they dried. And whenever I hear Moonlight Sonata, I'm transported back to the upstairs bedroom, where my sister and I often fell asleep to the classical lullabies mom played on the grand piano below (she went to Eastman School of Music before moving to the Bay Area).

The artist in her studio.

Over the years, she continued to explore art in its myriad forms. Then, in the late 90s, she began to work with clay, turning out some fantastic pottery before finding her passion in sculpture. Recently, she's been working on masks like the two pictured here. Her glaze-work is fabulous -- photos hardly do it justice.

Bonnie's work has been displayed in some pretty cool places -- like Sacramento's Crocker Art Gallery -- and is coveted by art collectors and others who appreciate her unique perspective. (The mask in the top photo, for example, was purchased by a prominent Calif. politician.)

I'm so proud of my mom and her many, many talents. Did I mention she can draw incredible sketches and that she has a gorgeous singing voice? From an early age, I've always considered myself fortunate to have had "the cool mom" on the block -- beautiful, independent, courageous, funny, and just a bit bohemian. She's a big part of who I am today, and is the my #1 role model for the way I hope to be/live as I grow older.

Betcha she's going to hate this photo I took after we went to a yarn store!

I'll share more photos and stories about her work as I receive them... That's just one reason I love having this blog: Being able to feature artists (like my mom) from time to time, and share some glimpses of their work with fiber artists (yes, that's you!) and others who may find inspiration here.


PS. If you'd like more information about Bonnie's work, just leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I'll get back to you.


Friday, December 26, 2008

To BE fingerless? Or not to be...?

I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating: Who doesn't love a little red mitten?

For grown ups, though, mittens are often inconvenient. That's why I designed this ultra-cozy pair of fingerless gloves that don't always have to be fingerless.

I've made three pair: Two in red and one in green, all using Dale of Norway Sisik (now discontinued), a tweedy, fluffy yarn with all the warmth of mohair.

You can wear these gloves three ways:
1) With both cuffs up, pictured above
2) With the finger-cuff up, like this...


3) With both cuffs unfurled, to keep your fingers toasty:

They're so simple to make -- an easy, fun knit with worsted-weight yarn on US#3 needles for a nice, dense fabric. Having made three pair this year, however, I think I'll take a little break and make something else.

Perhaps a shawl? I'm in the mood for a little lace and some shiny beads...kinda like this one, but different:

Yes, the photo is sideways. I like it like that.

So I'm going to wind this little baby into a nice, neat yarn cake (thus combining two of my favorite things!) and see what I come up with...

LinkCTH Supersock Select in Moody Blues

Ssshhh...Don't tell anyone, though. It's going to be a secret ;-)


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

I don't have a lot to say today -- except, of course, to wish you a lovely holiday -- so thought I'd show you a few pictures of my studio...

All of my stash, except for a few random skeins, is contained under the table and in the plastic bins above.

Those are my writing books on the shelves behind the spinning wheel -- all my knitting books live on a "real" bookcase in the studio and on a second one in the bedroom.

By the way, what you see above is what you have to do to protect your spinning wheel when you have one of these cute little destroyers-of-all-things-valuable...

Yeah, my hand shook a little. Must get tripod.

He's learning, though. Hardly ever touches the wheel, and even knows to leave my knitting alone. Sure, now and then Charley's simply overcome by the yarn and loses control of his actions. I understand. I feel the same way.

I finished these last night:

They turned out well. I love these gloves. You can turn the cuff down over your fingers to keep them warm, and fold it back when you want them to be truly fingerless. And they're made of Dale's (sadly discontinued) Sisik yarn -- fluffy wool and mohair. Mmmmm. This is the third pair I've made, by request, which is a nice feeling :-)

Tonight we're going to make pasties (pronounced PASS-tees): Cornish meat pies enclosed in pie crust, with potatoes, onions, and butter. Lots of butter... In fact, I'm getting hungry now...

So, I'll sign off by saying: Take a few minutes to do something for YOU today, something you love and that makes you happy. After all, it's Christmas!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm Dreaming...

Of a freakin' sun-drenched tropical island where the beach is hot, the ocean is warm, and the beer is cold. Really.

Well, in lieu of said island (someday...someday...), we'll settle for the white almost-Christmas we enjoyed in Seattle. Here in the D.C. region, our holiday is supposed to be chilly and semi-clear. But, thank goodness, snow free! (Can you tell I'm a summer kinda girl?)

Speaking of Christmas, I've been hearing something interesting from people lately. They're checking out of the consumer-driven rush. Not buying presents and telling family members they can forgo buying gifts, as well. Changing their focus, their priorities. After all, Christmas is supposed to be joyous, no?

For many, the answer is a resounding: "No." Caught up in the frantic cooking, the running around, the shopping, the wrapping, the trimming, the traveling, the partying, the spending...and all that damn "good cheer" and "holiday spirit" that our society crams down our throats beginning in September. It's exhausting! Can anyone honestly tell me why all this is a good idea? Most people can't.

So, even though we're all supposed to go out and spend money we don't have to "stimulate the economy," more and more people are choosing to celebrate their holidays more simply. They're focusing on everyday pleasures: time spent with those you truly love, time spent doing things you're passionate about, time spent contemplating the goodness that comes our way each and every day.

Give it a try. Here, I'll even go first...

I count myself fortunate. Sure, there are things I want. I want my college loans to be paid off. I want my CFS/ME to go away. I want a full tank of heating fuel. I want several sweaters' worth of yarn, more spindles for my spinning wheel, a pair of dark brown Dansko clogs. But do I need those things? To survive? No. Except for the heating fuel, perhaps, the answer really is: "No."

You see, I have what I need. I have my husband, whom I adore. I have two kitties who make me laugh and who warm my heart when they snuggle. We rent a delightful little cottage, and drive a fun little car (a Nissan Versa, in case you were wondering). AND I have a loving family (see husband, sister, and nephew, in photos above). I have tranquility, laughter, and happiness in my life.

Sure, I often feel like crap and can't do what I used to. Sure, we've had to cut back to bare-bones spending. Sure, we can't go out and spend, buy, do, go all the time. At first these things seemed BAD. But little by little I've learned some lessons because, without all the doing and going and spending to mask it, the truth was clearer: I am so fortunate.

Maybe it sounds mushy and trite, but it's true: I have what I need. What more could I want?

Just something to ponder over the coming (longer!) days...


Monday, December 22, 2008

Inspiration Parfait

Last week we traveled to visit family -- including our one and only nephew -- in Seattle. As expected, most days featured a certain amount of gloom and dampness. When Saturday rolled around, however, the sun --and the mountains -- peeked out just in time for our trip to Pike Place Market. Gorgeous.

First we had hum bao, tasty Chinese BBQ pork buns (yum). We followed with a chaser of hot, fried, sugary doughnuts, so fresh our bag was oil-soaked in minutes (heavenly). Then my sister headed off to be interviewed on a radio show. While she was gone, we grabbed a table at Local Color, where I had some superb pumpkin pie (my favorite).

The grub was good, obviously, but there was so much to see, so many places to explore, and so much color just exploding around us -- we were overwhelmed! I managed to snap a photo or twenty so I could share some of the images with you. And (surprise!) most were photos of food. I didn't think you'd mind...

Now we're back at home, getting ready for a very quiet Christmas with just the two of us and the kitties. Maybe some fresh cinnamon rolls for Christmas brunch, and some Cornish pasties for dinner. Simple and sweet. That's how we like it.

I hope this holiday season is bringing you many hours to enjoy the pleasures of anticipation, of serenity, and of doing what you love with those you adore.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Hat's Off! (New pattern coming soon!)

In case you're wondering, there really is a reason I put an apostrophe before the "s"in the title: My hat is off the needles! And just in the nick of time. We're headed toward a real Winter Wonderland this year, I think...It's only Dec. 5, and we've slid down into the low 20s at night more often than I care to remember.

I cast on for this hat on Thanksgiving Day and finished it up on Black Friday (which is called Frosty Friday in this region...something I'd never heard before). It was a super-quick knit, and it was nice to do a little colorwork for a change. It's been a while!
So here I am, looking a little geeky in my new hat, but who doesn't look geeky when taking self-portraits intended to show knitwear to its best advantage ;-)

Here are the vital statistics:

  • Pattern: Of my own making...
  • Yarn: Cottage Craft 2-ply Wool in Plum (272 yd /4 oz skein); Peace Fleece Worsted Weight in Antarctica White (200 yd/4 oz skein)
  • Needles: US# 6 & 7 circular needles (Addi Turbos)
  • Gauge: About 5 sts/inch in st st
I think I may write this pattern up. The hat is cute, in a reminds-me-of-my-childhood sort of way. (Remember all those long, long, rainbow-colored stocking caps we wore in the 70s?) Plus, it's woolly and warm. Who could resist such a combination?

PS. For those of us who love knitting, but don't care for cold weather in which to wear our creations: Spring's only a little more than three months away!!!