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Steve Lets Out His Inner Artist

T shirt 3

This is my husband Steve.
He is a right-brained mechanical engineer and he is very, very smart.  He knows lots of math and science things, but he also knows history and the arts.  He can name any rock guitarist in 6 measures.   He doesn’t think he has any artistic talent and, about this, he is dead wrong.

Steve's sketchbook

This is one of his sketchbooks.  Yes, it is a piece of shim with equations written in Sharpie.  He has lots of ideas–but that’s another story.  When I saw some of his designs, I  said YOU SHOULD DO SOME T-SHIRTS.  Ands he did.
Golden ratio

Recognize this formula?  Me, neither.  It is the Golden Ratio, or Mean, or Spiral.  It defines the perfect composition for an artwork.  Ask Leonardo.  It says a lot about Steve that this would be his first piece.  And that he would not label it and make it easy for the rest of us.

Here are some more of his early ones:
Avogadro's (Avocado') Number
Avogadro’s number. As an avocado. Pun. They get better.


Log of natural e
This defines the log of the natural e. Well, both daughters recognized it and it was a gift for Erice–E, get it? The white paint was not satisfactory. Already he is looking to improve his materials.

Kekule-benzine ring


This is his shirt from the first picture. Kekule discovered the Benzine ring. Turns out he was having a hard time figuring out how to visually represent it until he had a dream about a snake swallowing his tail. Hmmmmm.

Planck's constant
Another gift for Erica. Planck’s constant. So he drew a plank. Erica fell down laughing.

These were my Christmas presents.

Dali's iPhone


I love art that makes me stop and then maybe laugh. Salvadore Dali’s melting clocks fits
the bill in spite of its deeper meaning. Only for me I got a melting iPhone.

Chrysler Building
My favorite building in the world is the Chrysler building in New York City. Lots of Art Deco and gargoyles. Beautiful. He cut the stencil out of freezer paper. Lots of little pieces. I love it.

He, too, has been experimenting with art supplies.  He started with fabric paint from the craft store.  For Christmas I gave him Shiva Paintstiks.  He is having a great time.

Here are the new ones:

Sagitarius A (black hole)
This is the black hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. I love the effect on the black sweatshirt.

Leo Szilard
This is Leo Szilard, the guy that discovered nuclear chain reactions.

The Shiva Paintstiks leave the fabric unchanged. No stiffness. And they can be mixed like oil paints. We both like them.

I’m so proud.


New Sock Design Published

VOGUE Knitting Crochet 2014, photo by Rose Callahan

VOGUE Knitting Crochet 2014, photo by Rose Callahan

Big news.  My favorite sock design was bought by Soho Publishing and will be in the next issue of Noro magazine.  Woo-hoooooooo!

VOGUE Knitting Crochet 2014, photo by Rose Callahan

VOGUE Knitting Crochet 2014, photo by Rose Callahan

Item name: Faux Cable Socks

Designer: Jane Prater

Yarn Information: Noro Silk Garden in #304

For sizes: Adult Woman

Amounts: 2 skeins (for matching stripe pattern, otherwise one is enough)

The coolest part of these sock is the effect the long repeat color found in Noro yarn.  I think they invented it, but other yarns exist, especially in this world of independent hand dyers.  The faux cable cuff pattern is easy to learn, so you can go Zen while knitting these.  The wrap around arch (so comfy) is more complex, but if you place the markers, it is almost Zen.

Special tip:  I try mine on when I finish the arch to see exactly how much more to knit before I start my toe.

Here are my photos of the finished pair.

Heel and Arch (2)

Faux Cable Cuff

Arch Structure

I’m told the issue will be out June 3.

More later–













Sunset on the Marsh cowl

Purple side up

This is what I made from the yarn I spun for the Carolina Fiber Frolic contest.  I really like how I solved some problems.  This colorway is amazing, but it doesn’t flatter my skin.  So I mixed it with two solids–yellow Malabrigo worsted and Seldridge Farms purple superwash worsted that is even softer than the Malabrigo.

I used these two solids to knit a 3 color linen st (center) and knit the Sunset colorway in my favorite seed stitch by itself.

The difference in the natural gauge of these two stitches gave the cowl a bit of a pouf without resorting to increases/decreases.  The purple is a one by one rib with a picot cast off.

Now here’s the cool part—-

You can wear it with either side up.  The linen stitch up way above emphasizes that stitch detail and the mix of the colors.  The purple up way still shows the stitch detail, but puts the purple, a good color for my skin tone, next to my face.  I feel so clever.

I used a crochet cast on which matches a normal chain bindoff.

I did crochet the bind off–because it is faster than knitting it and you get the same effect.

Every five stitches, I made a picot by chaining 3 and then slip stitching in the first chain.  It took maybe 100 yards of the handspun and the purple.  Less of the Malabrigo.  Cast on 150 sts on a size 8 needle.  If doing over, I would decrease the cast on number some for a bit closer fit.

Super easy and quick to knit.

More later–

Red Heart Fame

Dear Friend and Local Artist Cat Babbie works for Coats and Clark.   Sometime last year (never remember dates or timelines) the Red Heart yarn people were designing a new yarn and needed a pattern for it ASAP.  Cat said she knew a designer that could do it and PDQ.  (I can remember acronyms.)  They called; offered money; I said yes.

Much time passed.  Yarn was produced for sale and released with my pattern on the label.  Of course, no store anywhere around here carried the yarn.  I didn’t really want the yarn, I wanted the label.  I didn’t order it online because I was afraid there might be several labels and I wanted MY label.

Finally Cat came to my rescue.  She delivered two—not one—skeins.  That was good because when Steve saw it, he said we should frame it.  You need two to have a front and back of the label.  Yes, I’m going to frame it and hang it in my studio.  I am very proud of it.

Maybe someday someone I know will buy a skein and say Oh, I know her.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Did I mention I was proud?  And really glad I know Cat.  She made the tiles in my kitchen and now is a marvelous leather wear designer.  Check out her work at http://rosewoolls.blogspot.com/ and on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/RoseWoolls?ref=top_trail

bits and pieces

So many projects.  So many techniques.  I move from knit to crochet to quilting to Zentangles to embroidery and embellishments.  Why am I not crazy?

Because of the One Great Commonality:  They all are done in bits and pieces.

Now with patchwork quilting, this is obvious.  Embroidery and embellishments are add-ons, so they easily fit this hypothesis.  Zentangles?  This is a meditative doodling technique where you randomly section off a square and then fill in each with a pattern.  Sort of patchwork with a pen.

Crochet?  For me, it’s usually freeform.  Make a bunch of pieces; arrange them in the shape you need; join them; fill in the holes with more pieces.  It’s a building process, and it is similar to quilting.  You can also embellish it, even with embroidery.

Knitters can also do freeform work, but my bits and pieces is more than that.

When I make a sweater, I build it.  I think of the parts as I work.  One neckline, one back, one -two fronts, etc.  And any of these parts can be more than one piece; think color blocking.

So, my latest project shouldn’t surprise me, but it did.

I want to make some very openwork,  let a breeze blow through vests.  These are for those of us who really want to cover our arms in the summer.  However, those of us who really want to cover our arms do not need anything to help us be warmer—not in the sunny South.

I started by looking for someone else’s pattern.  I found a modular shrug by Iris Schreier in  her Lacy Little Knits.  Now I know ladies with big “girls” do not look good in shrugs.  I also know that a bunch of triangles (as in this pattern) will not fit a curvy body.  Still, I started the pattern.  When I don’t really know what to do, I just do something and hope I don’t hurt myself.

I knit the back triangle of the pattern.  I looked at it.  It looked familiar.  I fiddled and folded and realized it looked like a sleeve.  A sleeve that falls in a point.

A fluttery point.  If I put it across my shoulder, the pointy end draped down my arm and covered the wobbly bits.  The straight section of the triangle that was knit to build height looked like an underarm seam.  Hmmmmmmmmmm.

I knit another one.

Then I knit a rectangle to join them and named it “Back.”  I just guessed at a size.  If it is too wide, I’ll gather it.  Summer vests need to be roomy to let in the cool air.  I basted them together and tried it on.

Then I drew.  I needed to discover what shapes would be necessary to make the other parts of the vest.  I didn’t bind off anything.  Just cut the yarn 6 inches long and added waste yarn to hold the stitches.  Makes it easier to add on (or take out) to continue.

I like V necks and the “sleeve” has some sloped sides to accommodate, so I lay out a triangle for the bodice.  I proceeded confidently even though I had no idea what I was doing.  Sometimes confidence is rewarded.  I measured gauge and computed how many sts I needed.  Five rows in, I knew I was wrong, so I pulled out and cast on a larger number.  I did the increases every four rows because that usually works, and it did.  When it was long enough, I stopped knitting.

Basted it to the shoulder and sleeve and tried it on.  This is crucial.  You have to temporarily assemble and try on in order to really know what you have.  Measurements lie.

I know I need some extra inches in the underarm so I continued the back with a cast on of 6 sts at the end of the next two rows.  I chose 6 because of gauge and trying not to screw up the st pattern.  If it isn’t enough, I’ll know when I try it on before  I start the fronts.  I’ll just add more there.

I’m a little worried about the pointy sleeves.  I can use a ribbon and cinch them up for a frill effect.

This is it so far.  How will I finish the back? Fronts? Sleeves? etc.

No idea, but I’ll let you know when I do.  And you thought designing was hard.

More later–

Purse Gets Raves

and I love raves.

I designed this purse a long time ago.  I wanted a pouch purse just this size, and so I visited the stash.

Patchwork oval flap

I made the flap first out of patchwork scallops which I had not yet experienced.  I included the main colors in “blotches” as I worked.

The body includes some stitches that mix the colors, as well as some knitting as warp weaving.  It is a great place to practice new stitches.

I think I’ll offer a class.  I can’t go anywhere with it, even now, without drawing comments from strangers, most of whom don’t knit.  You need one, too.

Yarn:  Recycled Sari Silk, mercerized cottons in DK weight and my favorite colors. Cotton lined in my down and dirty hand sewn method.

The purse is on display at Charlotte Yarn.  Class announcement coming soon.

More later–

Knitcircus is up and ready

Check these pics, check Ravelry, go to the website.  This is the best deal in the knitting world.  For one low price, you get ALL of the patterns in this magazine.  The patterns are all so well written—I know—because we get to work with the best tech editors in the world, and they push us to be better and better.

The articles here are to provide you with info real knitters want, not what someone wants to sell.  That is important to me.

Jaala, the editor, actively looks for the new and the different and the practical and the clever.  She seeks cool new yarns and indie designers as well as some of our favorites.

Even more, she writes a blog and gives away good stuff.  And the woman can cook, too.

If you haven’t read Knitcircus, don’t wait.

Now — giveaways.  I have 5 copies to give away.  Here’s how it works.  Go to the site and look through the mag, then leave a comment here telling me which pattern–besides mine–you want to knit first.  I’ll give you until Sunday night to do this and then I will generate the winners.  Tell your friends.

These are my patterns:

Dolce, a lace scarf

Victoria, a tutorial project on fitting armholes

Good luck to everyone.

Weds. am— I’ve seen it and it is 113 pages of beauty and wisdom.  Great patterns and amazing articles.  I’m going to make a cup of tea and curl up with my laptop.

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