Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getaway - Yachats, OR

In October, we were lucky enough to spend a couple of days at the coast in a gorgeous beach house.

The view from our bedroom.
The locals.

One of the best things about the trip was the chance to cook a big dinner of fresh seafood in a nice, big kitchen. We bought Dungeness crab, sea bass, and big fat prawns.

I think I could live on the Coast. I'd even love the wild, dangerous storms. Realistically, I know I'd miss the city, but I'd like to believe I could sit and watch the waves and be perfectly happy. I hope it's not too long before I make it back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rejuvenation, Grand Ave. Portland OR

Rejuvenation is best known for their incredible selection of antique lighting fixtures and household hardware. If you're the kind of person who gets excited about vintage knobs, it's an excellent place to while away a cloudy afternoon. The back lot is always full of neat old stuff. Those stone lions make me think of The Haunting (the original 1960 version, of course). Wouldn't they look wonderful with some cobwebs?
 I'm doubtful about what these cabinets were once used for. They don't look like card catalogs. Seeds, maybe? What I do know is that I'm completely in love with them. Maybe it's my inner apothecarian, but I adore anything with lots and lots of tiny drawers.
                                      Andy promises he will build me some one day.
The tubs all have amusing names. The one on the right is called "Basket of Kittens".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Levallois Knee-highs

My life as a knitter is increasingly defined by the quest to find the perfect combination of enjoyable work and wearable end product. If I'm going to spend hours and weeks on a project, I want to make sure it will be an instant favorite when finished, something I wear often and happily. Likewise, I want to spend all those hours and weeks as pleasantly as possible. It's an endeavor to find the right blend of ingredients: yarn I love to handle, a pattern that keeps me entertained but never feels fussy, and plenty of signposts of progress (lest my relaxing pastime turn to drudgery), but always worth the attention.
More and more, I find myself returning to classic stitches. These knee-socks use the little arrowhead stitch, which is usually near the beginning of the "lace" section in any compendium (my perennial favorites are Barbara Walker's first two treasuries).
I like to think it is one of the Ur-stitches, discovered by the original knitters when they first started to play with yarn overs and decreases.
            If you'd like to make these for yourself, you can download the pattern here
                           or visit my project page on Ravelry for more details.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What I've Been Up To Lately

Making muffins. Practicing my embroidery. Rehabilitating my poor ankle (I sprained it badly just before my birthday; 35 turns out to be the year I give up on clogs).
 I finished this needlepoint sampler I started months ago.
The delicate colors were inspired by cold, foggy mornings. Samplers are one of my favorite ways to play with the color combinations that periodically obsess me, and I just love working lots of fancy stitches. I'm planning something brighter, maybe in bargello, for my next project.

A new sweater, just in time for Spring. I'm a rabid devotee of Susie Myers' contiguous method for top-down sweaters with set in sleeves. I am much happier with the fit of sweaters I've made using this technique, as opposed to raglan or circular yoke shaping. 
There's already another one on my needles, a summer cardigan in hemp and rayon.

I admit, my very favorite part of any project is really planning and starting, followed closely by the actual working of it. I must be one of those "process" types you hear about...


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vernal Equinox

Weather this time of year is a series of incursions, raiding parties of light, driven back by totalitarian storm clouds. Every day, the rebel weather gains more ground, a degree or two of temperature, a burst of flowers, buds of leaves which will, in a few months, rule the earth.

 Blossoming cherry trees line the sidewalks with tiny pink petals.
I'd love to have some of this forsythia in my studio. So cheerful!
 I took these pictures on a recent walk around my neighborhood in SE Portland, during one of those rare moments of sunshine. Efflorescence abounds, Spring in spite of everything.
Happy Ostara!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Leftover House Socks - Patchwork Cable

        So, that happened last week. Just in case you forgot it's still sort of winter.

                             These bulky, woolly socks are just the thing for refusing to go outdoors in.

 I am in the thrall of knitting procrastination these days. I have a sweater that wants but another handful of rows. And finishing. Then there's the knee-high, all over, bar the ribbing. L'sigh. 
 When I reach that last stretch of a long project, I always get restless. Promiscuous, even. Am I going to spend this afternoon working on any of the above mentioned nearly done knitting? No. I have a couple skeins of cashmere that need something brioche done to them. And some left over Manos and Peruvia that I think will make more house socks, color-work this time (I'm one of those people who completely over estimates the amount of things that can be accomplished in an afternoon).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vintage Style - The House of Eliott

Well, the wet is back. Our spooky city is socked in under leaden clouds, ponds form at every corner, and battered umbrella skeletons line otherwise empty sidewalks. It's time to return to one of Portland's favorite winter sports - getting an entire television series on dvd and watching the whole damn thing, marathon style.

If you haven't seen it, The House of Eliott is the story of two plucky sisters who must use their clever dress making and management skills to survive after the sudden death of their oppressive father. In the first season, they overcome patronizing gentlemen and stuffy old ladies, and by a combination of willpower, good nature, and impeccable style, rise in the fashion world. Honestly, it's too, too charming.

There are a lot of reasons to love The House of Eliott. I love it because it is the only show I can think of that focuses on the stress and exhilaration of being independant artists running a small business. It's basically a melodrama, with things going awry and doings ill, plenty of romance and intrigue. But it is a melodrama in which a young woman, dealing with the grief of unexpected loss, turns to her sister and says, "Aren't we lucky to have our work?" Most of the arguments on the show are about creative freedom, taking artistic risks, and the importance of appealing to enough people to be really successful.

The other reason is, obviously, the clothes. If you're one to spend half your time while watching Downton Abbey wondering if you could figure out a knitted version of Lady Mary's traveling coat, you will find even more inspiration in the sophisticated outfits of the sisters Eliott. I've already decided that I need more silk pyjamas and kimonos in my life.

                                                And then there's the band on this hat:

It appears to be made of little cushions of velvet. I very badly want to figure out how to do this.
The show is full of excitement for all us vintage embellishment junkies, of embroidered trim and little buttons and chic ribbons.


Throughout the first season, Bea and Evie wear these sort of turban things in silk or velvet, à la Louise Brooks. They remind me of the headscarves I've been seeing on fashion blogs lately. Time for a revival? We'll see if they persist in season two...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Donabe + Neko Nabe

As I mentioned in my last post, I got pretty lucky this Christmas. This donabe is another wonderful gift from Mum. Donabe are the traditional clay pots used to make nabemono, the deliciously perfect Japanese soups usually called "hot pots" in the US.

I started making nabemono a year or so ago, when I discovered this wonderful sukiyaki recipe, and subsequently its source, Japanese Hot Pots by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat.

I've been using my faithful little red dutch-oven casserole, and it does just fine, but I think it is too deep and narrow for proper nabe simmering, so I really wanted a donabe. The first thing to know about a donabe is that you ought to season it. They are not glazed on the bottom, and are slightly porous when you get them. Mine came with good directions, but I'm glad I did a little research online first. I found great instructions (and learned some interesting things) in this post on Thyme Bombe. These directions are especially good if you're dealing with a poky old apartment range like mine.
  Nabe are wonderful for winter dinners. They're light, but very filling, mostly healthy, and incredibly comforting. Best of all, once you have some basics in your cupboard, you can make them with just about anything you have on hand. I made this one with mostly nontraditional ingredients. I like to use enoki and oyster mushrooms, bok choy, and colorful Asian greens like shungiku, but decided to keep it simple after a busy week and lots of errands.
It is also worth noting that cats love to nap in donabe, prehaps because they are cat-sized. If you want to die of cute, Google "neko-nabe". See what I mean?
from Cook Tells A Story

Friday, January 6, 2012

Little Black Bento + Big Surprise

       This Christmas was amazing. One my favorite gifts is this adorable bento box from Mum.

There is something very relaxing and refreshing about sitting down to a neat, tasty, little meal.
                                               It brightens an otherwise dreary work day.

                                       For now, I'm using this skeletal calico as a furoshiki.
I'm plotting a new wrap as my first project on one of my other totally amazing Christmas gifts:
                                          Queen Batflaps is responsible for this one. 
I feel certain this machine will take me past the "damn damn damn" stage of my sewing trajectory. That button up there? It back-tacks. All. By. Itself. Those wee heiroglyphs? All sorts of different stitches. This year is going to be so much fun!