Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Some non-fiber craftiness, Part I

(Apologies in advance if you only come here for knitting/spinning content. This is not in any way related to fiber, but it is crafty.)

Ok, now that that's out of the way, today I wanted to share something with you all that I learned how to do about 7 years ago, did once, and decided to incorporate into the wedding.

Back in the day, I was attending UC Santa Cruz as an undergraduate (insert jokes about no grades and naked hippies here). In my junior year I started having enough space in my schedule to take electives that weren't related to my major or that strictly fit within any general education guidelines. In one of the best decisions I ever made, I took a class called "Book Arts", offered by the art department. The class met in a garage on campus filled with old presses, galleys of type, and the most massive industrial paper cutter I've ever seen. There were 8 of us enrolled, and the course was taught by an awesome gentleman who celebrated his 90th birthday that quarter. It was a class unlike any other I've taken, before or after.

We learned how to set type, mix ink, and print on a real press. Every week, our professor would bring in a few selections from his collection of rare books to illustrate a particular aspect of bookmaking or printing. Our final project of the semester was to create a poster or broadside, and I decided to do a poster for The Silmarillion, which I was reading at the time. I was fascinated by the two trees that gave light to the Valar in Valinor.

I selected a typeface that fit with the book:

Silmarillion Print

And designed a large tree image that dominates the poster:

Silmarillion Print

I wanted to include the names of the two trees, Telperion and Laurelin, in the print, but in elvish script. I remember it took a bit of effort to copy out the text while holding my sketch up to a mirror:

Silmarillion Text

Silmarillion Print

Carving the tree and words out of a large wood-mounted block of linoleum took a week or two, once I had the design all worked out. It's one of the most classically artistic things I've ever made, and I made enough prints to give out as gifts to my friends and family. My folks had a frame made, and got me a frame for my copy of the print as well.

Silmarillion Print

Ever since then, I've sought out letterpress work (which has made quite a revival in recent years), and always assumed one day I'd make another linocut print, but the opportunity never presented itself, until we got engaged. But more on that next time!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oh booger.

The good news is that I have cast off on the wedding shawl. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to block it. This means I can work on the squirrel mittens again.

The bad news is that I lost a DPN on my way to work this morning. That's what I get for trying to do colorwork mittens on the bus. I still have four needles total, so progress is still happening, but I'm sad to start my day off that way. I'm up past the top of the squirrel's head on the second mitten, so this picture is a little out of date.

Squirrel Mittens Progress

Notice anything funny about the squirrel's face? No? Here's a closer look:

One-eyed squirrel

See it now?

Yup. Eye got chewed off. Guess who.


Don't give me that innocent face. I know what you do when you think I'm not looking.

Socks are interesting

Clothes Rack = Jungle Gym

Socks = Toy

Socks = Toy

Life gets more interesting every day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

All I do is take cat pictures

It's true. That's mostly because knitting on the shawl is long, and progress doesn't look like much these days. I'm excited that I seem to finally be getting a handle on placing beads with some proficiency, but on a good evening I'm cranking out three or four rows total. So I break out the camera to take knitting photos, and realize that I'm trying to starve the stash into submission (which means very little new yarn), and my knitting looks basically the same as it did the last time I took pictures. So instead, I end up with lots of pictures like this:


Additionally, taking pictures of what I do have is a very exciting activity around here. So exciting that SOMEbody just can't keep their paws to themselves.


I'll probably have to get something new to line my lightbox with. I'm limiting myself to finishing the shawl before I can start something else (ANYTHING else! I have startitis like you would not BELIEVE), but that somehow didn't extend to spinning. In the past few weeks, a few skeins of yarn have come off the bobbins unexpectedly. First up, some slightly multi-colored pink merino I got in our stash exchange:

Dragonfly Merino

My commercial-spun stash is lacking in chunky yarns, so I did a nice healthy n-ply. It's 4 ounces, and super-squishy. I forgot to measure the yardage, but I'd guess at around 110 yards. Now I just have to resist the urge to make another snail hat.

Next up, another n-ply, this time heavy-worsted. I really enjoyed spinning this blend, which is new to me (Merino, Nylon, and Bamboo).

Hello Yarn Grim

Again, haven't measured the yardage, but this is a little thinner than the pink skein, so I'd guess around 150 to 175 yards. I'm thinking I'll combine this as an accent color in another project with some nice mallard blue-green Cascade 220 I have in the stash. Or maybe another cowl... it'll be nice to see if it stripes nicely.

Finally, a spinning project that I conceived of over a year ago. I finally got around to spinning and plying these two fibers:

AVFKW Wooly Wonders Fiber Club Targhee

Verb Fiber Club Hibiscus

and ended up with this 2-ply:

Lovely Hibiscus

It's fabulous, and since it's 6 ounces, I think I'll do a simple triangular shawl. In the meantime, gotta clean up the photo area before the lightbox starts getting chewed.