Spicy Podcast and Mild Socks

More lovely 18th century Chinese porcelains to inspire you…
Aren’t they gorgeous? There are more photos below, but this is my favorite. That red looks as transluscent and luscious as a candy apple.

Isn’t it funny how candy apples always look much better than they taste? Caramel apples, too. Unless the apple is cut into wedges and dipped in a bowl of melted caramel. I had it that way in Lancaster County, PA one time. Leave it to those Pennsylvania Dutch to come up with a new sugar delivery system.

Sorry I was so grouchy last post! To be honest, I probably will hold true to my vow, but I thought Kristen made some good points in her comment. So, to follow up on my “when in Rome” title, here’s a new cliche for you: Variety is the spice of life…(Really, it is!)

So I guess my knitting life hasn’t been very spicy lately. No variety, at any rate. I’m still working on the slipped-stitch Koigu socks for my step father. One is finished and the other is about halfway done. When both socks are finished and blocked, I’ll post some more photos, but for now there’s nothing interesting to post about them. And that’s the extent of this week’s knitting! I’m on a mindless knitting kick, just wanting to relax and not have to think about pattern repeats, so that’s OK.

On the spicier side, however, is one of my new favorite podcasts: Knitters Uncensored. From the very first podcast I was drawn in by these three expats…funny (they always make me laugh out loud), friendly, interesting, crazy, sometimes a bit on the…um…”adult” side (which is very OK by me), and definitely about knitting.

Another plus, in my opinion, is that the podcast isn’t chock-full of music. I have my own music on my pod, and tend to avoid podcasts that include more than a couple of songs. (I prefer none, actually, but one or two are fine.) Also, Knitters Uncensored tends to run on the long side (an hour or more).

For some reason, podcasters worry about running too long. But I happen to enjoy long casts if they’re good: Like being in the middle of a great book and knowing you have a couple hundred pages yet to go. It’s satisfying, and gives me lots of guilt-free knitting time. Not that I ever feel guilty about it…but you know.

So give Knitters Uncensored a try…I think you’ll like them :-)

I also want to mention that Neighborhood Fiber Co. had a really successful trip to TNNA and The Knitter’s Connection in June. Karida got several orders from stores across the country, so you may see some great D.C. yarn turning up in your LYS. If not, you should go check out the Web site where you can drool over her pretty colors.

Until next time, then. Thanks for coming back, and happy knitting!

Inspiration

18th century Chinese porcelain…
(Photo taken at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC)

Isn’t this lovely? I could just eat it! Yum.

Inspiration is in the details…

How many details do you see? When I took this photo, I didn’t even notice the little checkerboard pattern beside the window. So when I downloaded the photos into my Mac, seeing it was a lovely surprise. Isn’t it funny, how we “see” or fail to “see” things, and simply imagine others?

Being an artist–of any kind–is about Seeing. Because artists are human beings, and therefore individuals, I imagine each has his or her own “tricks” or philosophies or practices to help improve and enhance their ability to See. On the other hand, I know some people who look at the world every day and seldom really See anything. How about you? What have you done that’s helped you learn to See?


By the way, I have a legitimate excuse for not posting much this week…SPRING FEVER!

We’ve had the weirdest spring in D.C. Wonderful weather early on, then snow in April. Then wonderful, then days and days of gray, damp, and windy. But this week has been glorious. Everywhere I turn gardens are lush, trees form thick canopies over the streets, and people are soaking it all in at outdoor cafes and restaurants with sidewalk seating. This weekend, thankfully, is expected to give us more of the same. Yay!

By the way, don’t forget to spend a little time on Monday remembering those for whom Memorial Day was created. From World War I to World War II, from Korea to Vietnam, from Bosnia to Iraq…Regardless of politics, they’ve given us the gift of their service and, often, their lives. A few quiet moments to say thank you is worth more than you can imagine. Then…

Bust out the BBQ!!! Hope you all have a gorgeous Memorial Day weekend, filled with fun, friends, and fiber :-)

More on Inspiration: Where do you find it?

It’s been a difficult two weeks. Just that long ago I was wearing sandals…SANDALS! And today I was bundled up in my February clothes.

My mild resentment about this cold, wet spring makes me feel a little guilty. Somehow, I picked up the belief that I “should” find inspiration everywhere, on every day. And I guess I could, if I really got the whole acceptance thing down.

But it’s been wet and cold and gray for what feels like forever. Which is more than a bit painful after a lovely stretch of early spring warmth at the end of March. So, instead of looking around me today, I thought I’d look to the past for some relief and vicarious, photograph-induced Vitamin D…

This is the view from the porch at the Albert Stevens Inn, in Cape May, NJ.

Have you noticed that I return to Cape May frequently in my writing/blogging? That’s because it’s one of the coziest, most relaxing, unstressful , romantic, beautiful, and accessible places I know. We can get there easily: Drive up through Delaware and catch the Cape May-Lewes Ferry for a fun ride across the mouth of the bay (some day I’ll tell you about our hurricane crossings!). When we disembark in NJ, our favorite room and a big warm welcome are guaranteed to be waiting for us at the Albert Stevens.The inn embraces us, filling us with that wonderful “coming home” feeling.

This is the high bed in our room, or rather “Bessie’s Room.”

According to legend, Bessie has been known to let a guest or two know if she prefers they sleep elsewhere. Chris and I respect the Stevens’ house and the memories of their family. We’re both aware that we’re guests in their home. And we’ve never had any unpleasant awakenings. I believe it’s possible, but really, I am quite happy not encountering the stern presence of the mistress of the house late in the night.

The Stevens are all gone now, and the new owners have revived the house to its turn-of-the-century glory. (I imagine this makes Dr. and Mrs. Stevens, and Vesta, their daughter, quite happy.) I know it makes US happy! Jim andLenanne are the best of hosts. He always has the latest scoop on Cape May happenings (theater, concerts, great early-bird specials at pricey restaurants). And she cooks up THE most delicious (and filling!) breakfasts.

In the late afternoon, as guests trickle back from long walks along the shore or a day’s worth of exploring the town’s many tourist shops and fancier boutiques, tea is served, complete with crackers and cheese, home made cookies, sherry, and (in colder months) hot apple cider.

This is our cozy little bathroom.

OK, I know this reads like a travelogue. But that’s not my primary intention.

My point is that, when the days get dreary and damp, making me feel like every thing I do requires a major effort, I can close my eyes and go back to Cape May…all the while anticipating our next visit. I can see the patterns of the clouds on the steel-blue Atlantic the honey-colored sun streaming through the breakfast-room windows; the brilliant hues of leaves and flowers; and the crisp red and white of the Cape May Lighthouse.

The pastel and jewel hues of Cape May’s Victorians, the quality of the sea-side light, the scent of salt and fireplaces, the patterns and textures of sand dunes and shingles and roof tiles…These are among my treasures. When my world is drab or frightening, I can take them out, hold them, polish them, press them to my cheek and feel their sleek perfection and comforting shapes, sounds, sights, smells, and tastes.

Inspiring, yes. And encouraging. And hopeful. Do these reflections find their way into my art? I think so…I know so.

For me, inspiration IS everywhere. But that doesn’t mean the best inspiration is always in my immediate surroundings. It can be in our memories. In our histories–cultural and personal. Inspiration can be found in a dream, a conversation, a photograph, or a good book.

Well, that’s probably enough about me.

I would love to know what places inspire you. Do you find elusive creative encouragement close to home? Or do you need to travel the world to collect your treasures? What role does “Setting” play in your creative process?

Where do you find inspiration?


I find it in the gorgeous colors of a perfect spring day: Robin’s egg blue; pale, sandy beige; tart, fresh green; and the glorious colors of blossoming trees illuminated by the golden morning sun.


Looking at these photos, it’s obvious I’ve been in the mood for pastels mixed with brown. Pink and brown, pale green and brown (like mint-chip ice cream), and powdery blue and brown.
Luckily for me, I didn’t have to look too far to find the perfect yarn to satisfy my cravings…It’s called Brightwood, from D.C.’s Neighborhood Fiber Company (owned by the lovely Karida Collins). I love all of NFC’s colourways, but this one–brand new for spring–really speaks to me. It’s begging to become a sweet little scarf, like this one.

I really would love to know: Where do you find your inspiration?

Finally, I have a request: This little one isn’t feeling well. She has a fever and won’t eat. We’re worried, because she’s about 13 years old. Please say a prayer, send positive energy, meditate on her healing, or whatever you believe in–it’s all good. Her name is Maggie, and she’s a gentle soul.


Thank you, from all of us.

PS. Comments welcome :-)

Inspiration…

I take so much inspiration from our trips to the shore. Cape May in particular. The moody colors of the sea, sand, sky, and the brilliant hues of the Victorian houses (mostly B&Bs now). And when I look more closely, I find inspiration in the lines and shapes around me: the way the grasses lie on the dunes, the windblown beach fences, the slants and curves and layers of the Victorians’ architectural elements. Honestly, I could live there and never tire of it. Maybe some day…

My knitting has slowed a bit this week–as has my writing & blogging–due to indescribable back spasms in my upper back. The muscles by my left shoulderblade seem to have fused into a single, cement-hard system of knots. Like having golf balls wedged against your bones…Lovely for the nerves, as you can imagine. I can feel it all the way down to my palm. Ugh.

So, while I can’t NOT knit, I’ve been trying to take it easy. Early in the week I played around with this:
Although I was familiar with all the techniques already, Nona’s excellent improvisational knitting tutorialreally got my creative juices flowing. The swatch remains in this condition, due to my laziness about digging through my stash to pull out other bits and pieces. But it’s still on the needles, so one day soon it may begin to grow again.

I also started working on Tahoe, using my purple Heirloom Breeze(ordered from Ozeyarn…they’re wonderful!). Last week I said that I didn’t want to look like a giant Easter egg, wearing all purple (egg comment courtesy of a rude coworker from my distant past). Then I figured out my problem with the yarn: I don’t want to make something that’s 100% purple Heirloom Breeze. It’s wonderful yarn, but for me it needs some embellishment to de-purple it a little.

Then Tahoe came along and inspired me to cast on. I will probably use a dark shade of fingering-weight yarn (Koigu or something similar) to tone down the overall color a bit. And I may end the sleeves at 3/4 length and finish them with a few inches of lace edging in the contrasting color. No photos yet–it’s in the boring inches-and-inches-of-stockinette phase. But someday soon, pictures will be taken and posted.

This weeekend, by the way, is not only mon cheri’s birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRIS! I LOVE YOU!!!!!), but also our 4th anniversary–on the same day–so we both took a long weekend off.

Hope you all have a great weekend, too.