new pattern! calling all Blythe cat ladies

Or cat dudes! Do you love cats? Or maybe even just the cute cats of the internet?

Cat Sweater for Blythe

This sweater is so easy to knit up – it’s super quick with the fingering weight yarn and the stranded cat motif is charted to make working it a snap. It’s designed to fit Blythe but may fit other dolls with similar bodies.

Get your paws on this pattern on Ravelry, Etsy, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy.

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Art Walk Central 2017!

Art Walk Central 2017 opens today! My piece is on display at Veterans Memorial Library in downtown Mount Pleasant – you can check it out in the main corridor outside the study rooms.

Her Home Apothecary quilt

It’s called Her Home Apothecary and is an art quilt (my favorite medium) combining traditional quilt piecing techniques with applique and freehand embroidery. The theme, broadly and as usual, is feminism. I’m trying to get better at the promotion side of things, so here’s my request to you to check it out and, if you like it, vote for it! Register to vote online (requires in-person activation at ArtReach or the CMU Art Gallery) or in person at a variety of local venues. My code is AWC42. I’ll be at the Art Battle and Artist Meet and Greet tonight, August 3rd, so say hi if you see me! And thanks to the library for hosting my piece!

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review: The Aromatherapy Garden

The Aromatherapy Garden

The Aromatherapy Garden: Growing fragrant plants for happiness and well-being by Kathi Keville

I haven’t really explored the concept of aromatherapy before, but I definitely like to grow fragrant plants and find it satisfying to walk through the garden and smell them around me. This book starts off with some history of the use of fragrant plants and the basics of essential oils. Annoyingly there are a few comments that put me off, such as, “Primrose contains a trace of cinnamon scent, which is favored by men,” and “what women do not care for is the scent of cherry.” Really, though? Did you find some peer-reviewed data that prove this to be true? There are references to studies, but no specifics and I find these kind of generalities difficult to believe. This makes me skeptical of the other claims contained in this book, so I ended up using it as inspiration via the lovely color photos of plants and gardens and as a source for making a list of fragrant plants I might want to grow.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Baldwin Public Library via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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new freebie for August!

Happy new month! I’ve got another freebie here, and it’s another thing that I found I needed so I made it. I like to have a glass of ice water with me at pretty much all times. I take allergy medicine that dries me out so I’m almost always thirsty and a refreshing glass of ice water is the best. The only problem is that in the warmer months, my glass of ice water sweats copiously, which either soaks my coaster (if it’s a porous one like a beer deckle) or temporarily adheres the coaster to the glass and it falls off after I picked up the glass (leading the sweated-off water to splash all over and the coaster to fall to the floor). Either way I am annoyed.

So, here we have the Cotton Coaster! It’s just as simple as it sounds – it’s a coaster made of cotton yarn. It is super absorbent and soaks up the glass sweat without getting the surface underneath it wet and it doesn’t stick to the glass.

Cotton Coaster

It works well for other things like La Croix, of course, or a mixed drink or a glass of chocolate milk or whatever suits you. It’s astonishingly simple and quick to knit and takes a very small amount of yarn.

Cotton Coaster

Grab this free pattern on Ravelry, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy.

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review: The Quest for Shakespeare’s Garden

Shakespeare's Garden

The Quest for Shakespeare’s Garden by Roy Strong

Shakespeare is already a romanticized figure, but thinking about his garden is, if possible, even more so. This book is lovely, with a sturdy cover that looks ready to age gracefully (like a book you’d find and know just by holding it that it contained valuable information) and thick pages with full-color illustrations from a variety of historical sources dating back to 1616. Strong explores the world of nature, the Victorian language of flowers, garden history, and more as relate to Shakespeare and his works. The combination of illustrations, highlighted quotes, and informative text create a nicely balanced work as easily read start to finish as flipped through casually. Also includes Francis Bacon’s ‘Of Gardens’ essay. Fully indexed and with a detailed list of illustration sources.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Hillsdale College Library via the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Favorite Fabric Bowls, Boxes & Vases

Favorite Fabric Bowls, Boxes & Vases

Favorite Fabric Bowls, Boxes & Vases: 15 quick-to-make projects * 45 inspiring variations by Linda Johansen

Patterns for six bowls, five boxes, and four vases are included, with a few variations as part of each pattern. They use stiff interfacing (as opposed to clever engineering) to provide the structure of each item, and rely heavily on satin stitch for the seams. This uniformity of construction means that the projects all look fairly similar (the bowls especially seem just barely distinguishable from one another). The boxes would make nice vessels for gifts, but the look of these projects is just not my aesthetic.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Kent District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Learn How to Knit with 50 Squares

Learn how to Knit with 50 Squares

Learn How to Knit with 50 Squares: for beginners and up, a unique approach to learning to knit by Che Lam

Making a swatch is often the first step in a knitting project (or it should be, technically, even if many knitters don’t do it regularly). Making a swatch will provide you with an example of your gauge (how many rows and stitches you get per inch) and let you see how the stitch pattern will look in that yarn on that needle size. It can save a huge amount of time and is super useful, even if it’s not as much fun as just diving in to the project you’re excited to make. This book takes the approach of having the beginning knitter practice and learn by making, essentially, a ton of swatches. You start out with garter stitch, then move to stockinette, then start learning decreases and increases, and so forth. There are 50 squares followed by five projects for the starting knitter, all of which are made using square pieces. This is a different approach to learning to knit than I’ve seen before, and I feel like encouraging swatch-making will only benefit the knitter in the long run.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Kent District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Fix Your Garden

Fix Your Garden

Fix Your Garden: How to make small spaces into green oases by Jane Moseley & Jackie Strachan, illustrations by Claire Rollet

This cute book is designed as a guide to creating your garden, whether it be a big yard, balcony pots, or something in between (most of the information is written to an audience working with an in-ground garden plot, though). It starts with the basics and features homey illustrations throughout, providing inspiration and occasional chuckles (such as with adorable depictions of pests like ‘Mrs. Earwig’). The goal of creating a cottage garden is referenced several times and fits well with the design of the book. As this was published in the UK, resources listed are UK-based.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Baldwin Public Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Mixing Quilt Elements

Mixing Quilt Elements

Mixing Quilt Elements: a modern look at color, style & design by Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession

Doughty is an Australian quilt blogger, speaker, fabric designer, and so forth, and she traveled throughout Australia to photograph the quilts in this book. The resulting photos are gorgeous and though the background is often only just barely visible in the shot, the natural light and contrast of the backgrounds really works to showcase the lovely quilt work. Doughty espouses a slow approach to quilting, taking the time to hand piece and stitch and really appreciate the process. This doesn’t mean she skimps on the little things, though, as each one is highly detailed and the finished pieces have a harmonious blend of a lot of things going on. Familiar shapes and styles are found in each quilt, including log cabin, wedges, rings, octagons, and many more. Pattern pieces are included in a perforated section in the back.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Baldwin Public Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Colored Pencil Painting Portraits

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits by Alyona Nickelsen

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a revolutionary method for rendering depth and imitating life by Alonya Nickelsen

I have not done much in the way of colored pencil art myself, but I am a fan of picture books and some of my favorites use colored pencil (among other media). This book focuses on realistically rendered portraits, though, so it’s quite different from those picture books. Nickelsen focuses on using colored pencils to achieve the look of painting and starts with a discussion of some of the other tools that can be used (solvents, blenders, fixatives, and such). She then moves on to discuss portraiture techniques while integrating specific tips related to using colored pencils throughout. The book closes with a focus on five portraits she created, detailing the tools she used and steps she took to create them. An appendix rates various brands of colored pencils when used with different types of papers.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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