Friday, August 15, 2014

Feline Friday: Pics and template tweaks

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I really loved this little guy last week - so cute and so photogenic. :)


I've been playing with the photo template I use for the shelter cat photos:


Previously, I would just put the shelter logo and ID number anywhere I could fit them.

I decided to use one standard size and orientation because their system stretches out any other orientation. And I added a sidebar to keep all the information in a consistent spot.


Someone adopted this charmingly cross-eyed kitty and named him Dobby. Perfect, right? :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Three Things Thursday: Knitting in Japanese

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Setsuko Hara knitting Mariko Okada in Late Autumn Hand Quilting on Cozy Pumpkin
1. Setsuko Hara knitting; 2. Mariko Okada in Late Autumn; 3. Beautiful hand quilting threads on Cozy Pumpkin

Lately I'm on a big Yasujiro Ozu kick - he's a Japanese filmmaker who worked in the 1930's, 40's, 50's and 60's. My love of Ozu began years back, when I tearfully watched Tokyo Story, then Late Spring and Early Summer.

Recently I got Hulu Plus, and saw that almost ALL of Ozu's films are available there, so I've been working my way through them methodically, ever since. That knitting image of Setsuko Hara is fitting, since I typically knit through them - of course they're not embroidery friendly because I don't speak Japanese. :)

There's something so elementally simple and profound about his films. He's one of those filmmakers who feel like a kindred spirit to me - I mean, probably I'm overstepping my bounds, and if we had ever met in real life we'd have nothing to actually say to each other, but what I mean is - the world he presents through light and color and emotion in his films makes sense to me. A world where family is central, home is essential, and we all spend our lives either missing or making connections with each other. Our lives are filled with humor, silliness, anger, tedium, responsibility, joy, and regret.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Knit Stitch a Week: Ridge stitch

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Ridge stitch

I really liked this stitch. Just my style - very easy to remember, easy to stitch, and hard to mess up. :)

I cast on 16 stitches on size 9 needles, in Vannas's Choice (left) and a blue worsted weight yarn from my stash (right)

Row 1: knit
Row 2: *K2 tog all across the row*
Row 3: K in front and back of each st
Row 4: purl

The backside is also pretty lovely:

Ridge stitch, wrong side

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Finished embroidery

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Finished embroidery

Well, I am finally finished with the embroidery on this soon-to-be-pillow.

Actually, I've been finished for weeks, but I was dreading the photography portion of my finish. Instead, I started on about 3 new projects. Just like a crafter, right? ;)

Finished: details

For whatever reason, it was so difficult to capture the colors and texture on this largish square piece.

Zoomed out, flat photos look so, well, flat. I switched back and forth between my HTC One phone camera and my fancy camera, but my fancy camera got the best shots.

Finished: details

Either way, I'm quite happy with all the colors and textures I was able to put into this piece. Adding crewel wool was really what brought it all together and made it possible for me to finish.

Finished: details

I love all the raised textures on the leaves. Though far from perfect, they're a wonderful pop of color. I like that I used 3 different shades of green (1 dark green pearl cotton, 1 lime green embroidery floss, and 1 lime green crewel wool). I would never have thought it until I tried it, but they combine well with each other.

I'll admit it, there were so many moments when I thought I'd chosen a terrible color and panicked. But for the most part, I rarely picked out mistake colors and just kept stitching. By plowing ahead, I was able to create relationships between colors I would have never imagined before...

Finished: details

This remains my favorite corner - stitched in pinks and red and yellows, in mostly in 6 strand embroidery floss - it's quite shiny and bright.

But it's tied for my affections with this corner flower motif-
Finished: details

I really went nuts with it in color and texture - it's about half 6 strand embroidery floss, and half crewel wool. My favorite part is that satin stitched jade greenish area near the center, with a teal crewel wool strand couched on top with 1 strand of orange crewel wool. I would have never put those 3 colors together ordinarily, but I just went with it and loved the result.

There are so many little details that bring me such joy in this piece, and it just feels satisfying to know that I stitched them all. I won't bore you with every bit, but suffice to say, I really love this piece, and it's one of my all time favorites.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Feline Friday: Animal Defense League

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Last weekend I headed out to the Animal Defense League of Texas for a special Cat Photography workshop, where I learned all about grooming and photographing cats.

As luck would have it, the camera used in the video demonstrations was the same as mine, so it was easy to follow along. I plugged the settings into my camera, and since I hardly ever mess with the manual modes, I didn't know what to expect.

But the result was awesomeness!


The camera settings did a really nice job of capturing the beauty of the cats' eyes. And by setting the camera to burst mode (well, DUH, me) I was able to get a lot more photos before the cats wiggled away.


Having the focus point set in the center took some getting used to - it's best when the cat's face fills the whole frame, but on pics like the one above, I could get away with the face being slightly out of focus...


I was shocked at how nice these pics were - I really learned a lot, and had a great time.


The ADL grounds were super nice, too - very spacious, and filled with flowers and green grass.

The Cattery is like a house built for cats - with all the adoptable adult cats roaming one large room with hidey holes and overhead ramps and tunnels that go into an outdoor screened area. Everything was so clean and pleasant and the cats seemed genuinely happy. The staff and volunteers were awesome, too.


I definitely recommend a visit to the Animal Defense League of Texas, if you're ever in the area!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Feline Friday: Tabbies Galore

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A300907 A300905

I have noticed a weekly trend in the cats I photograph - some weeks I find tons of orange cats, last week, I saw tons of black and white cats, and this week it was tabbies. Those two above are siblings, and their expressions are so unique and individual.


Maybe I'm a cat freak, but I do feel that each cat has its own personality and expression - I love how this little one looks like she's wearing eyeshadow...


This beauty's vivid green eyes...


This girl's calm, friendly demeanor...


And this extra-special ticked tabby - definitely something I don't see often, and gorgeous.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Knit Stitch a Week: Fancy Trellis stitch

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Fancy Trellis stitch

I cast on 14 stitches on size 9 needles in a pink yarn from my stash (left) and Vanna's Choice in Toffee (right).

Row 1: *K2, K2 tog, yo, K3*
Row 2: *P1, P2 tog tbl, yo, P1, yo, P2 tog, P1*
Row 3: *K2 tog, yo, K3, yo, sl 1, K1, psso*
Row 4 and 8: purl
Row 5: *yo, sl 1, K1, psso, K5*
Row 6: *yo P2 tog, P2, P2 tog tbl, yo, P1*
Row 7: *K2, yo, sl 1, K1, psso, K2 tog, yo, K1*

It's a pretty nice stitch - and I was surprised I kept up with all the directions! I like the way it stitched up best in that brown acrylic. I bet it would be really nice on a sweater.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Roumanian stitch leaves

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I'm still working steadily on my floral pillow - most of what's left now is filling in leaves...

all finished leaves from afar

I wanted to experiment with different leaf stitches, so I found a stitch diagram on Pinterest, and tried it out:

Apparently, this is the Roumanian stitch - using this diagram as a guide, I got to stitching with some dark green pearl cotton:

finished leaf!

The pearl cotton gave it a nubbly texture, but I really liked it - it's almost like fish scales. It's a lot faster to work than satin stitch or the raised herringbone stitch I learned last week, and it eats up a lot less thread.

Here's how I stitched it, step by step:

I tried the same stitch using 2 strands of crewel wool on that bottom left-most leaf:

finished leaf!

I love how the crewel wool sort of floats and expands above the fabric - it's a totally different effect!

Here's how I stitched it with the wool:

What do you all think? I'm having a ton of fun finishing up this project - I'm amazed to say I am almost done now! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Knit Stitch a Week: Seafoam Stitch

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Seafoam stitch

So, I took a brief break from the Complete Guide to Needlework because I saw the Seafoam stitch and fell in love. I love those wonderful Eye of Horus-like textures it creates when you go back and forth between Garter stitch and multiple yarnovers.

Up above, I cast on 21 stitches on size 6 needles and used this pattern - the blue is a bulky yarn in my stash and the other yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Thyme. I like these two yarns best for this stitch - I think it's better to have a tighter structure.

Here I experimented with lighter yarns on size 6 needles - it looks ok, but you don't get as clear a picture of the wavy shapes:

Seafoam stitch

I like the color, and the airiness of them, but I prefer the look of the bulkier yarns on this stitch.

Seafoam stitch

Here's the back of the stitch - it sort of hangs out all over the place.

What do you guys think? Have you ever tried this stitch? It's super easy and fun to work!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Stitching Saturday: Crewel Obsession

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stitching more leaves

I am having so much fun with this project now! Here I am working some leaves, this time in a DMC pearl cotton - I love the raised texture this stitch gives the leaves. I used this tutorial on Pinterest to form this stitch -  I never execute it perfectly, the leaves always tend to lean to one side or another, but I think that gives it an organic look.

learning the Van Dyke stitch

Here I've worked the leaves using 2 strands of crewel wool and the Van Dyke stitch. I was stitching along with Kristin's Craftsy class for this stitch, which is really helpful. I'd tried this stitch before, but only in a straight line, never in a leaf shape. I love the way the crewel wool can stretch into such a fine, defined line, and the way this stitch puffs above the fabric like little green caterpillars. :)

By the way, here is the pattern I am working from for the pillow - it's much more balanced and dense in its original version, but I enlarged it and kind of winged it here and there:
gorgeous flowers