Wednesday, March 24, 2010

inspiration on a beach walk...

on saturday A and i went for a walk at point holmes. A was hunting for driftwood (he has big furniture plans) and i am always happy to mosey along the shore, beachcombing, exploring, absorbing everything around us. we were greeted as soon as we got out of the car by the enthusiastic barks of sea lions just off shore. the herring are running right now, and the seals and sea lions were driving the fish in to the shore for a feast. feasting too were the gulls, swarms of them eagerly snatching up the fish and roe that washed onto the beach. above us, quite a few eagles were surveying the scene, floating easily on thermal currents high in the air.

there was a slight haze overhead, and the wind was light, leaving the world around us in soft shades of blue and grey. i've been thinking about trying my hand at building a landscape quilt for some time now, inspired by the ones my mother has created over the years. recently i've also been inspired by the use of recycled materials and hand stitching, creating organic pieces that stray from the perfect cotton quilts in modern fabrics that populate my flickr faves (don't get me wrong, i still love those quilts too!).

so the beach got me thinking, and a few pieces of debris gathered in my big straw basket at the beach - two small dried crabs in near perfect form, a few feathers, a small piece of driftwood or two - got me started once i got home.

i cut a rectangle from a piece of grey quilting cotton, and began to add layers of denim from old pairs of jeans (lovely the many shades of blue you get), scraps from an old blue bedsheet, and strips of silk and linen. the dimension and texture from the different fabrics is pleasing so far. some of the fabric is new, admittedly, but all of it was already sitting in my stash, leftovers from other projects. and i'm liking where it is going. once i have the basic scene, i'm hoping to add layers on top with additional machine and hand stitching, incorporating yarn for more texture and possibly adding on my little beach finds to really give it life.

stay tuned...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

ack! i love it so much!

meet my new cardigan. my new RED cardigan. sorry, just think it's slightly odd that red is my favourite colour, hands down, and yet i don't have a lot of red clothes (oh, except for the umpteen pairs of red shoes). but i'm working to correct that lately.

hmmm, okay, back to the main subject. this cardi has been a long time coming in a way. see, many years ago i bought a red poncho, and enjoyed wandering around looking just like little red riding hood through the woods. in the end though, i didn't wear it as much as i hoped - it was really warm, and yet not suitable for the rain and wet, which is what usually happens around here when it is cold enough to wear a thick wool blend poncho. after carting the poncho through a few moves, and just not being ready to part with the pretty cranberry colour, i decided to unravel it for a new use. however, once the yarn was in several large balls, i still didn't know what to do with it. so it has continued through another move, and sat in the yarn pile for another long wait. i have started and stopped several other cardigan patterns with it, a few of my own invention, a couple of someone else's. still hadn't found it's proper use.

i think, though, that i'm starting to get the hang of proportions and making my own pattern. i really like the style of my forestry cardigan (rav link), but in the end it stretched out a bit and is quite floppy and shapeless when loose. i still get a fair bit of use out of it, but it's not what i'd hoped it would be. i also get a lot of use out of my garter yoke cardigan (rav link), and loved the top down structure. but the shaping around the neck bugs me a bit (i should have made the front dip lower) and i think it looks its best all buttoned up, and kind of floppy when open.

so this cardigan that i finally made is almost a cross between the two. i wanted cabled fronts (and up the back), raglan sleeves, and a shawl collar like the forestry. but i love the ease of knitting from the top down in one piece, the assurance of being able to try it on as i went. in the end i think it worked out pretty well, don't you? it may in part be the yarn (and i'm really not sure of the blend, but i believe it's a wool-acrylic (and the smell when wet blocking confirmed a fair bit of wool there), but this cardi has the perfect amount of structure to hold its shape while unbuttoned. the sleeves ended up 3/4 length due to running out of yarn, but actually they are probably more useful to me that way. and i'm loving the toggles i picked - had never tried that before but i think they work well here.

so are you tired of me tooting my horn enough? needless to say i think i've found a formula that really works for me, and has me plotting future cardigans sooner than later. but maybe i'll try a different colour than red, you know, just so my red cardi collection doesn't start to rival my red shoe collection!