Sunday, July 27, 2008

Waterlily Top

Waterlily Knitted Top

I loved knitting this top. It is knit from the bottom up on circular needles which means no side seams. Hurray! I've gotten much better at seaming my hand-knits but it's so gratifying to have a finished piece once the knitting is complete.

Well, almost finished.

There are two small seams at the tops of the shoulders. And one teeny tiny other thing.

Invisible or Provisional Cast-On
It was quite an easy pattern to follow. The only problem I had was with the invisible (provisional) cast-on edge. I had no problem following the invisible cast-on instructions provided at the back of the magazine. The problem came when it was time for me to finish the bottom edge. I just couldn't see my 'live' knit stitches. LYS (local yarn shop) genius to the rescue! She helped me find and place the stitches correctly on my knitting needle and sat with me while I finished that lovely little ruffled edge.

For future reference, my LYS angel told me to follow the instructions for the crocheted cast-on edge found in Sally Melville's book 'The Knitting Experience: Book One: The Knit Stitch'. I haven't checked out these instructions yet, but I will definitely look at them the next time a pattern calls for an invisible cast-on.

This pattern can be found in Interweave Knits, Spring 2006 issue.

Colinette Love

When I saw the yarn I used in this pattern it was love at first sight. I actually saw it in an ad in a Interweave Knits magazine a year before this pattern was published and decided I just had to have it. I tracked it down at my LYS. This is Colinette's Giotto yarn. A yummy hand-painted ribbon yarn. This particular color is called 'Popsicle'. Perfect, no!? I actually had it in my stash when the Spring 2006 issue came out. And even more amazing, I found it without too much searching.

I try to buy what I need (ok, want) at my LYS, but they don't always have the yarn I am after. I have found a wonderful on-line shop that carries a large selection of Colinette yarn. Flying Fingers Yarn Shop has a great selection of Colinette as well as other wonderful yarns.

I also purchased Giotto in the color 'Monet'. This is the color used in the Waterlily top pictured in the issue of Interweave Knits. I can certainly see the inspiration for the name of the pattern. The 'Monet' colorway definitely reminds me of Monet's painting. I haven't decided what I will do with this color of Giotto, maybe another waterlily top.

Friday, July 25, 2008

October Sky

October Sky Sterling Silver and Lampwork Bead Bracelet

Borosilicate Glass
I made this bracelet with artisan made boro lampwork beads. Boro is an abbreviation for borosilicate. It is an extremely durable type of glass with a unique color palette. The colors are outstanding and it is difficult to capture their full beauty. The layer of clear glass on the outside of these beads offers an intriguing multi-dimensional look. It's as though the beads hold another world inside of them.

Chain maille
I am particularly fond of asymmetrical designs so I made a chain maille flower chain. The lampwork beads are linked together with sterling silver and then linked to the strand of chain maille.

Chain maille has quite an interesting history but its uses go beyond Medieval times. Some of its many uses include protective clothing for butchers and scuba divers, and protective gloves for the British police. Historical re-enactment groups use it for costumes as well as for protective gear.

A number of states hold Renaissance and Medieval Faires as do some universities. Ohio has a wonderful faire in October every year and the Ohio State University has one in May.

And, as you can see in my design, chain maille is also used to make jewelry. There are many decorative designs, some are quite complex. Urban Maille is my favorite site for inspiration in using chain maille in jewelry.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Salad

Summer Salad Recipe

I was thinking of the luscious, fresh basil that I have growing in my garden when I came up with this recipe. I think this salad is best with a very light tasting dressing. I like the Newman's Own, Asian Sesame. I have also included a link to a dressing recipe should you want to make your own.
The ingredient list is for one serving, but you can easily use your math skills to add more servings:) Bon Apetit!!

1 cup fresh spinach leaves, washed and torn into bite size pieces
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and torn into bite size pieces
4 large fresh, ripe strawberries, washed and sliced
1/2 cup turkey breast thinly sliced or cubed
1/4 cup walnut pieces
Ginger-Sesame dressing
or Newman's Own Natural Salad Mist, Asian Sesame
or dressing of your choice

Gently toss spinach and basil leaves together. Top with the turkey breast and then the sliced strawberries. Drizzle the dressing over all. Sprinkle on the walnut pieces.

The Herb, Basil

I love everything about basil: its beautiful statuesque habit of growth, the delightfully exotic sweet smell of its leaves. I discovered that besides being wonderful in recipes it has a number of other uses and some interesting folklore surrounding it.

White Hibiscus

White Hibiscus Earrings
These earrings are made with large white keshi pearls that have a wonderful nacre. This nacre gives them a gorgeous iridescent luster. While my photography skills have improved, I couldn't quite capture the iridescence in the photo.

Hibiscus Flowers

When I saw these large white keshi pearls I thought of white hibiscus flowers. White hibiscus have large, luscious, saucer-shaped blossoms. Besides being lovely to look at, hibiscus have a number of practical uses. There are quite a few varieties of hibiscus. One that I particularly like is native to Kauai.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recipe Serendipity

Cajun Creole Tilapia

'When life hands you lemons make lemonade'. What if you don't have any lemons?
Thank the family member who left just a little bit of lemonade in a bottle of lemonade.

Sometimes I just don't feel like following a recipe. I buy something, like this tilapia, without any particular recipe in mind. Then I get home and hope for some bit of serendipity to occur. And so this recipe was born.

1 cup bottled Lemonade, I used Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade
1 pound Tilapia fillets or another mild white fish of your choice
1/2 cup crushed whole grain cracker crumbs, I used Mary's Gone Crackers Original
1/2 tsp Cajun Creole seasoning or to taste
Fresh thyme sprigs

Pour lemonade into a rectangular baking dish, generously covering the bottom of the dish. Adding more or less lemonade as needed. Place the Tilapia in the dish. Sprinkle with the crushed cracker crumbs and then sprinkle with the Cajun Creole seasoning.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, add thyme sprigs*. Replace in oven and bake another 5 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
This recipe has a very mild lemon flavor. If you like a more intense lemon flavor (and you have them) a nice squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice would be delightful.

*I used the whole thyme sprigs because I thought they would look ever so pretty in the photo. The stems are a bit woody, though, so before serving I stripped off the tender little leaves and sprinkled them over the fish.

Words, Words I Love Words

I've always loved words and books and reading. 'Serendipity' was one of those words that fascinated me even when I didn't understand what it meant. Thank goodness for children. I've learned so much as a result of having my own. At a book sale many years ago I stumbled upon a set of very inexpensive, wonderfully illustrated children's books. I wasn't sure about the quality of the writing but decided to take a chance on them. That's how I found 'Serendipity' the book and finally learned the meaning of the word. 'Serendipity' is the title of a book and also of a series of children's books written by Stephen Cosgrove and illustrated by Robin James. They are delightful stories, written with a positive message that doesn't hit you over the head. I have very fond memories of reading these with my children and I am so glad to see they are still available.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Woven Wrapsody

Sterling Silver and Champagne Citrine Earrings

I just finished making this new pair of earrings with the help of Iza Malczyk's tutorial.

Iza is a phenomenal artist and a genius at wire-work. Her tutorial was easy to follow and I had great fun coaxing the wire into its intricate latticework design. This pair of earrings features gorgeous AAA champagne citrine rondelles and briolettes. I love the glowing, almost luminescent quality of the briolettes and the facets on the rondelles make them sparkle.

Native American Feather Wrapping as Decoration
The title of her tutorial is 'Indian Feather Earrings'. I have some preconceptions about Native Americans and their use of feathers as decoration. I like to challenge my preconceptions, to see how much is unfounded bias and how much is truth, so I decided to do a little research a la the miracle of the internet. I found this site, Native Tech. It describes some of the history and the technique behind the Native American art of feather wrapping. I found it to be a fun, interesting site so I have included the link for you to check out for yourself.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mischief Managed

Sterling Silver Bracelet

Yards of fine and sterling silver wire and many hours of coiling, twisting, coaxing and hammering have led to this result.

Many thanks to Connie Fox for her kind instruction and generous inspiration.
You can see more of my work in her student gallery.