31 December 2009

2009 in review

Here we are, 2010 is breathing down our necks. In a matter of a few hours 2009 will be over. So that means its time for me to look back and see what I managed to accomplish art wise during the year.

I always start out by trolling back through the blog since I tend to post completed items here. I never think that I did all that much but once I put the mosaics together, I begin to understand the reason why life always seems so full.

Mostly I look for completed projects, there are a lot of half or mostly completed items hanging around in the background that will get a "Made in 2010" stamp. Here are some of the things I squeezed in between the normal everyday activities of living.

I made things:

I stood on things:

I participated in and hung a couple exhibits:

I toted my camera around and snapped pictures of my surroundings:

It was a full year. I know everyone says it but I can't believe it will be 2010. That always seemed like so far away, that's the number that inspired the sci fi fiction writers to dream up robotic societies and advanced technologies.

To be honest, I'm glad we aren't there yet. I value the little quiet moments, the hand made things, the slow steady pace of just living. I've decided that art in 2010 will be given free reign. I'm not going to worry about what I produce, if its "serious", if its gallery worthy. I just want to feel the joy of making things.

Let the chips fall where they may.

Happy New Year, happy creating and I'll see you in 2010!

29 December 2009

because i am a glutton for punishment...

See that? See that up there? That is a hexagon. And its going to have a lot of friends. Why you ask?

Because apparently the Babette Blanket wasn't traumatic enough for me and I'm coming back for more. Now before you go hitching up the corner of your mouth so you can look at me sideways with the "mom" look, let me explain myself.

Winter is here and that's usually when I launch some insanely big yarn project. Its as regular as the season, I've decided to not fight it anymore. I've been spending time on Ravelry again (which is always dangerous) and found this project. Still not impressed? Check out the Flickr group for it, I dare you to not find it intriguing.

I've decided that this blanket will be nicer to me. Why? Let me outline the reasons:

1) Ends will be woven in or crocheted in as I go along. I will not call a hexagon complete until every end has been properly secured. I'm not sure I've ever really been so close to the edge of my sanity as I was when I had to weave in all those ends on Babette. I have not forgotten, I shall not return.

2) There is a tutorial for crocheting the blocks to each other as you go along. I'm not entirely sure that I understand it at the moment (I'm trusting that I will once I try it) but it gives me great hope that I won't have to sew every hexagon together (this makes me stupid happy.)

3) All the hexagons are the same size. No need to worry about layout.

4) I have lots of yarn left over from Babette. (Even more if you count the box of squares I haven't sewn together yet, they are in peril of being ravaged...) I should be able to make most of this blanket without having to buy a lot of yarn. (I'll have to buy some but I think it will be minimal. I had originally thought of doing this in 70's appliance colors - LOVE that! - but decided to use up what I have on hand.)

5) These have a certain squishiness that Babette doesn't:

6) I found a cool pink metallic (yes, I said pink) crochet hook. Don't have that color in the size for this yarn so it gave me an excuse to obtain it. (I am forever in search of colored metal crochet hooks. The store near me has limited colors, its like a treasure hunt.)

All these reasons combined have this blanket already faring better then Babette. I have hopes of redoing my bedroom in the next few months so it will be a nice addition to the feel I'm going for.

It also seems that I am no longer incapable of making just one of something. Behold, the fingerless mitt binge I have embarked on:

I know, I know. There are loose ends to weave in. In my defense I lost the darn needle again. I go through those yarn needles like they are going out of style. I have visions of one day finding a heap of them hidden somewhere behind a piece of furniture covered by a pile of Dooley toys (I wonder if he steals them so I'll have more time to pay attention to him...)

This binge was started by this pattern. The two pairs of white ones toward the top of the basket are going to be those. I did them the way the pattern called for but decided I didn't really like the ribbing on the cuff. Mom does, though, so those will be for her. So I did a second pair that is straight stockinette for me. I still have to do the crocheted medallion for the top. I'll make my medallion 70's appliance colors, mom's will be pink and froofy.

I decided that since these worked up so darn quick that I would try out some different yarns. Apparently I'm not so bright because I picked this yarn:

These are being knit on 2.25mm needles. The yarn is so freakin' small it makes my eyes tired to work on these for long. But they are mindless so that makes them good tv watching knitting.

I have several other mitt patterns in the queue (not sure if I should be thankful for Ravelry or if I should flip it off) so once I'm done with these, I'll give another style a try.

Someone slap me, please, the yarn has taken me over...

27 December 2009

Where I Stand Sunday

The calendar is near exhaustion, almost entirely used up. The past twelve months blur slowly into each other, melding into the mold of the past. I've walked across 2009 with firm footsteps, determined to leave an even print during the solid as well as the weak moments. The upcoming year is entirely undefined, something that I've not faced for some time. I plan to hold it lightly in my hand and watch, pushing softly around the edges for a simplicity that fulfills every need.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

INSPIRED BY ARTWORK TECHNIQUE: collage and rubber stamps

Original photo:

24 December 2009

happy holidays, my friends

I'm a big fan of Project Improv and their latest event, a Guerilla Handbell Strikeforce, seems like a lovely way to wish all of you a happy holiday. I'm so grateful you all come and visit me here, I enjoy it immensely. I hope you all have a lovely holiday full of family, friends and lots of food (especially cookies!) :)

23 December 2009

the finish line has been crossed...

...in fact, I stomped across that bad boy this afternoon and laughed maniacally with glee as I stood back and took stock of the gang:

Those are all the varieties of cookies I made (multiply each type by an obscene number). Take note of the lonely little springerle cookie on the far left. Not many survived and I don't feel the least bit bad about it.

These devils sucked up every single inch of my freezer. The snowflake sugar cookies have been stored in a tight container in the garage because for some reason I felt we needed sixteen thousand of them or Christmas just wouldn't be right this year. (Don't ask, I can't explain it...)

Because the freezer was overcrowded, I waited until today to make my personal favorite, the cranberry orange bread:

I got this recipe from a teacher back in grade school. I love it, can't get enough of it. Luckily these little loafs are about three inches long by two inches wide which makes them easy to freeze off and to let me consume them in little chunks at a time rather then big chunks at a time. Love it, love it, did I mention I love it? (I do, I love it...)

I'm hanging up my baking gloves for a bit. Its been quite the marathon. I've had fun, I've made the dog a nervous wreck (he wants to eat them all but I won't let him, something about not wanting a dog with an upset stomach doing bad things to my carpet that motivates me to not give in to his creative whining) and mom is looking forward to seeing the kitchen counter top again.

Tomorrow I celebrate Christmas with my extended family. We celebrate Wigilia, it'll be a nice evening. Then on Christmas Day I cook some Julia Child Beef Bourguignon in a slightly updated modern way. That should be interesting. Then I plan to lay on the couch like a slug and stare at television for a few days.

And eat some cranberry bread...(did I mention I love it?)

20 December 2009

Where I Stand Sunday

The snow paints a whitewash across every surface, throwing the silhouette of the trees into a black charcoal outline. Their branches stretch out in long spindly shadows across the unbroken surface of frozen rain, twisting lazily in a circle as the sun shifts from one point in the sky to the next. Its like a living etch-a-sketch, a succession of lines drawn lightly and erased with a soft flick of light and wind.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

INSPIRED BY ARTWORK TECHNIQUE: assemblage and decoupage

Original photo:

19 December 2009

springerle, oh, springerle...

Dear Springerle,

When I made the roster for the holiday baking binge this year, I admit that I put you toward the bottom of the list intentionally because your beauty and history intimidated me. You are, after all, widely loved and coveted.

But I have baked many difficult pastries and cakes and cookies and decided that we should be friends. I obtained a lovely folk art rolling pin and a poinsetta cookie mold in order to get to know you better, scoured the internet for recipes and did diligent research into the best way to make you.

I even found this video. The baker smiles and mixes and looks happy. Its how I imagined our time together. So when I wandered into the kitchen this morning feeling confident and cheerful, I toted her along with me, making room on the far counter for my laptop so she and I could make you together.

Everything went swimmingly. She whipped eggs, I whipped eggs. She gently added teaspoons of flavoring, I gently added teaspoons of flavoring. I breathed in the intoxicating perfume that only half a dozen eggs, a stick of unsalted butter, two pounds of powdered sugar and organic vanilla extract can produce.

Dooley sang his approval, I smiled lightly and turned up the Christmas music on the radio.

Then I added the flour. That, dear springerle, is when you decided to bitch slap me to the ground.

Apparently, my home use kitchen aid mixer (who I love dearly) is not strong enough to handle your dough once the flour is added. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to make it sound like a cat being skinned. Your cruelty forced me to finish adding the flour by hand, an activity that produced the first level of bitterness toward you.

You dried out in a flash (which a google search told me is common) so I dipped my fingers in water. You got sticky, I threw flicks of flour (and insults) at you, I attempted to roll you out and stood there and stared as you cracked and became largely unusable.

I pondered you for a moment. I could give up. The trash can would be most pleased to consume you. I began to understand what the superheros feel like in comic books when they first meet their arch enemies. You, my friend, are no match for a determined Virgo.

I set out with concrete resolution and managed to pry two trays of cookies out of your dried out carcass:

The impressions are not as deep as I would like but they are there and I laugh in your direction at the triumph this produces in me. You've left a trail of misery. The dog is upset, mom is worried about the cussing wafting from the kitchen and it took an extraordinary amount of time to clean and reassemble all the tools it took to make you.

After our battle was complete, I googled you obsessively to find out what could have possibly gone wrong. It appears you've been inflicting torment on innocent bakers for decades. (I even spent some time looking up German swear words so I could communicate with you properly.)

Tomorrow I bake you. Do not make the mistake of thinking that just because I wasted three hours of my life this afternoon producing a relatively low amount of cookies that I will be as patient tomorrow. I will have large amounts of heat on my side, keep that in mind should you decide to throw a temper tantrum. I am not above burning you just for spite.

Dooley sang to you as he sang to all the other (nicer and more cooperative) cookies I have made over the past couple of weeks. I didn't feel you deserved his admiration so you have been put in solitary confinement in the dining room while you dry out overnight. I hope you will spend the time thinking about your behavior.

Let's hope tomorrow is a better day.

Your Nemesis,


15 December 2009

the edible kind of art

Dooley has informed me that he plans to contact his union rep. He feels that all his hard work helping me bake over the past few days has been hugely unrewarded and he wants fair compensation for his cookie guarding skills. (Although he may look level with the cookies in the photo, I assure you he is no where near. He is stumpy, so he has to resort to whining and chirping at the cookies in the hope that they will spontaneously jump from their containers into his mouth. So far he has not perfected this method although he remains hopeful.)

I love to bake. I usually do a fair amount of it during the year and then a huge binge of the fancy variety at Christmas time (to eat and to give as gifts). I haven't had the chance to indulge that love for a few years but this year is different - I'm going forward full gusto.

I look at food as an art form as well, especially baking. Every time I see something in a magazine or a show, I have to give it a shot. I've got a few new recipes this year that are very labor intensive but I'm looking forward to giving them a go.

I'm doing springerle for the first time ever and I've fallen madly in love with the rolling pins and cookie stamps. I was gifted one of each from House on the Hill and I'm hoping I have good success with it. If I do, I plan to make the cookie stamps a standing birthday gift request so that I can build up a collection, those things are absolutely stunning. Add to that the fact that the stamps and springerle are rooted in deep tradition dating back hundreds of years and I'm totally smitten - I love everything antique with an interesting history behind it.

I've managed to knock off four cookies so far. The first being the potato chip cookies (I neglected to get a photo of those and they are in the freezer now so that will have to wait until they come back out to be devoured). Here are the others:

Peanut butter sandwich cookies with chocolate filling

Lemon dip cookies (these are mom's favorites)

Ginger molasses cookies

The ginger molasses ones are my favorite from that lot, I'm a sucker for a good ginger cookie.

And just to keep things interesting, the universe decided it would be great fun to murder the oven two days after I bought all the supplies for the baking extravaganza. You have to admire the tenacity of it all.

We decided to get a little countertop oven. The little sucker is working its heart out and baking the best cookies I have ever produced. It does slow things down a little bit but its worth it - every single thing is coming out perfect. The big oven will be fixed but the part won't be in until after Christmas and I doubted handing people a tin with a I.O.U. inside of it would be nearly as thrilling as actually getting cookies to eat.

So the blog will be consumed with baking photos for a little bit, hope you don't mind. I'm not sure what I'll make tomorrow (my back is a little crabby from this weather) but there are four more cookies I plan to make and then there is the cranberry bread. Oh my, the cranberry bread - that's my absolute favorite. Does it get any better??

13 December 2009

Where I Stand Sunday

The emptying of one season into the next is like the pages of a journal, an opportunity to deposit all the leftovers of thought and imagination. The transition to winter is late this calendar, taking its time, in no rush. As the cold wind whips across the surfaces brave enough to be in its way, the impatience grows into an irritated sigh, a strong want for one thing to be over and the next to begin.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)


Original photo:

11 December 2009

well played, knitting goddess, WELL played

Gisela left this comment on this post: Oh no! You know, this one sentence, "There are 19 whole days after all, what could there possibly be to worry about?", will surely call down the wrath of the knitting gods...Make an offering and pray that they don't read blogs --

Well, apparently the crabby wench follows this blog because she slapped me squarely across the back of the head. I'm going to show what I was making, I just won't say who for (honestly, I don't think the person getting it reads this but I'll leave some mystery to it). Here's what I was working on (notice the use of the word "was"):

That there lovely is about fourteen inches from the point to the top. See the yarn ball? That's all the yarn I had left. (That's Ella Rae fingering weight, really posh stuff.)

Yeah, that's what I said when I laid it out and saw it.

Thing is, the recipient is not twelve-years-old. Therefore this would need to be significantly larger and that just simply wasn't going to happen with what I had left to work with. So in a fit of intense grumpiness, I frogged it. (What's always a bit depressing about the frogging is that it took me such a long time to get it to where it was and then no time at all to erase it from existence. *sigh*)

I dug around in the stash and found some yarn that promised to be nicer to me, cast on and after only a few hours, I'm here with it:

That's Cascade Ecowool. (Forgive the cluttered photo. In addition to fabric and knitting ADD, I tend to read umpteen million things at one time so books tend to follow me around just like fabric and yarn do.) I love this yarn. Not only because its about ten times bigger then fingering weight but because its extremely cushy and warm and I think its actually a better choice for the shawl. Has me thinking about making one for myself once this one is off the needles.

I know they look pretty much the same but the difference is that I'm barely halfway through the skein of yarn and its longer then where I was with the other (if I hadn't been cussing like a sailor I would have had the good sense to leave the original one alone so that I could compare the two) so I have supreme confidence that yarn yardage will no longer be an issue. (Said very very quietly and while simultaneously knocking on wood...)

So I guess the score is fairly even. Knitting Goddess: 1, Lynn: 1.

We'll see if the balance remains, I have a feeling she considers a tie the equivalent of loosing so I won't be surprised if I find myself heading out to Macy's two days before Christmas for a replacement gift.

In addition to tackling the cranky yarn/goddess situation, I've invaded the kitchen for my annual holiday baking. I'm a cookie addict, love to make the fancy ones. I've added a few newcomers to the roster this year and after mixing doughs today I'm thinking several will become permanent members of the line up.

The whole bottom shelf of the fridge is jammed pack with containers just waiting to go:

I'm making kolachky for the first time. My grandma used to make something similar but unfortunately I never really learned how to make it. So I found a recipe online and am giving it a go, hoping to establish my own tradition with that one.

I'll start baking these off over the next few days. But tomorrow is for Potato Chip Cookies, can't mix that one in advance. I see you making that scrunched up face, now don't go judging it just yet. I found it in a magazine a few years ago and I was skeptical too but I tell you, its become a standard favorite and I make it every year. Its like a shortbread that isn't as dry as sawdust because of the potato chips.

Here, I'll prove to you its good. Here's the recipe, give it a shot:

Potato Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 & 1/2 cups crushed potato chips (I found Better Made brand works best)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnut (these are optional, I've made it with and without and they are both good)

1) Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.

2) Add flour, potato chips and nuts - mix well. Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.

3) Flatten each cookie top by pressing with bottom of a glass which has been greased (I just dip it in the dough to grease it) and dipped in sugar.

4) Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes

Makes about five dozen cookies.

Be brave, try 'em. I'm making a cookie this year that has bacon in it. Yes, bacon. Its either going to rock or be revolting, that's why we aren't doing a double batch of those.

I figure the next couple of weeks will alternate between the kitchen and the knitting. Not a bad existence really if you think about it. Dooley is intensely pleased with the kitchen activity. I accidentally dropped a chunk of butter and little man descended upon it like a vulture. Knowing that I couldn't possibly bend down and grab it before he sucked it up, I did the only other thing that was in my power: I stepped on it. While effective, it was rather messy so I don't really recommend it if you can avoid it.

So I guess you could say I'll be baking, knitting and stepping on butter for the next few weeks. Good times...

07 December 2009

win a pretty

My good friend Kate makes the most adorable little plushies. Her imagination is incredible and not only does she make these darlings, she often donates her work to charities. She also does toy drops where she randomly leaves a plushie in a public place for someone to find and take home and enjoy without ever knowing who left it there for them.

She recently opened an etsy store called Oma's Patch and she is giving away the little pretty shown above. All you have to do is visit Oma's Patch blog and leave a comment to get in the running.

Only a couple days left to get in the running so hurry over and check it out!

06 December 2009

only 19 days left...

...until Christmas, that is. Holy cow, when did that happen? Seems like the holiday season somehow managed to sneak up on me like a stealth ninja. Leann made the comment that it tends to do that when snow is late arriving and I think she has a point. I've started giving the calendar dirty looks. Everything seems to be zipping by at the speed of light now so you get another list:

1) Leann and I went to Sidney's opening reception for her show at Little Monsters in Lake Orion on Friday night. Cool artwork (it is Sid after all):

and incredibly cool store. (Be sure to check out Leann's blog, she posted a really flattering picture of me.) I picked up these little guys for future Everything is Better with Bacon shrines that I make for Mixed Bag Designs:

Oh sure, they're smiling now but just wait until the forks come out...

2) Saturday night was the holiday party for Running with Scissors. We decided to hold it in a restaurant this year. Dooley was sad but it was a good time:

Sandy gifted me something unique:

That's a pink glow-in-the-dark skull. Haven't tried out the glow part yet but I do have to say that my stance on the devil color is beginning to waver a bit. I rather like the skully so if that isn't proof that I'm giving in, I don't know what is.

3) I decorated the Christmas tree:

Looks crooked to me. (And no, its not because of the way I was holding the camera.) I keep pacing around it, grumbling at its crookedness. Mom has forbidden me to try to fix it. *sigh* Doesn't it look crooked to you? Its not straight. Right? Totally crooked...

4) Did you know that there is such a thing as online grocery shopping? Me either but I am totally in luuuuuuvvvvv...my back injury often prevents me from grocery shopping on a regular basis. Busch's has come to the rescue. You make the list online, they shop for you (for a fee of $6.95) and then load it into your car. All hail Busch's. I am now fully stocked for the baking extravaganza to begin:

Of course, the oven needs to be fixed now. Well done, Murphy, well done.

5) The movie production is back in town. My geeky self keeps driving by the house they are filming at hoping to see someone of the famous variety. So far, this is the extent of my thrill:

The arrow is pointing to a camera or light or some other contraption that they keep using. So sue me, not every day we have movie stars in my backyard. The movie is called Trust and although it doesn't sound like something I would normally go see, I'll have to now since my hometown is in it.

6) I am knitting for Christmas. Just one thing. Dooley despises the knitting, it takes away every single free second I have (which translates into less attention for him). The reasonable part of my brain says this will be a close finish but the creative side is kicking back with a beer. There are 19 whole days after all, what could there possibly be to worry about? I guess we'll see who is right come December 24. Here's a little look, I don't think the recipient reads the blog but you can just never tell:

I'm going Christmas gift shopping tomorrow and running a ton of other errands. I'm hoping its the last time I have to go near a store for the holiday season (with the exception of quick little jaunts for necessities).

The launch of my etsy store has provoked another reorg of my studio. Nothing major this time, just a little tune up. Yes, you may mock me now. Girl needs a hobby, right?

Where I Stand Sunday

The determined glow of the lights struggle to stake their claim against the moodiness of the night. It is a stark contrast to the sharp prickly wind, offering a glow that draws the eye and the mind in search of warmth. It is a quiet signal that the year is quietly shutting its door, its hinges creaking sleepily after several months of hard work.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

INSPIRED BY ARTWORK TECHNIQUE: stencil cut out with colored underlay

Original photo:

04 December 2009

Mixed Bag Designs etsy shop up and running

I'm really happy to announce that I've got the first of two etsy shops up and running today.

I'm pleased to present to you Mixed Bag Designs.

Like everyone else, I can't limit myself to just one thing. Fiber art is my first love but I'm unfaithful on a regular basis, wandering off into plushies and knitting and whatever else strikes my fancy. So I decided to split the two activities and the crafty side of me has been dubbed Mixed Bag Designs.

I've got more items to list in the shop and I plan to run contests and giveaways and interviews with fellow crafters and all kinds of fun stuff.

feel good felt ornament giveaway - go here for details

But I plan to do it on its own blog. It really is its own entity and wants to run amok whenever it pleases so I figured I better give it its own place to play. I just announced a giveaway and one of the shop promotion programs so I encourage you to go take a look.

I'll give you noodges from time to time to go check out the blog or the shop but 90% of the promo for it will go on outside of this blog. I am planning on selling artwork through my Fibra Artysta etsy shop but I've not uploaded the work yet so that announcement will be coming in the future (most likely January).

So here's the deal: I'll promo both shops here on this blog. But I will keep it to a reasonable amount. If you want to know about all things Mixed Bag Designs then you can become a follower of that blog or subscribe to that there (and I hope you will, I plan to have fun over there so I'd love it if you'd join me.)

I can't say that I'll not advertise either shop because really, what's the point of selling stuff if you don't let people know about it?

I'm super excited to have the ball rolling - hope you'll join me! :)

03 December 2009

12 Connected

As part of my committment to focus more on creating art, I have joined a group of artists for a two year challenge. We are called 12 Connected - twelve art quilters doing twelve challenges.

Every two months, a new challenge will be announced. The first one just went up on the group's blog. The theme is Sanctuary and I'm really looking forward to exploring the word, I've already got a couple of ideas kicking around.

We are creating 11" x 17" art quilts. I like this format, its a size I've not worked in before but I think it will offer some interesting opportunities. I won't be able to post in progress shots but I can talk about inspiration and process. You'll have to wait until the next challenge is announced to see the results of the first.

I do hope that you will consider following us on this journey. We're just getting started and its going to be an exciting group, full of talent and lots of diversity.