Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Finds #4 - Party Time!

Photo by TheMacGirl

Well, well, Happy Friday! I missed the last couple of round-ups due to complete insanity, but this week I made it!

First of all, if you don't have plans for this weekend, why not check out the Lowell Folk Festival? Music, food, and a lovely group of handmade vendors. I won't be there as a vendor, but many of my wonderfully talented friends will!

Secondly, do you like parties and making things? If so, would you like to come to our Etsy Craft Party? A group of local North Shore makers is organizing a craft party to be hosted at Seed Stitch (21 Front Street in Salem), and it's open to everyone! RSVP so we can get a head count and buy enough food and crafty supplies!

A beautiful gradient batt for you spinners!

An adorable cross-stitch pendant with nerdy glasses.

This hand-printed t-shirt has a unique take on the Doctor Who TARDIS logo.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Snippet: Happy Birthday Dad!


Warning: This is one of those personal, totally non-knitting posts.

This is my dad and me, during his last visit. Today is this birthday. Birthdays in my family are always bittersweet - we all live so far away from each other, and it's been many years since we've managed to celebrate any birthdays together. But there is always happiness in remembering a loved one. My dad and I have a very special relationship. More than just being a father and daughter, we are friends and I miss him dearly. So today I wanted to say, Happy Birthday Dad! I miss you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Currently Knitting


Another Monday! Do you get the feeling that this summer is flying by? I definitely feel like I haven't had time for summer to even start, yet it's half over! Eek! Of course, a lot of my time has been taken up by dyeing and knitting. I really wanted to squeeze in sewing a tunic for myself this month, but I haven't managed to yet.

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen a million photos of this handspun yarn. This yarn is an absolute pleasure to work with - none of the roughness I've found in a lot of handspun. It's by FiberOlio, and I've been working on it for a super fun collaborative project we can hopefully announce soon. For now, it's hush hush! I finally finished this though, so instead of working on my other outstanding projects, I started a new pair of socks with the yarn leftover from another project. This yarn is my Merino Nylon sock in Persephone.


I know, I have no self-restraint. I've also been making progress on my Sherilyn, which I am knitting for a shawl swap and need to mail out by September 1st! I'm using my Silk Merino sock yarn in Amethyst for this project.

Some day I'll get back to the sweater I'm completely neglecting. I'm beginning to think the whole idea of "summer downtime" is a myth... So what has been keeping you busy these days?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Artist Crush: Danielle Spurge of Merriweather Council

Today's Artist Crush feature is an interview! Danielle is the powerhouse and creative genius behind The Merriweather Council. She creates one-of-a-kind whimsical embroidered pieces and patchwork art. She has taken Etsy by storm! I'm so glad she let me pick her brain.

Your wishbone embroideries are fantastic collectible art pieces - portable, abstract, colorful and unique. You once compared them to poems. Could you tell us a bit about the creative process behind these? When you start one of these pieces, do you have a plan for the finished artwork or does it grow organically?

I'm not much of a planner - I just sort of pick whatever colors strike me at the moment, most of the time though they are inspired by the idea or memory of a place or time. Very generally speaking though. For example, I did a hoop once called stormy Atlantic which I made one weekend while my family was having a get-together in Montauk, NY which is right on the ocean and it was a very windy, cold, dark, dreary day. That is sort of what the hoop turned out looking like as well. But there is no initial plan and I don't pick colors or draw patterns out beforehand.

When you were starting out as an artist, was your work always abstract, or did you go through a more "realistic" phase? Was there a medium you created in before finding embroidery, or has that always been your medium of choice?

I always preferred abstracted things - but I was trained as an artist in the traditional sense since high school so there wasn't too much freedom in the work I did until I got to sophomore year of college. I hate drawing and I hate trying to make things look realistic. Whenever I got the chance in high school I opted for collage works or line drawings, as I moved up the ranks I found this to be more and more my method, I was a builder more than a painter, I preferred to assemble bits of things rather than start with a blank canvas so to say. And eventually I ended up with a degree in 3D fine arts. Embroidery didn't come into the picture until college though. I always liked fabric and thread and yarn but these materials didn't really fit in with what I was learning or being taught until just a few years ago. Those materials weren't considered "real art" materials until I was in college.

You've talked about your work being inspired by feelings and memories, which makes each wishbone hoop very personal. Did you ever create one you couldn't part with? If so, can we see a picture of it?

I made one once that I decided to keep. Just once though. It was light purple - like a lilac color - with bright blues and red and yellows on it. It looked like a bag of tropical skittles. I don't have a photo of it but it is hanging in my apartment - which I am not currently at.

You also make adorable patchwork hoops, which I've come to think of as mini fabric collages. Where does the inspiration for these come from?

Those started as a way to use all the small bits of fabric (mostly vintage) that I had that I couldn't find anything else to do with. I wanted to use them but most of them were too small to do anything other than patchwork with, and because I am obsessed with hooping things, that was the natural way of it.

I've had the pleasure of watching your art and business grow exponentially. You've been featured in magazines and on the Today Show, yet you're still genuine, down to earth, and incredibly sweet. What has this last year been like for you, and what are some of the most important lessons you've learned?

Well, thank you! I think the past year taught me that good things happen if you work really hard but also that even if you aren't totally prepared for something you will figure it out when you need to. I hope that's not the most boring answer of all time.

What do you wish everyone knew about your work?

Interesting question... I guess I wish people knew it was more complicated than it may seem, but isn't everything?

Could you show us a picture of your work surface?

Thank you Danielle! I can't wait to see what this year has in store for you! You can check out her website and perhaps pick up one of her popular embroidered initial necklaces.

After this interview was done, Danielle was recruited by the Etsy folks to become an official Etsy Educator! Check out her blog to find out about the Etsy classes she will be teaching!

Images by Danielle, used with permission

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cupcakes and Monthly Yarn!


Today is Nate's birthday! We celebrated this weekend, and I picked him up an assortment of cupcakes at Kickass Cupcakes in Davis Square. I pretend I did it for him, but really, they posted on Twitter about a creme brulee cupcake and I couldn't help myself. We got Red Velvet, Snickerlicious, Creme Brulee, Cookie Dough and Super Chocolate. They were all delicious. I saw they had some questionable reviews on Yelp, but I can honestly say I don't have a single complaint.


In other news, you may have heard me talking on Twitter and Facebook about my brand new yarn club. I don't know why it's taken me so long to mention it on here, but here's the details:

- Introductory rate available through the end of July
- Pay monthly, receive yarn in the mail every two months so you have time to knit it
- Exclusive, secret colorways! Each shipment will be a brand new color, unavailable on Etsy for at least three months
- Installment payment plan or full payment plan (with a bit of a discount)
- A 15% off coupon at the end of every 6 month period

For now, I only have a sock yarn club, but I'll be introducing a worsted weight yarn club in the next few weeks.

So what do you think? Are you ready to receive delicious, snuggly, colorful yarn in your mailbox regularly? I've already got some club members and I'm super excited! I've also added some new colorways to the ol' Etsy shop.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pattern Review: Finished Frick Frick Beret

Photo by Caro Sheridan, borrowed from Ravelry

Confession: I finished my Frick Frick Beret a while ago, but I've been dragging my feet on writing this review. Why? Because I don't love the finished hat. I loved the photos on Ravelry, I loved knitting it, but when I put it on my head, I hate the shape. I don't think I'm made for berets. Once I'm over the heartbreak (yes, a bit dramatic for knitting, I know), I'll re-block it into a regular slouch hat. I still love the pretty leaf design, I'm just not at all sold on the shape.

So here are my final thoughts. The pattern is clever yet simple. I used the charted instructions rather than the written ones and found them to be very easy to understand. It's the kind of pattern where you figure out the logic after a few rows, so you don't have to be glued to the chart constantly.

However - I do think I found a small error in the second to last row of the crown. In the body of the hat, there is a point where you need to move your stitch marker and turn the first stitch of the row into the last one by slipping it onto the right-hand needle. I believe we need to do the same at this second-to-last row, even though it's not noted in the pattern. I tried it at first as written in the chart, but the design ended up off by one stitch. When I slipped the first stitch to the right needle, the chart worked perfectly. If any of you try this pattern, I'd love to hear your thoughts when you get to this part!

So what have you been making lately?

Monday, July 9, 2012

We went to Las Vegas


Hello friends! I hope all of you locals had a wonderful 4th of July holiday. Nate and I flew to Vegas for a wedding. Two of our favorite people ever got married, and it was so wonderful to be there for it!

There wasn't much time for the "typical Vegas stuff," which was fine with me because casinos aren't my thing. I gambled all of $2, and made them back. But we did manage to get out to the strip and stopped by the Bellagio. I think the Bellagio atrium was my favorite thing in the city. That and Du-par's pancakes. I made a little bit of progress on my Folded Sweater during the flights, but I was pretty much on a break from knitting.


Have you ever been to Vegas? What did you think?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Places to Eat: Captain's Bar and Grill

View of the Friendship from the restaurant deck

Alas, another weekend over. I hope the heat wave was kind to you this weekend. Boston Handmade Marketplace was lots of fun, even if it was insanely hot and sticky.

Today I wanted to share one of my favorite restaurants with you: Captain's Bar & Grill. Outdoor seating can be hard to come by around here, and they have amazing food and and enormous upstairs deck with a gorgeous view. The restaurant is on the waterfront, and overlooks the Friendship, which docks in Salem. You get a lovely breeze, so it's a great place to go during these unforgiving heat waves.

My favorite dish is the grilled salmon with veggies
This Mac n Cheese is pretty amazing too

My favorite kind of Saturday? Meeting up with the lovely knitting group at Seed Stitch after lunch, then having dinner at Captains with Nate.