Monday, March 31, 2014

Stu Larsen - in concert

Last night I was one of a lucky few who got to experience the wonderful Stu Larsen on a miniature stage, with his guitar and harmonica. It was a very intimate concert, with him playing some of his songs for an audience of about 50-60 people here in Oslo.

I went with a friend of mine, who - just like I did - needed some time out and about, and not spending (seemingly) every evening sitting at home.

We both had a great time, starting with dinner before walking down to the theatre where Stu was playing.

I took a couple of pictures, but there are some limitations as to the quality of the iPhone camera. But I  really like the way the black&white one turned out.

What's really fun about Stu, is that not only is he a really good musician, but he's also the brother of a blogfriend/swapfriend/facebookfriend/craftsfriend of mine. 

If you have Spotify available, I recommend checking out Stu's music - also on YouTube. And if he's playing a concert near you, please go and see him! I can promise you'll have a good time.

I introduced Stu's music to one of my colleagues today, and he was a fan after 45 seconds of listening.. *cheers*

Friday, March 28, 2014

Procrastinating, in all it's glory

You know what I'm talking about, right? Procrastinating? Putting off something, just because it seems like such an effort to finish? Well, I have a knitted project just right for this description..

According to Ravelry, I started knitting this in May 2013, and it trotted along for a short while, until the summer heat came later that month. It went on pause until October, where I might've knitted a row or two, feeling gloomy - there was just too much work, I'm never getting this finished - and so it went back in the project bag..

Soft'n'fluffy wool.. 

Then came January - and the ambition of finishing more things attacked from it's hiding place. If I could just finish one row of stars a week, I'd be happy. I'd be done by the time summer came back. And so I begun knitting.. and saw that, hey, I could actually finish one row of stars in one to two days!

13 1/2 stars wide by 14 star designs high.

And suddenly, less than two weeks later - it was done! 13 1/2 stars wide, 14 stars tall. Each row of stars is a different design. Knitted in the 100% wool yarn Kauni, in two variegated colors (EN shades of blue, and ELC white-to-orange).

Loving the variegated blues and white-to-orange..
Gives life to the whole blanket!

It's almost big enough for a lap throw, but it is actually a baby blanket. P's expressed wishes that he could keep it for him self, but he's got blankets and quilts to last him quite a while now. ;-)

Stars, stars and more stars..

The pattern is called Orion's Belt, and was designed by Ann Myhre - also known as Pinneguri. If you ever need a gorgeous knitting project, then I'd be sure to check out Pinneguri's patterns and see if there's anything that tempts you there (I know there are several temptations for me in her pattern collection.. hmmm....). ;-)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Milo meets Fana - and soft baby stockings

I've knitted another Milo vest - but added some inspiration from the traditional norwegian knitted pattern called Fana. It's an easy pattern, and can be modified to include almost any kind of pattern or design. 

Added a simple "lice" pattern.

 I've knitted Milo three times now - once for Peder, in a grassy green yarn that I had in my stash, and once for a friend of mine who had a baby boy this Winter.

Starting from the top and knitted down, it's really
simple to adjust the size and length desired.

This third Milo is knitted in a soft and squishy baby merino yarn, which makes it perfect for a little baby. I've adjusted it a bit, by knitting a large size with smaller needles and thinner yarn, so I think it should be just right for someone around 4-6 months. 

Matching stockings.

I had a bit of yarn left over, so I decided to knit a pair of socks/stockings to match. These are in size 4-12 months, good and long. (The rest of the brown yarn was adopted by Peder as his "dog"..) What I love about this pattern, is that the socks/stockings are really long and nice - almost up to the knees - and very flexible and stretchy. 
Today's Sunday, and Peder and I are watching cartoons and enjoying a quiet and lazy morning (or, he's doing the cartoon watching while I'm getting some work done on my blog). Yesterday all three of us went to our hairdressers and got a haircut. It's nice to do (practically) nothing for a day or two, before the week is over us again, with it's busy days at work and in kindergarden. Although it snowed a bit one morning last week, it was gone by lunchtime. This has truly been a strange winter here in Oslo - mostly rain, a few short weeks of snow - and then green grass. The flowers are starting to bloom already, and we're not even finished with the month of March! Soon April's here, and we'll have a couple of days off (from both work and kindergarten) because of Easter.

Happy Sunday to you!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Why do you do the things you do?

For reasons I'm not going to elaborate any further at the moment, I've been thinking a lot about why I do the things I do lately. Why do I quilt? Why do I knit, sew, paper piece, crochet, blog, and so on?

Why do I quilt?

I'm not an expert at doing what I do. I'm not particularly good, a designer or a professional. I'm OK at what I do. I make things that I like, I get ideas and I like to learn/test new things/techniques.

I haven't entered many competitions, and I've never won any of the ones that I have entered. I don't quilt to win prices - I quilt because I like it, I think it's fun - and it gives me something in return (peace of mind, an outlet for my creativeness, mug rugs or wallhangings or quilts to use).

And I'm in it for the fun of it.

I've entered swaps before, and I will enter others in the future, and I strive to always send something that I'd like to receive back. If not, then I will start again. (I have experienced receiving something that I'd never ever send, I'd be too embarrassed, but luckily that's only happened once or twice.)

I have entered a quilt in a competition now, and I'm looking forward to getting the judges comments on it - but I don't count on winning first prize, or second prize - or any prize. My only expectation is to get feedback from the judges, perhaps they'll be able to point out things I need to work more on - actually, I hope they do. Of course, what matters the most, is what I feel about this quilt - not what everybody else thinks.

I guess the thought of entering a competition, solely to win, is a silly thought. Expecting to win, counting winning as a certainty, using this as the only reason to create something and enter the competition, to me this is just wrong. To me, this feels like someone who's completely misunderstood the reason for creating a competition, the reason for making something to enter in a competition. The reason to create.

A competition should be created with the purpose of seeing how many, and diverse, interpretations and solutions that results from the given theme, content, and so on. And the products created for a competition should be made to show a persons interpretations, or a technique, something the creator is proud of, something this person would like to share.

The quilt I have entered in this competition, is a quilt I started to think about right after I heard the theme for the competition about a year ago. I thought about it for a long time, and started sewing a few months later. The last stitches were made around Christmas last year, and I am proud of the result. It's not perfect, far from it, but it has soul. There's a story behind it, it's got roots in history, and at the same time it's personal. (I can't wait to have it back, to hang it on my wall and just enjoy it.) I loved the process of making it. It challenged me to try techniques I've stayed away from. I learned from it. I grew. And I know that I will not win a prize for it. But, hey, it doesn't matter.

I made this quilt because right now I love to sew. I love to create - sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet - I need it, crave it, dream it. (I wonder, can I add breathe it to the list too?)

And when the time comes and I don't feel this way anymore. When looking at patterns, fabric, yarn, and so on isn't fun anymore - when all of this becomes a have to, a duty. Well, guess what..

I'll stop.

I'm in it to have fun. And when it's not fun anymore - I quit.

Why do you do the things you do?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Roughly four years in the making..

Back in the winter of 2010, I prepared the stitcheries for the Cinderberry Stitches pattern Sublime Season - and... february 2014  I put the final stitches in the binding. Not bad, huh?

Originally, the pattern called for windmills around and between each block, but I'm not very good at piecing these kinds of blocks.. I suppose that's why most of my quilts have squares or simple lines.. In this one I decided to use a black flamelike fabric, changing shade from deep black to lighter charcoal gray. The yellow strip is my final leftovers of a very warm, yellow butterfly fabric. I bought this back when I lived in Tønsberg (between 2004 and 2006) and have been saving this last piece for something special.

Sublime Season on the grass.
 Now, Sublime Season is a Christmas themed pattern, with parts of Twelve Days of Christmas written in the center block, but the colors are so cute and light, and I really wanted to reflect that in the outer border. The yellow fits perfectly - and there are shades of light blue and pink there too, in the butterflies.

Almost sunlight - so much better than the gray of winter.
 I figured, 1) it's my quilt so I'll do what I want with it, and 2) the pattern's from Australia, where I bet there's butterflies at Christmas, so the fabric was just perfect.

On our bbq-bench - unfortunately, slightly wrinkly. 
I had to chase the quilt a bit when trying to photograph it, as the wind kept trying to steal it from me. Now to wait for Christmas, so that I can hang it in our living room.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hedwig and Herbert

Last year - almost exactly to the day - I fell in love. I fell head over heels in love with a pattern from Northern Quilts called Hedwig and Herbert. It's a pattern for mug rugs or small table toppers (also included is a pattern for place mats) featuring the owls Herbert and Hedwig. (I say small table toppers as the mug rugs are slightly bigger than the average size used for mug rugs - at least min ended up that way, but they're still too cute!)

The quartet.
I decided to make two of each - using blues and browns for Herbert, and purple-pink'ish for Hedwig, swapping the colors, so that the wings of one of them came back in the body of the other - and vice-versa.

I love how simple it is to change the design of the eyes - and the eyes really give personality to the owls. That's probably why all four of these owls have different expressions in their eyes.

In our house there are usually always a cup or a glass on the table, and I really like using mug rugs - they leave a little extra space for something else. Sometimes there'll be both a cup and a glass (or a bottle) for a person, sometimes there's a piece of snack that needs to be put down somewhere - and a mug rug is just perfect for that!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bear Hats

Continuing to knit from the book Monster knits for little monsters (as mentioned in a previous post) I wanted to try the pattern called Santa Bear (only, I didn't want to knit a red&white Christmas-y hat, but found the idea of a brown hat with light details more interesting). Thus the Brown Bear Hat was born!

I've knitted two of these, size 6-12 months. I really like the basic pattern, with the tighter field around the face, and the part covering the neck and going down to the shoulders. (Basically, it's the same base pattern as the dragon hat I knitted for Peder, it's just got squishy little ears instead of spikes.)

First hat just off the needles.
I ended up with a warm, dark brown as base color, and chose off-white as the contrast color.

Outside, in natural light.
The first hat has details in off-white around the face, on the ears and the bottom edge of the neck.

Second hat in natural lighting.
On the second hat I ran out of off-white about halfway down the bottom edge, and decided to swap the off-white edge with a brown one (instead of buying a new skein for only a few grams of yarn). 

Aren't they cute?