Thursday, January 29, 2009

Keeping it Warm

Hi all y'all! In the midst of all the wonderful things going on in Providence I managed to finish a knitted pair of legwarmers! I know that I'm starting a business based on screenprinted textiles, but knitting is, in many ways, my true passion. As a matter of fact, I'm trying to start up a Thursday knitting night here in town. The sad part is that I haven't found a perfect, comfy, late-night coffee shop yet. More evidence that I need to start my own space that has coffee, yarn, classes, couches, and heck, maybe a yoga studio in the back? This is my idea of heaven - a business that serves the community through my two favorite pastimes and serves a great cup of coffee or tea.

So here's the scoop on the legwarmers. I bought two skeins of a superwash merino in a DK weight while on the big family cruise to Alaska last summer. I skipped out on buying anything emblazoned with wolves or salmon in favor of buying yarn in every port. This yummy yarn has rust, yellow topaz, garnet, and sage colors that I decided to display in a really simple legwarmer knit in the round. I did some 1x1 ribbing at the top and bottom to help them stay in place. I decided to model them with my favorite high heels which are black, of course. And I'm propping my feet on my sheepskin rug which is my favorite splurge since New Years. I put it right next to my bed so that waking up on these 17 degree mornings is so much more pleasant. And it also makes a great spot to set up my meditation cushion and zen out in my bedroom.

I made such a big production about my butterfly print, I wanted to show off one of the finished products - little zippy pouches that are for sale on etsy. Of course I have tons of pieces for large totes with the butterfly but I haven't managed to finish a single one! I started spending a great deal of time travelling to DC and NYC in the last two weeks plus I'm working on the product development side right now - I'm designing a yoga mat bag, doing research for some brand spanking new imagery, and knitting a big chunky cowl from another variegated yarn. I think it's going to be a weekend of getting my fiber on and finishing some of these works in progress!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Zen Life

I have been very busy since I returned to work at the book bindery on Monday. I love being back but it certainly makes for less time to create here at my home studio. I am also a bit less productive because I've resolved for 2009 to be a year of deepening my spiritual practices. I am trying to avoid being overly busy and instead, make time for inward reflection. I hope this helps everything I do for myself and emmaline designs be imparted with calm and happiness.

Last night I went to the Providence Zen Center for the second time. The first time I took a tour, listened to a description of their technique and philosophy and then sat in silent meditation for 10 minutes. Over the holiday I practiced a little more, 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, but not in any consistent way. Last night I went back for a full sitting in the main hall for one hour! The session is divided into three parts - 25 minutes sitting, 10 minutes walking, and then a final 25 minutes sitting. I have to confess, I felt really unsuccessful! I could mostly sit still, no fidgeting or moving around, but my mind is like a totally untrained puppy, getting its curious nose into absolutely everything it comes across. I just think and think and plan and wonder and imagine and then do some more planning and thinking. And was it worth it? Absolutely. I thought I would be great at meditation because of my background in yoga, but without the distraction of the physical poses for my mind to concentrate on I have to work much harder to keep my mind quiet and in the present.

On the design front, I love the language of my yoga practice so much that I find myself constantly drawing things with blooming flowers and words that remind me to stay calm and centered. Namaste is one of those wonderful words. This gorgeous green bag is printed with two plumeria flowers, fragrant and beautiful blossoms that remind me of Hawaii. I probably won't be making this one again because the actual bag is not totally original (it's a modified pattern from a very well-known designer). However, I hope to be showing some newly finished bags over the weekend!

Until then,

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

The first day of the year is off to a mellow start, 18 degrees outside but nice and warm in my cozy apartment. It feels appropriate to be talking about knitting today because that is how my return to art and craft began. Eight years ago my little sister taught me how to knit and my obsession with fiber grew from there, eventually leading me to study design at ASU and now, to move to Rhode Island and get my crafty on, full time. I'm not the first to wax poetic about the wonder of two sticks and one long string being twisted and knotted into a whole and complete piece of cloth. It is an elemental process - the making of cloth to warm, decorate, and express ourselves.

But let's not get too serious, because it is also tremendously fun and creative to knit, as well. My personal knitting style is best described as "fiber first." I fall in love with a ball of yarn, it's color, touch, and smell, and then I try to figure out how I want to wear or use it. A lot of the time it stays in this loosely wound ball for a long time before I am willing to knit with it! What I wanted to show off here is a one-ply teal yarn that is kettle dyed for rich and subtle variation of highs and lows. It's a worsted weight, so I knit this on #9 needles (Crystal Palace bamboos, if you must know) in a simple double moss stitch.

Besides all this techno-knitting jargon, the point is that I get to wear the yarn around my neck! I made a really simple flat piece of cloth with no shaping. I knew I wanted to have the cowl button up (buttons are my newest knitting obsession) so I did some yarn-overs to make button holes. In a flash of inspiration I decided to make a ruffle after these button holes because I thought it would accentuate the "scrunchiness" of the wide cowl. And sure enough, it looks fab! I've been wearing it around the house ever since it got finished because it makes me feel both warm and fancy. Perfect!