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  • summer days

    The longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere is right around the corner (Sunday the 21st, this year).

    The days have been hot lately, too. The entire west coast is in a drought - not just California, which you've probably heard about in the news, but up here in Washington, too. The cherries are early this year. Everything's early. I can't remember the last time it really rained. Just endless sunshine and 70-80 degree days.

    It might sound nice to some, but it can make a Seattleite grumpy. I'm yearning for cloudy days and and some actual, proper rain. Still, I'm doing my best to savor the good parts. Mary Jane is in town, so she and I and Cirilia headed out to the Ballard Locks this week with some treats to do a little outdoor knitting. We hovered in the shade, but it was certainly beautiful. We enjoyed watching the bird life - so many blue herons! - and eating the homemade cookies Cirilia had brought along. 

    I've been enjoying the lingering light as the days have grown longer, too. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that when I get to Tromsø, the days will still be quite long and there will be no real darkness my first few weeks there. The days will rapidly grow shorter, though, so I'm enjoying the long daylight as long as I can, whether I'm here in Seattle or in Tromsø.

    I hope whatever your summer is like so far, you're enjoying it! 

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  • photographic milestones

    I got a new camera!!

    My very first camera was a 35mm SLR: a Nikon FG-20. It was a hand-me-down from my mom and I loved it. I used to walk around my yard and my neighborhood as a teenager, snapping photos of anything and everything (but rarely people). I remained a faithful Nikon photographer when I bought my first serious digital camera, a Nikon D70 that I bought second-hand in 2007. It wasn't my first digital camera, but it was my first serious digital camera. I bought it a few months ahead of a semester abroad in France - I remember wanting to have a good camera to document my first extended trip in Europe. That D70 remained my faithful companion for the next seven years, coming with me on a cross-country move as well as trips on four different continents. I basically used it all the time. But at some point last year, that started to change. I got an iPod Touch before going to Norway for the summer, and even though my D70 came along, I used the iPod almost exclusively. Last fall I replaced the iPod with an iPhone. The cameras have come quite far in smartphones, as we all know, and for everyday snaps you really can't beat the ease and portability they provide.

    As I started using my phone more and more to take photos, I think my old D70 really started showing its age. My relationship with it had changed, too. I didn't want to bring it along to document much of anything, and it really only came out to shoot pattern photos or knitting projects. In the last few months, it's finally given up. I can no longer shoot with it. Whatever's wrong with it is probably fixable, but I decided that I'd rather look at buying a new camera than pay money to have a rather old one fixed, especially since digital photo technology has moved forward by huge leaps and bounds since that camera was released. And there's something to be said for investing in a camera that moves me to take pictures again, that's inspiring just to have in my hands. So I started looking around.

    What I landed on is the camera pictured above: the Fujifilm X-T1. I went for the "graphite silver edition" because the silver top is reminiscent of the Nikon FG-20 that was my very first camera (nostalgia totally sells; smooth move, Fuji!). The purchase of this camera marks a rather momentous occasion for me: it's the first time I've bought a proper pro camera totally brand new. There's a lot about it that's very different than my Nikon - the biggest thing being that the Fuji is mirrorless - but I love the photos it takes and I love how it feels in my hands, and that stuff matters to me just as much as the technical specs (if not more). 

    I took a long walk today to spend some time getting a feel for it. Walking around with this camera in my hands, I almost felt like that teenager walking around with her first camera again. It's been a long time since I've felt that sort of giddy excitement about a new creative tool. Most of the photos I took today are just snapshots, really, but I thought I'd share a few here on the blog. I hope to be sharing a lot more photos on the blog again, especially once I get to Norway in August.

    I also wanted to say thanks to the friends who sat and talked cameras with me as I worked my way up to this decision, particularly Kathy and Rachel. Your enthusiasm and encouragement means so much, and I'm grateful for it.

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  • lately

    There's been a lot going on behind the scenes for me recently, and I'll share more about that soon, but in the meantime, here are some things I've been up to lately:

    I started a pair of socks with some of the new Arne & Carlos sock yarn from Regia. I've never been one for self-patterning yarns, but this line - and this colorway in particular - totally won me over. The colorways are all inspired by paintings by Edvard Munch with ties to the Norwegian landscape through the seasons. The colorway pictured above is called Summer Night, and I basically want to live in it.

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    I've been thinking about sewing quite a bit (after all, Me Made May is coming up). I'm so pleased with how this Chardon skirt I finished a month ago turned out, box pleats, pockets and all. I haven't had a chance to sew anything since, but I did buy a walking foot for my machine so that I can try out sewing with knits. I have a striped grey knit fabric I was originally planning to use for a Linden, but I've decided it's going to be a Hemlock tee instead, because that seems more beginner friendly and still totally fits with my wardrobe. If you have any advice for sewing knits without a serger, I'm all ears! 

    But back to the Chardon skirt (or Jupe Chardon, as Deer and Doe is a French company) for a moment. This is marketed as a beginner pattern but even so, it was kind of a big project for me. There's not a ton of guidance on how to deal with pressing the box pleats, and the belt loop instructions are literally just a sentence telling you to sew on the belt loops. I know in this modern age of internet tutorials and craft blogging we can expect a lot of hand holding, but if you're taking on these skills for the first time, expect to spend some time doing research on the best ways to go about it. Still - the box pleats and belt loops are acceptable, if not fantastic, and the skirt is super wearable!

    I used an amazing fabric I picked up at Drygoods Design - this Pickering International organic lightweight duck cloth in grey (which now appears to be sold out). It's a 45/55 blend of recycled hemp and organic cotton, so it's going to make a fabulous warmer weather skirt (and it's been doing great in the winter to spring transition with a pair of tights). I love this fabric and would definitely work with it again. Perhaps it's the hemp in it, but it manages to hold the pleats well it doesn't wrinkle anywhere near as easily as a plain cotton or cotton/linen blend would.

    If I make this skirt again (and I might, because it's so versatile) I may add a little bit of length. I have a high waist on a 6' (182cm) frame, so the hem falls a few inches higher above my knees than might be ideal, proportionally. But I'd love a version of this skirt in a darker color - maybe a charcoal or a navy? Or even black?

    You can check out the photos in more detail with some progress notes over on my project page on Kollabora.

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    And lastly, the main recent development in my world is that spring has come screaming into Seattle. It came early this year for us (sorry, east coasters - especially you Mainers who I know just got more snow) and the whole city has been in bloom for weeks. I can't deny I've been enjoying it; Seattle on a sunny day in spring or summer is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I hope spring is finding its way into your world, too!

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  • swedish pancakes (pom pom spring 2015)

    The preview of the spring 2015 issue of Pom Pom Magazine went up today, and I'm thrilled to have a design in this issue! When the call for submissions was first posted, I have to admit I got pretty excited. "Clean lines and shapes and Scandinavian minimalism" were the key words, so I was all over it. I had time to put a couple of submissions together, and fortunately one of them made it in! Here's Swedish Pancakes:

    I'm so happy with how these sweet little mitts turned out. One of my favorite things about working with third parties like Pom Pom or Brooklyn Tweed is that they often push me to work outside my comfort zone with colors (leave it to me and I'll work with blue, grey, and green forever). My swatch for this stitch pattern was worked in white and blue, which is very typical for me, but I think the subtle pink and warm silver are a beautiful combination and I love the effect of the softened colorwork.

    To explain the name of the mitts, we have to turn to the pattern motif. I've wanted to work with this colorwork stitch pattern for quite awhile - it's very directly inspired by the exterior of a building here in Seattle: the Swedish Club. It's a box of a mid century building which was completed in 1961 (around the same time the Space Needle was nearing completion, the year before the Seattle World's Fair in 1962), and situated on the west side of Lake Union with a beautiful view of the lake and city. I first encountered the club when a friend suggested we try out their Swedish pancake breakfast back in 2010. Once there, we learned that the pancake breakfast is a monthly event that brings a thousand people through the doors in the space of a few hours, complete with folk bands and people of all ages, and it's bucketloads of fun. I joined the club that very day. My relationship with the club goes beyond pancake breakfast, though - it's also a pretty special building to me because it's where I got married. If you're in Seattle, I highly encourage you to check out the rather large calendar of events and find an excuse to go to the club. (Seriously - weekly happy hour, fiber arts open studio time, and dinners, movies, Swedish classes, car shows... there's a lot to choose from.)

    The south and east walls of the building feature an exterior layer of metal latticework in a geometric design of overlapping circles. It's one of my favorite things about the building and I'm so happy to finally feature it in a colorwork pattern.

    (photo borrowed from the inimitable Jenny Jimenez)

    You can check out more views of the building on Flickr.

    I also thought it would be fun to share a bit of memoribilia from the club. My husband Chris and I picked up this plate at one of their antiques & great finds sales:

    It's hard to make out in this photo, but I love that the plate features the original signage on the front of the building over the doors.

    We also have a handful of these vintage swizzle sticks, which were handed down by Chris's grandmother:

    Pretty swanky.

    Thanks for indulging my love of this Seattle institution, and I hope you'll feel inspired to check out the spring issue of Pom Pom! It's available for pre-order now from the Pom Pom website, and you can check out the rest of the patterns on Ravelry. (I especially love Joji's hat Vitsippa and the adorable Elske socks by Merrian Holland.)

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