Saturday, July 30, 2011

Inside Animation

I have been really intrigued by the processes shown in these Youtube videos - one on Sylvain Chomet, who has animated films like Les Triples De Belleville and the very-scary short, La Vieille Dame et Les Pigeons. 

In addition there is this lovely video featuring animator Joanna Quinn. I think everyone will probably know her best as the woman who illustrates those annoying bears in the Charmin commericals, which is a pity, because her animation skills are far beyond selling toilet paper. I hope she gets a chance to do something better soon! In the meantime, you can watch her student film, Girls Night Out, and several other films, on her website. 

There is definitely a lot any artist, especially those who sketch figures or fashion figures, can learn from the animation process. I prefer personally to work often on tracing paper - I feel that the color translates better and you can see your progress beneath you. I might try this feeling of 'graduated' movement sketching in my next project.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Craftsy Crochet Classes with Linda Permann

I could not be more excited to share this with you guys. The lovely, talented Linda Permann gave me an opportunity to try two of her crochet courses on Craftsy. I am going to be taking them and reviewing them here on the blog, so stay tuned! The classes I'm taking are 'Beyond Rectangles' and 'Crafty Crochet Embellishments'. All the classes have videos included and a chat where you can ask your instructor questions. Craftsy has a really, really nice set up and I'm eager to start my first class this afternoon! I just have to get my crochet hooks and yarn ready (I'll be starting with something happy and squooshy - Malabrigo Worsted!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

1600 Jelly Roll Quilt Top

I saw this goofy video in a tweet from Chawne, and really wanted to try it. I mean, a quilt top in under 3 hours? Impossibly awesome, right? It would be great to be able to give these away to friends and family as a christmas gift! So I went and got a Moda Jelly Roll (Oliver + S 'City Weekend'), and got to it! You can find instructions to make your own here: 1600 Jelly Roll Quilt. I'm doing my best to work through some of my sewing and knitting stash. I really don't want to have to move it all again, and that means that I have a year to cut it down to a more manageable size.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Izze & Jellybeans

This is my current favorite work-time snack. 
Jelly Belly jellybeans in fruit flavors only, and Izze Blackberry soda.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Final Scenes: The Tudors

I've finally finished all of the seasons of The Tudors, which is now available in full on Netflix, if you have it, even on instant play. I started the show with my dad but he quickly grew bored of it after Anne Boleyn died -- I will admit that Natalie Dormer was excellent in the role and I missed her terribly throughout the last three seasons, but I really felt I needed to finish the journey of Henry VIII through this epic re-telling of history. The costumes were fantastic, the scenery beautiful, but I was especially struck by these scenes from the final episode. They take place throughout as Henry muses on his life. Screenshots are done by me, but the original footage is property of Showtime.

Perfect Summer Soiree

I fell in love with the mood board generator at BHLDN when I had to use it for the recent giveaway at the Oh, Joy! blog. The giveaway challenge is to come up with a mood board that shows BHLDN clothing and illustrates your perfect summer party. I used a lot of photos on my Pinterest -- if you click over to my mood board here you can see where they all came from, respectively, by clicking the individual images. Unfortunately, the giveaway is not a judged contest, so more than likely mine won't get viewed by many people at all. Please leave me a comment here or on BHLDN so that I know you liked it!

A Peach of a Look

It's nearing the end of the summer here in Iowa (you can practically hear the fall, waiting around the corner, hoping that August will fly by quickly with the fair and it will be September before you know it), and right now my tastes have kind of turned into a blend of being extremely tired of my summer clothing and hoping to embrace it for a few more weeks all the same.

I was seeing peach makeup everywhere, and especially loved the post about it on A Beautiful Mess. I think that it's a very 'attainable' look for nearly any skin tone, as long as you find your right shade. So, I started looking for my right shade, and found some mineral eyeshadow from Noella Beauty Works in 'Mango Berry'. I prefer mineral eye shadows to any other type because I find that they layer well, are versatile (you can wet your brush to apply in a darker way or more precisely, and usually have strong color. Noella Beauty Works came with high recommendation from a friend, and it's lovely stuff. I couldn't have been happier. As you can see above, I wear it as a blended blush and a eyeshadow, with just a touch of black eyeliner.

So just when I've decided that peachy pink is the way to go, guess what turns up on the blog? Peachy pink at the Armani show for Fall 2011! It looks like I'm going to be wearing peach makeup well into fall. And what's there not to love about that? (Both the bottom images are from the linked blog article, and are property of The mineral make-up shown is Mango Berry by Noella Beauty Works.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Prada Resort 2012 - Babushka Chic?

I can't really make a definite statement about my feelings toward this Resort collection. Typically, I avoid resort collections like the plague because they're unreasonable for my lifestyle. I very rarely take a 'vacation' in the winter and go somewhere warmer. This year, I might be in Uruguay come February, but I doubt I'll buy a whole new wardrobe for it. And frankly, it isn't like the avenues that I shop (online, the mall) are really going to be carrying a lot in the way of fall/spring type clothing in the middle of my country's winter season.

But there is something sweet and earnest about the prints and pastels of this Prada collection, and I want to somehow translate that feeling into my own fall wardrobe. I have been big into the neutral bag all summer, and I would love a pink-beige clutch or satchel to carry into winter. I work from home, so a big huge bag isn't really necessary - and I do have a lovely Namaste bag in dark teal that can carry knitting anywhere in structured perfection.

Aside from the models in this photoshoot being unable to look at the camera very well (seriously, these aren't even the worse ones, some of the shots were downright cross-eyed), I think that the setting of the shoot may be what is 'getting' me here - the pale blue background, neutral chair, and the simple feeling of timeless-ness. It's obvious that they're trying to invoke feelings of Mad Men in these garments - from the slightly dated shapes to the way the outfits are layered, they seem to fit that era, until you get to the goofy headscarves. So what is this look? Babushka - chic?

I've decided that I'll adapt this collection as color, layering and shape - I would definitely wear the blue dress at middle solo on a warm day, or grab the clutch from the daisy dress any day of the week to run to lunch, or throw on the satchel and scarf combo with an oversized sweatshirt and thick tights, boots and bracelets, to run on a quick shopping trip. How would you wear pieces from this collection? And does it speak to you at all?

Friday, July 15, 2011

TdF 2011 Update - Two Weeks In

I am officially two weeks into the Tour De Fleece, and I have made 1,366 yards of yarn! I also made you a mosaic to look at:

Shown here are all the yarns I've made so far, on and off the bobbin! These include two skeins of singles of Hello Yarn Targhee in 'Hidden Trail', nearly four skeins (738 yards!) of a 3-ply made from Hello Yarn Polworth in 'Cauldron' and Funky Carolina Falklands in 'Kermit', and two skeins of 2-ply Hello Yarn Falklands in 'Kale'. More to come soon - thus far it has been a very green TdF and I am about to take a turn into blues and browns!

Beauty Obsessions

On the top of my want-to-buy list:

Sugar Rose lip balm by Fresh cosmetics -- I have heard this stuff is not only pretty and smells nice, but has the perfect balance of tint and balm. I do love my Burt's Bees, but I feel like I could shy away and purchase this next time!

I have nothing but curiosity about this product - Scotch Naturals' nail polish is a water-based, non-toxic, and eco-friendly alternative to other polishes. It comes in 17 colors and they're all beautiful, sophisticated, and trendy! In addition, Scotch offers a soy-based nail polish remover. I keep thinking that I need to find a few 'signature' colors to wear and cull the rest of my polish collection. 

Speaking of signature colors, could Bobbi Brown have hit my nail on the head any harder with this palette? These are the eye colors I wear literally every day, with the exception of a richer brown, and I could easily get rid of 90% of my makeup bag by buying this awesome palette!

Coach Poppy was first introduced to me by my little sister, who loves the scent but is afraid to wear perfumes because she has allergies to several. I fell in love pretty madly, but I haven't taken the plunge yet (perfume is expensive) because I am still using up my Chanel Eau Tendre and Marc Jacob's Basil. Can you guess that I like light, slightly earthy, floral - sweet scents?

What are you secretly obsessing over?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wind, Taking Down Willows

 I was going to post awhile back - you remember me saying that I had some posts up my sleeves, right? But suddenly, we were without power, plunged into a technology-free world, and I was making Twitter updates with my cell phone. We were running the fridge with the generator, and I was spending four hours each morning hauling brush to the curb so that we could take it to the city compost pile. 

Yup, we got hit with a pretty big storm. Lots of damage, although luckily not to the house or the cars. Some of our biggest shade trees -- trees that have lived over 100 years, trees that have survived hundreds of midwestern storms, ice, snow, and hail -- came down all over our property on Sunday night while we huddled in the basement laundry room.

So don't worry, I'm still posting, I just didn't have power for awhile!

The Wool Dispensary - A Kickstarter to Watch

If you haven't heard about Kickstarter yet, you're missing out. It is an awesome website that allows people to post projects they're hoping to launch and lets friends, supporters, interested parties and family support these projects with varying donation levels. Many of the donations also come with a gift to the person who donated, PBS style. I am very much in love with Kickstarter because it allows small companies and individuals to fund big business dreams -- attending a trade show, launching a clothing line, or releasing their first book. And all you usually need to donate to help is a few bucks. Every little bit counts! 

I wanted to introduce you to a Kickstarter project that has come really close to my heart. A few of you may know that when I first 'started' down my career path, I was an administrator for the Malabrigo Junkies group on Ravelry. At the time the group was a lot smaller than the 5,000 + members that participate now, and the group was very close-knit (pun intended, always). I got to know a lot of aspiring designers and knitters on a very personal level. We shared our lives with each other -- hardships and personal revelations and hopes and dreams. Many members in the group got very close. Two people I got to know really well through the Junkies were Sam Boice and Breean Miller. Breean and I even ran a KAL together during the first Malabrigo March!

Sam and Breean are the kind of folks that I love to support on Kickstarter. They're both level-headed, have a good idea of how the industry functions (Sam used to work for a well-known dyer, Breean is an awesome designer with lots of work under her belt), and what they want to do within it. They're starting their own wool-dyeing company, called 'The Wool Dispensary'. Each of the collections the Dispensary produces has a color theme and storyline that forms the mood for the collection. And the yarn is beautiful -- several different gorgeous bases and a handful of jewel-toned colors. I am especially excited about the Suri Merino base, pictured at the top of this post!

They aren't asking for a lot of help, just a little boost so that they can attend their first conference show, Yarn Con, in Chicago this year. What I really appreciate in a Kickstarter proposal is a knowledge that the original folks aren't expecting you to back everything - Sam and Breean have put a lot of their own money and time into making their dreams happen. If you're interested in helping, please jump over to their Kickstarter page and make a donation to this budding yarn company!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Afternoon

I thought I'd punish my blog readers with pictures of my cat until I can give you something more interesting to read. This actually means there will be a real post tomorrow. 
So you're only being punished today. I promise.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2011 Fall Color Trends 101

In case you don't follow the runways and you haven't had a chance to look through this season's trends (I think I browse three or four fashion shows a day to attempt some level of consciousness), I've compiled them for you a bit here! Happily, the trend this fall is all about color and pattern -- two of my favorite things. Texture wise, there were many thick, textured, woven fabrics, often accented by furs. In contrast, clothing in sheer and lightweight fabrics seemed to dominate the rest of the runway, showing up in brilliant pattern or monochrome neutrals.

Color trending is basically re-inventing the wheel -- the color wheel, that is. Each season the basic hues are tweaked to become some fresh, 'new' palette. Compared to last season's grouping of drab grays, blacks, olives and brown, this year felt like a fresh breath of crisp fall air. Rich plum, clear blue, poppy red, dirty chartreuses, jade, mouse gray, cream and buttery browns showed up again and again in various shows. I can't wait to start dreaming up knits and grabbing these colors from my yarn and fabric stashes. I already had a plum blouse planned for Sketch, Sew, Style -- now I really need to get working on it!

Fashion Credits, Row 1: Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Issa, J. Crew;
 Row 2: DVF, Alice + Olivia, Basso & Brooke, Hermes

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Farmer's Market Finds: Mulberry Cobbler

I wanted to start a new short series for summer, and with the addition of a Farmer's Market to this sleepy little town, it seemed like a great fit. A lot of folks around here grow their own produce and don't just grow your typical tomatoes and carrots, they grow some other 'oddities' too. I thought it would be fun to find recipes for these 'oddities' and share them with you!

This week, I talked my mom into picking up two baskets of mulberries. The mulberry isn't actually a berry -- berries grow on bushes, and a mulberry is a type of tree. They look a little like blackberries but don't have as many seeds, and the stem is integrated into the fruit itself, so you can't remove them easily. This isn't a huge problem, because the stems are very small and tender and will bake right into whatever you're making.

I picked a recipe for Crispy Mulberry Cobbler off of Key Ingredient, a website that lets you look up the main ingredient for your dish and find several results for it. I liked this recipe because it seemed to promise that the mulberries wouldn't come out mushy. They're a very soft fruit and very small, so it was important for me to maintain some of their integrity. If I had just used them as a replacement for blackberries I don't know that they would have held up as well. Plus, the recipe called for minimal ingredients, so it was easy to make with things I had around the house. I really do prefer 'simple' food. My notes are in italics.

Crispy Mulberry Cobbler, from Key Ingredient (submitted anonymously)

1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp sugar (this would be an excellent place to use raw sugar)
3 cups mulberries (the recipe recommends Persian mulberries but I don't know the difference...)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup butter

Start by rinsing your mulberries in ice water. I stored mine for 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge, to slow down any aphids. After pulling them out, I dumped the whole batch in freezing water and  drained with a colander, repeating twice. The berries have little nooks and crannies so be sure to rinse well, just to get any teeny bugs out. I then moved the berries to a glass bowl. Don't dry them off, since you're going to dump the 1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp sugar in there and you want it to stick. Mix up the berries with these two dry ingredients evenly distributed -- set aside.

In another bowl, take the cup of flour, sugar, and baking powder, and mix. Soften the butter a little in your microwave -- don't melt it, just make it easier to move around. Crack and beat your egg, then add the butter into the bowl with dry ingredients. I used a spatula to mix them all together -- mix until it seems like it's just not going to blend, and it looks crumbly and fairly dry. Dump in your slightly beaten egg, and mix so that everything is moistened.

Take an 8-inch baking dish and grease it. I like to use Baker's Joy because it 'greases' a pan without making it seem greasy -- just a light dusting of flour, really, to keep it from sticking. Then dump your berry mixture in, distributing it evenly along the bottom of the pan. Next, using your hands, crumble your dough mixture over the top as evenly as possible (no need to be perfect). I sprinkled the top of my cobbler with sanding sugar so it will look extra crisp and pretty when it comes out of the oven.

Bake at 350 F for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for a bit before serving, or until you can cover it and set it aside for later! We served ours with vanilla ice cream, and I would have had pictures, but it was eaten much too fast.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I Love Mail Days...

I get a lot of things in the mail. Mostly because I order lots of things in the mail. Today was a pretty lucrative 'mail day', so I thought I'd share what came:

Hello Yarn Rambouillet in 'Radius' -- this has a good probability of being spun for TdF!

Quince & Co. Tern in 'Gingerbread' and 'Chanterelle' -- I am very excited to use this 

Tour de Fleece: Day 1

This is my first year actually participating in Tour de Fleece (for those of you who don't spin, this means that I'm spinning along with the Tour de France, setting personal goals regarding amount and types of yarn that I'm making. It's a challenge for spinners at the same time the 'spinners' - bicyclists - in France are challenging themselves too!) It's exciting for me for so many reasons. Last year, I was in Uruguay. The year before, I didn't have a wheel, only a spindle, and I had a very small fiber stash (this is no longer a problem.)

For the first day of the Tour, I finished off some bobbins that I had started the night before -- fluffy, dk-weight singles that will eventually pair with some Malabrigo yarn to become an Inspira Cowl. The fiber is Hello Yarn Targhee in the colorway 'Hidden Trail'. It has just the right mix of sweet pink, dirty yellow-green, and navy to keep me happy. I am not really excellent at spinning singles, especially with shorter fibers, but I think these went well. I only had two breaks when I went back through to take some of the twist out. We'll see how well it knits up - I plan on starting this project tonight!

As soon as those were off the bobbins, I started my biggest challenge for the Tour: spinning three super-thin singles so that I can make a sock-weight 3-ply. 3-ply yarns are one of the bounciest, most beautiful yarns for socks, if spun correctly, but they certainly take some practice. This will be only my second 3-ply, but I feel confident that if I remain patient, it will come out exactly as I want. I am mixing two plies of Hello Yarn Polworth 'Cauldron' with one ply of Funky Carolina Falklands in 'Kermit'. As you can see, I didn't get very far on my bobbin today -- this is about 4 hours of spinning - but I did other things (like pitting cherries, and balling some watermelon, and baking a mulberry cobbler), so I think I'm excused.

One of my favorite things about the tour is that not only does it challenge me to think ahead, prepare and execute ideas, and work hard at things that are difficult, but it makes me slow down and enjoy small pleasures. The sound of the spinning wheel. The color of fiber slipping through my fingers and lining up in little rows on the bobbin. The surprise of looking down and seeing a bit of blush peeking through golden brown. I hope that I continue to enjoy the Tour this way. It makes me wonder if the guys who are actually cycling during Tour de France enjoy their sights and sounds.