To put it mildly...I have been in a funk. A deep, dark, down the bottom of the well funk that has been the end of a trail of sorrows. It was bad. Really bad.  A "don't get out of bed" bad. A "eat, work, eat, sleep" life with little in the way of sparkle or shine. No laughs. Nothing to laugh about. It was a demon snowball I was stuck in the center of--rolling down the hill, frozen in the cold, singularity of self, and stuck in the heart of frigid sameness. And it was a long time coming--and equally as long a time to unfreeze out of. And I am not fully freed--but at least a little of the sun is peeking through as the time and light is working its way into my heart and head.

This was a time of fixed stares and no interest in reading, researching or drawing. This was a time of knocking on doors that never open. This was a time of silence--not the comforting silence of thought and contentment--but metallic silence of your own prison. It has been a time of reassessment, of the "new"normal. It has been a time of looking at what was real--and seeing it all anew. It has been a time of trial for me--and though I may have appeared docile, I have struggled mightily with much of my lessons--but have come to at least see them, acknowledge them and to some degree accept them--maybe not all of them with joy in my heart, but nonetheless--accept them so as to be able to move forward.

Eye Candy du jour.

Here's a gumdrop for you. It's sweet. It's little. It's a treat.

As you know, I am a fan of the idea of an artist being able to "do a style" really well, and snapping it to a topic that is au courant--or nerdy. Preferably both. Remember the wonderful images created in the Lubok style by Andrey Kuznetsov? Here is his spiderman image to remind you, and a link to a great collection of images at Pagefiddler.

"SPIDERMAN. ONE HAND FOR EVERY BASIC NEED: GIRLS, BOOZE AND WHATEVER ELSE."

"SPIDERMAN. ONE HAND FOR EVERY BASIC NEED: GIRLS, BOOZE AND WHATEVER ELSE."

Good stuff? I love this. It refreshes the super hero (or any of the other topics) and brings it a whole different skew. Makes you think. And, its funny. What's  not to love? Okay, one more because I am feeling jolly. This one brings Avatar to light:

"PERKY LITTLE AVATARS!"

"PERKY LITTLE AVATARS!"

So in this tradition of funny reimagining of popular culture, these Ukrainian paintings by Sergei Iukhimov are stellar examples of the fusion of Russian Orthodox iconography and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.

Of Strings and Sticks.

I am knitting these days so I am applying my basic research skills to this too. I have discovered since I laid down my needles, that the world of YouTube and Craftsy is amazing to learn new techniques (something I used to do by surrounding my self with analog learning (read, books) and making a mess. Plus, the add of searching for patterns online and the marvel of Ravelry --the community of knitters and crochet-ers-- you can see what the world is doing and "would this yarn look good as ...". It is a real time burner (a compliment).

So. recently, I learned the wonderful "long tail cast on"...a first as I have always done a knit cast on. FunFun...and such a nice edge. The other thing I am in process of learning is to knit in the continental style because it can be faster and frankly more efficient which to me makes a lot of sense. So...we will see...

Knit Picks has a great series of videos as well as Craftsy. No short of offerings...and we haven't really even jumped into the deep end.

More new to my world.
Additionally there is the amazing JimmyBeans Wool (the sales are amazing and their selection is outstanding). Service with a smile. Have not been disappointed. Another thing Jimmy Beans does is that they will ball your skeins for you for a fee which is pretty great if you do not have a swift and ball winder-or if you are the sort of person that wants to bust open the yarn box with needles ready to clack. I have always had a substandard swift that I hand wound balls from. This year, I stepped it up and have a really killer swift (from Knit Picks) and a new ball winder and am (thanks to YouTube for that education) whizzing away with making my own balls...in no time flat. A form of meditation, actually.

I have known about Webs (yarn.com) in Northampton, MA and have visited it (and love it too) but Jimmy Beans has my heart for now.

Knit Picks had some really nice fiber that they sell under their own name. Swish (worsted) is terrific, a good price and is often on sale. Plus, their needles (OMG) are a game changer..particularly the short interchangeable needle set which can let you work in very small circumferences with a very smooth, very happy and very warm wooden needle. I thought I wouldn't be as effusive about the had of these babies..but they are amazing. Get a bag for the set (or a needle case) as the case that comes with it is pretty perfunctory  and will not be there for the long run. Plus, they have cute cases.... Just saying.

One of my Cascade 220 balls of pinkness. Look out all you 8 yr old girls!

One of my Cascade 220 balls of pinkness. Look out all you 8 yr old girls!

And the most fun, cheapest date imaginable in this world of strings and sticks is:
Discontinued Brand Name Yarn . Okay. Here's the deal. Do not judge this book by the cover. No, their website is not pretty but the deals are.

These folks buy stashes and or buy out stuff that doesn't sell...bits and pieces and resell it. So if you can track what you like and also look at the notions, needles (they recently had a few Hiya Hiya sets), or buttons...you can see some cool stuff that you might not normally see. Also, they have a sliding discounting plan (changes daily sometimes on the whole site, sometimes on a special item. I got 75% off of the marked down (30% off retail) on a mess of Cascade 220 which I am right now stashing. I have to be careful as this can be trouble. So no more buying until I knit it down...but the normal skeins of 220 worsted weight go for about $9.00 a skein.  DBNY had it for $6.00 and then 75% off of that...HELLO. Right? Granted, I bought a lot of reds, washed reds and pinks...but I have lots of baby sweaters and hats to knit that 1-2 balls will do...and if there is an odd color or two, I will toss it in for mittens. Plus, if you like handpaints, there is always a ton Of Cherry Tree Hill Yarn (because DBNY is a subset of Cherry Tree Hill). So have at it...and always check the homepage for the daily discount. If you can hold..and think that your faves will be there the next day...maybe you can get a bigger discount!

Boy, do I sound like a mom or what?

This is the word for today. More "key learnings" (a word from the wild world of corporate lingo) tomorrow.

Peace out.

Queen for a Day

I am knitting little things. Keeping the mitts busy. You know the drill. The best thing i have found and am trying to really perfect is this: Yes, this: The knit Waldorf Crown. I had to stop gasping once I saw this...and ran to get needles and yarn just to see if my wits could lead me through this. Yes. It did. And Yes, I did...though I think a bit of more accurate blocking might really help. I also think that a really tight stitch with wool or even a heavy weight cotton might give the stitch great definition. But.... Are you kvelling or is it just me...sucker for everything?

I have tried three different patterns including knitting along with wonderful jolly Bronislava Slagle (see below) who you can knit along with her to make a crown in the round (written pattern is here>>).  She also creates a pattern for you to make them on straight needles here>>Only problem, to my thinking on Bronislava Slag's crown is that see the spine or center of each of the points? see that they are not nice PSSO knit stitches like the Happy Hippo one? I think that is because its knit in the round and gets messy that way. Next Crown will be the YouTube approach with some refinements there.... But aren't these the bee's knees? I think I am going to crank out 8-10 of them and sell them (auction for MANY) as a birthday party set? What fun!

The great thing beyond its a KNITTED CROWN is that it's a tiny project therefore it's totally quick, not much yarn and can fit in your pocket. So perfection. If only I could figure out how to drive a car and knit. That would be multitasking to the enth degree...and probably more horrifying than even texting and driving.

If you are a knitter, give it a whirl. You might make yourself a Queen or King for a day.