Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Master of the Tree

One of my former colleagues of the Artists' Undertaking Gallery, Patrick O'Brien, recently moved his woodturning studio into the new Lorton Workhouse Arts Center. I managed to check out the new arts center on its opening day and stopped by to see Patrick at work. Patrick is a master at seeing the future beauty of each piece of wood he turns and he allows details in the natural appearance of the tree to shine through. He will be having an open house along with a few other artists in three of the buildings of the former prison on Saturday evening, Dec. 13th, from 7-9 pm or you can stop in the arts center during open hours. Check out Patrick's turned wood mastery on his website.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Knitting Sales !

Usually I only submit my beadweaving to my co-op gallery, Potomac Craftsmen Gallery but for the holiday show, I had some knitting that has been needing a good home for the last couple years. I can finally bid my mitred square hat and grey curly scarf a fond farewell. The hat took me from Thanksgiving to Easter to finish one year. I thought I would never finish it. It was a good learning experience in modular knitting, and strangely, I became attached to knitting mitred squares after that ! The curly scarf was another experiment with the idea of casting a crocheted chain onto circular needles and increasing until each row took an hour :P

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Upcycling: It's Gone Mainstream Art Gallery

I had seen her creations before at Eastern Market, where I marveled at their beauty and ingenuity and was excited to learn that Tamara Embrey's upcycled designs now appear at the Torpedo Factory in the Fiberworks gallery. While I was taking a break from working at the Potomac Craftsmen Gallery today, I stopped in at Fiberworks and saw Tamara's exhibit of gorgeous, unique and totally upcycled dresses and other wearables. On either side of her display were two stacks of uncut, recycled sweaters in blended color palettes awaiting a new life.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ever Wanted to Knit Backwards ?

Well, here's my new Flickr tutorial to explain it all. I always hated purling and wanted to be able to work freeform and short rows without turning. I found some instructions in a book and sort of figured it out. The only thing was, I had to re-orient each stitch on the next row-boooo.
Fast forward to a few days ago. I was working on my newly learned entrelac technique, when I visualized the purl row from the other side and tried inserting the left needle into the back of my last stitch. I wrapped the yarn around the front of the needle, slipped the right needle out, and VOILA, had a purl stitch without turning. And it was just as easy as doing a regular purl stitch on the other side.
After that, I was able to speed up my entrelac significantly and now I'm excited about doing more entrelac.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Entrelac Success +

Last month a member of my knitting study group taught me how to do entrelac (basketweave) knitting. I have been wanting to figure it out for 20 years or more but could never get my head wrapped around any written instructions. After some hands on help, I discovered how easy it is and started to plan a little halter top for my 6 year old niece. Well, as I was knitting it, it was taking alot longer than I thought it would and looking alot bigger as well. Another niece who is 10 is happy to have it so I am working on finishing it up for her. After coming back from vacation I took it up again and while working, decided to try to work a purl stitch from the knit side and lo, and behold, it worked ! So the plus in my title of this post is: I CAN KNIT WITHOUT TURNING NOW !!! As soon as the project is finished, I'll be posting photos.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Springwater Fiber Workshop Closing Sale !

It's very sad news for all the fiber enthusiasts of the Washington, DC region but the longtime source for classes and supplies is closing up at the end of the month. They are selling off yarns and equipment this weekend so check here for open hours.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wow, time flies ! Another market has come and gone !

Last week was the next Ballston Arts and Crafts Market. This time I was on the other side of the circle which was a little more publicly located. The only problem was the late afternoon sun drifting in and covering more and more of my space inside the tent. The day was not too hot, not too humid, it could have been worse, but I kept the heat at bay with a gel-filled neck cooler (bright orange, couldn't have looked uglier) and frequent cool-downs with cold, wet washcloths (I looked like I was giving myself a bath at times !).

I had three of Alice's critters this time and her darling alligator went to a good home. I sold my refashioned plaid skirt bag and souvenir New Mexico apron tote bag. Three new smaller handbags made their debut at the market having just been created at 2:30 in the morning.

I won't be at the next market, as I will be in Boston so Alice will be manning the booth this time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ballston Arts and Crafts Market

My Booth Shot, originally uploaded by ambrosianbeads.

...is a nice art market, although I only sold a bookmark, sniff, sniff after all that hauling/setup/breakdown. I had a whole bunch of my apron bags plus knitted purses and shrugs as well as Alice Webb's awesome whimsical fiber sculptures , of which I sold the biggest one. Maybe my booth was too eclectic, well, back to the drawing board before the next market which is on July 12th.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Apron Bag Tutorial-Finished Bag

I've been hard at work, cutting up old aprons and reconstructing them into cute and handy tote bags. Follow this link for a visual tutorial on this super easy sewing project

Monday, June 02, 2008

It's FUFU time !

Yesterday, I had my first taste of the Ghanaian mealtime favorite: fufu . OK, what is it ? It's a special bread dough-like pastry made from plantain flour. We had a chicken (or fish) stew made with tomatoes, habanero peppers, lime juice and peanut butter served over the fu-fu. The proper way to eat it is with the hands. The stew can also be served over boiled fresh plantain segments, rice or blackeye peas. Boy, was it spicy and delicious, but one bowl is enough. It's very filling. We also tried the kenkey which is also a type of bread.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mother of all fabric dumpster dives !!!

The office park where my brother works is probably the world's best dumpster diving location, and the dumpster is about 5 steps away from the back door of the office. Over the years, he has salvaged office panels, file cabinets, phone systems, tools, chairs, carpet, Pergo flooring, computers, bookcases, and just this week-this box of tons 'o fabric !!! There is heavy duty Ultrasuede and canvas, plus silks, cotton, and cotton and rayon velvets. And it couldn't have come at a better time, I'm embarking on a mad scramble to make lots of recon purses and stuff for the Ballston Art Market .

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ghanaian "Enstoolment" Ceremony

Here is another installment of my cultural adventures living in Washington, DC. This story starts back a few years with the meeting of our friend, Nana Frimpong, the world class drummer and musician from Ghana. Fast forward to last night, and his invitation to us to join him at the "enstoolment" or enthroning of a Ghanian queen mother, Nana Gyamfuaa Pokuaa II at an event in Silver Spring. MD. Not knowing what this entailed but quite intrigued, we heartily agreed to see what it was all about. Knowing that Ghanian time runs on a different clock than DC time, we planned on being out very late.

The three of us arrived at approx. 12:30 pm at the high school gym which was decked out like prom night. The room was filled with round tables festively decorated. Lovely Ghanaian ladies wearing their finest handwoven fashions with towering head wraps and elegant gentlemen were sitting patiently. Some of them were nodding off. Men were scurrying around wearing miles of gorgeous kente cloth textiles wrapped around the body and over one shoulder like togas. They were constantly hoisting the fabric up. It didn't seem logical to have to carry all that fabric around, and it looked like they were trying to carry a whole roomful of heavy draperies. I guess the reason is to show the status of the wearer.

We kept debating about leaving since it was already so late and there seemed to be no time table. Finally, large numbers of people appeared dressed in more finery and a small group of musicians started drumming. The MC announced the queen's arrival. All the guests stood up like the arrival of the bride at a wedding. A long line of men in their colorful togas, two female dancers in bare feet wearing gold fabric and a line of women with colorful skirts and white eyelet cloth draped over their bare shoulders made their way into the gym. The women clustered into a tight group and inched their way around the open area at the front as the drummers' rhythms got faster and faster. The queen found her place on the "stool of authority" and the women sat closely around her. As things settled down, we checked our watches and it was close to 1:30 am. Time to slip out. I don't know what I missed but I was thrilled to get a glimpse of a very important event for a wonderful, friendly, community of people I am privileged to have met. Not to mention all the fabulous handwoven cloth all around me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Artomatic Featuring BATALA !

DC's biggest art event is happening right now. It's called "Artomatic" and it's 28 days of wall to wall art in one building. Since it's a non-juried show, you will find all types of artistic endeavors, so be prepared for the unexpected. I haven't visited yet, but I plan to head right for my favorite mask-maker, Anthony Delfin to see his latest creations.
And...this just in...BATALA Washington (that's my all-women samba-reggae percussion band) will be performing on Friday, June 6 at 9:00 pm.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Summer Art Market

Fellow Artists' Undertaking Gallery member, Alice Webb and I are scheduled to participate in the Ballston Art Market this summer. It is held every second Saturday of the month starting in May. Our first market will be in June. At the market, Alice will be showing her whimsical handcrafted fiber sculptures and I will have my handbags and wearables made from recycled vintage clothing and textiles on display.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Viking Knit Experiment

Last week I finally took a class at Star's Beads. Since I try to teach myself techniques, I have never taken a formal class in beadweaving or knitting although in college, I took a weaving and textiles course. When I found out my colleague, Mickey Kunkle was teaching a class on viking knit with silver, I signed up immediately, because I had been eyeing her wonderful bracelets at the Potomac Craftsmen Fiber Gallery.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Batala Goes Bigtime at DC United Game

Batala, originally uploaded by sarahandsean.info.

That's me, third one down. We play Brazilian percussion and got our big break to play at the opening game of the DC United soccer team at RFK stadium. Our band is all-women and we had about 35 drums at this show. We are loud to begin with, but they had us miked ! When we did a sound check, the resulting sound was like the biggest thunderstorm you ever heard. My husband says I'm addicted to Batala and he's right. I was never a member of a sorority but this is the closest to a "sisterhood" you can get. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Artistic Artifacts

I want to congratulate a fellow Potomac Craftsmen Gallery member on the fulfilling of long-held dream. Judy Gula is a fiber artist whose wonderful handmade fiber bead jewelry and art quilts I have been admiring for the past four years.

For the past several years she has had a traveling and online business of selling her hand-dyed vintage linen and found object packets to quilters and collage artists. Her website, Artistic Artifacts lists all kinds of interesting fabric, game pieces, collage packs, books and supplies and now, artists can shop for all her goodies in a retail setting at the Artistic Artifacts Annex in Alexandria, Virginia.

I was able to stop by yesterday to see her new space and products for sale. Although I'm not a quilter or collage artist, I was getting seriously tempted by the myriad beautiful hand-dyed fabric packs, beads, sequins, vintage linens and embroidery packs, buttons, antique game pieces and vintage paper goods for sale. I can't imagine a more thorough stock of materials for the mixed media artist or quilter at any traditional art and craft store.

The store does not maintain daily business hours for now, but is open during workshops and classes which are posted on the website. Judy has already scheduled some fascinating workshops for fiber artists and I may schedule a few beading classes there myself.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dazzling Knitted Silver Jewelry

I wanted to introduce a colleague of mine and her subtle yet dazzling silver knitted jewelry. She recently opened a shop on Etsy to showcase some of her creations, but I have known her and her work for several years now as a fellow member of the Potomac Craftsmen Fiber Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia. She uses her name as her shop name. Please spend some time enjoying the beautiful work of Marla S. Rudnick .

Short Row Scarf WIP no longer !

Short Row Scarf WIP, originally uploaded by ambrosianbeads.

Update: obtained the perfect yarn to finish the edge ! (see first pic)

Started a short row scarf a few months ago and finally got back to work on it. I used up the skein of elsebeth lavold Silky Wool blend wine red yarn. It's not quite a full length scarf, but I have a plan to expand on it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bulgarian Ensemble Sings like a Nightingale

I spent the evening on Saturday listening to the glorious harmonies of Slaveya, a Washington, DC based ensemble whose name means "nightingale" in Bulgarian. As a former member, I enjoyed singing along under my breath and joining in on the Bulgarian style dancing at the end of the concert. The group has just introduced their first CD recording available now to download or order.

When I sang with the group last, a couple years ago, we wore beautifully handstitched blouses from Romania, but in the past year, the members commissioned these exquisite costumes handmade in Bulgaria. It's a rather small country, but there are many regions with a tremendous variety of costume details. Take a look at the wonderful costumes available from BalkanFolk.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

ravelry Love Affair

OK, I finally got the invite to join ravelry although it went into my junk mail a week ago. I set up my "notebook" with photos of all my projects, joined lots of cool groups like "Knittin' Musicians" and have been frittering away the hours reading posts and looking at great projects. It is THE home for knitting and crocheting fanatics. There is a waiting list, but it's worth the wait if you want to connect with people all over the world who love anything made with yarn.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

We have Mask Appeal !

My talented and artsy friend, Anthony makes these fantastic masks which we modeled at a Brazilian carnival party. He also makes fabulous one-of-a-kind wearable sculpture which he displays in galleries and art shows. He has a variety of these comfortable all leather handmade masks for sale in his Etsy shop, Mask Appeal . We wore these at last night's performance of our all-women samba-reggae percussion band, Batala Washington at a carnival party. The Heritage Restaurant on Connecticut Avenue was packed, everyone had masks, long peacock feathers, glow sticks and the place was rocking when we played our set. When you hang out with Brazilians, you are guaranteed to have a good time !

Friday, February 01, 2008

FFF finally !

My cherished idea of posting my favorite new fiber-related Etsy shop every Friday is hanging on buy a "thread" so to speak. Here is the a wonderful shop I just found this week: Knitting Dream. She sells knitting patterns for modular knit totes, purses and hats which convert to wall-hangings. I love these shapes and of course, the colors. I'm going to order a pattern pretty soon I'm sure.