Monday, February 28, 2011

My review of the book: Knitting Block by Block by Nicky Epstein

My visit to the winter "TNNA" show included a quick stop to the JHB Booth, to catch up with Nicky Epstein and see what was in her world.  How fun it was to learn that not only did Nicky Epstein have a new book but she also had a new line of buttons.

Nicky Epstein
They are really cool metal buttons with "Steampunk" and "Pirate" themes.  These would be great accents on costumes, journals, and other projects.


I also found out that Nicky was going to do a book signing over at the publisher's booth later that day.  



Her newest book is "Knitting Block by Block" and it is fabulous.



It is a visually striking knitting textbook!

Knitting Block by Block is not a book for just beginner knitters. 

That being said, the author has included some beginner level blocks in this book which are a seed stitch block, a stockinette stitch block,  a garter stitch block, a pulled ribbed block,  a basketweave block, a horizontal stripe block and finally a two color triangle block.

Chapter 2, offers some really fun and attractive blocks that can be made using the various blocks and adding i-cords, loops, etc. for accents which bring these projects to a visually pleasing  project like the “Highland Fling” (page 45).  This is a great project that just requires the reader to follow Nicky’s well written directions to create a lovely decorative square.  These blocks could easily be used to make a variety of projects for a beginner level knitter.

Chapter 3, is geared more to the medium level of experience knitter.  My favorite here is the “Seed Stitch Faire Isle Combo” on page 85.  There are a lot of color changes in this project.  However, if you are good at following patterns then this is a fun challenge for the newer knitter.

Chapter 4, is geared to the more experienced knitter.  It has both traditional stitches and some newer techniques (e.g.: domino, entrelac, mosaic, smocking,  Fair Isle, reversible knitting, and more).  The patterns are great but reading them would be challenging for a beginner knitter. 

Chapter 5, is one of my favorite chapters because it covers cables.  I love scarves, sweaters, hats, etc with cables in them.  Doing them in blocks is a fun way to learn some new techniques and design elements.

Chapter 6, covers “Eclectic Style” elements.  This section is definitely for the more advanced or adventurous knitter.  Nicky uses textural stitches, appliqu├ęs, accessories (zippers, beads, buttons), I-cords, along with some overlapping bobbles in her projects and patterns. There is some laying of elements involved in these projects, while time consuming they are worth the extra effort.  My favorite in this section is the “Cabled Bell Pull” which is not quite as fancy as some of the other projects but looks great when finished.

The rest, well, you will have to read the book for yourself.  

One great feature of this book is it covers the different techniques and projects in squares that can be put together to create what ever I want.  Why would this be important?  I work, go to school, and raise a family.  This is a great way for me to have an on-the-go project that works with my busy schedule.  I can accomplish this “one square at a time”.






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Monday, February 21, 2011

A collection of American Indian Hopi Handcarved Kachina or Katsina Figures.

I had a chance to talk to Norma from Stillwater Designs about her very beautiful Kachina collection.  Her information was so informative that I thought I would share it with you.  Keep in mind, I may have missed a few bits of information.....but I always recommend going to the different "Tribe" websites to get accurate information on their artwork, customs and their history.    I just think that her adventures are so lovely and want to take a moment to share them with others who love and appreciate this intricate work and it's historical value.




This is a Hopi Kachina or Katsina. It measures about 1 inch tall. This Kachina was purchased in Winslow, Arizona. Kachinas are stylized religious icons, carved from cottonwood root, painted and sometimes decorated with feathers, to represent figures from Hopi mythology.  They are spirits of the dead, intermediaries between man and the gods.  Authentic Kachinas are made only by Hopi artists.  The art of  kachina carving is done by a few Hopi Indians, who dedicate their life to this art and it is handed from down generation to generation. 




Above, Kachina figures are all Hopi.  They measure from 1 inch to about 5 inches. They were all purchased in Winslow, Arizona.  If you look at them closely, you'll see different animals represented, the one on the left, that is red and black with round eyes and mouth is called a mud man,  the one toward the right with the white top with black strips is a clown. The detail is amazing on these ,considering the are not very tall. They are all carved from cottonwood root and they on a cottonwood base.


In the photo above, the 3 Kachina Dolls in the back are all Navajo.  The Navajo ones are usually not as detailed as the Hopi.  Notice the smaller ones in the forground are all Hopi and much more detailed.


He is a Hopi hoop dancer with rabbit fur, leather, shells and beads and was purchased in Cheyenne , Wyoming. He measures about 10inches tall.




Above:  The one on the left is Hopi, he has rabbit fur and leather, and was purchased in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The one on the right is Navajo, with a rabbit fur collar, feathers and leather.  The smaller ones in front are all Hopi, notice the detail.




Above is a "kachina" made by the Navajo.  So according to the Hopi's it is a copy.  I purchased this in Tucson, Arizona.  He measures about 24 inches tall. He is surrounded by Turkey feathers and his arms are covered with rabbit fur and his clothing is made from leather. He is dancing on a cottonwood base.  To give you an idea of the diffence in prices between a "real "Hopi kachina and a Navajo copy,  I paid $25 for the 1inch Hopi kachina and $75 for the 24inch "copy."



The clay figures to the left of the basket are Storytellers, from the Navajo and Hopi (Arizona and Utah) tribes.  In front of the basket are Indian fetishes made from different polished stones and turquoise. Each one has its own meaning.  I think these are all Navajo.  To the right of the basket are Kachinas made by two different Indian tribes. The two in the back are made by Hopi Indians and the two in the front are made by Navajo Indians.  


These are all so beautiful!  The next time you are in the southwest, make time to visit the galleries and/or visitor centers of the tribes to purchase their work and support the continuing education efforts of the different tribes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Raw Food Non-cooking class!

With the weather warming up, the idea of adding greens and fresh fruits to my diet is appealing.  Plus the idea of finding ways to conserve gas and electricity are always appealing.  So I decided to check a local "Raw Food Non-Cooking Class" which is one of the vegan cooking classes offered at the "Piecemakers" Quilt Store in Costa Mesa, California (714) 641-3112.  No this is not a "Raw Food Movement" kind of thing.  The class is centered around improving your health through the addition of more fresh veggies into your diet.


The picture above is a beautiful presentation of the different items that we learned to prepare in class to create a tasty spring rolls, cabbage salad, fresh beets, and slightly steamed green beans.  Yes, slightly steamed is not raw....but the teacher understood that a class full of newbies are not going to necessarily embrace raw string beans right away.  So she thoughtfully prepared a recipe for us to lightly steam the string beans to make them more palatable to us.

Eating raw is about keeping as many nutrients in your food as possible.  What I liked about this class is that the instructor did not preach to us about the "Raw Diet" but explained the health benefits of incorporating more raw fruit and vegetables into our diets.

So what were the ingredients?  We used zucchini, daikon, red & yellow peppers, fresh garden greens,
Red Pepper, Daikon, Zucchini

greens and herbs
red bell and yellow bell pepper
and of course spring roll wrappers.  I have to admit I do not like the spring roll wrappers, the texture just wasn't for me.  I enjoyed the dressing and veggies without the wrapper (so yes it was just a salad for me).


As someone who rarely cooks anything that does not come pre-frozen.....this was a totally new concept.  Normally, I avoid the vegetable isle (it can be overwhelming if you do not know what to do with them).  Shopping for me usually consist of a quick trip to "Fresh and Easy" and their already prepared meals section which tend to be quite tasty.

Now that I am armed with the knowledge of how to prepare and serve veggies, I will now give the fresh fruits and vegetable isle a visit. I will also use the ones that grow in my own back yard.  Taking a hands-on food preparation class really helps to understand the concept of the "Raw Food" diet.  By the way, next month they will be teaching "Italian" inspired recipes (Raw... of course).


However, there are also other types of classes offered there (including apple pie baking....yum....and yes it is with an oven....but I bet it could be done with one of those solar contraptions I keep reading about).

The store has independant teachers who teach on a variety of subject matters from furniture making to jewelry making.  One of my favorites is the sewing classes which are taught by Diane Maffris.   She is an excellent instructor and her classes are a lot of fun.  There is also a man who teaches making furniture from willow tree branches which I have been wanting to learn.  So you may find that there is something you want to learn being taught at that location.

For more raw food ideas, I am recommending some books that cover things from healthy eating, raw food recipes, to using salads as a meal.





Also if you are going to try the zucchini pasta, you may want to try a spiral vegetable slicer.  They are really fun and cut up your veggies to create pasta shapes.  I bought one of these and my kids and I love it!

If you have picky eaters in the house or just wanted to take healthy lunches to work.  Try Bento Boxes. There are some great books with recipes and directions on Amazon.










Sunday, February 6, 2011

Craft Super Show Re-visited.

I never had a chance to post the pics from the last "Craft Super Show" that I attended.  It was a fun day filled with crafting celebrities, like "Carol Duvall" (below), demonstrations, crafting supplies, kids craft ideas, scrapbooking supplies, and so much more.


The producer from the television show "The Carol Duvall Show" on HGTV and the DIY network,  Ms. Kelly Chafee Ehrlich.

The fun part of the show was that there were plenty of retailers present who were selling many fun and exciting supplies, that one normally can not find in local craft stores.  Barnes and Noble set up a store
with over 100 crafting titles.  Those of you who are familiar with this store, know they never have that many books on display at their retail locations.


The "Crafty Chica" was on hand to demonstrate her new product line for the public.  She has many fun paints, glitters, markers, and other craft supplies and project ideas.  Below is a very cool part of her booth, that offered a photo opportunity to the various guests.  I uploaded this in a slightly larger file so you could enjoy some of the fun and eclectic items she put around the frame of this cut-out.


Needless to say, celebrities and guests took time to get photographed in this iconic piece.  Including Carol Duvall, who has a fabulous sense of humor and truly enjoyed the spirit of the event.
The "Craft Chica" was also signing copies of her new fictional novel "Waking Up in the Land of Glitter" which is a crafting related romance novel.


The "Crafty Chica" has some great re purposing projects on her u-tube, blog, and website, using her product line and tools.

  
Crafty Chica and her mini bobble head doll.

Below is a picture we took of "The Crafty Chica" and her new crafty chica art supply line at Michaels where she was doing a book signing.  As you can tell, they have a hard time keeping those shelves stocked with her product line.  Especially her fabulous glitters which are so fun to work with.

There were also jewelry making craft supply manufacturers on hand to demonstrate their product lines. They also gave out some jewelry making patterns and design tips.  This is a great idea, since it creates a demand for the items from the consumer to the retailer.


Plaid was on hand and featured their "Modge Podge" product line, along with some great crafting tips and designs.

Cathie Fillian was on hand doing demo's of cool projects.  I loved her show "Creative Juice" because it had some really useful project ideas of things to do with recycled stuff.  They were very well made shows and I truly miss them.





She was also signing her book "Bow Wow Wow" which is loaded with darling costume and outfit ideas for your favorite pup.


As you walked down the isles, there were an abundance of product demonstrations and such.  Below is a great picture of one of the plaster artist who took paper mache and plaster to a whole new level of fun and creativity.

The "Craft Super Show"really offered something to interest a variety of crafters.  You could literally learn new crafting skills just be watching all the demonstrations going on in this show.  I sincerely hope they bring back this fun show with all the cool learning opportunities that this last one provided.