30 June 2007

and now - a public service announcement

Do you want a beautiful, loving cat, or know someone who does?
Her name is Opie (short for Caliopie - also knicknamed Starbuck) and she is a very person friendly young tortoise shell tabby, about 1 to2 years old. Opie has feline leukemia. Leukemia in cats is terminal and communicable to other cats. This means that Opie can't live with other cats for fear of passing the illness on to them. While a cat with leukemia can't be cured, they can live healthy and happy lives for many years and provide companionship and love to their people. Opie hasn't started to get "sick" yet - meaning that the leukemia has not started to affect her yet - and given a good home it may not affect her for quite some time. I know people who have had cats with leukemia who have lived happy and healthy lives for 5 to 7 years or more before their illness set in. While it is a terrible thing to know that your cat will not live the full span of years that all kitties should, it is also a wonderful thing to know that you are
providing a chance for this cat to live out the years that it does have in a happy home, where it can be loved and can love you back.

Opie has been staying with me and my studio mates at our art studio in Brooklyn. She also shares the space with Betty, another cat who came to live with us as a kitten and who is also leukemia positive, and also has not manifested any symptoms of the illness yet. The artists who share the space are in the building every day and have been able to feed, clean up for and provide companionship for the cats. Unfortunately, while Betty has remained happy and healthy since she moved in, Betty does not like sharing the (very large, partitioned) space with Opie, and has bullied Opie to the point that Opie hides constantly in one of the studios and will not leave its confines. It's become harder to care for Opie since Betty won't let her out to roam around the common areas, and it's also become clear that Opie is abjectly miserable in her situation. On the plus side, Opie has gained weight since we brought her in from the street about 1 year ago - she had been a furry skeleton at first, and now looks like a healthy, adorable cat. But it's clear to everyone at the studio that Opie would benefit tremendously from a more stable home where she won't be bullied by other cats, and where she won't feel the need to hide to the point that she is dangerously isolated.

I know that it's difficult to adopt a cat with leukemia, but if you are able to accept her situation and can give her the space and care she needs, you will find her a loving and grateful companion. She is very affectionate and friendly with people, with a little coaxing she will come out of hiding and shower you with kitty love (I would love to take her myself, but I can't with the three cats I have at home already). Opie would be tremendously happy if she had a home where she felt safer and had her own person. If you are interested in adopting Opie, or know of anyone who would want to take her into their home, please let me know. You can reach me by email at matt (at) monkeyshine (dot) name. Opie lives in Bushwick currently, but can easily make the move anywhere in the NY area, or I would also be happy to bring her up to the Boston area (I'm back and forth these days).

Thank you -

Matt

P.S. - I apologize for the lack of softie and crafting content lately, but we are in and out of town. We are in NYC right now. I promise that once I get back to Cambridge and spend some quality time with the sewing machine, I will have a ton of new stuff to share with you all. Right now, there's a sea of WIPs and UFOs lapping away at my conscience. Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend. I am having a great time with my sister and my hysterically funny little nephew. - Maritza

29 June 2007

delayed response - huge thanks

I would like to take a moment to thank the folks at Plush You! for featuring me on their delightful blog. Many thanks, guys! It means a lot to me. Since we are off to NYC later this evening for a very last minute project, I am afraid I will not be able to update the shop this weekend, but I promise that there will be a small update by Tuesday. Please stay tuned for that.

Also, I would like to thank Duggan Hill of Boston City Lights for the opportunity to go to Maine and be a part of "Dance Camp." This man is an amazing, dynamic person! If I there is anyone in the world whose biography I would love to write, it is his. He and his wonderful wife, Tianne, a linguistics professor, have for the last 20 years or so run an excellent dance program in the South End providing free dance classes to the local school children. They have also expanded to Maine, where we just had a 10-day dance camp, and are now doing something like that in Paris this December. Their love of dance combined with their love of teaching has provided an important outlet of expression, a place of growth and a sense of community for these kids. I love what they are doing.

Happy Friday, folks!

27 June 2007

walking into a treasure trove

Much to my shock, nay, horror, dance camp was not at a farm, as I had somehow been led to believe. It was in Farmington, which was about as close to "farming" as we got. No big deal. We were on a main thoroughfare (Broadway) in a very small town, in a two-story building, complete with a marquee announcing to all that "Dance Camp" was in session. Not quite what we expected, but cool nevertheless.

While Matt was teaching his class, which was the second class of the day and started at 9AM, I would either take photos of the class or wander about exploring the area. Luckily, I found a quilt shop called "Pins & Needles" and decided to check it out. I wasn't sure what to expect. All the quilting shops I have been to in the Cambridge area always leave something to be desired - what they have in selection, they lack in customer service, or what they lack in organization, they make up for in pricing. There is not one shop that I am 100% head over heels in love with. Hence, I do most of my shopping for fabric and notions online.

Well, I found a quilt shop that fulfills all my quilty/crafty needs. The unfortunate thing is that it is located in Farmington, Maine. Pins & Needles is like the PurlSoho of Maine. (The good news is that they have a website up now and will soon have it totally up and running for online sales.) I was floored by their gorgeous (and plentiful) selection. They have a stunning array of calicos and reproduction prints, all beautifully displayed and arranged by color, fat quarters lovingly arranged in an inspiring rainbow, as well as bundles of fat quarters, baskets full of 1/2 yard, 1/4 yard, and 1/8 cuts, and bundles of gorgeous felted wool in a fabulous selection of colors:

pins&needles - felt pieces

I am not sure if this felt is the same stuff that Purl carries now, but this is felt with some body to it, nice and thick, 100% wool, perfect for softies. In fact, I have already started one using the deep rose colored stuff:

Anyway, I was in heaven there. For the record, they also have some yummy-looking tweeds that I only really noticed on my last visit and didn't get a chance to ogle properly. The mind reels at the softie-making potential. And did I mention the yarn? Oh yeah, half the store was a fabric shop and the other half was yarn. They carried a fantastic selection of mainly natural fibers, nothing too fanschy-schmancy, but excellent stuff really. They had Cherry Tree solid sock yarn on sale! (I actually wish I had bought a skein of Mint, the loveliest and most lush shade of green, but alas, I did not because I am sticking to my guns about not buying any more sock yarn until the stash is half of what it is now.)

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting the owner of this wonderful shop, Cheri, who is super-nice and so friendly and enthusiastic. She gave me a little bit of history about the shop, how she's been quilting professionally and selling fabric out of her garage for about 18 years before they got that space. The shop has only been at that location for 6 months, yet everything looks perfect. The space itself is fantastic, not to mention what they've done with it.

If you're ever in Farmington, you MUST check out this gem of a shop. I guarantee you will love it!

back from dance camp

We jengaed:
And the kids worked hard:

We caught fireflies at night:

And went for a swim in some falls that some of the local girls took us to:

Smalls Falls

Karma was lavished with love and attention:


The kids learned the music for the capoeira performance:


And they made art when there was time:

Matt's collaboration with some of the kids at dance camp

Their final performance was excellent, starting with the ballet portion of the show:

dance camp - ballet

dance camp - ballet

And a fencing performance in which they pretended to be pirates:


The capoeira performance went beautifully:


They did so well, and Matt was so proud of them:


They rocked the hip-hop performance:

dance camp - hip-hop dancing - final performance

And the kids from Citylights Boston just blew it out of the park in their final sequence:

dance camp - hip-hop dancing - final performance

We celebrated out in the parking lot with sparklers and lots of laughter and screaming:


We made friends and had a fantastic time. The kids were a delight to work with. It was all so much fun, albeit a lot of hard work for the kids and the instructors. We're hoping to do it again next year.

By the way, the only project I worked on while we were there was my someday-flower-garden quilt:

flower garden - growing

But more on that later....

21 June 2007

greetings from dance camp

Matt teaching the girls to capoeira

We're having a great time! More photos from dance camp here. Also, lots of photos of Maine here. We're making a quick trip to Boston on Saturday for a mural, and we're back to dance camp as soon as Matt is done with that. There's the final performance that everyone is working towards on Monday night. We'll be back home and back in business soon!

14 June 2007

before we go...

off to dance camp in Maine, where Matt will be teaching a capoeira class to the kids from Citylights, I leave you with one final thought (picked from a million scattered thoughts that are bouncing around my head right now):

wouldn't these make a great pair of monkeys?

Wouldn't this Koigu make a lovely pair of Monkeys?

Hope you all have a great weekend and a wonderful week. See you after the 25th!

13 June 2007

12 June 2007

birthday p(e)ony

birthday peony

11 June 2007

happy feet

Awwwwww yeah! After seeing these beauties and these lovelies, I knew I had to knit this pattern:

Monkeys - done!4

pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.
yarn: Koigu P119
needles: Addi Turbo size US 1 (magic loop)
modifications: heel stitch heel and round toe

Monkeys - done!5

Love the toe! I am a fan of the round toe, not because I hate grafting (because heaven help me, I like doing the kitchener), but because it better suits the shape of my feet:

Monkeys - done! - toes

Note, the white blur is JJ scampering in the background. He was very focused on my photo shoot this morning and managed to get in just about every shot. Ahhhhhh, the joy of pets....

10 June 2007

as usual, a day late (but not a dollar short, i hope)

I may have missed Worldwide Knit in Public Day yesterday, but I made up for it today:

Knitting In Public Day - together

Here is Diana's lovely brioche stitch scarf, that she just cast on for today:

Knitting In Public Day - Diana's scarf

Here are my Monkeys, and I'm working on the gusset of the second sock:

Go, go Monkey, go!

09 June 2007

happy parcels - swaps and sales

Now that I have a quiet moment to myself, I can get on here and write about the latest things to arrive at my doorstep. I love picking up the mail and finding all sorts of happy parcels in there - from swaps and stuff that I've bought on etsy. Yesterday, I received this beautiful package from the lovely Cristina:

Inside, there were MOO cards and some gorgeous pillow cases and napkins. Thanks Cristina! It was so thoughtful, and I know I will put these to good use:


Also, I received some buttons that I purchased from ping:

happyparcels-gnipbuttons2

I still cannot get over how fast her packages get here - she mailed this out from Tokyo like two days ago! Super-fast delivery! I love getting mail from ping because her adorable little drawings on the envelope just make my day:

All the details are beautiful. I can't believe she stitched all the buttons onto a postcard. Even the back is so cool and so attractive:

happyparcels-gnipbuttons3

And last but certainly not least, I just got this fabulous wristlet in a swap with the charismatic and extremely talented Ashley:

Can I tell you how much I LOVE this? So much! It is so beautifully made. Thanks, Ashley!

And Bailey even sent Mali some treats. (So sweet! Thank you, Bailey!) Hooray for happy mail!

07 June 2007

WIP 'em out

WIP - lovebug bodies

So much on the plate, and it seems like nothing is getting done. I am moving like molasses these days. I am taking today to finish up the latest batch of lovebugs and mini-manti and to work on a couple of commission pieces, so that everything will be ready by the weekend, when we have some friends coming to stay with us.

WIP - dollquilt

WIP - dollquilt - detail

Also in the cue is this little doll quilt, which was inspired by this lovely quilt by Hilary of wee wonderfuls, who was in turn inspired by this beauty that was in the Tokyo International Quilt Festival. This is my first attempt at hand-quilting, and I have to say, it is quite relaxing. I'm starting to get the hang of it, and I am starting to move a little faster with it. Can't wait to finish this up because this is so going on my wall.

WIP - flowergarden doll quilt

Speaking of getting the hang of things, I can now baste these hexagons to paper in my sleep, and whip-stitching them together is pretty quick and easy, too. Guess what project I am taking with me to dance camp next week? Oh yeah, we're going to dance camp. I'll tell you all about that later. For now, I am dreaming of a couple of pretty little flower garden dolls quilts, or maybe something more contemporary.

Hope you're all having a beautiful day!

06 June 2007

and now for something different....

When's the last time I blogged about knitting? I can't even remember (and I'm too lazy to look it up by clicking on the label marked "knitting" on my sidebar). When I had the old blog, I used to write about knitting all the time, or at least with much greater frequency than I do on here. I used to knit a lot more back then too. This was before the time when stuffing pocket squirrels consumed my every seated moment. However, I always made it clear that it was not a knitting blog. I don't think I have ever called myself a knitter. I knit. I will gladly tell people I knit. I will happily talk to anyone about knitting. I love knitting. I love admiring other's knitting. I know my stitch patterns, and I know some pretty decent techniques. I even have a pretty respectable stash. I am by no means an expert. I am by no means revolutionizing the field. I knit, and I enjoy it for its simple pleasure. That's not to say that knitting can't be challenging or extraordinary because it absolutely can. Regardless, I have always been loathe to call myself a knitter because the truth of the matter is that while I knit and enjoy it immensely, I do not take it as seriously as some people do. I read some knit blogs where the people behind them eat, sleep, and breathe yarn. They think about knitting all the time. They can't take two steps without wanting to pick up their needles. They could talk circles around my dizzy head about techniques, fiber, who's who in the knit world, patterns, designers, the best stitch markers, yadda yadda yadda. They churn out projects like nobody's business, and everything they knit is beautiful. And that's great. That's how they do it. I love what they do and applaud them. Me? I knit small, portable projects that I can commute with (i.e. socks, mittens, hats), quick knits that my tiny attention span can focus on without keeling over and dying or just shifting onto something else, tubular knits that aren't especially challenging. In other words, more than likely, in the eyes of these serious knitters, I am a neophyte, a dilettante, a dabbler; it doesn't matter that I've been doing this since I was 14. I'm a bit of a poseur to them, and that's fine. I have fun while I knit. I know it's nothing special, but I like to knit socks. And it really has been a while since I made the time to do just that.

Moving right along, I had read on Ashley's blog about a personal challenge to knit a sock in one day. Of course, my curiosity was piqued. Could I do it? I know some people who can do that, probably while blindfolded and hanging upside down. Yes, they are that good and that fast. I thought I had seen a Sock a Day knitalong, but I guess I had it confused for the Sock a Month Knitalong. I think there was a time when I could have definitely done a sock a day, but now? I couldn't resist the challenge. Well, it turns out that I cannot knit one sock in one day. However, I can knock one out in two days (working on it sporadically - not all in one go). Take this one:

twin-rib

I started that one Sunday night at midnight and finished it yesterday afternoon. The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and the colorway is Peaceblossom (lightweight), one of the sock club colors from last year. I've been wanting to make myself a pair of socks with this yarn for the longest time now. Finally! The wheels have been set in motion. One sock down, one to go. The pattern is my own (which is not my own but handed down for generations, I'm sure) - I used the Twin Rib Stitch from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury, p. 4, and worked it over 60 stitches on US size 1s. I also gave it a standard heel stitch heel and the Star Toe of Three Points, from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, pp. 26-28. I love how squishy this sock is, and it just hugs the calf so lovingly. Oooh la la!

twin-rib - closeup

That was not my first attempt at sock-knitting on Sunday. Earlier that afternoon, I was trying to knit the same sock, but using this yarn instead:

STR - Dutch Canyon - mediumweight

I cannot even begin to describe the pooling horror that I saw unfurl before me. It was just... ew. And you know, normally, I love variegated yarns. I'm a huge fan of STR. Usually, the striping the occurs can work with the pattern, but this just wasn't working. There was no happy striping, only big stagnant ponds of unblended color. Maybe it was my gauge not doing the yarn any favors. Maybe the yarn didn't like that specific gauge. There was clearly a conflict between the two. Hence, I ended up ripping it after getting about 4 inches into it. That was not the first time I ripped that poor skein of yarn. The first time I had to frog it was my enormous, way-off, monstrously heeled version of these, which are much MUCH better now:

monkey

Funny, when I knit it with the STR, there was no pooling and the yarn loved the pattern. It's just that either I knit too loosely, or the needles I used were 2s not 1s, because my first sock was ridiculously huge and just unwearable. I ended up frogging the finished sock and turning to the yarn that will always have a special place in my heart - Koigu. Everyone has their go-to yarn, and I truly believe Koigu is mine. No matter how fantastic the STR colorways may be, no matter how squishy and fabulous Fleece Artist may be, no matter what. I love how the colors in this Koigu colorway play together. Knitting with it is amazing because as the yarn runs through your fingers, you can't help but take in all the subtleties and nuances of the colors as they blend and change into one another. There's no pooling, but there's definitely some kind of pattern going on. (The exact colorway is P119, for anyone who's curious.)

monkey meets twin-rib

I don't think there's any need to name the pattern since everyone and their granny has knit this at this point, but giving credit where credit is due, this pattern is the insanely popular Monkey, by the insanely talented Cookie A. (I love her!) In case you've been out of town and haven't been able to touch a computer for the last few months, you can find the pattern here. I love this pattern. Such a quick and attractive knit! I did some modifications to suit my finicky self, though. I substituted a heel stitch heel for the plain ol' stockinette heel in the pattern (way too wide for my heels), and I gave it a round toe because round toes better suit my pointy feet than wedge toes. I have already cast on for the second sock, and off I go....

(Might I actually have one finished pair of socks by the end of this week? Will it be the Twin Rib Socks or the Monkeys? What if there are two pairs of finished socks? Who will be eliminated from the first episode of "So You Think You Can Dance?" Tune in later this week and find out.)

I promise tomorrow there will be less talk, more rock....