Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Commitment 2012

Way back in December of 2010, I made a list of my 2011 commitments to myself.  I've gone back to look at them, assess where I am and where I want to be in 2012.

Completed 2011 Intentions
  • Knit socks.
  • Complete the Loopy Ewe's First Quarter Challenge 2011.  
  • Knit something Fair Isle 
  • Clean, sort and GET RID of crap in basement, closets, etc. - Basement sewer back up took care of this one unfortunately.
  • Find something I really love to do vocation wise (where we end up will have its effects) - find a job I love, go back to school, develop a serious business or a business plan based one what I already do. 
  • Continue to expand our network of healthy, supportive, awesome friends
  • Take a photography class
  • Be more conscious of spending time with Trinket
  • Walk the dogs at least four times a week. Completed though not totally faithfully.

Overall, I complete most things I set out to do.  I had a lot of additions to my life this year and that took up a lot of time (spinning, dyeing, weaving and going back to school).  It was a good year.  Busy, full, and very adventurous.  I've given up making predictions anymore.  I would have never guessed I would go back to school for art, yet it was a very good and right decision.  Mister is still plugging away at his dissertation and we hope the end is in sight.  Mister is also starting a new job in January and we hope that it will lead to long term gladness.  

Here is small photo look at my year.  It looks like the year of the fleece and handspun!

Perhaps my favorite thing about the year was our trip to New Orleans in January.  We were there for a math conference and to see the city.  I had visited pre-Katrina and was anxious to see it again.   I loved New Orleans, and I was anticipating Mister loving it too.  He did and we still talk about our time there - and the food.  

Just in time for the New Year, I finished my hand painted and Wollmeise shawl.  I still need to block it, but here it is in the morning light.

2012 is inching ever closer and I've been thinking about what I want to accomplish.   
  • Knit a sweater (a re-list from last year).  Currently, I'm spinning my Allistar fleece for a sweater.
  • The year of hand dyed yarns - Expand my hand dyed yarns - play with color, weave with it, and who knows you might start seeing it in the shop
  • Continue to embrace school

Brief list, but really I'm really happy.  2011 has been a good year and I'm excited about what is next.

I hope 2012 finds you happy, secure and in pursuit of your dreams.  Happy New Year!

Auld Lang Syne by Mairi Campbell
I first heard her sing this song watching the 1999 Kennedy Center Honors when Sean Connery was recognized.  This lovely version brought many in the audience to tears and Mr. Connery was visibly moved.  It has been my favorite since then and apparently it was used in the Sex in the City soundtrack.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Holiday Haze

I hope your holidays are are going well and you are well rested from the festivities.  I'm smack dab in the middle of another creative surge!  I could just stop sleeping a few more hours - I might be able to catch up with myself.  I've also hit the books big time (thank you very much author, Katrina Kittle)!  So many things to do!

Loom with a View
I finished weaving Mister's scarf out of the Dyeabolical yarn.  I need to finish the fringe, give it a bath and clip my ends.  I'm very proud of this scarf and I think Mister will like it.

While I was finishing, another weaving project sprang to mind.  I had planned on taking a break from weaving to focus on spinning and knitting, but I'm being urged to wrap up the loom and at least get a start on something new.  Here is the colors that flocked together - handspun, left over bits of Dream in Color Baby and Starry yarns (pretty silver bits here and there), lushness mohair and blue loveliness from Wollmeise.

On the Needles

Still working on my hand-painted shawl with green Wollmeise.  It is getting big and I'm cranking on the 4x3 ribbing.  I figure I'll just keep working until I run out of yarn.  I love this shawl and it catches everyone's eye. Wish I could accurately capture the colors.

This next project should be filed under, BACK on the needles.  These are my Slippery Socks that I finished back in February.  They were my first pair of socks ever.  The second sock was fine, but the first sock was bullet proof.  I frogged the first one and I've started knitting it again.  I love these socks and I really want to wear them.

Holiday Gift

I got the most awesome gift from Mister.  He always put so much thought into his gifts and he really out did himself this year.  He presented me with a CD of songs a mix that he played and recorded.  He has mixed some others and put them up on Youtube.  I thought I'd share them with you.

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata

Vince Guaraldi's Vince Guaraldi's Christmas Time is Here

Vince Guaraldi'sVince Guaraldi's Christmas Time is Here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Season

I went to an antique mall yesterday just to browse and walk around a bit.  What do you think I found there?

But a lovely old wheel with birdcage distaff and a hefty price tag.  $975.00.  Holy Holly!  The dealer was there and we chatted for a bit.  I tried to tell her that no, spinning wheels don't sell for that much anywhere, let alone in our area.  She claimed that because it still had the distaff and it was signed it was worth that much.  There are plenty of old wheels with their distaffs still intact.  And signed doesn't mean anything.  Signed by who?  This wheel had the name A. Scott 1848 scratched on top of the table.  Here is the tricky thing about signed objects - we don't know if it was the maker, one of the owners, or when it really was signed.  I don't think many wheel-smiths would scratch their names boldly on the table of their projects.
Anyway, it reminds me of this post and the value of age. I'd love to clean this old girl up and getting her spinning again.  She is missing some parts and with the price tag, there is just no way.  I could snag myself two or three antique wheels for that price.

I hope everyone is ready for what ever celebrations you might have this time of year, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice and New Years.  This is a tricky time of year for me.

I miss my father a lot.  I've been watching old family home movies and trying to honor in my own way those that are no longer here.  When I was little our house would be full of family.  There were parties, family dinners and our traditional Christmas Eve family gift opening.  Now it is just Mister and I for the most part and it seems too quiet.

I was talking with a friend the other day who gave me a lovely bit of insight on my family heritage.  My mother's side is Swedish and Finnish.  I don't have many surviving traditions that have been passed down from either side.  I learned that on Christmas Eve, Finnish tradition is to leave candles on the graves of those that have passed and to remember them.  Perhaps that is what I'll do.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend and that you are warm and spending time with loved ones.

I'm getting ready to head out for Knit Night.  I've been baking cookies to bring for my tribe.

Happy Holidays,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Break Part One

I am enjoying my first week of semester break.  It is lovely to be able to have time to decompress, catch up on housework, catch up on my own art and spend sometime synthesize all that has transpired over the last few months.

Friday afternoon I started a book and late that night I finished it.  I love devouring a book in a day.  I read Blessing of the Animals  by Katrina Kittle.  This was a book I picked up on a whim at the library shortly after taking Trinket to the vet.  It called to me from the shelf and I'm so glad it did.

The book is the story of Cami and her journey to making a new life for herself after her husband leaves her.  It was the perfect book for me to read as I began my first few hours into mourning the loss of Trinket.  Starting over takes many forms.

Outside The Art of School

I recently have been watching a series on Netflix which some of you might find interesting.  Art 21 is a program which features contemporary artist and documents their process.  It is a great way to find out more about contemporary art and to see what ideas are floating around.  There have been two segments that might be of interests:

Andrea Zittel is a sculpture and installation artist.  In her segment which aired in Season One, Consumption, she talks about crocheting garments.

Janine Antoni is a sculpture and performance artist.  Her segment, Season Two - Loss and Desire, features a her spinning (with a Schacht Matchless Spinning Wheel) hemp fibers for a work.

Art 21 is a tremendous work and really helps viewers to wrap our minds around contemporary art.  I know a lot of people (I used to be one of them) don't like contemporary art.  It is hard to read without the clear language that we are accustomed too.  Humans like to make connections and often the art doesn't help us make them.  It makes me think about learning to read.

Once before you were able to read - books where filled with words and those words were made up of letters and then there was this punctuation silliness around.  Letters and words are symbolic of objects, ideas, and concepts.  Once you were taught your letters and the sounds they make, you began to make the connection.  Perhaps the most helpful thing I learned about contemporary art, is that a lot of it is idea driven.  How many ways could you represent in art the idea of love?

Loom with a View

I warped my loom up this weekend for a scarf for Mister.  While at a festival in the Fall, I told him to pick a skein of yarn from my favorite local dyer, Dyeabolical.  He picked this colorway, Steampumpk, isn't it fantastic?

The warp thread is leftovers from my Live Oak Shawlette.  The yarn Dream in Color Baby in the Cloud Jungle colorway.  The scarf is just a plain weave (aka Tabby) to show off the fantastic colors of the yarn.  I love the way the fabric feels as well.  I hope Mister will like the finished project.

Shop Sale Reminder

From now until 12/23 take 10% off your order in The Cloistered Lamb Etsy Shop.  Coupon code: SILVERBELLS11

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Too Hot for Sheep!

From now until 12/23 take 10% off your order in The Cloistered Lamb Etsy Shop.  Coupon code: SILVERBELLS11

Off the Needles
It has been very warm here in St. Louis the last few days.  I know the reason why we have been enjoying the 50 degree weather....
The reason is, I finished my sheep mittens.  Of course it would be warm after I finished them!  I was so excited to be able to wear them - well, some day.

 Loom with a View

I have been weaving a fair amount again.  Yesterday after my final, I stopped and picked up one of those potholder looms.  I had several of these as a child and everyone that I knew received a potholder as a gift.  I quickly wove up some yarn to make a square.  I'm having fun experimenting with this very portable

I also finished my scarf.  I started this one back in September. I still need to do the finishing work on it - twist the fringe, give a bath, etc.  But it is officially off the loom.

I have two more final classes left to go and projects due in both.  Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In Memorandum


Dog people know that there are special dogs that come along and change everything.  Trinket was my soul dog.  She taught me many things and was by my side constantly. She was always my dog and I was always hers too.  

You can read more about Trinket here.

If anyone has suggestions for special ways to honor the death of a loved one, please comment below or send me an email at thecloisteredlamb at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Sale and Endings

There are two weeks of shopping left.  I'm told that things are starting to get a little hairy in the big box stores.  Be calm - you still have time.

I am running a sale in my Etsy Shop.  For the next two weeks take 10% off your order by using coupon code: SILVERBELLS11

Art of School

Last Wednesday marked my last day in the darkroom.  Classes are now over an we only have finals week left until break.  I have two tests for art history classes, a conference, a final critique in drawing and a final project due for design class.  Thankfully I have plenty of time to study.  My time management skills were equal to the task this semester.  Amazing how much that has improved.  When I was very young, fresh out of high school - time management was not my strongest skill.  Ah, undergrads.
Birth of Venus, Bottcelli
Italian Renaissance

David, Michelangelo
Italian Renaissance
I'm up early to study a bit more before art history A's final test.  Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance are the periods that I'm reviewing.  Such hardship.

I'm still in disbelief that the semester is over.  Time really went by quickly!

Later this week, I'll have some finished knitting to share.  For now, I should look back over my notes.   Have a great week.

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Post has Been Sponsored by the Color Blue

It is cold today in St. Louis.  Not really news, but today is the first day of winterish cold air for the season.  It was a damp, pre-snow cold that signals that things are changing.  This wicked cold has given me a booted kick in the rump to get going on some woolies for cold protection.  I'm set to work on my sheep mittens tonight.

Off the Needles

I finished my green Gretel hat.  I managed to snap a picture before putting her in a bath.  I love cabled berets and this one is so lushly dense.  I knit the slouchy version and shortened the rows quite a bit.  It was looking HUGE.

On the Needles

The other day I cast on socks for Mister.  When I was dyeing up yarn I asked him what color he'd like for socks and he said blue.  He's getting a semi-solid electric blue.  Mister is fun to knit for - he really appreciates handwork.

I'm making good progress on my handpainted shawl.  I decided to do green stripes with Wollmeise yarn.  Not sure what I'll do next, but I'm still enjoying this knit.

Spinning Around

I began spinning up my fleece from Gleason's Fine Woolies.  Allistar's fleece is a soft hot chocolate and just gleams.  I still need to wash most of the fleece, but I do have eight ounces ready.  I'm planning on spinning for a sweater, so it will be a long term project.  I'm not in a hurry as I just love his fleece.  I'm doing a simple prep for his fleece - just flicking locks at the wheel and spinning right from the lock.

I think the results speak for themselves.

Other News and Ramblings

There is a special woman in my knitting group that got a wild hair to make up some project bags.  She then generously gifted us all one.  Holy cow, they are fantastic!  I'm using mine for my shawl project and I may commission her for another few.  They are the perfect size.  Isn't it cute?

A big THANK YOU to Mister for giving up his Sunday to help me work the artisan fair.  We had a great day.  Fantastic conversation, some very precocious children (my favorite kind) and great feedback.  Many folks were surprised to learn that I make my own things.  We were surrounded by fair trade booths, so I guess it is understandable for the surprise.  Fair trade has gotten into the wallet of many shoppers, which is fantastic   Independent artisans also need to spread the word that things are still being made by hand locally too.  

I saw this posted in my Facebook feed today by a local knit store.  They titled it cutest ever, but I'm not so sure.  I found it a little creepy.  What do you think?  I'll leave you to watch it. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life in Pink

Happy almost the end of the week!  I don't know about you, but I'm feeling very tried after being on break last week.  That first week of re-entry is always a killer.

On the Needles

Pattern: Gretel by Ysolda Teague
Tuesday I sat during my lunch break knitting away on a hat and I noticed an interesting phenomena.  People were looking at me and smiling gently.  Do you think it is the green?  This is my own hand-painted worsted weight and I couldn't be happier with it.

The trail of smiling people continued until one person was brave enough to approach me to ask me about my knitting.  She loved the color and just had to know what I was knitting.

Knitting can be quite the community moral booster.

Also on the needles is a shawl out of sock yarn.  This is my hand-painted yarn that I showed you the other day.  So far I'm just knitting and improvised design, but I'm getting to the point where I either need to sit down with some math and graph paper or do something simple. I love the way the color is playing out.

On my Mind

A while ago, Mister and I went to see Elise Parker and the Poor People of Paris.  Elise is an amazing artist. Her vocals (in French) are evocative. She plays the flute, clarinet and saxophone.  She probably does more than that, but that is just what I've seen.  We are lucky that she is local, but for those not she has CDs available.  The other day in my drawing class, I heard the familiar sounds of "La vie en rose."  Sure enough my drawing instructor had picked up the CD and I was enjoying Elise once more.  I love this song, but it is a bittersweet song.  My father frequently listened to Edith Piaf and other French singers and this song was his favorite.   Ever since drawing class yesterday, I haven't been able to get it out of my head.

Event News Reminder

This Sunday, December 4th, I'll be participating in the The Advent Fair 9:30 until 1:00 pm at the Evangelical United Church of Christ, 204 East Lockwood Avenue Webster Groves, Missouri 63119.  

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cacophony of Color

The Art of School

Gothic Vaulted Arches of Chartres Cathedral - France
We have two weeks left.  If you are like many students (or can remember) that countdown sends one into riotous jubilation and also terror.  There is so much left to do in those two weeks and then we slam into finals week.  I'm both excited for the semester to be over (because of all the learning opportunities coming up) and also sad.  I've learned a lot.  I've struggled, grown, flourished in some areas and generally really came into my own.  I have noticed a difference in my daily outlook of life and simply my world has expanded.  I feel more and more inspired and more and more empowered.  All that for the price of tuition.

I have survived drawing thus far.  I still don't really enjoy it, but I don't mind it.  It is very hard work and the teacher pushes us to go a little farther each time.  We begin this week on our final drawing - a 12-15 hour drawing.  Oh boy!

Manet's Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) 1863

Photography class continues to be a bright spot.  Hard work, challenging with the chemistry and technical side, but a lot of fun.  I'm busy working on my final project which is crafters working their magic.  I have one photo finished and ready to dry mount.  Still working on printing the others.  Bit overwhelming that we have a lot to do and not so much time.  I'll be putting in some late hours in the darkroom.  It is funny how I go around now mentally framing scene with my internal viewfinder...

Art history continues to make my heart sing.  I've found so many new favorites (I have put a few pictures of works here - I could show you so many more) and seen a lot of connections linking up between art and historical events.  I have a paper due this week and I'm very proud to say that it was finished last Friday.

From the Dye Pot

During my week off, I hit the color hard.  I had a lot of ideas kicking around and I finally had some time to execute a few of them.

A puddle of colors

Sock yarn
Spinning News

I also finished a few yarns.  First there was the commission yarn for Constance (fabulous logo designer).  This was so much fun to make.  I took some commercially dyed fibers, added my own dyed fibers and then made big lofty batts to spin.  The result is 484 yards of DK/Sport weight yarn.  I can't wait so see what this grows up to be.

Next is some holiday yarn for the coming craft fair/Etsy store.  I again combined fibers into carded batts and spun a neat textured yarn.  Currently this yarn is having a bath and then I'll count yardage.

Finally, I made a mini-skein of 41 yards.  This beauty brought red, blue and turquoise bobbin extras into a eye popping bit of yummy.  I can see this made up into jewelry or edging on another project.

Color seems to be in my muse to play with lately - I'm really enjoying it.  I'll say that for art school, it certainly has freed me to play more.  Which reminds me...

I found this gem of a video from Friday Studios in Sweden and had to share!  It perfectly illustrates the shift in my awareness that art school has brought forth - much like my internal photographer's viewfinder.  I find myself taking notes and picking up items (like the leaf for Constance's yarn)  for inspiration.  

Event News

This Sunday, December 4th, I'll be participating in the The Advent Fair 9:30 until 1:00 pm at the Evangelical United Church of Christ, 204 East Lockwood Avenue Webster Groves, Missouri 63119.  If you are local, stop by!  It looks like this will be a great event - artist and nonprofit groups will have booths with many goodies for holiday gifts.  

For those none local - today is Cyber Monday and I'm offering free shipping in my etsy shop- coupon code: CYBERMONDAY11

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Holiday Sales

Thursday night I'll be adding some handspun goodies as well as other special items for the holiday shopping season.

On Friday in my Etsy Store I'm offering free shipping for black Friday.  The coupon code is: BLACKFRIDAY11

On Monday, I'll also be offering Free Shipping.  The coupon code is: CYBERMONDAY11

For purchases made on these days, you will receive a gift for shopping with me. 

For local folks, on December 4, from 9:30 until 1:00 pm, I will be participating in The Advent Fair at the
Evangelical United Church of Christ, 204 East Lockwood Avenue Webster Groves, Missouri 63119

New Winner AGAIN
In other news, I had to draw a name again for the blog launch contest.  Our final winner responded and her yarn is happily on its way to her.  Congrats Gwen!

Musical Interlude

It has been busy around the cloisters.  Mister and I have our own separate hamsters wheels lately.  We did manage to jump off last Wednesday for a bit of jazz hooky.  Kurt Elling was in town and so we ran away for a few hours.  Kurt is a jazz vocalist out of Chicago and he is my absolute favorite singer.  His concerts are always high energy, a little punchy (they were seriously jet lagged), inspiring and a musical drink for your poor soul.   Kurt always manages to pick me up out of what ever funk I'm in.  He has the added benefit of being adorable too - in a funky jazz cat way, dig?

From the Craft Circle

This past weekend there was a gathering at a friend's house of crafters.  It was amazing!  We made jewelry, I spun some fall inspired fiber for a yarn commission, we knitted and we had a quilter present too.  Her quilt was AMAZING - all hand stitched and with a story as well.  Here is a little peek at the table from our activities.  There is something about sitting with talented people.  We enjoyed each other's company and told stories.

I love events like this - like the sewing circles of old.  I love being surrounded by creative people and hearing their stories.  I did some photography work while we worked for my final project at school.  I'm hoping that I captured what I'll need.

Holiday To Dos

I'm enjoying a break from the school routine this week.  I still had drawing class to attend, but the rest of the time has been mine.  It is amazing how long a week seems, until I fill it with my to do list.  The semester is screaming to a close, but I have a lot that needs to be created and turned in before the end.  It is a working week thus - a paper to write, photos to be developed and printed, yarn, jewelry and books to finish for the shop, etc.  For the holiday, Mister and I are staying in this year.  We are making a our holiday meal together, staying in comfy lounging clothes and watching a marathon of Star Trek episodes.  Black Friday will also commence without us.  At the most I'll probably head go to school to work in the darkroom.  In short a slow and perfect break for us both.  I'm grateful for the break and the chance to reconnect with Mister.

Have a very good holiday and if you do venture out - be safe and well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

If Only

Next week marks the start of the holiday season for many people. I'm looking forward to a week off school! My semester is roaring to a close.  We have two weeks after break and then comes finals week.  I won't have formal finals, something I'm thankful for.  Instead I'll have section tests in art history classes and final projects in the studio classes.  I have two morning class at my second school next week. For the most part the week is mine. I have plenty to do however - art history paper, design terms project, and working on items for a craft fair that is fast approaching. I also have some yarn commissions to finish spinning for and I have been dyeing up a colorful storm.

I am busy trying to cross things off my to do list. I finished binding some holiday books that are now up on Etsy.

I spotted this sign the other day. If only they were talking about sheep fleece.

Speaking of fleece...

This link has been making the rounds on Twitter. It is a historical documentary from Scotland which takes us form rooing (plucking the fiber from the sheep, predating sheering) to finished sweaters (or jumpers).   

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Winners

Congrats to new winners picked by random number generator!

Handspun yarn - emarci
Handmade book - Karey

I have emailed the winners and hope to send off their goodies soon. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Knitting Obsession

Still waiting for two of the winners from the giveaway to make contact.  Today is the deadline so watch for new winners will be selected tomorrow.

The Art of School

The other day I headed over to my school's library to check out the collection of architectural ornaments on display from Louis Sullivan.  Many of Sullivan's buildings have been demolished and the wonders have been lost. Chicago and St. Louis still boast buildings.  My school has the largest collection of his ornaments and many are on display.


After spending time looking, I headed off into the stacks of books.  I focused on the textile collection and what wonders  I found there. Knitting and crochet books long out of print! Weaving and spinning books galore! I also found historic books on wool and wool markets from the 1800s.  It will take me a ling time to work my way through the collection. I did bring home a few to get started.
copyright 1970

Lovely CPW (Canadian Production Wheel) depicted and used

You know you want this outfit - it is perfect to wear with your drop spindle!

I love libraries, they are such treasures.

Knitting News

This new pattern came out last week and I've been obsessing about it.

Autumnal by Hannah Fettig

I don't know when I first discovered Hannah's blog and her designs.  I've been watching and waiting and this one called my name.  It seems like the perfect garment (with a little shortening for my height).  Perhaps it would a a good project for some handspun yarn.  Hmm...I can see myself knitting and wearing this one.  Doesn't it looks smart and snug at the same time?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Fall to Dye For

Short post today - I've survived one test, but now I'm looking at the next one. Hope everyone is having a great week!

From the Dye Pot

Our friends the trees have put on their fancy colors for fall,

and inspired my dye palette....

My apologies for the bad title pun.

Then I started to dye some green bit of wool on a study break. No specific thing in mind for this yet, just experimenting with color.

I have some plans with dyeing - getting ideas and inspiration all over. Stay tuned to see what comes of it. I'm finding myself drawn to the kitchen and thinking about color continually.

Spinning News

I finished my raspberry yarn for my raspberry beret holiday knitting! I'm really pleased with the yarn - approx 270 yards of worsted weigh three-ply yarn.

I'll leave you with this little gem of a movie.  Have a great weekend!

I heard about this video on the Electric Sheep Podcast. If you don't know about this audio gem from London podcaster, Hoxton Handmade, run don't walk! You can also find her on Itunes.

Sheeped Away from Junaid Chundrigar on Vimeo.