Knitting, and painting, and writing …

June 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Posted in art, country life, faith, family, gardening, gifts, health, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, summer, travel, women | 9 Comments
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Good morning … I hope you are having an enjoyable summer so far.

I give mine mixed reviews.

I spent the first part of June in Denver visiting with my parents, which was wonderful of course but not without some bittersweet feelings as well. I love living here on the farm in New York, an I would not trade my life here with my dear husband for anything. We enjoyed our sixth wedding anniversary this past April and continue to feel amazed and blessed that our 3-month online courtship and subsequent marriage worked out so very, very well.

It is, however, not fun at all to be 1,500 miles away from my parents. They have always been two of my very best, dearest friends as well as parents who I cherish, respect, and love. I wish circumstances were such that we could all live close together so that I could help them more. Dad continues to give prostate cancer a run for its money, and Mom does an incredible job taking care of him through that battle. When we all lived in California, very close to each other, my kids and I were on hand to help them if needed … and of course during all of the years when I was raising my kids my parents were very nearby and always on hand to lend a hand, a hug, or a listen whenever it was needed by us.

We have a dream that by some miracle the universe aligns and Dad and Mom are able to come and live here with us. Miracles can happen, and we will continue to pose that dream to the universe and see what we along with the universe can make happen.

Meanwhile, there is love and there is a wealth of technology for staying in touch at least.

I came back from Denver with bronchitis and then had the fun of that segueing to a sinus infection back in New York. I am much better now, but much of June was devoted to the trip and the recovery.

I did manage to take a brief little vacation, right in our own backyard, with my husband last weekend. I shot a number of photos during the vacation using the Instagram app on my Android phone and shared those on Facebook and Twitter. That little app is so amazing, and quite fun to use. I am planning on creating an Instagram chronicle over the course of this summer as a photo journal of a summer living in vacation.

Every year I am stunned all over again at the complete, innocent and rustic beauty of this place and the environment around it.

Creatively, I am enjoying a very productive time these days. I created two small oil paintings while on the mini-vacation, am almost complete with my watercolor of the swans, and have started writing my first novel. I am determined to write at least 500 words each day for the next several months until my first novel is complete. I realize 500 words per day is a tiny little writing target, but making sure I do at least that much work on the novel will ensure I do produce a full-length book over the next year. I have also been knitting: I completed a Biscuit Blanket as a mystery gift to someone I have not met as of yet, am making another attempt at a summertime blanket for myself, and am working on a new design for something I am calling a Friendship Square … more on that later.

Oh, yes … I also managed to make a triple batch of strawberry-rhubarb-cranberry preserves that resulted in a 26 jars of some very delicious jam. The strawberries and rhubarb were locally grown, and the cranberries were from a stock of frozen cranberries I always have on hand. Oops, I just remembered another thing … my husband and I got this year’s Sincere Pumpkin patch going.

I also have been creating some new art prints for knitters … I posted two of my new designs this morning in my Etsy store. They are philosophical, and slightly humorous. I hope you will enjoy at least taking a look at them and enjoying the sentiment as well as the pretty colors I am using.

That is about it for me for now. I want to work on some more paintings today, because I have the August Art Trail to prepare for and a beautiful day to thoroughly enjoy.

Warmest wishes to you and yours.

~firefly

A spring full of creativity

April 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Posted in art, country life, family, gifts, inspiration, knitting, needle felting, shopping, travel, women, yarn | 12 Comments
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We have been very busy, very productive. Last week I was not able to blog because I was working all out, day in and day out to prepare two full-color two-sided brochures for the now annual Artists of The Oak Art Trail the last Saturday of August. This is the third year that our artist group has organized and held our own Art Trail event.

The first two years we worked with a local arts organization but this year we have struck out on our own. My husband and I are the Art Trail organizers, and I felt strongly that our ability to organize has exceeded the ability of the arts organization to serve the needs of our community. Their attention is more focused on our neighboring county because a) the arts organization is located there, and b) the other county has a larger population than ours.

In past years when the art trail was orchestrated only by the arts organization there were only a small (microscopically small) handful of visitors to the trail. When my husband and I got involved and added the Artists of The Oak “loop” to their trail and pressed them to move the date from mid-autumn to late-summer the number of attendees dramatically increased (up from half a dozen literally to 80 the first year; up from 80 to 175 the second year).

Anyway, this year we broke off from the arts organization and are creating our own Art Trail. We raised money from local businesses to sponsor the map for the trail and then raised money from the artists in our group to pay for the Artists brochure.

I had an opportunity to get 5,000 of the map brochures and 5,000 of the Artists brochures with free shipping if I got everything done way ahead of schedule and submitted my artwork by this past Friday.

It was hard, focused work but I made the target and now we will have 10,000 promo pieces to distribute far and wide — which is four times as many as we had to work with last year.

If you are interested in our event this year, you can download the map here. Of course, the event is not until late summer, so you will have plenty of time to plan your trip!

Meanwhile, both my son and I have been busy creating. I love these new “Minimalist” prints he has created for various cities.

I admire his ability to keep things very clean and simple in his designs; these new posters are a great example of his taste in that regard. He has also added several new cities to his collection of Subway Signs and Bus Scroll Prints. So far these cities are represented:

  • Dallas
  • Washington D.C.
  • Portland
  • Atlanic City
  • Seattle
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Paris
  • London

As for me, I have been combining two of my favorite fiber arts: knitting and needle felting. I have had so much fun creating this doll … and she has been enjoying two of my favorite activities: knitting and drinking coffee. I gave her a tote bag much like one of my favorite totes, and filled it with little balls of yarn rolled up from left overs of some of my favorite yarns.

Last fall I started knitting a pair of knuckle gloves for myself that I was really looking forward to wearing this past winter. However, I was not enjoying the knitting project and never got past mid-way on the first glove. I had intended to complete my gloves and then release a pattern for my readers, but I am not willing to publish a knitting pattern for a project that is no fun to knit, so I never completed the knucks and of course never released a pattern.

When I was working on the doll I had an idea to knit a hat for her, but then I came across the incomplete knuckle glove and realized it would make a great hat for her.

So I unraveled it back to a good length for the hat and voila, an adorable little hat to keep my doll’s head warm. I used some of the curly, unraveled yarn to make tassels for the corner points on the hat which just added to the cuteness quite a bit. I also used a little bit more of the same yarn to knit her a tiny ribbed scarf to make sure she stays plenty warm and cozy.

What I am doing with the needle felting is developing some more of my own techniques and characters so that I will have all kinds of cool stuff to teach in the needle felting classes I will be writing up and selling via my Etsy shop. I love the idea of combining knitting with needle felting because knitters will have an additional way to use their talents. But, for non-knitters I will be sure to include instructions for making accessories without knitting.

Please continue to be patient with me because it is a long process to develop the techniques and characters, then to remake items photographing each step, write up all of the instructions, and get it all published. For me, it is especially painstaking because I put quite a lot of care into breaking down my instructions into very easy to understand and follow directions. The thing is, this is a very fun and wonderful artistic medium and when I pass along some instructions on it I want to make sure others will experience great joy in what they are doing.

That will be it for today, but next time I blog I have a wonderful recipe to share that my son passed along to me for Asian Lettuce Wraps … I haven’t had a chance to make them yet, but he has and he loves them so he shared the recipe with me so I could share it with you fine folks.

I’ll write more in a few days.

Hope you have a beautiful week!

~firefly

One River comes into focus

November 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Posted in art, country life, faith, family, fingerless gloves, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, photography, shopping, travel, women, yarn | 3 Comments
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The past month has involved quite a bit of hard work preparing for our photography show; the show is opening on December 2nd at Marti’s on Main in Albion, New York.  When we first decided to do a photography show this December, the idea seemed rather simple and easy to pull off.  Of course it could have stayed that way, but the more we worked on it, the bigger our plans became and the more work there was to be done.  No regrets about that at all, we are having a good time doing something productive and creative that the entire family enjoys so it is worth any amount of time or financial investment that has gone into it.

This past week my son designed an awesome postcard and poster to promote the event.  We have the posters going up in shop windows in the villages around us, and postcards are going out in many directions.  I also wrote a press release and submitted it to plenty of media contacts in Western New York; we will be interviewed this Friday for some coverage.  If you are a blogger and would be willing to give us some coverage, it would be greatly appreciated.

I listed the poster for sale in my fine art Etsy shop (FleckensteinFineArt.Etsy.com).  Proceeds from the sale of this poster will help cover costs associated with the production of the show.  Now through Sunday, I have three special offers for my readers:

1) Buy a One River poster for $19, get any two knitting pattern downloads FREE (excludes the Three Scrumptious Christmas Stockings pattern, although you could substitute that one for any other two).  To take advantage of this offer, place your order for the poster, and then email me to tell me which two patterns you would like for free.  I will send a download link via email, or will gift it to you at Ravelry (Ravelry username required).

2) Buy any Subway Roll Sign, Bus Scroll Print, or reproduction vintage map from my son’s online store and get any three knitting pattern downloads for FREE — same details as above. (Offer also applies to any custom order placed with him.)

3) Buy any 11 x 17 inch Knitter’s Eye Chart (or Crocheter’s), and get any two knitting pattern downloads FREE — same details as above.

This is all being done to raise money to cover expenses for the photography show.  We have printed all of the photographs at a professional lab using Kodak’s Endura Metallic paper, they are all matted with black mat board and framed in simple black wooden frames.  A limited selection of some of my photographs that are featured in the show are listed in my fine art Etsy store … if you are interested.

We have titled the show, “One River”.  It is a show of six decades, five artists, four photographers, three generations, two coasts, and … One River.   The photography began in the late 1940′s when my husband’s father began shooting beautiful color slides at the family’s cottage on the river where we live — our farm is situated on that same river.  There are five artists in the show because it features photography by my now-deceased father-in-law, my husband, my son, and I plus poetry by my father.  Three generations — that should be obvious from who the photographers are.  Two coasts — my son still maintains a home and studio in the Los Angeles area, and then we have the place here in New York.   One River.  We have all been photographing this one river for the past sixty years, using the range of photographic technology available during that span of time.  I think it will be very interesting to people to get a chance to see one river–and the surrounding countryside–captured by three generations of photographers, each bringing their own take on the river into focus.

Even with all of this show related work in progress, I have managed to make a humble start to what I think is going to be a very cool (yet warm) pair of knuckle gloves for myself.  I have a hank of Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca fingering weight yarn in a gorgeous colorway called “Potting Soil” to make them with on size U.S. 1 knitting needles.  I am using a delicate little broken rib pattern for the cuffs and am enjoying the knitting very much.  The yarn is dreamy soft and easy to work with.  I’m planning on making these knuckle gloves with extra long cuffs so they go way up in my sweaters and jackets to keep my arms warm.

What will be even cooler, I think, is that I will make a pair of coordinating fingerless gloves using the same Berroco Ultra Alpaca worsted weight yarn in Lavender Mix colorway used in my Lavender Hat and Scarf pattern way back when I first started my blog in 2006.  On particularly cold days I will wear the Lavender colored fingerless gloves over the thinner, more delicate knuckle gloves for extra warmth.  They are going to look ultra cool, and now that we are pretty much finished putting the photography show together I should be able to get some serious knitting done so the gloves will be ready to wear soon.

Okay people, I am going to head off to get some more work done.  I appreciate your continued interest and support.

Warmest wishes,

~firefly

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