Monday, 19 December 2011

Sorry, is that yarn in your wreath?

Every year, three weeks before New Year's eve, my family, like many others,  hangs a nice, decorative wreath on the front door.
 When I was a kid, I invented a ritual - back then we lived on the 8th floor of a high building and, on the day when the wreaths are traditionally hanged for children to admire and for the neighbours to envy , I never used the lift. Instead, I would walk all the way up to the last floor carefully examining every wreath in the building. (OK, I admit, I would  also usually spit my chewing gum from the balcony on the last floor just to test the law of gravity!)
Then, a few days later, I would repeat the ritual and would usually notice that a few wreaths had been replaced in the mean time. Each time my friend and his mother who lived on the 3rd floor put a lovely, shiny ring on their door, their first neighbour would buy herself a new, shinier one! It was a real war!

I haven't abandoned my little ritual to this day and, although my family now lives on the 6th floor of a much smaller building,  the route to the top still turns into a decent gallery in December.
I finished my first inspection of the wreaths 2 days ago. :) This year 3 wreaths between the 3rd and the 5th floor are sea-themed; sea shells, sea stars and pebbles. That's new and original! (But, let's face it- it has to be a conspiracy! I suspect that there's a secret wreath-society downstairs that does not accept members from  the upper floors!  Bummer!)
Apart from the freemason's sea-themed wreaths, most others are pretty traditionally decorated; Christmas stars, bells, ribbons and ornaments, 1 Mickey Mouse and 2 Ninja turtles.
Some are made of fresh pine branches, others only have a few ugly plastic flowers on them. Some are new, some are old, and some are simply not up to this competition any more. I believe that one of them is actually ours. :) It is still lovely, the willow ring is still firm and glossy only the tiny decorations and fake Christmas stars are not in the best of all shapes any more. The wreath fell off more than once and some of the decorations had to be replaced, others are damaged and a few beg to be replaced (with Ninja turtles) as soon as possible.

So, I decided that our door needed a new wreath. A hand made one. Yesterday I went to a supermarket where they sell plain, styrofoam rings and bought one ring and a few styrofoam balls. Then I sat down in front of my computer and Googled! And Googled! And Googled! And I realised that there are THOUSANDS of amazing wreaths made with yarn, knit, crocheted and felted out there. I'm not sure I will actually have this wreath finished before 2012. - all the inspiration models are so lovely that I just can't make up mind. I think I will actually have  to take a year to think and decide which one to make. :)
So, before I can hang my own yarn wreath on my blog, I'll share some of the loveliest examples from the internet with you!
They are not all necessarily Christmas wreaths but that doesn't even matter! They're all gorgeous!

Yarn balls, felted flowers, garter ribbons, knitting needles, pom-poms, knit fabric, crocheted lace, argyle, name it!

And, my personal favourite:

:)))) Obviously!

The following links will take you to a few lovely tutorials. In some of them you will find the instructions for making a few of the wreaths posted above.

Enjoy and happy crafting!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Blog makeover

No knitting this time. Just a brief announcement!

Obviously, if you are reading this then you have already noticed that Cloopco has been completely redesigned. I hope you like the new version!  I do! :) I think this is just the kind of blog I have always wanted to have. I don't know what I was thinking when I picked that dark background for the first version.

Also, besides the most obvious (header and colours), the blog is now using a different and somewhat narrower template which, initially, shrunk the main panel a little. I did my best to adjust the margins but, the change  affected a few posts originally published on the old version which is why they are now a wee bit scrambled. Nothing serious 'tho.
So, after brief inspection, my main impression is that, all in all,  this whole make-over process has left far less mess than I'd expected.

Again, I hope you like it!

Until very soon,



Monday, 5 December 2011

Knit me a song

"Leben" - by Heidrun Liegmann-Halama
In February 2000., I was invited to a graduation party thrown by a friend who had just returned from abroad with a diploma from one of  Europe's oldest Conservatoriums of Music. At the time, I was still a student of dramatic and performing arts.
I went to the party with my friend, now a painter and, back then, still a student of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts. It was a lovely party. And it lasted for almost 24h. :)

Some time during the night and after a few bottles of great wine, our host, the freshly graduated professional musician, started singing a traditional song from his father's home region, followed only by the delicate sounds of guitar, played by his close friend. I think that the guitar player was not even familiar with the original melody but they made a great duo. I have never learnt whether the song my friend sang that night was in some foreign language or in a complicated regional dialect but not one person in the room could recognise a single word of it. And, yet, my friend's voice magically translated it for us and, as silly as it may sound, we understood everything. It was a spectacular moment. His voice, his performance...we were mesmerised.
When the song finished, the room was filled with dense silence and we all remained frozen for almost 10 minutes until my friend, the painter, suddenly  broke the silence and said: "HEAVENS!  I WANT TO BE ABLE TO PAINT THIS SONG!  "

Back in those days, we were curious and confused as only 20 year old people can be. At the same time, we thought we knew everything and were too proud to admit that there was still much more to be learnt. Our education was finely intertwined with our personal growth and, sometimes, our intimate questions would collide with our professional curiosity and we'd find ourselves swimming upstream all tangled up in life and with the education sitting on our shoulders. We would usually continue fighting the stream for days until a single word or picture woke us up and made everything seem clear again.
Our professor, well aware of all the rapids and traps set for us on the path of our education, would often rescue us from our own youthful arrogance by saying: " Studying to become an artist does not mean that you will eventually become one.  Every art, in its essence, is just a craft. And every craft can become Art! When you leave this school, you will all be craftsmen.  But, not necessarily artists.  Still, don't be discouraged by this - it is actually a very good thing. It allows every carpenter and every chef to become an artist. Of course, it also allows lazy actors and musician to turn theatres and operas into pointless country fairs. Now, whether you will take your craft that one step forward  depends only on you."

Throughout the years, my professor's words have helped me to never forget that the muses can easily slip out of our hands if we're not careful enough but also that beauty and the magic of art can be found absolutely everywhere. My friend's words, on the other hand, have been a constant reminder of how that magic can be created; to be an artist, you need to always 'want to paint a song'. It's as easy as that!
Whenever you see someone trying to do that, you'll know you're very near the magic.

But, although I am not any more surprised by the fact that the purest form of art can be found anywhere, from kitchens and tiny shops to school playgrounds, honestly speaking,  I am still very excited when I unexpectedly find it.
A fortnight ago, while I was collecting material for my previous post, the path of a craft intersected with that of the art in front of my eyes again and caught me unprepared- I came across craftsmen who took their craft that one step forward.
I have found the artists who knit and crochet songs. :)

Quite amazing!
Here are some of their works!

The "Knitters Dreamtime" wall-hanging made by Jane Thornley

This first wall hanging evolved, as the authors says, "from her lifelong fascination and desire to learn from aboriginal and indigenous peoples the world over."
The central motif is a human hand, "a reoccurring motif in many prehistoric pictographs and rock art in Australia and the world over".

I had already written the introduction to this post when I opened Jane's page again to collect the link to the project picture and noticed that her explanations quite resonated with my friend's wish to paint a song. She says: "The basis of this project is to capture that place between a rock and a soft place and to knit stone."
To knit stone! Of course! Because that is how magic happens! :)

And she also says this on her webpage: " For me, colour and texture rule and most of the inspiration feeding my imagination comes from the natural world. I see knitting as art, as viable as any other, and no matter what the tool or preferred palette, in human hands, magic happens. "

Quite amazing!
You can find more pictures of Jane's work on her webpage > Jane Thornley
Ravelers can also visit her group > Jane Thornley Ravelry group

We'll stay in Australia for another few moments because there are two more artists from the southern continent who's work I would like to show you!

One of them is Prudence Mapstone, an extremely imaginative Australian artist and a great promoter of free form crochet and knitting.
Prudence is a very productive author and it is literally impossible for me to pick the most representative picture of her work. I picked two but I invite you to follow the links posted under the pictures and visit her galleries - you'll find some amazing pictures there.

"Barren to Bountiful: What a Difference the Rain Makes" : a freeform knit and crochet wall-hanging created for the gallery wall at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York City

Some of her works contain a few hundred different yarns! The close-ups are eye-capturing:

Here's a link to another imaginative project; Light at the end of the Tunnel  , a knitted panel with some surface embroidery, mounted in recycled window frame .

Finally, you DON'T WANT TO MISS her Freeform in the Landscape gallery. It is something that you don't see every day. Here's a teaser picture:

Prudence has a website with a lovely name Knot Just Knitting  where you can read more about her work, see how her artistic knitting/crocheting is implemented into wearable garments, subscribe to her newsletter, download her workbooks (check out the 'patterns' section) buy some of her projects and buy her books. She also writes a blog (PrudenceMapstone) and can be found as PrudenceM on Ravelry.
The list of books authored by Prudence Mapstone can be found HERE!

Let's move on! We're still in Australia!

Coral isle (1m x 1m mural)

When I first saw this mural I had to enlarge the picture just to make sure that it ws not painted. :) Impressive! It is made by Renate Kirkpatrick, another imaginative and enthusiastic Antipodean. She plays around with different yarns, stitches, hook sizes, texture, form, colour. Besides her practical contribution to the development of hand-crafts (from pottery and paper crafts to various fibre arts), she has also written three books about crochet: Crochet Techniques, Freeform Crochet and Beyond and Bring Colour to Crochet, all three sold worldwide.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Renate has won a few international prizes one of which I absolutely have to mention - she is the winner of the World's Best Tea Cosy contest in 2006. Here's the winning cosy:

Renate's blog is HERE. She is also rensfibreart on Ravelry.

Now, across the World and back to the Old Continent!

The Netherlands!

"Sun Fighting Mist" by Adri de Vries Tadema

From the author's notes: "They yellow sun is trying to fight its way through the mist, on an early morning...
the world is awakening and the skies are painted yellow and grey,
the world and all that is in it is still greyish."

The techniques used are: crochet, embroidery, spinning and painting silk and rayon threads.

Two more wall hangings, both made by Adri.
Adri writes two blogs simultaneously, one in Dutch and the other one in English, you can read them HERE (the Dutch version) and HERE (the version in English). She is a3devries on Ravelry.


Big bang
Khaki tree


The author of these two projects is Amal  (artknitbyamal on Ravelry) who says that she "has had a passionate affair with wool, needle and hook for over 30 years". She drains her inspiration from nature: mountains, sunsets, forests and shadows.

I really like this Khaki tree wall-hanging. Khaki trees can be found in many gardens in my hometown and I'm insanely in love with their leaf-less, dark branches full of orange fruit in autumn.

Having mentioned my hometown, we're moving even closer to my part of the Earth- we're going to Austria!

Silver alleys

This wall hanging was made by Snježana Rock, a Croatian born Austrian designer living in Vienna. Snježana was kind enough to upload a gallery of photos taken during the process of making her wall hanging. That is just the  kind of thing I was hoping to find for this post. The gallery is HERE!
The rest of her projects can be found on her bilingual blog (in German and English) > Handstrick Flair .
During our brief correspondence, Snježana told me that she had learnt the technique, used for creation of her picture, by a German knitter and, apparently, a real authority - Gabriele Kluge. And, indeed, her work as well as works of some of her students and colleagues are quite amazing.

Gabriele Kluge has a web site in German - HERE.

"Green Space" - Michaela Renz
"Peters Farben" - Gabriele Kluge

Spiralen - Margitta Biallas
"Herbstallee" - Marion Siepermann

One of the representatives of this knitting style is also Heidrun Liegmann-Halama, who's "Tulip" (or, originally, "Leben") you can see at the very begining of this post. She has a very interesting group on Ravelry called - Swing knitting.

Michaela Renz is the author of Candela lamp shades mentioned in my previous blog entry (Defiknitaly knitable).

I started this story with a Canadian knitter, Jane Thornley, who's  fascination with the Aboriginal culture "took me" to Australia. From Australia, we went to Europe and I think that it would only be fair to close the circle and go back to the New Continent.

I'm finishing this journey in Alabama, USA!

Freeform Crochet Sculpture by Cornflowerblue

Textile Art Heart by Cornflower Blue

Cornflower Blue is a happy and crafty young art historian called Rachel in love with freeform crochet. Some of her sculptures are offered for sale on her Etsy shop. She also 'runs' a very nice blog called Cornflower Blue Designs.  Do visit it some time, you'll enjoy her warm, lovely, colourful photos.

That's it! I hope you have enjoyed reading  this post as much as I have putting it together.

'till next time, cheers!

Monday, 28 November 2011

DefiKNITely knitable

This story is defiknitely about knitting! But, it is defiknitely not about scarves, shawls, cardigans or pullovers.
It is about knits and purls, loops and yarn-overs but  not about raglans or necklines.
It has many decreases and increases but not a single armhole.
Some of the purls from this story shine in the dark and sit at the same table with their maker during dinner.
A few of them can actually talk to birds.  And they wear jewellery!
Still, there's absolutely nothing odd about them. They're perfectly normal stitches.

I believe I have your attention now! :)

 Two years ago I went hunting for slippers and slipper-makers on Ravelry. That first adventure lasted for almost a month which was about 30 days more than I'd expected. :)  As I found out back then, the Ravelry projects base is an endless sea of amazing projects!

I published  the gallery of the most interesting hand-made slippers in my posts named Dress my feet and Dress my feet II and I was quite happy with how it turned out. It encouraged me to start a few more searches for different projects, one of which I am sharing with you now!
This time, I went hunting for  non-wearable knit and crochet projects (with the exception of jewellery). Most of the examples were collected from the Ravelry projects and pattern database during the past year. Some others were published on different web sites. What is common to all of them is that they were born out of great creativity and (my favourite word!) imagination.
It isn't as if we are not aware of the fact that knitting can create so many things besides pullovers or hats. Pillows, doilies, throws, table-cloths, amigurimi toys... we've all seen that. Or even made it. But, what else do knitters and crocheters make?
As it turns out, that they make all sorts of things!
I'm not even sure how such projects happen - does a knitter need something and decides to make it with her needles or is each of these projects simply a result of the knitter's wish to take knitting beyond the borders of a practical hobby!? Hard to tell!

Here they are!

The fact that knitters make blankets is no news, obviously, but I still decided to include them in the list!

"Silent flight, 
Darkness piercing vision, 
Hooting night terror – Owl."

This blanked is called CAN YOU SEE THE HOOT? and it is designed by ShuiKuen Kozinski, the author of  some of the most beautiful shawls on the Earth. :) . The pattern for this blanket can be downloaded for  free from It calls for approximately 3000m of yarn.

This "Navajo" blanket was made by my fellow blogger bensedinart. The pattern can be found in Kristin Nicholas book "Kristin Knits". It is worked in the rounds with a steek.

Inspired by THIS design,  Raveler Cheryl (Ravelry name TracesmomCheryl ) made this unusual project- a felted bird's nest.  Absolutely adorable!

Here's another interesting example of a felted non-wearable knit project!

Made by jantje.

Now, look at this:

It is a lamp!!!! Knit and designed by Rachel Braff . The pattern is available as a Ravelry download from this link > Hydra lamp.

Crocheted candle-holders...

... and lamp shades, both designed by Elín Guðrúnardóttir  You can find her blog HERE

More lampshades:

Designed by Michaela Renz. The pattern is available from here > Candela lampshades.

And Nordic light pendant  designed by Anna&Heidi Pickles.

Now- the wire!
In 2006., Knitty published "Venezia", a pattern for beaded napkin holders designed by Rosemary Hill.
The most unusual thing about this pattern was - the yarn! Instead of furry, soft alpacas, merinos and silky yarns, this pattern calls for WIRE. Shiny loops of wire wrapped around gentle bamboo needles left me pretty confused when I saw this photo for the first time.

Hardly would anyone believe that it was possible to knit copper wire, usually associated only with soulless industrial products, into a fine, airy lace fabric. But, it is possible.
And the pictures of the final result were just as stunning as those of the process of making.

Later, In 2008. , Knitty  published another pattern by Rosemary Hill - Bijouterie , a pair of beaded earrings. The principle was, more or less, the same and the result was, once again, beautiful.

The idea of knitting wire instead of yarn somehow triggered the birth of a whole new style of knitting.
Some of the knitters that i met during this hunt started playing with Romi Hill's patterns, modifying both patterns and the purpose of the projects.
Others came up with their own, unique designs.

Jenny, (coolcatjen on Ravelry ), made these "Venezia" napkin holders.

And, some jewellery:

Crocheted bracelet, made with copper wire, semi-precious stones, Mother-of-pearls and Swarovski crystals.

Wired necklace with circular motives. 

And a ring!

These three pieces of jewellery were crocheted and designed by Leigh Manson-Brown. The link will take you to her designer's page on Ravelry.

The curtains! Not nearly as unusual as knit wire, but still a good example of a creative approach to crocheting and knitting. I picked this elegant and simple pattern by Bernat Design Studio. The pattern is free.

And, although there are thousands of interesting examples of hand-made objects that could find their place in almost every household, for the closure of this story I picked this simple and, yet extremely cute project. 

Clothesline Wall Hanging

Designed by Pierrot and made by Alice (SimplyAlice on Ravelry). 
The main purpose of this project is to bring a smile on your face and, to be perfectly honest, i cannot think of a nobler purpose. :)

I'm finishing the story with this cute wall hanging for two reasons - I wanted to bring a smile to your face and to prepare you for my next post - a story about very special wall hangings. 

'till then, cheers!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Flowers, leaves and acorns

I may have been quiet lately but that doesn't mean that I haven't been knitting! Quite the contrary! As always, my most frequently chosen projects were shawls.
Two of my favourite shawls made in the 2011. are designed by Shui Kuen Kozinski which probably doesn't come as a surprise- I've been a long time fan of her work.

And, although I could hardly pick my favourite pattern among her designs, when I made my first Fleur-the-lis shawl, I instantly knew that it was a love that would last for a long, long time. And so it was! What blew me away was the simplicity of the pattern capable of resulting in such a rich and breathtakingly complex texture. Moreover, the final shape of this shawl is so long lasting that even after months of wearing it you will still have firmly shaped peaky edges and an intact texture of the lace.
In addition to all this- it is an extremely fun knit and here I might want to add that I am a very impatient knitter. But, it appears that, no matter how many repeats you decide to make or how many lace panel you decide to include in your project, your whole (knitter's ) world suddenly starts spinning around the row in which you will finally make 9 out of 3 stitches and start making a new flower. Quite amazing!

Anyway, the story has it that, once upon a time, a (young and beautiful) knitter (whos blog you are reading this very moment)  decided to made herself a lovely winter Fleur-de-lis shawl in ice gray. When the shawl was finished, she realised that it was a pure miracle- the most amazing thing she had ever see. Everyone else was blown away by its beauty as well.. People from her kingdom would instantly fall in love with it (the shawl, not the knitter!) and would ask her :"Can you make something like that for me too?" but the knitter would briefly reply: "Who am I, your grandmother? Make it yourself!" And so the beautiful young knitter continued enjoying her moment of glory the whole next winter.
One day, the knitter woke up and felt that the temperature had drastically changed overnight! It was spring! And, since the knitter lived on the Mediterranean, she knew quite well that she would soon melt like a snowman if she continued wearing her shawl. Her other option was to put her shawl into a closet along with the rest of her winter wardrobe but she knew more than well that, then, she would lose all her magical powers. So, she sat down and started thinking! And, after a few days of thinking, she came up with a solution to her problems  - she would make herself a new shawl out of a much lighter yarn that could be worn in April and May! That way she would  keep her powers forever (or at least until German tourists come to town and start making fun of the insane knitter in a bathing suit, swimming with a shawl around her neck!)  And, so, she made herself a new shawl! And she lived happily ever after!

I have to say that, unlike many other times, this time I was really lucky when it came to picking the right yarn for the project- my first choice was the best choice (and I think that the lady in the yarn shop, used to my constant replacements and "better ideas", meditated on  the idea of framing my picture and putting it on a wall for a long time after that! She must have thought it was candid camera!).

The yarn I used is a very strange tweedy cotton/cashmere/wool blend! Very hard to work with, actually, as the thread easily breaks during knitting but extremely firm when knit into fabric. It is also very blockable which is great for a shawl project! The predominant colour is natural beige (or sand, if you like) and, at first sight, it gives the impression of a hemp yarn but, in reality,  it is extremely soft to touch (cashmere can do that!).

I do have to mention that some of the pictures were taken at least 6 months after blocking and, as you can see, she shape is still perfect!

The pattern for Fleur-de-lis shawl is obtainable from Ravelry  here > Fleur-de-lis shawl pattern by Shui Kuen Kozinski .

The second Shui Kuen's design that I made this winter (don't worry, I won't be telling another story about a beautiful knitter and her magic powers!) is Leaf and Acorn Shawl, this time, in green. What a change after all the projects in earth shades!

I love it, I hearth it, I love wearing it but my dear friend is so desperately in love with it that i decided to give it to her! But she still doesn't know that so, in case you see her, don't tell her anything about this!

Here it is:

You can download Leaf and Acorn shawl pattern for free from both Ravelry ( HERE) and (HERE).

Happy knitting! I'm going to bed! It's 3 AM and I think I'm losing my magical powers as we speak!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Let me tell you a joke

I met a good friend of mine a few days ago. After 4 years of not seeing each other!
All that I knew about him was that he had gotten married in the meantime, had a baby girl and that he had quit his old job. Nothing else! Plenty had happened in my life too! 4 years!
We hugged, said "Hi" to each other and then thousands of questions started popping out in my head - "what should I ask him first?", "how has he been?", "where did he meet his wife?", "how old is his dog now?", "oh, his brother, I forgot about his brother, I should ask him about his brother!!!", "does he still collect antique watches?".."how on earth do you start a conversation with someone whom you haven't seen in years and whom you used to spend days and days with???"....and, just when I started feeling dizzy of all the questions erupting in my head and thought that I was going to faint, he winked at me and said:
-Hey, do you want to hear a joke? It's a good one!
I said:
- A joke? I haven't seen you in 4 years, I don't even know your daughter's name...
He stopped me and said:
-I thought it would be better to just pretend that the last time we saw each other was yesterday! Catching up is usually boring! 
And so he told me a joke!
He was right- catching up is usually boring, often hard and more often than not- useless. And so are the excuses! (Not to mention that they're lame!)

For this reason, I decided to pretend that the last time I posted here was last Monday and to tell you a joke!
There isn't much to be said, after all! Sometimes, for whatever reason, we simply "don't feel like doing some things". When that happens and when we feel that it is not the right time to do something then, in my most humble opinion, whatever it is that we don't feel like doing, is better left alone. More so if what we're doing is supposed to be done with pleasure. Not every time is a good time! That is what I did with this blog- I temporarily abandoned it and decided to continue writing when I see fit! And, that time would be now, if you don't mind!
(Naturally, although my strategy called "I don't feel like doing it so, I won't do it!" sounds abnormally smart- do not try it at home or, godforbid, with your electricity bills! I've tried it and it doesn't work! Electricity companies have got no sense of humor WHATSOEVER and if you decide to skip paying a few bills and then show up in front of their clerks and say - "Hey, I really didn't feel like paying the last three bills but I have a great joke to tell you!" - THEY WON'T LISTEN!!!! Or laugh!... I just thought I should make this clear!)

So- the joke!!!!

Two men are sitting in a pub. Their names are John and Peter. They're drinking beer and chatting! Suddenly,  John changes the subject and says to his friend:
- You know, I've been thinking! We spend every single night here in this pub and we've been doing it for the past twenty or so years. We get home from work, have something to eat, take a nap and then leave the house and come back home late in the evening, usually drunk and useless!
Peter says: - Yes, and?
John continues: - Well, you see, I've been thinking about our wives lately! When we're here, they're at home! Alone! Not only are they alone but they also know that we won't be back until very late!
Peter: - And?
John: - Well, what do you think they're doing when we're here?
Peter says: - Oh, you know...they'e women, they probably do what all women do!
John says: - And what is that?
Peter smiles and says: - Well, there aren't many options, are there?! They're either knitting or...well, obviously, spending evenings with another man!

John suddenly jumps off his chair, puts his coat on and says: - I knew it! I have to go!
Peter says- Hey, where are you going?
John says: - Home! 
Peter: - Why so suddenly?
John: -  I'LL KILL HER!!!!
Peter says: - Your wife???
John says: - Yes!
Peter: - But, why????
John says, on his way out: - BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO KNIT !!!!!!

I'll be back soon this time! Stay tuned!

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