Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Knitting Up Through the Generations

Barbara Abbey, Friends and Knitting Connections One of the cool things about knitting is that while it is an old craft form (yes, art form, too, but that's another blog post), we knitters can take those skills and put a very modern twist on them.

It also means that there are not many new tricks we can learn from the modern knitting literature. New patterns, new yarns, cooler knitting shirts, but the basics really haven't changed that much.

In 1971, Barbara Abbey wrote "The Complete Book of Knitting" (Viking Press, 1971). I picked up this book used a few years back and it was sitting on my shelf (along with just a "few" other books on the topic) when my sister spied it and said "Hey! You have Elan's Grandmother's knitting book!" Way cool, since Elan and I had our first knitting lesson together (thank you Jessica!) around Marty's dining room table.

When I really started reading this book, I realized what an excellent guide it was. Not only to teach the basics, there is a wealth of stitch patterns documented there
. Radical that I am, I decided to knit something for myself (a rarity) from the book! I selected "#5 small check" on page 144, a nice soft purple yarn, and got started.

I am very pleased with the result. It was my first attempt to make anything from just a stitch pattern, it's my favorite color to wear, and it's a tie back to a friend AND one of the most thorough books on the topic I have read.

So, Miss Maisy, to answer your question - check out eBay and get a copy of this book for yourself as you learn to knit in the New Year. I would send you mine but there's this great Cockleshells pattern on page 162 that I am anxious to try. . .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Passementerie Jewelry - Awesome Artist of the Week

Courtney Laine - Jeweler and Artisan

It is rare that I meet a 24 year old who impresses me as much as Courtney Laine, the creative force behind Passementerie (r). That was the case two years ago, when Courtney and I met in the forums of a sales web site, though. Her stunning jewelry collection, clear vision, marketing savvy and determination made me think I was speaking with someone much more mature.

Courtney's beautiful eye for design and color, combined with her skill with precious metals and an encyclopedic knowledge of gemstones, have created one of the freshest jewelry collections on the market today.

One of my prized possessions is a lovely gemstone bracelet from Passementerie, with soothing sea-blue tones. I wear it on days where I need to feel a bit special.

You can view her entire collection at You can also visit her year-end sale at through 10 January 2009. And remember, my birthday is Thursday, but it's OK to be a little late with such a special gift. She'll let me know there's a little box from you on it's way.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Funky Quail on Art Fire

Expanding the Scope

Yesterday we opened a studio on the new sales site, Art Fire.

We put Becky's hand-painted shirts there, as well as the basic line of knitting tees and hoodies. More items will be added in the future, but we have a good start so far.

Art Fire is in beta, which means they are still working out the kinks. They still have a long way to go to create an effective search, but they are offering STATS for the shop. As a marketing professional, this is very important to me. I need to know where shoppers in my store came from, in order to create a solid marketing plan. The fees are reasonable, too. I won't be hit with constant fees for relisting, just to try and stay near the top.

An important caveat in real estate is "location, location, location." It is a lot like that on the web. It's not who you started with, or who makes the best cupcakes, or even choosing one over the other. It's simply a matter of being where the customers are shopping. And in our case, that means branching out and trying new opportunities.

Check us out if you have a chance!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Talent in the Family

Becky Dreistadt

One of the fun things about being a step-mom, is that you get to write the biographies for your step-daughter, and talk about her artistic talent.

And the nice thing about it is, you can show the artwork and people can see you aren't making it all up.

Becky has been drawing since she could hold a crayon. It's a part of who she is. She was always the girl in school who could draw, who won the art contests and the county fair ribbons, and eventually won a Congressional Art award before attending the Savannah College of Art and Design, winning the Sequential Art award, and graduating magna cum laude this past May.

Now she is living in New Zealand and creating all sorts of fun art. She also started This is her "Mountain Quail," 5" x 7" on watercolor paper. Cute little fellow, isn't he?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bagging it All In

Japanese Kitty padded tote b (salmon)

One of the fun things about designing bags is making them in a wide variety of materials. I adore the Japanese fabrics that are out - the cute little characters and tiny whimsical animals are so funky and different from what fabric stores in the US carry! Since I travel so much for work, I also duck in to a lot of fabric stores. Even with the major chains, the fabric they carry can vary from city to city.

I also have a good time with vintage fabrics. Using something very few, if any, people have access to can truly make a bag one of a kind.

This tote style is currently what I carry for everyday. I can stuff it with receipts during my business travel, carry a magazine or book, wallet, and even my knitting. My keys no longer sink to the bottom, since I added the key fob on the outside.

Women and their bags are an interesting study. Some days I think I will never make another one, since I can't seem to get the pockets right, or strap length, or the fabric choice correct for any customer. But then a young girl will come along, grab up a pirate bag, or Elvis, or the Three Stooges, or a hawt firefighter bag, squeal that "it's PERFECT!" and I'm back in the game again.

I see the creativity I enjoy using in creating the bags within many of my artist friends. I'll be talking more about them in the coming days. Meanwhile, I better get moving on the more mundane tasks in life - there is new fabric on my cutting table that's been calling my name!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing Day! Back to the Craziness for the Rest of Us!

Christmas is over, we have put away the gifts, and are getting ready for the real madness to begin. Today we are signing the contract to list our house for sale and then start the final touches to make it showcase-ready.

Also this week, we will be heading to Nashville to look at for a new home.

I need to remember to take time to do some knitting over the next few months. It is relaxing for me, and a wonderful creative outlet. I am working on an alpaca-blend scarf that is a gorgeous light mauve.

Looking at this shirt also reminds me that renewing my yoga practice probably wouldn't be such a bad thing, either.

I think I will add that to my 2009 Goals list.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Every Perfect Gift. . . . . .

It is Christmas evening. The house is quiet, the presents are unwrapped, and we have spent the day with friends.

We are fortunate. Employed, healthy, great family, wonderful friends.

People were generous to me. I have some funny gifts, some practical gifts, and some gorgeous gifts.

However, I received the greatest gift of all last week. Patti's lymphoma is going into remission. The chemo is working. This 40 year-old mom of 7 month-old Patrick, with the infectious laugh and wicked sense of humor, will see more Christmases with her precious son.

So while I love everything I unwrapped today, it could all go away and I would have everything I asked for this year.

May you and your family enjoy a wonderful day together today. I hope whatever you wished for, it was in your stocking, or wrapped under your tree, or in some little miracle out there in the world.

Peace and Joy to you.

Love, Funky

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Knit Before Christmas. . . . .

An early Christmas present for my friend Teri, who was transferred to Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, earlier this year. She had never before lived above the Mason-Dixon line. This ensemble was designed not only to complement her jet black hair, but the hat can serve as a beacon in the snow and the seven-foot scarf can be waved at rescue workers should she be stranded.

Enjoy your Christmas Eve, everyone. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, may you be joyful as we ease out of 2008 and look forward to 2009!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Did you Draw that? Wow!!!

The artist behind Funky Quail

I get a lot of compliments on the shirt artwork and need to make this perfectly clear - I can not draw! The artist is Becky Dreistadt*, a magna cum laude graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, who is currently residing in New Zealand.

Becky took the ideas my sister and I had for knitting tees and turned them in to a reality for us. Each shirt has a very different style. Our best seller is "Ninja Knitter," a sly-looking Ninja who casts her wool upon needles made of swords.

Ninja knitters are pretty much like regular knitters, except they tend to be a little more stealthy about it.

Check out more of Becky's work at

* my step-daughter, so I can brag when I write bios about her.

Happy Holidays!!!

This is to wish a Happy Holiday season to all our funky friends - old and still to be made - with warmest wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year from The Funky Quail Crew :)