In the next couple of days I’ll probably be posting a tutorial of some sort on making jewelry with precious metal clay (PMC), but I was just looking through some photographs of some of my earlier work and found a really cool bracelet I made a couple of years ago:

Many Hands Bracelet
Click on photo for larger version

This bracelet was made using PMC, a rubber stamp, leather, and sterling silver findings.  Here is a close-up of the bracelet:

Many Hands Bracelet
Click on photo for larger version

Although I like to make hand-fabricated jewelry more, PMC is a great medium and a fun technique to use in jewelry making.  If you’re not convinced, check out the online galleries on the PMC Guild website.  Some of these pieces just blow my mind.

I know, I know, you’re tired of this damned hat.  However, I had to make just one more post about it.

We went to Mammoth Mountain last weekend and the Head Cozy debuted with astounding reviews:

Holly & Mick at Mammoth Mountain

I don’t think I’ve ever had more compliments on anything in my life–many of them from total strangers.  So go on girls, knit it up.  You will be the belle of the skiing ball.

Here it is closer up and a gratuitous sleeping baby shot:

Simon, Holly, & Christian

That is my friend Simon with his baby, Christian.  He’s one of the babies I painted the mural for.

It makes me sad sometimes that so many of the paintings of pets that I do are of animals that have passed away.

Last year I painted this for a friend who commissioned it as a gift for her sister, whose dog Kramer had recently died:

Come Play With Me

I absolutely love this painting, but it is definitely melancholy.  The hedgehog you see in the painting was one of Kramer’s favorite toys, all alone now since Kramer is no longer around to play with it.

My own dog Kramer is going to be 15 in May and though he is doing fairly well, age is slowly taking it’s toll.  I try not to think about his eventual passing, but it’s hard not to sometimes, especially when I see him stumble or get confused or not be able to jump on the bed.  On the other hand, when he runs around like a crazy puppy looking for his next meal, I feel some reassurance that he’s going to be around for awhile longer.  At any rate, I am lucky to have found him.

This necklace represents one of my early attempts to incorporate the dog tag/peace motif into my work. Except for the chain, it is handmade from sterling silver and 14k gold, and so looks a little "organic." I do love this necklace, however, and should probably think about making some to sell.

Hand fabricated peace dog tags

Let’s face it, "peace" is hot right now.  My friend Susan who goes to the same jewelry studio as I do designed some very unique peace charms, rings, etc. and she can’t make them fast enough to keep up with the demand.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any photos of them on her website, but check it out anyway–her designs are absolutely wonderful and very inspiring.

But peace is about more than wearing a necklace, isn’t it?  On a basic level, it’s about holding it in your heart and showing kindness and compassion to others.  On a global level it’s much more complicated, but I can’t help but think that if we all held the principles of peace in our hearts, we would be a lot closer to the ideal, which is peace on earth.  Sorry to get all touchy feely on you, but face it, what other choice do we ultimately have?

Back in August, a friend asked me to paint a simple wall mural (more like a border, really) on the walls of her babies’ room (twin boys).  At first I was reluctant;  I have no problem painting any number of things on my own walls, but there were numerous reasons why I didn’t want the responsibility of painting on someone else’s, especially since in this case the walls had just been freshly painted and looked lovely and pristine.  She assured me that even if I made a mistake, it could easily be rectified with more paint, so I decided, Why not?  Here is the result:

Holly in baby's room

Babies' room

I have to apologize for the poor pictures; they’re the only ones I have.  Here is a close up of a couple of the dogs:

close up of dogs

It is difficult to see, but there is a dotted white line that goes above and below the dogs, as if they are batting the ball back and forth.

The original design came from a Pottery Barn catalog and I modified it to include a white scottie because they have a white dog.  I made cardboard cutouts of the shapes of the dogs and traced them onto the wall, then added the details by hand.

The finished room was more than I’d hoped for and I was very glad I’d agreed to do it.  The entire project took about two afternoons, and as a thank you, my friend made a donation to PAWS/LA, which is an organization near and dear to my heart.  Everybody wins!

This hat can be knit in a weekend, and it’s still cold outside in some parts, so get going!

Sorry to re-use these images, but I need to post them again as part of the completed pattern.

Click here for a print version of this pattern.

Skill level
Intermediate

Materials
5 size 8 double pointed needles
1 skein Manos del Uruguay (MDU) variegated yarn (100% wool [merino & corriedale blend], 100g, 138 yds)
1 skein Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere (DBPC) (100% cashmere, 25g, 49 yds)
Stitch marker
2 stitch holders
Tapestry needle
Size F crochet hook

Gauge:  4 stitches = 1 inch

Techniques
Knitting in the round with double pointed needles
Double knit (scroll down for instructions/video of this technique) or visit Stitch Diva Studios’ tutorial on double knitting.

Body

c/o 76 using a strand of MDU and DBPC held together, dividing stitches evenly on each needle (19 stitches per needle)
Round 1:  Attach stitch marker to show beginning of round.  K1 with yarns held together, then double knit remaining stitches in Round
Rounds 2-8:  Double knit using MDU and DBPC
Round 9:  With MDU & DBPC held together, p19, inc 1, p19, inc 1, p19, inc 1, p19, inc 1.  (80 stitches). Cut DBPC at end of round, leaving a tail to weave in ends.
Round 10 (Pigtail holes):  K15, slip 5 stitches onto stitch holder, c/o 5, k40, slip 5 stitches onto stitch holder, c/o 5, k15*
Rounds 11-14:  Knit all stitches
Round 15:  Purl all stitches
Rounds 16-20:  Knit all stitches
Round 21:  Purl all stitches

* These instructions place the pigtail holes approx. 9" apart, which could be a bit wide depending on how you wear your pigtails.  To customize the placement, one inch is 4 stitches, so figure out how far apart you want them and knit accordingly.  For example, if you want your holes to be 7" apart, k11 instead of 15 at the beginning of the round, make your hole, k48, make your second hole, and k11.

Top Shaping
Round 22:  K2tog, k8, k2tog, k8
Round 23:  Knit all stitches
Round 24:  K2tog, k7, k2tog, k7
Round 25:  Knit all stitches
Round 26:  K2tog, k6, k2tog, k6
Round 27:  Purl all stitches
Round 28:  K2tog, k5, k2tog, k5
Round 29:  Knit all stitches
Round 30:  K2tog, k4, k2tog, k4
Round 31:  Knit all stitches
Round 32:  K2tog, k3, k2tog, k3
Round 33:  Purl all stitches
Round 34:  K2tog, k2, k2tog, k2
Round 35:  Knit all stitches
Round 36:  K2tog, k1, k2tog, k1
Round 37:  Knit all stitches
Round 38:  K2tog, k2tog, k2tog, k2tog
Round 39:  Purl all stitches
Keep remaining stitches on needle

Finishing
Leave a 10" tail.  Using your tapestry needle, run the tail through the remaining stitches and pull tight.  Weave in tail and other ends.

Loop:  Crochet a chain of 10-12.  Tie off and attach to top of hat, weave in ends.

Pigtail holes:  Slip 5 stitches from stitch holder onto needle.  Pick up and knit 10 stitches around the hole, distributing the stitches evenly on 3 needles (15 stitches).  Knit 1 row, b/o purl-wise.  Weave in ends.

Alternatives
Pony tail hole:  In Round 9, knit to last 4 stitches, slip these onto stitch holder, and slip the first four stitches of Round 10 onto same holder (8 stitches on holder).  Cast on 8 (16 stitches, divided evently between 3 needles) and continue as for pigtail version.  Finish the ponytail hole as for the pigtail holes.

No holes:  Knit the hat as written and don’t allow for any holes.


These stacked peace rings are one of my favorite, if simplest, designs.  Eventually I’m going to sell them on the website, but just haven’t gotten around to setting that up.

In the meantime, here are a couple of ways to put peace into practice this weekend:

1)  Give others the benefit of the doubt
2)  Give a smile and/or kind word to everyone you meet (sounds cheesy, but it works)!

Have a good one, peeps! 

Head Cozy Hat - Model:  Holly West
No snow in Santa Monica!

Features that make this hat cool:

1)  Pigtail holes (of course)

2)  Loop at the top for hanging on ski locker hooks

3)  Double-knit head band.  The inside is cashmere, for extra warmth and softness.

Head Cozy Hat--Model:  Holly West

I used Manos del Uruguay yarn for this (the stuff I bought for my knit lesson) and the Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere I had left over from my Springtime Headband project.

Inside headband of Head Cozy Hat
Cashmere inside headband

I asked my husband what the hat reminded him of and he said a tea cozy.  So voila, I call it the Head Cozy hat.

I need to knit a few more of these and write up the pattern, which I’ll post ASAP.  My first original knit design!

Creativity works in mysterious ways.

Moonlight Sonata Ring

Sometimes ideas come at me so fast I can hardly keep up with them.  Other times, I can’t think of a worthwhile project to save my life.  Yesterday, which is the day I go to my jewelry studio, was one of those times.  In fact, I almost didn’t go because I didn’t want to waste time and materials on something that I would just end up melting down later.

Luckily, I wasn’t at a total loss for ideas.  Last week when I made the Love Token, I had also intended to make a charm for a women’s necklace, but I didn’t have time to finish it.  I did, however, begin the project by milling my gold and drawing a circle on it.

Moonlight Sonata Ring - Cutting a circle

Going to the studio yesterday, I had the vague feeling I wanted to make a ring with a thin band using this circle, but I wasn’t at all sure what else I would do to it.  I set about cutting the circle out and milled some gold into about 18g round wire for the band and soldered it all together, which resulted in a plain ring with a gold disc on it.  Cool enough I guess, but a bit boring.

I found a bezel with a jump ring soldered to it which I’d made months ago, intending to set it with an aquamarine for a pair of earrings (the second bezel turned out too large for the stones so I never finished them).  Finding it yesterday, I decided it would make the perfect addition to my ring and I soldered it on top, then set my aquamarine and attached an imperial topaz bead as a dangle.

Moonlight Sonata Ring - Close Up

I love this ring.  Funny how I went into the studio feeling very blas√© about creating anything at all and coming out with a piece I not only love but am really proud of.  Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here?

I call it Moonlight Sonata because it reminds me of a beautiful, starry night.  This is one ring I definitely won’t be selling any time soon, but if you’re interested in commissioning a similar piece, email me.  This is fabricated in 18k yellow gold but I could also do it in sterling silver.

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