It is just 7 days until we leave for Japan and I am busy at work on my kimono sweater:

Kyoto Sweater

The actual pattern is called Kyoto.  Instead of Tahki Cotton Classic, I’ve chosen to use Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere.  I also chose some drastically different colors, but the turquoise blue is good with my skin tone.  I was torn about what color to use on the bottom but ended up with the yellow because it’s pretty.  Yellow is not generally my color, but since this is the sash it won’t be against my skin so I’m hoping it won’t matter.

Unfortunately, the chances of me getting it finished in time for the trip are slim at this point.  I was well on my way to being done but after re-checking the gauge on a couple of the pieces I realized I had didn’t have enough stitches per inch, which would result in, at best, a much-too-big sweater.  I decided to start over, which is a painful prospect, but it has to be done.

The picture above is of the finished pieces prior to me deciding to start over, so at least you can see the color combo.

It will still be chilly in Tokyo when we go.  I am thinking about buying a few skeins of cashmere to knit myself a fabulous scarf to wear on the trip since I most likely I won’t have this sweater.

In the jewelry studio, I’ve kind of been on an earring kick lately, though
I’m not sure why.  I usually find them tedious to make because you have to
make two of the same thing.

These earrings are a modification of a pair I made years ago but never wore
because the way they were constructed caused the teardrop shape to go upside
down, which looked weird.  In the modification, I took off the stone,
soldered a jumpring to the top, and soldered an additional, smaller teardrop
shape in the center.

18k gold hammered teardrop earrings

These earrings are easy to wear and very light, but have a substantial look
to them.  I might even have to take them to Japan with me.

18k gold hammered teardrop earrings modeled by Holly West

I’ve said this about

but I’ll say it for jewelry as well:  one of the great aspects of
being a jewelry designer/maker is the ability to make pieces for special
occasions or even just a simple night out.  Such was the case this weekend, when
I made this bracelet in preparation for a dinner out with friends:

Egyptian Bracelet by Holly West

It is made from mostly from 10k gold, although the clasp is 14k and the
hammered rings are 14k gold fill.  The beads are green tourmaline and
citrine, with a red garnet briolette that functions as a charm.

Egyptian Faience Beads

The focal point of the bracelet, however, is really special to me.  A
couple of years ago while visiting an antique shop in Oxford, England, I
purchased a string of
Egyptian faience
beads which were at least 2000 years old.  They are
not expensive, but I love the idea of using antique beads in my work, especially
when they are this old.

It’s taken me almost two years to find a design for them that I like, and I
will probably use them in similar ways in the future.  My only concern is
that bracelets generally get knocked around a bit and they might be too fragile. 
That said, if they’ve survived 2000 years thus far, they can certainly survive
any wear they’ll get on my wrist!

This particular bracelet is not for sale, but

email me
if you are interested in purchasing a similar design.

Hooray!  The Spring 2007 issue of Knitty
came out the other day and there are a few things I am thinking about knitting:

– I’ve never actually knit a pair of socks, but lately I’ve been
wanting to.  Though these are a bit complicated, I might make them my

Carolyn – I
really like the shape and casual-comfy look of this cardigan.  I also like
that it has raglan sleeves.  Since horizontal stripes are not my friend, I
might choose to do this solid or at least with less contrast, but the overall
shape and style of this sweater is very appealing to me.

Torque – I’m
attracted to this sweater, though I might not ever knit it.  I like its
asymmetry and pinning the collar with a broach is a great look.  I need to
be careful with pullovers though because A) they make me look boxy and B) I
always get too hot to wear them for very long.

Paper Bag – I
love this.  I’ve never knit a bag before and this one is great.  I
tend to go off knitting in the warmer months and perhaps something like this
would be a good non-winter project.

And speaking of handbags, I am itching to
make one.

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!