Monday, February 19, 2018

I just need a little Breathing Space!

After six months, I finally finished something yesterday. Something big that will quickly become my favorite thing to wear. 

"Breathing Space" by Veera Välimäki. It's pretty likely you may have seen this pattern, as it is from the ever popular "Interpretations" series and has been made 1691 times on Ravelry. Also, Veera is pretty famous for her work, especially her "Color Affection" Shawl. 

Mine happened by accident.  I have had 2 skeins of Malabrigo Sock, in the colorways "Lettuce" and "Solice" for a few years now, having bought on sale.  I had been looking for something to pair these two with and I was flipping through the Interpretations book one day and fell in love with this pattern.  I quickly bought a second skein of Solice and got to work.  This was in July of 2017. 

When I started, I ran into a few kinks, the main one being my gauge, which was off by a few rows (more rows per inch than the pattern asked for).  As my stitch gauge was correct, I went with it, knowing I'd need more rows/stripes to equal their numbers.  It was pretty smooth sailing for awhile until I got to the bottom part of the body this past December. The math got confusing and I just couldn't decide how long I wanted it.  I ended up binding off and then un-binding to make longer. 


The sleeves were the same story, having decided to make them a little bit longer and having to redo a few things on them.  But I'm pretty happy with the length and so glad I did redo things. I bound off for real on Saturday evening, February 17.  Exactly 8 months after Ravelry says I started. 


The whole time I was trying it on as I went - a perk of sweaters in the round - and it fit pretty well, so I was a little worried blocking may make it huge.  But it really needed some breath (yes, pun intended) and so I took the leap and blocked.  Let me just say that I am very glad I did! It's so nice and drapes really well on me now. 


A few more notes:
  • I actually provisionally casted on at the neck, as I wanted to go back and do a stretchy bind off on it.  I am glad that I did, but pulling out that provisional cast on was a pain.  I think I did it wrong :/
  • I decided to make a "gradual fade" at the bottom of the body and sleeves with the stripes, which I enjoy. Although I wish I had striped it longer before going back to solid.
  • The stripe pattern is 2 rows one color, 2 rows the other. If you look at the body close enough you will see a stripe that is a bit thicker.  That's my "Birthday Stripe" which is from when I had too much wine on my birthday and ended up doing 3 rows of the darker color.  I like telling that story, so it stayed.
  • The diagonal rows are created by one of my favorites, short rows, and so much fun to work.
  • I will likely make another some day, but I need a break for now.  It was suggested I try it with random stripes of sock yarn.  Yay?


For the record, I will NEVER paint in this sweater. In fact, I'm even scared to wear it to school on days we will be painting.  BUT it felt appropriate to do some studio shots in it, as it's such an artsy piece.

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Thank you for taking the time to read today.  I have the day off from school for President's Day and had to stop and blog for a bit.  But now I need to get back to life, AKA dying yarn all afternoon. 

~Lisa 





Sunday, January 28, 2018

Texas Happenings

I have been wanting to update for the past two weeks, but somehow time escaped me.  While you may not believe it, it actually takes a bit of time to update my blog.  Between taking photos, editing them and then figuring out what to say, it can consume a good chunk of time. Which is why, as much as I want to update on a weekly basis, that just may not happen.

A couple weeks ago some pretty scary weather hit my area of Texas, causing freezing temperatures, icy roads and a school day off.  I took advantage of the day off and was able to get quite a bit done.

The first thing was starting a pair of gloves for my mom.  The yarn, Mountain Colors Twizzle, was picked out by her for this project.  I was able to cast on the gloves the evening of the day off and have since finished them.  They will be in the mail this week and I know she will love them.



I was also able to finish the third pairing in my triptych, which has been on my easel for far too long.  When I took on the full time position at my school a few things got tossed aside, mainly  my studio time.  But I am slowly making time to work on my paintings again.

Working Title: "Red Sea"

Speaking of full time, this past week I did a little painting activity with some of my students that involved learning about color values.  We took a color, added white and black to make shades and tints and are making pretty skies for our pictures.  Look how much fun we had!



The dye studio also saw some time that day, as I dyed up several skeins of my "light" yarn - 100% sw merino fingering - in my two new colorways. I also reserved a couple of skeins to just splatter leftover dye on.  I'm calling these "paint water" and ironically I sold those 2 skeins before I even made labels! My knitting group just loved it.


Sometimes life just gets busy, but I always thrive on being busy so I really don't mind.  Maybe I am tired a lot, but somehow I get through the day pretty well.  Remembering that I have the drive and ability to create and share my creations is always something that keeps me going.  What about you?

~Lisa 



Monday, January 8, 2018

What's the Word?

Well, 2018 is here and it seems like everyone has the resolution mindset right now.  I know I don't really set resolutions, but I always try and look ahead to think about what I want to achieve.  And while some years I don't decide until mid-February, other years I break it mid- February, it's always nice to feel like I'm setting a goal.

I'm a member of the MySister'sKnitter group on Ravelry, and while I am not a frequent poster, I love the community of that group.  It's funny though, because the theme for the upcoming KAL actually fits perfectly with my knitting goals for 2018.

"What's the Word?" - choose a word that defines your goals for 2018. 

Even before Christmas, I had decided I wanted to cut back on the selfish knitting and knit more for others this year.  So many people have been good friends, mentors and role models in my life, and I need to repay them in some way, so why not knit?  At the same time, my life is beginning to get chaotic as I enter the territory of full time teaching.  So the moments I do have to create should be savored.

And thus, my word for 2018 is: Appreciate. 

Appreciate those who have helped me get where I am and appreciate the time I have to make things. 

The first on my list is someone who has known me my whole life, and honestly deserves so much more: My mom.

When I was home over the holiday we visited the shop there, Yarns: Sold and Told, and she picked out a skein of Mountain Colors Twizzle that she wants me to make into a pair of gloves.  I already found the pattern - Offhand Gloves - I am just waiting for the KAL to start so I may begin.  Hopefully the fingers will not mess me up, as they so often do.


Another person I need to knit for is someone I became friends with less than a year ago, but have found myself very attached too.  Jayde, an artist who moved here to participate in the residency I once did, has been an amazing influence in my art and friend in my life.  While I will not finish in time for when she moves, she has requested a pair of socks in a nice shade of purple.  I'm thinking this may work? But if not, I can always hit up my LYS. :)



And on the subject of appreciation, I wanted to take a moment and appreciate this lovely gift I received from my Knitting Guild Secret Santa.  While we all always out do ourselves, this is over the top.  Hedgehog Fibres bought IN IRELAND with a bag designed to emulate the landscapes there, a unique book that is filled with murals in Houston, plus tapes, teas and sugar! What else can a girl want?  I truly appreciate when people take the time to think of me during the holidays.


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Do you have a plan for the new year? Are you defining it in a single word or with a goal? Any resolutions or do you usually break them? I'd love to hear more!

I hope you all have a wonderful week and let's make 2018 the best yet!

~Lisa


Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: The Year That Was...

2017: The Year That Was...

1) The start of a new tradition: knitting journals.


Gifted from a fellow knitter, I have spent the year chronicling every project I worked on and cannot wait to do it again in 2018.  I just wish I didn't have to retire this really nice journal.


2) An (almost) successful attempt at keeping my feet forever warm.

You can see all my projects here!

I am happy to report that I finished 11.25 pairs of socks.  The December pair is still on sock one, as I just cannot speed up those cables.  But I plan to finish them by the end of January, which was when I declared the goal to begin with, so that counts, right? 

3) A major inspiration in my painting world.


With these beauties being my most successful to date (although I am kinda sick of looking at them), I feel like my art is going in a new direction and cannot wait to see how 2018 goes!
(Also, I recently sold the Originals!)

4) The start of many new and exciting things.


I cannot believe I only started this dye journey in March! It feels like I have been doing it for so much longer.  But I guess when you find something you love, time seems to fly.  I have truly enjoyed this new endeavor and cannot wait to introduce my new colors (last 2 on right) and new ideas in 2018!

I have two shows coming up already! One in March and one in June.  I cannot wait, but that means more work for me...

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What else can I say? I went through and re-read all of my posts from this year and am very impressed with myself on how consistent I was and my ability to share what was happening.  Thank you to everyone who read and commented this year, it always means so much to know someone is listening.

I'm leaving you all with this song, which is from a movie I saw last week.  The lyrics are stuck in my head and are very inspirational for me as an artist.

Bring on 2018!


~Lisa




Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We all know what time it is? Christmas....BREAK! Ok maybe I'm a little excited, but the knowledge of having the next two weeks off from school is a pretty nice feeling.  Even though I will be traveling home for part of it, it's still nice to have a little bit of time for myself before I go.

I have had a good amount of time lately to tackle some projects, and I wanted to do a quick post about all of them.  Many of them were started yesterday, my official day off for the holidays, but some have been ongoing.


The December socks are on the needles and taking their sweet time.  The pattern is Lowry Crossing by one of my LYS owners, Petra, and the yarn is from Kimerie's Knit Knacks that I purchased last month.  I love the way these look, but the cables are really tedious and thus slowing me down.  

This will be pair 12 for me and I gotta say, it's been a trip.  I'll do a recap at the end of this pair of each one I've done this year.  Safe to say, I'm worn out and definitely need a sock sabbatical. 


Handmade gifts are also happening again this year, in the form of these cute woven coasters.  I have been spinning mini-skeins on my drop spindle from a grab bag of fiber and then weaving those minis on my small wood loom to make the awesome coasters.  It's been really fun seeing the random stripes and designs my handspun is making!


With my day off yesterday I was able to start on a bunch of things, including a new colorway in my yarn.  Based off the painting "Early Snow Flowers", the colors on this are very warm, considering the name.  Why did I name that painting the way I did? Lol.  But seriously, this is a nice change for me, although the red dye is a little potent. 






On the subject of starts, I also managed to begin the 3rd painting in my triptych.  While I can't get all three in a row on my easel, I am able to at least get the two.  The one on the right - the new one - will be very pink.  I like that I could hang them all separate if I wanted, but that they are also a continuous work. Merging from red to pink, this has been a fun challenge. 


Playing with pink, I also have this "spa cloth" started yesterday that I am going to gift to my future sister-in-law for Christmas.  I'm planning to make two of these, each with Cascade Ultra Pima. I've had a couple of cloths made in pima cotton for a few years now and they hold up so well.  I highly recommend it!  For this gift I am planning to also gift her a bar of soap from my favorite soap maker - RAH soap. She does some amazing scents and varieties and I always have a very positive experience buying from here. 


And finally I decided to do some playing with my dyes.  I had a bunch of end pieces from winding skeins to sell and made some 10g minis.  I laid them all out, grabbed the squirt bottles that already had dye in them and just went to town.  While I'm not selling these (they're for something else), I am thinking of doing this again with larger skeins and calling it "paint water" - as in whatever dye is left in my bottles after a dye session.  Always changing and always fun.

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I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday.  Whether traveling or staying home, make sure you give yourself time for yourself and your craft, as well as family.  Self care in today's world is really important, and sometimes we miss out on that during the holidays.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

~Lisa



Monday, December 4, 2017

Spinning Stories

If you have followed my blog over the years, you'll know that, on top of everything else, I am also a spinner. I have a decent, handmade spinning wheel that was gifted to me a couple years back and when the the feeling is right I find myself sitting down at her to spin a yarn or two.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I finally sat down to finish a skein that had been waiting since the summer.  It's hard to have motivation when you have to reattach the treddle or put a new string on your tension.


Spun at about a DK weight, this yarn is 1 ply BFL dyed by The Fleece Artist, and 1 ply SW Merino solid lavender violet.  It comes in at just about 300 yards, which seems to be my norm with wheel spun yarn lately.  It's so luscious that I just had to name it "Cotton Candy Anyone?"

Finishing this skein is making me want to find a pattern to utilize all of my handspun yarn. I really do have a decent amount of 300yd+ skeins ever since I acquired the wheel.  


Violet Sparkle for example is a nice yarn that is 1 ply dyed alpaca, 1 ply SW merino held with sparkle. The pops of glitter really make me smile and would shine in a hat or scarf.


Springy Rainbows is another, being my first chain plyed yarn as to keep the rainbow color of the BFL.  I like the result, but it's a little too springy.  Maybe it'll become something fun someday.

Of finally, a very special yarn.  Friendship wool was spun on my spindle and has a story.  I bought two ball of roving and sent one to my friend.  She spun one ply, and I spun the other.  We then sent half our plys back to each other and plyed them together.  So we have a nice collaborative yarn :) <3 p="">


This year was 12 pairs of socks, maybe next year will be only Handspun,   Seems doable, but doubtful given the size of my stash.  But it may become a goal to use more of my handspun.... 

If anyone cares to peek, all of my handspun yarn is stashed over on Ravelry

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Do you spin? Have you thought about it? Or even just bought a skein of handspun yarn?  Any pattern ideas would always be loved <3 p="">

Have a great week!

~Lisa


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

East Texas Fiber Festival

It's been too quiet lately, and for that I apologize.  Life just kinda hit me like a ton of bricks, with multiple milestones all happening at once.

The first, and most important for blogging sake, was the East Texas Fiber Festival that I attended as a vendor last weekend.


A small festival in Lindale, TX, in it's third year, I enjoyed myself.  The venue was semi-outdoors, which wasn't ideal, but wasn't awful.  I went with the mindset that this was my first outting and that I really just wanted to feel the waters.


As you can see, taking photos without some sort of glare was a challenge, but I was able to snap a few good ones.  My setup was pretty basic, with yarn and paintings in the back, art prints on one side and shoe samples on another.


The highlight was supposed to be the shoes, but sadly I didn't take any orders as planned.  Several people seemed interested, so maybe this week?



My top seller was actually art prints! Maybe because it was unique among all the yarn vendors, or maybe because people want art for their craft rooms.  I just know that at my next show I will be highlighting those a bit more.

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Somehow I managed to walk away with only a couple purchases.  A project bag as a gift (not shown), a skein of yarn, and some beads to match my own yarn.

I made lots of new fiber friends as well!  The yarn above is from Kimarie's Knit Knacks and the beads are from Gilding Lillies (who specializes in matching beads to yarn).  Other new friends included The Ewe Hues (a co-op of several friends who all dye), Four Hens Fibers, McKnittey and DJ's Alpacas.  All gave me great feedback and advice for my future in the industry. 

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And in other, life important news, and likely to affect my art/knitting time, I wanted to share that I recently got offered a promotion at my school.  Previously I was only teaching the secondary classes for art on a part time gig.  Well the elementary teacher decided to leave and they offered me her job as well.  Starting next week I am officially the ONLY art teacher for the entire school of St. Joseph's and I could not be more thrilled!  All my hard work is finally paying off!

And that, my friends, is an excuse to party hard and eat harder on Thanksgiving.  I hope you all have a wonderful one (for those who celebrate).

~Lisa