Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Let's Talk Art

Today's post is about something a little different: my art.  

Ok, not that much different, but I don't have a lot happening in knit world right now so I decided to take a moment to talk about ideas I've had recently within my paintings.  Hopefully you've seen my art.  But if you haven't, here's a quick refresher:




My art is all about the imaginary worlds inside my head, filled with knitted forms (mostly knitted balls). This initial concept was based off the idea of looking at illustrations and Disney scenes to use as my inspiration.  Lately it's become more about creating floating forms within a water-scene, which for me is basically floating the forms in a fish tank to use as my still life.

This past weekend I rented the new Disney Movie, Moana, which I have seen twice in theaters.  But anyways, as I was knitting and watching, something happened.





There are so many amazing water-based scenes in this movie, and they all have phenomenal color schemes. What if I decided to go back to using Disney as my inspiration, specifically scenes from this movie?  It wouldn't be a literal copy of course, and my knitted stuff would still be in there, but it's a fun idea.There are enough different colors/moods in these scenes I could get a whole series form it.  

It's on my mind, whether or not I choose to do it, time will tell.  I have some other ideas I'm playing with in my oil paintings right now so it's hard for me to think about switching gears to this, but it could be worth a shot I guess.

I hope you enjoyed my quick art-centric post.  I needed to get it out.  :) 

Have a great week friends!

~Lisa 


Monday, April 10, 2017

Street Art

What is art anyway? Can it really be defined in today's terms? 

This past weekend we had a street and art fair in Downtown Bryan, where artists and craftsman from all over the region gathered to promote and sell their art.  While I chose to not have a booth (a. I had to work and b. it's expensive) I was able to contribute through a little yarn bombing. 

If you're reading this blog, likely you're a knitter/crocheter/crafter and if you are such, well, I sure hope you've heard of Yarn Bombing.  
Yarn Bombing - when someone takes a knitted/crocheted piece and puts it in a public space.  It's been compared to graffiti and street art a lot, and I can understand why, but I honestly believe it has it's own category.
I wish I could say that I created all the pieces that were used in this project, which consisted of about 12-15 poles as well as some railings, but sadly I did not.   While I did learn how to make Granny Squares in the process, I was lucky enough to have some members of my guild contribute squares they had made long before this project.
I think my two favorite parts of this project were the railings that I decided to scatter with small pieces.  It was a fun way to add a pop of color in unexpected places.  I was also given some long stripes that I decided to weave between the poles. 

As it turns out, squares really aren't that hard to attach if you have the right material, and I ended up using flexible frame wire, which was able to create a nice, tight seam.  


The art fair seemed to be a success, although many artists I talked to didn't sell much. I still think it's a great tradition that our little downtown has and I always enjoy seeing our community come alive.  
I haven't decided if and when the bombs will come down, but as long as the city will allow it, they'll be here for awhile....

Oh wait, it's supposed to rain all week!

Have you ever yarn bombed? Thought about it? I don't see myself taking it "professionally",but some people do. Just watch the video below and you'll see!

~Lisa


How she puts up with that much acrylic yarn is a mystery to me...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

March Madness

It's been a crazy month of madness here. No, I'm not talking about the basketball tournament that most of the country seems to obsess over.  Instead I'm talking about the amount of things I somehow managed to start and finish within the past 31 days.  Anyone else feel like March went longer than normal? I'm not really complaining, but... I sure am glad it's April!


My Lucky Stripes socks didn't get complete within the month of March like I hoped, but it was a close finish - April 3rd to be exact.  Somewhere along the line these socks just got boring.  Which is sad because they really are gorgeous.  As for the seam up the sides, well I don't mind it if it means not having to weave in a million ends.  Overall they're a good fit and I am praying that they don't shrink in the wash. 


There are several factors at play in the reason why my socks didn't get complete.  One of those was my spinning wheel, which has been pretty busy lately! I managed to finish my 2 ply merino, which comes in at just under 200 yards.  I'm actually surprised this spun up so well, as merino has never been an easy one for me. 


Painting seems to be taking a back seat lately also, yet I still got around to finishing this one that has been on the easel for longer than it should have.  Sticking with my current theme of knitted forms floating in water, this is probably the most elaborate of the series to date - including some ground plains and really pushing the space.  I like this one a lot and the photo doesn't do it justice. 

(PS if you haven't seen my art before, click the link at the top of the page, you will not be disappointed!)


Finally we have a new development in the discussion of dying from last week. I purchased some more bare yarn at my LYS and divided it up. I did one batch on Wednesday and had a fair amount of success, but not quite the way I wanted.  So I went back to the sketchpad and figured out what each one needed.  The end result is the above for skeins.  The first two are pretty much perfect.  The last two still need work. Hopefully I'll be making full skeins soon!

On the subject of dying and yarn and selling and knitting, if you are curious and want to follow all my knitty, bloggy, etsy things I created a new Instagram page specifically for my Etsy and Blog, so maybe you should go follow me? 

I hope that April is fairing everyone well so far, the weather here is so darn gorgeous it's hard to be this busy!

~Lisa 



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dye Pot [Attempt One]

Well another week has gone by and more creative things are happening in my tiny apartment.  How I manage to fit so many creative things into such a small space without going insane is truly a miracle.

The past couple of weeks I've been working on my dye skills.  After talking to a few friends about career goals and life and all that jazz I realized that something I really want to try while I have the time is making a go at becoming an "indie dyer".  I know it's a tough market, so I'm starting small and just focusing on the local market for now.  I also know that it's really hard to make it without having some sort of very creative idea.  Luckily I majored in Creative Ideas (ok, I majored in Art, but you get the point.)  I'll explain said idea at the end of this post, for now I want to show you some process pictures.


A couple of years back I was gifted a ton of stash yarn from a retired knitter.  Among other things there were several skeins of pure white wool.  Not super high quality, but good enough to experiment with dying on.  Above it my first go at dying after having not done it in ages.  I use all food dyes (for now) and for these two I put them in mason jars in the microwave.  They both had more than just the base color on them, but somehow it all disappears after it was heated.  Still, nice colors right?


Attempt two was with more of that wool, this time laying it out on a pan and pouring color in random places.  These turned out much nicer and gave me some ideas for how I want to apply my dye.  I like the idea of having the whole skein in spread out to play on.  

After the dye was applied I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and nuked them for two 2-min intervals.  Thankfully that was all it needed.

And now onto that "Creative Idea".

Hopefully by now you all know that I am also an oil painter.  My subject is "Surrealistic worlds inhabited by knitted forms".  I will always be a painter first, it's truly my passion.  But why not take those paintings and make something equally beautiful? 

The above paintings are from my first series, back in 2013/early 2014.  While my style and landscape type has changed a bit, these four still hold a place in my heart as being my "Signature works".   So when my idea came about, I figured I'd start with these.

The idea? I want to dye skeins of yarn to match my paintings! While I'm sure it's not a new idea - I've seen people do it with Van Gogh and Monet - I think it's a great idea for someone like me who is so multi-talented.  Once this operation gets up and going the plan is to include a wallet sized, professionally printed image of the painting that goes with the yarn.  

This was my first attempt at making matching skeins.  I picked up some minis at my LYS and decided to give it a try.  I solid dyed each skein with a base color first, and then did a second layer of the accent colors.  While I like these skeins, the result isn't quite what I wanted.  The second layer colors didn't hold well.  So for my next try I plan to do all the colors at the same time.  Hopefully it won't get muddy.

I've already gotten more good quality yarn to experiment on and am talking to my LYS about getting large quantities.  I am really serious about this right now. I don't know why, I just know it's something I need to do.

Do you ever feel like there's just something you need to do? Professionally, creatively or just for fun? 

Thanks for reading my rambles today friends, it means so much to know that I can post something and have someone read it.

~Lisa



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Squared

I did something last week that I have never done before.  I always thought that it was hard, annoying and looked awful.  Bur then, as I learned, I came to understand the reason why so many people do it. 

What am I talking about?


Granny Squares!

Ok, laugh away. Until last week I had NEVER made a Granny Square.  Partially because I really do think they look tacky and annoying and partially because I just never had a reason to. But then our knitting guild was asked to yarn bomb some light poles for a local art fair in April (I'll share more about that when it happens!) and several of the other ladies were whipping out granny squares for it like crazy. 

It took a lot of patience from two of my fellow knitters before I finally got the hang of it - you should have seen my first attempt.  But after doing some diagram sketches and thinking of ways to memorize it in my head, I finally caught on.


For someone who rarely crochets and even more rarely crochets in the round, picking up this new skill took a lot of baby steps and several "maybe I should just stick to knitting" before it was finally mastered.  I will say, they are easier than I ever thought and I completely get the hype behind them now, especially for yarn bombing.  But will I be making millions and millions? Probably not.  After this yarn bomb project is over I'll likely retire the hook and crappy yarn for awhile, and forget how to even make them once again.

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Have you made any granny squares in you day? Do you like them? Why?  Tell me what you think :)

Have a fabulous week!

~Lisa

Monday, March 13, 2017

On the Needles - March

We're midway through March already, and it's Spring Break for many schools down here in Texas, mine included.  As for my plans, well there will be lots of knitting, spinning and painting happening in my downtime.  After all why not use the extra time to the fullest?

I figured it was about time for an "On the Needles" update, so today I am sharing with you all the projects I am currently working on.


First up is my March socks - which I am calling "Lucky Stripes".  March is for St.Patrick's Day and St. Patrick's is known for green.  So I found the most green yarn I had and decided to make my socks with it.  The yarn is called Rico Design Superba Poems and came from the UK via a traveling relative a few years back.  The stripes are long, even longer than Zauberball, so I decided to stripe it within itself by dividing up the yarn and switching between two balls every ten rows.


The second project is one that has been on my list for awhile, Sev[en] Circle, with is a simple necklace type project that involves stockinette stitch rolling upon itself to create coils.  I loved this when I saw a friend wearing one last fall and knew that I wanted to make it many many time, although this will be the first one for me.  The yarn is some leftover Vinni's color, which was (ironically) given to me by the same relative as the sock yarn, this time from Africa.  I'm pretty sure I don't have enough for all seven circles, but the patterns is written to where I can stop when needed.


The lunch ladies at the school found out I know how to knit and have asked me to make them some converse booties for their children.  While most of the patterns are crochet, I was lucky to find one for knitting that I think is working.  Once I finished the first, the rest will be smooth sailing, as it's a pretty easy pattern.  The yarn? My standby - Caron Simply Soft.


The final thing on my needles won't be done for awhile, as our knitting guild is doing a year long Mystery Knit Along.  With one part of the pattern being released each month, it's a slow go.  The pattern is one that is already on Ravelry and I had the honor of picking it as and dividing it up.  So technically I know what it is, but I'm not going to tell.  And if you recognize it ever, don't tell either! ;) ;)

The yarn I chose was given to me in a swap - Merino Cashmere Fingering by Skein. It is so soft and scrumptious, that I knew it had to be something other than socks. 

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Any new projects on the needles for March? Any knit alongs happening? Any major projects you fear will never be complete? Share away my friends and have a great week!

~Lisa



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Spinning Stories

On top of knitting, painting and teaching, there are several other hobbies that I thoroughly enjoy.  One of those things is spinning yarn.  I will admit that I don't spin as much as I knit or create, but my wheel isn't the most portable thing on the planet.


Gifted to me almost two years ago, this vintage handmade wheel was passed on to my by a lady in my knitting group who had received it from someone else.  Apparently it's had three or four different owners.  Given than I have never owned a wheel (due to expenses), I felt so honored to be trusted with this gem.


My first skein on the wheel was a bit loosely spun, but still a nice beauty.  This was a 2 ply with blue merino from my stash paired with a bat of orange/blue with sparkle.  I really like the color on this one and for a first try it turned out nice.



Probably my most successful to date is these two skeins of handdyed BFL from my LYS.  I loved how the colors pooled and slowly changed.  It plyed up really nice too.  Something I've learned from wheel spinning is that I definitely prefer BFL - or any animal with a long staple - over Merino. 

This yarn is also the first wheel spun I've knitted into something, for it became one of my favorite shawls - gnarled oysters - which I wear on a weekly basis. 


A nice thing about wheel spinning is that (I believe) it's easier to try out new techniques.  One of those for me was Navajo Plying.  I had never tried it before but the rainbow stripes on this BFL made me want to preserve that.  The result was a yarn that ended up a bit tight and springy, but still very fun. 


This last skein was a total experiment for me.  1-ply is a dyed purple alpaca, which spun up very nice.  The second ply is some matching solid deep purple merino which I held with some sparkle thread throughout.  The end result is a lofty 2-ply yarn that really shines in the light.  I haven't decided what to make with this, but I know I want to make something soon.



This past weekend I pulled out my wheel, oiled her up and started another spinning project.  I'm taking the leftover blue and violet merinos from some of the above skeins and holding them together to create the first ply.  Once all the singles are done I'll likely just ply it back on itself.  It's spinning up really nice, so I hope that I do it justice in the end. 

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I hope you enjoyed this journey with me.  Spinning is something I wish I could do more. Are you a spinner? Or maybe some other fiber craft besides knitting?  Share below, I'd love to hear your stories!
Have a fabulous week :)

~Lisa