Saturday, March 31, 2012

Discoveries in Painting

I've mentioned a few times that I was working on a 'super secret art project' and also that I was REALLY excited about. Not only is this project itself amazing, but the doors it opens up for my future are (as of right now) endless.

I guess I should explain. I'm in a painting class right now titled "Mixed Media Painting Workshop", which was required for my major. I had absolutely no interest in taking this class prior to the beginning of the semester. 1) Because I am just not a 'collage' type person and 2) I heard the teacher is rather odd. Turns out I was wrong about both. The class is so much more than collage and the teacher is a little weird, but I love him. He lets us do pretty much whatever we want and really helps us expand our thinking. 

Anyways our latest project was a 'surface' project, as in we had to explore different surfaces for painting.  The first day was our workshop, where we just had to bring in random surfaces to experiment with paint on. Being a knitter, I decided to knit up a swatch of white Red Heart (What else would I EVER use it for anyways). Doing that was torture, I couldn't believe I ever LIKED Red Heart! But that day in class I did some experiments with the paint and mediums on it and I really liked was I saw. My teacher then told us that we should try and make 3 dimensional surfaces, his example being using wire to build a structure to put paper around. The second he said 3D the wheels in my head started turning. 

I think the work speaks for itself:

There are so many things I really like about this project. I got to knit for school, which was a plus. The ball pattern was easy and quick, as well as Red Heart being more manageable in balls than swatches. For every ball I just went at it with random paint, no real plan in mind. Each one is unique and shows a different technique of applying the paint to the surface.  I originally wanted just the balls to be on the wall, but then I thought more about it and how the project was structured and figured they needed to be mounted, so I went with some super cheap plexi glass. The painting of the glass came as a second process, for I wanted the balls to look like extensions of the glass more than added on after. 

This project has opened up so many doors for senior studio next year. I am slowly filling a special sketch book with ideas for where I want to take the knitting and painting thing. Some of them are very interesting, let me tell you. I think I've also finally figured out what I want to do with my degree (cuz I haven't said that before!). I plan on going to grad school for painting and then teaching at a university while being an artist. If I can keep doing things like this for awhile, I will be more than content with being a 'professional painter'.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! It's in the 90's here! Maybe I'll spend some time outside this weekend.


PS: The title for this work is (appropriately): Yarn Bombs.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Back to the Spindle

It has been a very long time since I picked up my spindle. In my defense, I haven't felt like spinning either of the fibers I currently have in my stash, nor have I had the time or money to purchase more fiber.

A couple of days ago I just wanted a break, but didn't want to knit. I opened my drawer of spinning related things and found this:

100% Camel Wool (?) that Ivy sent me last summer. In the letter she explained that she simply could not get into the fiber and had no idea what to do with it, so was passing it along to me. At first glance back then I was like "When will I EVER use this? It's not even ready to spin!!!" but lately I've felt differently.  After reading some amazing blogs about spinning and gaining a little more confidence I decided to tackle the "Big blob of brown" (my pet name for it).

It still isn't 'carded', but I am spinning it anyways. And I LOVE IT! The threads I am getting are relatively thin, with a few thick spots here and there. The fact that it is more in chunks than nice, even bats, actually helps me to make it thinner. I'm not really sure how, but it's working.

I would love to show you guys a zoomed in photo, but the lighting is awful and any chance of zooming in came blurry to my camera. Just take my word for it, they are pretty thin (for me!). It's also very soft, and has a bit of a halo, which I love!

So this is where my readers come in. I need advice. Once I get this bunch spun up, how should I ply it? I am thinking there isn't enough to divide into 2, ply, and make a decent size amount of yarn. I am considering plying it with a different fiber, but I am unsure what. Anybody know what goes good with Camel? I will take any and all suggestions, I know you are all very knowledgeable.

Happy Wednesday all! Tomorrow is Thursday and then the weekend. My first week back after Spring Break isn't going as bad I thought. 


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy Spring!

Well Spring has just begun here, even though Spring Break has just ended. I spent the last week at home, enjoying the much needed break from the crazyness that is college. Most of my time was spent knitting, and I managed to get quite a bit of work done on my newest project, Spring Green Abalone. I'm already in love with the color changes and I bet I'll have this done by the end of March. (Don't want to give myself a deadline, I have A LOT of school work to catch up on this week, plus Relay stuff...).
All that's left is the back, other side and then sleeves and border!

In other news, as I mentioned, Spring Break was last week. One of the highlights of my week was getting a chance to stitch and bitch with an old high school friend, Ashley. She is very new to knitting, still just doing garter stitch scarves with Hobby Lobby yarn, but it was so much fun to pop in a chick flick and knit and talk about life. I officially am in love with the idea of knitting with my friends.
Ashley is super excited because she finished the first section of color on her scarf!

My family also took a much needed break by taking a weekend break to Wichita, Ks and visiting the zoo. It was really nice because it was such a beautiful day and also a place we used to go every year growing up, but I haven't personally been there in years. It's amazing how many of the things came back to me as we explored, yet many things have changed. I really enjoy visiting zoos and seeing all the animals. It's such a nice way to spend time outside.
Aren't penguins awesome?

In fact, I wish I had gotten a chance to spend more time outside, but the weather had other plans. It rained all week, up until this previous Friday. I finally went outside yesterday and did a bit of knitting while watching my kitties play and chase birds. Sasha makes me laugh so much with her antics. Did I mention she liked to get into my suitcase and leave trails of my underwear from my room to the litter box while I was sleeping? I think it's really cute.
Sasha watching the birds!

With Spring Break coming to a close, I plan to conquer some of my homework, as well as many Relay things (3 weeks till Relay!) this week. Hopefully I'll get some work done on my Abalone, I really want to wear it this spring!

I wanted to thank everyone for the amazing comments on my last post, I have never received that many and I loved reading and responding to them all! I hope you are all having a great start to your Spring!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First FO's of Spring

I feel like it has been forever since I have shared a finished project with you guys. But I am proud to say that today I have TWO to share!
First up is my Effortless Cardigan, which many of you probably remember me talking and blogging about. I have been working on this since November, 2011 and I probably could have had it done sooner, but I lost interest quite a bit with other projects. But, I still finished it in a decent amount of time, given that it is my first large sweater type project. 

If you look close enough, it is a little bit big on me,but the size choices were weird on the pattern and I was not about to alter it on my first big project.  Overall, I think this will be more of a lounge around the house sweater than anything else, but maybe once fall comes again I will wear it out more; the color doesn't really shout "Spring!" to me.  I wish I could show you guys better pictures, but it was hard to get good pictures with out zooming in too much.

Did I mention that I can now cross something off my 2012 Fiber Resolutions? I have finished my first full sweater successfully!

The next project I want to share is something I casted on right after I finished up the cardigan. Everything But Vintage Socks.  I have had a ton of Berroco Vintage scraps in my stash and needed to use them up. Since Vintage is my go to worsted weight sock yarn anyways, why not make socks? I decided I wanted to use it all up in one pair, so I went for it and made knee highs! They tend to fall down when I walk, but that's probably because I increased a little too much. Either way, they're very warm and are full of memories. There are 4 pairs of socks, a hat, a pair of mittens and my sweater all knitted into a striped pair of socks! Oh and I forgot to mention that my kitties like them too :)
Since I can't NOT be knitting something, I began work on my next project last night. Using some Manos del Uruguay that Ivy sent me for Christmas, I began swatching this very cute and simple cardigan, Abalone. Although the knitting will be simple, it has a bit of seaming and shaping I haven't had any experience with, so that will be a bit of a challenge when I get there. But after the last cardigan, I am up for the challenge!

I hope everyone is having a great start to Spring! The sun here has disappeared and probably won't come out for the rest of the week. It's so sad, because I really want to sit outside and knit, but I can't in the rain. 


Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Other Obsession

I feel like I need to post more, but sometimes I'm just too busy with school and stuff. I do have my sweater done, but I haven't taken pictures yet. Expect that early next week.

Today, however, I would like to take a moment to tell you all about my other obsession (Besides knitting and school). To those of you who may not know, I am very heavily involved in my school's Relay For Life, and probably will be for a very long time. Relay is something I have a real passion for, because it hits close to home for so many people. 

I guess I should stop here and explain what Relay actually is, because there are so many people who think it's an actual race. That is where you are wrong.  Relay does not involve running whatsoever; instead it is pretty much a 12 hour party. For Cancer. Basically, you get together with a group of friends, coworkers, family, etc and form a team. After signing up, you start fundraising.  This all happens before the event.  Then the night of Relay, all the teams get together and camp out, usually at a stadium or something, and walk the track. By having at least one person from each team walking all night, we are symbolizing a cancer patients journey: the different stages of the night are like the different stages of cancer treatment. 

Throughout the night there are tons of activities, fundraisers, entertainment and ceremonies. As a member of the planning committee for my Relay, I am in charge of Luminaria.  Luminaria is a ceremony we do that remembers and celebrates those you have battled cancer. People can buy bags to decorate in honor of loved ones and then we line the track and do a huge ceremony where we light the bags and read the names. It's kind of a big deal.

So why am I telling you about all this? Because Cancer takes lives every year. I personally have lost 2 grandparents, as well as a couple of great aunts. I miss them all so much, and they all left before their time was up. But through the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life, we are saving lives. Every year money raised goes to many programs that help cancer patients, including: Hope Lodge, car rides to and from treatments, Look Good Feel Better, scholarships for cancer survivor students. Relay For Life is also the largest non-profit fundraiser in the world, and ACS has sponsored at least 13 Nobel Prize winners.  All the money raised from the events is going to a great cause, and the event is so much fun, so why not participate? 

Anyways, I would also like to tell you all what I am doing for the cause. My team, "Stairway to Recovery" is having a bake sale as well as asking our friends and family. I, personally, have been selling Stitch Markers  made with European beads, online and through my LYS. I haven't set up an Etsy shop, but I have a Facebook Page.  (see link on side) If any of you all are interested, you can check that out, or message me. I will gladly take your orders if you have them. :) 

I bet you guys knew I was gonna ask you to buy something before you got through the second paragraph. Well, yes, I am, but that doesn't mean you have to. I mostly just want to get the word about Relay and how amazing it is. It is truly one of the greatest causes to 'work' for and I will continue participating in Relays for a very long time. 

I hope everyone is ready for a great Spring, I know I am!


PS - if you are interested in donating to my team, but not buying markers, let me know and I'll set you up :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

To Block or Not To Block?

That is the question...

I know every sock knitter feels the same way, as I have heard mixed opinions on sock blockers from everyone I've asked. I never had a preference before, because I never had blockers before. But over Christmas break I go to the point where I was washing my socks and just couldn't put them in the dryer. Leaving them set on the counter wasn't the best option either: I've tried that before and it's taken over 2 days to fully dry. So what were my other options?

Commercial sock blockers are something I'd love to someday have, because they are sturdy and smooth and nice. But my budget wasn't in favor of that idea at the time. So I improvised. I started by tracing a store brand sock on a piece of paper for a template, which oddly enough, worked pretty well. Then came time to pick my materials.

My first attempt was with coat hangers, and for as long as it took to make, they sure don't look it. They're sloppy and have bends in random places and overall just not a very successful attempt. Maybe I did something wrong, but I just feel like the way hangers are shaped doesn't make them ideal for forming feet shapes. I still use these, but I don't like them too much.

After that I remembered a huge piece of foam core sitting in my bedroom that I used once for a painting. Me, my box cutter knife and roll of masking tape went to work and 30 minutes later I had 2 sets. It ended up making a mess, but in the end the result was something I was satisfied with and will continue to use to block my socks in the future.
Now comes the time when most sock knitters express their opinions. Should socks even be blocked? Yes it makes them look pretty for presents and photos, but is it really needed? Something I've noticed since I started blocking my socks is that they block a little bit bigger than my foot. Although most of the time they 'shrink' back to fit my foot once they are on, I am still a little frustrated with this fact. Making the blockers smaller would probably do the trick, but what about commercial ones? Everyone's feet are different so sometimes blocking may not be the best idea.

So that raises the question: To block or not to block? What do you think? What do you usually do? Any tricks or tips for sock blocking? I'd love to hear them all!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kitties Love Knitting Too!

Spring break isn't for another week, but I needed a reprieve from school so I came home this weekend.  Along with eliminating the stress of homework, it gave me an excuse to see my kitties! I miss them so much when I'm in Manhattan, so it's always so nice to get some kitty time when I'm home.  
This is Muffin. We've had her since I was in 1st grade and even though I don't get to see her much anymore, she is MY cat! Proof that she is? She always sleeps on my bed when I come home. Usually right in the middle and then I have to adjust my body around hers because it's HER bed after all.  

Remember these socks I was knitting last week? I finished the first one last night (I will post pictures when both are done) and had it laying on the couch next to me to help me with the 2nd today. Naturally, guess who decided to join me? 

Yes, she sat ON the sock! So my new sock now has cat hair on it, making it even more so mine.  The funny thing? A bunch of the projects I have been working on in Manhattan magically get cat hair on them too.  Maybe my cats just shed a lot when I come home and I somehow take it back with me? Your guess is as good as mine!

(She decided to sniff the camera!)

This is Sasha.  She is more my sister's cat then mine, and we have only had her about 4 years now.  Anyway, this cat is crazy. She likes to do so very odd things, including watch our mice and take rides on my sister's head. 

Those are my kitties. I love them so much and cannot imagine my life without them.  What about my readers? Do you guys have any pets you absolutely adore?

As for the world of knitting, as I mentioned I finished up sock 1, and sock 2 is started. I am blocking my cardigan this coming week as well as working on more white balls for my art project.  Talk to you all again soon!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Turing Scraps into Gold

 Let me start by mentioning that I finally finished my Effortless Cardigan. I will post pictures and more details after it is blocked, whenever that is.

Anyways, as you may know, I am trying to only use stash yarn all year and not buy any new yarn at all. (although that may get broken very soon because Berroco just made some new amazing colors of Vintage and I freaked out for at least 5 minutes when I found out). So in my attempts to reduce my stash, I have been working on a few projects with my scrap/lower amount yarns.

The first one was a a headband I knitted up with some handspun.  This is the handspun that I made last semester for my spindle drawings , and I didn't have very much of each color so I couldn't do too much with it. I didn't even have enough to finish the headband, as you can see. There are 3 different yarns in there, a blue/black/green 3 ply, a blue/black 2 ply, and then a green 2 ply.  It's really fun to wear because of it's changes in color and bulkyness, but I wish it would lay flat. I guess I need to find an iron and try steam blocking it.

(This photo does no justice, but I can't get a picture of me wearing it...)

Next up is a pair of socks I started last night. I have a ton of random scraps of Vintage, and after finishing my cardigan I wanted to just get them out of my stash. So I am making random stripe worsted socks from the toe up.  I sat down for 3 hours yesterday and am already at the heel cup. I was going to do them 2 at a time, but my yarn got tangled really fast so I changed my mind. Worsted socks knit up so fast though so they'll still be done in no time. I am really excited for these because I am going to make them super long, basically until I use up all my Vintage!

Finally, as many of my fellow knitters can attest to, Red Heart, or any cheap acrylic, is AWFUL to knit with! So then why I am finding myself making tons of little white balls with my extra Red Heart? Well that's a secret for now, but lets just say it has to do with my art!

I have so much on my plate with school right now, I can't even keep it straight. I am really surprised that I have found time to knit (and post about it on here!) but I have noticed that when I spend time knitting it makes me want to do school work more later.  Taking a few hours on a Saturday to knit is a great stress relief and prepares me for Sunday when the homework load hits.

I hope everyone is having a good weekend and is ready for the week to start! I have a very busy one ahead, so I'll be lucky if I get through it unscathed.  Take care!