Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Five

I feel like Friday's have become my norm for blog posts, because here we are again at yet another one. I know it's been a bit since my last update, but I have had so many amazing things going on that I just haven't found the time to share it all with you. This past week I moved myself and all of my art to Navasota, TX, to begin my 6-month artist residency. I promise this coming week you will see an update or two on my life here.

For today, I wanted to share all things knitterly, because I have so many! Let's just call it my "Friday Five" - Five things to share :)

1) I finally finished my mom's socks about a week and a half ago, just in time for the move. She says they fit her very well, with a bit of baggy in the foot (as always...). I love how these turned out. The pattern was very easy and the yarn was a breeze to knit with. Overall, it was a nice fun project!

2) The day after I finished the socks my friend Ashley was coming over for a Disney knit day. I needed something easy and quick to work on and decided I needed more berets. I'm a big fan of the lacy kind over the cabled kind and found Gwen Slouch to be a perfect match for my stashed Premier Yarn. I literally had this done in 24 hours. :)

3)  When I started stash diving after my hat, I had no idea what I'd find or what I would make. I came across a skein of some turquoise merino from my aunt and some dark Dream in Color that I made my first socks with. As I mentioned in my last post, I am absolutely in love with this chevron cowl/scarf and decided that these two paired together nicely. All I needed as a third color, of which I found at my LYS in the form of Ella Rae classic superwash in a nice rusty pumpkin color. I think the three of these together are making for one gorgeous scarf!

4) As I was stash diving that day, I also found this berry-dyed yarn from a few summers ago.  The color is super muted and I decided it needed a pick me up. Out came the food colors and the jar and in went the yarn. I dyed it in a similar fashion to how I dyed my friend's yarn last year - by tying off only certain areas to leave the past color visible in some spots.  Through this experiment I learned that the purple Wilton's food dye tends to separate, leaving behind a bit of blue in some areas. I'm ok with this though, because I think it adds character. Definitely an improvement from the original.  

5) Yesterday, after finally feeling settled in, I went to the LYS here in Navasota - W.C. Mercantile. One step in the door and I knew I was in fiber heaven. Half the store is dedicated to spinning and the other to knitting and all was just gorgeous. They have lots and lots of local spun and dyed yarns and fibers and a very welcoming atmosphere. Safe to say I will be returning!  

My first purchase was this gorgeous bit of local alpaca from Bluebonnet Hills Alpaca, in a nice rusty color. I have been itching to spin again and this has fit the bill nicely. I cannot wait to see how it turns out.

Normally I'd go ahead and give you my weekly inspirations, but this post as already been super long. Next week I'll go back to doing that, as well as filling you all in on my first week in Texas. Until then, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy Fridays.

Happy Friday! This week has flown by, but that's alright. I hope it was a wonderful week for everyone. Mine was fairly decent. I have managed to get a lot done that's for sure. 

Last weekend my family road tripped to Kansas City for a Royals Baseball game and a weekend away. The 3 hour car ride allowed me to finish up the first of my mom's socks. I am really enjoying knitting these- the pattern is so simple (so much in fact that I almost fell asleep in the car as I was knitting). The only issue I have is that once I get to the cuff it gets monotonous...

Oh and the weekend was a fun one indeed. Filled with Trader Joe's (yay!), a gorgeous night, a winning game, lots of shopping, and lots of yummy food!. 

Since my last (long) post I have also managed to finish up my gouache painting. I really like how this one turned out. The colors are so bold and fun. And so is the composition. I can't quite decide what to title this one yet though - "Bridges" seems really obvious. 

If you read my last post, you'd know that I was also accepted into an amazing program last week. The Navasota Artist in Residence program will allow me to live and work in Navasota, TX for the next 6 months, making art and being creative. This is the house I will be living and working in and I simply cannot wait - I move in about a week and a half. This will be such a scary, nerve-racking, exciting experience that I know will change my life. 

As a treat to myself for getting the TX "job" I decided to go yarn shopping at the shop in Salina. Me and a high school friend went down there yesterday (her first time!) and after at least 30 minutes of contemplation, I walked out with these yummy yarns. The top is Blue Ridge Yarns, Subtle Shades Purple. 400 yards of fingering weight that is destined to become lacy socks, maybe even another Cookie A. Pair? The bottom yarn is my new favorite - Claudia Hand Paints, Fingering, in the colorway "Oops". I fell in love with the gradients of blue and violets, that I just had to buy these. I am seeing simple vanilla socks in it's future.  Both are super squishy 100% superwash merino. 

For the record, my friend walked out with 2 skeins of sock yarn to knit a scarf with as well (she's still learning how to knit, so that's about all she makes...). But I can tell she will be visiting that shop again very soon!

Weekly Inspirations:
Knitting:  I am in love with this chevron cowl, thanks to Snapdragon Crafts. Her's is super gorgeous, as are all the ones on Ravelry. Now I just need to find the right yarns!
Art: In Navasota I will be living and working with 2 other artists. Both are super talented! Catherine Kaleel and Mick Burson. I can't wait to meet and work with these guys.
Food: I bought a veggetti device last week, and decided to give it a try. It turned out super yummy. Check out my food blog for more info!
Life: Packing is underway. This time I don't need to take everything with me, but I still am tired of packing none-the-less.

Thanks for popping in guys, even if you don't comment I always love that you take the time to read about the random thoughts in my head. 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Next Chapter Begins

Hi friends. Today's post is going to be short and sweet.

As of Saturday, I have been accepted into the Navasota Artist in Residence Program.!! This is spectacular news for me because I have been wanting to find a studio and just make art for a while now. This program will allow me 6 months to live in the historic Horlock House in Navasota, TX, with two other artists. Here I will be devoting most of my time to making work, as well as manning the galleries, teaching a few classes and networking like a crazy person.

I am beyond excited for this next step in my career and life. All I ever really wanted to do was make art full time,and now I have 6 months to do just that. I am already beginning to pack up all my art stuff - I have to be there in two weeks!

I can't wait to start this adventure and share it with all of you as well. Words cannot even explain how blessed I feel right now.


Now please enjoy my explosion of happy cats!

Basically what I wanted to do after I found out. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Artful Bliss

Hello friends. I come bearing amazingly exciting, yet nerve wracking news. I have an interview this afternoon with the Navasota Artist in Residence Program. If I do well, I will receive a completely paid for 6-month studio/apartment experience in the Brazos Valley of TX. Words can't even explain how much I want this. Fingers crossed.

Anyways, back to the here and now, I wanted to take a moment to share with you my current projects.  With my Art Center job done (sad day!) I have had extra time to knit and paint during the day before going to work at my other job.

I finally got around to starting a new gouache painting, after having about a month break due to work. This one just kind of popped into my head. I wanted to do something new and different, so I made a bunch of i-cords and put pipe cleaners inside them to make them bendable. As I set up my still life I found myself making "bridges" and went with the idea.  As for the color, well I have a blue light and a pink light shining on it and somehow this is what I got. It's not quite done yet, but a couple more paint sessions and it should be. 

My current, and only, knitting project is my mom's socks. I started these a little over a week ago using some Lion Brand Sock-ease she happened to come across at Goodwill. Since I have yet to finish her wrap, I figured I owed her something hand knit. She looked through my favorite sock book - Socks from the Toe Up and decided she wanted some texture. Luckily, she picked the Lacy Ribs socks, which are dead simple. I have knitted these once before, but alas, they felted in the machine. So it's nice to be doing them again and watching the texture appear as I knit. I think that I should have these done in another week or two if I keep it up. 

In other news, my food blog is up and running again. You should really go check it out! The current recipe is this super yummy chocolate coconut cake. I know you won't be sorry you tried this deliciousness. 

Weekly Inspirations:

Art: With this TX residency suddenly in my radar, I decided to give their blog a lookie. I found Michael Villarreal doing some crazy stuff with plaster, and Owen Drysdale doing some pretty legit drawings. Both are actually really inspiring and a good example of the kinds of things this program is looking for.
Knitting: I can't decide what I will cast on next. I think it will depend what I'm feeling and where I'm at. But I see a shawl in my future. Maybe Truly Myrtles new pattern? 
Food: Seriously, just try that cake I mentioned
Life: Well, I downloaded the old PC game Roller Coaster Tycoon for my computer. I probably shouldn't have, because now I am re-obsessed with it. Dang it anyways. 

I hope that this week has treated everyone well. It's been a roller coaster of work, exercising, amazing news and crazy experiences. This weekend will be just as much - we are going to Kansas City for a baseball game as our "vacation". If it doesn't get rained out...


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tutorial: Sun Dying with Madder Root

Happy Hump Day! I hope that everyone is having a great week. I am enjoying my new found free time now that my Art Center job has come to an end. And with that freedom, I have finally found time to share with you all a little dying experiment I did earlier this summer.

A few years back I took a summer drawing class that involved making our own inks out of natural items: Berries, leaves, roots, etc. One of the inks we made was a nice, orange madder ink from the roots of the madder plant.  At the end of the class I managed to swipe a container full of the ink with the intentions of dying with it that summer.  Three summers later and I still had that container of about procrastination.

When I moved from Manhattan to back home I finally decided to use my madder dye, and went to my local Jo-anns (remember, yarn shop closed!) for something that was all wool. I settled on 2 skeins of (I think - I threw away the label and it's been over a month since I dyed this!) Lion Brand Sock-ease in white. The intention is that I will knit a lovely, lacey shawl with this yarn.

Once I wound the yarn into a hank, it was time to prepare my experiment.

For any natural dye (roots, berries, etc), you need to mordant your yarn first. When you mordant your yarn, you are making is so the dye will with bind to the fabric easier.  Mordant also allows your colors to to be light and light-fast. This whole process is probably the main reason I never got around to dying with this dye way back when. There are many different mordants, but for this project I used Alum and Cream of Tarter. 
Begin by rinsing out your yarn. Dissolve the correct amount of alum and cream of tarter in your dye vat with warm water (8% alum and 6% cream of tarter per 1lb of yarn). Once you have dissolved the mordant, place the rinsed yarn in the pot and bring to a boil.  Turn down your heat and allow the yarn to simmer for at least an hour. 

Once you have your yarn all mordanted, let it set in the pot for at least 24 hours, or longer if desired. 

After you have let the yarn cool, dump out your pot and rinse the yarn (but not too strong!). Now the fun part: Dying!
Obviously all my books talk about dying yarn on the stove, and generally that's what one should do. But it's summer and it was pretty hot that week. So I decided to turn to one of my favorite methods - Sun dying. Sun dying takes longer, but requires less work from the person, and thus it is worth the time. Haha.

Put your yarn in a glass jar with enough breathing room. Add your dye and extra water if needed to cover the yarn (you shouldn't have to add extra water if you planned correctly, I just didn't have enough dye to cover since this was 3 years old). Cover the top of your jar and set out in a nice sunny spot. Let it "cook" for a few days, or until you notice the yarn has absorbed all the color and the water is clear. 

Rinse your yarn out like you would any other dye project, and hang to dry. If all went well, you shouldn't lose any color when you rinse your yarn. Once it's dry, it should be ready for your next knitting project! 

Because my dye was three years old, and because I had to water it down a bit, I ended up with a nice tan color. In reality, you should get a nice deep brown or orange if you had more dye. I also lost a bit in rinsing, I hope that doesn't affect it when I go to knit.

Also, I didn't fully explain how to actually make the dye. It's been a long time, but for madder (or probably any natural plant material) it involves boiling down the roots in water. It's a bit confusing, but there are lots of tutorials and sites out there that will explain it better than I ever can. Here's a good link that I just found: Preparing Madder Roots. 

Like I said, I hope all of you out in blogland are having a great week. I have to work later today, Bleh.  But at least I am getting more time now to paint and knit. I will update everyone on those goings on in the next few days, I promise! Until then, Happy Wednesday!


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Going's On

I wanted to take a quick moment to share with you all a few things that have been happening around here on the non-knitting front.

I've been gardening this summer, mostly just Tomatoes and Peppers, but I have a parsley plant that my aunt started for me. I nibbled a bit but haven't really used it for anything really. Well, last week I went outside to water and found these guys!
Swallowtail caterpillars

Little babies (believe it or not, this is about the size the one in the first picture was when I discovered him)

All three just hang'n out. 

My new obsession has been to check on them pretty much all the time. Watching them munch away and grow bigger. I can only hope they decide to make their chrysalis on the plant as well. 

In other news, I've been doing a lot of food experiments for my lunches the last few weeks, and with a bit of a push from some friends decided to start up again on Lisa's Tiny Kitchen. I plan to share recipes, tips, ideas and ramblings, so you should definitely stop on by! Today's post: Citrus Roasted Chicken!
I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. I have to be heading off to work here soon, but it's a fun job so I'm not complaining. ;)