Thursday, October 12, 2017

Knitting Road Trip

I'm not really sure what happened to updating on Monday or Tuesday, but somehow I got off. Either way, I wanted to update today while this post was fresh in my mind.  I will get back to the regular schedule soon.

Yesterday I didn't have to teach due to state testing, so another teacher friend of mine offered up a quick road trip to a couple of the Yarn Crawl shops.  As much as I wanted to resist, it was just too hard and so off we went.

The first stop on our trip was Yarnorama, a cute little shop in the very tiny town of Paige, TX.  I really enjoy this ship every time I visit, as she has a huge selection of great brands as well as her own line of hand dyed - Fiber Obsessions.  It's always an adventure to explore her cute little shop.


The second shop on our little trip was The Quilted Skein in LaGrange, TX.  This is always a favorite stop for me, because of the amount of color and light that fills the space.  Their yarn selection goes all the way to the ceiling and yet it's still not too crowded.  They carry some really great yarn brands as well. One of my favorites is The Knitted Wit, which is so squishy.  I also discovered a couple of new brands here - Jitterbug and Leon Alexander Yarns



A quick lunch and we were back on the road, headed for Rohan Meadery, which is a supporter of the crawl and even carries yarn! The tasting room manager is also a yarn dyer and has some AMAZING things! Check them out for yourself - Blue Mule Fiber.  It was hard not to resist buying a few things.

The final stop on our trip was a little town called Roundtop, which is centered around the antique business.  A few times a year they hold HUGE antique festivals that draw thousands to the area.  Luckily we missed that this year, but were still able to stop and check out some of the cute little shops, including Copper Shade Tree.  This shop features lots of local Texas artists, including new favorites Joan Bohn and David Vollmer.  Check out that Wire Knitting, holy cow!

Image (c) David Vollmer

My budget wasn't as high as I would have liked, but I managed to stay within it, which makes me feel good.  I walked away with some Fiber Obsessions roving and some Blue Mule yarn.  Both are gorgeous colors and I cannot wait to get working with them.


Finally, I discovered a few new patterns that are now in my Ravelry favorites.  Hopefully at least one will get knitted soon?



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Been on any knitting road trips lately? They sure are fun, especially when you can play hooky from work for the day to do it!

Have a fabulous week!

~Lisa





Sunday, October 1, 2017

Dye-ary

Well this is an early post for this week (or a late one for last week?).  Either way, I'm here and ready to share more yarnie things.

Somehow every other post seems to be about my dying adventures, but it also seems that dying is the only changing thing for me to post about lately.  I'll have more knitting WIPs next week, I promise!
This coming weekend into next (Oct 6-14th) is the Hill Country Yarn Crawl in TX, which is a huge deal down here, with 20+ shops opening their doors to crawlers from all over Texas.  Free patterns, specials and indie dyers await at each spot.  

I'm super excited I get to be one of those Indie Dyers this year, participating in my first ever truck show at a little shop called Ply! in the gorgeous town of Wimberley, TX.  While I will only be physically there for the second weekend, the shop asked me to provide product for the whole crawl and needed it by the beginning of October.  Well you can guess what I have spent the last two weeks doing (besides art show things, which was it's own level of stress). 



Making sure I had a decent inventory was priority number one of course, and so it began.  I played around with my color  recipes a bit and was able to finally find satisfaction with all three of my main colorways.  

Sadly, I wasn't able to acquire the large amount of my original base - 100% sw merino, light fingering - and therefore had to improvise.  But improvising ended well, as I was able to introduce a new base - 75/25 merino/nylon, perfect for socks!  Once the crawl is over I will be stocking it in my Etsy as well. 





On the left we have the sock base, on the right we have the sw merino base.  You can definitely see a difference in the yarn type! As for color, I'm pretty proud of myself for getting them to match so well when they were dyed on different days! 

I'm also sending off a batch of my 50g tonals to pair with the merino.  The colors came out a bit bolder than I hoped but they are really pretty regardless if you wish for them to match the paintings.


The other task at hand was making sure I had samples! I was able to get my Morning Garden Stream pattern finalized and have the Fallen Moon Drops one typed up, so I am sending those two, along with something in my new version of Fallen Moon Drops (that a friend graciously knitted for me) and a cowl knitted with Mushroom Petal Bloom that I overly stressed over to get done in time.



I'm sad I had to send the cowl off so fast - I LOVE the drape and how it looks in my yarn.  I will definitely be making more!
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Well, fingers crossed the sale goes well, I could really use the sales to help justify that what I'm doing isn't crazy.

Interested in my yarn? I have a few left in my Etsy, and will be updating it again after the crawl!






Monday, September 18, 2017

Bombs Away

There's something about the concept of yarn bombing that just cracks me up.  Maybe it's the colors people tend to use - bright and out of place.  Or the whimsy it adds to a location.  Of just the title itself.  Yarn Bombing.

It seems like lately I've been enjoying this concept on a whole new level, by utilizing it in my artistic practice.  Bombing, or taking over, a place is a fun concept that I have been applying to locations around my area in a way you may not first think about.

When I booked a show for this month at my local (and favorite) cafe/gallery, I knew I wanted to do something that would appeal to a huge audience and make them smile.  I had been playing around with painting on old postcards and decided to try doing the same thing on my own photos.

 The ones you are seeing as you read this are just a few examples of the 50+ that I completed for this show.  Some are serious, some are funny, but all should bring a smile to the viewer's face, especially when they see all of them lined up like below.






I've placed oil paintings along the other walls of the cafe, so overall the show looks nice and cohesive.  The official reception is this Thursday and I think it's going to be a good turnout.

In other news, I recently booked my first Trunk Show! During the Hill Country Yarn Crawl, various shops stay open longer hours and host indie dyers to share their yarns.  A shop in Wimberly, TX, reached out to me via Instagram and asked if I could come sell some of my yarns with her one weekend.  Of course I said yes! So now I am in major sample mode, making things with my newest colors to encourage buyers.  


The willow cowl seemed like a good fit for this yarn, and a quick knit.  I chose to use my Mushroom Petal Bloom colorway and so far the variations and pooling are looking so amazing.  I really do feel like I am meant to do this. 






Tuesday, September 5, 2017

August FO's

A few weeks ago I talked about all of the WIPs I had on my needles and how I seemed to just keep casting on more and more things.  Well I'm happy to say today that many of those WIPs have found their way off my needles, with plenty of time left in the year to make even more things!

The biggest of these is my Fallen Moon Drops Cowl, which I designed myself with my handdyed yarn.  I was really nervous about this as I got to the bottom as I wasn't sure how the holes would work out with the feather and fan, but after blocking they turns out perfect! I even discovered a new bind-off that is perfect for any type of lace knitting.  The Frilled Standard Bind-off is a great way to end any type of wavy lace design and stretches so nicely.


The next thing that I finished is a bit of a miracle. But knowing my knitting skills, maybe not so much.  I mentioned wanting to knit a pair of socks for my little sister using some Neon sock yarn.  Well I was able to cast on those socks over my long weekend last week and finished them in exactly a week! I ended up not using that neon yarn as it was scratchy and she gets irritated easily.  So I went with some self striping that I had scraps of and paired it with black mini-mochi to make up the difference. I had just enough to finish the pair and gifted them to her this past Sunday.  She didn't try them on there so hopefully they fit!


Her entire birthday gift! She turns 11 tomorrow!

I also finished those dishcloths I mentioned and gifted them, and the crochet tank I had is currently in time out, likely to be ripped, as it doesn't stretch and is too small.  I guess you can't win them all.

With all of these things done, I've been working on my Breathing Space sweater, which is turning out really nice.  I plan to cast on my September socks soon too, but I can't settle on a pattern or yarn.  Sigh.


My final FO for now is a painting that took me over a month to complete.  With school starting, the dye business going and just the realities of life, it's been hard to really focus on new paintings.



Currently untitled, this painting is an extension of the glowing tidepool-esque paintings I have been working on.  I like this one with the blue, but I feel the first three were more successful.

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I hope everyone is having a good start to the month and if you had the day off yesterday, you were able to enjoy yourself. I got quite a bit done so I can't really complain.

~Lisa



Monday, August 28, 2017

Dye Pot [Attempt 4 - This Time We Mean Business!]

As I type this I'm waiting for my yarn to simmer, the nasty smell of dye filling the room (don't worry, it's not a lot!)  It's been awhile since I updated you all on my dye progression and after spending the last two days playing around, I figured it was about time.

For those of you who don't follow me on social media (Instagram - personal Lisa-24-7, business The Knitting Artist), you've missed out on the latest development in my dying career - Jacquard Acid Dyes.  Yup, I finally broke down and decided if I want to be taken seriously I needed to invest in the good stuff. 

I had planned on staying in from my usual Sunday social knit to dye and then it ended up getting cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey anyway (I'll explain at the end) so yesterday was the perfect day to play around and see what I could get. 

I started my adventure by testing each color at "full strength" on some scraps to see what they would look like. 


After "cooking" these guys up I decided to just go for it with the large skeins because I had the whole day anyway. I did a quick test of some colors I mixed and then started painting.  Overall it took me 3 hours to do 10 skeins - a personal best.


As you can probably tell, the colors are very different than what I was getting with my food coloring and watercolors.  I'm still trying to decide if I like them or not.  I will say that I feel like I went through less liquid with these than I did with the others and the color depth is pretty nice. 

Here's a quick side-by-side comparison to show how different, yet similar, these truly are.
(Left - Acid dyes, Right - "Safe" dyes)

Fallen Moon Drops is wildly different, in that the colors are much much darker and richer.  I think it matches the painting better, but I sort of miss the pastel-feeling of this colorway.
'
Mushroom Petal Bloom ended up turning out the closed to the original, what with the greens and pinks being a spot on match.  I'm really happy with this and won't change my recipe. 


As for Morning Garden Stream, things will be changes.  It does match the art and I will admit I wasn't a huge fan of the bright pink in the safe recipe, but the copper color I was hoping would turn out nice and golden ended up just being well...brown.  A bit too much brown. 

Finally, I wanted to share one last thing with y'all.  I've been playing with the idea of selling these as sets with a matching solid/tonal skein.  The reason came from a few places - one being my knit group suggesting it since so many patterns are 2 or more colored now.  Pairing a handpainted with a solid seems to always play out nicely in patterns, so why not?  

I'm doing 50g skeins of the solid to go with the 100g skein of painted.  That's what I've been cooking up on the stove today and I am really happy with the results!


The blue pairs with Morning Garden Stream, the violet with Fallen Moon Drops and the burgundy with Mushroom Petal Bloom.  Although honestly any of them would probably pair well with each others.  I'll share better photos once they are twisted up.

Expect all of it to go up on my Etsy shop within the next week or so.  I also plan to talk to my knitting friends and see what they think.  I'll ask you guys too - do you prefer the new, darker versions, or were you a fan of the more pastel ones? I'm sure if I keep playing with my dye amounts I can get that pastel feel back. 

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On a quick, more serious note.  Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast this past weekend.  I have been lucky enough to be in enough to only see the rain and some minor flooding in my town.  But many in the Houston and San Antonio areas were not so lucky.  All friends I have down there haven't been affected, but there are photos sweeping the internet of roads and houses with extremely high water.  The flooding here wasn't awful, but it was enough to cancel school for the day, hence the reason I had time to dye today.  Please, if you know someone in this area, pray for them.  I may not be much of a religious person, but all those affected are in my thoughts today. 

~Lisa





Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Knitting Police

Ever feel like you just have too many WIPs on your needles?  While most knitters will laugh and say "There's no knitting police!" or "There's never too many",  I still feel some days that maybe I'm overwhelming myself with projects.

Today is one of those days, as I sit back and look at all the projects I have started and realize that the odds of finishing them all by Christmas is a pretty lofty goal.

First on my list is the cowl that I am designing with my handdyed yarn in the colorway "Fallen Moon Drops".  Featuring staggered double-yarnover holes and a feather and fan border, this is coming a long nicely.  I'm hoping to write up and publish the pattern before my first festival showing. 


Something inside of me felt an impulse last week to knit some dishcloths for a friend who just moved, despite the overwhelming load of knitting/art/work things I already have on my plate.  Luckily, these are fast and I should be done with the set of three by tonight.


I need to return to my Breathing Space sweater soon also, as I would love to have it done in time to wear when it finally gets cooler here.  However, all these other WIPs seem to be calling me instead.  I do enjoy the beauty of the teal paired with the green though and will hopefully return to this come September.


Started at the beginning of the summer as a crochet tank top, I ran out of yarn after the first side and gave up.  And then a miracle happened and one of our Guild members had some of the same yarn she was destashing.  I grabbed that up and went to town, turning this tank into a tee that I can hopefully wear to work.  Right now I'm just starting the back side, crocheting it all in once piece and then folding it over to seam.


Last, but not least, is something I NEED to start, but haven't had time to.  The year of socks has come to a halt, as I haven't done any for August yet and even if I start them now, probably won't be able to catch up to 12 pairs.  However, I do know what my next pair will be! I participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters and my little turns 11 next month.  She always envies my knitting and I just know she'd love a pair of socks.  So if all goes according to plan, this yarn will become a new pair for her. ;)


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Whats on your needles right now? Too many or not enough? Has the knitting police found you yet!? 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and I'll see you on the flip side.

~Lisa





Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Drifting Off

Every time I turn around I have a new art project to share with you guys, it's a wonder I even sleep.

Remember the little woven paintings I discussed last month? While I enjoyed making them and thought they were a good solution to my "what is fiber art?" question, I ultimately decided I needed to try something that fit in better with my current paintings.

A trip to Houston and all the galleries that I love there got me back to thinking about making puddles again, but this time I came up with a better idea, partially due to seeing the works of Paul Flemming and Harumi Shimazu.  With Paul's works, while hard to see in the photos, he creates little ceramic basins that he then fills with a colored resin.  As for Harumi, her installation of the wax petals and floating orbs really made me want to try similar.

Paul Flemmings

Harumi Shimazu

My recent paintings have been branded (by me...) as "Tide Pools", despite the fact that are representative of more than just floating forms in water.  To me, they are a representation of thoughts, ideas and memories and how we are always gaining new ones while old ones just sink and float away.  But that's a discussion for another day.  Where am I going with this?  Well I decided I needed to push the envelope for that show here in town and propose a small installation.

Trying to achieve the idea of water before seemed hard, as creating free form puddles wasn't working with any material I tried.  But seeing Paul Flemmings' works reminded me that I don't have to have free-flowing puddles.  They can be contained.  Well, one thing led to another and the next thing I knew I had this:


Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present my first physical tide pool! Created using paper mache as a base and filled with a polyester (and really strong smelling) resin to represent the water, I think this could really be the installation step I've been needing.  While my other installations have been fun and simple, this really is unique and interesting.  


This project was a complete experiment for me.  While I have used paper mache before, this was a whole new realm of sculpture.  Building up the pool and filling it with resin got messy and smelly, not to mention expensive.  I wish I could have added more resin to fill it up, but I just couldn't afford it this time around.  Playing with the placement of the knitted forms within the pool was also an experience.   As usual for me, I left the whole thing white, so that I can shine colored lights on it and play around with the mood.  


Photographing these with random lights was so much fun.  I am sad to say, though, that the light is not this prominent in real life, or at least not in a daylight setting.  Can you imagine these at night?? 

The plan is to have this in a gallery setting, with more balls hanging from the ceiling at various heights to represent new forms falling in.  It was really hard to photograph that in my apartment, so I don't have that yet.  

I am really really proud of this and want to make more when my budget allows.  I really hope it gets into that fiber show!

I hope you all had a great week.  See you next time.  ;)

~Lisa


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Measuring Success

Well, I did it.  Last Friday I officially launched my hand-dyed yarn to the world...erm... local community.  

With 14 skeins total, I posted everything on Etsy and advertised to my local knitting groups, offering free shipping because I would deliver it the next time I saw them.   Let me just say, I love the community that I am a part of.

By the end of Monday night, I had sold all but 2 skeins! Which put me at enough revenue to order more yarn and do a second go. Of which I will of course be doing.  

I ended up with three colorways for my first run: "Mushroom Petal Bloom", "Fallen Moon Drops", and "Morning Garden Stream".  What I really enjoy about each of these is how they are all very different, yet would be perfect for a "fade" type project all together.




The yarn base itself is a gorgeous 2ply light fingering yarn, which dyes up really well.  As of right now I am using food dye and liquid watercolor.  I've had a lot of people question what I mean by liquid watercolor.  To clear the air, it's a dye based, highly concentrated painting material.  In the classroom we use it like regular watercolor, squirting it into a paint tray.  But I did some experimenting and it turns out you can use it like you would food dye to color yarn! I am loving the oranges and violets I am getting with it.


There has been some sceptism about using "safe" dye as opposed to acid dyes, most of which has been about fading.  I'm not sure if that's true or how it will all work out. I do know that I should switch over eventually, but my current situation doesn't really allow for it.  

What do you think? Would you buy yarn if it was made using something beside acid dyes?

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I'll be dying up more soon and posting it on Etsy for the whole world, not just my local friends, so keep an eye out! Also I'll be vending at a small local fiber festival in November.  The East Texas Fiber Fest should be a good chance to get my toes wet.

One step closer to owning a yarn shop/art gallery!

~Lisa 





Monday, July 31, 2017

July Projects

And here's August.  I say it every month and mean it every time: Where did the time go?  At this time next week I'll be in teacher in-service for another school year.  Really....

I wanted to just take a moment and discuss the things I've finished this month, which has been plenty despite how fast it went. 

On the knitting front, I have a couple projects off the needles. The first was "Gray Gardens", a cowl/shawl hybrid that I really enjoyed making and enjoy wearing.  The shape is nice because you get the drape of a cowl without having to deal with it falling off or trying to find a place for those ends.  My only complaint is that I wish I had bound it off looser, so the lace edging wouldn't curl in so much.


The other project off my needles for July is my pair of socks - "Striped Panda Socks" - with some left over panda sock yarn I dyed to stripe a bit.  I thought I would enjoy these more, but somewhere around sock two I got anxious.  So much that I ended up making the foot too long and binding off too loose.  Soooo instead of ripping out I tucked the toe in and sewed it.  That's how much I wanted to be done with these.  Can you even tell in the photo? (Hint, it's the sock on the right)


Probably the biggest accomplishment of the month is the completion of my latest oil painting, thus completing the series.  The "Glowing Tide Pool" Series is officially complete! And I love all three together so much.  The are definitely my strongest works to date and I plan to play with this concept more coming soon. 

PS: You can buy prints on my Etsy if you want!

And finally! I dyed more yarn this month and settled on a Launch Date for my yarn selling.  This Friday, August 4th, I will be officially listing my handpainted yarns on Etsy.  Word of warning though: It will only be available to those near me for the first weekend or so, so that I may give those who have been supporting me the most a first pick and so that I may hand deliver it.  Whatever is left after that launch will be made available to the whole internet community.  And after that I'll be dying more!
(2 of the 4 colorways I'll have)

Starting a small business has been an adventure so far, and based on reception among friends and followers, I can tell I'm in for a ride!

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How was your July? Did anything exciting happen? Any great FOs?? Do share!

~Lisa