Monday, May 22, 2017

Scrap Happy

Well I have a week of school left.  Not even that actually, one full day and three half days.  How crazy is that? It seems like I just started and now it's the end of May.  Should I be ashamed to say that I spent a good portion of my last period today looking up the patterns below? 

It being the end of May, I wanted to talk about this month's socks, which have been oh so much fun to work on this month.  So much that they are influencing the entire topic of this post and possibly a summer project for me. 

For May I decided to make a pair of "Spring Cleaning" socks, utilizing small bits of sock yarn from previous socks and shawls.  I'm using the Vanilla Latte Pattern to add a small amount of interest and it's been so much fun reaching in my bag and randomly picking a color.

Sadly, I have barely scratched the surface on my sock scrap collection, if you want to even call them scraps.  Look below and see for yourself.  Practically every color I have has slightly under half a skein left.  I must have small feet, because I usually make pretty tall cuffs.  How is this possible? Will this yarn EVER disappear?

While the scrap socks have been fun playing with complete randomness, as I look at this photo I am noticing a lot of colors that are very similar.  So much in fact that I could very easily make something that transitions between them all.  And as such, the pattern hunting has begun for a summer project using scraps!

Photo (c) Jenn Wolfe Kaiser

My first choice is, oddly enough, a crochet pattern.  I don't know, but lately I've been on a crochet kick.  And what better way to use my scraps and feed my kick (is that a thing) then the Spill Shawl by Jenn Wolfe Kaiser.  It's meant for gradiated yarns, but I could pull off the transitions pretty easily.

Photo (c) Alex Tinsley

The Bad Oyster Shawl has been on my mind again also - I made three of them already a while back - and it would be so fun to use random stripes and create a fringe, right?

Photo (c) Outland (on Ravlery)

\Dreambird is on my mind also, as I have a good amount of black sock yarn I could use and do each wing with a different sock yarn.  Again, how fun would that be?!

Photo (c) Mysistersknitter

And then there's always the influence of the knitting community that pulls me in too.  For example, the Patchwork Blanket by my blogging friend Andi has me drooling every time she shares photos.  Who wouldn't want one of these?  But I have a feeling that if I started one it would NEVER get finished!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Time Flies...

... when you're having fun.  And fun we have had! Eighteen years of it.  What am I talking about? Well this past weekend I made a quickie trip home to Kansas for a very momentous event - my baby sister's high school graduation.

Eighteen years ago my little sister, Miranda, came into the world, and it has been a journey ever since.  Some days we'd do nothing but fight, other days we'd love each other to no end.  But regardless, we have always had each other's back.  Watching her walk the stage on Sunday as she enters a new phase of her life was definitely a bit surreal. 

She has accomplished so much in the last four years of High School, including major roles in several plays, school honor rolls, being a part of the top choir group and being the leader for her school's marching band. 

This fall she will be attending my alma mater, Kansas State University, to major in Music Education, with hopes to go on and get a higher degree and work at a university level someday.  I have no doubts that she can pull that off - she is a PHENOMENAL french horn player. 

Between me, my brother and her, we've sure made our parents proud.  It's hard to believe that life is going by so fast. 

I mean, it's going REALLY fast!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dye Pot [Attempt Two]

I told myself when I started this blog back up again in January that I would post every week on Monday or Tuesday without fail.  I almost forgot this week, which is sad because the post is so exciting! Luckily I decided to sit down and whip it out really quick for everyone to read.

I'm back in the dye studio (AKA My kitchen) this week with some really exciting news!

Remember these? My idea to dye yarn based on my paintings? Well I am not giving up! I was able to get a cone of my yarn - light fingering, sw merino - and got five 450 yard skeins (with 330 yards left for a smaller skein).  I dyed up three a few weeks ago in the first two and the last one above.  The first colorway - Morning Garden Stream - turned out perfect, the other two were close but not quite there.

The pink/green has too much color variation and the teal has a purple that is too neon to match that painting.  Regardless, my LYS Ladies loved them all.

So I took the last two and half skeins this past week and focused mainly on the colorway I knew I could replicate.  Attempting to do two full skeins of the same colorway was a bit scary at first, but I knew it needed to be done if I ever want to scale.

With the other "half" skein I decided to play with the teal color.  I've decided that those two are going to be my main focus going forward.  Let me just say, getting the perfect purple with food dyes and watercolor is becoming difficult.  I think I finally got it with a mixture of grape koolaid and violet watercolor.  

The results are above, taken badly on my phone camera.  The two gold skeins turned out perfect! I am so excited that this colorway is working.  The teal one is getting closer, but I put too much gold in this skein to truly match the painting.  Next time. 

I went ahead and printed some bands and skeined it up, just to show how it will look all ready to sell.  I plan to get the ball bands printed better than the ones above - my printer was low on ink - but you get the idea. 


I am so excited! I need another cone, or two, or five, to really get going on this, but I honestly think I have a thing going for the summer :)


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April FO's

I feel like April sped by, like a derailed train.  So many things happened this month that I've discussed here on this blog, I didn't even know what to talk about this week!

And then last weekend a small miracle happened: I finished THREE WIPs in THREE DAYS. It's like there was a knitting fairy looking over me, telling me to Just. Keep. Knitting.

"April Flowers" - my April socks, came off the needles on Friday and onto my feet on Monday :) They fit really well, despite being cuff down with a gusset. And the color is so much fun too! Perfect springy flowery happiness!  The pattern itself is Mercury Socks, which I had memorizes by the end of cuff one. 

I finished my Sev(en) Circle on Saturday, when I had dinner and coffee with a fellow knitting friend. This "necklace" has been on the needles for about two months now, on and off again. The bamboo yarn is pretty splitty and honestly didn't work out the way I wanted.  The strands are really curly, even after a block, and blocking kind of took the natural curl away and makes the "ropes" lay flat.  

However, I plan to make another one soon, with tighter yarn and gauge.

My first full-sized crochet garment came off the hook Sunday night during a binge-marathon of Arrow, Season 4.  After finishing the back side, I realized that my gauge had changed from the first side and as such the front was larger.  Upon sewing it up it ended up working out and I would definitely knit another one.  The Drops Design however, was a bit of a pain.  Luckily it's a pretty basic design.


I feel so accomplished, having all these finished projects for a single month.  I'm hoping that May can be the same, but there's no guarantee.  Between finishing up my first year of teaching, Relay for Life on Friday, a quick flight home next week for my sister's graduation and trying to breath who knows what will happen!


Sorry Guys, I just needed to ;)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Happiness is...

While last week seemed like a huge roller coaster of emotions, I somehow found myself coming out on top with a huge bout of happiness.  I think there are several things that contributed to this, so I would like to dedicate this post to happiness.

Happiness is...

Finishing the first of my April socks, with the second already at the toe.

Deciding to attempt a crochet garment and feeling successful after finishing the front side. 

Starting a new painting dedicated to the Moana series I mentioned last week
(yes, I use Snapchat...)

A bobbin full of super soft, super fluffy, super thin corredale yarn-to-be

Having a painting on display at my favorite Cafe...

and three figure drawings on display at a wine bar not too far off the road either!

But I think what makes me the happiest right now is the simple knowledge that someone out there, be it family or friends, is looking after me, making sure that I live my life to the fullest.  Maybe it sounds cheesy, but it's been on my mind a lot lately.

What makes you happy?


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!


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!


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!


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.