Monday, December 4, 2017

Spinning Stories

If you have followed my blog over the years, you'll know that, on top of everything else, I am also a spinner. I have a decent, handmade spinning wheel that was gifted to me a couple years back and when the the feeling is right I find myself sitting down at her to spin a yarn or two.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I finally sat down to finish a skein that had been waiting since the summer.  It's hard to have motivation when you have to reattach the treddle or put a new string on your tension.


Spun at about a DK weight, this yarn is 1 ply BFL dyed by The Fleece Artist, and 1 ply SW Merino solid lavender violet.  It comes in at just about 300 yards, which seems to be my norm with wheel spun yarn lately.  It's so luscious that I just had to name it "Cotton Candy Anyone?"

Finishing this skein is making me want to find a pattern to utilize all of my handspun yarn. I really do have a decent amount of 300yd+ skeins ever since I acquired the wheel.  


Violet Sparkle for example is a nice yarn that is 1 ply dyed alpaca, 1 ply SW merino held with sparkle. The pops of glitter really make me smile and would shine in a hat or scarf.


Springy Rainbows is another, being my first chain plyed yarn as to keep the rainbow color of the BFL.  I like the result, but it's a little too springy.  Maybe it'll become something fun someday.

Of finally, a very special yarn.  Friendship wool was spun on my spindle and has a story.  I bought two ball of roving and sent one to my friend.  She spun one ply, and I spun the other.  We then sent half our plys back to each other and plyed them together.  So we have a nice collaborative yarn :) <3 p="">


This year was 12 pairs of socks, maybe next year will be only Handspun,   Seems doable, but doubtful given the size of my stash.  But it may become a goal to use more of my handspun.... 

If anyone cares to peek, all of my handspun yarn is stashed over on Ravelry

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Do you spin? Have you thought about it? Or even just bought a skein of handspun yarn?  Any pattern ideas would always be loved <3 p="">

Have a great week!

~Lisa


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

East Texas Fiber Festival

It's been too quiet lately, and for that I apologize.  Life just kinda hit me like a ton of bricks, with multiple milestones all happening at once.

The first, and most important for blogging sake, was the East Texas Fiber Festival that I attended as a vendor last weekend.


A small festival in Lindale, TX, in it's third year, I enjoyed myself.  The venue was semi-outdoors, which wasn't ideal, but wasn't awful.  I went with the mindset that this was my first outting and that I really just wanted to feel the waters.


As you can see, taking photos without some sort of glare was a challenge, but I was able to snap a few good ones.  My setup was pretty basic, with yarn and paintings in the back, art prints on one side and shoe samples on another.


The highlight was supposed to be the shoes, but sadly I didn't take any orders as planned.  Several people seemed interested, so maybe this week?



My top seller was actually art prints! Maybe because it was unique among all the yarn vendors, or maybe because people want art for their craft rooms.  I just know that at my next show I will be highlighting those a bit more.

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Somehow I managed to walk away with only a couple purchases.  A project bag as a gift (not shown), a skein of yarn, and some beads to match my own yarn.

I made lots of new fiber friends as well!  The yarn above is from Kimarie's Knit Knacks and the beads are from Gilding Lillies (who specializes in matching beads to yarn).  Other new friends included The Ewe Hues (a co-op of several friends who all dye), Four Hens Fibers, McKnittey and DJ's Alpacas.  All gave me great feedback and advice for my future in the industry. 

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And in other, life important news, and likely to affect my art/knitting time, I wanted to share that I recently got offered a promotion at my school.  Previously I was only teaching the secondary classes for art on a part time gig.  Well the elementary teacher decided to leave and they offered me her job as well.  Starting next week I am officially the ONLY art teacher for the entire school of St. Joseph's and I could not be more thrilled!  All my hard work is finally paying off!

And that, my friends, is an excuse to party hard and eat harder on Thanksgiving.  I hope you all have a wonderful one (for those who celebrate).

~Lisa

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Socks, Socks, Socks

Happy Halloween friends! What a month it has been. Full of knitting, dying, selling, painting, and making! I have loved every minute of it.  

Tonight it's all about socks, as I finished my October pair last night, just in time for Halloween, and have the next pair pretty much planned out.

"Lacey Pumpkin Socks" are toe up, short-row heel and toe done in a fun orange and black colorway.  The yarn is 'panda' - Merino/nylon/bamboo - that was handdyed by my LYS.  I have been saving it for this month for pretty obvious reasons. 


Because... well... because :)

Next up on my list will be a simple pair made in my own dyed yarn on the new "sock" base.  I haven't had a chance to knit any samples in this 75 merino/ 25 nylon and need something for my upcoming Fiber Fest (in 2.5 weeks....wow). So what better time than to make some socks! Hopefully at least one will be done in time to use as a demo.


I'm sure it's the nylon content, but it does seem interesting that the sock base tends to dye up more pastel than the 100% merino.  Oh the things you learn when you start to really play with dying!

Now I just can't decide what socks to make.  I probably should just do some vanilla socks, as this yarn is highly variegated and I don't know how it will pool, but what fun is that? Maybe I'll try Flowers and Sunshine, a pattern I found via Instabgram.

Image (C) Dana Gervais

Or there's always the standbys - Vanilla Latte, Hermoine's Everyday Socks, and Jeck

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Do you have a stand-by for your sock knitting? Any suggestions for patterns with highly variegated? Shout out below!
I hope you have a safe and wonderful Halloween (if you celebrate).  Until next time!

~Lisa


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My First Yarn Show

I had truly meant to post this last week, but somehow time escaped me again and now here we are a week later.

I also hope that all of you out there are not sick of me talking about my yarn dying adventures! I promise soon I'll post something completely unrelated.

Just over a week ago I had the privilege of spending my weekend in Wimberley, TX, hanging out at a cute little yarn shop - Ply! Yarn, Art and Handwovens.  It's a small, quaint little destination in a small, quaint little town.  A friend and I drove up for the weekend and had the luxury of spending our down time in the beautiful guest house of another friend who happened to live in the hills.  Check out that view!

  


The town itself is a hidden gem, with a very cute downtown square made up of boutiques, specialty shops, art galleries and cute restaurants.  Ply is located towards the back, hidden away a bit, but still fits right in with the town.


The owner, Kathy, has been very gracious in offering me a chance to sell my yarn during the annual Yarn Crawl, and I made sure I utilized the opportunity well.  Setting up a little space on an end table, I had the chance to meet many knitters as they walked in the door, telling them my story from art to yarn and selling a few along the way.


People really responded to my inspirations and colorways, as well as the base yarns that I have chosen.  I feel as though I made a new friend with each skein I sold!  Speaking of friends - the ladies working at the shop were all super sweet and so much fun to get to know during my two days.  I will be returning soon!

Tip for dyers: Always have samples! Having several samples of my yarn knitted up helped me sell at least 5-6 skeins.


At the end of the weekend we added everything up and did some math before heading back home.  I won't go into money, but I am proud to say that I sold 19 of my 27 skeins of yarn! That feels like a success right?

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Oh and I almost forgot! She had lots of other indie dyers to show off as well.  Here's the list and a few photos to tempt you all. :)


Noti Yarns

Open Skies Yarn

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Have a fabulous week everyone!



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