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!


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


Monday, July 17, 2017

Fiber Art Defined

What is "Fiber Art" anyway? I'm sure we all have our own definition.  Those who do simple scarves with knitting or crochet could be considered fiber artists, but in the eyes of the "professionals", maybe they aren't as much.  And those professionals can be loosely defined as well, as people who choose to create something fancier, more unique or just plain crazy that one wouldn't be likely to wear to Walmart. 

A good definition of Fiber Art that I found is: 
"Fiber art refers to fine art whose material consists of natural or synthetic fiber and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labor on the part of the artist as part of the works' significance, and prioritizes aesthetic value over utility."

Where am I going with this? Well, I've always considered myself a fiber artist, despite the fact that my paintings have no physical fiber in them.  It can be argued that my scarves, shawls, etc are all fiber art, but I wouldn't put those in a gallery show.  My paintings, however, depict images of knitted forms and are created by looking at a still life created from the actual knitted forms, so shouldn't they be fiber art?  

I've never really worried about this until now, and I haven't had much opportunity to display my works in a fiber art show.  But as of late it's been on my mind a lot, as a local gallery in town is hosting a juried fiber show and, to quote a good friend, "A fiber art show in Downtown Bryan without Lisa Urban in it is just wrong".  

I've experimented a lot the past few months with what I want to do to enter this show, as my normal oil paintings just won't cut it. I've tried attaching knitted thread to create "clouds" on top of my paintings.  I've tried physically knitting a panel and oil painting on it.  I've tried sewing threads in certain spots of a painting.  None are convincing enough for me.  I was about to give up when I had the honor to teaching a "kids fiber arts" camp a couple weeks back.  Teaching the kids some techniques gave me an idea.

I was teaching the kids to weave one day on small, cardboard looms and the next thing I knew I was joining in on my own little wooden one.  Using handspun yarn scraps, I created a few small coasters. I got to thinking that they'd be cool to sell at the shop I work in, and considered making more.

But then something clicked and I realized I had a solution to my fiber art problem.

Little woven canvases! I have a ton of this old rug warp and linen yarn that a friend gave me.  I never thought I'd use it, in fact I debated donating it or selling it at one point.  I'm so glad I didn't!

Using scrap sock yarn as the warp, I'm weaving with the linen (I think it's linen) yarn to create little squares on my little wooden loom. 

Once the squares are created, the ends are woven in and a small coat of primer is applied to the front side.  I am then using gouache to paint a small version of my knitted landscapes directly onto the surface.  the result is a surreal, woven painting.  I showed this to several people and they all agreed this is a clever, cute way to create 'fiber art' that is unique to me. 

The four blank ones above are going to be my next ones, with the color scheme of the painting matching the yarn I used to warp.  The final projects are then mounted on a black square of mat board and placed in a simple frame.   Along with the local show, there are a few other shows I think I may enter if I can pull this idea off.

What do you think? What is fiber art to you? How fun is this idea? 


Monday, July 3, 2017

New Designs

I hope you all are having a fabulous summer.  It's hard to believe that it's already half over - my school job starts back up August 1!

I'm really excited to share my latest FO with you all, as it is something that I've been working really hard to perfect the last few months.

"Morning Garden Stream", which is named after the painting and yarn used, is a fun shawl that I have been working on designing since May.  Using the handdyed yarn that I matched with my painting, the idea was to recreate the painting in knitted form.  

The shawl features an asymmetrical design created by strategic increase placement to create four wedges. The body of the design features triangular bands of seed stitch, openwork and a band of blue at the bottom, all of which were added to emulate the colors and textures found within the original painting.

You've have probably all seen this painting a million times by now, but I wanted to share it once again just as a reference point for the design.

It was a fun little knit.  I took notes the whole time and plan to type it up soon, so that I can release it along with the yarn when the time is right.  


If you're in the United States, I hope you are enjoying this holiday weekend - I know a lot of people have today off for Independence Day.  If you're out shooting fireworks, stay safe :)