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. 


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. 


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. ;)


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.


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.  ;)


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?


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!