Studio Sunday

Bob and I had a lovely hike yesterday, and I got lucky with this photo, which I plan to make into a felt painting.

Today’s essay from Knitting Season Club is about losing yourself in the creative process. I don’t need any help with that as I am a daydreamer by nature, but she did share two songs from Alice Coltrane. How refreshing to be introduced to a female jazz great, and I now have a new favorite song which I am currently listening to on repeat as I swatch in the studio.

I have two design ideas for the Warm Hands competition. I am swatching for both today. One design is for Milarrochy Tweed, the other is for Ard Thir. These arm warmers were knit for me by my friend Marjorie (holla!) and they, along with this alpaca poncho from Bolivia, are my inspiration for one design.

The other is a spin off of a design I was already working on. I’m being careful not to put too much out there, because designs aren’t considered if they’ve already been made public.

And I got some new yarn this week!

This is Cabecou Lace in Sel Gris. I will knit Anne Hanson’s Dust Devils with it. This yarn smells really good, by the way. I had a hankering (get it?) to knit something lace this summer.

I’d better stop yapping and get swatching.

FibreShare and a Q&A

I signed up for FibreShare! I’m suuuuuper excited about it because I’ve wanted to participate for a while now!

Karen posted a Q&A, my favorite!

Q. What item did you make that was a complete win? You loved making it, using it and got compliments on it.

A. I’m just going to say hats. I seem to do really well with hats in general.

Q. How about a project that was a half win? You either loved making it and didn’t use it or hated making it but loved using it.

A. I loved making my Magenta Le Smoking, but I don’t wear it. There is no shaping in the shoulders, and it is too small to really wear comfortably. I love the color. I’m still thinking about frogging it.

Q. Have you ever resurrected a UFO, finished it and loved it?

A. Just the Birds of Blendon hat.

Q. Is there a technique that you’ve used in the past that you’ll never do again? How about one that you avoided and ended up liking? Do you use the items?

A. I tend to avoid intarsia. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. I prefer knitting that has an intuitive rhythm to it. I haven’t knit intarsia in a long time. It was a sweater for my oldest son that had a star on the front. He really liked it. I guess I would knit intarsia again if there were a really good reason for it and I liked the finished product enough. But I think it’s clear that I’m more of a process knitter.

I need to get cracking on my Ohio Star Cowl. I skipped the last Knitting Season creative assignment, which consisted of knitting a stranded colorwork design in different colors, in favor of finishing up my Otter Ferry. I can see the point of the assignment, but my Knitting. Time. Is. So. Precious.

Do you prefer to spend your time knitting towards a finished object? Or are you happy to knit experimentally? Do you swatch a lot? Or just enough to get the gauge?

I’m in the latter category. What was it I said about being a process knitter? Maybe I am a product knitter, or a combination of both?

Practice Makes Perfect

Kate Davies posted a helpful article about getting started with your journal. Yesterday, I made my first marks in it.

Rudimentary, but a start. This is a 2 ounce cake of Better Breakfast DK in Poppyseed from Bare Naked Wools. I want to knit a cowl with it, and it’s my first design of the year. My ideas for this design are still pretty half baked, but getting a sketch done and a gauge swatch is helping me inch forward.

Yesterday felt like I was playing house, only playing knitting designer in my studio, because this was very much an exercise. And that’s why my word for 2019 will be “Practice.”

My next entries in my journal will include a list of knitting projects in my queue, and a completed color chart of the Birds of Blendon hat.

But today, today is for hiking!

Decisions, Decisions

I am making progress on Kate Davies’ Goats of Inversnaid hat for Hans. I won’t have any trouble finishing it by Christmas if I stay on task.

I wasn’t sure if the Milarrochy Tweed yarn would work for the crisp design, but I kind of love it. I think it gives a more grown-up look to it. I’m also thinking about changing the hearts at the crown to a star, because Hans is 15. I don’t need to say anymore than that, right?

There are two knitting clubs I want to participate in for 2019, and I can’t make up my mind.

Kate Davies has an upcoming club that looks to be more design oriented, and includes an awesome journal.

Knitspot is offering the School of Wool where you learn about American sheep breeds and fibers, and you get undyed yarn to play with.

I want to do both. I can do both, right? Can I afford to do both? (Can I afford not to do both?)

Birds of Blendon Hat

I finished it!

I quite like it. It does remind me of that walk in the woods and the birds in the snow. I didn’t finish coloring in my chart, but never mind. The top is my favorite part.

I enjoyed knitting it so much I’ve decided to knit more stranded color work! I saw The Oa Hoodie on Ravelry and burst out, “I have to knit that!” When I stopped by my super local (around the corner) LYS 614 Knit to pick up some size 3 dpns for the crown of the hat, I fell in love with this yarn and it’s perfect for the pattern.

The purple will be the pop of color. I’ve never knit with Scout yarn before but it’s got a nice squish to it.

So another Kate Davies design in my queue and I haven’t even cast on the Carbeth yet. I guess I’m a fan!

Tools

I thought it might be fun to post something about favorite knitting tools. Here’s a list of my “can’t do withouts”.

My Swahili Modern Fair Trade knitting basket. It was handmade by Senegalese artisans from grasses and salvaged strips of plastic. It used to have a handle, but my cat chewed it off. It’s okay. I carry it around like a big present because that’s how I feel about it, and it has a lid to keep the cat out of the knitting. Did I mention it is the happiest shade of orange?

From left:

Haven Herbs Flying Trapeze Balm for my dry and chapped hands. (Disclaimer: I’m a worker-owner of Haven Herbs.) The comfrey and calendula is healing and the lavender is antimicrobial and smells wonderful. It’s also natural and non-greasy because you don’t want that on your knitting.

Small Decomposition Notebook to jot down where I am on projects or other important notes. I love that these are 100% post consumer recycled paper and the different illustrations make me smile. Right now I’m using Wild Garden.

Plymouth Yarn Company’s travel crochet hooks. I use these on the regular because I’m a crochet cast-on person. Also good for picking up dropped stitches. Each end is a different size so they are compact. (These are old and I don’t know where you can get them now.)

Goose Pond’s sheep needle sizer and gauge measure. Cuz it’s efficient with 2-in-1 uses and it’s cute! (Also old. I’ve been knitting a long time.)

What are your favorite tools in your knitting kit? Please leave a comment if you post on your blog!

I wasn’t paid or rewarded in any way to endorse any of these products, except for sharing my joy. I wouldn’t mind if you checked out Haven Herbs, but no pressure.

Bonus question: Do you have favorite needles? If so, what are they? Mine are Peace Fleece‘s straight wooden needles with the painted balls on the end.

I would love to try their new yarn, too!

A Wool Gathering

Hi! I went to A Wool Gathering with my friend Mystic Llama Shop (Sara) and brought home some new yarn. This llama loved having his photo taken and would pose like this for you when you raised your phone. He really needs a bow tie.

I found this gorgeous locally hand spun merino in my favorite color. It is a deep blue with specks of violet. I’ve already cast on for Purl Soho’s Sweatshirt Sweater.

Another local yarn, this gorgeous red Targhee is for a Carbeth. I may go ahead cast on for that too. I love starting new projects!

And this linen and cotton is for a simple shift top. I’ll wait until spring for this one.

I recently saw a post on Instagram about being a monogamous knitter. I thought, that’s nice. I wish I could do that. And gleefully cast on my second sweater.

What about you? Are you a monogamous knitter?

Valentine’s Day Field Trip!

This field trip had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, other than I wanted to go, and Bob came with me. He’s a real trooper and a keeper. ❤ Are you ready for a treat? We went to Ohio Valley Natural Fibers!

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I have a Coopworth fleece I bought at Great Lakes Fiber Show many years ago. It is still dirty, stewing in its lanolin in a box.

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I think it’s pretty, though.

I did hand wash, card, spin, dye, and knit a small amount of it (just to say I did it). I kind of lost interest after that. It’s a big job! A job for professionals. So we took a little day trip about two hours south to Sardinia, Ohio.

The rooms were filled with gorgeous old equipment. It was like a step back in time.

The picker is from the 1880s, and the carding machines are from around 1916. The belts are made from buffalo hide! When they need parts, they ask the local Amish to make them, because everything on these machines is irreplaceable. I know they look like antiques, and they are, but Richard, the gentleman who gave us the tour, fired one up for us!

Here is the web, which is divided into what looks like yarn, but is actually tiny rovings, which are then plied.

This yarn is 3ply, as you can see if you look carefully. The machine is from post WWII, and was also used for plying parachute cord for the Vietnam War.

After plying, it can be wound onto cones. This machine is from the 1960s.

The yarn can also be put up into hanks. They don’t have a date on this machine, but Richard thinks it may be from the 18th century!

Here he is telling us how it works.

So we left my fleece and in 8-12 weeks I will have some nice clean batts ready to spin! I don’t have enough fiber for a yarn order. And, unfortunately, I sold my spinning wheel during the great studio purge. I am thinking about getting a new drop spindle. I was never very good at it, and it might be time to pick it up again. (Honestly, I was never very good at the spinning wheel, either, but I did make some beautiful thick and thin yarn.)

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Here is Diane, the owner and a local sheep farmer, with two hanks of yarn from her own Icelandic sheep. I bought these two, and they might be perfect to make the new West Highland Way design! Talk about synchronicity! I will swatch it and see how it knits up. Now I wish I had bought another hank, but I could order it and ask them to pop it in the mail to me.

We had such a wonderful time, and want to thank Richard, Diane, Sean, and Renicia for showing us around and starting up machines for us. I particularly enjoyed Sean showing us all the different kinds of fiber people asked them to process, like husky, cat, and elk!

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After the tour, Bob and I had a nice lunch at La Cascada and a little hike at Rocky Fork State Park, which was beautiful.

I hope you have a nice Valentine’s Day, if you celebrate! If not, Happy Wednesday!

Art is a Bitch

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Bob and I went to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the Wexner yesterday. Cindy Sherman was my favorite artist in college. I was a photographer (degree is BA in Visual Arts Studio, Emphasis Photography) so of course she was a huge influence on me. Seeing the Film Stills in person made me feel nostalgic, but I enjoyed being introduced to her new work as we moved through the exhibit. She is still one of my favorite artists.

I wondered if her work had influenced any of my fiber art. Then I thought of this piece.

The Watcher

This is “Watcher,” and as you can see, she is basically a vulva. I think this piece shows Cindy Sherman’s influence, but also my own experience as a woman. It’s funny that I called her “Watcher,” don’t you think? Shouldn’t she be the one who is being looked at? But she’s looking back. She’s also cornered by her sex, and other than her defensive gaze, she is helpless.

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I haven’t completely given up on art making. I started this piece about a year ago, when another artist who collected my work said to me, “You are one of my favorite artists. You have to keep making art!” He actually gave me this copper plumber’s wire, so I was making this piece for him as a way to try to get inspired to keep making art. I am going to refocus on it, and spend a little time with it today.

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In the spirit of trying something new during the 12 days, I tried crocheting wire in the round – basically a crocheted i-cord. When I knit i-cord with wire, the join is never as tight and consistent as I want it to be. I thought if I crocheted it, I might be able to make a more fluid join. As you can see, I struggled reading the stitches and maintaining any kind of consistency. I ended up with a tiny bird’s nest, gave up, and let the cat play with it.

It did remind me, though, how difficult it is with wire knitting (and crochet too, I guess) during the early stages of the project. It’s like being a pioneer, or cutting your way through the jungle with a machete. You have to keep doing what you started, and keep going, until the fabric starts to form itself. If you give up too early, you end up with a tiny mess, wad it up, and throw it across the room! (Maybe that’s just me.)

I haven’t made any art since 2014 because I felt like I didn’t have anything to say, and I stopped participating in group shows with deadlines — which was, at the time, the only way I could get motivated to make anything. But we watched a video about Cindy Sherman before we went to the exhibit, and it showed her process. She doesn’t start out with something to say. She experiments and eventually the work comes out, which is pretty much how my figurative knit works were created when I started experimenting with stainless silk thread. So maybe I need to keep experimenting?

Are you a process or product oriented knitter/artist? I think I may be both?