Journaling

There’s one more week of Journal It Out with Alisa Burke. I haven’t done all of the exercises yet but the ones I have done have been so fun. This week is all about RELEASE. There are a few things that I really like about this class.

  1. She emphasizes using what you have. You can do this in a inexpensive lined notebook and a pencil. No need to run out and buy a bunch of stuff.

  2. If feels so freeing. Like being a kid again. You are meant to pour it out onto the page and not judge it just like a kid would. Spill out feelings whatever they may be.

  3. Oh, and it feels good to do! I have been using my water soluble crayons for many of the exercises and I am really enjoying them. I’m going to pick up a few more colors. The Neocolor crayons are my favorite. They are thick and you can layer them and create more colors.

I know I will keep working in my journal once the class is over since it’s fun and doesn’t take much time. Although once I start something I like to keep going. I’m thinking of doing some things on cheap newsprint outside of a journal too just to see what happens.

Weaving

When I was in college we were required to take a couple of weaving classes. We learned on ones that were similar (maybe exactly) to these.

It was a lot of fun but I ended up focusing on the printed textile rather than woven.

I bought this tiny loom a couple of years ago as weaving came back into popularity with such artists as Maryann Moodie. I started a little something at that time but the instruction booklet wasn’t very helpful to me so I put it away and never touched it again until recently.

I had long admired Ellie Beck’s weavings and she is running a sale on her online classes right now so I decided to try it again and signed up for her weaving course. I’ve been adding little bits to my weaving every day and enjoying it so much. I’m already thinking about about using a dark warp for a different look.

Another amazing artist named Shelia Hicks makes woven sketches that she calls minimes (French for minimal). She has been creating them on the same small loom for over 50 years! Here’s an interesting article about her from a few years back.

I’m not that fond of the fringe that Ellie taught and I’m thinking I will trim it down when I’m done. I will then consider how I will hang it and start another.

Tea Dyeing

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I recently crocheted this scarf using Coboo yarn from Lion Brand. It’s a cotton/rayon yarn and it can split a bit. The color was a bit baby pink and while pretty not what I wanted to wear around my neck. I knew as I was working on it that would most likely dye it to be a duller shade of pink. I decide to play with different teas to see what I would get.

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You don’t need to mordant your yarn when dyeing with tea as there are tannins in the tea that work as a mordant.

I tried red tea, buttemint, strawberrry kiwi, green and black coffee. I brewed the tea with the recommended brewing time and soaked each sample anywhere from 2-10 minutes. It was a fun experiment.

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I ended up doing a mix of black coffee and the strawberry kiwi tea. I soaked the yarn for 10 minutes. I rinsed it and dried it and comparing it to my samples it looks close to the green tea. I absolutely love the shade it is now. It’s softer and duller. Just what I was hoping for. I was a little nervous about dyeing a finished object but I knew if it didn’t work out I could always change it again. I’m thinking of dyeing some cotton fabric like this to try some embroidery. I also still have lots of marigolds that need to be picked that I could use to dye fabric.

P.S. The photo at the top I took this month during my nightly walk with my husband and dog. I just love the colors and want to paint it. Yes, I do still do that even though the past few posts have been fiber related. :)

Sweaters

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When I started knitting just over six years ago the thought of knitting a sweater was very intimidating.

As a new knitter it seemed that was something only very experienced knitters did along with socks. I’ve since gone on to knit 3 adult sized sweaters and many pairs of socks. I wear my socks all of the time but the sweaters not so much.

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The first sweater I knit was the Rosemont Cardigan by Hannah Fettig (purple one above). I used Lett Lopi yarn. It’s an inexpensive hardy wool from Iceland. I loved the color and the style of the cardigan. It looked so cozy.

I followed what was written in the book for picking a size based on my bust measurement after getting the correct gauge. I knit and knit away on it. It is knit top down in one piece and I did try it on as I went. It seemed to be going okay. Once I completed the body and sleeves ( which are another story) I picked up stitches for the shawl collar as instructed. I finished it and felt proud that it was done and fit. Not great though. I wear it around the house and maybe to walk the dog. For some reason the collar doesn’t lay right and since my arms are much shorter than the pattern indicates for my size I had to increase the rate of decrease rounds. I’m not sure if that is what you should do or not. It seemed to work.

For my second sweater I decided to jump on the Fade Train and picked the So Faded sweater (middle one above) by Andrea Mowry. This sweater looks so cute on the designer and many of the people that knit it but not on me. It is a close fitting sweater and I had to learn that I just don’t like that fit on me. But again I wear it around the house.

The third sweater is Impossible to Resist. It was going to be great. I picked the same yarn and colors as the designer and knit all of the beautiful yoke and separated for the sleeves and tried it on. It fit but felt uncomfortable to me. I assumed the color work was making it fit tighter than I had hoped and decided to knit the larger size for the rest of the sweater. What I was left with was a sweater that is tighter on the top and that is looser fitting everywhere else. Ugh! The neck is also an issue. It doesn’t sit lower in the front which I hadn’t known while knitting it and just feels uncomfortable.

All three sweaters have issues. Maybe I was right to be intimidated. I think a few things happened.

  1. I really didn’t understand ease for a garment. I didn’t understand that I needed to measure many places on my body not just my bust AND that I needed to pick a size that allowed for a nice amount of ease for me.

  2. You can change things and you don’t need to blindly follow the pattern.

  3. Just because a garment looks great on the model and even other people doesn’t mean it will look that way on you.

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I didn’t give up. I’m on to my 4th sweater (pic above taken some time ago) called It Takes A Guild Cardigan. So far it fits just like I like. I’m onto the body with the sleeves on hold. The pattern really is more of a tutorial. The designer/teacher is a master hand knitter and she really helps you learn how to make the right sweater to fit your body the way you like. I started the sweater a year ago and it seems to be going very slowly when I do work on it but I think it will be the first sweater that I really like how it fits. I’m hopeful. I think I will even do the pockets!

Botanical Dyeing

On my list of things to do has been natural dyeing. I’ve done it before a couple of years ago. Once with avocado pits, which produced a very dusty pink/tan which I then ended up over-dyeing a few times. I also tried a few different dyes that I created by placing plants in jars with water and leaving them out in the sun to extract the dye. It was fun to experiment.

This time I decided to try marigolds.

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I will admit I felt a little bad about picking them for the purpose of creating dye. I had read a post on Flora+Fiber that explained the steps for dyeing with marigolds. When I weighed the marigolds I realized I didn’t have enough to make dye for the 50 g skein of wool I was planning to dye. I think this was about 3 grams.

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So I put them on a platter and stuck them in the basement to dry. I had more marigolds that were going to bloom shortly and I knew I would most likely have enough at that point to make the dye.

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They sat and dried for a week or so. Then a day came that the weather was just gorgeous and I had nothing else going on so I decided to go out and snip more flowers and add them to the dried flowers and make the dye. I didn’t weigh the fresh flowers. I guessing they were also around 3 grams since they fit in the same container as the first time. Honestly I was just excited to dye the yarn and approach it with a sense of play. What could go wrong? if it did go terribly then I could always dye it again.

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The wool I had on hand was Patons Kroy yarn in Natural. I only had one skein of it and I had to wind it into a hank on my DIY niddy noddy that my husband made from an old changing table that used to belong to my sister and that we used for our kids!

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You have to soak and mordant the yarn before dyeing. I read that you should use alum or soy while natural dyeing instead of acid while using synthetic dyes. I don’t think I used any mordant when I did previous natural dyeing. A mordant is used to help the dye attach to the yarn. I used 2 TBS of alum while soaking the yarn. I just randomly chose that amount which may or may not of been smart.

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While the yarn was soaking I added water to the pan and placed it on the stove to heat it. The color started coming out of the flowers and stems pretty quickly. I brought it to a boil and then simmered it for maybe 30 minutes. I turned it off and let it cool until it was just warm. Normally I would let it cool all the way but I was not patient. I skimmed out all of the flowers but there was definitely still plant matter in the dye. I should of strained the dye but I knew that the stuff would come out while rinsing the yarn so I didn’t worry too much about it. I added the yarn and again brought it to a simmer. I only let it simmer for maybe 10 minutes and then shut it off and let it cool down a bit. The dye bath didn’t exhaust which I think is common when natural dyeing. I took the yarn out and hung it outside to cool down more. Once the yarn cooled off I rinsed. It took about 6 or 7 rinses for the water to be clear. I’m not sure if that is just the nature of marigold dye or I needed to use more alum to affix it to the yarn. It still came out a beautiful yellow color and I plan to knit it up into shortie socks. I guess time will tell if the color will fade and if it does I’m okay with it.

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If you’re interested in learning more about botanical dyeing there’s tons of resources out there.

*I’ve borrowed this book from the library before. It’s beautiful and informative. The author also teaches a class on Creativebug.

*I haven’t read this book but I like how it looks in the previews.

*There’s also this one and this one which I really want to read.

Lovely Things

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It’s been awhile since I’ve done a ‘Lovely Things’ post and I have a few to tell you about.

*Knitting Nellie not only knits beautiful projects but she makes the nicest pieced project bags. She has a small shop and it seems it is hard to snag one of them but I’m hoping to get one soon.

*The Snuggles Project is an exclusive project of Hugs for Homeless Animals providing security blankets to shelter animals. I love doing something good with my crafting. I have one blanket just about done and will be making another one. My mom is also making a couple of blankets and we will donate them soon. I’m sure they have a place that will take your Snuggles if you’re interested.

*Have you ever wanted to create art just for the therapeutic benefits? I have and do. I signed up for a new class taught by Alisa Burke called Journal it Out. If you want to express what is going on inside of you through art it could be for you. Class starts on 9/23 and it is on sale at a very affordable price right now.

*Roots and Refuge Farm has a YouTube channel filled with awesome gardening advice like this one that teaches you how to grow salad greens in the winter.

*I’ve started listening to Tara Brach in the morning. It’s a gentle start to the day. I really enjoyed this one.

*This talk with Marie Forleo was great.

*Do you like homemade tomato sauce? I LOVE it and after watching her make it I feel like I could make my own. She has lots of good looking recipes to try too.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Process vs. Product

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Do you find yourself making things to get the finished product or are you more drawn to gathering your materials and inspiration and slowly working?

Of course there is no right or wrong way. I think I am somewhere leaning more to the process of creating instead of getting the finished item. Of course I want that finished something but I really enjoy the learning and experimenting that goes along with the process. If I’m going to knit something I really love looking for a pattern, deciding on a yarn and a color and sitting with it and letting the rhythm of the stitches work its magic.

This idea has been on my mind having just finished Mindful Thoughts for Makers by Ellie Beck. It’s a tiny but beautifully written book. From the book: “Process-led making is where we focus intently on the work in our hands, and the enjoyment comes from the physical act of making something, without forward thinking too much about what that ‘something’ might look like. “ It can hard to put aside our ideas of what we are making should look like. We can beat ourselves up if the painting didn’t turn out or the embroidery is a bit wonky. That of course can steal the enjoyment of making. She emphasizes making for makings sake. I think that is such a good way to approach making. It’s being kinder to ourselves and remembering the reason we are making something to begin with.

I hope that you take a minute to think about this the next time you start something. And please check out Ellie Beck and her sweet new book. It’s filled with lots of wisdom. I have a couple of her e-courses and she has a very lovely, soothing voice.

September

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Today began with clouds and a dark sky. My children were asleep and I knew in just a short time they would wake feeling excited and nervous for the start of the school year.

They were off without a hitch. The house is entirely too quiet and the dog and cat are keeping me company. Mostly in the way of begging for snacks and pets. :)

While I’m sad to say goodbye to summer I’m so excited for the fall. The cooler weather, leaves changing, cozy nights with my knitting and crochet and all the fall inspired food.

With the change of the calendar so many ideas are brewing in my head. Ideas for a sketchbook that is created around a particular color, carving stamps, exploring the acrylic inks that I recently purchased, finishing up my cardigan that I started nearly a year ago, deciding on a new sweater pattern (lots of cozy sweaters please), continuing to do the exercises for All Shapes and Sizes Watercolor workshop, embroidery and I’m sure there are a few things I’m forgetting.

I hope your month is off to good start with lots of time for creating!

I’ll be back soon to share some of my latest makes.

Rusty

I haven’t been here in some time and I feel a bit rusty. It took me a minute to remember how to post. Ha Ha. Yes, it’s true. Summer has been moving along at record speed. How’s your summer (or winter) going?

In just 3 weeks my children will be returning to school! The light is starting to shift again and you can sense that fall is coming.

Earlier this summer I started All Shapes and Sizes Watercolor Workshop with Misty Mawn. You can see some of the projects we’ve been working on above. Accordion books filled with shapes and making more books to fill. The books she teaches us to make are simple, no glue needed books. She always jam packs her courses with a lot of information. If you’re interested in learning different ways to work with watercolor I definitely recommend her course. I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve also been enjoying going outside every day and picking a small amount of our cherry tomatoes. The plants themselves aren’t doing well but the fruit is. I’m not sure what is going on with the plants. We went to the farm stand over the weekend and bought kirby cucumbers to make pickles (among tons of other veggies). They should be ready this weekend. I can’t wait.

About a week ago my copy of Find Your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon arrived. I was so excited to read it. She seems to know so many of the thoughts that run through my brain. I’ve also just finished this book. I think everyone should read it.

I have knitting and other fiber projects and dreams to share but I will save that for another post. I won’t be gone for so long this time.

See you soon.