Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Dolman Sweater

This sweater began with an award from a Michigan League of Handweavers Fiber Art Exhibit during the last Conference. My award was a gift certificate from Threadbender Yarn Shop. I decided to peruse the selection they had at the vendor's market.  I kept eyeing this yellow and fuchsia yarn, I had no idea what I wanted to make with it, and usually it just ends up in my stash as some sort of accent yarn to use for tapestry or Theo Moorman inlay.  Rather than adding this yarn to my stash I obsessed over it. I looked through hundreds of Ravelry patterns and against better judgement I decided I couldn't find a pattern I liked so I'd make one up as I went along. I had the idea in mind and I have just enough knitting knowledge to be dangerous. 

I knit samples for the first time ever, just to check gauge and make sure my yarn blending was going to be about what I imagined in my head. I had decided to knit a dolman style sweater; I kept being attracted to this style at Talbots and figured the slow increase would be simple enough to make up as I knit.  I had been knitting a lot of socks at AA meetings and I thought it was time to make something larger for myself. As this piece grew I realized I needed more yarn, I picked some up at Woven Art to blend in, but as I got to the yellow top I started to panic.  Thankfully I found some left in a yarn shop that posted on Amazon.  I could have made this a little bit longer now that I'm looking at the finished piece but I was too nervous that I'd run out of the yarn again and I wanted the sleeves/cuffs to be a solid yellow. 

I thought for sure that I'd have to flip this piece inside out and stitch the side seams up for a better fit, but as it turns out it's the perfect comfy, slouchy weight that I wanted.  I knitted this sweater using 2 strands of Manos Del Uruguay lace weight yarn on a size 4 needle. I'm guessing it took me just over a year to finish, I kept putting it down to think it over, wait for yarn, or I just wasn't into knitting in the evenings. With this quarantine all I have wanted to do is knit and hand stitch.  There's something really soothing about knitting, it's good for the soul while the world spins outside.  Which I need because I spiked a fever yesterday, freaked out, had to call in to work and go get tested. So now I wait. I am hoping it's just a seasonal cold because from what I've read the symptoms of COVID are similar. Let's hope that's all it is. I'm very thankful that I love hunkering down and being home with Bryan and the kitties. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Off the loom: Leaf Me Alone (Full Sized) Update

I posted to my social media on Tuesday that I was becoming entranced with the beauty of simple plain weaving with hand-dyed threads as I wove off the last couple feet of the Leaf Me Alone (full size) warp.  Usually plain weave seems boring to me at this point but I think I was jsut happy to be back to my weaving since mask-making has taken over my year.  Even though I had no intention of getting on to the finishing portion of this piece, I still chose to cut it off the loom. Cutting a weaving off the loom to get a good full look at the final product tends to be a big deal.  Tuesday I cut it off, fixed a threading error from the warp so it won't happen if I decide to use it to tie the next warp to it and I threw it over the front beam, walked out the studio and closed the door.  I opened up the draft of the next design I'm working on and spent the remainder of the day working on that between chores. 

It wasn't until the evening that I really realized I hadn't taken a good look at the weaving I had just cut off and left. I had no clue why I was so lack-luster about getting to see the double weave and why I had started dreaming of things to make with the plain weave portion instead of staying focused on Leaf Me Alone.  It's this:  I've already woven this piece, smaller versions, but the same colors, same words.  I'm so bored with the colors! I think I need to leave this one lie for a bit before I can get back to it.  It will have a leaf panel with beaded and stitched pieces, so I'm working on that too, but here I am, completely over a piece before it's even done.  

In the meantime, I'm really really excited about this next piece, I finally have an idea of colors which I may be needing to dye for it (yay!).  It's going to be a similar look or feel to my other work but it's more for the times so I have to get it done before certain things, such as logos, become obsolete. The title of it came to me on an episode of Live From Here with Chris Thile, it's called "Is There A Thing To Which Brings Us Less Joy" More about that to come later. 

Until then, I'm finalizing the next design and the cats are stacking up around here. :)

Lois and Clark, 2 of our 3 kitties

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Zoom Workshop with David Owen Hastings

I'm so grateful and fortunate that as a member of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild the board has worked hard to move meetings to Zoom so we can meet virtually.  They have also teamed up with the Needlework and Textile Guild of Michigan to share meetings, speakers and workshops.  This month NTGM had David Owen Hastings as their speaker.  After seeing some of his pieces I made sure to take work off for his lecture.  I really appreciate seeing someone's creative process and hearing them speak before I take a workshop with them.  I actually try not to take workshops very often because I can easily get distracted from my own artwork goals. I decided I needed something to look forward to on the day one of his workshops was being offered.  I happened to have that day off and it was dreary and raining so I couldn't work on my garage roof.  I have also been asked if I am willing to teach workshops on Zoom and I wanted to see how a workshop which is usually "hands on" would work in this manner.

After Mary R. posted her paper collage pieces on the Ann Arbor Guild's Facebook Member Page I talked myself right into this workshop that they were having again the following week.  I've done some sewing with paper in the past and I've never gotten too hooked on paper projects so I figured this would be safe to play for a few hours and put it down.  The above piece is the first one I created.  I love that I didn't have to go get anything extra for this workshop, we used stuff I already had at home and David's materials prep list had alternates for things if you didn't have them on hand.  Like I used post-its to frame up the strips on the base paper but I'm probably going to pick up some painters tape at work for ease of this particular process.  The above piece was my first one and I might have gotten hooked immediately.  Next I just wanted to see what the paper strips looked like I ruled notepaper; I didn't like it as much as seen below.

For my third little piece I went back to the brown paper bag square as a base, it's just a nice subtle background with a hint of texture. This workshop gave me a little nudge out of my 2020 studio-box of mask making and some weaving.  I've also been knitting in the evenings instead of beading, but that's not in the studio.

I have to admit I struggled with the second half of the class.  The process of cutting and turning and flipping pieces of paper until they looked satisfactory felt more like I was trying to make a puzzle work that wasn't meant to be a puzzle.  I solved part of my issue with a purple sheer vellum and called it good.  I'm fairly pleased with how the below piece turned out, mostly because I like the color pallet.

I recall as I was spinning and moving these pieces of paper around to make a thing, anything, that I could quit and be happy with the first portion and go back to playing with the strips which were easy for me.  Instead I pressed on because workshops are about a little bit of fun challenge and learning new techniques. As with many of my pieces, I thought "well I'm not doing that again" but as I let the process of flipping pieces of text around in paper, the thought occured to me that I could do this with a single text in my own work.  I do a lot of layering words and fonts in my weavings, I love to give viewers hints of words, jumble them so that people start to see what they relate to in word pieces rather than wondering what I'm getting at.  This process that David taught us is definitely going to transfer into my work at some point.  Something I didn't really feel like doing at the time ends up being a big "ah ha!" days, weeks later.

I also have to point out my big sewing take-away from David.  He uses a 1-inch strip of fabric to start and end the thread as he sews pieces on his machine.  Holy moly, I can't believe I've never heard of this before.  With all of my mask sewing (and now paper) this is going to be a thread and tension saver.  I love getting those random tips and tricks that will change the way you do something (machine sew) for ease and comfort.  That is a good reminder of why I need to take more workshops, the best way to learn is from each other.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, Dressy Masks

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, photo credit Bryan Johnson

Mask making continues for me this year and this request was really fun to work on.  Diane has a wedding to go to in October and requested a dressy mask to go with the outfit she's wearing.  I sent her a few fabric and bead samples, she picked one, and then I ran with it. 

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, detail, photo credit Bryan Johnson

I initially had thought about keeping the design super simple and just beading the edging of the mask.  I've been wearing a mask for 40+ hours a week since March and realized that having glinting shiny beads right in front of the eyes was not going to be comfortable, plus the glasses she wears.  So I started sketching some other designs.  Diane's outfit has some uneven or angled hem lines so I decided to use that idea, still keeping the beadwork simple. 

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, photo credit Bryan Johnson

I am in love with how this mask turned out!  If I have someplace dressy to go, I'll be making myself one also.  We're really not going anywhere until all this calms down though, so I don't see me needing one for a while.  This may be a little much for working at Home Depot. Ha.

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, detail, photo credit Bryan Johnson

I had a difficult time narrowing down the photos that Bryan took so you get a few different angles.  Yes, I'm wearing a wig, it's so much easier than doing my hair and I wanted to add a fun twist on these photos anyway.  I got it together in the nick of time for the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild's online COVID Mask Exhibit too. 

Diane's Gunmetal Mask, detail, photo credit Bryan Johnson

This mask has a partner, Diane's husband requested a "vineyard theme" mask and I took to Spoonflower to find designs.  Even though I don't drink anymore I couldn't resist this print and her husband liked this best too: 

Paul's Satin Vineyard Mask

I purchased the vineyard fabric in satin and the fabric is just delicious. You can find this design and others in Bags29's shop on Spoonflower.  Check out the link HERE.

Paul's Satin Vineyard Mask and Diane's Gunmetal Mask

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Halloween and Side Sewing Projcts

Mask making has got me thinking about all sorts of sewing and stitching. I have a collection of clothing that I have wanted to practice darning on and just haven't gotten to.  In the evenings when I'm braindead and poking around on Pinterest I created a board for darning and visible mending. I decided to go with something I couldn't really mess up, black on black with black embroidery floss.  Not exactly "visible" mending, but mending a large hole all the same.

I had to hide this hoodie of Bryan's in my studio because he'd just keep wearing it with the gaping holes in the elbows.  He didn't like the idea of fabric elbow patches so I decided it was time to hand-weave in fresh thread to create fabric. It has a post-apocolyptic feel to it, which seems appropriate with this pandemic going on.  

(Bryan in hoodie, half-awake)

I have been leaning into little projects that pop up in my head that are just for me, the house, us.  Knitting and sewing seems like less "work" than when I'm art-working.  I think that I have really needed this slow down in lecture prep, stress to create new work, etc.  I'll get back to it, but fun little projects and re-roofing my garage work have been very meditative for me. 

As I have been purchasing fabric for masks I sometimes want to make something else.  Next was my lunch bag.

I wanted the lunch bag to fit the take-out containers we love to reuse from Noodles and Company. The handled paper sack I was using finally gave out, and it was just a bit too small for my lunch purposes.  I looked at lunch bags and coolers online but I didn't want anything that large or that stiff.  I took some measurements based on the container and created a bag with a stiff bottom (using the extra firm stabalizer between the fabric) and a floppy top so it can fit in the shallow shelves in the work refrigerator. 

And the third project, Halloween Pillows! 

Ok, I only have 1 done, but it was SO quick and easy. I vaguley remembered learning how to sew piping into a seam when I took costume class in college.  I mostly remembered it being painfully obvious how easy it is for that little bit of extra to class up a seam.  I referenced this tutorial: https://www.mybluprint.com/article/how-to-sew-piping-on-a-pillow  for the piping. 

And for the easy, no zipper, tuck-the-pillow-in-the-cover I followed this post: https://sawdustsisters.com/diy-pillow-cover/

I think I'll get the other pillow done tomorrow before I really get going on some dressy masks that I have been commissioned to make. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Fancy Evil Eye Bangle and Earrings

When I was designing with Evil Eyes in mind, I found so many variations that I couldn't stick to just one, so I drafted 2 different bangles to work with.  I started with the simpler design to see how I felt about this style jewelry.  I also was dragging my feet on picking out colors for this set, I decided to go with one of my defaults, purple.  This particular turquoise was calling to me, so I combined it with one of my favorite neutrals for a base and silver in the middle of the eye.

I'm very happy with how the bangle turned out.  It has the spiraling movement that I felt in a lot of the designs I was looking up. Positivity, Hope and Serenity flowing through my stitching.

The earring set(s) were inspired by all of the mismatched sets I've been seeing lately in the fashion world. I really like the mismatched looks, but I feel like they don't sell well.  

I'm still considering selling this set as 3 different earrings together (above).  It just feels like that's where I wanted this set to go in the first place.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Large Leaf Me Alone Weaving Update

So. Close. To. Done.... with the weaving portion at least. There's still hours of finish work to do once I have this off-loom. I'm weaving the reaminder of the header today.  I always make my warp about a yard longer than my pattern plans for.  I do this for 2 reasons, 1) in case I change my mind after I get a few inches in to the design of the weaving and I have plenty of room to re-start and 2) once the header is finished, I'll weave a mix of plain weave and the two fabrics in green or blue for the remainder of the warp.  The extra fabric I use to stitch leaves for the leaf panel on this piece.

I'm trying a new way of video recording for my YouTube channel, so here's this morning's video of me talking about finishing work, specifically the plans for this double weave pick up.  I hate the way I sound when I'm being recorded, but oh well, I just rattle on a bit here:

Dolman Sweater

This sweater began with an award from a Michigan League of Handweavers Fiber Art Exhibit during the last Conference. My award was a gift ce...