Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Video: Hand Stitching Leaves Together

I am in the middle of working on a leaf panel for my large Leaf Me Alone installation piece. My larger works take one to three years to finish so in this time there are a lot of posts about the process and progress rather than finished works. I wound the warp was wound years ago along with the smaller warps for Leaf Me Alone 12 and 3.  The weaving came off the loom last year but is still not completely finished, I'm picking away at its leaf panel, making leaves as I play in the studio or bead on the couch and on-the-go. I collect them and choose what needs to go where as the piece forms. In this video I talk about choosing what leaf goes on next and how I stitch it to the leaves that are already forming the larger panel. 

I've made another process video. I'm not a fan of making videos or hearing myself talk in them for that matter.  However, it's the way that social and marketing is going. I find that when I'm scrolling around on the internet or social media I often will stop on videos of things being made, even if I have no interest in the thing. They're mesmerizing, especially the sped up time-lapsed ones.  I'm working on posting more video of my processes to capture where I'm at now in this moment with my work and how I create. My moments change and I've found that my artwork will mean one thing to me when I'm making it, but give it 5 or 10 years and it has a new meaning for me. When I give presentations about my work, they are never the same. I am constantly changing; my feelings towards different works can change. 

I enjoy looking back on past posts now that I've been blogging for as long as I have.  I'm hoping I'll appreciate these videos more as time moves forward. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Long Answer to "What are you knitting?"

    One of the projects that I keep in my purse to keep my hands busy is knitting my thrums.  I've been tying the short pieces of rayon thread together and knitting them into strips for a few years now. I currently, finally, have a definite reason to be knitting them. I get asked all the time "what are you knitting? (or making)" and this one is hard to describe. Fabric. That's the short answer...and this is the long answer:

    Thrums are the leftover pieces of thread or yarn left on a loom when the weaving has been cut off. They pull off the bars they were tied on to easily so I just throw them in a bowl of them that I have started. I began keeping them because I think they're just so beautiful, these little knots of leftover hand dyed rayon, and decided I'd just make more fabric with them.

    They knit up with a far different texture than the weaving they helped produce. I don't knit anything fancy, just open and loose knit so it ends up being a very stretchy open-knit fabric. 

Past knitted strips

The video I posted is a time-lapse of tying thrums together during a zoom meeting, knitting and then using the dissolvable fabric to make the knit strips into leaves.  It's another one of my tedious processes which is the kind of process I enjoy. Below you can see the difference between a leaf with the woven fabric versus the knitted fabric. It's quite pleasing to have some more texture.

Woven Leaf on the Left, Knitted on the Right

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Knitting Project: My Little Secret Crop

I was talking to my friend Sarah and she mentioned this cute crop top pattern on Ravelry.  I looked up My Little Secret Crop by Jessie Maed Designs and loved how versatile the pattern is and how she encourages you to use stash yarn. As much as my initial thought was that I have no business wearing a crop top at my age, I decided to ignore that and try my hand at knitting this top. 

I have recently purchased a pair of Levis that are flared "ribcage" jeans which I would just describe as super high-waisted stove-pipes so they allow me to wear a crop top without any unsightly bulges sticking out. I've always loved the vintage 70's look and I think this top, the yarn choices and the pants all make it come together for me. 

I was so proud of myself, I sampled ahead of time and ended up using 3 strands of yarn at the same time to get the correct gauge. The rust colored yarn is a bit scratchy so it took me about a month of knitting in the evenings to finish this without rubbing my fingers raw. I haven't done a burn test on this yarn to see what the content is. I was a little worried that it would be too uncomfortable to wear at the end of the day, but as I used to say "fashion over function."  After washing it I've found that it is comfortable to wear and I love it! 

About this stash yarn. I met Sally through Reach's Not So Silent Night holiday fundraiser a few years back. She has some of my beadwork and I've done some repairs on antique bead pieces for her. She told me she had nice yarn from her mom's estate that she wanted me to have. Last year we finally had a good time to meet when she was in town for me to come pick it up.  I'm still sorting through it, much of it is a little thicker than what I use for my regular (double weave) weaving but I use anything and everything when I tapestry weave.  When I decided to make this crop top, I found this wonderful rust speckled yarn that may actually be from the 70's to use as the base of this top. It has the turquoise and pinks in it so using them as accent stripes made sense. The images of the various top combinations on Ravelry were inspiring and I definitely liked the striped ones over the tops with just one color.

2020 and 2021 is really the first time in my life I've spent a lot of time knitting other people's patterns. From the beginning of my knitting career in elementary school I always preferred to figure out how to make something on my own. Most things were very blocky because I didn't know how to do much. This past year I have been knitting more of other people's patterns and I'm finding it more relaxing (it's all figured out for me), and I'm learning a lot more. The straps to this top are double knit, which has recently come up as a thing I thought I should learn. It's double knit on a small scale but with the pattern showing me how to do so it was a quicker learning process and now I'm letting it roll around in my head as to how else I could use this (and how can I knit it like I do double weave pick up). I also learned how to do a three needle bind off. Mind. Blown. Which I actually needed to do for my next knitted top's bottom hem. It looks lovely and no stitching anything together afterwards. 

I've already worn this top twice and I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be making more of these.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Cat Collars

I've toyed with the idea of making collars for the cats for a while. We have discussed at length how much Clark loves watching Bryan play Mario on the TV and how we should find him a Mario collar. Well, JoAnn's finally had some Mario fabric that we liked and I ordered break-away buckles and D rings for the project off of Amazon.

I didn't feel like getting too fancy, I just folded, pressed and stitched once seam.  Clark gets Mario/Luigi fabric.

I used the orange Star Wars themed fabric for Morgan's collar. (The cats did not want to model for photos)

And I used purple leopard print for Lois.  The break-away collars do work, Morgan managed to get attached to something at some point and tear his off. these seem to hold up as far as staying nicer looking on them. Collars usually get all fuzzy from the claws scratching on them, but the cotton fabric is holding up well. 

I haven't been blogging as much, work has been busy and I've been sinking into my knitting when I'm at home, or preparing for spring yard work and projects (I ordered windows to install in my garage! Woo!). I have 2 seminars coming up with the Michigan League of Handweavers Virtual Conference in May which I need to update and flush out those presentations/workshops. I'm getting the hang of this Zoom presentation thing, I was the Speaker for the Weaver's Guild of Kalamazoo's April meeting and had a little demo to go with it.  I'm finding that while we are doing these Zoom meetings I should take advantage of presenting from my studio by showing off the processes I'm using at the moment.  It's something that I rarely get to show or share live on these larger works, and I can talk and stitch or weave while answering questions or describing what I'm doing.  I think and hope that Zoom presentations of this magnitude will continue even beyond when we start to meet in person again.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Preparing the Extra Fabric from Leaf Me Alone (large) to make more Leaves

 I am continuing to attempt to follow the social media trend of posting video. It's much easier these days with the smartphones becoming higher quality and basic editing tools (ok, just cropping for me if I'm editing anything). Most of what I have for video is process work, so above (and on my YouTube Channel) is almost 20 minutes of me getting ready, sewing and cutting handwoven fabric to prepare to make stitched leaves for the second panel on my large version of Leaf Me Alone.

In the video I also rattle on about where and what I've learned about sewing with handwovens. Mary Sue Fenner is still the instructor that I think I learned the most from in only a 3-day period for sewing and how to take care of my sewing machine (which I also talk about in the video).  

My next post will be the stitching of leaves! I am also preparing to present at the Weaver's Guild of Kalamazoo Zoom meeting on April 12, 2021. The meeting starts at 6:30 (you can contact them if you'd like to join, I can email you the info if needed) and I start presenting at 7pm. I will be talking about my work which combines the many fiber techniques that I blend together for my artwork. There will be a heavy focus on the St. Petersburg Chain Stitch since I will be teaching a workshop with them in June. I will also do a demo of me working on this leaf panel as part of my presentation.  I can answer questions as I describe what I'm doing/stitching.  One of the cool things about presenting on Zoom is showing my process up close and live while members can ask questions about what I'm doing.  It worked out really well for the Fiberside Chat that I did in February!

Monday, March 22, 2021

Two Tone Double Weave Look Beaded Bangle and Earrings


This bangle started out with the idea of checkers (which I'm so excited they are coming back in to fashion)...then different sizes of checkers. A I beaded the design it ended up moving into looking more like a double weave draft and, frankly, I was thinking of it as one would weave a plaid as I stitched and decided on colors.  

I'm not surprised that after the very involved Fancy Evil Eye bangle that I made last year that something a little more simple is what came to mind to make next. 

 This didn't come out looking at all like the checker pattern I had originally thought about when producing this design, but I'm very pleased with the final piece. I must be in a black/white/grey phase right now since that's what's on my loom at the moment too.  

 As I was beading this piece I kept extending it longer than the initial design. I decided to quit when it started to become cumbersome and too long to hold comfortably while I worked on it.  The bangle ended up being 2 5/8in long. The earrings are 2 1/2 inches long and 5/8 inches wide. I'll get them up on my shop sooner than later. *Edit, the Bangle is HERE and the earrings can be found HERE.*

 Now that spring is here I'm starting to get a little distracted...I plan on finishing our garage roof, planting and cleaning up gardens and continuing to add to the privacy fence of doors. I try to put in some sort of time beading, weaving, sewing every day...some days I'm better at it than others but I am getting much better at understanding that I can only do so much within each 24 hours that I have in a day. I still burn myself out sometimes, but I'm catching it before it happens more often.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Leaf Me Alone Art-Mask

 I was skiing last Monday for my last runs this season. I find that one of the most relaxing places to be is on a chairlift alone in the sun when Mt. Holly is just open and barely anyone is around.  I was listening to my music and thinking about what work I had finished to enter into the Small Expressions 2021. I didn't enter last year and consequently I missed the deadline by a day so I didn't enter this year either!

Still, this new piece struck me out of nowhere and I just had to make it.  I've been working on the Leaf Me Alone series which has begun to have even more meaning through this pandemic. I feel like wearing my masks 40+ hours a week should have a little bit of a "6-feet, back off, leave me alone" resonance.  Why...I should make a Leaf Me Alone Mask to go along with the series.

I wanted to use the original draft of the Leaf Me Alone weavings for the interior fabric. I knew exactly where the fabric that I could run through my printer was in my studio but I had never used it before.  I created a blue and green version of the pattern in Photoshop. While reading all the directions for the printable fabric in great detail, I printed it out while gritting my teeth and waiting for my printer to jamb up and screw up the fabric.  It didn't mess up at all, it printed out great!  

I thought i was done with my mask patterns but there I was stitching another mask lining together, with my newly printed fabric.  I wanted to make the words pop in the fabric, so I spent my free time during my lunch breaks and evenings embroidering the Leave Me Alone. I made sure it looked good from the opposite side also, I knew I'd want parts of it to show through the leaves.

I already had the beaded leaves made; I've been making a lot of them in preparation for the leaf panel on the large Leaf Me Alone panel. Making beaded leaves is really never-ending. I just had to create the fabric leaves to give it an even combination and lots of texture.  The stitched leaves go faster than the beaded leaves, but not by a while lot.  I went through my fabric scraps and all of the sheer fabric pieces that I found were part of the installation I did for River Terrace Church, "Hope Flows."

I had Sunday off and I thought that I'd get the leaves all stitched together and the piece finished that day. I pushed and stitched all day. I didn't realize that the exhibit entries due April 15 was actually April 14, midnight (this is why I usually send in work a week ahead so I don't screw up the deadlines).  I finished at 2am, slept for 5 hours, got up and took photos now that I had the daylight. My heart sank a little when I realized that the exhibit had closed already, but it'll be done for next year.  And I can send it in to other exhibits. 

Honestly if I had realized that i missed the deadline I may not have kept going so late and it may have gotten thrown into a bag to be finished later...which I then sometimes loose interest. I was very tired at work the next day but I'm glad it got done and it's good to know that I can still pull a late-nighter if I'm really inspired to do so. 

*Sidenote, this is not a protective mask, it's only one layer of printed cotton fabric and the top layer is open, sheers and beads.

Video: Hand Stitching Leaves Together

I am in the middle of working on a leaf panel for my large Leaf Me Alone installation piece. My larger works take one to three years to fin...