Sunday, July 7, 2024

Weaving and Life Update

I'm close to the end of my "Yes And" weaving commission. I can see the end of the cartoon and the warp. I was on a roll weaving a little bit every day but life has thrown off my groove. By my tracking I'm weaving about every 4 or 5 days lately.  I've been to the doctor and the vet more in the past three and a half months than I ever have in my life. There's also change, joy and grief floating around our home.

I've had some medical stuff, most recently what I thought was a cold was bronchitis for like 2 months. I finally went in and my doctor got it under control (I'm so thankful we found one we like, who's helpful! and listens!)  I've always hated bugging anyone with something that will probably just go away on it's own, but this year is full of things that aren't that simple. 

On the happy end of things the universal cat distribution system moved a sweet black stray cat who's paws were torn up and bloody under our porch. He was immediately our outdoor lap cat and we started feeding him and named him. We spent much of our Seattle trip to see Madness worried about him (his paws getting infected, him having to fight the other strays) but we couldn't get an earlier vet appointment and we couldn't chance him bringing anything in the house and possibly getting our other 3 cats sick. Once he was clear to come in we kept him separated while we were at work or sleeping for a few days but it's been a pretty easy introduction into the family. Bruce is the only one who's dramatic, Morgan, Lois and Clark just look at him like "what's with all the hissing and growling."  They just thump him when he gets annoying or too aggressive. He's starting to chill out. 

On the heartbreaking end...Morgan was looking rough about 3 years ago, he's 21 this year and we found out back then that he has hyperthyroidism. So he bounced back with his pills, but then things took a turn a few weeks ago and we go an official diagnosis that he has lymphoma. He's not eating, not excited about treats, is a little wobbly on his back legs and losing weight quickly. I'm taking this harder than I thought I would and I'm realizing it's the first time in my life I've really had to deal with end of life choices for an animal I am close to. Danielle's death was abrupt and animal death on the hobby farm i grew up on was a little different. Morgan and Bryan have been together the whole time so half of Bryan's life he's had Morgan.  There's a lot of hanging out with Morgan and making sure he's still happy and comfortable. 

My anxiety about handouts and PowerPoints for my seminars at the Handweaver's Guild of America Convergence Conference has subsided as the time I have left with Morgan has taken priority.  I know what I want to talk about in my seminars, I think I have it organized in a way that makes sense, the handouts are simple and I'm printing them today. I can tweak PowerPoints on the flight to Wichita if need be, but those came together easier than I suspected they would once I got going.  So Morgan and I have watched all of Season 3 of Bridgerton together and are on to Queen Charlotte. He also enjoys laying on the cat cube in my studio while I weave so when I've had the mental space to do that, I make sure he knows that's what I'm up to. Our vet has assured us 21 is a good long life for a cat, but its still hard to watch him stop eating and laying around in odd areas. 

Lois and Clark are "helping" me pack for Convergence.  I'm looking forward to my yearly communing with my people. Teaching can feel like a lot (I don't know why, I'm fine when I get there) but being around so many creative in the fiber world is always invigorating and inspiring. Of course, when I have things I need to finish, inspiration to start new projects is extremely enticing. I have a lot in my head and on paper, I did start pinning up one idea...we'll see where that goes. 

pinning up an idea I've had for 10ish years...

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Jesse Maed's Outline Tank in Orange & Long Fringe Earrings

Art Installation on our walk to the Madness show!

We went to a metal concert on Valentine's Day at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit and there was a woman there wearing a long skirt with large checkers. I had to compliment and inquire where she got it. Shein of all places, which is known for inexpensive (like really really cheap) fast-fashion clothing. She actually had me feel the fabric to confirm it was nicer than one would expect, I agreed and, of course, I ordered it. I recall a long period of time where it was hard to find checker-anything and it's practically a staple "color" for me so I don't usually hesitate to grab something checker right now while it's back in style. 

I love the skirt (yes, it will probably pill, it's already fuzzing weird after one wear, fast fashion and all) I decided I want to wear it for the Madness concert we went to this month in Seattle. I needed to pick a top to go with it and nothing that I had or was shopping for was inspiring me. I had purchased 2 patterns from Jessie Maed Designs in February so I decided it was time to knit one of those tops. The Outline Tank called to me and I went on the hunt for a really bright saturated color yarn. Of course there was nothing in my stash that fit the bill so I went over to Woven Art to hunt something down. 

I wanted a cotton/linen blend but everything was in neutral or pastels, in the sale area there was a lovely orange Manos Del Uruguay Alegria, a merino superwash and polyamide blend which I was worried would be too heavy for a drapey tank top, but I knit up a sample swatch, washed it and really liked how it turned out. (I also bought and knit up a sample of the Mojave cotton blend but what I thought was maybe a grapefruit color was much more pink when it knitted up than I liked). 

I had a month to knit this top. So I got started, it only took me 2 weeks, including a few tear-outs. I can thank our day at Pinball at the Zoo' for helping move this knitting along. Bryan drove (knitting time) and I was on the easy part of stockinette stitch so I got about 2.5 inches done between the drive and knitting while waiting for my turn on the machines. I also ended up hand-winding the second skein of this yarn on the drive there since it kept getting tangled on my swift. Thank you to Gotham Knits on Instagram for normalizing hand-winding a yarn ball for me! I really love the soft light weight of this top and yarn. The only issue is that the "outline" detailing isn't showing much in the straps and neck. The yarn is a little too squishy, next time I knit this I'll use a more structured yarn.

I was going to do a separate post for the earrings that I made, but they belong with this top. Even without the skirt finishing off the look....

I don't usually like to bead fringe. I pull too tight and it gets all kinked up, then when I loosen it, it seems to gap and have thread showing at the top between the bottom of the stitched base and the top of where the fringe starts, gravity taking its toll on the spacing. This is why I prefer to stitch beads into each other one and a time, tight and controlled. Not OCD at all....

(lighting is weird in this photo)

These actually turned out. 30 years of beading made me think through what would work best for my particular beading issues. A thinner thread makes me bead looser (it snaps when I pull too tight), I don't back through the fringe, I thread the fringe gently. I'm really proud of myself at how well these turned out, I kinda expected the same too-tight fringe disappointment but here we are with a successful pair. For a moment I thought, maybe I should start making fringe-earrings. They're really fun. Then I remembered how much I hate bead-stringing and I only do it when necessary. I'm not interested in getting into the habit of making these to sell, so fringe will come when it's needed for another outfit. 

I've gotten a lot of complements wearing the earrings and top together and separate. The Madness concert was awesome and I was glad to have a bright ska-outfit for it :)

Friday, April 26, 2024

Neon with Muted Greens and Tan Jewelry Multi Loop Checker Earrings and Bangle

Between perusing Pinterest for current color ideas and watching the movie Poor Things I had the urge to play more with the neon green-yellow beads I have stocked up. The colors of, everything, in Poor Things from the costuming to the entire set and spaces was a feast of color combinations I wouldn't normally think of. I'm attracted to the color but sometimes struggle to use specific colors in a meaningful way. I like the neons but they're just...SO bright and that's not normally "me". Then I started seeing it blended with muted tans, browns and the sorts of greens that I know I can work with. 

I was in and out of consciousness with a cold at the beginning of April and these colors called to me when I couldn't get back to sleep in the early mornings. While I was stuck in bed and on the couch for 2 days straight trying to get over being sick I decided to bead in my waking moments starting with the Multi Loop Checker Earrings. These earrings reminded me that I had made the Two-Toned Double Weave Bangle which sold much too quickly. So I pulled out that pattern draft as a base idea with this collection of colors.  

I started the bangle with the same colors as the earrings but I had also pulled a very dark matte green bead too.  As I was beading I wasn't sure I was going to add it on and then it just..happened. I need the dark I guess, even if it's just a little bit of pop. It looks black in these photos against all the other lighter colors but I promise, it's green.  

I've worn the earrings to work a few times and gotten compliments, I plan on wearing this set to Cathryn Amidei's gallery reception tonight night at WSG Gallery with the neon boatneck bat wing lace top that I knitted last summer. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

Pantone Color of 2024: Peach Fuzz Bracelet and Huggie Earrings

I usually like to do something with the Pantone Color of the year when it comes out, this year is Peach Fuzz, which doesn't feel very exciting for me but I like how it's being paired with lavender so I decided to try it out on some jewelry. 

I made these a couple of months ago and just couldn't get back into the colors. When I think of pastels along side my artwork it just doesn't fit and they tend to end up in my jewelry stock for a long time. When the artist is uninspired, it tends to show. So I stopped after this bracelet and earrings. Maybe something else will come to me, but my bead palette seems to have already moved on from these colors. (See: Golden Boundary Bangle) Oh well, I tried. 

The last 2 years' colors were much more fun for me, 2023 was Viva Magenta and 2022 was Very Peri

I will admit that taking the photos and editing them for this post is making me like this set a bit more. I'll also blame the season changing. It's finally starting to get green and bright, I'm noticing more people wearing these colors in particular as the sunshine begins to promise us summer. Maybe, just maybe I'll try again if these colors call again.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Yes, And weaving update; Half Way

I am just about to the half way point on "Yes, And" which is in the the yellow weft, the brightest color in the middle of 9 different colors, against the black of this weaving. I was able to start weaving this at the beginning of March (I warped the loom and dyed additional rayon in February while waiting for final approval of the size/design). I wasn't sure how long this would take me to weave as I've never had a commission for this kind of piece before (and keeping track of timing can be a pain, so I don't do it on my personal pieces). Commissions take the front seat ahead of most personal projects because I don't like the feeling of someone waiting on me, so I've been weaving at least a half hour nearly every day, up to 5 hours some days. I am now remembering how I finished 3 pieces per semester in college, I wove a lot, I slept when I could and worked more. I have better balance these days. 

I originally quoted about a year to finish this piece but I think if I keep working along this steadily it'll be more like 2-3 more months. That being said, as it warms up I tend to want to start putzing around our gardens in the mornings instead of weaving.  Maybe I'll just start getting up earlier with the birds, that being said, this weather change kicked my butt and I've been too sick to do much but sleep the past 3 days, along with a medical thing I had to deal with last week I'm feeling a bit behind over these past 2 weeks. I haven't promised anything yet, but I'm sure I'll get it done before the projected dates on the agreement in the fall, I just need to see what my weaving pace is once it warms up. 

Hyperlapse x10 of 1 full circuit of the treadling

So far I have 60 hours of winding, warping and weaving on this final piece and about 30 hours of dyeing (I didn't do a great job of tracking that because some of it is just preparing a dye bucket and throwing the skein(s) in to soak for the day) and 8 hours into the design work (that's after I taught myself what I needed to know to work in Inkscape). These numbers do not include the time for the samples I wove to make sure the design was going to all work out. 

I'm really excited to see this piece in full, as I move from color to color I get to see glimpses, but my color sketch and samples are the best I have to go off of to envision the final piece. It's part of what's exciting about weaving, the work has a baseline but you never quite know what the final piece will look like until it's off the loom and up on a wall.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Golden Boundary Bangle [nope.]

It's interesting, a couple weeks ago at the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild meeting I was asked if I was still making jewelry and the short answer is "not really." Then as I was driving home from the meeting I had an idea that spiraled into like 3 different pieces. A large weaving, small weavings and this bangle, which, I think may become a series of bangles. I've been reading, journaling and talking a lot about boundaries and staying away from people who are dramatic, chaotic, demanding and needy.

There was a point in my life where I didn't know what boundaries were and I felt like I had no control over who was at my house or in my business, it seemed like there were always people over, I was having to stop what I wanted to do with my time to entertain. I was miserable and I hated my life. I tried to be social and a good hostess but I couldn't wait until I had the place to myself to be creative and work on my artwork alone. 

I finally have that, I never thought I could have that calm unless I lived alone, but Bryan is so good at giving me the space I need and would never have anyone over without asking me if it's ok, and visa versa, we do not force socializing on each other and it is glorious. For the first time I feel safe at home and like my time and space is safe from being taken up and taken over by anyone else. It turns out I was just faking being social and now that I'm cozy I can be the introvert that I was always meant to be. Being pushed into an uncomfortable situation? nope. Someone trying to pop over to my house without advance plans? nope. Being guilted into doing something I've already declined? nope. 

I know I'm not alone, and I've already been asked if this bangle is for sale. This specific one is not since it had a 24K gold seed bead in it that I can't find anywhere anymore, and I have plans to exhibit it. I am happy to make it again, and in different colors. Give me some time and I think there will be more options with other fonts and styles, because boundaries are important. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Yes, And: Second Sample and Checker Colors

Before I got going on the full-sized weaving for "Yes, And" I tried a second sample warp with a little bit of color in the black warp. I was curious as to how it might read. I didn't want to be weaving that idea later and think "oh man, this would have been great in Stacey's weaving." I got 6 inches of it done before my meeting with the church to take as a sample to pass around. 

Ultimately I think the color in the black warp is a little too distracting.  The color portions came out as dotted lines in the twill weave structure and I feel like it takes away from the design overall. I am glad I tried it out just to see what it did and so I could confirm that it wouldn't work how I wanted it to with curving text. 

Now this...

I had warp left over to just play and weave fabric. I decided to see how I might want the color to move in and out of each other for the final commission piece.  To keep things simple, a little quicker and not mess with another paper cartoon I went with my favorite pattern: checkers. I really love how this fabric turned out and it confirmed that the way I want to move the colors through the 48 inch long weaving; bright to dark to bright again...I don't want it to look like a rainbow but I still really want to use as many colors as I think will look good without being stripey feeling.   

With the checker pattern I don't feel like the dotted lines of color in the the black warp are as distracting. I suspect its because because the design is straight lines so the dotted lines of colors just sort of fit in. I really love this fabric and I'm torn between finishing it to make it into a little wall hanging or washing it to use as part of a clothing accent piece. One of the things I enjoy about being a fiber artist is I sometimes get to wear my work. 

I had created a smaller checker sample at the end of the warp for "Playing with Fire" so I could see how it washed up. I usually don't wash this fabric as it ends up as wall-hangings so, even though I know weaving has shrinkage, it definitely shrank more than I realized it would. 1 1/8 inches to be exact. The twill allows the fabric to get a little squishy with some stretch.  It washed up really nice though, which is what I was hoping for.

Weaving and Life Update

I'm close to the end of my "Yes And" weaving commission. I can see the end of the cartoon and the warp. I was on a roll weavin...