Monday, July 2, 2018

Second Quarter Fiber Challenge Reveal

It's hard to believe the second quarter of this year is done already!  This was the artwork used for the Second Quarter Fiber Art Challenge, a woodblock print by Japanese artist Imao Keinen (1845 - 1924).  You can read more about the challenge here.

This quarter, I decided to use the colors of the print as inspiration for my work.  I found yarn that was very close to the colors of the piece and knit an airy cowl, trying to capture the lightness of the print and of spring.

The yarn is Hand Maiden's Casbah Sock in the Peridot colorway.  It's perfect for a spring cowl, so soft with the cashmere that makes up part of it.  And the pattern is Mora Jewel by Virginia Sattler-Reimer.  This is a great pattern - it has enough stitch work in it to look nice while still being simple enough to not take all of one's concentration!

You can add your piece inspired by the print by clicking below.  There will be information to fill out that will link the photo to your blog, facebook post, instagram post, .... some place that you wrote about what you made.  If you don't have a spot to link to, contact me and I'll get your photo up on this blog.  

And if you're ready for the Third Quarter Fiber Art Challenge, see this post here.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, June 29, 2018

Third Quarter Fiber Art Challenge

Monday is reveal day for the Second Quarter Fiber Art Challenge!  I'm excited to show you what I decided to create and am hopeful I'll be able to see the projects of some readers!  If you want to review the Second Quarter Challenge, the post explaining it is here.  And if you want to know more about the Fiber Art Challenges, see this post here.

And if you want a head start on the Third Quarter Challenge, here it is!  I love walking in the woods around our house - I usually get out to them rain or shine every day.  In the winter, the woods are pretty much the same ... a little more mud some days, but unless there's been a snowfall, not too different.  Come spring and summer, however, it seems that there's something new leafing out or popping up each day!  This year has been wonderful for wildflowers and one of my favorites is currently blanketing whole areas.  Wild irises come in so many beautiful shades of purple!  I'd love to have big bouquets of them in the house, but have learned they die shortly after picking, even if they're put in water immediately.  So instead I take photos.  

This quarter's challenge is to create a piece of fiber art that is inspired by the wild irises like the one in the photo above.  You might be inspired by the flower itself, the colors of the photograph, or something that wild irises remind you of.  You'll have July through September to work on your project and then we'll all come back on Monday, October 1st to share our creations via an InLinkz button.  I hope you'll join me!  To get you started, here's a color palette I created from the photograph using Big Huge Labs.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Indigo Dyed Gradient Mini Skein Set

We have our share of drizzle June days here in the Pacific NW, but last weekend was gorgeous so I got out the indigo vat and did some dyeing that's been on my to-do list for quite awhile.  I love gradient knitting projects probably as much as I love indigo!  If you're new to dyeing with indigo, see my past post of how-to's here.

Polygonum tinctorium
Everytime I read up on indigo, I discover something about it I didn't know - this time I decided to learn more about Japan's indigo traditions.  I always thought that true indigo, or Indigofera tinctoria, was used in Japan, but actually it was another indigo bearing plant, Polygonum tinctorium.  Called ai in Japanese, it was being cultivated by the 6th century CE and was used for dyeing textiles for the noble class and samurai.  Indigo is antiseptic and undergarments dyed in it were worn by the samurai to help prevent wound infections and rashes.  Now, I tried to find out whether or not fabric dyed in indigo is actually antibacterial and had no luck!

Indigo dye and fermentation vats in Japan
By the Edo period (1600 - 1868 CE), indigo dye industries grew as silk was forbidden to the lower classes, leaving them with hemp and cotton fabrics.  These are harder to dye with natural dyes, but indigo takes to them beautifully.  

Creating indigo dye from the actual plants is something on my to-do list, but it's a very complicated and long process so I just used pre-reduced indigo crystals!  Jacquard's kit works very nicely.  I had 5 mini-skeins already wound from KnitPick's Bare Swish fingering and decided to make a gradient set of 5 indigo blues.  

I draped them over a short length of PVC pipe so I could easily slip each skein off at its proper time without having to bring the other skeins out of the vat.  I lowered the pipe into the vat and gently swished it around without making any bubbles - you don't want to introduce oxygen into the vat or you won't get those nice deep blues.  At the 1 minute mark, I took off the first skein and draped it on my rack.  At the 2 1/2 minute mark the second one came out, 4 minutes for the third, 5 1/2 minutes for the fourth, and 7 minutes for the fifth.  

Here you can see the green on the last skein out that hadn't oxidized to blue yet.

When they dried I decided the darkest color wasn't dark enough, so I redyed it for an additional 2 minutes.  And here are the finished skeins!  I think they're going to become a gradient shawl, but I'm not sure which one yet.

Now I have a vat of indigo dye, so I'm off to look for more textiles to turn various shades of blue.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Granny Squares

Ah, granny squares!  The base of some of the coolest and also the most hideous crochet out there!  Granny squares tend to be associated with the 1960's and 70's, but did you know they've been around since at least the 1800's?  I'm currently working on a granny square project - it's a different take on one.  You'll be seeing it, hopefully in not too long, but the instructions might as well be a puzzle so it's taking a bit to get through them!

Before I started my current project, I looked around for interesting ways to use granny squares.  Here are some of the stand outs:

I love this granny square bodice for a child's dress!  It looks so crisp in the off white color shown, but I can also see it with a bit of color.  The pattern is available as a free download here.

Robyn Chachula's Butler Street Cowl is a great modern interpretation of granny squares.  I'll be making this as soon as I find the right yarn!  

This shawl by Regina Weiss makes me think of summer, music festivals, and fun!  It looks like a great one to use up scraps and is free.

And finally, it's not exactly a granny square, but this granny stripe blanket has been on my list for quite some time.  I'm gathering leftover scrap yarns to make it - I probably should just crochet it as I have leftover yarn, but I have this idea of arranging the colors I end up with ... The download is free here.

And now it's back to deciphering crochet hieroglyphics!

Happy Creating!  Deborah