Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Spring Palette

I've been pondering the Second Quarter Fiber Art Challenge and thinking about the colors in the artwork, so I ran a color palette.

I love these colors - a bit of a subdued spring palette.  I do think the yellow and pink need to be added in, though.

With these colors in mind, I went looking for yarn and found some nice matches!

Tosh Merino Light is one of my favorite yarns - so soft and nice to work with.  The yarn above is the Scout colorway, ...

this one is Calligraphy,

and here is Dust Weaver.

Hand Maiden's Casbah Sock is very luxurious with its added cashmere.  This colorway is Laurel.

Also from Hand Maiden, Mini Maiden in Peridot.

Finally, from Northbound Knitting this is Matcha in Merino/Silk Fingering.  I've used this yarn several times and it's wonderful!

I ran my color palette on Big Huge Labs and the yarns photos are from Eat.Sleep.Knit.  Now, back to planning my challenge entry!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, April 9, 2018

Second Quarter Fiber Challenge

I had so much fun with my first quarter challenge that I'm ready for another one!  This time I've selected a woodblock print by Japanese artist Imao Keinen (1845 - 1924), from his album Birds and Flowers. 

Winter hung on a little longer than usual around here, so the plum blossoms and brightly colored bird look wonderful to me!  Our fruit trees are just beginning to bloom and the song birds are starting to return.  I love the delicate colors in this print, the richly textured tree bark, and the partly hidden bird that adds a lot of movement to the piece.

I'm not yet sure what I'll work on with this - maybe something inspired by the color palette, the blossoms, the bird, or simply the idea of spring itself.  I hope this print inspires you to join me!  Create a fiber art piece (knitting, crochet, embroidery, fabric design, weaving, sewing, quilting, .... ) and share it with us on this blog Monday, July 1st.  I have the InLinkz button down now, so this date should stand!  And I promise to be a better cheerleader this quarter!

I hope you join me!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, April 6, 2018

First Quarter Fiber Challenge Reveal

Alright - a little late, but here's the reveal to the First Quarter Fiber Challenge!  You can read in depth about the challenge here.

This is the photograph I chose as an inspiration.  We often have cold, foggy mornings in January and when the fog freezes out it covers everything in sparkling diamonds!  These are leftover Queen Anne's Lace blooms that were just as beautiful when I took this photo as they were in all their summer glory.

I had a hard time deciding which of my many ideas to make!  Finally, I decided on embroidery.  I pieced together denim and a scrap of curtain voile and then embroidered on top of that.  The plan here is to make a pillow with it, but that hasn't happened yet!

It's really hard to see in the photo, but I used sparkling thread for the little star shapes and then also ran it up the stems.  I went through dozens of tries to get how it really looks, but it just didn't work well!

Now if everything works right, you can add your piece inspired by the photograph 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.  

Tune in on Monday to see the next quarter's inspiration!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Black and White

After this month's black and white earrings challenge (read more about it here) and how much I usually like to work in vivid color, I've started looking at more black and white in my designs.  I guess it's like that black and white photo challenge that was circulating around Facebook last fall.  When looking at everyone's entries, I was noticed how light worked in these black and white photos more than in color.  Same with the contrast between values, more texture, the shapes and patterns .... I wasn't being distracted by focusing on all the colors.  With that in mind, I decided to look at black and white based fiber art and see if the same held true!

Artist Sheena Liam embroiders women using black thread and creating three-dimensional almost life like hair.  I've looked at these pieces over and over and am always fascinated with the movement in them - one almosts expects an arm to go up or the hair to swish.  I think part of the success of this is that without color, the hair itself becomes the focal point of the piece, we focus totally on it.  Go to her Instagram page here to see more amazing works.

In Steps of hope ... steps of loss, Neera Huckvale states she uses black and white to represent the polarization she sees today.  Having the figures in black with no competing color definitely brings them to the foreground of importance, with the lighter figures behind the black veil (I didn't even see them for awhile) fading into background.  Read about how she created the piece and why she chose a black and white color scheme here in a Study28 interview.

And finally, working in black and white and then adding in color is a wonderful way to call attention or bring importance to something.  This works perfectly in Linda Colsh's Red.  Linda works in stitched work layered with photographs and one of her favorite subjects is the unnoticed.  I love the texture and light play in this piece!  See more of her work and read about her process and her artist statement on her website here.

In a side note - if you're a regular reader of Artthreads, you may know that I'm starting a quarterly fiber art challenge.  The first one began in January and was supposed to end this week - however, I'm currently being challenged to get the link working that will allow others to post their work directly to the blog page.  And I'm time challenged at the moment to sit and fiddle with it!  So I'm planning on the reveal being next Friday, April 6th - keep your fingers crossed!  This also means that if you didn't know about or forgot about the challenge, you have time to come up with something and join me - read this blog post here explaining all about it.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Song of the Sea Knitted Cowl

I recently finished a fun knit for a Flash Knit Along with an on-line knitting group I belong to.  Song of the Sea Cowl has two versions - the longer one that loops twice and the snug version that is, well more snug.  I knit the snug version - it's not choking snug, but has a nice fit around the neck to keep those chilly spring breezes from going down my coat.  The pattern calls for fingering yarn, but after reading the feedback from people who started earlier than I did, I opted for DK weight (some discontinued Tosh Merino DK Opaline I had in my stash), which makes a bit tighter of a fabric.

When you buy the pattern, you get many versions!  I knitted from the English version 3a.  The original version began at the tiny waves, which many people felt was more difficult than ending with them.  I had no problem ending with them, so they might be right!  I also used the alternate border (the "mistake" rib) to avoid what some felt was a floppy edge - something I definitely don't like in cowls.

I have to say, this was really fun!  Watching the differing sizes of waves come together was fascinating and about the time I was tired of knitting one size, it was on to the next.  The pattern was easy to remember, making this a good knit for not having to devote my whole concentration to.

Right now I'm finishing up another knit along and then it's back to my Forest Wrap!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, March 26, 2018

SJ Designs March Challenge

Whoa - it's hard to believe that March is almost over!  It's time for the newest reveal from Sarajo Wentling's jewelry design challenge.  This month's inspiration was a photo of a window taken by her husband. 

Eric Wentling
It's funny how often two or more of the challenges I participate in have similar themes - this time a monochromatic color scheme.  Erin's was black and white (read about what I did here), this one browns and rusts.  You can read more about the photograph and see her beautiful take on this month's them on Sarajo's blog here.

Loving color as much as I do, I really thought this month's challenges would be too difficult for me to come up with something I really liked.  I was wrong!  I ended up making two pieces that I'll be wearing over and over!  The first is a necklace using one of the new butterfly pendants I've been working on.  I actually didn't glaze the butterfly to be a part of this month's jewelry, but when it came out of the kiln I knew I had to use it.

The metal is copper, black beads are glass, and the queen anne's lace ovals are by me. 

The second piece is a pair of earrings using black titanium earwires, copper, and star beads I made in January.

The butterflies should be in the shop with the next update, so far planned for this coming Friday.  There is one star bead left and two queen anne's lace ovals.  Also, all winter beads are 20% off - I will be holding any orders until Friday so if you want to order any of the new beads you'll only have one shipping fee charged.  And all winter beads will be gone by Friday!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Black and White Challenge

This month on Earrings Everyday, Erin Prais-Hintz's We're All Ears Challenge was to work in black and white and explore pattern and contrast.  You can read more about the challenge here.  I created earthenware beads from leaf stamps I made several years back.  By cutting them in various areas of the leaf, I ended up with patterns that have that foilage feel, but aren't necessarily identifiable as leaves.  I stained them with several layers of black and white, refired and then decided to use a honey/beeswax polish on them instead of a finishing glaze in matte or gloss.  For the earrings, I used black nichrome and copper with white glass beads and silver leaves.

I wasn't really sure I was going to like using only black and white - I pretty much live for color!  But I love how these turned out and will be wearing them alot.  I have four more of the beads up in the shop at  And you can see Erin's creations and those of others who joined the challenge here.

And while I was looking for other beads and findings to go with this month's challenge, look what I discovered!  I bought these crystals and shamrocks years and years ago intending to make St. Patrick's Day earrings but never did.  So now this very timely find is earrings all ready to go for tomorrow!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, March 9, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Colors of Our Forest

When I began thinking about making my Forest Wrap (see this post), I was inspired by the colors of our forest that surround me.  Even in late winter, there is still a rich palette!

It feels so good to knit with these colors that I can't believe I haven't done this before now!  I'm almost finished with Part 2, however I have to take a short break to work on a KAL that has a finish date approaching quickly.  Back to the forest soon!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Forest Wrap Part 1

Last Friday I wrote about being so inspired by Nakia's shawl in the new Black Panther movie.  Since then a lot of information has come out to help those who want to try reproducing it!  Jeff Gillies, the designer/knitter, very generously made a PDF of information on yarns and stitches used and the whole layout.  Jeff is a machine knitter so these don't translate exactly into hand knitting, but are a great start.  You can find the information here.  And he added explanations on the wrapped and reversed stitches on this forum here.

I started out desparately wanting that exact shawl!  Then, in searching for information on how to reproduce it, I found a Ravelry group started by Tracey Maniluwhua-Rivers - a very positive and inspiring woman who has been using the Black Panther Movie Inspired Shawl Designs group to encourage those interested to create their own shawl/wrap patterns that are meaningful to them personally.  I took a good, long look at the original shawl and realized it wasn't the stitches that drew me to it (although there are some I really like), it was the colors - greens, browns, forest colors.  Since I live in a forest and am surrounded by these colors every day, I decided to make my wrap a forest-inspired one.

So here's what I've come up with so far!  I started out with Malabrigo Arroyo in Crispas in a 10 x 5 wide rib and then decided to add eyelets to break up the ribbing a bit.  After casting on 150 stitches on size 6 needles, I worked in the straight ribbing for about 2.5 inches.  For the next row I worked an eyelet row as follows:  *knit 5, yarn over, knit two together, knit 3, purl 5* - repeat to the end of the row.  The next three rows were worked in straight ribbing, I repeated an eyelet row, then three straight ribbing rows, and a third eyelet row.  

Next, I worked about .75 inches of straight ribbing and worked a different eyelet row - knit 5, yo, knit2tog, knit 3, *purl 5, knit 10, knit 5, yo, knit2tog, knit 3*, repeat to the end of the row.  This gives you one eyelet every other knit 10 ribbing section.

After another .75 of straight ribbing, I worked another section of three eyelets to mirror the first section, and finished with about 2.5 inches of straight ribbing.

Now I'm working on adding in the next yarns, Shibui Knits Twig in Fjord and Madelinetosh Dandelion in Antique Lace held together.

I have to say this this wrap is soooooooo much fun!  Find your favorite colors, choose some favorite or brand new stitches and start on one!  And if you need inspiration, join the Black Panther Movie Inspired Shawl Designs group - there is some amazing work being done there.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, March 2, 2018

Friday Inspiration - The Mystery of Nakia's Shawl

I love a good mystery!  Putting together all the hints one's given and then trying to come up with who did it and how it was done!  Well, I'm not sure if you are aware of it, but there's a big mystery that's hit the on-line knitting community .... who made this shawl and how did they do it??

The shawl in question is the green/brown hued one worn by Lupita Nyong'o in the newly released Black Panther movie and probably ever since the first showing, everyone's been dying to make their own!  I haven't seen the movie yet (am anxiously awaiting digital release as I have an airborne allergy to corn so, yeah - movie theaters are a danger zone), but I probably would've been like many I've read about who saw that shawl and don't know what happened in the rest of the scene.  What is it about this shawl?  I think in part it's the gorgeous earthy colors and its almost home-spun look, but also the variety of knitting stitches - it just looks fun!

Years ago, I walked into the now gone Yarn Garden in Portland, Oregon and fell in love with a blanket on display up front.  I couldn't even look at anything else.  It was in wonderful shades of green, gold, and cream .... many types and weights of yarn, many different knit stitches.  It's probably that blanket that got me serious about learning to knit (well, that and I was working on my Master's Degree and in a fibers class that I had to learn to knit for).  I started working on one immediately.  Being a beginning knitter, I felt intimidated by anything other than garter stitch, so I just varied the types of yarn.  When our first grandson was born, I made him this blanket using that same technique and blogged about it here.

I have to say, these blankets were some of the projects I've had the most fun with!  It was addictive to see how the fabric changed with changes of yarn and I'd stay up way into the night to get to just "one more" new color.

So back to the mystery .....  After throwing myself fully into searching out clues and obsessively reading every Ravelry group talking about "the shawl" (the two best so far are a needlework news and events forum here and a group that is working on designs inspired by the movie and shawl but not copying it here), this is what I have.  1) it is a rectangular wrap  2) the designer used four yarns - one by Noro that's silk and wool, one by Malabrigo that's wool, and two by Madelinetosh, a wool/linen blend and a wool/ silk blend 3) there are no plans as of now to release the pattern 4) there are numerous photos and a few videos since the shawl is on display at the ArcLight Hollywood so people have been documenting it in detail - lots of photos on the needlework news and events site I linked to above.

I'm planning on making one, but I'm not feeling bound to make it exactly like the one in the movie.  However, I do really like the colors (they are really "me" colors) and most of the knitted stitches!  Here's what I have so far on my best guesses at the yarns - please read again that these are my best guesses and are undoubtedly not completely correct.

Noro yarn - this one seems pretty easy.  That second section up from the bottom just screams NORO!  I'm pretty sure it is color 359, but I'm undecided on whether to use Silk Garden or Silk Garden Sock.  I'm leaning toward the sock since I really liked how mixing up the yarn weights looked in the blankets I made.  Just a heads up - if you're thinking of doing this shawl and using this yarn, 359 has been discontinued in Silk Garden Sock.

Malabrigo yarn - this one was a little tougher.  It's hard to tell which of the yarn weights was used, but I think the section at the very top of Nakia's head might be Pocion.  The blue and rusty pink seems to match.  Now, if you've used Malabrigo before and gone back to get another skein to finish out a project, you already know the colorways vary from skein to skein - sometimes by a lot.  

Madelinetosh #1 - the wool/linen yarn is easy as Dandelion is their only yarn that fits the description.  It also knits up like the first section on the bottom of the photo.  Bad news - Dandelion was discontinued and is getting tough to find.  The way the fabric looks, I'm guessing this was done with two strands of dandelion held together - my best guess is Shire (or maybe Fir Wreath?) and Antique Lace.  

Madelinetosh #2 - my guess on colorway agrees with the current thought in the forums, Plaid Blanket.  Which yarn, though?  As far as I know, Pashmina is the only silk/wool blend (it also has cashmere) available in Plaid Blanket.

Update:  The designer of the original shawl released the colorways she/he used - I got two out of the four!  The Madelinetosh is Dandelion in Shire and Tosh Merino Light in Plaid Blanket, the Malabrigo is Mechita in Hojos, and the Noro is Silk Garden in color number 430.

There was also a chart of the stitches and color placement you can access here and here.  I'll blog more about this later!

2nd update:  I have more information about the shawl here in my next post!

So here are the yarns I've gathered so far:

Noro Silk Garden Sock in 359, Malabrigo Arroyo in Procion, and as a substitute for Shire in Madelinetosh Dandelion, Shibui Knits Twig in Fjord - it's stiffer in the hank but blooms after washing, and I gravitate more to the evergreen shades of green.  The rest of my plans are Madelinetosh Dandelion in Antique Lace and Pashmina in Plaid Blanket.  These all came from Eat.Sleep.Knit.

I'll keep you updated on how it goes and what stitches I decide on!  And if you love knitting or crochet, I highly recommend trying a shawl where you pick out the colors and stitches that you love.  Once I get going, I can help with dimensions and yarn amounts. 

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

SJ Designs February Challenge

Every month over at Sarajo Wentling's blog SJDesigns, her husband Eric gives her a photograph he took as a challenge in her jewelry making.  This month's turned out to be a perfect and needed pick-me-up!  At the beginning of February, we had snow drops blooming and daffodils starting to look like they were thinking about blooming.  Sarajo blogged about Eric's photo here and I thought how nice to just continue into spring with some new jewelry designs.  

Eric Wentling

After a mild winter, I was looking forward to planting the gardens and getting ready for warmer weather.  Ha.  Mother Nature had a different plan.  We got several snowstorms - in fact, we had two weeks of snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm!  Unusual for this area.  Today is the first day the snow is mostly gone, however .... and there always seems to be a however .... another round of snow is likely for tomorrow night into Friday morning.  I thought that just going with the flow and doing some winter themed beading might make it seem more like the beginning of winter - it didn't work.  So I put up Eric's photo and started looking through the spring and flower themed beads I've been working on.

First I put together this pair of earrings from ceramic yellow and peach daisy-like and leaf beads, green glass, and bone beads.  These remind me of sitting in daisy strewn grass putting together crowns with my granddaughter .... (insert big smile here).  Lately it seems niobium ear wires are the only ones that my ears can take for more than an hour or two - I used copper colored ones and copper headpins.

I actually had inspiration and time for another piece this month!  After coming in from inspecting the lavender (not even thinking about blooming yet), I made this lavender based bracelet from two sprig molded ceramic beads, a ceramic leaf bead, copper beads, fluorite, and some bluish-green jade rondelles I found in a box and don't even remember getting.  They're an unusual color so I'm glad the label telling me they're jade was still on the string!

After being so inspired by working this spring theme, I spent the rest of the morning creating some new flower beads!  The ceramic beads I used today are currently up in the shop at and the new beads will be out in a few weeks.

Be sure to stop by Sarajo's blog and see what everyone else created.  I'll give you a hint - you'll see a gorgeous marigold pendant!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Winter Beading

After a nice, mild winter, our area of the Pacific Northwest has been hit with real winter!  The past couple of weeks have us looking like New England in January .... and the promised warm up hasn't materialized yet.  

I've been working on a knitted shawl for the Rose City Yarn Crawl and planned on starting some nice warm colored spring projects, however the other way to go is to just give in to the weather and admit it is actually still winter!  So I went in search of winter beading projects that can be finished in a day or so.

This Winter Blue Bracelet looks like something the Snow Queen would wear!  I can just see it with a white ceramic snowflake clasp. This is the type of bracelet I always want to make for Christmas, but never have the time - maybe now!  There's a good YouTube tutorial for it here on the Lefthand Beading Channel.

This next one looks a little more challenging, but oh so elegant!  The tutorial is in Russian with a lot of clear step-by-step photos.  The instructions are here.

And finally, I found a wonderful tutorial on a beading technique I've always wanted to learn but have never been able to figure out the instructions for.  Ann Benson has a YouTube tutorial on crocheted beaded ropes here.  

I've admired many necklaces made with this technique!  And once you've gotten it down, there are some gorgeous winter themed necklaces.  I found patterns, but was very confused on how to read them - and then found Wendy Gratz's great post on how to read bead crochet patterns. And after I get some beads ordered (and if it quits snowing every day so they can be delivered!) I think I'm going to give this pattern a try (found at

Happy Creating!  Deborah