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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Learning to Knit Socks

Finally, after about eight years of knitting, I worked up enough courage to try knitting socks!  And like what happened with trying cables, it turned out to be a TON easier than I ever imagined.  I highly recommend Easy, Peasy Socks for First Timers by Stacey Trock.  Stacey has put together a wonderful step-by-step set of instructions that really is step-by-step - nothing's left out!  And it's a free pattern!  I just followed each step and became more and more amazed as a sock magically appeared.  I used Dream in Color's Classy Worsted in Flower Drum Song.

The pattern uses worsted weight, which makes for a bulkier sock that's more like a slipper, but the worsted weight makes it easy to see the stitches you work with.

Being flushed with success, I immediately cast on my second pair, this time in fingering yarn.  So ... I used Tin Can Knit's Rye pattern and mistakenly thought I remembered it calling for fingering yarn.  Nope.  No wonder I had to fiddle around with different sized needles to get gauge!  It turned out fine, though - I just got a looser knit sock which works well for summer wearing.  This pair is in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Super Sparkle and was made for my granddaughter.

Now my pattern queue is blowing up with all the new sock patterns I added!  And my yarn stash just may also be exploding with new skein-mates ....

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, June 8, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Drawing

There's one word that can cause beads of sweat to arise on some of the most creative people - draw!  I know that I often hear my 8th grade art teacher's voice telling me that if I'm not drawing representationally, I'm not drawing - and I did not have the skills at that time to draw representationally.  She was wrong!  I now love to draw - and even though I can draw fairly good representations of what I see, my favorite drawing is lines, doodles, cartoon type pictures, designs, ...

I'm currently taking an on-line drawing class given by Alisa Burke, Draw With Me, and having a blast with it!  This is not a how to draw class, but one designed to get you making different types of marks and become comfortable with drawing.  You can check it out on her website here.

Zentangles are a fun way to put pen to paper without the pressure of trying to have your drawings look realistic.  If you haven't heard of them, it's basically super doodling where you make sections on your page and then fill in each section with a different pattern.  CraftWhack has a good beginner's page that includes base forms to get you going.  And for inspiration, this super Zentangle from This Marvelous Facade is wonderful!

I recently started working on an art journal and am incorporating lots of doodles.  I love how light hearted and whimsical they look and they're great to draw in pen and then use colored pencils or water colors to color in.  Rachel at Planning Mindfully has some great tutorials on flower doodling - I've been using a lot of these lately as I get my gardens in shape and then journal about it.

These are just some of the sites that can get you started on "no pressure" drawing!  

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Lot of Knitting .....

I've been a little hit or miss (with emphasis on the miss!) lately - our seven month old puppy has been having a rough time with something as yet unidentified that makes him lethargic with no appetite.  Several vets have been working on it with not much found out about what is happening, but a lot on what is not happening - that's a good start!  He's doing a better currently - we've seen this happen and before we can breath a sigh of relief, he spirals down again.  Fingers crossed this time!

Anyway, for the last couple of months I've gotten a lot of mindless knitting in while we drive over the mountains to the vet or while he sleeps soundly in a corner of the kitchen.  So it's time for show and tell!

First, I can't believe it's taken me this long, but I finally knitted my first of socks!  For anyone wanting to try socks, but not sure if the stories about them being hard are true, I highly recommend Easy, Peasy, Socks for Firt-Timers by Stacey Trock.  She has wonderful instructions and tips that one just follows along with and suddenly there is a sock!  Still a little like magic to me.  The pattern uses worsted weight to make it easier to see the yarn the first time around, so they are a little thicker like boot socks or slippers.  These are in Dream in Color Classy Worsted in the Flower Drum Song colorway.

These filled me with so much confidence that I'm on my second pair of socks, using a finger weight this time.  I'll write about them later.

Next up, a hat from yarn I bought three years ago in June meaning to knit up a quick hat for fireworks watching on that July 4th.  First of all, our nights are still pretty cool in early July so yes, I do need a hat for that!  Then my plans went the way of many plans and got lost for awhile!  The yarn is Varied Bunting in Mrs. Crosby's Steamer Trunk.  And I used Lion Brand's generic hat making instructions which can be found here.

And finally, I finished up a Tin Can Knits KAL, making two Bumbles in Dream in Color Everlasting DK Tranquil, a pair of World's Simplest Mittens in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Oompa Loompa, and a Snap Hat in Oompa Loompa, Golden Ticket, and Slugworth.

The World's Simplest Mittens really are!  I'm almost looking forward to next winter so I can wear them - almost!  And they go great with waffles ..... 

And Snap is now officially one of my favorite hats - you use any number of colors in fingering yarn and hold them together, switching them out so you get a fade look.  I have several more planned!

So, I'm off to knit more on socks!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Art Elements Challenge: Tidepools

Living near the Oregon coast, I get to have many strolls along the beach!  In fact, looking for treasures in the sand is one of my favorite things to do - irridescent mussle shells, agates, the occasional rare shell, photos of the tidepools, all make their way home with me.  One of my favorite sets of tidepools is at Cannon Beach - I highly recommend a trip there at low tide!

I've been experimenting with using glass in my ceramic pendants and last summer made several of these "forest pools."  

So when this month's challenge was announced, I knew I had to try using this technique to make little portable tidepools!  Here's what I've come up with so far:

These two are currently up in my store ( with more to come!

Check out the inspiration post at Art Elements here and be sure to take a look at how others who participated were inspired:

AE Team Members:

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Cyanotype Fabric Printing

Printing on fabric treated with cyanotype chemicals has always fascinated me - I've dabbled in it a bit, but never really explored it more than that.  With all the plant life returning, I'm getting several ideas using cyanotype printing - hopefully I'll have something to show you in a week or two!

So what is it?  Cyanotype is coating a surface with certain chemicals that when exposed to light make a blue-tinted photographic image.  It's been around a long, long time .... British scientist Sir John Herschel invented the process in 1842 and it was one of the main photographic processes used until the early 1900's when black and white photographic prints became more popular.

British artist Anna Atkins was one of the early users of cyanotype, creating this piece between 1851 and 1854.

You can paint the cyanotype chemicals on a wide range of objects - paper and fabric are mainly used.  I'm especially interested in using the process with fabric!  I've shown this piece of Lotta Helleberg's before, cyanotype fabric pieces put together into a quilt.  This is something along the line of what I'm thinking of working on - I just need to do a little more research into how this type of piece could be laundered.

Entanglement, cyanotype appliqued onto linen and hand stitched, 2016.

detail of the above work

See more of Lotta's work here.

Lynette Miller is an artist who works in several mediums, cyanotype being one.  I love the way light works in this print of hers made with old bottles:

And these are fun gift tags:

See more of her work on her blog here.

Arizona artist Annie Lopez uses the cyanotype prints she makes to create clothing sewn from vintage patterns.

You can see more of her work and read about her in this article from Images Arizona here and the Phoenix New Times here.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

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