Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Inspiration - Miyuki Sakai

I've been doing a little bit of thread sketching this week, which led me to looking at thread artists - which led me to Miyuki Sakai!  Amazing!  With the over 200 spools of thread in her studio, she creates sketches from everyday life in freestyle machine embroidery, some of them in such detail that you can even read the writing.

Miyuki outlines her methods in a photo montage on her website here (under the Studio link).  Be sure to check it out, as there are also many, many more works shown!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Still Knitting Cables!

I'm having too much fun with cables!  And I still can't believe how easy it is to make them!

This hat for my husband is Robyn Devine's Travel Hat in Madeleinetosh Chunky in the El Greco colorway.  The yarn is a bit bulkier than the one called for, so this made a larger adult hat.

I've had some Malabrigo Mecha in Solis hanging around for awhile waiting for the perfect project and that turned out to be Jennifer Tallapeneni's Ropes and Ladders Scarf.  One skein made a shorter, neck warmer scarf.  I also added a mesh edging on both ends:  1 double crochet, 1 chain all the way across.

And I was just little too late finding Malabrigo's Hollyhock colorway ... it was discontinued.  I did however find a skein of Chunky in that gorgeous color and knitted a cable beanie (the pattern is from Knitting Bee in Portland, Oregon).  Unfortunately, it turned out a wee bit short for how I like to wear hats and I didn't have enough left for another row - yeah for crochet!!  I added a couple of rows of single crochet to the bottom and now it fits perfectly.  The size of hook I used did make it flare out a little when the hat is off, but when on my head there's no flare.  A smaller hook would take care of this, but then the crochet stitch size won't match the knitting stitch size.

If I can pull myself away from cables, the next step in my goal of stretching my knitting skills is colorwork - I have a fair isle tam pattern that's been calling to me!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Inspiration - Marsala

By now you've probably heard that Pantone's color of the year is Marsala, described as an earthy red wine color.  I think it looks like a maroon with a bit of brownish edge.  For some reason, this is not a color I own much of - I really do like it, though!  It reminds me of autumn, cider, and crisp morning air.

So where does it show up around me?  It's currently on my knitting needles - Tanis Green Label Aran Yarn in Garnet.

My favorite placemats ....

and my favorite baseball shirt.

And my favorite jacket to wear on those cool autumn days!

I'm thinking a hat and scarf/shawl in marsala would be perfect, so I went looking for yarns.

Malabrigo's Cherrywood colorway ...

... and Cascade 220's Red Wine Heather are the front runners so far.

And it's pretty much time for new dish cloths in my kitchen and KnitPick's Cotlin in Pomegranate would look great!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Knitting Cables

A few years ago when I started learning how to knit, I imagined being happy for the rest of my life with washcloths, scarves, blankets, and maybe hats.  Techniques like cables and colorwork seemed way beyond any skill level I would ever be able to attain! 

I was happy with this for awhile .... until I started noticing all those patterns with gorgeous cables.  And wondering just how hard they could be.  So I got brave, found some good instructions and videos online, dug in, and in one of the most anti-climatic events ever, found out that cables are beyond easy.  Yep, easy easy!  If you can knit, purl, and move stitches from one needle to another, you too can knit cables!

After practicing for about 15 minutes, I started making a long band that turned into this cabled headband that's wide enough to be a good ear warmer.

*worsted weight yarn - I used Lion Brand Wool Ease
*cable needle - these usually have either a deep indentation or hook to hold the stitches
*size 10 or 10 1/2 knitting needles

1.  Cast on 26 stitches.  Work the first row:  knit straight across, 26 stitches.  Work the second row:  knit 4, purl 18, knit 4.

2.  Row 3:  knit 4, slip the next 6 stitches from the left needle to the cable needle and put in front of your work.  Knit 6, then change your hold to the cable needle and knit the six stitches on it.  Knit the last 4 stitches.

3.  Row 4:  knit 4, purl 18, knit 4.

4.  Row 5:  knit straight across, 26 stitches.

5.  Row 6:  knit 4, purl 18, knit 4.

6.  Row 7:  knit 4, slip 6 from left needle to cable needle and put in the back of your work.  Knit 6, then change your hold to the cable needle and knit the 6 stitches on it.  Knit the last 4 stitches.

7.  Row 8:  Knit 4, purl 18, knit 4.

8.  Repeat this pattern until the band is long enough to fit around your head.

9.  Fold over the ends, see photo below, and sew together.

Now I'm totally pumped up about cables!  So I jumped right into a larger project, the Ropes and Ladders Scarf by Jennifer Tallapaneni, available free here on Ravelry.

I used Malabrigo Mecha in the Solis colorway and made it a little shorter than called for so it would be more of a neckwarmer than long scarf.  I also added a row of crochet mesh (1 doublecrochet, chain 1 all the way across) on each end to finish it a bit more.

I'm off to search out more cable patterns!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Inspiration - Mr. Finch

Every so often I come across a textile artist that I can't believe I've never found before - the latest is Yorkshire fiber artist Mr. Finch.  The basic explanation of his work is that he takes vintage textiles and transforms them into amazing looking insects, plants, and animals.  However ... beyond that, he gives them life.  Their faces have expressions, their bodies are posed for what comes next, they have stories to tell.  And saying more than that is difficult - you have to see his work to understand what he does!

There are many, many more images on his website, plus links to his blog, Facebook page, and Etsy store (don't get excited yet - it's currently empty and apparently you have to get there fast to buy his work).  And there's a new book, Mr. Finch:  Living in a Fairy Tale World.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, January 5, 2015

On Beginnings ...

The first Monday is one of my favorite days of the year ... a new year is beginning, with all its wonderful possibilities stretching out before me!  Anything I wanted to get done last year and didn't, I've pretty much let go of.  All my plans for this year are still fresh and totally possible!  

In honor of new beginnings, I'm starting on a project I bought a couple of months ago and have been anxiously gazing at since.  I bought Dream In Color's November 2014 yarn and pattern kit for a gorgeous hat and fingerless gloves set - it looks quite complicated, but the teaser for it promised it would be much easier to work than it looked.

The yarn is a beautiful hand painted chocolate-raspberry color - I can almost taste it!

So far, it's only slightly stretching my skills and this is exactly where I want to be knitting, just on the edge.  And I may just sit here all day knitting away, still in my beginning of a project rapture!

A quick Google search shows the yarn/pattern kit is still available at several online yarn shops and the pattern is here on Ravelry.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, January 2, 2015

Friday Inspiration - Art of Winter

How does the old saying go ... if you can't change it feature it?  I've always found winter to be beautiful and an inspiration - the palettes of white/silver/blues, the crisp sparkle of sunshine on new winter snow.  I will admit that when I lived in the north, the beauty and inspiration quickly wore thin and I had to work harder at being inspired!  As the first major snowfall of the year moves in, take a moment to enjoy these fiber art pieces inspired by winter.

Russian born artist Ludmila Aristova discovered art quilting in the early 1990's and doesn't appear to have slowed down since!  Her website is filled with pieces inspired by nature, light, and cities.  The piece to the right is titled Winter and made with many layers of fabric and embroidery.

The gorgeous piece to the left was designed by fiber artist Carol Eaton using low immersion dying and fabric paint.  I love the depth she achieved - it truly looks like leaves layered in snow and ice.  Learn more about her techniques and see more pieces on her blog here.

In Sandia Mountain Winter Sunset, tapestry artist Elizabeth Buckley perfectly captures the gorgeous winter colors New Mexico.  I can almost feel the frosty air!  See her website for more of her work and also her teaching schedule.

And finally a non-fiber artist!  Photographer Alexey Kljatov captures macro shots of actual snowflakes that are truly amazing and inspiring.  Looking at them, I need to keep reminding myself these are not Swarovski ornaments!  To see more and learn about his set-up (it doesn't look hard to replicate), see his blog, The Keys to December.

Happy Creating!  Deborah