Friday, August 3, 2018

Friday Inspiration - Beach Days

I love the Oregon coast and especially love it in August when the temperatures are often in the 80's!

I always have plans to create a beach inspired textile piece, but so far haven't.  But that doesn't stop me from looking at what others have done!   Merle Axelrad works with fabric and fiber collages in a way that is amazing.  I love her beach inspired pieces like Central Coast below, but all of her water pieces are wonderful.  Be sure to take a look!

Naomi Renouf also works with layered fabric collages and has quite a few pieces with ocean/beach themes.   Sea and Stones, below, is one of my favorites.  The transparency of the water she achieves is amazing!

This Seaglass Beach Quilt pattern was on Craftsy but now seems to have vanished from the web!  I think I'm going to have to start gathering batiks and see if I can make one just using the photograph.  I love how the colors in this make me feel I'm looking at the ocean.  If anyone knows who the designer is, please let me know so I can credit them and link to their work.  Thanks!

And since knitting seems to be what I get the most time to work on lately, I thought I'd see what beach colored yarns are out there.  I found two long gradient yarns that I'm trying to decide between for my next shawl!   The Blue Brick has Seafoam - I love how all of their yarns are paired with a photograph that inspired the colors and a swatch of how it knits up. 

And Knitcircus offers Beach Glass - hmmm, a hard choice!

I'm hoping to get more beach days this summer - Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Lazy August Days!

It's August already - and I don't think I even need a calendar to tell!  The sunlight in the forest has that golden tint to it and I've been enjoying long walks in its coolness.

Most of the wildflowers are done and the Queen Anne's Lace is blooming beautifully.

The gooseberries are ready for jam making

and I'm anxiously waiting for the blackberries to ripen!

I finished my third pair of socks - a much better fit than the first pair I made for myself!  These are from the pattern Simply Beautiful Socks by Fiona Stevenson - they use a German short row heel that I like much better than the heel flap/gusset one, but they did each end up with a gap I needed to sew up.  Next I'm trying the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, which is supposed to not have a gap!

I'll be in and out this month so probably won't be getting much done but knitting and trying to stay cool!  

Happy Creating!  Deborah

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

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