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