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