From My Studio

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I was so enchanted with knitting my first vest that I dove right into knitting a second one in a different colorway. Above is a photo of the back center ribbon yarn panel. I used Knit one, Crochet Too Tartelette yarn in the Rainforest colorway. Mmmm…

I’ve just completed the knitting and am now carefully weaving in each little yarn end, one at a time. While I love choosing my yarns and knitting them together in a free-form way, this weaving part seems very tedious to me. There is a soothing rhythm to it but it takes such an awfully long time to complete. It’s much like sanding polymer clay work. And, just like with that, it’s time to slow down and not be so impatient for the finished product.

I’d love to hear how others cope with this never ending task.

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With my first vest, I stayed with very similar colors as the original vest pattern. This is what drew me to it in the first place. Now I’ve branched off into a colorway that expresses me uniquely – muted, soft blues, greens and tans. I am so looking forward to wearing it. My first vest is going to be a gift for someone special.

The free-form knitting bug has bitten me quite deeply, taking over all of my free art time. I am enjoying myself so much in this luscious world of color and texture. So much so that I will eventually need to rouse myself out of this infatuation soon to get back to jewelry making for my show in November.

Not just yet though.

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I’ve started gathering a yarn stash for my next free-form project which I will be knitting in Taos, New Mexico. I’ve signed up to participate in a Jane Thornley workshop in September. More on that very soon…

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Last weekend during a visit to Lowe’s, I grabbed some paint chips in southwestern colors to help me in picking out my yarns.

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I’m also trying to decide what color to paint the kitchen in my new condo. After months of waiting, my closing is drawing near. I happened to put this fresh Oasis green yarn on top of my chips and was immediately enchanted by the color combo.

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While shopping in Joann Fabrics several days later, I came upon this beautiful fabric. Does that ever happen to you? I get a specific colorway on the brain and I keep seeing it everywhere! This will be perfect for some pillows.

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While browsing the internet one day, I came across 2 lovely blogs bursting with color and granny square crocheting – Lucy at Attic24 and Vanessa at do you mind if i knit. Oh, I remember granny squares! I’ve made many a blanket over the years with this sweet, old fashioned technique. In fact, carefully folded away in my closet is one of my children’s baby blankets in a rainbow of sherbert colors. Anyway, I started to think that quite possibly it was time for another granny square adventure so I found some very reasonably priced cotton yarn called Sonata at elann.com. A granny square blanket in greens, blues and purples would be just perfect for my bed in my new place.

My art world lately has been filled with yarn, yarn and more yarn. How about yours?

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From My Studio

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My free-form (free range) vest is almost done. I thought the weaving of the yarn ends would never end! I was playing with them and made this little colorful nest. As I was playing with the strands, an idea popped into my head.

Could I put them outside for the birds to make their nests? Is that safe?

I can’t bring myself to throw these snippets away.

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Instead of adding a band of knitting at the bottom, I single crocheted all around the edges of the vest, including the armholes. It made the bottom a little wavy looking, I’m not sure why. I really like the edging but think that I should add a couple more rows of single crochet.

What do you think?

Here’s a closeup of the back panel of ribbon yarn.

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Even though you need to take great care when stitching and later washing the garment, I love working with ribbon yarn. It’s so scrumptious looking with the way the colors wash into each other and it feels silky and luscious in my hands.

Lately, instead of beads, I’ve started collecting yarns. Oh no, another addiction. Here’s the latest purchase. I think I’ll make another vest in lighter blues, greens and tans.

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Speaking of blues and greens, I started playing with my watercolors last weekend. I’m not painting anything in particular, just feeling the way the colors lay on the paper and swirl and mix into each other. I’m just playing…

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I especially love the “bloom” effect as the colors meet on the wet page. Blue says, “hello yellow, let’s bloom together and make green” Lovely.

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Maybe someday I’ll actually paint some real flowers from my garden but for now I am having so much fun making free-form watercolors.

When I was in kindergarten many moons ago, my most favorite activity was finger painting. I loved swirling the paint around with my fingers.

“The moment in which children relax into the presence of their imagination there is often a collective sigh of relief – of children smiling to each other, knowing that their inner world is not peculiar to one’s self, but a vast gathering of information in everyone, like the richly populated voicing of the sea or a summer meadow.” ~Richard Lewis

From the Studio

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It has been quite awhile since I’ve shared any creations from my studio. I’m not exactly sure why that is but I think it has something to do with knowing that I will be moving again and I am transitioning towards moving my studio towards a new living space. Even though I don’t have a moving date yet, I feel myself disconnecting from my current studio space. It’s an interesting process.

Has anyone else ever experienced that with a pending move?

The creative time I have had has been mainly spent curled up in a cozy nook in my living room and I find myself more often than not turning to pick up a ball of colorful yarn. In this transitional time, I look for soft, tactile comfort to ground and center myself.

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A pair of beachy colored socks.

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A buttery yellow baby dress.

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A rose garden colored floppy baby hat.

Last week my company had its annual shutdown and I spent a good part of the week transforming the look of some old wicker furniture. A good Spic n Span scrub and light sanding prepared them for some sprayed on primer and then porcelain colored paint. I love their creamy vintage look and am looking forward to fabric shopping so I can create some plump cushions to adorn them with.

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While I’ve glanced at my art journal a couple of times and sorted some beads and jewelry components here and there, I haven’t felt like creating in that direction lately. I’m sure that I will return to them with renewed joy someday in the near future.

My company will be closed down every Friday during the month of August. We started doing this last year as the summertime is our slowest time of year. It gives our staff members extra time to relax and enjoy some free time before the busy fall season starts.

In anticipation of that extra free time, I’ve recently picked up a book, “Watercolor: A New Beginning: A Holistic Approach to Painting”, from the library. The first sentence of an editorial review from amazon.com expresses the book perfectly.

“Lindsay’s approach to teaching watercolor emerges from somewhere between the traditional art world and the deep, mystic spaces of the self.”

The author Ann Lindsay encourages her students to learn watercolor through the kind of playfulness we experienced in childhood. I find that approach immensely appealing so I took myself down to the arts and crafts store to purchase a pad of watercolor paper, 5 tubes of paint and a large palette for mixing.

Time to schedule some watercolor play time for myself!

Studio Wednesday

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This week I finished the crochet chain necklace and attached my polyclay swirl pendant to it. I fashioned a hook and eye clasp from 18 gauge sterling wire. A little liver of sulfur dip made it a cool bronzy color to match the bronze crocheted wire.

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I crocheted 6 chain segments in all, 3 for each side, and left long tails for wrapping. I threaded the tails through the pendant and then wrapped around the chain on the other side to secure them in place.

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I am so enjoying bringing my love of crochet into my jewelry creations. I recently purchased a skein of Berroco Seduce yarn, a simply luscious blend of silk, linen, rayon and nylon. I’ve got some ideas floating around in my head of crocheted bracelets using this yarn and some polyclay beads.

Who knows what women can be when they are finally free

to become themselves?

~Betty Friedan

Studio Wednesday

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In the time I have between my physical therapy treatment and my favorite tv show “LOST”, I’d like to share with you what I’ve been working on this week.

With the limited range of motion in my frozen right shoulder, I haven’t been able to do a creative activity that I absolutely love: mixing colors in polymer clay. Cranking the pasta machine is torture on my shoulder. I solved that problem by treating myself to a motor and foot pedal for my P.M. What a difference! This has opened up a whole new world for me.

I love my new motor.

My first color mixing project was to mix up some muted neutral colors for a cane I wanted to try out from the new Donna Kato book I picked up from the library. It’s called “The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiore Techniques: Projects and Inspiration for Creative Canework”.

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There’s a lot of cool cane ideas in this great book. Now that I’ve returned it to the library, I’m even considering adding it to my library permanently. The cane slices above were created with a rolled Skinner Blend plug, wrapped and squished and rearranged. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really into creating canes because I like a more organic look to my work instead of geometric precision. That being said, there are some fun organic cane patterns to play with.

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I had some fun with the cane ends I sliced off and rolled around. Here’s a scrap cane that ended up looking like crescent moons from another world.

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Ever since I received a small piece of plexiglas in a goody bag from the first Klay Karma retreat 4 years ago, I love making swirly lentil beads with cane scraps. The larger one with the cane slice bail will be used as a pendant in a necklace. The smaller one could be used for a freeform bracelet. That would be fun to incorporate some polymer clay beads in my freeform work.

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I thought that I’d do something different for the swirly pendant necklace. Using a very thin gauge black wire and some bronze colored size 11 seed beads, I made several lengths of chain stitch. The wire was a bit tricky to work with at first because there is no “give” as there is with fiber. It takes time to figure out how much wire to wrap around your crochet hook to allow you to be able to pull the wire through the loop. I found that working looser rather than tighter is best.

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I made some more chain stitch lengths using bronze wire and black seed beads.

This weekend I’ll work on putting my necklace together.

“Once there were two color kittens with green eyes, Brush and Hush. They liked to mix and make colors by splashing one color into another. They had buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets of color to splash around with., Out of these colors they would make all the colors in the world.”

~from “The Color Kittens” by Margaret Wise Brown

Studio Wednesday on Thursday

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Last weekend I nourished my creative spirit as much as possible as I adjusted to my new schedule. I dedicated myself to creating and finishing a necklace for my “Grow” polymer clay pendant. With the help of my brand new mini bead spinner, I threaded a bead soup of pale blue, green, yellow, ivory and crystal seed beads onto my hand dyed silk cord. It was a little tricky at first to slide into the rhythm of needle and spinning bowl but I finally got the hang of it and then the beads literally jumped onto my needle like eager participants in play. As I eased myself into the flow of the spinning beads, I was reminded of my early school days when I loved jumping Double Dutch. You really couldn’t think about it, you just had to close your eyes and navigate by your inner compass and spacial instinct. In other words, jump in!  Once my cord was saturated with tiny beads, I started crocheting a simple chain stitch, catching one bead in each chain. I made 3 strands like this and tied the ends together.

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My next step was to create small bead caps/cones by weaving the beads in a herringbone stitch. I covered the knotted  silk cord ends with my beaded caps.

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I found a small textured silver toggle clasp in my stash and attached it to the silver loops coming out of the bead caps. I’m still deciding whether I like this clasp for this necklace. It is very easy to put on and take off the necklace so that’s a big plus. And it’s small size goes well with the delicate feel of  the necklace. I’ll have to wear it a couple of times to see how it works.

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Using 20 gauge sterling silver wire, I created a curled spiral bail for my pendant and threaded the strands through the curls.

Curls of soft misty colors. Silvery rebirth spirals. Crystal drops of rain.

Spring is here.

Yarn Adventures

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I find that as I get older, winter’s icy fingers burrow farther into my bones and muscles and no matter how many wooly layers I wrap myself in, I just can’t get warm enough. So, before the holidays, my desire to steep myself in warmth gently nudged me to seek out one of my passions that was now buried in tote bags in the back of my closet.  Balls of yarn in colors rich as jewels – amethyst, carnelian and ruby – spilled out onto the floor all around me like found treasure as I rummaged through my bags. I sat down with my long metal crochet hook and my big round balls of yarn and created long strips of color blocks that I then wove together with a tapestry needle, one by one. As my blanket grew, it cocooned around me, warming my body and my heart with the rhythm of the colorful stitches.

I was happy when I finally finished my blanket but sad to give up the meditative state of the needles so I dug back into my bags to unearth another ball of yarn in a gentle sage green with silky flecks of brown, green and blue. I created a scarf and then when that was done, it was back to my yarn stash. Now a ball of shiny ruby red. Another scarf. Hey, this is as addicting as beading. I wrote about making the blanket and 2 scarves here.

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Before I left for my annual holiday trek to Michigan, my Mom told me not to bring any art projects with me because she had gone to the knitting store and picked up something for us to do. Oh joy, another adventure in knitting!  As the fairy lights twinkled like stars on my parents’ Christmas tree, I made my first pair of mittens out in snowy Michigan. While I was happily knitting away, I thought that it would be so nice to be able to wear my mittens while I work on my computer. So, I studied the mitten pattern and adapted it to create a pair of open mittens, that is, with no tips on the fingers. I know that there are knitting patterns out there for a pair of fingerless gloves, in fact, Dave has a pair where the top of the mitten flaps back to reveal the fingerless glove. I just wanted something simple with an opening for my fingers so I could type unrestricted. I used a double strand of wooly yarn for thickness and warmth and was able to make them in one evening. This is a great project for using all of those bits and pieces of yarn left over from other projects. It’s fun to use 2 strands of different yarns to create interesting color and texture.

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As we enter this last week of January, I feel a stirring in the inner chambers of my heart that whispers of thawing and melting. Perhaps it is just coming from the creative visualization that I’ve been doing for my frozen shoulder or just plain ol wishful thinking but I’d like to dream that spring is not too far away.