Winter Woods Vest

In January, I treated myself to a yummy gift, a year’s subscription to Jane Thornley’s Inspired Knitter’s Club. Ever since I discovered Jane’s website last year and then attended one of her retreats in Taos, NM, Jane has inspired me to unfurl my free range knitting wings and soar into a world of color and texture. Jane describes her vision for the Club:

“Inspiration is air to the lungs, light to the spirit…..Here is a book in monthly format that captures the essence of the creative muse for knitters, beaders, weavers, spinners and dreamers alike. Packed with photos, concepts, ideas, inspirational journeys both internal and global, tips, techniques, stitch spells and color delves this is like a feast for the creative spirit.”

In this “vestal creation”, Jane teaches how to move from darks to lights with a textured stitch calling to mind the forest floor during a woodsy walk. As I’ve been enjoying that very activity every Sunday, I’ve drawn much inspiration for my vest color palette.

I’ve created the button from polymer clay, using black, white, translucent, and silver foil. I discovered a love for making buttons and am now looking at the cardigans hanging in my closet with that in mind. Hmmm….

Now that my vest is finished, I am turning my creative thoughts to another project – a feather and fan stitch wrap in vibrant blues and greens. With spring fast approaching (yay!), I need some colorful yarn on my needles!

“I see knitting as art, as viable as any other, and no matter what the tool or preferred palette, in human hands, magic happens.” ~Jane Thornley


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My Taos Wrap

Inspired by the rich colors and textural landscape of Taos, NM, I started this wrap at the Jane Thornley knitting retreat I attended there last September. If you’d like to read about my journey there, I wrote about it here, here and here.

Fully intending to complete my creation once I returned home to New England, I found that life kept pulling me away from this particular set of circular needles. It was only after I moved into my new home permanently and life settled around me that I could wrap myself into this project once again.

Worked from wrist to wrist with a series of increases and then decreases, I felt like I was climbing a mountain – up, up, up, resting for a bit on the peak and enjoying the view, and then down the other side. In my case, I made the descent side of the “mountain” symmetrical yarn-wise to the ascent. Where I started out intuitively reaching for the next ball of yarn, I retraced those color choices for the second half of the wrap, a balance of right brain and then left brain thinking. After completing my descent and binding off, I sewed small sleeves starting at each wrist.

As you can see, my wrap can be worn quite long. Alternately, I can always bunch it up for a shorter, bulkier wrap. I prefer wearing it in its full length glory. And with a flower sprouting from my head!

In wearing it a couple of times already, I have discovered that a shawl pin would help it stay on my shoulders more securely. I’m still considering whether I’d like to make one of polymer clay or bead embroidery. What do you think?

I’ve already started another free-range knitting project – a Winter Woods vest, inspired by Jane Thornley’s Winter Forest Evocative Guide and my Sunday hikes in a nearby wood. Here’s a peek at what’s on my needles.

There’s something so magical about blending colors with yarn. Mmmm…

What project are you working on?

Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. All the other tangible rewards will come as a result.

~Maya Angelou

A Trip to New Mexico and a Knitting Retreat

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With each passing day, my anticipation and excitement is growing and expanding as I think about my coming journey to New Mexico. 2 more days!

The first half of my trip will be spent in Albuquerque visiting with my youngest son and his family. And, yes, my precious little granddaughter! So, I will get some “Ella time” which is always welcome with wide open arms. Heaven.

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The second half of my trip will be spent in Taos where I will attend a Jane Thornley free range knitting retreat. We will be creating a garment of our choosing, a wrap or shrug, using the Feather and Fan stitch and an assortment of colorful, textured yarns in colors reflecting the southwest nature palette.

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I was also very excited to be able to complete my “Come Spring” vest so I can wear it on my trip.

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After I finished my vest, I couldn’t resist starting my granny squares. Here’s a peek at what’s done so far.

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I am just loving choosing different color combinations for the squares so that each one is unique. With 16 different colors and 4 rows for each square, the possibilities are many.

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Now that I’m officially a “granny”, how perfect is this?

I will take loads of pictures on my trip and look forward to sharing tales of my adventures upon my return!

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?

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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A brand new knitting project. I love to pick out my yarns.

With the Jane Thornley free-form “Come Spring” vest pattern in hand, I’ve chosen a similar color palette as the pattern photo because I love the vibrant greens and browns of this lovely season. One of my art friends directed me to a great website for purchasing good quality yarn at affordable prices. I purchased all of my yarn (pictured above) from them except for a ribbon yarn, called “Copper Penny”, I discovered while browsing at Joann Fabric’s one day for art supplies.

So far, I’m liking the contrast between the stripes of rich color.

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Last week I picked up a beading book at the library. As I have been getting into a more personally expressive and organic, free-form flow with my beadwork, I have lost interest in books and magazines devoted to beadwork patterns and other artists’ designs. However, the title of this book, “Shaped Beadwork: Dimensional Jewelry with Peyote Stitch”, caught my eye and my interest.

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In the book, Diane teaches how to make geometrical shapes in peyote stitch, starting with flat one-dimensional shapes and then building upon those to create 2 and 3-dimensional sculptural shapes. So, I started at the beginning of the book and made a triangle. Geez, that was fun. How about if I make another one? Cool! Then I sewed them together and created a little triangular pillow. This little shape is fascinating me. I find myself picking it up and turning it over gently in my hand every time I walk by my beading tray.

Now, what shall I do with this little shape? Make another pillow for a pair of earrings?  Use it as a focal shape and free-form around it? Use it as a component in a mixed media necklace? The infinite possibilities bloom in my imagination with wild abandon like the riot of pink peonies in my garden. Hehe Interestingly, my thoughts also lead me back to memories of how much I enjoyed geometry class and its spatial language.

All this from a little triangle pouch.

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The start of another journal page. I had vaguely remembered someone mentioning or reading somewhere that you could paint on used dryer sheets. This so appealed to the recycling devotee in me that I collected some sheets after a weekend of laundry chores. After dripping, brushing, and wetting paint across its surface, I let my sheet dry and then ripped a piece off to create a waterfall shape on my bright yellow page. I then glued some dried tulip petals at its base and drew some water swirls around the petals with a white gel pen.

This page is far from finished but it has a good start. As I glued and painted my “waterfall”, I thought of water and its symbolism to feelings. I thought of how my page could represent my getting in touch with feelings that are frightening to me and how I sometimes relegate those frightening feelings to a very deep place inside of myself. Can I ride my tumbling waterfall into the depths of myself and explore some of those feelings? I wrote:

I tumble down the waterfall inside of myself

to get in touch with my feelings.