The Holidays and Winter Aftermath – Effects on Art and Business

What is it about brutally cold winters and the aftermath of the Holidays? January was a month for wanting to hibernate. Like a bear. The week after Christmas and the first week or two of January usually finds me plotting my next year’s goals, coming up with a “theme” for the year and plotting strategy. Not this year, I floundered. I’d think of the year’s priorities for my creative and business life and five minutes later they would all change. What should I be doing? What should my goals and priorities be? Harrumph.

I’m going to blame some of it on the winter. I just don’t like being cold. It is also less painful than blaming all of it on me 😉 But, some of it was my review of 2014. I just didn’t make the progress I had hoped for a year ago. After some serious review of what I did and didn’t do, I decided I just cast my net too wide. To many fish to chase, too many ideas, goals and projects in the works, all at once. With so much that I wanted to do, I couldn’t focus on one thing long enough to do any of them. So, I spent a little time whining (not much, I’m not a whiner by nature). A little time being stern with myself. And a fair amount of time trying to suss out the cause of this “shot-gun splatter” syndrome I’ve had lately. Let’s face it. All of this soul-searching and mind delving stuff is pretty subjective. The bottom line? I’m tired of floundering and want to move forward. You can only stand at the fork in the road so long before you have to pick one. Even Gandalf finally made a decision based on nothing more important than the smell of the air.

So I decided one of my causes was too many distractions and my “theme” for 2015 emerged.

My Theme for 2015
My Theme for 2015

I made some decisions about what I want to focus on this year; buttons (obviously), wearable art (and all of it’s components), and growing the business. That will give me focus (well, more than I had) and still give me latitude. This could be dangerous but so is feeling creatively trapped. I still have some strategy issues to work out but, I have focus. Yea!

My hibernation (for want of a better word) was not spent sleeping though. I made my daughter some Dragon Paws.

Dragon Paws Fingerless Mitts for Ashland
Dragon Paws Fingerless Mitts for Ashland

I made some custom ones too.

Rainbow Dragon Paws
Rainbow Dragon Paws
Detail of Rainbow Dragon Paws
Detail of Rainbow Dragon Paws

 

I made a dear friend some hand warmers for her healing hands.

Healing Mitts knit for my Friend, Betsy. Pattern is Autumnal by Bo Jangles
Healing Mitts knit for my friend, Betsy. Pattern is Autumnal by Bo Jangles

I turned my “Simple Toe-Up Socks” class I teach into a pattern and it’s currently in the hands of my editor, so watch for that to be released on Ravelry soon.

I made some custom buttons

Aqua Fused Glass Buttons
Aqua Fused Glass Buttons

I have my taxes done 🙂

I played with fire. Yes, I need more practice 😉

A monthly challenge with GlassAct! sponsored by Reichenbach Glass
A monthly challenge with GlassAct! sponsored by Reichenbach Glass

My FiberArt Group has a Fiber Art exhibit hanging in Gallery 194 in Lapeer, Michigan this month and I have several pieces in that. The Artists’ reception was very well attended and we all got quite an ego boost ;-). Getting art ready for the show was hugely motivating and invigorating but, I’ll talk more about that another time.

Gallery 194 FiberArt Junkies Show, this month in Lapeer, Michigan
Gallery 194 FiberArt Junkies Show, this month in Lapeer, Michigan
Twinchies - mini art quilts for the Gallery 194 show
eight of us participated in the show, we all made “Twinchies” – mini art quilts for Gallery 194
One of my pieces, a detail os "Fleeting Shadows", acrylic, ink, and stitching on canvas
One of my pieces, a detail of “Fleeting Shadows”; acrylic, ink, and stitching on canvas
The "Twinchies" were fun and addictive, I got about 23 done!
The “Twinchies” were fun and addictive, I got about 23 done!

Meanwhile, my floundering turned into hyper-focus and the effects on my blog were the same. Ignored. Oops.

Spring seems to have brought me back into balance. I feel like I can move forward and still take a little time for life, tea, blogs, and chocolate (not that there wasn’t any before).

So, how have you weathered the winter, and the first Quarter of 2015?

Deb H

Art-scale Your Wearables
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The Holidays and Winter Aftermath – Effects on Art and Business

Sock Blank? Its not blank!

Why is it called a sock blank if it’s not blank?????

a knitted sock blank
a knitted sock blank

Because it did start out that way; a blank, knitted rectangle; a blank “canvas” as it were. Usually knit double stranded on a knitting machine and with a total of 100 grams of yarn, enough to knit one pair of socks. This one is pinned out on a foam board, ready to be painted with dye.

sock blank being painted
sock blank being painted

Thickened dye is applied with a foam brush, or other painting tool, in any pattern or design you can dream up.

ready to wrap and steam
ready to wrap and steam

Continue to add layers of color until you have achieved sock-blank nirvana…  or at least something you are reasonably happy with. Seal with a heat-proof plastic wrap (Seran works well) and steam your blank to set the dyes. I’m assuming here that you are using acid dyes on a protein fiber.

knitting socks with a sock blank
knitting socks with a sock blank

After the dyes have been set and the yarn blank rinsed and dried, you are ready to knit. Since the blank was knit with a double strand, you can knit both socks at the same time. Both socks will be done at the same time, avoiding the “second sock syndrome”, and both socks will match exactly. Simply unravel at the appropriate end and start knitting.

Toe-up socks with waffle stitch instep
Toe-up socks with waffle stitch instep

Yes, the yarn you are knitting with is kinky, like Ramen Noodles. Once you have gone a few inches you will be used to it and it should not bother you or be a problem. For those that are annoyed by kinky yarn there are two possible solutions. To lessen the kink  (but not eliminate it) you will need two ball winders. Simply unravel the blank and wind the yarn into two center-pull balls as you go. Let them sit in your stash and “mature” for about a week/month/year and the yarn will be more relaxed when you go to knit with it. To remove the kinks entirely, unravel the blank into two skeins, wash them in cool water and hang to dry. Ball them as you would any skeined yarn and knit.

Waffle socks are not fattening  :o)
Waffle socks are not fattening :o)

Colors combinations and designs are only limited by your imagination, dye supply, and time. You must remember that the design you paint on your blank will not be reproduced in your knitted sock. Blanks are knit flat; back and forth. Socks are knit in the round. For what-you-see-is-what-you-get socks, stick to simple stripes. For everything else, you can only rely on a general mottled color distribution in the final knitted project. If you have a dominance of brown at one end of the blank and mostly blue at the other, so will your socks. Don’t assume that a fancy design or pattern painted on your blank is a waste of time. You will enjoy knitting from a beautiful blank and the dyer has enjoyed creating something wonderful, even if it will get ripped apart.  😉

Zig-Zag painted sock blank
Zig-Zag painted sock blank

Cool idea! Use your double stranded sock blank to knit a scarf. Cast-on with a provisional cast on and knit your scarf from the center out. Go about one inch in one direction, then pick up your live cast-on stitches with the other stand and head off in the other direction. Just keep switching back and forth so both ends progress at approximately the same rate. This is the same technique (knit on one for a while, then the other – back and forth) for knitting your two-socks-at-a-time on double point needles.

detail

Now, are you sorry you asked?

Waffle-socks-1
I even have a finished pair of socks out of this deal 🙂

Waffle-socks-2

Sock yarn is a superwash merino and nylon (90% wool/10% nylon) that I got from Heritage Spinning & weaving. I knit the blank and dyed it as you have just seen. I love the way the colors came out so speckly (is that a word?) and no pooling or flashing. I knit the sock in the same waffle stitch as my fitted teal vest in the hopes they will look dapper together.

Deb H

Sock Blank? Its not blank!

Off The Loom!

5 - 1/2 yards of painted warp
5 - 1/2 yards of painted warp

Ta-Da!!!

There is nothing quite as satisfying as pulling a finished weaving off the loom. Remember the Palindrome warp I was weaving during the winter? There were times that I wondered if the warp had magically lengthened while I was not looking. The bundle on the back beam never seemed to get smaller, even as the bundle on the front beam grew impressively. I simply did not remember how much I put on – my notes were a bit spotty… yea.

a closer look
a closer look

After cutting it off the loom, serging the ends and wet finishing it, I have 5 – 1/2 yards of usable yardage. Isn’t it pretty?  🙂

The details; the warp that I painted was a singles merino (about 18 wpi), mill spun at Zeilinger’s in Frankenmuth, MI from a small merino flock just down the road from me – thanks Mary! I dyed it after reading an article in WeaveZine about the Palindrome technique. The solid black warp was pulled from my stash as I decided while warping, late in the evening, that it really needed to be wider. I also thought that the stripes would give it an Ikat style look. There was no ball band so it was a mystery yarn, a sport weight wool (or mostly) knitting yarn that was handy and satisfied my need to wind the warp – right now. It also matched the weft I had decided on the best (in color).  I usually avoid black but after hauling the huge skein of yarn around the shop (Heritage, where I work) to find a weft and looking at every possible option, black set off the colors in my yarn the best. So my wool warp was (if you are a seriously traditional weaver, you may want to cover your eyes right now) woven in a straight, 4 shaft twill with a delicious Bamboo yarn (24 wpi). I did wonder the whole time if I was weaving off trouble.

drapes like a dream
drapes like a dream

Let me just state, for the record, this was brilliant.

The finished yardage has such a soft feel and wonderful drape! I hope I have the courage to cut it up for a lovely fall jacket before 2020.

Deb H

Off The Loom!

The FOM Club

mar-apr-fom
March and April

I just wanted to catch you up on the fabrics I have received in the mail for spring. This is the FOM I belong to (Fabric of the Month) with Judy at Just Imaginations and I subscribe to the cotton sateen club. The first photo is March & April.

May's FOM
May's FOM

May had a totally different look, doesn’t this one just look like antique ivory?

It has such a lovely sheen too.

I usually like to hand maul and wallow in Judy’s fabrics at QSDS (the Quilt/Surface Design Symposium that happens every June in Columbus, OH) . The FOM tides me over on the years I don’t manage to get there (like this one). Thanks Judy!

Deb H

The FOM Club

Fabric of the Month – Dec & Jan

I keep forgetting to show you my monthly gift to myself – as I have mentioned before, I subscribe to a Fabric of the Month club offered by Judy Robertson of Just Imagination. Once a month I get a one yard piece of her hand dyed cotton sateen fabric that is just sooooo luscious. I showed you February’s fabric here but I haven’t shown you December’s or January’s. Here they are;

FOM - December and January
FOM - December and January

can you tell which month was which?  ;o)  The lower left (purple)  is a surprise fat quarter I got with December’s. Don’t the colors just glow?

Deb H

Fabric of the Month – Dec & Jan