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
one button at a time…
The Holidays and Winter Aftermath – Effects on Art and Business

Juggling Projects, Staying Sane

So, when you have a million different interests, hundreds of subjects that grab your attention and make you want to dig deeper, tens of creative interests that you pursue, and projects that are mountainous and many – how do you stay sane, juggle it all and, most importantly, get anything done? Oy!

My Bohemian Sweater, a little artsy, a little random
My Bohemian Sweater, a little artsy, a little random

Pick and choose.

From Louet's pattern "Harmony"
From Louet’s pattern “Harmony”

Not in a life-long-committment sort of way, that would never work for someone who is scared to death of missing something. But sometimes I just have to say to myself “This week (day, month) I will focus on this one thing, and this one thing only. The rest can wait until next week (day, month).” I can do anything if I know there is a (reasonable) time limit to it. It’s those open-ended limitations I can’t cope with. “I will work on designing and building the worlds first fusion power generator until I find the solution, and work on that only, abandoning my interest in breeding killer earthworms for the rest of my life.” Yea, that generator would get derailed by day 3.

Bohemian Sweater, neck detail
Bohemian Sweater, neck detail

My Bohemian Sweater was a project that kept getting put aside for other things. I finally made it a top priority project and concentrated on it with a firm deadline in mind and a determination to finish it. I really wanted to wear it! The pattern is an older Louet pattern called Harmony that has been in my knitting queue for years. To be honest, the color changes and number of ends to weave in was a stumbling block for me. Then I found Stonehedge Crazy .

Stonehedge Crazy - their story
Stonehedge Crazy – their story

The perfect yarn and the perfect solution! Spun from mill ends grabbed at random, this yarn never has any two skeins the same. The colors are not carefully planned out and grouped to make a pleasing combination, they are random. And it works. The yarn is so fun to knit with, each row is an adventure. This sweater was also a very rare knitting experience for me in that I did not rip it back (or out) and re-knit it several times. Once through. Really. I just followed the pattern (also rare) and it all worked.

fused glass button, one of 5 mis-matched for the Bohemian Sweater
fused glass button, one of 5 mis-matched for the Bohemian Sweater

And, I’m a button maker. Part of that results in random single buttons that were experiments. I have a small (snort) jar of these hanging around. I decided that a sweater made out of random yarn needed random buttons so there are 5 totally mis-matched fused glass buttons to finish it off. I got to wear it about three times before the weather got too warm. It fits great and I love it – a total success. You can see it on my Ravelry page.

Detail of attached grosgrain button band and backing button
Detail of attached grosgrain button band and backing button

This was a project that hit the “I will work on this, and only this for one week” list.

See, even I can get things done sometimes  😉

Deb H

And just in case I didn’t use the word enough – random!

Art-scale Your Wearables
one button at a time…

 

 

Juggling Projects, Staying Sane

The Last Airbender and A Day for Play

Aqua drop bracelet and earrings
Summer Beach

What better way to celebrate a holiday weekend than to take at least one day and do only fun, play kinda stuff 🙂

Going to see the movie The Last Airbender was a treat, I liked it so much we actually saw it twice over the holiday. I then dashed off to Borders to get the book, only to find it’s a graphic novel…  can I bring myself to read a graphic novel? I can roll with the times, why not?

Summer Beach - aqua drop bracelet and earrings
Simple Pleasures

An easy beading project was just the ticket for a relaxing afternoon. The bracelet was a “build your own kit” from Alada Beads where I just had to pick the colors; my favorite colors of aqua,  sea green and copper. I had enough beads and components left over to improvise some matching earrings. Sometimes simple is very satisfying.

Aqua OOAK button bracelet
Aqua OOAK button bracelet

But that got me looking at the assortment of fused glass buttons on my design table. I’ve been designing buttons for a wholesale catalog. This, besides being a lot more time consuming and a lot more work than I could ever have imagined, has left me with a rather large selection of single OOAK (one of a kind) buttons. Looking at these with my freshly finished bracelet (above) in my hand was a short leap to the next project.

Button Bracelet
Button Bracelet

I raided my stash of novelty yarns and found some lovely aqua sparkly stuff, not too hairy – I don’t like hairy. I raided my stash of large beads and found some glass dangley things too (technical term, that). After a few false starts to try to achieve my vague vision, I settled on crocheting the novelty yarn with the buttons, beads and dangles not-quite randomly picked up and crocheted in the chain.

Button, button, who has the... ?
Button, button, who has the... ?

The yarn was mostly rayon and not disposed to wear as durable as I might like. In an effort to avoid strewing buttons and beads in a trail behind at the local RAVE (like I even know what one is, do they still have them?) I threaded Tigertail through all of the buttons and beads and cinched them up snugly to the right length. Adding a toggle catch with crimps was the final touch and viola! This would be a marvelous way to use any and all kinds of shanked buttons, I see more in my future!  🙂

Deb H

PS – we can see the town fireworks from our back deck, they were beautiful but Shadow (our rescue husky) did not like them one little bit. It’s a real experience when a 65 pound dogs keeps trying to climb into your lap!

The Last Airbender and A Day for Play

Weaving!

It hasn’t all been fused glass, I’ve got a lovely….  um, something(?) on my small loom that is turning out wonderful. I just don’t know what it will grow up to be because it’s so narrow (6″). Maybe a panel in a summer jacket?

Linen and cotton Teal overshot
Linen and cotton Teal overshot

I had a lot of warp left on my small loom (4 shaft, 22″ Rasmussen table loom with leg kit from Seattle Weaving Works, circa 1980) from the linen workshop I took from Katie Reeder Meek in March. The warp was supposed to be linen but mine is 10/2 cotton due to some technical difficulties, namely old and brittle linen and the middle of the night so no store open to fix the issue. But, it’s a nice flax color of 10/2 and the threading was the one I used for my linen workshop; Aldana’s Cat’s Paw and a Wave pattern on an overshot type weave structure. I’m still using a fine linen single (unbleached) for the ground weft but have chosen a 5/2 cotton in light teal for my pattern weft.

A joy to weave in such wonderful colors
A joy to weave in such wonderful colors

I apologize to all my non-weaving readers for the geek-speak.  Start weaving,  you’ll love it!!  🙂  By the way, there is a lot to be said for a small portable loom that can be easily moved to the front deck on a breezy summer afternoon!

I’ve also been knitting but have not taken photos yet so that will be next post.

Deb H

Weaving!

Cashmere, a little Luxury

I’d like to mention that cashmere is not included in my rule (if I make one for me, I have to make one for my Etsy Shop). These are for me!

Cashmere Handwarmers
Cashmere Handwarmers

Yes, it’s still chilly and I’m still knitting hand warmers!

I had three skeins of Mountain Colors 100% Superfine Cashmere in colorway Moose Creek that I have been hording since about 2006. What to do with 285 yards of seriously luxuriously (and expensive) yarn?

Cashmere Cowl
Cashmere Cowl

I’ve been pondering, lo, all this time. Perusing an Elsebeth Lavold book (Book #17, Small Things Matter) and seeing the Malin pattern for a cowl, my search was over!

Cashmere, yum!
Cashmere, yum!

I did a shorter version because I knew I would never pull it over my head for a hood and that left me one skein for some hand warmers.

Easy Lace Pattern
Easy Lace Pattern

The lace pattern causes a collapse effect that is perfect for a cowl.

Plain palms for less snagging
Plain palms for less snagging

Admittedly, I ran out of yarn and the last 1/2″ at the fingers and thumb is finished off in Shepherd’s Wool Fingering in Midnight Lake. It blended so well I decided I did not need to rip them out and do a re-do.

Shocked all my knitterly friends, that.

Little Fountain Lace Pattern
Little Fountain Lace Pattern

And I used a different lace pattern for these than was on the cowl. I found one that was similar but a smaller scale in my favorite pattern reference, 365 Knitting Stitches a Year Perpetual Calendar by Martingale Publishing (as usual, you can find this and other of my favorite books in my a-Store, click on My Book Store under the Pages section on the side bar). The pattern I chose for the hand warmers is called the Little Fountain Pattern and it’s on February 11.

So touchable!
So touchable!

I had to throw in one more picture of the cowl – it’s just so pretty and soft!  🙂

Deb H

Cashmere, a little Luxury

Raggy Ruffles

Raggy Ruffled Hand Warmers
Raggy Ruffled Hand Warmers

Why does spring make me want to knit hand warmers? Because it’s not that warm yet and my hands are still cold!

Raggy Ruffles - cuff detail
Raggy Ruffles - cuff detail

I had so much fun knitting the raggy ruffled hands warmers I showed you previously, and the fact that every time I wear them people accost me wanting some too… I knit some more  🙂 I raided my stash of luscious fingering and sock weight yarns to find some that went together nicely. The yarns used were Claudia Handpainted fingering weight in Poppy,  Schaefer Anne, and two colors of SWT Tofutsie. Now, orange is not usually my color but I find I am liking it more and more. It must be that after a long Michigan winter I’m starved for color!

Raggy, Ruffled & Posh!
Raggy, Ruffled & Posh!

I started with the basic Martha Mitten pattern from Heritage Spinning & Weaving and then started to ad-lib, as it were. After having done this a couple of times in a similar vein, I knew it would be easier to pick up the stitches for adding the ruffles if I put in a row of purl stitches where I wanted the ruffles attached. This being the grand sum of my pre-planning, I knit into the fray.

Think Eliza Doolittle...
Think Eliza Doolittle...

Decisions, decisions… how long to make them? Should they match exactly or should I mix it up a bit? Which color next?

Think Steampunk!
Think Steampunk!

Beads? Let’s see.. a tiny bit of bling? That would be a big yes!

And to follow my latest rule of self -discipline, ahem, they are for my Etsy Shop. What’s my rule? If I make one for me, I have to make one for the shop (sweaters not included). We’ll see how long this lasts  😉

Deb H

Raggy Ruffles

Warm Hands, Cold Heart!?!?

Cushy Sweater Sass!

Last spring, just in time for warm weather, I finished a very warm winter sweater I dubbed my Cushy/Cozy Sweater. I then had to wait four months (short summers, long winters) for it to get cold enough to wear it. Now, this may seem a bit bass-works but it turned out to be a brilliant way for me to not dread winter quite so much. So this spring I’m on a hand-warmer knitting roll.

Cozy Hand-Warmers

A pair to wear with my cushy/cozy sweater next winter! It’s the same lovely yarn; Araunania Azapa 30% alpaca, 45% merino, 15% silk, and 10% donegal.

Cozy, cushy, soft, and warm!

At about 12-1/2 stitches over 4 inches, a very quick knit!

Ragggedy Ruffled Hand-warmers

Then you have to have some just for fun! Ages ago I knit some raggedy ruffled hand-warmers from some leftover bits of (mostly) worsted weight yarns and they turned out very cute and fun to wear.

Raggedy Hand-Warmers , the Sequel

I decided I needed another pair in leftover odd bits of sock yarn.

When Rags are Posh

I have nearly worn these out already as they just make me feel happy to wear them  🙂

So, here we are, marching into spring and warm weather with winter wearables just new off the needles. But that’s me, the queen of good timing  😉

Deb H

Warm Hands, Cold Heart!?!?

More “Fun” Knitting

Detail - Zig-Zag Bag before felting
Detail - Zig-Zag Bag before felting

Another finished project and some knitting that was just plain fun! There is something thoroughly satisfying about knitting with really big needles on occasion. Especially if your usual bent is sock yarn on size (US) 1’s or 0’s.

Baby Zig Bag, before felting
Baby Zig Bag, before felting

My Niece had a birthday recently and I wanted to make something for her that was fun, even quirky, and practical too. This little felted bag (pattern by LynnH of ColorJoy!) seemed the ideal project. Made with a lovely teal color of Shepherd’s Wool Worsted and a skein of hand dyed (by me, of course!) Cascade 220, it felted consistently and without an excess of fuzz.  I failed to include anything in the above photo to show scale but the bag, before felting measured about 21″ wide.

Teal Felted Baby Zig Bag
Teal Felted Baby Zig Bag

After all the knitting comes the brave bit. I tossed it into the washer and dryer. Since I have a front loader it took three times but the end result was a fabulous sized small purse. I photographed it with my wallet, phone, and iTouch for scale. They all fit perfectly and now I want one of these bags too. It’s a good thing I have more yarn, yes?

the perfect little felted bag
the perfect little felted bag

I hope she likes it as much as I did making it  🙂

On another subject, for those who have wondered… Yes, I’m still using my AeroGardens constantly. One is always herbs

Herbs in the AeroGarden
Herbs in the AeroGarden

and one is always salad stuff. I like having fresh salad greens I pick myself when the ground is covered in snow!

Salad greens in my AeroGarden
Salad greens in my AeroGarden

I think salad is on the menu for tonight!

Deb H

More “Fun” Knitting

Elvish Socks!

Rivendell Sock
Rivendell Sock

Being crazy busy does not rule out all knitting. It just means I’m teetering on the brink of crazy. But that’s not news to my inner circle – busy or not. So I’ve still managed to finish a pair of socks and aren’t they just tooo lovely?

Rivendell - cuff
Rivendell - cuff

When The Eclectic Sole by Janel Laidman came into the shop (had to have been last spring?) I could not stop looking at it.

The Eclectic Sole by Janel Laidman
The Eclectic Sole by Janel Laidman

The cover was tantalizing, the title  a tease, and the patterns are an adventurous delight (anybody want to hire me to write Ad Copy?  😉

Published by Rustling Leaf Press, it has 96 pages of full color, very well photographed socks, techniques, color charts, and discussions of swatching , yarns, WPI (bravo Janel!), color, needles, and some basics. In the back are some photos and instructions for the cast-ons and stitches she uses in her patterns. All very clear and understandable. What I like about her book is that she did not spend a lot of her precious book pages on these things by going into a lot of detail. She used the bulk of the pages on her great patterns. So, while I would not recomend it to a brand new knitter, or maybe even a first time sock knitter, I don’t believe that is her target. Janel has found the happy medium; these are fresh, beautiful and interesting, with opportunities to learn for the sock knitter who is bored with “basic” but not as mind-bending as Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways.

Since I wear Burkies, I ribbed all the way to the tip of the toe.
Since I wear Burkies, I ribbed all the way to the tip of the toe.

Back to the socks… I sucumbed and the book followed me home. It stayed in the kennel (book shelf with all my other “pet” books) until late summer when I could not ignore it’s soft mewling anymore. I took it off the shelf and it popped open to the sock that had to be made first. I confess, as geeky as this is, I’m a Lord of the Rings fan, have been since Jr. High. The first socks from this book had to be Rivendell.

Graceful blending from the ornate rib to the leaf pattern
Graceful blending from the ornate rib to the leaf pattern

I had yarn in my stash from the sale bin in almost the same colorway as the socks in the book; a soft blend of pastels – appropriate for an Elvish design. The pattern was just challenging enough to keep me interested and excited. It would have been perfect except for the yarn. I used Maizy from Crystal Palace Yarns and I have to say, it’s not my cup o’ tea. 82% corn fiber and 18% elastic, it was too stretchy and too wimpy. I usually knit socks on a size “0” or “1” needle to get gauge but had to use a size “3” with this stuff that was like knitting with limp rubber bands. I like the finished product but it was less than ideal to knit with. I also learned, the hard way, that you do not steam socks with elastic in them – it melts! The socks are fine, undamaged and look great but if you rub your hand over the surface (outside only, thank goodness), it has a scratchy feel that the melted elastic gives it. Yes, I should have known better – I guess I was on automatic pilot when I blocked these. Oy!

The cuff again
The cuff again

For the next pair, I will return to my beloved wool sock yarn.

But which pair next, Nordic Lights or Migration? Decisions, decisions…

As always, you can see more of my favorite books, that I highly recommend, by visiting My Book Store (there is a link in the sidebar under Pages). This is an aStore or Amazon store that only lists books I choose.

Deb H

Elvish Socks!

My Bottle is Cozy!

I knit another bottle cozy.

knitted bottle cozy with long shoulder strap
knitted bottle cozy with long shoulder strap

This one was from the ZigBagZ Mini Collection pattern from ColorJoy! This is the paid upgrade pattern from the free “Sipp-a-Roo” pattern she has available on Ravelry. Even if you are not on Ravelry you can download the pdf file here.

knitted bottle cozy before felting
knitted bottle cozy before felting

Before felting it looks a bit loosey goosey. The yarns are Shepherd’s Wool worsted in dark eggplant (they call it Plum), Noro Kureyon in color # 207 (basically purples and oranges). If it looks familiar, it’s the same yarn as the last cozy I knit from the free Sipp-a-Roo pattern. I actually got 3 bottle cozies from one skein of Shepherd’s Wool and two skeins of Noro.

bottle cozy with shoulder strap, after felting
bottle cozy with shoulder strap, after felting

I always say that no knitting project is worthwhile unless you

a) enjoyed working on it

b) learned somthing new

My leasson I learned is that not all wool yarns felt the same. I actually knew that but it was driven home to me with this cozy. My first two were done with the dark plum as the main color and the Noro as the contrast color. For this cozy I reversed the yarns and did not change anything about the knitting pattern. Expecting it to felt exactly the same as the last two I was a bit surprised when the cozy base (bottom of bottle) ended up a bit bigger and the  strap (both from Noro this time) ended up a lot longer than their counterparts from Shepherd’s Wool. After felting it about 800 times (no, I never exaggerate. Why do you ask?) the cozy base finally shrank to fit but the strap was still about 12″ longer than I had planned. Not wanting to just cut it off, I got creative about how to make it work.

the One Eyed Snake
the One Eyed Snake

Hence, the One Eyed Snake bottle cozy.

fused glass button for an eye
fused glass button for an eye

I had to finishe it off with a fused glass button by DH.

I’m not sure if it was the name or the beautiful knitting, but it sold right off my bottle. I’ve replaced the cozy bottom with a round (think round sock toe) version and on the top I’m using an i-cord bind-off instead of Lynn’s rolled version. I’m now looking at the body of the cozy and thinking what a great “canvas” it can be for all kinds of fun knitting and embellishment. Hmmmm…  you may see one or two pop up in my Etsy shop by Christmas  😉

yarns for my Baby Zig bag
yarns for my Baby Zig bag

My next felted project is from the same ZigBagZ pattern, I’m going to do the “Baby Zig” purse next with some teal Shepherd’s Wool (love that stuff!) and some Cascade 220 that I dyed about 2 years ago. I just hope the pattern shows up as the values are very similar. Oh well, it will still be stunning!

Deb H

PS – Happy Autumn!

My Bottle is Cozy!