Tag Archives: craft

A-spinning I shall go, A-spinning I shall go!

Over the weekend, I finished spinning one of the very first braids of wool that I ever dyed.  My first round at Yarn School (see HarveyvilleProject.com) in 2013, I didn’t really know what I was doing in the Dye Lab.  I have a degree in art, so I get color and I get saturation, and I get how to put colors together in a combination.  I dyed my fiber decently that year, but I was never overly excited about spinning it all because my color combinations just weren’t me.  Not yarn that I would knit with once I spun it.  Since then, I have learned a whole lot about wool and how different varieties and blends take color and what it will look like when it is spun since that is usually completely different than what it looks like before it is spun.  And then once it is knit up, it looks completely different again!

One of the groups that I am in on Ravelry is for people who own Kromski spinning wheels.  This month we had a spin along where the theme was What Was I Thinking.  We could choose a braid, a batt, a breed – something that was in our stash that didn’t seem to belong, that we didn’t know what the hell we were thinking to have it sitting there.  I chose a braid that I loving called Ugh, It’s a Deere!  I think you can see why.

spinning fiber
Ugh, It’s a Deere!

So, I started spinning right away and then got horribly bored with it.  These are NOT my colors.  But I had to get this fiber done before I could let myself move on to something that is more appealing.

Singles on the wheel
On the wheel

And so, this was the weekend to finish.  By last night, I was ready to take the single off the bobbin and wind it into a plying ball while watching The Last Alaskans.  And then while watching Game of Thrones (why? why do I watch this show??), I was plying up the yarn.

Plying Yarn on the Wheel
Plying a Deere

Into the bath it went before bed and then out on the deck to dry out.  This morning when I woke up, it was to discover that Ugh, It’s a Deere! has been transformed into To Green Bay and Back.  It is poofy and soft and lovely.  And I still hate the colors.  I texted a photo to my sister-in-law to see if she wants it and she snatched at it like she had never seen yarn before.

Finished Yarn
To Green Bay and Back

And so, in July when we are in the same general vicinity it will go to a loving home.  Which will be not mine.  And now, it is out of my stash and I can move on to something more fabulous.  I wonder what will be next?  I only have about 15 pounds of spinning fiber waiting for me!


My Hobby is Out of Control

I have dreams like some horror movie.  My fiber stash holds an uprising. Feeling neglected, it comes at me for revenge.  I bet it could smother me with little effort.  I don’t even want to count the yards of yarn, the pounds of fiber, the number of projects I am in the middle of.  I don’t have any idea how many knitting needles or crochet hooks I have.  And I certainly don’t want to have any idea of the amount of money I have spent accruing all of these piles of stuff and methods of storing them.

There are some yarns I am hoarding until something perfect comes up.  I have this beautiful purple/gray yarn that is destined to be a top.  I have some unbelievably beautiful sparkly yarn that is so dark green and purple that it looks black.  That one needs to find just the right project.  Then there are the 5 skeins of softness that would become a sweater, but they are in two different colors and I don’t really want a striped sweater in these colors.  And so these are hoarded.

And sock yarn?  Holy cow do I have sock yarn!  I have two skeins specially dyed for me in deep dark red and black, a lovely lavender, a red white and blue combo that will be super cool when made into socks, a lovely spring green, and many self striping combos.  But I don’t really want to make socks.

Then, there is the fiber stash.  4 pounds of raw alpaca, 6 pounds I came home from yarn school with, the multiple pounds from previous yarn schools, some silk that is too beautiful to risk screwing it up, bamboo with spins amazingly.

I work, I come home, I make dinner, and then I have to decide – what gets my attention until I am ready to fall down for the night.  Do I crochet one of the 3 blankets I am working on?  Do I knit this amazing shawl?  Do I spin what is currently on the wheel?  Sometimes, I just start something new.  Like mittens or socks or washcloths.  Something I could finish quickly but I don’t because by the next night I have forgotten about that.

Or I could draw.  Or paint.  Or sew. Or quilt.  There is too much.  Too much.  But don’t ask me to give any of it up.  It’s just not going to happen.  I swear, one day, I will be done with all the things.  Until then, let me keep worrying that it will attack me in my sleep.

Today’s drawing is Tanglepatterns.com String 027.  Link: http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/11/tanglepatterns-string-027.html

String 27
2014-11-19; tanglepatterns.com, String 027

It’s a Slippery Slope, My Friends

Arts and Crafts are a slippery slope.  You walk into Michael’s, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby and see all the stuff.  And it all looks so interesting and easy to do.  Today, I want to tell you about my fall down the side of a steep hill.  Or a jump off of a cliff.  Really, it’s all the same, isn’t it?  But let me start by saying that I was a crafty child and my undergraduate degree is in art.  So the leap was an easy one to make when it came.

I have, in my adult life, always been a quilter.  Quilting is a beautiful expression of art in fabric.  And I am a purist – piecing by machine, quilting by hand.  So my production level was very low.  I did produce some amazingly beautiful pieces – one of which was done entirely by hand, piecing included.  It was a baby quilt for my best friend’s first baby who will be graduating from high school this year.  It is still lovingly referred to in their home as ‘Aunt Maura’s quilt’ and is now put away as an heirloom.  The pride I feel when I hear that is worth every minute spent. In the last five years, however, fibromyalgia has taken over my life.  And most specifically my hands.  The movements and the grip necessary to quilt are no longer possible for me to do.  The devastation I feel about this loss is indescribable.  One of my life’s goals was/is to complete a whole cloth quilt.  I have one started and I just cannot continue.

At Christmas about the same time I was struggling with the realization that my hands were unable to quilt, my sister-in-law offered to teach my daughter to knit.  We bought her a kit for Christmas and Sue began to teach her.  I decided that since Sue would be leaving to fly back home, I should probably learn to knit so that I could help A1 if she should need it.  Ha.  I say again, Ha.  It turned out that the way Sue knit (she’s a thrower) did not work for me.  I was completely confused.  Several hours and YouTube videos later, I was knitting.  And A1 had long since given up.  An addict was born.  I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some needles and some slightly better yarn than Red Heart Super Saver and began making.  And knit and knit and knit.  Many YouTube videos taught me how to do new and exciting stitches.  And then I found Ravelry.  Oh, the love I feel for Ravelry.  Seriously.  I found my people.  They were so passionate about fiber arts and so encouraging about how easy it all was.  (Damned enablers)

Around that time, we moved from Iowa to Kansas.  The house we bought had a baby grand piano in the living room corner when we viewed it.  As we were moving in, a nosy neighbor (I have gotten to know her enough now to call her nosy) asked if we were going to put a piano in the corner also.  No, I replied.  I thought a spinning wheel would look amazing there.  What?  What just came out of my mouth?  I don’t spin.  I don’t want to spin.  There is enough yarn in the stores to knit with!  Within three months, I had a spinning wheel and was starting to produce my own yarn.  I really don’t know how that happened.

By this time, I have several thousand dollars worth of fabric, sewing machines, knitting needles, yarn, spinning wheel and fiber.  And as I am walking through JoAnn’s or Michael’s, a book on crocheting Granny Squares jumps (I swear it jumped) into my cart.  Crochet?  What the hell?  So, now I have crochet hooks and I am studying diagrams on crochet stitches and putting together granny squares.  Guess what?  You can produce a square faster by crocheting than by knitting!  I’m sold!  Today I am working on a blanket for my dad that is going to consist of the International Maritime Signal Flags.  And a star shaped afghan for my husband.  And maybe another blanket just because.  It turns out, I can crank out crochet blanket yardage really quickly using the yarn in my stash that I was unable to knit due to hand strain.  Slippery freakin’ slope.  Next, I think I may want to get a loom and try my hand at weaving.  The husband might just leave me at that point though.  So I am holding off on that for at least a year!

Today’s drawing comes from tanglepatterns.com String 012 – link: http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/08/tanglepatterns-string-012.html  Really not one of my favorites.  But I did promise to give you everything.

String 012
9/12/2014; tanglepatterns.com String 012

Hello, Friday!

The last few days have been rough at home.  I had sick kids, lots of cleaning to do, and a routine dental cleaning that sent me into a full fibro-flare.  For those of you unfamiliar, a flare is horrible.  For me, it is pain in every cell of my body.  And it won’t go away until it wants to.  Thankfully, this one was able to be knocked out with a combination of some prescription medication and lots of sleep.  It has left me with a seriously hungover feeling for a couple of days.  But today, I woke up with some energy and it feels like my brain may be back.  Woo Hoo!!

Between my last post and now, I have accomplished a couple of things.  I finished this amazing cowl/poncho pattern by Laura Aylor called Outlier.  Here is a link to the pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/outlier  Laura was wonderful to all of us in our Rav group who were working on the pattern during and after her Mystery Knit-a-Long and I can’t say enough good things about her or the pattern.  She is definitely one of the designers that makes it easy to pay for individual patterns!!  Enough, so a photo of mine:

2015-01-14 Icehouse
1/14/2014; Icehouse; pattern Outlier by Laura Aylor

This is so comfortable and the pattern is true genius.  I can see making many more of these as gifts and having them go over gloriously!

Today’s drawing of the day is String 004 from tanglepatterns.com .  I like this one relatively well.  It is one where I learned that it is okay to go outside of the lines of the string, but I think I just put too much in there.  And it is a little off balance.  Lessons that have to be learned, right? And here is the link to today’s string: http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/06/tanglepatterns-string-004.html  I hope some of you who have never tried to draw do try this!  It is so meditative and much easier than you think!

String 004
String 004, tanglepatterns.com, 8/26/2014

Thanks for reading and clicking on those links.  There are some fabulous people behind them.  Have a great weekend and as always, please let me know what you think!  I really want to hear what you have to say.

On Art and Money

I am faced with a dilemma every single day.  As a person who is unemployed and used to working a 40 hour a week job, I have found this enforced 4 month ‘vacation’ very liberating as an artist and crafter.  While it has been good for my health, it has also been a very prolific time for me to practice a variety of art and craft forms.  At this crossroads, I find myself wishing that there could be some way for me to earn money as an artist/crafter.  But it is not just that I want to earn some money, I want to earn enough money.  Enough money to satisfy the lifestyle to which we, as a family, have become accustomed.  Enough money to pay off student loans.  Enough money to put into retirement plans and college savings plans for the kids.  Enough money to keep the electricity on.

Is this possible?  I know there are people that do it, but I cannot work like the people I know that do it.  I cannot spend 12 hours a day on my feet.  I cannot travel extensively and do trade shows.  And I certainly can’t hire help to do that for me.  Would I have to concentrate on one particular medium – fiber, spinning, drawing, painting?  Would having a person selling a crazy combination of everything confuse people?  I don’t know.  This is part of the conundrum which paralyzes me as an artist.  Paralyzes me.  My craft suffers for me overthinking my motivations.  And if I did try to do art/craft for a living, would it become work and not a passion?

On the other hand, I was contacted by yet another recruiter trying to get me to apply for a job at a specific company.  This is probably the 7th person I have had contact me regarding this company.  At first the choice was easy because the position was one for which I was overqualified and would be underpaid.  Now, there is a senior level position which would be appropriately compensated and when the position converted to full time the benefits would be spectacular.  However, there would be no flexibility and the commute would be long.  I will apply and if asked I will interview.  I feel like I have to for my family.

My crossroads.  It is very difficult to be here, looking at the signs.  I know where I want to go, but it is different from where I should go.

Today’s art is String 003.  Not my favorite.  Maybe I will go back and do it again sometime.  A link: http://tanglepatterns.com/2012/06/tanglepatterns-string-003.html

String 003, 8/22/2014
String 003, tanglepatterns.com, 8/22/2014

A Long Year

I’m not going to go into any details (oh, wait… I might), but 2014 was a long and stressful year for me.  I have developed several crafting ‘talents’ to help me in coping with the stress and giving me an outlet for it.  A couple of these, I have been doing for a while.  Knitting and spinning (spinning yarn on a spinning wheel – God forbid I should exercise!) are crafts I have known and loved for a few years now.  Learning to knit is just a slippery slope into spending all of your money on yarn and other fibery goodness.  And you find you know more about sheep, goats, alpaca, bison, and musk ox than you ever wanted to know.  It’s not good conversation starter.

Then I found Zentangle®.  (The Zentangle® art form and method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and is copyrighted. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.)  Through the website TanglePatterns.com, I have become an addict to tangling and creating what is called ZIA, or  Zentangle® Inspired Art.  I have no thought at this time of becoming a CZT, or Certified  Zentangle® Teacher, but I do admire their skill and what they do.  I only hope that my little pieces of art enhance the art form in some way.  When I found TanglePatterns.com, I bought a sketchbook and started tangling.  I began by using the strings published on the site.  I have now decided that my goal is to do at least one drawing for every published string.  I have a long, long way to go, but I can certainly see my progression as I go.

I have also begun doing drawings and tangles on canvas that can be purchased at the big box craft stores as well as pre-cut melamine letters.  These are very fun and I enjoy them.  I hope you will be patient with me as I get photos posted and write about other things.  Like how some of the wood in my wood pile just won’t burn properly.