Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back to School

And back to normal. I love the return to routine. Classes are starting up. I have most, but not all of my classes listed now on my brand new website:
And Mondays are once again for dyeing. Except for next Monday, which will be for retrieving a very tired biker from the Mackinaw Bridge. Here is some of what I dyed this past week:

Black, brown and red on kona superwash.
Carmel-y brown, and shades of green on Kona Superwash. The camera didn't capture the correct color this time. Why is that? I need to take about 42 more classes on too many different subjects just to be as good as I want to be on all the things I do every day. Anyway. I took all these pictures in full sun, which explains the flashes of light. I like that, but it doesn't really tell the true story about the yarn.
This one is pretty close to accurate. This is a light red and gray on Prime Alpaca. I was dyeing it for a project of my own, but I want a deeper red, so I am releasing this batch into the wilderness of the shop.
This is red and purple on Kona petite. The real colors are much deeper. Wonderful for a shawl or for socks. And this is what I have been knitting:
The pattern is Sahara from Stitch Diva. The main yarn is my hand dyed Nassau, a silk and cotton blend. The trim is Tilli Tomas Disco. I have four more rows to knit on the neckline. Then it gets attached to the base of the neck opening, and stitched up to the level of propriety that you prefer. As this will be worn by my youngest angel daughter, I might stitch it up pretty high. The style is meant to be plunging however, and she is smart enough to figure out how to unstitch it, so maybe I'll just concede that it will look very "hot" on her.
That said, I loved knitting this pattern. It is written from the top down. It was a relatively quick knit, and a different approach than I have had before, so it was very entertaining. Because of the large skeins and the top down knitting, I bet I'll have fewer than 10 ends to weave in. I haven't counted - should I?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Goodie Goodies EveryWhere!

What a fun week it has been so far! I got a tiny little box full of loveliness in the form of Qiviuk yarns. I got three balls of 9 different colors of the Qiviuk/Merino/silk blend. It is so soft and luxurious. It is what you want for that very special lace scarf. It retails here at Woven Art for $53 per ball . I t makes me gasp every time I touch it.

Also in this week is Folk Style from Interweave Knits. This book presents a refreshing take on various folk traditions, utilizing colors, patterns and symbols in innovative designs that you can wear! Knitter 's magazine arrived in the same batch of boxes, and is chock full of good ideas for Fall knitting.

But the most fun thing that walked in the door this week was from Jill V. She is a metal artist and friend who is also a very talented weaver. Last week another customer was talking to her about needing a shawl pin on her sweater, Jill went to her studio and came out with these:The picture does NOT begin to do them justice. The silver is just too shiny to photograph well. I now have them featured on several of the shawls and sweaters in the shop. Yes - I get to sell them! I am very excited. Not only are these some of the most unusual and beautiful shawl pins I have ever seen, they are made locally, and by a friend! If interested, call for prices: 517-203-4467.
And this, above, is more of what I dyed last week. Pigtail 170, Monte Cristo and Panda Cotton in Red, Blue and Yellow.
Angie T knit a shop model for me from Habu Tsugumi, from a pattern in Victorian Lace Today. The pattern calls for one skein, but she found she needed to make it a bit shorter. It still is a very good length. This is one you have to touch to believe, and also see in person to see how beautiful the lace is.

In other news, I am number 18258 on Ravelry. Only 8504 people are ahead of me - I should get my invite any day!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dyeing Scarves

We moved our youngest into her next house for her last year at MSU. This year her house is much bigger, and she is living with half as many people. This means my house is returning to something more like normal. I will miss her presence, even as I will enjoy the new sense of space and order. As I spent the day moving her, I didn't dye any yarn today. But in anticipation of that, I dyed twice as much yarn last Monday. Here is a sampling:
From left:
Casino II - a cotton rayon dk weight yarn in a color inspired either by mixed late summer berries, or the latest issue of Lucky.
Sharzade - a cotton, rayon slub. Makes a wonderful wrap fabric.
Cascade Silk - a lace weight, 100% silk yarn in light navy
Rio - a 100% rayon slub yarn. Fun for a carry along. Dyed in same bucket as the silk.
Tabitha - a bulky rayon and cotton blend with great texture - in red violet.

I dyed more than this - but it isn't dry yet - Summer humidity!

On Saturday I hosted a group for a Sort-of Shibori workshop. We dyed scarves with lanaset dyes, and heat set them with vinegar, and then dyed some more scarves in procion dyes, with a soda ash assist, and let them all sit for 24 hours to cure. I never get to see the scarves that cure for a day, so I was really excited to have added the exercise of using acid based dyes. We all were able to unveil the first scarf during the workshop. After my students left, I had some dye left over so I had some more fun. I discovered that the scarf I had dyed with the acid dye was actually a blend of rayon and silk. The silk took the dye beautifully, but the rayon didn't take the dye at all. Because of the way the scarf is woven, one side was very bright, and the other side was sort of silvery gray. Very pretty. But I decided to see what would happen if I overdyed this scarf in a procion dye bath, with soda ash. I was hoping to get two differently colored sides. What actually happened is that both the silk and the rayon dyed very well, leaving me with a scarf that is very much the same on either side. I will have to play around with this a bit more! Here are the scaves I made in the workshop:

I have also been making great progress on the Sahara sweater from Stitch Diva. After only about two weeks of working on it, I am almost finished with the body of it - and get to begin on the lower trim - with yarn from Tilli Tomas. Pictures will be forthcoming once I have some of the shirtail eding done.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Transistion Time

I am not ready yet to call this the end of Summer. That doesn't happen for another month. But the signs of transition are unmistakable. I took my morning walk on campus today. I was politely stopped by a group of college age people, who wanted to take my picture for a scavenger hunt. I was suspicious. What "item" would I be? They assured me I would just get them some extra credit for pulling a random person into their picture with Sparty.

Then, a bit later, I was passed by some young men running along at a strong pace. They were shortly followed by one young woman, and then another. I thought,"OK, Where is he?" Sure enough a moment later a man in a blue T-shirt rode by on his bike carrying a 6 pack of gator-aide. "Hey Coach Brown!" I recognized the East Lansing Cross Country Coach from the several years my girls participated. He recognized me too - in that "I am pretty sure you are someone's parent" kind of way.

Finally, on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Harrison Rd, I was stopped by another harried looking young man "Where is Grand River?" Yes folks, East Lansing is waking up from it's long Summer's nap.

My Mom has recently made a huge transition in her life, from a house and guest house on a beach to a two room apartment south of town. A week ago, the kids went up to claim some of the furniture that was still there. I requested a very old table that I had grown up with. I have many fond memories of casual dinners and family games. I think it will make the ideal knitting-around table, especially with it's hand carved cabled edge!

Another sign of transition is a bit closer to home. You might remember from previous posts that I had started to make some progress on a tapestry. I had vowed to work on it a bit every day if possible. I was catching a rhythm of sorts. Well,

Can you see my tapestry?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Make and let Make

Oh, my head. The art vs craft debate comes around again. Imbrium at Nerd Knits and Ragnar
have re-opened the "never-really-closed" conversation in response to an article in Real Simple magazine that I have not read, so shall not comment on directly. As a fiber artist, and I say that without blushing, or aplogizing, I have been living with this debate for many years. In fact as I refined my own body of work, I thought about it a great deal. Is it art if it is useful? Is it only art if it embodies an idea? Back in the 90's (my grad school years), conceptual art ruled, and form was secondary. In fact, I was once told my work was not "messy" enough. It needed to be more visceral. I think they (professors) would have liked it better if I had thrown mud on my wallhangings, or took sissors to them. I also once had a conversation with a very famous performance artist who wondered aloud if women tended to go into Fiber Art because it was "safer". I think Women tend to use fiber art as their favorite medium for the same reason Men do - it speaks to them and for them in ways other materials just don't. Notice "for them". I believe that artists and crafts persons choose their own media for highly personal reasons. And that is how it should be. We need potters, and jewelers, and carpenters just as much as weavers and knitters, etc. And we also need painters and sculptors, and those who wish to explore new technologies for the next great idea. What we do not need are divisions that place one kind of artform in higher value than another.

And now, a disclaimer. At this moment the gallery portion of my shop is featuring handknit items from local knitters. The requirement that frames the show is that the work be of yarn that I dyed. I am in awe of the remarkable talent in both execution, and in the design decisions made. I am showing these garments as I would any artwork. On the wall, with labels. For this month, these garments are beautiful objects, whose only function, for now, is to be admired. DuChamp argued that it is all context. I guess I would agree with that. What do you think?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Folk Fest Weekend

This is what I dyed last week. It is called Riviera. This ribbon yarn knits to about 4 stitches to the inch, and is a cotton and rayon blend. I'd call the solid one "brick" and the other a "brick-navy-gold varigation." The tank top below, knit by Angie Tzoumakas uses Riviera in a different colorway. I wish you could see the back - it is purple! This top is part of the Hand-Knit from Hand-Dyed show currently at Woven Art. This is a show of talented area knitters, each piece is knit, at least in part with yarn hand-dyed by Woven Art (me). I am so happy with this show! It will be up until September 23, if you can please come see it. If you live in the Lansing area, you are invited to a reception for the artists on Sunday, September from 1 to 4 p.m.

This past weekend was The Great Lakes Folk Festival, just up the street from my shop. It is one of my favorite weekends of the entire year. I enjoy the food as much as the music! I had pirogi for lunch for the first time this year. My pirogis were two half circles of dough filled with cheese and fried, then smothered in onions. I debated whether to chase that down with authentic rootbeer, or fresh squeezed lemon aide. The rootbeer line was pretty long - so the lemon aide won. We heard some great music; Texas Swing, Raggae, and lots of polka.
And here is Jacquie, spinning up a storm out in front of my shop. She sure attracts a lot of people who are curious about spinning. As a veteran demonstrator for the National Folk Festival from a few years back, she is very accustomed to spinning for a crowd.

Monday, August 6, 2007

It Fits!

It Fits!It looks good on her. It compliments her eyes. I feel as though she'll be hugged by me from a distance every time she wears it.
I am so relieved that after months of knitting and fretting - it is exactly what I wanted it to be.

I spent a good deal of time last week looking at this!

I took a walk with a daughter to the fish hatchery - an amazingly beautiful place, just a half mile from where we were staying.

I also made progress on my tapestry, and began working on a hyperbolic plane.

I have wanted to do a hyperbolic plane since reading an article in Interweave Crochet from at least a year ago. Mine is made from Habu Silk Stainless Steel, and Wool Stainless Steel. I believe that it will become more interesting as it gets bigger. I don't know how big it will become - I guess I'll know when I get there.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Like a butterfly

Have you had your fill yet of sweet, dark, Michigan Cherries? Well, that is what this month's stitch challenge is supposed to represent. I suggest that when you knit it, you look at it right side up!

I have been working away at the fall class schedule, and a new website to be launched within the next few weeks. But by "work" I mean plugging away at the computer for a bit, then wandering outside to check the water temperature, watch sail boats, take the kayak out. Then, back to more work. I can handle it, it's not bad at all.

My newly blind dog, after 11 years of aversion to all water, has decided he likes to swim. We are quite surprised by this. Yesterday, he was brought back by a nice young woman who found him swimming in amidst her Frisbee game. It is very shallow here, so you can play Frisbee 50 yards out - which is about where she found him. Poor water logged puppy!

Aside from chasing the dog, and updating class lists, I have been flitting from project to project. I FINISHED the sweater I am making for my eldest daughter's birthday. She is in her car on the way up here, so no secrets have been spilled. I'd like to post a picture of her in it later this week. I also am working on a Stitch Diva pattern for youngest daughter, and a mosaic sling bag for a class later this fall. I have started a project with Habu Stainless Silk and Stainless Wool that is turning out to be very sculptural. And I am also making serious progress on a tapestry I began a year ago, as well as spinning bulky, slubby alpaca yarn for a vest. And just in case this is not enough I have a half finished sock and a mobius cowl scarf waiting in the wings. Believe it or not, I find all this very relaxing, and refreshing.

Tomorrow, (actually really late tonight) more people will begin to arrive. In-laws and children. We will be much busier with "going in to town", "eating", and "playing family games".