Wednesday, February 28, 2007

March Sitch Challenge

To celebrate March we have a brand new stitch challenge. I call this pattern Labyrinth. Looks a little like a maze doesn't it? With maybe a shamrock or two inside? In case you don't know about our stitch challenge - it is a game we play here at Woven Art. Each month (starting this past February) there will be a new square for you to try. It only costs $1 to play. You get a pattern and a picture of the completed square in a clear sleeve so you can keep them all in a binder. You ALSO get a ball of yarn! The yarn we are using is called Montana, a devine worsted weight merino wool. You can still get the February stitch challenge - but past months will cost double. That is $2. I promise you this is the most entertainment you can get for a buck or two.
And after awhile you'll have a personal stitch library, plus the start of an afghan. I try to do patterns that have repeats, so you can make it into a larger peice. February's heart pattern would make a lovely baby blanket. The Labyrinth pattern could be great in a shawl. To get the stitch challenge of the month, all you have to do is come into Woven Art in East Lansing, it is right there at the front desk.



I've been dyeing:



















The yarn on the left is a special order. Silk and Merino wool. The task was to match the skein in the middle. The result is a bit brighter. But I made 6 of them, so it should be fine. Very Spring like don't you think? On the right is superwash merino roving. Jessy spun out a little sample skein today - oh my. I love it. Darn! I should have shown you a picture of that!

I have also been weaving:












On the left is my silk and cahsmere leno lace shawl. The colors are really a deep blue purple and navy. On the right is "small study 2". I am working on circles and ovals. The one on the top right is the most successful - but I want to try again. The very small space I have to work in (on my very small loom) is part of the challenge.
I think I am enjoying this process of documenting my work. Both the shop related work, and the just because work. I have always felt that art needs an audience in order to be complete. Blog readers are a different kind of audience than museum or gallery visitors. And what I am enjoying might not have anything at all to do with the potential of audience. Documentation in pictures and in words makes me consider what I am doing. Seeing the shawl and the tapestry on a monitor is very different from seeing them in person. (I think the shawl is better in person, and the tiny tapestry might be better on the screen). But it is the process of doing it, and then talking about it. Reminds me a little bit of art school. Not that I am getting critiques here, but that I have to present what I have made.
I am happy I am not being graded. Right?

Robert Busby

Greater Lansing has suffered an enormous loss. Robert Busby, Honorary Mayor of Old Town, has died. It is difficult to express the depth of this shock and sorrow. My heart felt condolences go to his family and many, many friends.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wanna Bet?



This is Harry's sweater. He is knitting it for his Mom. It is (believe it!) a Wallaby. Well, based on the Wonderful Wallaby pattern from Cottage Creations. But, Harry likes to mix things up a bit. He added a crazy amount of cables. He turned it into a cardigan. There won't be a pouch, and we now know there is no way there is going to be a hood. Not that there was ever a hood planned. Harry started with 3 skeins of Kona Super wash, and, 6 inches from the top, has that little (2.5 inch by 2.5 inch) ball left. He plans to finish the top with a 1" wide garter stitch collar. The sweater is so fantastic in person. The cables are intriguing, and the worksmanship is exquisite. But there may not be enough yarn. So, just to make it fun, Harry has proposed a betting pool. Do you feel like placing a bet? There is even a Woven Art prize (supplied by Harry). Your job is to guess how much yarn (to the nearest yard) will be left over, or added. The closest guess gets a prize - from Woven Art, and Harry. The sweater itself promises to be here in person on Sunday, (along with Harry) in case you need to see this for yourself. Bets will be taken until Harry declares the sweater finished! You can place your bet by leaving a comment, or by telling someone at the shop next time you are in.

And what have I been doing? I finished my second small tapestry study. I finished my cashmere and silk leno lace shawl. I dyed a ton of roving. And I have made great progress on the vest. Pictures tomorrow!

I visited my Mom up north this past weekend. She has moved to an apartment in a Senior community. It really is a community - full of vibrant and very nice people. Her new friends showed a lot of interest in my knitting - so I plan to get back up there soon, with extra needles and yarn.

Thursday, February 22, 2007




I have pictures! What do you want to see first? I am hiding in my office while Kelly mans the front of the shop - but I can hear Jacquie, and Marsha, and students coming in, so I don't have long. So - right to business - Yarns!


If I were to name my color ways I would call this one leopard. I have 6 - and most people who have seen these today liked 'em a lot - so I don't think they'll be in the shop for long.

I am calling this Brass. Would be pretty in a project with leopard - no?


And this I would call Sunny Baby. It is a lovely, soft, warm yellow.

The other thing I really wanted to get on my blog is a record of the beginnings of my new coil basket. I am documenting the start for my upcoming basket class. You can find details of this class on my website (www.mcrayweaving.com) under classes.

So here is a quicky tour:


Start with a sketch


Just jot down an idea.

Wrap to the end.


Join in rounds using a figure 8


Add new colors



Begin shaping. Looks like fun doesn't it? It really is, I love making these scultural basket forms. As I mentioned before, this one is destined to be a coin collector for Gary - hopefully for Father's Day. Am I worried that putting this on my blog will spoil the surprise? Not if you don't tell him! There are a couple of more steps involved, and if you are interested you can go to this website: www.fcps.edu/DIS/OHSICS/FineArts/pdfs/coiledbaskets.html.
Or this one: www.maizehutton.com/coilbaskets.html



I still want to post pictures of my cashmere and silk woven shawl, and my silk and retro-reflective mobius scarf. Next post! Stay tuned! And stay safe this weekend - drive carefully on your way.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Just Hello - no pictures

It has been too long since I last posted. Partly because I was waiting for something good to show you. But technology and time have gained up on me this past week. I want to show you the cashmere and silk leno lace scarf I took off my loom last Saturday. I want to show you the progress on my small study #2 on my little tapestry loom. I want to show you progress in steps on the coil basket. I want to show you all the yarn I dyed yesterday. (Did anybody say neutrals are always boring? I beg to differ!) And the progress on the two sweaters I am working on. But, none of it is quite ready to be seen yet. Just part of the ebb and flow of creative out put!

Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cotton and silk and bamboo!


I thought I'd start with a few pictures from Monday's dye pots. Above are a couple of silk hankies. You can spin these, knit these, or use these in silk fusion, like the leaves I have up at my shop.




This is Panda Cotton, Pony 2 ply and Alpine Petite, in that order. The Panda cotton is a wonderful little bamboo and cotton sock weight yarn. The Pony 2 ply is a lace weight merino, and takes the dye so beautifully. It is very soft. I can imagine how these colors would softly paly out over a shawl. It would look like sunlight through spring leaves. Maybe that's the subzero weather talking. On the right is a dk weight cotton. Great for weaving, knitting or crochet. I also syed some Panda Wool. I don't like the pictures I got, so you don't get to see it here. But, Panda Wool is a combo of bamboo and wool. So, the protein dyes won't dye it all, and the cellulose dyes won't dye it all - and not wanting white flecks, I decided to double dip. I tried an experiment. Not a very scientific one, as I allowed the extra variable of color. But I first painted one skein with acid dyes, and the vat dyes it in the prcion dyes. I took a different skein and painted it with procion, then vate dyed it in acid dyes. Still with me? The effects are fabulous. I have a deep burgundy red marled with purple and black. I also have a pale celery green sublty striped with pale lavendar. There is also a shiny/matte thing going on.

Last night I worked for several hours on the next Stitch Challenge Square. I didn't yet get a design I like - though I am closer. I am trying to stay with a Celtic theme, for St Patty's day. How would you feel about drunken lace? The pattern would be knit here, purl there, yo somtimes, and when you have too many stitches; knit two together!
OK - I'll put something better than that together.

Funny and sad: this morning my blind little dog was leaping through the snow. He really can't see anything, and he is about 8 inches tall. The snow is 6 inches deep. He could hear a squirrel chittering away at him from up in a tree, but he couldn't hear me yelling at him to come on in. As he leapt about blindly - he leapt right into a wall. Ouch! His pride was hurt more than anything.



This is Panda Cotton, Pony 2 ply and Alpine Petite, in that order. The Panda cotton is a wonderful little bamboo and cotton sock weight yarn. The Pony 2 ply is a lace weight merino, and takes the dye so beautifully. It is very soft. I can imagine how these colors would softly paly out over a shawl. It would look like sunlight through spring leaves. Maybe that's the subzero weather talking. On the right is a dk weight cotton. Great for weaving, knitting or crochet.

Monday, February 12, 2007

You be the Judge

I had the priviledge and honor of serving on one of the juries for the East Lansing Art Festival this past Sunday. I have done this many times over the past several years, but this year there were some very pleasant surprises! A major difference is that this year ELAF used Zapplications to facilitate the jury process. From my end this meant that we got to see all four images projected at once, both on a large wall and on our own lapstop screens. Information such as artist statement and the actual size of the item was available. One of the best parts was the opportunity to quickly look at everything, all the peices from all the artists in each category before we got down to the business of judging. Then we could look at each individual artist in High Resolution, zoom in to see detail, and see the booth slide at the same time as the images.

I know in the past I have worried that my criteria may change over the course of seeing the slide images, or I would worry that I was choosing too many of the same type of work. For instance, there might be a lot of different jewelers using handblown glass beads. They are all beautiful. In the past I could be in danger of rankly very highly the first few I saw, just because they were first. This time, having a general idea of what was coming, I could make a more informed judgement. Having said all that, I would like to make sure everyone knows I was one of about 7 judges, and we only were judging jewelry and fiber. The East Lansing Art Festival is one of the best organized events of this kind in the country. Each category gets its own set of informed jurors. I know this new technology will affect how artists present themselves for shows. While many shows still accept slides (East Lansing does, and they scan it into the system) I do believe many venues will go in this direction.

The East Lansing Art Festival is May 20 and 21 this year. I already know that it is going to have some great artists, and lots of things to look at and buy. And did you know that it is also a great outdoor music venue? I can't think of a nicer thing to do in May, than to look at wonderful( and mostly affordable!) art, eat fun food, and listen to terrific music, all outdoors.

What else have I been up to? I have been revisiting Tapestry. Now, my tapestries often take a very long time to weave - like a year maybe. So, I wanted to get through some ideas and issues a little more quickly than that, and I bought myself a tiny handheld tapestry loom from Houkett Would at Convergence. Nice guy - beautiful tools!

This one is small study 1, I am working on diagonals and diamond shapes.


Here is small study 2, on the loom, and sideways. In this one I am working on spheres. Mostly ovals, adn I hope at different angles. I am not happy with the bottom one, except for its education value. One of the greatthings I am finding out with this one is the difference in the yarns. The egg shaped sphere at the bottom is in a paternayan wool. The purple background in Texas, a 50% merino and 50% mohair blend. It has an amazing luster! Mmmmm. The dark brown is a yarn called Crown Colony Wool. I have mostly used it for rugs and tapestries, as it works perfectly for that. It doesn't have much luster - but I can see the advantages of that. So maybe my next small study will hone in on shine.



And what is this? This is the first step along the way of making a coil basket for Gary. He needs a better way to store his change on his dresser. He had been using a coil basket, but it is much too small.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Wool Panda?




Woah. I don't know what is going on here. I am at work, updating my blog from my laptop. The images I upload are in a lot of little words and symbols. At home, I put up a picture and I see a picture. Not so here. Another day in the life of a perpetual newbie. Sigh.

Anyway. If there are pictures to be seen, I'll describe what they are. One is the beginning of the Kasai vest from Folk Vests by Cheryl Oberle. I really love the zig zag pattern. Though it has occurred to me that it would be much quicker to weave this. Then it occurred to me that there are other weaving patterns that would translate well into fair isle knitting. So, now as I knit, I am thinking about incorporating other designs.

The other project is the 4 by 4 Rib Tank by Cabin Fever in "Pure", a 100% soysilk yarn from Southwest Trading Company. This is going to have such a great drape and feel to it. I can't wait to wear it!

Today the Federal Express guy brought me a box of Panda Wool - a sock yarn from Crystal Palace. Last week I was going on about Panda Cotton, and how much fun it is to dye, etc. And, I had already planned the new colors for next weeks Panda dye bath - but oooh, the wool version is competing for my attention. I promise I'll post what I put color on -

Nancy

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Eggplant caliente


More dyeing on Tuesday. This is more Fjord, so that anyone who wants to make a striped felted bag will have lots of color options. Just in case. The colors are, from top to bottom: green, eggplant caliente, and red. You probably could guess the top and bottom colors - but I don't know what your monitor is doing to my colorways. The middle is much darker than what I see here - it is a dark purple/black with red highlights. I dyed some tussah roving in the eggplant as well. One of these days I'll use some of it in a silk fusion project.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Here I am - blogging! I may not be the first one at the party, but now that I am here I am going to have some fun. I plan for this blog to be a compliment to my website. Here I will post pictures of the yarn I dye as I dye it, along with some information about the yarns. I also will post progress on shop samples, or other projects that are shop related. "Shop" refers to Woven Art, my yarn shop, fiber art gallery and textile education center in downtown East Lansing, MI. I am new at this, and there are about a million things I need to learn. Please be kind and generous in your thoughts as my learning progresses.

I had a great dye day yesterday, and have a few pictures to share:




From left to right we have Riviera, Alpine petite, and Panda cotton. Riviera is a cotton/rayon ribbon yarn that knits at about 4 stitches to the inch. I have Sally Melville's Faith Jacket in this at the shop. The drape is beautiful, and the jacket flatters everyone who puts it on. Alpine petite is a smooth cotton yarn. Ideal for weaving, it would also be nice in a lighter weight cotton shawl. And the far right is Panda Cotton in "primary colors". This is a brand new sock yarn being offered by Crystal Palace. They have some beautiful color ways, but of course I bought it in hanks to dye myself. The fiber content is bamboo, cotton and elastic nylon. It is very bouncy! I haven't had a chnace to play with it yet - though a few people scooped up my first dye attempts this past Sunday. I hope to see some knitted samples soon!




This yarn is Fjord. A great worsted weight, single ply super soft merino wool. Oh it felts. And, yes I dyed more than one of each. And no - I don't expect you to use them together. Unless you want to felt a pumkin - I have a barrel cactus pattern that might be perfect!



This blurry picture is (from right to left): Carrera, Fjord, and Tussah silk roving. Carrera is 50% silk and 50% merino and knits at about 6 stitches to the inch I guess. So soft! The tussah roving will be good for silk fusion (what's that!?), or spinning.

I have made a new promise to myself. That is to do some not-directly-shop-related but creative work each week. I hope to use this space to explore some ideas and document my progress. Knitting or crocheting shop models is a great way to learn techniques, inspire others, and get some new duds for me. However, it is usually an expression of someone else's great ideas. The artist side of me also needs to be nutured, fed, and let out to play now and then. My New Years resolution is to make a greater effort to make that happen.

Chow for Now,

Nancy

WovenArt, 325B Grove St.,East Lansing, MI 48823, 517-203-4467

www.mcrayweaving.com