Thursday, December 25, 2014

Artfully Meandering: Lizard Ridge Infinity Scarf

I pinned this gorgeous afghan on Pinterest and have been obsessing over it ever since I started knitting. I'm a color fiend. And when I start something new, I tend to mix loads of colors together. Seeing this afghan made me want to try it. This is Laura Aylor's Lizard Ridge Afghan. Laura is a beautiful knitwear designer. 

The yarns used in this pattern are also part of what make this pattern so spectacular. This is Noro Kureyon yarn. Eisako Noro is a true artist with the colors and Laura maximized the impact of these colors with this design. The yarn appeals to me because of it's organic nature. The mixes and graduations between colors, plus the inconsistency and organic thickness of the yarn. It knits up into a piece of art.

 Lizard Ridge Afghan by Laura Aylor

Here is my first piece. I used three different skeins of the Noro Kureyon and knitted them into an infinity scarf. Here it is posing on a piece of coquina at Marineland Beach in Florida. Don't you want to be the scarf?

I got loads of compliments in the first wearing. It is most definitely a conversation starter. I always test my pieces for feedback. And this one is a big winner. 

And while yesterday in Florida was 83 degrees F (with a tornado!), today it was in the 60's. Gotta take advantage of the coolish days to wear the pretty knits. 


I make my infinity scarves long enough to wrap around twice. 

Self-Imposed Knitting Apprenticeship

Since I'm in OCD mode on knitting, I've been buying yarn, supplies, patterns, and Pinning anything I love on my new Knitting and Crochet Pinterest board. I love the free-from crocheting, too. But, I'm restraining myself from exploring that until I get more basic skills under my belt with knitting. 

I got the idea to consider this deep dive into knitting an "apprenticeship" from Barbara Walker's book,  A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I found this bit of information particularly interesting, "During the Middle Ages the famous 'knitter's guilds' -- which were, of course, composed entirely of men -- brought the art of knitting to a very high degree of refinement. A young man who wished to become a member of such a guild had to serve as an apprentice to a Master Knitter for a minimum of three years, and spend another three years year in travel, learning foreign techniques and patterns. After this, he had to pass a grueling examination, knitting a number of original 'masterpieces' of his own in a very short time, and then was admitted to the guild as a Master in his own right. The men of these guilds made exquisite garments that were worn by kings and princes, and every member of the nobility had his or her favorite Master Knitter, as well as a favorite tailor or dressmaker."

The internet makes this much easier in so many ways. If I get stuck on something, I can look it up and/or watch a video. I switched from English to Continental style knitting simply through watching a video. So cool. While I started with English knitting when I learned on my own, and I have taught this to my nieces because it's the easiest way to get started, I switched to Continental to ease the strain on my wrists. It has been much easier on my hands. 

Lizard Ridge Pattern - Skill Development Notes
  • Knitting backward - I'm noticing that while technically it's possible to knit backwards continental, it's more efficient for me to knit backwards English. I'm still slow, but I'm starting to get a better rhythm with it. I just couldn't get the proper tension with the Continental hold. It's still slower for me than knitting forward.
  • Steam blocking - I have the HomeRight Steam Machine. I used the hand-held with the squeegee attachment with the fabric cover. Works like a dream.
  • Reading the knitting (knowing where I did the wrap and turn without using a stitch marker). I'm not a big fan of the wrap and turn method. When I pick up the wrap, you can still see the stitch. I found some other methods to try to see if I can make that short row resolution more invisible.
    • Carol Sunday's Wrapless short rows
    • Update: I learned German Short Rows from Very Pink Knits.The transitions using German Short Rows are much more invisible to me than the wrap & turn. It took me a little while to figure out that basically you're pulling up the row beneath with the working row and squishing them together with this method. I prefer this method MUCH better than the wrap & turn. Technical note: if you're using German Short Rows to replace a wrap & turn, you include the wrap & turn stitch (i.e. knit 8, w&t becomes knit 9, then you pull up on the 9th stitch). I find it easier to translate the w&t directions rather than mentally translate them.
  • Learning to adjust to mistakes. I tended to add a stitch. I think I figured it out with the wrap and turn I would accidentally turn it into 2 stitches. But, I learned how to just adapt and roll with the flow. The yarn and the pattern are very forgiving to mistakes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Artfully Meandering: Current obsession... knitting

After 30 years of knitting scarves, I have finally graduated.

To blankets.

I'm a restless creative and must always be doing something with my hands. While traveling to New Zealand, when I got to the more relaxing part of the trip, we picked up yarn and I made an infinity scarf and three neck-warmers for my friends.

And as I do not do anything by half measure, I am now swimming deeply in the knitting pool.

Purl Soho

I've recently discovered Purl Soho and their beautiful yarns. I wanted to make a thank you gift for one of my friends. This beautiful merino was like knitting with a cloud. I love the graphic designer elegance to their patterns. I selected two of the Winterberry kits am knitting this into a bigger lap blanket.

I used the double seed stitch and did a variegated striped pattern.

This is still a work in progress. I'm waiting for the second kit to arrive to make the blanket longer.

You can't capture the luster and glow this yarn gives, but it's dreamy.

The colors they've chosen are flawless. I just love knitting with them.

I've also made some capes in chunky yarn. And 12-14 scarves. And 2 more blankets. Yep. I've been a knitting fool.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Artfully Meandering: Trip of a Lifetime - Australia and New Zealand

I returned two weeks ago from a trip of a lifetime to the other side of the world - Australia and New Zealand. I would have loved to spend a lot more time there and traveled around the country more. This graphic is cool to put into perspective how big Australia is compared to the continental US. My travel was limited to Melbourne and Sydney for approximately 10 days. I also spent 10 days in New Zealand in Whakatane. 

Melbourne, Australia, Yarra Valley

These first two photos were snapped through the bus window.

I'm so happy I signed up for this coach tour. Seeing the animals that are unique to Australia was a big treat. 

I have to say, the platypus was my favorite. They are actually much smaller than I thought. (I love small animals, so cute.) This is Yammy, a female platypus. The males are venomous. (I didn't know that!) I have a video I'll post later.

A wallaby.

A wombat.

Sydney Opera House

A free cockatoo flying around Watson's Bay in Sydney. I've only seen captive Cockatoo's as pets. Made me happy to see them free.

This pelican hammed it up for the camera.

City of Sydney from Darling Harbour.

Moutuhura Island

Kerosene Creek

I didn't bring a swimming suit, but was wearing flip-flops. I waded into the heated waters. So inviting and relaxing.

Wairakei Dam near Taupo

Waikato River flowing from Lake Taupo

Moutuhura Island from Port Ohope, Bay of Plenty. Ocean Road, Seaview Road & Kohi Point Scenic Track.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Studio Time: Polymer experiments

I have been monkeying around with polymer and getting my groove back. I'm in the wildly experimental stage. I usually keep my mistakes and ugly pieces, but I'm beginning to edit and toss stuff I don't like. I should probably try harder to keep ugly pieces. But, some of these are still in the ugly enough stage. I would consider them prototypes. Still working through kinks in composition. The big thing I'm missing is professional finish. Cute enough for giving away to friends, but not good enough for selling yet.

Chalk Experiments

Ever since I saw Margit Boehmer's tinted chalk polymer on Polymer Clay Daily, I've been intrigued. I love the beautiful depth and interest you get by including chalks.

This first picture is using chalks on white. It provides a really pretty watercolor-ish type of feel. I want to experiment with this more.

These are custom mixed colors with additional tinting to provide some natural depth. I think I plan to explore this a bit more. I'm really digging the results here.

Free-Form Seed Beading

I'm also a really big fan of Beverly Ash Gilbert's free-form seed beading. I've bought some of her  deep and complex seed bead soups. I'm experimenting with combining them with polymer. I got one toggle done, but I kept breaking the needle on the other one. I'll have to drill some holes to complete this set. I really love the richness of her soups. She includes up to 50 beads of various colors, shapes, and sizes in some of her soups!

Tropical Huts

This year I've seen a a bunch of beach huts as beads. In 2012, I created a small polymer house very similar to the ones below. I can't find it right now, but I've been continuing to experiment in the bright beachy designs. They actually remind me of the simple Dominican Republic wooden houses that were a popular subject of paintings there. I have two gorgeous paintings that have graced my walls (all over the world!) since 2000.

That's it for me for now. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Artfully Meandering: Florida Cloud Formations

I'm smitten. 

I'm smitten with the vapor oceans that spiral to lofty heights in the atmospheric heavens.

Crafted by current
Sculpted by rip tides
Textured by wind
Colored by light
Sweeping waves

I've lived all over the place and I love clouds. But there is something about the clouds in Florida. I guess it's the summer rainy season and the storms we get every afternoon. Storm clouds have a reputation for being spectacular. And we have spectacular storms. 

And the light! Oh, the evening and morning light...

Of course, I'm always running somewhere while enjoying these daily art displays. So, I snap photos on my iPhone in my car. 

I thought it was just me. But one of my friends told me the first thing some of their friends noticed when moving into Jacksonville were the clouds. So, it's not just me. They are a dose of daily art!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Studio Time: Back to Basics

So I've been struggling with finding my voice on my blog as I restart my artistic journey and I just decided to go back to basics. Start over like I started my blog. Write about my surroundings, my art, and the journey of the experiments.

Lamp work is still on hiatus so I'm playing with polymer again. I've also started looking into classes on ceramics and fusing glass. It turns out I don't mind these opportunities to experiment in different mediums!

When I first started with polymer, I have to admit I felt like it was "too easy." I wanted art that I had to work at. But, as I've learned, polymer isn't that easy. In fact, in some ways it's harder than lamp working. Conditioning clay takes a long time! Plus, I've been following Polymer Clay Daily for a couple of years and this website confirms that polymer artists can manipulate the medium in magical ways. There are some beautiful works of art on there. I aspire to getting published there someday. 

But for now, I'm starting at the basics. While clay manufacturers create a lot of pre-mixed colors, when I was in Hong Kong, I had limited access to the pre-mixed colors. So, I learned to mix colors from the primaries through Maggie Maggio's color scale experiments. I have found that I much prefer mixing my own colors from primaries rather than buying pre-mixed. You get the more gradients that are more natural. I worked with FIMO classic (very crumbly) and just found I loved the colors I could mix from it. I have access to FIMO soft, which I much prefer and I'm thrilled with the color scales I can get. 

So below is last night's work at mixing. I have some rough ideas that I want to experiment with. I'll share as I go.

Below is my new studio. It's the other half of my messy office. I just moved in 3 weeks ago, so I'm still going through and filing papers. I may show that side of the room (and all the wonderful windows) when I get it cleaned. Don't expect that any time soon.

Gratuitous cutie pie pictures. I still miss my dog, Molly, but I'm thoroughly enjoying this new generation of puppies. Sophie (on the left) is 5 years old and Trixie (on the right) is 7 years old. I have a work-from-home job and they sit in my desk drawers while I work. I love that they are so comfortable that they sleep on their back. Sophie has been doing this for a year and I have a ridiculous amount of cute pictures of her sleeping on her back. Trixie just got comfortable enough to start sleeping on her back in the last two weeks. She's been with me for over a year, so it makes me happy that's she's feeling secure enough to sleep on her back.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Studio Time: Zazzle Products - Pear Pillows

I've ordered some of my products from Zazzle to see how they turned out and I'm VERY pleased with the pillows. I designed these pillows with different backs to give you more options depending on the mood. I love the bohemian artsy look you get with having four different pillows.

 These are the 20x20 pillows cotton throw pillows. They are available in 16x16 cotton and also available as options for the polyester depending on your preferences. Zazzle runs regular specials and I bought these when they were 60% off. They are very soft, and the printing turned out wonderfully on them. 

Here are the regular prices for the different sizes and different pillows. If you sign up for Zazzle, they'll send you notices when they have different discounts. The prices are comparable to Pottery Barn pillows and I was just as happy with the quality.

If you're interested in purchasing unique pillows for your home, click on the link below each design to bring you directly to the link for that design in my Zazzle Store store!

Pear 20x20 Throw Pillow Pillows

Pear 20x20 Throw Pillow Pillows

Pear 20x20 Throw Pillow Throw Pillow

Pear Plaid 20x20 Pillow Pillow