Wednesday 11: Random thoughts on creativity fueled by cabin fever and cold medication

Wednesday 11: Random thoughts on creativity fueled by cabin fever and cold medication

I have been in the bed sick for days, so I am totally blaming this post on the cold medicine. As I sit down to write today’s blog post my mind is in 50 different places. I have often partaken in a series of post called the Friday 5. Today I am going to give you a hodge podge of brain blips I am calling the Wednesday 11 (because I have also had two cups of coffee… Woohoo).

No. 1:  A closet full of fiber. I have not been too ashamed to disclose the obscene amount of wool I have stashed in this closet. Like beyond-life-expectancy-full-of-wooly-things-to make kind of stash. Aside from using a bunch of it for my dye classes, and a bunch more for one crazy art yarn ideas, I have been ruminating about carding some bats and making felt hats. I started down this path last year, and then set it aside to finish the move. Supplies in place. I am ready to dive back in. Hats, and maybe some bags and slippers, but mostly hats. Not sure why, I really don’t wear hats, or even thing I look good in hats (my face is too round). but I am into the hats.

No. 2: I only make mugs. So this clay hobby has kind of become a thing. All I have been making really is mugs. I have always collected handmade mugs. I enjoy making them. I love drinking my coffee out of a mug (or 2…3…okay 47…) that I have made. I have no idea what I am an doing with this new obsession other than filling my cabinets. I definitely do not want it to become a product line. I have not been opposed to the idea of selling a mug or two. And if you are wondering what you will get from me for Christmas…just know it will be a mug. I may venture into making some bigger mugs that are chili bowls.

No. 3: Do not email me with the suggestion to make yarn bowls. They are trickier to make thanks to their tendency to warp at the cut out space. Seriously…I am not going to make them. I have 4, I rarely use. I only make mugs.


No. 4: I am also ready to get this monster working. I got this lovely Structo loom off craigslist for $50. It is only missing the hex bar that would hold the warp spools. I even have a bunch of the spools. But I am not really a fan of using a boring white cotton warp. The reed was full of rust and was finer than I imagine I wanted to warp. Enter Gowdy Reeds in Rhode Island. They make custom sized reeds. Perfect! Structo closed shop decades ago. I have an order in for a replacement reed form Gowdey. Hopefully can get cracking on this new direction in my work.

No. 5: That being said, what I really would love is a Saori loom. I have literally avoided fiber shows because that siren song is super strong. I decided that if I can get the Structo working, and actually start using it, then and only then will I let myself invest in the loom I really want. Wish me luck.

No. 6: I must be an old lady. Because for what ever reason all I want to do is crochet this freaking afghan. AFGHAN!!!! ugh! Not sure why I am all about making a blanket. Winter is coming…I have only 2384706 sweater WIPs in the basket. And I actually could use some new sweaters. I just can’t stop making this insanely addictive stash buster blanket. I am using this stitch.

No. 7: Maybe it is because I am not leaving the house much. I only leave to go to the community art center. Seriously. I have discovered that actually paying for grocery delivery service saves me in time and impulse buying. Yep, delivery fee and tip is cheaper than my hourly rate. Plus price comparing is easier online, as is sticking to a list. This really only works because I am big on meal planning.

No. 8: Meal planning is my creative jam. Here is how life happens when I don’t meal plan. It’s 5 pm, I am mid project and not really in a place to stop. I kind of panic because I realize I need to start thinking about what is happening for dinner. In my head, I inventory what I think is in the fridge. I remember I have skirt steak! Woot… I am making Vietnamese noodle salad bowls. 45 minute later I am at a stopping point, go upstairs and either realize A) I am missing some vital ingredient or B) I am just too overwhelmed to do all that prep work. We order Indian food. Food budget blown. If I can think of 7 meals that involves ingredients I have on hand, fill in the rest  with my list, I have meals to choose from and beat the overwhelm. I don’t schedule out what to eat on what days, because I find I might not be in the mood for something. I always keep spaghetti on hand as my back up meal. I use smorgasbord days to use up leftovers than need to be eaten before they go bad.

No. 9: I belong to the cult of Instant Pot. To be honest, I did not even really know what I would use it for when I bough it at a Black Friday sale last November. I only knew that many of my friends had drunk the instant pot Koolaid and … Hey look it makes yogurt. Holy crap I love my instant pot. I used it no less than 5 times a week. I have been collecting crazy good recipes on this pinterest board. I never knew mashed potatoes could taste so good, or that I even cared about mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are really just a vehicle for other flavors. Incidentally I have yet to make that yogurt…

No. 10: I digress…must be time for lunch…

No. 11: So much art so little time. Did you know Picasso also made ceramics? I feel like I should know this, and maybe I did, but in my Nyquil induced Pinterest surfing, I newly discovered that Picasso made some cool pots, pitchers and vases. This became important as I vacillate between mediums finding uses for all this creative energy in my head. I have always dabbled in many, many mediums. It has only been in the last 15 years settled on a few to mediums to dive deeper. For what ever reason, I worried that dividing my attention also divided my creativity. You know what… I think working between different mediums has really only multiplied my creativity in each area. After a lot of struggle, I have let go of the idea that I needed to focus on one. That guilt over not focusing has lead to some of the biggest creative blocks I have ever had. Yes some projects never get finished, but then again, some projects just need to die. If you are making art, it is because you were meant to make art. Stagnating over how you should be making art means you are not making art.

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Update on that Art Yarn Scarf

Update on that Art Yarn Scarf

So, Last week I made a video showing you how to use a hairpin lace loom to make an art yarn scarf. If you missed that check it out here. Once the camera was off and as the video loaded, I started to mull over ideas for finishing this scarf. And of course as is the norm for my ambitious right brain….this project has mushroomed and is now threatening to become a shawl.

My latest color jam has been light warm neutrals(beige, cream, light warm grey) punctuated with hot pink and orange. So I pulled out some screaming hot sock yarn and crocheted an edge, putting a cluster of 3 double crochets into each of the loops. I almost left it as is, but decided that I needed to flesh out the color pop just a little more, maybe asymmetrically…

But first I decided to pull together some coordinating yarns to see if maybe I would prefer keeping the pops thin as I added some width to this piece. So far these are the yarns going into this project bag…

So some of the theories behind this selection. I added another hot pink yarn is a slightly different tone and texture. I am not sure if this will end up in the piece or not, but I think there needed to be a bridge between the stark contrast from the super bright and the neutrals. I don’t want there to be too much pink here, but it needed something else. I am also picking the variegated neutral with a little dark grey for depth and little blush pink as a nod to that hot pink. This I feel will be a big part of the shawl/scarf. But we will see. I also pulled together as much handspun using undyed fleece as I had. I needed to play up what was already in the piece, but find some smoother textures. I am also adding the tiny bit of beige-grey worsted that I have. This will draw out the grey Montedale in the art yarn. Not pictured, but I may add it in is an undyed skein of alpaca/merino/silk yarn to round out the creamy white neutrals.

I will keep you posted as to where this is going. But can I just say…OMG this is the first new fiber art piece I have felt compelled to dive into after a long hiatus to work on my new clay obsession. So what are you working on? leave me some comment love below, or shoot me an email. You guys inspire me more than you know.

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Crocheting with Art Yarn

Crocheting with Art Yarn

Today fiberista, I am giving a shout out to all the right brained Crocheters. I know it can seem as if they are the red headed step children when it comes to cool crochet resources that aren’t this:

 

Ok I exaggerate because there are awesome patterns out there. A quick browse through my Pinterest boards and you will see MANY of them indeed are crochet.

 

But there is not a whole lot of info for crocheting with wild art yarn. The structure of a crochet stitch is just not meant to show of the intricacies of a very textural art yarn.

So today Fiberista, I am going to share with you one technique which I think is hands down THE way to crochet that crazy art yarn AND maintain your ability to actually SEE the details of your hand spun art. I made you a video.

So, tell me. Do you have a favorite crochet method for crocheting with handspun art yarn? Leave me some moment love below. and as always, if you love this blog post, then please share. xo

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Gift Knitting Like A Boss

Gift Knitting Like A Boss

HoHoHo!

Fiberistas, Break out the stash, It is that time of year again. Time to make your list, check it, and the stash, twice.

We are officially just shy of 6 months from Christmas.

If you are like me, you are gonna want to do what you can to offset any of the normal holiday stress, gift those hand knits like a boss, and actually drink that spiked eggnog for recreation not therapy.

Fiberista, It is time to do some planning…

No worries. I got you.

Today, I give you the UrbanGypZ’s Guide to Slaying Holiday Gift Knitting Like a Boss.

First, here is a post detailing my very best left brain system for out right making a production schedule for this years Holiday knitting.

10 Steps to Beat Overwhelm: Christmas gift Ideas to start knitting NOW!!!

And here is another post with some additional tips for you to work faster, and prevent overwhelm.

Tis the season: Plan your Christmas knitting NOW!

Even though we are almost 6 months out, here are some tips to help you knit faster.

Six Secrets You Should Know If You Want To Knit Faster

I also keep a running Pinterest Board with insanely cool gift ideas to knit/crochet and even felt.

This year Fiberista, I dug deep within my OCD and have made a holiday planner just for your knitting projects!!! It is a free download.


So make that list, check it twice and go make some art to share this year. By all means if there is a project you think I need to add to my Pinterest board, leave me a comment below with a link if you have one and I will make sure it gets pinned in the Merry Knitmas Board.

UrbanGypZ's FREE Gift Like A Boss Holiday Planner

Something I made to help you get your shit together and slay your holiday gift knitting like a boss.

Get the FREE planner

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Creative Ways for Working with Handmade Yarn

Creative Ways for Working with Handmade Yarn

Working with hand dyed and handspun yarn can be a pain in the ass. I get it! When I was selling handed yarn it was the one question I was asked the most often…What can I make with this.

It is one thing to fall in love with an interesting yarn, an another thing altogether trying to find a patter that will work with it. And if the yarn is handmade chances are there is only a small amount of it. Maybe even not enough for much of a project.


For the last 10 years I have been studying ways to work with the handmade yarns that I love so much. It was a way to provide resources to my yarn customers. But it also is a way for right brain knitters/crocheters to find creative expression painting with yarn. I have written what I call anti-patterns that were created with handmade yarns in mind. So here are my best anti patterns, knitting theories and creative techniques to help you use your handpainted and handspun yarn into fiber art.

Studio Awesome Challenge Day 24: WIPs I am on the fence about

Studio Awesome Challenge Day 24: WIPs I am on the fence about

There is another pile in the WIP stash that is way larger than I would like. And to be honest, I am using this blog post to really suss out my feelings about each.

Now I know everyone is going to have an opinion about saving the projects I am about to list. And while I appreciate the input, just know in the end I am really just going to go with my gut.

So, here is the list of the not-so-sures

The DOT shawl

Love the pattern, love the yarn base, even love the color (my own hand dyed sock single)That is until I try to wear this shawl and realize it the same color as the vests the DOT wear when fixing the roads in traffic. I may over dye this one. Not sure.

I am not even sure what this is

I think it is a traveling woman shawl and my hand dyed seacell sock. Love the pattern and how the yarn is knitting up. But I just don’t think I would really wear this. Maybe a different shawlette? I really do not need more shawlettes…

The weird hoodie shawl thing

I want to love this pattern. And actually, I kind of do love it. But for what ever reason this looks weird on me. Not sure what it is. It is something in the wrap part. It is too small a circumference maybe? Or the width is wrong. I may just from it and redo the wrap part to be open ended. This is a stashbuster using primarily my hand dyed worsted weight yarn.

The traveling shawl from hell

This was the product of a Ravelry group I belonged to. How this was supposed to happen: everyone in this round robin group picks a shawl and ships it along with instructions, supplies and a notebook. Each member works a little on everyone’s shawls and before passing it on to the next person. What ended up happening: People were not mailing shawls. Plus my entrelac shawl was too confusing for some. Hell happened when I received a shawl that reeked of smoke. Since I received it directly from the shawl’s original owner, I did not feel I could say anything. I worked as much as I could stand (after airing it out for 3 days, and hitting it with fabreeze) and passed it on. However the next knitter in line was pregnant and chastised me for smoking around someone’s shawl (I do not smoke). The owner of the smoky shawl swore on a stack of bibles she did not smoke. WTH?!?!? I dropped that group like a hot potato. I got my shawl back mid round. It was a hot mess and missing about half my supplies. I am still damaged by the whole incident. So, do I finish and infuse the project with my own good mojo? Or rip it back and repurpose the yarn? I’m torn. It is made with my hand dyed sock yarn.

The sweater that worked in theory

This is another one of those genius construction sweaters that is knit in the round side to side using short rows. I still think this construction could work, if I can get the gauge right. The gauge is hard to resolve on this kind of sweater. And what the hell was I thinking with these ridiculous clown buttons?

The reality behind one of my favorite images.

I have used this image all over my branding. It is this kind of painting with yarn that is at the core of my creative message. But the truth is that is it a failed vest design. There is a problem with the arm holes. They are in the wrong place and the wrong size and construction. I think the fix for this project is to unravel the arm edging and graft the holes close making this a circular shawl.

Another Clapotis

Okay, I may have to frog this one. I might not have enough yarn to finish it. It is the discontinued Suede yarn from Berroco. Love the color and drape. But I will definitely be bummed if I don’t have enough to finish. I think I did have enough at one time. Not sure at what point I lost the rest. The pattern is here.

One of the 471 leafy shawlette patterns

I am not sure which one of the dozens of leaf edged shawls this is, but I will know it when I see it. I love the look of the shawl but not sure it I will wear it. Love how my hand dyed silk/merino is working up in this pattern. Not sure if I will finish this, but I do think this yarn is best suited to some pattern exactly like this. I am just not sure what I will do.

The 20 year sweater

No lie I have been trying to recreate this sweater for almost 20 years. As in notes on recreating this sweater are from my first knitting class in Birmingham in 1997. And it seems like I have successfully recreated the back although in a different(better) stitch. Love the yarn (Elisabeth Lavold) love the sweater, but is it something I would wear today? Am I too middle aged to pull off a bolero? Yes folks, I just admitted I actually may have aged out of one of my WIPs…

I know the point of a studio purge was to not be on the fence about WIPs. What can I say, I guess 9 out of 80 is an improvement…

Tomorrow We are looking at the perpetual WIPs.

 

Joining me in the 31 Day Studio Awesome Challenge?

I am posting progress and info on setting up my studio over the next 31 days. I will not be blitzing my main email list daily…but if you DO want an email notice when daily posts go live, sign up here: