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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Yes!!

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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Making bad art on purpose

I am in a place of making a lot of mistakes with my ceramics. I joke that I am actually making a bunch of very large test tiles that holds large quantities of coffee. One of the teachers in the studio suggested I make actual tiles to test techniques and glazes. And maybe at some poinnt I will. But there is so much to practice and learn and explore, I just assume make the damn thing and let it be imperfect. 

I went through the same thing years ago with dyeing and spinning. And I still have times where I am shifting my methods or color sense, experimenting. But with the yarn, I have been doing this for quite a while and am better able to salvage any disaster in some way or another. 

But I love ever one of those mugs. Not making much else, I love hand made mugs so very much. 

Making Fiber Art: It is all in the details

Making Fiber Art: It is all in the details

Check this out. This is my most recent yarn…

It was made from this fiber I dyed a couple of weeks ago. The first in the new dye space.

So this fiber was a miss mash of mill ends, farm wool, angora from my late great bunnies, and sole roving ends. I could not tell you what breeds of wool was in there. This was in a box and I just needed it dealt with as opposed to actually having to sort it into the organized stash. I did not even bother to card it all together. I just dumped it into the dye pot. It was my first run in the new dye space and I just needed to see if my set up needed tweaking. When I spun it up, I just divided the whole batch in half and set about spinning it up into a mindless two ply I could make while watching a movie and using my espinner.

There is something about the mishmash of subtle textures that is just awesome. Look closely, you can see a sheen from a mixed fiber containing silk, some fuzz from the angora, rich colors where the dye strike was deeper in one type of wool compared to another. There was also a good bit of white in this batch. I know so many dyers hate having white in their batches. I think the white provides a much needed separation in some of the colors. The white also affects the range of values for the colors, adding a lot of depth within the yarn.

Check this Superwash BFL dyed and spun similarly. While this is a lovely even yarn, there is something predictable about every inch of the texture. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is interesting how just the subtle difference in the wools of my recent yarn adds so very much interest was. This yarn was also dyed with no white, and a smaller range of colors that were within the same value.

You can see while these yarns are similar, the subtle differences will affect how I use each skein.

While I love this new yarn and I am all about art weaving lately, I have to admit, I do not think this new skien would be best suited for art weaving. I think the texture would get lost against the warp (I am not a big fan of weft face weaving). There is a lot going on within one skien, so there is not much need to add to that visual language with other yarn. I really would like to use this skien in some knitting. But chances are I will need to add come other skiens to stretch the yardage for a project. Those yarns will need to just amplify what is already going on in this skien, be it a color, of texture. That may be as a compliment or a contrast.

The BFL skien however would be great in some art weaving. It has a subtle enough variegation to make a weaving section to work in concert with other sections and a panel as a whole.

So yeah, for me fiber art is not necessarily about high end materials or even the techniques I use, as much as it is finding the the ways to show off the best part of each material and technique in a whole piece. You kind of have to really get down to the details of your work and how each bit contributes to the aesthetic of the whole. It is really not that different from what you may be doing as a hobby knitter/crocheter/weaver, It is really all about being thoughtful and observing how each of your choices affect your project as a whole.

Want to know more about how to take turn your knitting/crocheting/weaving hobby into honest to god fiber art? I am hatching a new offering. Sign up here to get updates and notices for when these lessons go live.