Studio Sunday

Among the joys of a rainy three day weekend is having a lazy studio Sunday.


I'm spending some time dyeing; but as you can see, this one is a surprise for now.  Any guesses?

The multi-blue square I've been working on for the knitted Barn Raising Quilt is finished.  I'm meeting my goal of one a month — I didn't want to shut down all of my other knitting to work on it, but it's hard not to.  The squares all look so pretty together.  I need to pull them all out soon and do a photo of them together for you to see how it's coming along.


I'm devoting most of my day to working on a collage piece.  I started this a while back, prepping the canvas and dyeing a piece of silk organza to lay down as the background.  The problem was, I liked that simple, paler-than-ballet-shoes-pink rectangle so much I became unable to work on it.

Yesterday, an old post card of the Capitol caught my eye and I decided to play with this piece.  It is evolving into a multi-page altered book spread, done on one canvas.  This is an idea I've been playing with for a while.


The basics of each of the three pieces are blanked in, but I'm still working with ideas for unifying the piece and I'm still auditioning the embellishments.  I'm hoping I can find a larger skeleton key tucked away somewhere, as the one thing I definitely want is a long key that stretches all the way across the middle collage.


I like the buttons anchoring the bottom here, but am thinking I may want some darker buttons.  Either way, I'll sew them on as the last step.


I'm still debating how to adhere the mica here.  I rarely use mica, but it seemed just right on this piece.  And that sweet little flower, which came off of an old hat, is definitely destined for this piece.


This last segment is still very unformed.  In the studio it isn't shiny as in the picture, but rather it's a very textural bone colored base for the tiny collage I've temporarily adhered with nail heads (who knew you could make them gold by smashing them into a gold stamp pad and baking the color on with a heat gun?)  This part is very much in play still.  Really, the whole thing is.  I'm glad to have some time to see what it's going to become.


More Felting — Chad Alice Hagen and the Amazing Mokume Scarf

If you are reading along from earlier today, we picked up after lunch with the amazing process of turning the fulled and stitched scarf into a tightly pleated snake, that was ready for a second bath to over dye the original colors.  The stitching and pleating acts as a resist.


The snake went into a deep purple dye bath, and an hour later, out popped the most beautiful thing imaginable!  Unfortunately, due to the joys of hotel room photography, you're going to have to imagine the colors for now, but the photos at least give you an idea of the patterning.


The actual colors are a deeper purple with soft earthy brown variations.


Unfortunately, better color pictures will have to wait for tomorrow, but at least this gives you the idea.  I adore this scarf, and imagine that between the soft merino, the fabulous bark-like texture of the pleats, and the beautiful colors, this one will be a favorite.


Today: Felting a Scarf

Today I am felting with the wonderful Chad Alice Hagen. I've admired her work from afar for years — having the chance to take a class with her was an incredible opportunity.  The class is called "hand felted bark scarf" and is based on Japanese Mokume dyeing.

Because we only have one day to work, Chad pre-dyed our batts for us.  Mine looked like this.


We've spent the morning, first felting the batts and then stitching them for the Mokume patterning.


I think they look sort of pretty just with the stitching in.


Next in store for them is a second dye bath.  I'm leaning towards purple, although a rich brown still isn't out of the question.  It has been a great class so far!


Give Back


I have an idea for helping other people.  My life is so full and I am so fortunate.  And a lot of the time, I feel like I don’t do enough to help others.  So between now and the holidays, I want to try to do something that will make a difference.  The issue that concerns me the most is hunger — the idea of little children like my own living in constant hunger. 

One of my family’s favorite charities is Heifer.  At Heifer, you can purchase an animal to help a family in need become
self-sufficient, and since I’m a knitter, I want to help buy sheep.   This part of the site lets you pick out the animals you want to donate.  I like the whole idea that if you give a man a fish he eats for a day, if you teach him to fish, he can feed himself.

So between now and the holidays, I’m going to be dyeing up some special yarn and offering it in my store as a lottery or auction listing, with all of the money, minus only paypal fees and shipping, going towards purchasing a sheep from Heifer.  Look for the items titled "Give Back."<br><br>

I hope you all will consider dropping by and helping out.  Individually we might feel like we can’t do much, but if 60 people buy a $2 lottery ticket, that’s one sheep.  This is going to be a whole family effort in my household — The little ones have been helping with colorways and dyeing, and my 17 year old is winding skeins.  I hope you will catch some of our excitement!<br><br>

I would really appreciate any help you can by  letting your friends know about this.  Word of mouth can do so much on the internet!  I plan to stock the first skeins as lotteries this Thursday, the 15th, at noon, and will keep stocking as long as there is interest.  I hope to be able to buy one sheep, but would love to buy more — maybe an entire flock?


Today: The Finished Market Bag

I procrastinated for almost a week after I finished knitting the Market Bag (based on the pattern in Alternknits, one of my favorite knitting books and one of the few you really need to get if you don’t have it).  The reason was that I planned on following the instructions in the book for making handles out of plastic tubing, and I wasn’t quite sure it was going to work.  I love how the bag turned out, and I was just the teensiest bit afraid of ruining it.

Last night, I decided it was time to go ahead and finish it  — in the wee hours where no children were around to distract me.


The bag is knit mostly from Peace Fleece, which felts nicely, although I still need to shave off the fuzz.  I changed the pattern to create a roll down top, so I would have a very sturdy fabric to attach the handles to.  I’m going to use this bag at our weekly farmers market, and wanted to make sure it would hold up.

The handles are mad of plastic tubing, a brilliant idea from the book.


I took some twill tape and dyed it to match the lavender yarn, using Procion MX dyes.  Then, I stamped on both sides of the tapes, so that it reads "knit & purl" across the handles.  I made holes in the plastic tubing and sewed it to the double thickness of felt created by the rolled over edge.  To cover the ends of the handles, I sewed on vintage mother of purl buttons.


Voila.  I can’t wait to use it.


Tag, You’re It.

Miz Carla tagged me with the meme that’s going around.  I have to list seven random facts about myself and then tag seven other bloggers.  Here goes:

1. I was born in St. George, Utah.

2. I wear glasses.

3.  I cannot draw ANYTHING.  I suck at drawing.

4.  My first cat’s name was Licorice.  Currently, we have five cats.

5.  My grandfather is still my hero and role model.

6. I will have been married for 19 years this October.

7.  Of my college friends, I was the one everyone thought was least likely to grow up and get married.

Ok, the challenge here is going to be finding seven people who haven’t been tagged yet.  Here goes:  Lou, Audrey, DJ, Maija, Selena, Susie, and Joanne.

I also have a little bit of show and tell for you.  I’m been knitting a big "market bag" — I wanted something that Ellie and I could carry to our farmers’ market outings this summer.  I’ve been loosely basing it on the pattern in Alterknits, although obviously the colors and patterning are different and I’ve rolled the top of my bag and given it a broader brim that the body of the bag.  I felted it up last night and think it is going to be awesome when it is finished.  Now to add the handles (the book used plastic tubing with words stamped on it and I’m going to try something similar) and see if it holds up.  Here it is drying under the watchful eye of Mr. Squirt.



A Happy New Year

It feels good to be off to a happy new year.  The joy of being off of work for a couple of weeks and having time to play with kids, cook, knit, and make art is really wonderful.

The informal Artist’s Trading Cards swap got off to a great start despite short notice — I only dreamed it up a couple of days in advance.  It’s going to continue on for the next little bit to give more artists the chance to play.  The list of participating artists is now the first list  on the   left-hand column of this blog.  If you are interested in joining, scroll down through the next few posts for the details and then email the link for your ATCs to Joyce at Elliebelly dot com.

I finally got in a bit of post-holiday knitting time, and used it to add onto the silk feather and fan scarf, which I’m absolutely entranced with.  I seem to be doing a lot of knitting for myself right now and this scarf is surely going no where else but around my neck.


I also got the chance to return my studio to normal (as opposed to the cleanliness and order that came with my unbelievable willingness to look foolish for HGTV viewers all over America TV debut in early December.)  For those of you who were concerned by the order, it is there no more.


Is there a name for artists afflicted with ADHD?  Or is it ok to simply think of myself as a versatile multi-tasker?  I’m working on two different shrines, as well as this piece which I have starting painting the background layers on….


and this piece, which is going to be a fabric portrait collage of my baby.


The "make a wish" fragment fits Ollie perfectly, but I had it in the studio because I used it to make a wand for my friend Joanne.  It took me a while to figure out how to felt the handle of the wand.  I ended up pre-felting some roving while still in sliver form, and then wet felting it, using a felting needle to tack it a little bit, before adding the curly mohair in via needle felting.  I hope she’s going to like it!


For my swan song before I go back to work tomorrow, I’m dyeing some silk/merino yarn tonight.  It looks like it would be perfect for a Clapotis, which just happens to be on my short list of new knitting projects (I’m the only knitter in the world who still hasn’t made one), although I had plans to use some pretty Debbie Bliss teal blue alpaca-silk yarn.   Decisions, decisions.