Saturday, April 29, 2017

Social Knitting

Knitting is a relaxing, almost meditative activity for me. It can be very solitary and I enjoyed my time with my cats by the fire during January snowstorms. I also enjoy the social aspect of knitting in public and having someone inquire "What are you making?". It's a great conversation starter, especially while traveling. My goal for 2017 is to share knitting and fiber arts with the wider community. I plan to start with a weekly social knitting time at a local coffee shop. 

Relaxing by the fire knitting with my Kitty, (knitting a pussy hat)!
Social knitting takes a special project. My rules are simple: a pattern repeat that I can easily memorize, a few rows of mindless knitting so you can stop at any point, and the size of the project makes it easily portable. All the yarn I need fits nicely in my Fringe Supply Company Field Bag (see picture above & below).

Knitting a red Project Peace cowl at Caffe Ibis, a local coffee shop.
Looking at Instagram in the first weeks of December I found Project Peace. I knew I found a perfect project for social knitting and for peaceful knitting by the fire. It was designed by Christina Campbell to be knit one four row repeat each day for 21 days. I started it on January 1st, and finished it on January 21st, Inauguration Day, with a day of knitting in public. I used one of my indigo dyed gradient sets for this project. I started each day with a little peaceful knitting.

My Project Peace Cowl knitted with my indigo dyed gradient.
One of my goals about knitting in public is to get more people knitting. I have had a few people ask me about teaching them to knit and I decided that I wanted to teach by using a fun and quick project, a simple hat. I designed a quick striped hat that I called, "Find a Friend Hat" as in find a friend to knit with, find a friend to teach to knit or find a friend to teach you to knit.

Prototype for my "Find a Friend Hat" kits.

I recently gave a graduate student a quick one-time, 2 hour lesson on knitting, got her set up with a hat pattern and knitting in the round. She was so excited to have something she could enjoy doing on an upcoming 18 hour flight. She sent me this picture of her progress after the first leg of her flight. She is my star student. See the picture below of her beautiful knitting. 

Perfect knit stitches from a first time knitter.
Now to find that next perfect knitting project and a great location to host a community knit night. I loved the idea I heard on a recent podcast. Pub knitting, but that is not likely going to happen in Utah!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Deep Into The Indigo Vat

September started out with a three day indigo class at the Maiwa School of Textiles. The class was titled Journey Into Indigo, and it lived up to its name. This class was the first of the fall session classes and the first class to try out the new classroom. The space and the class were energizing. It was great to be together with 15 artists who are as excited about the same things you are. When you are doing things like dyeing, spinning and weaving they tend to be an isolating activity.

My homework from day one.

We started out learning different types of stitch resist. They take the longest to create. While we were doing our tiny stitches on different types of fabric. Sophena and Dani talked us through creating a organic indigo vat using bananas. The classroom smelled liked we were making banana bread.

The indigo flower on the banana vat.

I did as much experimenting and sampling as I could in 3 days. Trying different resist methods and different indigo vats. We were given different fabrics, natural and bleached linen, two types of silk, and different types of cotton. It was interesting how the different fabrics came out of the vat being different colors. Natural indigo is a fascinating subject.

Sampling the indigo.

Besides the fabric samples, we were also given a large cotton scarf. I waited until the second day to decide how I was going to dye mine. No time for little stitches but after we were shown a few techniques to do on a large scale piece I decided to do a sea creature! Not really.

The 'sea creature' before it saw the vat. 

After four dips into the indigo vat, a good rinse and drying out on the porch of Bee & Thistle Guesthouse. This is what the 'sea creature' emerged as. Of course this was taken back home in Utah showing off the local sagebrush.

The 'sea creature' back home in Utah, where the sagebrush grows. 

I didn't always have my gloves on and so I came home with a little tint to my hands. Maybe that's why the custom's agent in Canada had a strange look when he asked what our business in Canada was and I said taking a class on dyeing, and held up my hands. He gave my husband a strange look and we added dyeing fabric. They did let us out of Canada.

"Mom, that's a little creepy"

Of course, because I was up to my elbows in indigo I didn't do a good job getting pictures. Check out Journey into Indigo on Instagram.  I went home with all the materials needed to create my own indigo vat and plenty of confidence to do it.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

"I'm out back dyeing"

"Ugh! Mom that is getting so old." I guess it's time for school to start, my comment about being out back dyeing is not funny anymore. Well last week, before it got so terribly hot, that is what I was doing. I was out in my backyard dyeing. I decided to use up the some of the dye stuff I had collected last year. When the sun is out I take advantage of it and solar dye.

Sun, work your magic!
A beautiful basket of yarn!
While the sun was working away on the jars, I set to work on some 30x30" 100% cotton flour sack towels. The perfect size to try out some shibori techniques. Having recently received some new colors of fiber reactive dye, this would be a study of color and pattern.

The Fire Red dye bucket!
I forgot to take any pictures of the 'packages' before they went into the dye bath. I am very careful to wear my mask and gloves which sometimes makes picture taking difficult. Although I don't have before pictures, I do have my notes. I document how each cloth is folded, the dye color name, as well as the details of the dye formula. If I really like how something turns out I want to be able to create a very similar piece.

Some of the items I used. 
This is why it's sometimes called a 'dye kitchen'.
I have to tend to these like you would a pot of soup. Stir frequently, add a little salt, stir frequently for 15 minutes, let sit for 15 minutes, add something else, stir again, and sit for 30 minutes. I think you get the picture. Listening to podcasts helps the time go quickly, lately it has been On Being with Krista TippettDear Sugar,  and Magic Lessons. Some of these can be on a speaker in the backyard and some need headphones, I'll let you figure out which ones are which, they are all great to listen to. After approximately two episodes the bundles are ready for their first rinse and to be unpackaged. That is when the magic is revealed.  

The first batch, Fire Red & Fuchsia Red, on the line.
It is really fun to see what patterns the ties, blocks, and clamps create. Some of them I know what to expect and others come out with a pattern makes me think, Oh I want to try that again but do XZY with it. And I am off to work on another 'package'. The male part of my household seem to like the circle motifs best while I prefer the linear and diamond designs. I have something for everyone.

A close up of one that looks like sand dollars. 
The next day was a new set of colors and a new set of 'packages'. I also tried a few bundles of 100% cotton yarn that could be used as a warp for my weaving and a couple of squares of 100% linen. The colors this time were cool colors, Turquoise and Avocado. 

The second batch, Turquoise & Avocado, on the line. 
When I am trying out colors and patterns I really don't have a plan for the end fabrics. I guess that is how I do everything. I let the end cloth decide what it wants to be. I think the small squares will work great for furoshiki . But I am open if something else inspires me. 

The towel display for instagram
There are always more colors and patterns to try. Next up are Kiwi, Chocolate, Straw, Pagoda Red, and Basic Blue. I have already started gathering more items for the shibori: tongue depressors, plastic shapes, and PVC pipe. Anything is possible when you are not afraid of making a mistake, I only have happy accidents.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Day On The Lawn

One of my goals for this summer was to be in a show or art fair. I was told by a friend that I should apply to be in  'Art on The Lawn' here in Cache Valley. I decided it's a perfect first show, small, one day and really close to home so it would be easy for me to get my booth set up. I sent a link to my website to the organizer and was accepted right away. Now the work began. I needed business cards, a sign, and some type of display to hold my products. I had been working with someone to design a logo for me and I was excited to get my business cards printed. 

This became the chosen logo design.  

It wasn't long until we had a great design that I think fit my personality and be a great logo. I now had to decide the font and design of the card. The font we took from my website something I thought fit well with my design aesthetics simple, clean and classic. 

This be the name of my studio & was printed on my sign.

I had a business card I liked from a coffee shop in SLC, natural paper and black ink. I really liked that raw look and decided it contrasted well with my colorful weavings. The print shop used the divider board that was between the reams of paper to print my cards on, a thick craft paper. I couldn't wait to see the final product.

My finished business card.

I saved pictures of a few displays racks, tweaked a few things and came up with what I thought would work great. The tricky part is building something that is strong enough to stand up on its own and still be taken apart to move (it had to fit into the vehicle). I drew up plans and talked to some trusted friends about construction methods and got the darn things built. The stain was drying the week of the fair.  

My booth before others came to join me. 

I was a beautiful day and the weather could not have been better. I had great comments on my products and sold enough to make it all worthwhile. I had a great experience at 'Art on the Lawn'. I am looking for more shows to do around Utah.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Students At Sagebrush Studio

One of my goals for the new year was to become a registered SAORI weaving studio. In November of last year I sent off a request to Japan to get the information needed to apply. I received a nice email from Akiko Jo of SAORI-NO-MORI with the information I needed. One of many things needed was pictures of students in my studio and also their weavings.

I called upon my neighbor and friends to be my first 'students'. One of the goals of my studio will be to bring SAORI weaving to the schools or at least school aged children. I had my loom set up with a simple black warp so they could just come and weave anything that made them happy.

Brother and sister sharing the job of weaving.
My neighbors children are 6 and 4, the perfect age to learn something new. They spent an hour weaving, had a great time and created something special. Kate and Forrest worked great together, each one taking a turn at doing the different jobs of weaving. They shared at selecting the yarns and the special treasures to add in. They added fluffy clouds, sparkly yarns and lots of color.

Kate and Forrest with the SAORI Smile. 
When I had my open house a friend said her daughter wanted to come but couldn't. So Christine was my next student. As a seventh grader, she it would give me experience with different ages. Christine was a little quiet and shy at first but she quickly found a rhythm and before long she was weaving away. After showing her one time, she was advancing the warp when she need without me saying a word.

Relaxing into the rhythm of the weaving.
Christine liked choosing a bobbin and weaving until it ran out. She was surprised at how much she wove when we removed her weaving from the loom. Her smile says it all.  Three students and each one created something special with that simple black warp.

Kristen showing off her weaving and her smile.

The other thing I needed for the application was a name, a website and an email. String Studio, which I had been using, wasn't going to work.  The website name was used by a string instrument studios.  It became a family activity to 'help Mom name her studio.' A lot of names come and went but Sagebrush Studio just felt right. Sagebrush has a natural beauty that just fit with SAORI to me. The name is now officially Sagebrush Studio, Freestyle Weaving and Fiber Arts (SAORI Weaving and Fiber Arts) when my application is accepted by SAORI-NO-MORI. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Right or Left, Which Is It?

I did a little quiz on Facebook about being right brain dominant, (the creative side) or left brain dominant, (logical thinking) and I wasn't surprised that I came out at 50/50 with equal parts of each. I see that every day in the things I do. I sometimes have to fight the urge to control the outcome of my creative projects.

Well I found the perfect thing for that this winter, snow dyeing. You see what you do is put the material you want to dye, cloth, yarn, or even a t-shirt in a tub, pile on 4" of snow, and drizzle on the dye. Then you let the whole thing sit for 24 hours before you find out what it looks like. This is similar to tie dyeing in that you don't know the outcome until you undo the rubber bands, or in this case until the snow melts.  Perfect because there is really not a whole lot I can even try and control with this project.

Fresh Utah powder!

With this process you can only control a few things, the way the fabric is placed in the tub, pleated or scrunched. The only other control you have is the color of the dye you drizzle on your snow covered fabric. The dyes sometimes mix together and creates a totally new color. Occasionally the dyes crack, that is where the colors used in making up the color break out or separate such as teal making a blue spot and a green spot or even a little yellow coming out of that. This is what I find so fascinating about doing this type of dyeing and really dyeing fiber in general. I'm not really in control if I don't want to be. I just let the colors happen.

Dye covered snow, looks like a snow cone but not good to eat. 

In these tubs I decided to just try a few different color combinations and a few different pleating/ scrunching techniques. At this point the whole process was new and I really didn't know what things I would like and how the fabric would take the dye. I had to wait 24 hours to find out.

Covered for the night, now we wait 24 hours. 

Covered up tightly so they stay warm and the snow melts away to let the "magic" happen. Now to be patient and wait 24 hours and not peek. Ok I did look before I went to bed. The snow what still melting and the colors very really vibrant. Oh now I was really excited.

One of the finished pieces after it was rinsed out.
This is from the last tub with the blue, green and red dye.

This was a piece of 100% linen I put in the just to see how this worked on other fibers besides cotton. I loved the fabric and the way it dyed I went back to the store and bought the last 2 yards on the bolt.
Here is a close up of section of the linen. I love how the red and blue stayed bright, but created the dark areas where the colors overlapped. I see a table runner in it's future.

A close up of the patterning that took place with the colors overlapping to make new ones. 

To show how different things work out, this next piece is 100% cotton and this is the same red but brown was the only other color added. The brown must have broke and with the red created this more coral and lavender colored fabric. I plan to keep trying new things and dyeing more linen and cotton. As long as the Utah snow holds out. By the looks of our front yard I have a least another couple of weeks. 

This is from the first tub. Brown and red dye was applied to this piece.

This has been a good right brain activity for me and I have enjoyed the trial and error process of it. I would say I had a lot more successes the failures and even those can be over dyed to create something new. Off to bury more fabric in snow.

Friday, January 22, 2016

2015 Turns Into 2016

It was December 19 and winter break had just started for the schools in our area, I wanted to make time each day to weave. It gets a little stressful during the holidays and weaving is a great way to relax. I challenged myself to weave and finish off the 30 meter warp that was on my loom. I thought there was only a few meters until the end of the warp. I decided to do weavings around 1-2 meters because I really wasn't sure how much was left. Next time I will keep better track of what I have woven off. I started with a little something Christmasy, I picked out a few reds and greens and a handful of treasures to throw in. It wasn't long before a tree started to appear at the edge of the weaving. I just went with it and before the day was over we had a SAORI tree on our front door. 

A little something for the front door. 

Was I getting near the end, I would have to wait until after Christmas to find out. Would I get to the end before New Year's Day? What would I weave, next? 

That was answered by one of my presents, I received a Comb Reed for my SAORI loom for Christmas. With the Comb reed I can reposition the warp threads to space them differently during the weaving of a piece, changing the look of the piece with ease. Yet, I can remove it and go back to the way it was originally warped just as quickly. The day after Christmas I began to try different ideas with the Comb reed. I gathered a few blues and started to weave. Whenever you try something new there is always a learning curve. I took risks, some things worked, some things didn't. I learned how easy it was to get things tangled but the great part of the Comb reed is it was just as easy to untangle them and start over with the repositioning. My weaving with the Comb reed came out very open and lace like. I can't wait to try out more weaving with it in the future.  I think I will do a whole blog post on just the Comb reed. It was now the weekend after Christmas and I had enjoyed the day of weaving but it seemed I was no where near the end yet. 

Trying out my Christmas present, a Comb Reed.

I decided that I probably should have kept better track of what lengths I had woven so I would know how much I really had left. Instead of dwelling on what I should have done I decided to take this chance to just try out lots of different color combinations and techniques.

The last of the papers fell out. The end is close. (or not)

Next up, that basket of assorted bobbins that had collected over the year. Ends of this and that from other weavings. (I wish I had taken a picture) I decided to empty them off and start fresh with 2016. I had no plan in mind I just lined up the bobbins next to my loom and picked up the one that  inspired me next. Remember after the cloth is wound on the cloth roller, you don't know what you have woven so far. This was a really fun one to wind off and see what was woven. I absolutely love the way this weaving turned out. I am not sure what it will become, but maybe something to wear. Again it seemed like this warp I was no closer to the end of this warp. It was starting to look like I would not reach my goal before New Years Day.

Finishing off the bobbins of 2015. 

It was the day after my birthday, December 29. I had the afternoon to weave and I decided to dig through my bins, yes there are more than one, of yarn and find something fun to weave. I found some of the really bulky yarn that was one of the first yarns I had spun. That started to snowball as I dug around and found more of those firsts spun yarns. Most of them were either natural white or a dark brown. Nice, thick and uneven lumps and bumps. Great for a nice thick weaving and what could be a better way to show off those first spun yarns. I decided to accent it with red, my favorite color. I turned to be really thick but soft. I think it will make a great bag, Borders thinks it will make a great bed. I could finally see the tape on the back beam. I might make it after all. (30 meters is a really long warp!)

Borders thought it made a nice mat. Look how nice I look. 

There was just a little more than a meter left to weave, maybe more. There was one more weaving I had thought about doing for the start of 2016, an all white or natural weaving. This was a black warp but I decided to do it and see how it turned out. It would make for a nice way to end 2015 and start fresh in 2016. I really enjoyed weaving this and if I remember correctly it was on a snowy day so it was perfect. Peaceful and relaxing. Finally I came to the end of the warp. It was New Years Eve. I had an empty loom to start 2016! I am sure it won't be empty for long. There are lots of new things to try in 2016, dyed warps, clasp weft warps, painted warps, and paper warps, just to name a few. Stop back to see what I weave.

Peaceful Renewal