Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's time

Christmas is over. It's time to get back to art. It's time to stop using all the Christmas prep as an excuse to avoid the studio. Of course, those were legitimate excuses: design Christmas cards, order cards, mail them out; purchase or make and ship presents for out of town family; purchase presents for intown family and friends and wrap them; make treats, lots of cookies and candies (short interruption for trip to ER to sew up thumb due to misuse of kitchen equipment); decorate tree, prepare meals, yada yada yada. I did spend some time in the studio but it was to sew labels and sleeves on finished quilts and make the storage bags. I'm on the last one and when I finish that there will be no more tasks that I can use to procrastinate. I will have to make some art.

At the moment I'm sort of devoid of inspiration and need a kickstart. Doing some surface design on fabrics always helps in that direction. Maybe some monoprinting with gelatin plates, or some soy wax batik (haven't done that in a very long time). Wish I had a foolproof method for getting up to speed....

What do you do?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Further adventures in knitting

Good thing I decided to knit one sleeve at a time. So far I've had to rip out three different times, for a total of about 30 rows. And it's not the kind of ripping where you can take the needle out, pull the yarn, and then pick up the stitches. With the pattern - knitting 2 together and yarn overs - I know I would never get it right. So I have to laboriously unknit one stitch at a time. Sigh.

While I was doing the research, I kept reading about AddiTurbo needles. Everybody raves about them so I did some more research to see if I wanted to purchase some. They are definitely not cheap. But it sure looked like I wouldn't have the problem of the needle unscrewing itself from the cable or the permanent loop in the other cable. It quickly became obvious that nobody was selling these beauties at a discount. All the web sites I checked had the same prices and even had the same charts. Must have some master site with the information that everybody is supposed to use. But I found this one site Bob and Nancy's Services that did free shipping, so that's a discount of sorts. I ordered them on Monday, they were shipped Tuesday, and arrived today. Pretty good deal.

I haven't been doing much art lately, for sure. I have a bunch of quilts that need sleeves, labels, and bags to hold them. Boring work, but at least I'm in the studio and I can listen to audio tapes. The label fabric that I ordered from Spoonflower arrived and I embroidered titles and dimensions for about 6 quilts, and those have to be sewn on. Maybe while I'm in the studio I will absorb some inspiration.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Adventures in Knitting

So I dyed yarn for a sweater, and found a pattern I really like at elann.com. It's a top down knitting pattern and I really like those because it nearly eliminates any finishing sewing, no side seams, and no sleeve seams if they can be knit in the round. This pattern is not real precise in its instructions and assumes that the knitter is fairly experienced. I thought I qualified for that until I got to this section:

Sleeves: Move sleeve-backs (underarm to back of shoulder) to one circular needle, and sleeve-fronts (underarm to front of shoulder) to a second circular need. Knit.....

Huh? I've used circular needles to knit in the round, but this use of two circular needles was new to me. I could not even visualize what this was talking about. Google to the rescue. I found lots of descriptions and videos of knitting with "2 circs". It actually seems easier than using double pointed needles, at least once you get the hang of it. But I couldn't find anything anywhere describing how to use this technique and knit two sleeves simultaneously. A little more searching revealed directions for knitting two socks on 2 circs at the same time. I thought I would try to adapt that to the sleeves.

This involves a lot of three dimensional thinking and my brain was clearly not up to the task. I threaded those stitches on the circs and they always came up in the wrong configuration - inside out or the beginning of the row was not at the needle ends or the whole thing was twisted. I struggled with this for a long time and it was not made any easier by the permanent loop in the one circular needle nor by the fact that Rosie the kitten thought all this yarn would be great to play with. Finally, I thought I had a workable configuration, and started knitting the sleeves. Disaster. Everything got tangled, I didn't put the right number of stitches on the separate needles so the pattern wasn't working out, and I finally surrendered. I'm knitting one sleeve on the 2 circs (notice how I've picked up the jargon), and it's going well. As long as I keep track of whether I'm doing a patterning row or a plain row. When knitting back and forth it was easy because the patterning row was the knit row and the plain row was the purl row. Now it's all knitting and I have to pay attention.

When I dyed this yarn I wasn't able to get even color throughout. I swooshed the yarn in the dye bath frequently and added the soda ash in batches and swooshed some more, but after I washed it I could see a definite variation in the color. I was concerned that it would look funny, like I had used different dye lots of yarn. But no, it doesn't because the variation is within the skein and it alternates lighter and darker. And it's really working out well - adds lots of depth to the patterning. I'm going to tell everybody it was intentional.

The last sweater I knitted I had to do a lot of reworking because I got the sizing wrong. Well, that and a lot of pattern errors and one sleeve knitted inside out. I certainly hope the sizing works out correctly on this one. I don't know if I have the heart to rip it all out and start over.