Category Archives: Patterns

Stitch Yourself into an Expert

So, I’ve been working on lots of new or re-visited things lately. I’ve been feeling like wanting to do something new and creative and have a few things that are sitting in a position of almost ready to launch but I am still deciding what to do, and when. Meanwhile I am still spinning fun yarns and going down a bit of a rabbit hole with sewing. I decided that being the new parent of a toddler requires a bit of time to oneself sometimes. So, I am going to take little workshops and classes from time to time so I can get some focused creative time. I started a few months ago taking a sewing boot camp class at Black Orchid Designs and it’s been a nice wake up call to get reacquainted with sewing and sewing machines. I’ve already made a fun pillow and I’m working on a dress for myself that I hope to finish this weekend. At home I have pulled out my sewing machine and read the manual and we are getting reacquainted as I turn my baby quilt project into reality. I decided some time ago to save all of Bee’s little sleepers and make a quilt out of them. It’s quite meditative cutting out the squares for this project.

I’m doing a simple patchwork design that I might add some interest to when I quilt the top layer. These cute little patterns are full of so many memories. I feel like I remember lots of places she went, and all sorts of milestones where I can still see her wearing these pajamas.

I’ve been trying to spread around my creative pursuits a bit and get into things that are not necessarily a part of what I do for Studioloo, but just fun in general. I’ve also been thinking on the concept of business vs. pleasure in the arts and in creative expression and also about how to be a professional with your skills. It got me to thinking about back when I first learned to spin. My skills were still quite new and had a lot of room to get better. I was spinning yarns I liked, but in smaller amounts, and with simpler techniques. I was not confident enough for some time to get started selling my yarns. I decided for about a year to just spin and use my yarns in my freeform crochet, as at the time that’s kind of why I started. I had been looking for yarn that was interesting enough to make really one-of-a-kind hats. That’s the very reason I started researching about making yarn. Then I just fell in love with it.

The point I am getting at is that there is value to learning your craft really well, and finding your style before you start to market yourself, or your craft. I look back at all that I have learned about spinning art yarns and I know that what I produce today is far better than what I produced 15 or more years ago. It’s hard to imagine how long I have been on this journey, and still that I love this yarn. The worst thing you will do as an artisan with the intention to sell your wares is to sell something that is not up to your quality standards. People will buy from you, but if they have issues they will not be return customers, and they might even leave bad reviews about you online that are hard to resolve. That’s a topic for another time — the whole anxiety of being perfect, making mistakes, not being able to afford mistakes, and customer service, etc. It’s a big topic.  My point is – love what you do enough to make sure that you make that ‘made with love’ really apparent to your customers. Learn your craft. Never get too comfortable in your expertise and keep learning!

Some of my tips about spinning art yarns successfully would likely be:

  • Anchor your coils and complex techniques with a strong ply so that they don’t fall out if the yarn is cut.
  • Make sure your yarns have tensile strength – don’t sell yarns that have fibres that fall apart of float away.
  • Don’t ply with sewing threads or other weak, easy to snap, yarns or threads. This makes your yarn an easy candidate for snapping.
  • Knit / crochet / weave with your own yarn – it’s your best way to learn how to use it and troubleshoot/advise on questions like ‘what do I do when I get to this flower add-in?’
  • If you can, produce a simple pattern to be used with your yarn. Art yarns are incredible and usually require only a simple stitch to be an amazing finished project. They are often bulkier so you can produce samples quickly. (I need to follow my own voice here – I do make samples but often they sell. I don’t like to keep things around too long.) Get someone else to test knit your pattern.

In other life events, we were lucky enough to visit the AGO and see Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirrors’ exhibit. We had a lot of fun and it was great to wear polka-dots and dress up Bee in a polka-dot dress.

And we went to the Creativ Festival and I  might have been bamboozled into some fabric stash enhancement.

I will sign off by sharing my contribution for the #artvsartist hashtag on Instagram. 8 pictures of your work and a picture of the artist.

Spring Artfest and the Artful Umbrella Shawl

So, I know I am a bad blogger, but you can find me most days posting to my Studioloo Facebook page. 🙂

But also, I am hoping to blog a bit more now as I have setup a kitchen workstation to help me be in a more central part of the house to ensure that I update my website more, blog more, and overall inspire myself to be on the computer enough so no one sends a search party. The truth is that as an artist I am often totally immersed in what I do these days and I don’t feel as eager to post it all online – editing photos, creating buttons, web updates, etc. I do enough computer stuff in my day job so I would rather be felting, spinning, making making making. But I will find balance.

Some fun news though – this upcoming May 2nd, I will be participating in the Spring Artfest in Etobicoke, ON (Toronto) at Neilson Park Creative Centre – so come on out and see me – lots of new yarns and fibres and other fun things.

Spring-ArtFest-2014

Also, it’s official that I will be taking part in the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair in September at the AUD in Kitchener, Ontario! I missed last year but will be taking part this year. Can’t wait!

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Other than that I have been working on a couple of things – a workshop I hope to be teaching this summer, and a new pattern that I just published on Ravelry – using one of my handspun art yarns and one of my bootsie-loo sock yarns. The Artful Umbrella Tree Shawl is a lot of fun, and I will be putting together some custom kits for it. It is a lovely marriage of my yarns and a really fun knit. It will help you expand your creativity and learn a few new skills while still being suitable for yes, a beginner knitter!

I will be photographing a bunch of new yarns soon – lots of bootsie-loo and some wire core handspun. For now I have posted a huge handspun art yarn update and there are lots of goodies ripe for the picking. Check them out here! Also, if you are one of my US customers, there is no time like the present to pick up Canadian yarns as our dollar is so much lower than yours. That is a great benefit I try to take advantage of when international shopping.

mosaicofartyarnapril2015

Spring is on it’s way and I am planning my garden – how about you?

xoxo

 

 

 

Apparently…I am crazy when stagnant!

My poor little pup, Toasty, developed some kind of illness in the middle of last week and through the weekend so I stayed home with him…all….weekend. I have really come to the point in my life where I can’t ever stay inside the house for an entire day. I don’t know why…but it makes me insane…and makes me think about how I could be doing a million different things but I just sit there…and watch TV.  It’s bizarre but I think a testament to the human body and mind needing nature, activity and stimulation.

So, I looked at my to do list from last post…let’s see how I did:

1. Update Art Yarn page in the shop with all new art yarns.
2. Finish reading driving manual and look into booking test.
3. Review required updates to pottery guild website
4. Think about trip to US and PR stuff with husband, start a plan.
5. Determine packaging for wooden buttons and start packaging.
6. Dye sock yarn.
7. Photograph and update Ravelry with rebranding on new yarns.
8. Work on cowl pattern.
9. Walk every day.
10. Work on documentation database for work.

Ok, not too bad…I finished 4 of 10 things but also managed to finish a few things not on the list…like teaching the husband to weave the rope rug I have been working on so he can help me and as a result I finished 2 more circles and he finished a couple. Here are mine:

 

And, I made really good food, including lovely beef short ribs. Here’s a photo mosaic of the process:

On Sunday I finally broke down and had to take a walk. Toasty was starting to feel a lot better but still just wanted constant sleep so we packed him up in his own little, cuddly crate and walked the beach. It was a nice, inspiring walk and was very nice in that I felt like part of a busy, artsy city. It was quiet and had freshly snowed.

The swans that I visited throughout the summer were there. I photographed these babies in various stages of their growing up process. Now they just look like baby swans but in an adult size.

There were guys filming a music video, singing and playing guitar. They had a cool, little rolling track that the camera could move farther and closer on.

There was even a lady letting her wee bunny take a run around on the beach. He was wearing a cute, little purple sweater and I even got to give him a little cuddle but I only managed to photograph his butt.

Then I collected a lot of amazing drift wood, some charred and a bit piece that looks like a bird head from Beetlejuice or something. I love it!

 

And there was much knitting hexipuffs for my ever-loving Beekeeper’s quilt.

And, in the shop there is a big new art yarn update! Check out the shop here: http://www.studioloo.com/handspunartyarn.htm

Take a peek at these handspinnies!

Also, I am in the middle of re-branding, dyeing, and photographing a ton of new sock yarn and other yarns. But, my best friend, Mat of Manspun fame has also written a lovely sock pattern for use with my yarn.  It’s called Man-Tastic Socks! and works for men or women. It’s a fun knit and great with variegates, solids or semi-solids!

Pick up your copy here! http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/man-tastic-socks

 

As Summer Winds Down…

I have been having a really nice summer full of good friends, fun events, good food, much love and learning some new things. This past weekend I was at the Textile Marketplace at Lang Pioneer Village. They were having the ribbon cutting and opening of their new weaving room and it was such a fun event. This is a wonderful place to take kids, or just hang out at. There are so many charming people and really interesting exhibits. I have dyed a ton of new Bootsie sock yarn and Wink Wink Worsted weight and unveiled it at this show. I am really trying to gear up for the Kitchener Waterloo Knitter’s Fair on September 10, 2011. That will be one of the largest shows I have done, and this time I am doing it without The Black Lamb and my good friend Laurie as she is off on a lovely UK knitting tour. Anyhow, here are some highlights from the weekend at Lang.

This is the new weaving room – it has a huge Jacquard loom inside.

I was not only in attendance as a vendor, but also as a spinning demonstrator. There were all sorts of demos going on all around the park. This lady was weaving rag rugs.

Women in period costume were doing some wonderful natural dyeing over the fire pit and they were even selling the Lang natural dyeing booklet. I picked one up – it seems a nice introduction to the basics of natural dyeing without getting too overwhelming – really well defined and organized recipes and instructions.

And, much to my delight there were all sorts of sweet beasties to play with including a really adorable chicken and duck that lived together in sweet harmony. They were the nicest pair of birds I have ever met. They were so cute and would come up and ‘gossip’ with you. Of course by this time my camera had long run out of battery life. Anyhow, here are some of the other sweeties.


And a couple shots of my booth..

My birthday also passed on by on August 1st and I was totally spoiled and had a wonderful weekend in Prince Edward County. My husband made me this amazing ‘PCOOKIE PCAKE’ which is…loosely understood as a custard pie with a giant chocolate chip cookie on top and then a 2-layer chocolate fudge cake on top of that. It was insane decadence.

I have also become a woman obsessed with knitting Tiny Owl Knits’ Beekeeper’s Quilt . It is so fun. Even Hippo agrees!

The other day when I was sitting outside knitting thinking to myself all morning ‘Dear Cicada up high in the tree, please go visit another neighbourhood not so close to me’ when all of a sudden BLOOP, right in my lap he came tumbling on down. I affectionately called him John Cicada before hanging out with him a bit and then hiding him in the crotch of my lilac tree where the birdies couldn’t see him.

He agreed with me that knitting is a great social event.

A Foggy Fall Weekend

So, apparently I have been too busy living my life to write about it….gosh, but I miss blogging! It has been unusually foggy yesterday and today…but I am not bothered. Mat won the use of a demo car, a Kia Borrego, for the week, so we are off on a roadtrip to the Paris and Woodstock, ON area and I am going to hide a Domokun letterbox!

I have been really busy just organizing different aspects of my life and trying to work on things here and there. I did manage to get a load of pottery out of the kiln…here are some pics of finished yarn bowls:

There are plenty more pottery photos on my Flickr. I made a ton of buttons, most of which sold at the amazing Woodstock Fleece Festival, and this little acorn pot.

I have also started a new vintage Etsy shop – Hullabaloos Vintage. It’s been lots of fun so far – a place for me to share the kitschy, cutesy stuff I collect – because mama’s running out of nooks and crannies to hide things!!

Also, if you are a Muststashyo podcast listener, fear not! There will be a Movember episode – Mat and I are putting it together this weekend. We just havent had time, both working in the technical and financial sectors – the end of the year is crunch time. This means lots of overtime, and just general job stress. Weewaw…

My latest project is one I am working on hopefully to be finished for this holiday season …we shall see. I have had little time to get to the pottery studio, or maybe it’s a motivation problem. Not sure, maybe because summer is over. I need to boost my vitamin intake and find a sugar daddy to send me on a tropical vacation.

Anyhow, here they are…my little Bird in the Hand project:

Also, one other thing I wanted to share! How cool are these socks?

They are the Rainbow Shell socks and you can buy them here on Ravelry or from The Black Lamb in person or via email. 100% go to this sweet little boy, Ben, who has cerebral palsy and is saving up for a second stem cell treatment in Mexico. His aunt, Pat, designed the pattern. She is a local, unknown on the internet, ingenious knitter and designer who creates incredible socks. These are actually a lot easier than they look!

Also, I have a whole new yarn line called Foot Fetish – merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn!! Check em out here: http://www.studioloo.com/yarnpages/footfetish.html

Ok, out into the fog I go!

Of Dogs and Totem Poles

Yesterday I had a really great morning. I went to Woofstock! One of the nicest things about living in Toronto is that there is always something going on – and this weekend it is North America’s largest dog festival! The roads all around St. Lawrence Market are closed down and you get to see every kind of dog imaginable. It’s so fun. First the dogs take a stroll up the red carpet.

There are hordes of people with dogs, vendors, restarants, and it’s just a really fun, happy scene.

I will mention that I published my Totem Pole Socks pattern up on Ravelry as a free download – but then the rest of this post will be entirely dog related. 🙂

Grab it here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/totem-pole-socks

Ok, now on to the dogs!

First my favourite dog of the day – this sweet little girl in her roller cart:

She was so sweet, calm and gentle and her face had a way of melting your soul.

Funniest dog face of the day is awarded to:

Best tutu award….

Cutest toenails…

Best all-over face lick!

Best dachshund prarie dog stance! (This is a piebald – really rare..)

Most impressive fancy group of cute:

Best leash chompage:

Least amount of hair:

Today I need to get a little knitting in public done – WWKIPD was officially yesterday, but I am sure you can see why I simply didn’t make time.  🙂