Category Archives: spinning

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.

Remember the Internet?

Lately, with all going on in the news, and in the world, I have been feeling kind of like I could turn back time to when the internet just felt more exciting, and big! We all had webpages and blogs, and seemingly endless avenues to visit and find other creatives. Then social media came along and for some time it was a nice curation of friends, family, and inspiring people we followed down the many roads the internet provided. It seemed easier. However, at least for me, now that same tool feels kind of limiting in that I don’t really want every part of my life connected. I want to have privacy. I want quiet time. I don’t need distractions like a social media feed to cause me to stare at a device for an hour instead of spinning a yarn, playing peekaboo with my daughter or taking part in something educational or relaxing. I’m also starting to feel like it’s taken things from me. I notice a change in productivity. There are some positives but like many notable tech leaders, I am starting to see more negatives than positives for me personally.

So, I’m mixing it up and using the time machine in my mind to go back a bit to how things were when I was happier about the internet. I’m updating Ravelry again, blogging, listening to podcasts and spending less time in general offline. I’m online for my day job and that’s really probably going to be about 90% of my online hours. I’m also debating about how I want to sell my work online. I’ve been terrible at doing shop updates for a multitude of reasons. It’s a lot of work photographing everything, writing descriptions, uploading it, tagging it, advertising, it. I’m not excited to do all that. But I might do something like have live sales or sell on Instagram, where I am posting pictures of both my progress and final items anyhow. It seems like a logical move to try to streamline everything.

I’m also getting back into sewing, which I have not done in a very long time, and I am spending lots of time just spinning fun art yarns. I’ve decided to refocus a bit more on that than on dyeing millspun yarns. I think the market is oversaturated a bit right now – although there are a ton of amazing dyers out there. I just find I have more fun creating yarns from scratch. I will still do small runs of dyed millspun from time to time but more as a special release.

Also, the Frolic is coming up really soon! Come on out and see all our new goodies!

 

Summer 2016

While the blog has been somewhat quiet for a while, behind the scenes Studioloo has been extremely busy planning for the lineup of shows we have coming up:

Aug 14th – Fibre Artist’s Marketplace at Lang Pioneer Village in Peterborough, ON
Aug 20/21 – Twist Fibre Festival in St. Andre Avelin, QC
Sept 10 – Kitchener/Waterloo Knitter’s Festival in Kitchener, ON
Oct 15 – Woodstock Fleece Festival in Woodstock, ON

And…then from there, we aren’t yet sure if we will be doing more shows for 2016 and will have to see how things go as I am due with Babyloo on December 3rd!

Summer2016yarn

Also, you will likley notice that studioloo.com is looking very empty right now. This is becuase I am in the middle of redesigning it entirely, and also will begin to sell Spinolution spinning wheels again soon. So, there will be lots of new changes coming up and many fun things to share, real soon. Meanwhile, come on out and see me at a show. 🙂

Summer buzz!

I know this blog has been really quiet, and I sort of have too. I guess that is what happens when life it this crazy whirlwind of summertime activity and building my house into the happy little nest that I need to make my brain work. I have been on many adventures so far..making the nooks of this new house more comfy for me, my husband and our fur-family. I have a lot of fun things coming up however. I updated the ‘upcoming shows’ section of the website so you can keep up with me. A great place to find me or my stuff is the Art in the Open event every Saturday in front of the Rose Theatre in Brampton. It works in conjunction with the Farmer’s Market so you can see me, get yarn, and stock up on awesome produce in one fun morning!

 

The studio is coming along nicely with most parts pretty much ready for production work now. The last thing to get done really is the installation of a big restaurant kitchen sink that I indulged in to allow myself an easier place for all of the dyework. This week I am hoping to get it all setup so I can start dyeing up some new yarns. I am going to have a new line of bootsie-loo sock yarn and lots of mini-loo mini skeins fresh off the presses in a couple of weeks.

This upcoming weekend I will be at Art in the Open on Saturday and then heading down to Peterborough for Lang Pioneer Village’s Festival of Textiles. I will be selling my wares and doing art yarn spinning demonstrations. There will be a lot of other fun things going on – natural dyeing demos, live music, animals, historic buildings and other fun museum stuff. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday.

 

This summer has been nice but really busy. I am looking forward to taking a bit of vacation soon because things have been really non-stop, but in a good kind of way. I have been working a lot and trying to find a new balance living in a different city with a different routine. I have not been online a whole lot as I have so much real life stuff to get done. I think I am somewhat addicted to working on projects around the house. There is just so much to be done, in phases. The next big project will be putting my library together – a room I have dreamed of having for ages. It’s safe to say that I have a lot of books and it will be nice to have them in their own little home where they belong. That way I won’t feel so guilty for having so many books. I think it will be a nice room to relax in, leave your troubles at the door and get lost between the covers of a good book.

It’s also almost Wordwide Spin in Public day – September 21st! So, I am in the process of doing a lot of planning and populating http://www.wwsipday.com with lots of activities!

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

 

Camping Break

Labour Day weekend proved to be lots of fun, camping with the family – having awesome BBQs, smores over a fireplace, hiking around lovely woods, catching frogs and snakes (and letting them go of course), kayaking with dogs, and just relaxing. This is totally the break I need before a big knitting show. We stayed in a lovely area of South Eastern Ontario where there is a tiny population out in the middle of 120 acres owned by a friend. I was able to sit outside most of Saturday evening and Sunday morning and spin yarn outside while the dogs ran around, off leash, having a great time.

 

The dogs normally don’t get much chance to run off leash as I find a lot of the dog parks in the city are overrun with big dogs and lax owners who don’t really pay a lot of attention to their dogs. But the land we stayed at was basically a mowed field in the middle of the woods so the dogs were pretty good about not venturing away. Toasty, the pup, was the most adventurous so we had to keep our eyes on him a little more. But, he’s cute, so it’s allowed.

 

It was nice walking around in the marsh – although it was a bit dry because of the summer heat, but the frogs knew where the water was and there were literally hundreds of them all jumping around. This area seems to be populated mostly by leopard frogs although I did see a couple of bull frogs.

I even got to see a super cute hummingbird at the feeder near the camp site. Sorry for the blurry photo – they are always so tough to photograph or get very close to and I only had a point-and-shoot.

We took a drive to the Black River which is really beautiful black slate. The river was really calm and there were a lot of small speckled fish swimming around.

Then we got to check out O’Hara Mill – it is a nice conservation area, perfect for hiking and picnics, with several pioneer buildings – log cabin, blacksmith, schoolhouse and such. It was a nice day to wander around there.

Schoolhouse

Great poster

Mike, being Herculian

And, a cool rock

And, I got to meet my Aunt’s dog, Peanut, who is totally adorable..

Since arriving home, I have been working away trying to get everything all done for Kitchener/Waterloo Knitter’s Fair and I think I am finally finished. I dyed up a custom order lastnight and put the final touches on a few things and organized all the stock for the show. Come out and see me at The Black Lamb’s booth – we will have lots of great stuff. Other than being a great friend and partner working together at shows, Laurie is awesome because she gave me all these veggies from her garden! Yay for having friends that are basically like a CSA!

Pickled Plans

It was a great weekend – Art in the Open was awesome and there was the most beautiful weather ever – so perfect for Farmer’s market – really cool and bright days.  I managed to get a lot of work done this week and it feels somewhat good. The trick is not looking too far ahead at all the stuff on my ‘to do’ list. All things will come with time.

I bought a big bunch of cukes to make the annual dill pickles and got them canned yesterday. Today I am making Lord Grey’s Peach Preserves out of the amazing peaches I bought.  I have really been feeling the cooking bug lately – more than ever now that I am adding ‘A Salad a Day’ to my diet. One of the highlights of the fresh eating was this zucchini noodle salad that I made.

It was a nice side to the steaks marinated in merlot that Mike grilled. Last year I went to a raw food class and purchased a machine to make these noodles. I love it! It is a great substitute for having pasta and very fresh, palette cleansing and cool for summer. I added little sprigs of cauliflower and then made a dressing from pesto, oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped cherry tomatoes, diced black olives, kefir lime leaves and finely chopped red onions. It was yummy!

I am also really in love with all the fresh flowers at the Farmer’s market. I don’t ever see myself as a flower grower. I think when I have the land to farm I am going to concentrate on fruit and vegetables because they serve more of a purpose. But that just means I can support other farmers by buying their amazing flowers! Look at these!

 

While I am writing I should likely mention that Worldwide Spin in Public Day is fast approaching! Check out events near you here – http://www.wwsipday.com/. If there aren’t any – book your own by emailing me through the website! My event will be on Sunday, Sept. 16th in Mississauga at Hiawatha Park – I can’t wait. I love sitting under the big willow tree and playing with all the fibres and hanging out with friends.

 

And I leave you with Toasty the amazing hand-balancing acrobat!

Bread and Paper

So, poor week went really well actually and made me think a lot about what I am eating and how I want to change that more than before. I recently made a bunch of decisions about food. I am now eating almost entirely organic, farm raised and naturally fed things. I am not eating at any more big box fast food restaurants.  This week brought me to the salad a day idea – I am replacing one meal a day with salad. The funny thing is that naturally you would want to believe that this will be the dreaded meal of the day – but really it isnt! I mean, on day 1 I got to eat this!

I made my own vinigarette with olive oil, pineapple vinegar, homemade raspberry/strawberry jam, elderberries, and flax seeds – put them in a jar and shake and voila! Then I tossed baby spinach, salad greens, and fresh tomatoes in the bowl with some blueberries. On the side some awesome Edwardsburg cheese from Black River and some rainforest crackers – a real addiction of mine.

I have been reading ‘Made from Scratch’ by Jenna Woginrich and rather enjoying it so I thought I would try out her bread recipe – the standard country white loaf bread. I wanted something decadent during poor week, but also something that was very handmade from scratchy ingredients. So, I muscled my way through the 25 minutes or so of kneading to get to that baker’s window with bread where it is just perfect. And here they are – my loaves of love.

Last weekend I was also treated to a really amazing workshop on handbuilding with paper clay, taught by Lesley McInally.  I really loved the medium and I am finding myself really inspired to work with different shapes and textures in clay. It was a great, informative and fun time. Lesley is a great instructor – very giving of her knowledge and experience.

 

I make my return to the Farmer’s market/Art in the Open tomorrow.  I am looking forward to spinning outside and hanging out in the relaxing market environment. The next month promises to be really busy preparing for Kitchener/Waterloo Knitter’s Fair, finishing up 2012’s canning and preserving of food, and trying to meet a few goals before summer passes by.

Now to share a little sweetness before I need to get down to work on stuff…this is what I deal with every time I have a bubble bath – Toasty is a born water dog and always pleads to jump in. Usually he walks along the side of the tub giving me the cutie eyes.

 

Poor Week and Summer

It’s about time I update this blog. Admittedly I am so bad at blogging – I blame life…and well, Facebook. Somehow it seems so much easier to chicken-tap a little writing there. I have truthfully been taking a hiatus from a lot of places I used to write – Ravelry, and so on. I just feel like I want to spend more time living, not writing about living – so that’s what I have been doing.

But, this blog is sorely missed and I want to re-focus some of my wasteful energies to it. Because I have something to write about today, it seems about time.

This week I am decidedly poor. Well, not really, but I am doing a little project on ‘making due’. I have had a whole bunch of expenses with a lot of business stock ordering and preparing for lots of upcoming shows so my bank account is sort of complaining back to me. I am not truly too poor or anything like that but I am not wanting to spend money right now. I am just feeling anti-spendy. Mike and I have decided this week that we are going to not do a big grocery shopping – we are going to eat what is in this house. We might cheat to pick up some essentials though – eggs, milk, butter. But that is it – only those staples.  This will be a 7 day project and I will be doing little updates with our meals and what happened.

Today’s lunch was the first of these ‘poor man’s paradise’ we are creating. We found 2 frozen burgers in the freezer and had some hamburger buns left over from the BBQ the other day – so Mike BBQ’d them and I was tasked with making a side dish in the time it took him to BBQ. So, I came up with a salad made of…

– Cubed watermelon (leftover from a few days ago and packed nicely in the fridge)

– Pumpkin seeds (from the freezer, organic)

– Grilled pineapple (the rounds from a can, asked Mike to grill them for me while making the burgers)

– Elderberries – (from the farmer’s market – last year, frozen)

– Rosemary and apple mint (from my front porch herb garden)

The salad was really yummy and the elderberries melted and gave a bit of a nice coating on the grilled pineapple. It was really refreshing.

I will be posting a big huge art yarn update in the shop on Friday. Here’s a sneak peek:

 

Breakfast of Champions

It’s a nice morning – cool but sunny. I made blackberry sweet cream crepes and bacon. I woke up early and went to the potter’s guild to unload my bisqueware and organize the insane amount of buttons that now need to be sanded, dusted and glazed. A trip to the pottery supply house is in order for some time this week so I can get a banding wheel and new glazes. I have about a million things to do before I go on vacation.

Some spinning is getting done. I have actually been getting through a lot of my fibre stash which feels really great and makes me feel so ready for Maryland Sheep and Wool in a couple of months. I have made a pact with myself that I am not to buy any yarn. It needs to be all about fibre, felting supplies and weird stuff. I have way too much yarn. So much yarn that it makes me vision my own mortality and how much of it will be used before those dark days are upon me.

And this brings me to day 1 of OOD, or Object of the Day rather…

For those who know me really well, it is already known that I am an avid dollhead collector. This is not the same as a doll collector. I really am only interested in the head. I either use the other body parts in an artwork, or end up donating them back to goodwill with the hope that someone could love a headless doll. I also thrift for them, seek them out in antiques stores and obsess over them online from places like Germany, which are by far my favourite. This particular doll was picked up somewhere in an antique store in Ontario (I want to say in the KW area) in a big white house that was really cold. I got it with one other dollhead for about 10 bucks and when I brought it to the counter, the lady lovingly said ‘Aww….do you restore these? How nice. My husband wanted me to just throw these in the trash but I thought someone might want them’. So, I left her with the idea that I would restore this doll into something of Victorian beauty. But actually, no – it stays as it is and joins the happy menagerie. There is just something about dollheads that really appeals to me. They aren’t even funny to me…but they have some kind of dark..class. It’s weird but I see them as though they should be in design magazines. I guess this is why I am not an interior designer and why my house is kind of like a scary art circus maybe.