There are a lot of communities that we become a part of in life – our families, neighbourhoods, clubs, and of course our hobbies. We find people both in person and online. I have to say that from all the different groups of people I have spent time with, the yarn and fiber community is one of the most welcoming. I have been a part of many amazing experiences and seen our community come together incredibly at times of need – when our friends are sick, in the event of personal tragedy, or most often just to lend a hand or a word of kindness. I get to see it in many ways every day. I also really enjoy seeing the openness with which people share their knowledge and information on the different things they work on. I have never really experienced much in the way of ‘competition’ but instead been embraced as I embrace others – in that we all have our own niche in this space, and that’s a nice feeling.
That being said, we are at a strange time in the world right now, with a lot of clashing opinions, and a lot of change – some for the good, and some for the bad – if we look at this through a world scope. My efforts in 2017 are going to be more targeted at my community, and at building new communities. I have always thrived on knowledge sharing – part of the reason, I think, it my geeky enjoyment of things like databases and data entry, where I can log information and share knowledge. I have always enjoyed knowledge management, even in my day job – creating knowledge spaces for people to store documents, files, tutorials and so on.
Another nice part of being part of a community is giving each other a hand up, and promoting what we both enjoy. So, I wanted to take a minute to talk a little about THISyarn – if you know my fibre artwork, the majority of the yarn I spin is themed and art yarn, and sometimes it can be a little striking to people who aren’t familiar with it. It’s safe to say that on more occassions than I can count people ask me ‘What can I do with THIS yarn?’ Well, the lovely brains behind THISyarn, Dayna Mankowski and Ashley Martineau, do a wonderful job of answering that question in so many ways for knitters, crocheters, weavers, and general fibre artists. They have targeted patterns and tutorials and the site essentially presents you with many options for working with art yarn. It’s a great resources that serves the whole fibre community.
These days, I feel like I do almost nothing with much speed, and definitely without disruption….but that’s OK because it’s the cutest disruption ever – my little Matilda Bee. It’s been a huge adjustment for me to be at home for this year with my baby. While I love it to bits, it has also really shown me what a busy, independent person I have been my whole life. I am pretty sure that I have not relaxed in years – like, really relaxed …while not doing something with my hands. Whenever I watch TV, listen to music and basically do anything where hands are not needed I am doing some kind of artsy thing.
I used to pride myself on my fast spinning. I still sort of do. Over the years I have managed to be able to spin very fast – on a fast speed, fast whorl, fast feet and hands, and produce several yarns in one day. Nowadays however, my yarns are more complex and take a lot more time; they are also much larger in yardage which I think is a result of the amazing Spinolution spinning wheels that I use – they have huge bobbins which allow me to push myself as an artist and create very wild and very bulky yarns.
On the topic of both speed and spinning, I have also been endeavouring to spend a bit more time making garments out of my yarns to answer the eternal ‘what do I do with this yarn?’ question. The one thing I can say is that with art yarn, because of both it’s bulk and it’s interesting elements, it allows for the very quick creation of lovely things. At the top of this post is a hat that I made from my yarn – and it was completed within 2 days. I think in some ways I am really spoiled to have access to nice handspun yarn that I can make myself so I get a bit less excited making garments from commercially spun lightweight yarns. You just end up with such interesting, and totally signature garments when you use your own yarn.
Taking part in this challenge kind of got me invigorated to get caught up on a few things that I do, but they have been slacking a little. This is one yarny thing I am working on. So, a long time ago I was a part of a group on Livejournal that is now defunct. It was the original ‘Fiber Friday’ and each week a theme would be delivered to us and we would do something in the fiber arts to respond to it. As years past, and technology changed, I emailed the original creator of the group to see if she would mind if I took it over to Ravelry but it seems she too is no longer online. So, I went ahead and did it and the Fiber Friday group now lives on both Ravelry and Facebook. Admittedly I had not been doing the weekly updates. Life gets busy and I am not at a computer all the time these days. So, I decided to put together the graphic that can be used on all the sites and other social media and people can work along with it as they can. Feel free to participate! Tag your posts with #fiberfriday2017
Other than that I have also been working on trying to complete making a series of geeky themed yarns as I will be taking part in the Niagara Artist’s Spotlight at The Geekery Pub next weekend. The latest one I am working on is My Little Pony themed.
I also decided that as I am on maternal leave this year that I should try to take up some new learning and have settled on focusing a little more on textiles – specifically embroidery and cross-stitch. Cross-stitch had always seemed like such a dated craft to me until I came across The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery and I am in love with their totally cute patterns. I am currently working away on the first of the Happily Ever After SAL (stitch-along) stories – The Owl and the Pussycat. I am finding it very addicting and trying hard to balance my time between this and the things I must do!
On the embroidery side of things I have been working for some time on the #bohosal, which is really big on Instagram. It’s a floral piece that I am just having fun with. I recently picked up the Boho Embroidery book and I would recommend it highly – it is fully of amazing photos, inspiring projects and great instructions for even the new stitcher.
I decided to share close-ups of a couple of recent projects that I have been working on. The first is of a freeform crochet hat that I recently finished, spun from my own handspun art yarn. I am always in love with bright cherry red and robin’s egg blue/teal colours. They were my wedding colours and the colours that always play in my mind. This is the Belle Bonnet – a hat that has been crocheted with my own yarn that has slubs of red, felted wool and stems of tiny red flower buds. On the one side I incorporated a commercially made red, polka-dot commercial ribbon yarn. I am very in love with this hat for it’s modern feel, and bright happy colours. It was fun to make.
And, then below is a little closeup of the fibres I was working with and the teeny adorable bunnies that I am incorporating into a ‘Little Bunny Foo Foo’ yarn I have just completed. This is a brief look at how a lot of my yarns come to fruition. I tend to really enjoy spinning addins into my yarns, and working with themes. I do a lot of thrift shopping, antique store hopping, estate sale hunting and attend a lot of vintage shows to find interesting and creative materials to add to my yarns. I also handmade many of the materials that go into my yarns such as wood and felted beads and buttons, fibre flowers, and ceramic sculptural items. My studio is a bit of a chop shop for toys and all sorts of things are made for the creation of yarn.
Thanks for visiting to follow me along on my #yarnlovechallenge. My name is Cindy, and I have been a maker of something pretty much all of my life. From the earliest influences in my young life I was taught to try to make something from nothing and I have been obsessed with that concept ever since – both making, and trying to make use of existing things that I have in my stash, or that I can create myself or find in my journeys. I started to sell my work in 2000 and the first iteration of Studioloo as a business actually started on a website called Diaryland.com. I started out selling random things that I was making at the time – sculptural dolls, toys and mosaic and mixed media clockworks. I then started making several other things – t-shirts, fridge magnets, and the crochet bug bit me. I was taking part in a lot of online trading groups – making mixed tapes, making homemade fridge magnets in a group I created called ‘Fridge Love’ and starting to think about making garments and working with yarn. I had been influenced in my youth a lot by different knitters and crocheters and eventually found that the kind of yarn I wanted to use to make things with didn’t exist – so I embarked on figuring out how to make my own yarn. From there, my path narrowed creatively with hyper focus on fibre and I got my first spinning wheel and began to spin yarns – immediately being inspired by themes and the concept of yarns that were functional beyond just the standard traditional use for yarn. I made a lot of hats – sculptural and wild, and I made a lot of other things. You can take a look at a lot of my projects in my Ravelry Notebook.
Fast forward all these years later and I have progressed my fibre education to include hand dyeing, handspinning of mostly art yarns, needle and wet felting, knitting, crochet, weaving, and making a lot of the embellishment items that can be used with fibre goods. I continue to run studioloo.com , sell my goods, and participate in many art and craft shows each year. I have also expanded my hobbies to working with clay, wood, and textiles.
In November, I became a mother to my sweet Matilda Bee so my days are now enriched in so many more ways with baby coos, tiny clothes and the feeling of family that has never been so strong and wholesome. I am blessed with a husband who is very involved in the overall process of my craft and business and I am able to balance my career, art and family life with his support. Most days my updates happen on Instagram or on my Facebook page.
I am a little bit late but I have decided I am going to get a start on the Yarn Love Challenge. I think the time is so right to have this kind of activity to keep my mind in the right place and focused on the things that truly define my happiness and my life. Fiber is a big part of that and has introduced me to some of the greatest friends and inspirations that I have ever had in my life. So, please feel free to follow along on the blog and follow my challenge, and take part for yourself. I would love to follow your journey as well. The challenge can be found here or under the #yarnlovechallenge hashtag on social media.
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!
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. 🙂
This weekend is Stitch n Kitsch! I will have a lot of new yarns, limited edition and never before released! So, come on out and see us at Stitch n Kitsch – my setup is right inside the entrance door. There will be a lineup of amazing local artists from the Kitchener-Waterloo area with lots of goodies for your holiday shopping, or to spoil yourself a little! Hope to see you there!!
This weekend is Kitchener-Waterloo’s annual KW Knitter’s Fair! We will be there in booths 69 and 70 and I will have a ton of new things for this show – including a few new small batch lines of yarn and some other goodies!
It’s almost time for Twist Fibre Festival and I could not be more excited! Over the last few months when not at shows or out adventuring, I have been working away on lots of new fibres, yarns, kits, garments and more more more for Twist. Admittedly my shop and website updates have been kind of sporadic – it’s tough to manage all the things I do, so I have stopped guilting myself about it and simply decided to update things when I can.
Anyhow, back to Twist! Twist takes place in August in a really beautiful part of Quebec. It’s a really nice place to visit and the people are really creative and lovely. I noticed a totally different vibe about this show – people were open minded and interested in the more fringe stuff that I like to create, rather than just standard yarn + pattern = garment.
I sincerely recommend you making Twist a part of your summer fibre activities – you will definitely not regret it – plus, there is good food, and beer, and workshops (including mine!) and more!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the workshop – I would love to hear from you. Sign up! It’s going to be a blast and you will get access to my secret treasure trove of fibres and nature finds. I have also found a really amazing woodcarving tool kit that you will get to take home and have some really fun ideas.