Tag Archives: artyarn

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.

Tools – Yarn Love Challenge

In my journey with yarn, the most important tools I have, are my hands. I am using them constantly and they are necessary for everything I do. I love them. They are small, kind of chubby, a little worn out, with bitten and chipped short fingernails, and usually a few little cuts and such – because they are the most used things I own. I would not have it any other way. I am not really someone very concerned about things like fingernails and having beautiful hands. I am not a pianist or a hand model. I do worry that as I age that all this using my hands will catch up to me in the form of arthritis, but I do try to take care of them by massaging them, soaking them in warm salt water, and resting them – but typically only when they hurt. I need to get better at that. I have invested in many solutions such as ergonomic keyboards and mouses – so that the boring computer stuff I do in life has a smaller impact. I wear gloves when I dye yarn. I do my best.

It would be hard to know where to start to talk about all the tools I use in my creation of not only yarn, but other things. I have endless amounts of things – fabric, fibre, yarn, beads, pottery supplies, papers, found objects, stationary, sketchbooks, paints, glues, a hackle, drum carders, knitting needles, gauges, scales, a skein winder, ball winder, swift, needles of all kinds, threads, buttons, and so on forever and ever.

I also have many spinning wheels but I would be in denial if I didn’t pick a favourite brand, and state clearly how I create my yarns, and just how important the Spinolution spinning wheels are to me. I was an early adopter of this brand – I bought one of the first models of the Mach I and I still use it today, though less often as I am now spoiled with both a Firefly and a Hopper. The best testimonial I can offer for this brand, as I am a dealer (so hit me up if you are interested in one), is the many yarns that I am able to create. There is nothing I cannot do with these wheels. I can spin anything from laceweight to the mega bulkiest yarn you have ever seen. I can spin handfuls of fiber, or I can spin wet linen. I can add whatever I want into my yarns and not worry about them being caught up in my bobbin or being stuck behind an orifice. There are no limits.

From the day I unpacked my latest wheels, I was stoked to really get to learning to use all the new features they are equipped with – and the excitement over the fact they have lazy kates that attach to them, and yarn winders – I feel so spoiled.

The Firefly especially has gotten me through beautiful times on vacation, but also darker times when I was on bedrest dealing with a complication with my pregnancy. It is small, lightweight, portable and so easy to spin with.

This was one of my favourite times with my Firefly, on vacation – staying at a little chalet in Quebec the weekend of the Twist festival. I hope to have a similar time this summer.

Currently Making – Yarn Love Challenge

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.

Close-Up: Yarn Love Challenge

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.