My yarn stash lives in 4 double tall giant Ikea basket towers in my studio. It is organized by colour and I try not to think about the age of my yarns. My tastes have changed a lot over the years and I do go through my yarn every few months and often take some to Knitomatic’s monthly yarn swap. I pull from it often to use random yarns for different things and I am not stressed about my yarn stash; though I do feel a sense of accomplishment whenever I finish using up a skein of yarn. It’s this concept of ‘1 down, ??? to go’. I have always laughed at the term ‘SABLE’ – Stash Aquisition Beyond Life Expectancy – but at the same time it helps me not worry too much about what to use my yarn for. I no longer feel like I have to qualify a project’s greatness to use that precious skein of Wollmeise or whatever. The truth is my favourite knitting is done with my own handspun. I also no longer go insane for yarn – because I have so much. I still buy yarn to support small producers, and for major projects. I will always buy yarn. I am a firm believer in if you want something to be there, support it! This applies to local business – bookstores, libraries, museums, art galleries, independent things, farmer’s markets, theatres – the things that keep us unique as a species, the things people put their hearts in to.
What often strikes me however, is the endurance of certain projects. I work on a lot of big, long-term projects, that I pick up and put down. The Beekeeper’s quilt by Tiny Owl Knits is a really good example of this. I still love making the hexipuffs for it – but I need about 1200 for a King sized quilt, and I think I have about 550 completed. It’s a great project to work on in confined spaces or when you don’t need to think hard.
Another long term project I am working on is a weird carpet I am weaving in circles. Last year I bought a larger round weaving loom so I will likely begin to work on it again.
When it comes to my own yarn that I dye and spin, if it doesn’t sell, I don’t let it hang about. I repurpose things in many ways. Lately I have been auditing my handspun art yarns and found a few that have managed to not find a home for a couple of years. I think it’s important to always have fresh things for people to appreciate at shows, and select for their own. So lately I have been crocheting hats out of the older yarns – and giving them their potential to become beautiful things. This is currently the yarn that has hung out the longers – almost 2 years…with no love. So, it’s becoming a hat.
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.
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!
I have been a lazy blogger – but not a lazy maker. My day job has been really demanding of late and I have been preparing for shows which will bombard my life in April.
I have been working away on felting pods, dyeing yarn, spinning, potting – new bowls and buttons and all sorts on their way. I am also thankfully preparing for a much needed vacation in a couple weeks.
I recently decided I would join the Neilson Park Creative Centre and the Etobicoke Spinning and Weaving Guild so that is a nice thing to be excited about and have some more involvement in. I hesitated for a long time to join a guild because I am not a good rule follower when it comes to my work and I have been in a lot of guilds and groups where your work can get sort of …bossed around, or stifled by those around you. However, the folks I have met so far are wonderful. I am just going to try not to dedicate myself too much to responsibilities on a board type situation. I do enough of that already and I am feeling like in the next few years I need to take a hiatus from those sorts of things to allow myself more time for research and development on my craft and to discover new things and organize what will work for me on a longer term basis.
I should also mention the shows that I have coming up soonish!
I am also happy to announce that I solved an issue I was having with a few dyes that I recently purchased. I had a couple of customers advise me that their yarn was bleeding a bit of colour when they washed it. Of course for a yarn dyer, this is a BIG deal so I immediately started researching the issue and found that for a few dyes I use there have been some recipe changes and they need to be mordanted a little differently. So, I have worked out the kink and tested it and now all will be well. Thank you to my customers who let me know about this problem. Things like this cannot be fixed if they are not identified.
And, I have managed to finish the Dark Birdcage hat for a recent show that I entered.
I have done a lot of photography today, and I am planning on updating this blog more and doing sort of an ‘object a day’ thing where I may not have anything to say..but I will try to post pictures frequently of things that inspire me, that I covet or make. I think this will be a good way for me to get myself back into blogging. It’s good ‘me time’.
This week has been a complete whirlwind. Of course most of which can be attributed to my day job which has basically tied me up in knots of stress, worry, confusion and disorganization very unlike me. I could probably rant about that for a really long time, but I don’t think it would accomplish much and doesnt’ meet my ‘push forward’ way of trying to feel all the time. So, the long story made very short is that my company has sold the business that I am a part of. Luckily I am still gainfully employed in the same role, and likely still working in the same building. The actual change doesn’t even take place for a year, so all in all, it is a cushy transition…I get to keep my seniority, vacation allotment, wage increase, etc. So, what am I whining about? Well, mostly that my team has been fragmented. I feel like I already do the work of two employees, but now that is going to go up to about four from what I can tell. People used to always say to me ‘How do you find the time?’ with all the artsy stuff I do. Lately I have felt that suffer…not having time or energy to spin, or do many things I love doing. I am receiving so many emails for engagements and opportunites that I am answering very slowly, so if you are someone who has emailed me recently, I apologize for the delay. Life is kind of exploding a bit at the seams right now. I need to feel the winds of change…..so, much is to be thought about, calculated, discussed, and accomplished. There are exciting days ahead when none of this stuff going on right now will matter and I just need to keep reminding myself of that. Things change…
Anyhow, here is this week’s reef progress:
Pottery lastnight was fun although kind of one of those nights where I could’nt make things work. I was having trouble centering my clay on the wheel and handbuilding just wasn’t happening in the way I wanted it to. Those kinds of nights happen sometimes and I end up spending 10 minute windows where I kind of sit pensively gazing around me wishing I were on the inside of a warmly baked loaf of bread or something. Alas, I did finish a no-brainer kind of bowl, where you take little balls of clay and sort of mash them into a mold and end up with a bowl. I did a pinch pot and a couple turned pieces that I am only semi-happy with. Everyone has those days sometimes. C’est la vie.
I did finish a few more buttons and some little caste forms that I need to bring in so they can be bisqued. This week I am going to try to work on some inspiration things at home and see what I can come up with. Also, this is a skein of yarn that I dyed this week – kettle dyed in an amber shade – the result of a yellow and iris dye mixed together and leftover from an overdye project. I quite like it.
I also think I have finally finished the pages of my friend’s art book. Here is a collage I finished setting yesterday.
It has been a very eventful week or so with much stuff happening so I have not had much time to blog, which reminds me that I also need to get working on the next episode of the Muststashyo podcast. It is almost ready for production. I just have a bit more research to do on a couple things. It has been a crazy week of issues with my job, my cat, my organization freakout craziness which led me…to the inevitable ….task…of….adding ALL my yarn stash to Ravelry’s database. It is somewhat terrifying, mainly because it actually only accounts for about 40% of all the yarn I actually own. It reflects only the stuff that is whole skeins and has labels. With the nature of my mediums in fiber work, I tend to have a lot of yarn for using bits of in different things. However, this is a good accomplishment because I now can cross-reference the yarns I have with projects I am planning. So, wanna peek at my scary stash? Check it out: http://www.ravelry.com/people/studioloo/stash
I had a relatively good day. I spent most of it crocheting pieces for my ocean reef. I have determined that that is a good way to both give my brain a rest as well as use up a lot of yarns that are scraps, partial skeins or too weird/tacky for garments, etc. Here is what I accomplished in the last couple days:
I am really excited to set up the ocean reef again to take a good look at how big it has gotten because I have not done so for about a year now and off and on I just keep making more pieces and tossing them into this giant sized ziploc bag. So, it should be quite large now.
I went to the bookstore tonight and was stoked to see that Chapters is having a sale on a load of McSweeney’s books. I love reading short stories so I bought my first books since receiving a Kindle for xmas and vowing to stop buying books. I determined this is acceptable book buying however because their books are so awesome and ..not on the the Kindle that I know of (admittedly I haven’t searched) but also they were like 80% off….so who can say no to that?
I also had my first pottery class for my third stint with the Mississauga Potter’s Guild and it was fantastic. I have a new teacher this time, which is great. I have loved working with the teacher that taught my last two courses; she is very technical and this has helped me really grasp the importance of form and function. The current teacher seems very creative and makes your mind buzz with ideas for texture, glazing techniques and colour. So, I am thinking that the output I will have in this class will be really unique and broad. I’m totally excited and on a mission to find tjaps from India or other areas where saris are printed and made. Tjaps are the woodblock or copper printing stamps, often hand carved, and used to print the lovely floral, tribal, or themed patterns on the sari cloth. I am also working on doing some planning to carve my own and possibly sculpt and bisque a few different stamps for clay imprinting. Tjaps are really cool though. Check out Zanzibar Trading to learn more about them here: http://www.zanzibar-trading.com/store/default.asp?ID=48 . It seems a few different companies import them from time to time but they are usually the copper ones or the handcarved wooden ones so they are really expensive and sell really fast. Look how amazing they are:
Also, I will be reviewing this more on the podcast later this week but in the meantime I wanted to promote Kissing Party because they totally sent me their amazing CD ‘The Hate Album’ and a tambourine! How awesome! Deidre’s voice is awesome and they just have a really great sound. It’s fun music – give them a listen!