Tag Archives: dyeing

Busy Bees of Summer

Summer is finally here! Lots has been happening around Studio – major house renovations and all sorts of stuff. I know the website has been a little quiet lately, and I have been opting to take a bit of a hiatus from Ravelry, Facebook, and any other social networking. I just find it all a bit overwhelming and it tends to detract from actually getting real things done. So, these days I am focusing things, getting lots done, and focusing on more in-person shows, and stuff. But, very soon I will be revamping my office to allow me to do more daily website updates, blog updates, etc. I still likely won’t be on social networking much – except for Studioloo blurbs and pictures on Facebook and Instagram. It’s really working out nicely for me not to spend hours of my day scrolling through stuff. We have to balance life…not make ourselves too available all the time. For me, it’s especially important as I have a day job, dogs, family, and so on.

Last weekend we had a big yard sale and managed to knock out Phase 2 of cleaning out the garage – getting rid of old artwork and antique stall stuff that we no longer want to hold on to. It was a fun, successful day. Having a yard sale is a great way to connect with neighbours and meet people.

 

Most of what I have been doing lately has centred around home renovation and preparing for Twist Fibre Festival in August. I have been dyeing loads of yarn, and still have a lot more to dye, and I have been washing loads of fleeces from my haul at Maryland Sheep and Wool.

This week we are also putting in hardwood floors in our living room, and painting away all the ugly beige. My to-do list is a little bit of a nightmare but I am working through it.

So, if we haven’t chatted in a while ….this is why. I will return to civilization shortly..I promise.

April 27th – DKC Knitter’s Frolic and Stitch n Kitsch

Happy Spring!

This Saturday Studioloo will be at 2 shows!

DKC Knitter’s Frolic 

Marketplace: Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
6 Garamond Court, Toronto, Ontario

http://downtownknitcollective.ca/wp/?page_id=14

 

Stitch n Kitsch in Waterloo

http://www.stitchnkitsch.com/

Inspired Weekend

It has been a really great weekend of getting work done! I have put a new face on the Studioloo website which I am quite happy with and will be putting up a lot of listings. I have finished so much work that is not currently posted on the site. I took a bit of a hiatus from the duties of running an online shop. It’s a lot of work – the photography, photo editing, writing descriptions of products, uploading photos, updating inventories, carts, e-commerce, FTP’ing information, website updates, and so on! It can be somewhat exhausting at times. But, I do love to get my work out to a broader audience than those in Ontario. I really enjoy selling my work in person as well – it’s nice to hear people tell you their plans for your yarns or how something you made will accent their homes.

I have done a lot of spinning this weekend. I think I caught the spinning bug remembering Janice Rosema, an incredible fibre artist who passed away last week.  She was a great inspiration to me and overall just a really sweet person. We are having a little spin-along in the Ravelry art yarn community HERE.  Feel free to join in or post your photos of your inspired works for Janro on Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #spinforjanro.  I also did a bunch of crock-pot dyeing of rovings and yarns and managed to finish a bunch of administrative work for shows I am applying to and so on. My to-do list is getting a lot shorter.

There has been a lot of snow here lately so I have been fighting off my cabin fever just working away on things, doing a lot of home cooking and watching documentaries. They have included ‘Sweetgrass’ – a doc about sheep herders going through the Rockies with their flock, a documentary about all of the craziness and politics of the Barnes’ art collection and it’s foundation, a documentary about the making of South Park and how each episode is done in only 6 days, and a bunch more.  I am a documentary addict at this point.

I have also been working away on my Beekeeper’s Quilt and have passed the 300 mark. 300 Hexipuffs! Holy cow – one day this will be a quilt. I also designed a few charts – one of Catbus (for Studio Ghibli fans) and a few for Adventure Time. They are below:

 

 

 

Have a happy Family Day or President’s Day long weekend!

 

Pretty Things

Some days it is hard to feel positive when you have to see things you really despise in politics, social issues, the environment and so on. I have decided recently to try to do my best to clear my life out of these things by getting rid of media, people, and other exposures to things that don’t make me happy. On my own I am able to seek out the issues that make me passionate; I can fight good fights without having to constantly be bombarded by people who feel opposite of how I do.  I think that social media makes people really angry, pseudo-anonymous, and really geared up to fight, shout their opinions regardless of how they could make others feel and so on.  I have taken a step back recently on how that makes me feel – and how I want to basically portray myself more as a full human being, instead of just someone who has a certain view on a specific social topic. There is more to me than just the fact I support a certain decision. That being said however, I am really torn because there are certain people who I love for what they do, but not who they are – and that can really be a hard thing to deal with. I guess that is a good reason to not ‘friend’ someone on social media – instead ‘like’ their pages where they discuss their art, their business, etc. This being said – I am removing a few people from my social media websites so that I don’t have to be blindsided constantly by political things that I have no power to change – things often that take place in a country I don’t even live in. I know that we don’t have the power to agree, but I want to have the power still to respect the amazing art that is pumped out of these people.

It has been an insanely busy week – I have gotten so much done so that I can go away and spend some rare time with my family on a camping trip. I have dyed and packaged 3 new fun yarn kits/lines for KW knitter’s fair. I have done a full load of pottery – new yarn bowls, vases, bowls, cups, and more – some to join me at the Art in the Open market and some for KW knitter’s fair.  I have gotten a lot of work done at my day job. I have dyed a ton of yarn….and spun a lot too! I am bringing my spinning wheel on this camping trip and I hope to get some great, relaxing spinning time along with some kayaking, hiking, photography and just relaxing.

Here’s a peek at some faux cashmere I dyed – one braid of several different colourways. This is such a nice fibre to dye.

 

And a peek at a yarn I spun this week with some nice wool flowers. I actually got to spin this at my knit night at Whole Foods – it’s such a great place to do creative things. I find you get a lot of positive attention.

 

I bought this beautiful burl from the exotic wood store some time ago and my husband/business partner/slave finished staining and sealing it for me this week. He is truly the blessing of my life and helps me with so many creative endeavours that I cannot even think of ways to possibly thank him enough for all of his patience and support. I am very lucky.

 

There are still about a million things to do tonight before I head to bed early to prepare to wake up at 5am for the market so I should get packing clothes and toiletries, and washing yarn, and so on! I leave this post with a picture of a sleepy, unimpressed Poppy in his new gnome costume.

Pods and Prep

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!

April 14th – Stitch n Kitsch

April 21st – PENDING – Waiting to hear if I made the cut to get into the Made by Hand Show. I know there were about 60 extra vendors than the venue had room for so we shall see.

April 28th – Downtown Knit Collective – Knitter’s Frolic – I will be in The Black Lamb’s booth with all my goodies.

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’.

 

 

Octopus Bowl and Dyeathon 3000!

As my friend Emily once wrote ‘I want to take over the world with clay and fibre!’ and I can completely mirror her statement in that mission now that I have started working more at the pottery studio.  There is something really nice about just getting to take your time and try to perfect every part of the working with clay…from the time that you center it on the wheel, to feeling it move between your hands while you shape and rise the walls of the cylinder, trying to keep things even with the power in your own hands, to the creative process it can take once it has formed into something like a mug or bowl or whatever your heart desires. I spent some time last weekend just throwing forms and practicing my forming skills and now the pieces are all leather hard and ready to be worked with. Lastnight I went to the studio and sculpted a squid which I attached to the lid of a lidded bowl that I have been working on. I forgot to bring my camera to snap a shot of it though. However, in keeping with my love of the ocean and sticking a bit to a theme, I brought a bowl home with me and decided to apply an octopus to it. So, today I spent some time carving the octopus and here are the results so far – there is still some touching up to do.

I have also been dyeing up a storm for The Black Lamb – Blue Faced Leicester roving and bamboo sock yarn.  I have figured a really wonderful technique to really saturate the BFL with colour. I find that BFL is very hard to get true colour and a lot of saturation with. It is a dense fiber and the colour has trouble sticking and penetrating into it. The fibers are medium soft (when natural and processed into roving) and it does not take colour the same as superwash products or a finer wool such as merino. However, I love BFL for it’s smell and its feel. It is a warm fiber and very home like in some way. Here are some of the braids I dyed up:

My technique essentially is this:

  • Soak the roving in hand warm water with a drop of dish liquid so that mild bubbles form. Press the roving under the water so that it can fully absorb. No scouring needed but just a gentle swish once or twice. Allow to soak for 15 minutes.
  • Pull up carefully out of the water, bundling and gathering the roving into a neat tripled over length. Squeeze the water out in sections only slightly so that about half of the water retains but it is not soaked with water pouring from it.
  • Place it in it’s tripled over lengths down on a tray with edges that you can use as a dye tray. The secret really is low water absorption with the actual dye process (when dye is added).
  • Mix up your acid dyes with hot water. I use jars (medium sized) with citric acid or vinegar and first mix up a paste, then add more acid, then the hot water. I don’t boil the water but use the hottest water that comes out of the tap. Stir the dye up well ensuring no flecks or clumps.
  • Pour your dye over the roving in the method preferred ensuring to saturate the entire area as much as possible. It is likely there will be some white sections – this is OK. I tend to dye a section at a time. ie. red for the first third, yellow for the second third, orange for the final third – crossways on the roving. But, feel free to hand paint and drip as you wish!
  • Wearing a plastic glove or a bag over your hand, press down firmly to allow the dye to press through the fibres. Do this with the entire roving surface. Do not move hands around. This will cause felting.
  • The next part is the steaming. Prepare a large dye pot of clean water to boil. Place a metal strainer or colander (not used for food) inside the pot similar to a double boiler. This will be your steamer.
  • You can choose to then wrap your roving entirely in plastic wrap but this was too much of a doddle for me so I used plastic bags (thin and clear) and placed one roving inside each bag.
  • Firmly press the bag down to let as much of the air out as possible, then twist the tops to keep a seal.
  • Place the rovings inside the colander and put the pot lid on top.
  • Allow to steam for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the roving from the bags and allow them to cool until you can handle them.
  • Rinse in hand warm water – you should see very little dye water rinse from them unless you have certain colours that simply act this way. (Seabreeze always wastes a lot for me no matter what).
  • Gently squeeze water out and hang to dry

Overwhelmed, Busy, Oh Bother!

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.