Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Learning Bead Embroidery and Kumihimo

I have been beading for a few years and I love to capture stones in a beaded bezel.  Making the chain is part of creating a necklace so learning some new construction techniques have been part of the challenge.  Viking knit has been my favorite for a while, but this year I added Kumihimo.  Loving it!  Simple tools and not hard to learn.  Beaded Kumihimo is relatively quick and makes a colorful and comfortable necklace from which to suspend your beaded pendant.  Bead embroidery has really been catching my eye lately.  The way the beads are sewn to a background makes it possible to add all types of elements, textures, and borders.  I started small with a quartz beach stone and learned many lessons on this first piece.
The chain is hand beaded, incorporating the same beads as the pendant.
The second piece was made with a half of a Thunder Egg or Septarian Stone.  The stone is asymetrical and it took me a while to work through this piece.  There is a row of freshwater pearls and a nice sort of scalloped border on this pendant.  The chain is beaded kumihimo worked with size 8 seed beads.
The third bead embroidery necklace was made with an ammonite fossil.  I found these stones at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, they have boxes and boxes of interesting rocks and fossils.  This necklace has a row of faceted carnelians which work so well with the color of the stone.  The pendant is hung from a strand of stone and glass beads that balance out the weight of the focal.
Here are a few pics of some of the beaded kumi necklaces that I made. Being unable to master bead crochet, Kumihimo feels like a gift!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Nuno Felting for Fall Shows

This fall I spent some time making larger nuno felt pieces using a collage technique.  The design possibilities working with multiple types and textures of silk is energizing and intriguing.  What has been working well for me is to do the piece in stages over the course of a few days.  Walking away and then looking with fresh eyes allows the project to evolve from the initial idea into something more complex.

This piece was inspired by the fall wildflower colors of Late Purple Asters and Goldenrod.  I used upcycled printed silk and hand dyed silks, silk devore and other bits and pieces from my stash. 

  The red and black wrap was made with an upcycled blouse.  The piece has an interesting asymetry and a black frog closure.

I wanted to make a garment that wasn't a simple wrap, this vest is the result.  The printed silk came from an upcycled blouse and other bits of hand dyed silk from my stash. Whenever there is a pot of dye going I like to throw in a piece of silk so I have lots of colorful bits to work with. 

This wrap started with a beautiful crinkly silk dress from the thrift store.  Ribbon and yarn, and other hand dyed silks add lots of color and texture.  The dark blue piece with the white flower sprays is an ancient piece of cotton voile (I think) from a dress that belonged to my grandmother. The fabric wasn't very strong anymore, but the felt fibers stabilized it beautifully.  I had almost tossed the dress a while back, but it is now safely in my stash for future projects.

The purple and gold wrap and the red and black wrap have been sold.  The teal wrap and the vest are still available in my Etsy Shop

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Circular Sock Machine Success!

For the last two years I have been attempting to make socks on my antique Gearhart circular sock machine.  I joined a local group and go to the meetings but I just couldn't get the hang of it.  I seldom tried at home because it was just too frustrating.  Well, persistance paid off and I have finished two pair of socks.  They aren't perfect but they are good enough to give to friends!  This is the first pair, with the toes pinned together.  I have since learned how to do the Kitchener stitch and sewed the toes shut. This pair is for me.  The second pair is going to be a
Birthday gift for a friend.

In August there is a CSM Crank In.  Three days of sock making with all the helpful advice you could ever want.  I am signed up for two classes, lace making on the CSM, and mittens.   It is being held at a hotel about 20 minutes from home, how great is that?  It took ten years to find a sock machine after falling in love with them at the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival.   Hard to believe but I found one in a box at a yard sale,  then I found a second one at a little thrift shop.  I would never knit socks by hand, but I love using the antique machine.

Finished Sweater

Well, here it is, the finished sweater.  I can fit myself and one other person inside, but I am going to wear it anyway.  I really like the purple stripes, it may have been too boring without them.  I lost the chip for my camera with all my pictures on it, but it magically reappeared a few days ago.  (That is my excuse for not posting on this blog for months.) I really love the pattern, but if I made it again it wouldn't  be quite so wide.  One size doesn't really fit all.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sweater progress, or not?

I have been working on my sweater, but it has become evident that there will not be enough yarn.  In my stash of fibers was this purple carded Romney, same fleece, prepared differently.  I had dyed it and then carded it on a drum carder.  Last fall I bought some wool combs and  pulling the carded wool through the combs removed most of the yucky bits that the drum carder doesn't remove. 

I like the two colors together so adding some asymetrical stripes to the front of the sweater may be a successful plan B.  The pattern is a cardigan done in one piece, starting at lower back, so I won't have to tink or frog, just start knitting stripes. 

Since  originally purchasing the Romney fleece several years ago, I have learned so much about preparing fiber.  If I had flicked the ends of the staples before putting them through the carder, it would have removed all the short bits and bobs that make pills and slubs in your handspun yarn.  While spinning the purple I kept plucking out anything bumpy so the singles are looking good.  I am almost done spinning, hopefully there will be enough yardage to finish the sweater without having to add another color.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spin Dye Knit!

A few years ago I bought a beautiful Romney fleece to use in felting projects.  I washed it and rented a drum carder from the weavers guild and started to process it.  The fiber was so long that I really had a difficult time with the carder.  I finally gave most of it to Lisa Skillman of Troll Bridge Farm to process at a mill.  I ended up with two beautiful rolls of pencil roving.  Fast forward a couple of years and I finally learned how to spin.  I found a Kiwi wheel at the flea market for $45 and stared at it for a year or so then finally decided to take a class.  After some practice I spun up about 7or 8 hundred yards of that romney so that I could knit a sweater.    Here is a picture of the yarn after I scoured it for dyeing.  I couldn't believe how white it was after a soak in synthrapol.  It was quite gray before, probably oil from the mill.
I planned to dye it a celery green color, but it came out a lot darker than I planned.  I started with a gold dye and added some gunmetal, then black, then  brown. 
Anyway,  it looked about right here in the dyepot, that was before it was heated to 180 degrees and the vinegar was added.  It just kept getting darker, but the commitment was made.  I left it in the dye bath about 30 minutes, took it out, cooled and rinsed it.  The light in the basement is a bare bulb and it just doesn't give a true indication of  color.  It looked kind of mossy brown, but I could live with it.  When I brought it upstairs into the natural light it looked completely different.  It is such a lovely shade of green, sort of like freshly cooked mustard greens. 

I am going to knit myself a sweater.