Lace SwatchesYou make swatches right? For every project? I know, I know… It seems like SUCH a hassle. And really what difference does blocking make? Well if you what to improve the appearance of your knitting, it can make a BIG difference.

If you don’t make swatches already, today is a great time to start! You want to make your swatch out of the same fiber you plan for your final project. This will help you see any possible problems ahead of time. Like BEFORE you invest days or weeks of time, and your hard earned money creating your gorgeous masterpiece.

Although it may seem annoying to create a swatch or sample, it can save you a great deal of time and frustration down the road.

Benefits of making a swatch:

  • It will tell you how the fiber works with your planned stitch.
  • You get an idea of the drape of the knit fabric.
  • Tells you if the fiber will hold up for its intended purpose.

Simply knit a square at least 4 inches in the same stitch pattern you intend to use. Because stockinette stitch can curl on it’s own, it helps to add a border of garter, or seed stitch. If you are using cables, lace, etc… in addition to stockinette or garter, include them. The point is to do a sample of the stitches used in your final project.

You will then block it by using the appropriate method. Be sure to check the yarn’s ball band for care information.

Benefits of blocking a swatch:

  • Tells you if the color in fiber will run.
  • You get to witness the drape and feel of the knitted fabric.
  • Tells you if fibers will shrink or stretch out of shape.

Basic methods of blocking:

  1. Spray Blocking – Gentlest of all the methods and works well for more delicate fibers. Pin swatch into shape and gently use a spray bottle to add moisture to the fibers.
  2. Wet Blocking/Immersion – Soaking your item in water, shaping, then allowing to dry. Works well with animal fibers, especially when using a lace stitch.
  3. Steam – Shape and add moisture to your item with steam from an iron or steamer. Cottons work well with this method. Do not use on man-made fibers. Do not touch your iron directly to the fiber, instead float the steam just above the surface allowing it soak into the fibers.

Blocking swatchesOnce you know the method you will try:

  • Select a surface to apply the blocked item, one that is appropriate to pin the item down and allowed to dry. Blocking mats, furniture, carpeted floor, or a quilted surface often work well.
  • Enough stainless steel pins to shape the swatch.
  • A clean, dry, safe location to leave the item to air dry for approximately 24 hours.

This post discusses just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to blocking. Test things out and see what methods work best for you and your knitting needs.

If you want to be informed when our eBook on “Blocking Your Knits” becomes available, or updates on our other projects, please sign up here.

Yarn stash colors inspires

As I planned for 2017, I was asked the question “Who, living or dead, imaginary or real, inspires you? Who would I have as my board of adviser’s?”. Who inspires you to take it to the next level? When thinking about setting out on this adventure, the following people came to the forefront. (In no particular order)

Mark Lipinski http://marklipinski.com/

Mark Lipinksi, everyone’s favorite “Cupcake”! Although he is not a knitter, he is still important. As his says, “My life is just a series of awkward and humiliating moments separated by snacks.” He is a joy to hear and often says what I wish I had the nerve to say. He would be the one to tell me to be authentic, stop worrying what others thought, and eat the frosting first.

Marly Bird http://www.marlybird.com/

Marly is the national spokesperson for RedHeart yarn. I was not familiar with her until her grandmother and aunt told me about her in my day job (Library). Creatives are often told about a cousin, brother, or family member that also create in a said medium.  In this case, I only wish I had heard of her sooner. Her podcast brightens my day, makes me laugh and motivates me to continue creating.

Alice Starmore https://www.virtualyarns.com/

She was masterful. Her work beyond compare. Amazing. I can only aspire to be half the fiber artist she personifies.

Meg Swanson and Elizabeth Zimmermann http://www.schoolhousepress.com/

Meg Swanson and Elizabeth Zimmermann. Mother and daughter knitting heroes. Elizabeth is considered the American guru of knitting. She took something she instinctively knew how to do, made it accessible and shared it with the masses. Her daughter and granddaughter continue that legacy today.

Kaffee Fasset http://www.kaffefassett.com/

One word: “Color”

Mary Walker Phillips http://cprhw.tt/p/2AukR/

Mary Walker Phillips helped take knitting into the world of fine art. She showed that it was possible to be creative and expressive with simple needles and yarn. That it simply was “more”.

So there you have it. Seven people that help keep my creative juices flowing. Who would be on your list?

Bullet journal created and goals set. It’s time to get this year going!

knitting hat

The last few weeks I have been regrouping and reorganizing. I am bitten by the knitting bug, or is it re-infected? As I have mentioned before I tend to have Creative ADD.

If you are a knitter you probably know of Elizabeth Zimmerman. A Facebook group I joined is working our way through her “Knitting Workshop”. A new edition was recently released that has peaked interest.

First up is create a hat with Fair Isle accents. We gave ourselves two weeks to complete the hat, using Zimmermann’s guidelines.

Knit hat elizabeth zimmermann

Next up is making a sweater. Her method is such that it encourages you to design your own items. And since a purpose of all this is to offer knitting patterns here, it is a perfect match.

Another thing that has been on my to-do list was to make looms for my grandkids to use. OK, truth be told the grandkids are just an excuse. I want to do a bit of weaving with some of the less expensive yarns I have on hand. I mean I need to make sample…..right?!

I wound up making a few different sizes using the guidelines found at CraftLeftovers.

Weaving

penny

Just outside my studio/office window we have a frequent visitor or a doe. Husband has seen her spotted baby at least once, but I have not been so lucky.

Along with the rabbits, birds and squirrels its a regular menagerie! It is VERY cool to look up from my desk and see such a site. The deer comes around at least 2-3 times a day, that I notice.

apples bate

We have gotten were we put out grain a couple of times a day.  But I am sure the nearby apple tree is an added incentive for the frequent visits.

I have a small exhibit now hung in Chanute, KS at the Chanute Art Gallery. it will remain there throughout June. On the 16th there will be a public reception. As I am well aware I am not the best speaker or socially smooth person, so it all is being kept casual and low pressure.

"knit 1" Oil on Canvas

“Knit 1” Oil on Canvas

I still am working on the knitting designs and I have an eBook on knitting in progress.  But from the looks of an informal survey I conducted over the last 24 hours, it will need to be put on the back burner. Oh, I will still knit. But, realistically getting eBooks completed and on the market sometimes trumps our obsessions. So, it will get completed, just not before the things that pay the bills. As they say, “Girl gotta eat!”

Knitting Lace Shawl in Progress

Knitting Lace Shawl in Progress

Glen With Boys - Just Before Shipping Out

Son-in-law (Glen) With Boys – Just Before Shipping Out

So, today is Memorial Day. Today I am thinking on my goals, as to what to accomplish before Labor Day.

Like many, I have too many irons in the fire. So this weekend was spent narrowing things down and getting focused. Which, lets face it is ALWAYS a battle for me!

I need some input. Which would you find more useful?

1. A guide to painting portraits. In the studio step-by-step.

2. Information on how to publish your own eBooks. A step-by-step on how to have a passive income from your art skills and knowledge.

3. An instructional on knitting lace shawls. Six new patterns to make yourself, along with information on the types of shawls made historically.

People have already been responding on my Facebook page(s).  But feel free to also leave a comment below!

Sitting here at my computer, it is a blustery day in Kansas. So windows are shut tight and allergy problems are being attempting to be avoided. I did get out over the weekend though.  Sunday marked the annual Neosho Valley Art Exhibit at the Chanute Art Gallery. I was pleasantly surprised to be awarded the Best of Show for the second year in a row.

Derosa critiquing exhibit

Mike Derosa critiquing exhibit

Mr. Derosa of Coffeyville judged and critiqued the show very professionally. But probably the best comment I heard was ‘The best thing Bob Ross ever did was die.”

BOS entry over the weekend

BOS entry over the weekend

Aside from the award it was amazing seeing everyone again.  Many of these people I have known close to twenty-five years. Hubby even came with me. :0)

In the studio/office I am working through the piles of “stuff” I have let get away from me. Again I have a VERY large pile of books sitting on the floor, checked out from the library. I prefer to work in an orderly environment and like many always attempting to tame the clutter.

Smaller piles

Smaller piles on side work table.

Aside from the expected knitting and art books I also read a number of business books. One particular book that is resonating with me is “Overcoming Underearning” by Barbara Stanny. Women and creatives seem to have a big problem in this area. or, at least I do and many around me do! (Note: Link on cover goes to Amazon, but I am not currently an affiliate.) FYI The copy I have checked out is covered with Post-It Notes for areas I need to look into further.

"Overcoming Underearning"

“Overcoming Underearning”

Easter is going to be here before I know it and we are hoping to have grandkids here that weekend. Oh and their parents too of course. So mentally I am thinking of what I need to get accomplished before then. On the top of the agenda, after getting all the books under control, is to have a painting currently on the easel completed and a shawl for the month of April begun.

The painting is for inclusion in a solo exhibit coming up in June and the shawl is for a collection i want to release later on in the year.

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