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.

Many peYarns in stash legacy artople choose a word to guide them. For 2017, I chose “Legacy”.

Back in the mid 90’s, I started my own web-page. Our household was one of the first to get the internet in our small Kansas community, with a population of 1800 (On a good day). For years I sold eBooks, talked about art, growing cotton, my grand-kids, and yes even my dog. (Stops and pets Sparky)

In 2003 I started working part-time at an area public library. I told myself I would do it for JUST one year. It would help take pressure off of myself financially, and force me to get out of the house and around other people face-to-face. It is now January 2017, and I still work there. Why? Maybe more about that in a later post?

I am often asked about the eBooks. They started because I was teaching a photography class and I wanted the students to make their own pinhole camera. I couldn’t find what wanted, so I made my own. I had this little book I had made purely for my student’s use and I wondered, what would happen if I put this online? This was the beginning of me selling eBooks on eBay. Remember this was in the early 2000’s.

Over the years I sold my own art, and more eBooks. Then in 2013 I stopped. I haven’t painted since. Bluntly, I was broken and just could not open another emotional vein to create. (Another long story best left for another time) So I turned to knitting.

With knittinKnit Swatches Legacyg I felt productive, creative and I could just keep going, one stitch after another. The focus eventually became learning new techniques and skills. What I would exactly do with those techniques and skills? I had no idea or clear plan at the time.

So now what?

In October of 2016 I began teaching knitting courses online through SkillShare. I made three small classes, and learned a great deal in the process. Then at the end of November, my father passed away. It was not totally unexpected, and he is missed a great deal. But it left me pondering, what would MY legacy be, once I was gone?

I wanted my life to have some meaning, some purpose. I have some training and background in education. But I knew that traditional teaching was not for me. For roughly a ten year span in there I taught Art as an adjunct at an area college. I found that I enjoyed the research and writing aspect, much more than the face-to-face teaching. Now it is January 2017 and here I sit, writing this post. So expect to see new eBooks released, and old-ones revamped. I have a plan. I have goals. Now I just need to work the plan.

I hope you stick around to see what happens next!

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?

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

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!

Shawl with COLOR!

Blocking in process – Shawl with COLOR! 40X14.5″ Lion Brand, Amazing, Mauna Loa 53% wool/47% acrylic

Last week I managed to get a new painted started.  I only got as far as starting the underpainting. I have a show in June at a small local gallery co-op and one would think I would feel more pressure to have a LOT of new work to show.

But the truth is I am OBSESSED with knitting. Notice the painting is of hands knitting? Chances are most all new pieces will be knitting themed.

Oil Painting in Progress

Oil Painting in Progress

I have decided this is the month I will officially start designing some of my own things. The first thing I have in mind are working with lace. There just happen to be a number of lace weight yarns in my stash calling my name.

I made a New Year’s resolution at the beginning of this year to not buy anymore yarn until July. So far this year I had to buy one skein. ONE. That is pretty darn good if I do say so myself!

NOTE: And it was to finish a lace shawl I was making. (Pats self on back :0)

How to stay motivated in the art studio

I am juggling painting new pieces for a small show to finish a book, with making one shawl a month for the 2014 year for a future project. I am doing this with a part-time day job and other responsibilities of my home studio business. I am not complaining. I know I am a lucky one to have this problem!

It is not so bad to feel free to use things and events around me that I love, to influence my work. I look out my window and I see birds, plants and every so often a deer or fox in our yard. I live in a small town where walking down the road for a fountain drink also means being waved at by locals in trucks and cars.  Many wave whether they actually know me or not.  The clerk ringing up my purchase will briefly chat about whatever is the current local hot topic, and it would not be unusual to speak with someone that knew my husband since he was a small child.

I come back and settle in with my to-do list and calendar and am thankful for where I am in the world.

 

 

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Misc. Lace Swatches

One of my goals this year was to create a shawl each month. Well, February got away from me, and I finished it the first week of March.

Orenburg Lace Shawl I decided to create an Orenburg (Russian) Lace Shawl.  Yes, the shortest month of the year I decided to do the most difficult one I could for my skill level. What was I thinking? But in my defense I did get it completed!

The pattern I used was by no means the most difficult of Orenburg Shawls. I wanted to be sure to understand the construction first. I hope to conquer a particular one at a later date.  The one I did do came from Knitting Traditions – Spring 2012 issue, “Romashka Scarf From Orenburg”. I used Patons Lace, Vintage Antique, (498 yrds) 2 skeins.

Orenburg shawls are created by a sort of jogging around method. Here I made a short border end, created the first corner, picked up the stitches along its straight edge then turn the second corner.  The length of the shawl is made by simply following the chart for the borders and panel. Once you get to the other end I then made the third corner, picked up the stitches along the top while making the top border and finished by creating the fourth corner. Then standard finishing techniques were used so I could call it complete.

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