J and I just returned from a trip out west to celebrate our third anniversary - we spent about a week in the Seattle area staying with some friends, and spent a lot of time outdoors. My friend Sharalee took these photos that I thought I would share since I have not had the chance to upload my own yet. The middle one is a pretty typical scene on hikes with me! I will share more soon about what caught my eye on our adventures. There's nothing more soothing than immersing oneself into wild places.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
This pattern has been a long time coming, so to say I'm excited to finally release it is an understatement. I experimented with elongated stitch a few years ago, which involves a series of drop stitches creating the unique oval texture you see in the body of the shawl. The entire time I was knitting it I kept thinking of watching roly polys (or doodle bugs, everyone has their own name for them) in my back yard as a kid. The crossing and length of the stitches in this pattern reminded me of their little shells, their exoskeletons. Thus, the origin of the name, Exoskeleton. While I chose the name based on an association with the stitch pattern, I think a shawl in itself is a sort of second skin, another layer of protection and warmth.
Thank you to my lovely friend Jenna for modeling for me, despite the fact that it took me over a year to put the photos to use. Cheers to shawl season!
Saturday, October 11, 2014
FLASH SALE!! My project, "Saprobia" was installed at Momentum Tulsa a year ago now, and prints from this project are currently 50% off in my shop (in the "Sale" section) through this coming Tuesday, October 14th! After that they will go back up to the standard print rate. The image above is one of the prints included in the sale.
In addition, I have been taking a really close look at the business side of my art practice, setting goals and reevaluating my past processes. As a result, here are some updates related to your shopping experience:
WORLDWIDE SHIPPING is now available on all items! I know a lot of you live outside of the U.S. and Canada, so I'm really excited to make my artwork available to you going forward.
New, one-of-a-kind, small works will soon be added to the shop, so be on the lookout for those!
Soon to be added to the print section: 16 x 20" sizes and additional images
Finally, I have adjusted my pricing on prints to a more sustainable rate for me as an artist. This was something that I needed to do to be fair to myself in the amount of time, effort, and cost that goes into everything that I create.
Thank you for continuing to follow what I do, and I look forward to making new works available!
Thursday, October 9, 2014
It seems like I've had a slew of "On My Needles" posts lately, but have a stack of finished projects in my studio just waiting for a photo shoot to wrap them up. One of my plans for this weekend is to work on getting images of some finished pieces, so by next week you should be seeing completed projects instead of just those that are in progress!
This is my Still Light tunic, designed by Veera Valimaki. I had never made anything she designed before Whispers, so it's funny that the very next thing I cast on was this project. It's been on my queue for a couple of years now, and I actually bought the pattern back in 2012 or 2013, so I felt like it was time.
The yarn is Knit Picks Gloss in the Robot colorway. I normally like vibrant colors for my knitwear projects, but this time I decided that I need a neutral piece in my wardrobe. Plus, I also love brightly colored and patterned tights, and this would be perfect to wear with those. My gauge was a little smaller than what the pattern called for, so I added in some repeats and length, which i will go into in further detail on my final post.
Overall, this pattern entails a ton of stockinette. It's knitted top down, a really simple construction, and is great for mindless/meditative knitting (my favorite kind!). The space above the pockets sort of balloons out, and then comes back in. It looks like a flattering fit in the pattern photos… we shall see. As long as the form turns out right it will be a perfect, cozy layering piece for the fall and winter months with a soft blend of wool and silk.
I just have a few more inches of stockinette stick along the bottom to go, then the ribbed edge, sleeves and pockets. Maybe by Halloween there will be something to show for it...
Monday, October 6, 2014
Sarcosphaera coronaria. A grayish rubbery (in appearance) egg shape forms only to break open and reveal a beautiful purple interior. It's like the geode of fungi! So beautiful. This is another great example of a species that just stunned me with its unique features when I was researching new forms to create. As if there's a species of fungi that doesn't have that result.
According to Wikipedia, it grows in the mountains within coniferous forests, forming underneath humus on the forest floor and often appearing after the snow begins to melt away. It can also apparently bioaccumulate toxic chemicals such as arsenic. I wonder if it may be cultivated for bioremediation? It's amazing what nature can do.
I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine yarn for this phase, which was so graciously provided to me by Berroco. Just a couple of phases are left to create from the stash they sent me, on top of the 20 forms left to complete the series. Violet crown cup utilized the Steel Cut Oats and Lavender Mix color ways. No matter the gauge of Ultra Alpaca used, one of my favorite parts of this yarn (besides the softness) is the stitch definition. I use it for so many projects!
This structure was knitted as part of my 52 Forms of Fungi project. Check out more of the forms from this project.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
I still have a lot to learn about native plants. Herbaceous plants are so much harder to ID than trees - trees are easy, or maybe it's just because that's my area of expertise. I recently started following a wildcrafting group on Facebook just to learn more about the plants that I see on a daily basis… And aside from the tree posts (which I can usually chime in on) the main thing I've learned is that THERE ARE SO MANY PLANTS THAT LOOK LIKE OTHER PLANTS! So I have a lot of observation and studying up to do. Fortunately, there are other plants that look NOTHING like other plants. Take pokeweed, for instance. The huge leaves, and pink flower stalks which eventually bear these blueberry-like (though not edible) fruits.
I picked up a book in Portland, Oregon a couple of years ago called Harvesting Color, a beautiful and informative guide to native dye plants across the US (with recipes). I remember recognizing poke weed in the book as a plant that I had seen in people's gardens. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if people plant it as an ornamental or if it just shows up and they let it stay because it looks pretty. Because let's face it, it looks really dang pretty.
Last fall around this time, J and I were on a hike in Charon's Garden in the Wichita Wildlife Refuge in this gnarly little canyon/boulderfield, and I remember glancing over to see this one majestic little pokeweed. The first one I had observed since reading about it in the book. Then I took some photos and continued along the trail until becoming distracted by some lichen making their home on a face of granite.
This spring, all types of plants sprang up around my new yard, some of which I knew and others which I did not. I had started a wildflower bed on the far back lot and while I was checking obsessively every day hoping to spot some type of activity with my seeds, these large, leafy seedlings sprouted behind them and continued to grow larger and larger. It wasn't until I started to see a pink tint transforming the base of the stems that I knew… pokeweed. As the season wore on, I began to spot more and more of these colorful, unusual plants. From my observation, the hummingbirds like them too.
The berries have been ripening and drying out for weeks now and I finally made myself get out and harvest some for a solar dyeing project this past weekend. One hand holding the jar and the other in a latex glove, I stripped several handfuls of berries from over a dozen plants on my half acre, watching the pink juice dripping off of my glove and thankful to experience this craft. 100 grams of wool and an alum mordant later, I'm excited to see how the dye fixes to the yarn a few weeks from now.
Monday, September 15, 2014
To be fully honest, the blogs that I follow are a little heavier on design than they are on knitting. While I love knitting (obviously), I find that the hip curation of fashion/lifestyle/home decor by design bloggers piques my interest a little more strongly. Furthermore, when their posts come full circle to tie in knitting or nature (my other obvious interest), I'm all the more intrigued and energized by it. Thus, my feelings about Wool and the Gang. I first came across this company a couple of years back through one of the aforementioned blogs and really dug their crisp, minimalistic, modern aesthetic. Upon looking into them a little further, I discovered their focus on quality, sustainable craftsmanship in fashion, and an emphasis on sustainable and recycled yarns. WATG designs simple knitting patterns that may be purchased as kits or separately as yarn and pattern to encourage handmade fashion… and if you're not a knitter you can buy the garments hand made by one of the WATG makers. Pretty basic, huh? Basic, but personal, and with beautiful products to boot.
When WATG reached out about getting some of their yarn into my hands to try out, I was clearly all about it. A week later, I had two balls of Crazy Sexy Wool in my possession, in the Magic Mint colorway. When I think of mint green, I picture… well, the walls in my study, because that's one of our colors of choice when it comes to home ambiance. Rather than the sherbet green, this shade of the yarn is more of a cool, minty blue. I can almost smell peppermint when I look at it… or maybe that's just my essential oil diffuser. No matter. Color often drives my instincts when it comes to yarn selection, so when I opened the package the day it arrived I was instantly drawn to the vibrancy of the hue.
When I reached in to grasp the yarn, an involuntary sigh definitely happened as my hand melted into the softness. This is some seriously soft yarn. Super bulky, too - probably one of the bulkier yarns that I have worked with. I'm also a sucker for single-ply yarns. Whether it's the case or not, I always feel like I'm knitting with handspun yarn when I work with single-ply. With some single-ply yarns the fiber will pull and break apart in the middle of a project, but I had no such experience with this yarn. It's just as taut and strong as a plied one.
As someone with an abundance of cowls and oversized scarves, I decided I wanted to try something a little different with this 100% Peruvian wool. Since I normally work with a pretty small gauge it was a difficult decision, but I finally settled on a variation of the Foliage Wrap by Anne Thompson, a vest with a large leaf edging around the bottom. Given my lack of experience with bulky non-accessory garments, this may or may not be the final form of the yarn. If I don't like the project after it's blocked, I may frog it and go for a hat instead. No tears lost over a little more time with this chunky goodness.
Each ball of Crazy Sexy Wool has 87 yards, and I must say that I am impressed at how far one ball of the yarn takes you - much farther than I expected. The vest is nearly done, so expect photos of it soon, or, you know, photos of some other mystery garment if I decide in the end that the pattern doesn't work for me after all. Another bonus: working with US 19 needles goes a lot faster than US 3.
Wool and the Gang provided the yarn for this review, but all words and opinions are my own.