Friday, March 25, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday - Letting My Mind Run Free

I need to begin this weeks post with a big THANK YOU to Andrea for her help getting my new blog design looking so rockin' awesome!  We're both part of the Winter's Rhythm KAL (knit a long) at Your Local Yarn Shop on Friday nights.    She took some of her treasured knit time to show me how to manage my blog better.  I can't get over how much more fun it is to blog now that I have this rockin' new design.

A couple years ago I was trying to come up with some ideas for shawl pins that I could make and sell.  I'm very lucky to live quite close  to a wonderful bead store called T & T Trading.  I never need much arm twisting to visit this wonderful store!

I wasn't sure what I wanted but as luck would have it, I found an awesome book on weaving jewelry called Fiber & Bead Jewelry by Helen Banes.  Although the book is actually about weaving jewelry, once I thumbed through it, I knew I could find a way to use these techniques to design my own shawl pins.

This book was truly an inspiration to me even though I did find that some of the pieces I designed decided they wanted to be necklaces instead of shawl pins. I think sometimes you just have to listen to the piece your working on instead of trying to force it into becoming what you had in mind.

Because my husband and I raise alpacas, my intent was to weave jewelry from lace weight alpaca.  Lace weight lends itself to this type of project very nicely.  It takes a little longer to weave as the fiber is "so" soft it wants to bounce back up on the weft but "oh" what an awesome shawl pin or necklace you get in the end.   It's well worth the time and I love that alpaca lends itself to jewelry.  Jewelry, who would have guessed!

1st try at weaving jewelry

This was my first attempt at weaving jewelry and I followed the beginning pattern from the book.  I used beads that I had on hand, and a hand painted variegated cotton.  The cotton is a 3 ply and just like DMC floss you take the strands apart and weave with one strand at a time.  Once I conquered the concept, I started making my own designs.

I use old pieces of jewelery and take necklaces apart and design the piece around the recycled jewelry.  This gives a whole new meaning to your mom & grandma's jewelry. 

Necklace woven from lace weight alpaca

I wove this necklace using 100% lace weight alpaca and used Austrian crystals for the accents.  The chain and findings are sterling silver.  I was lucky enough to sell this piece to a local gentleman who collects vintage clothing.  This just goes to show, you never know where your creations might end up.

The shoulder wrap was designed by Jill Turner owner of Lady Peddler.  The yarn I used was Multicolor by Filatura Di Crosa which I also purchased from Jill.  This yarn is a mohair blend that has a very gentle variegation in shading and my picture does not do it justice.
I designed this shawl pin as a class project I taught at Your Local Yarn Shop.  Linda & Kelly wanted me to come up with a design that the students could make using their left over sock yarn.  So hint, hint you sock lovers.

Using sock yarn instead of alpaca makes this a much quicker project to complete.  Throw in some beads for bling, bling and your done in no time.

This piece decided it wanted to be a picture.  Nope, not a shawl pin, not a necklace, but a picture!  Again, I used hand painted variegated cotton in an awesome color palette and I dyed 100% lace weight alpaca in various shades to use as accents.  I wove this piece with the warp going in the opposite direction from the other pieces.  You can see how it makes the colors flow in a vertical line instead of horizontal.

Even though we like to think it's all about the Fiber, sometimes for me it's all about the creativity.  So when I want a break from following knitting patterns, I let my mind run free to see where it will take me.

Make sure to go to Wisdon Begin in Wonder and check out what everyone else is blogging about today. 

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday

Ishbel Beret and Seafoam Cowl
Boy, I'm still struggling with this new world of blogging, but I am determined not to let it get the best of me!  Last week I tried to post on Fiber Arts Friday but I could not get my photos to up load.

I don't know what I did wrong before but when I signed on today, everything worked like a charm.  I guess I was just not supposed to post last week.

So for this Fiber Arts Friday, I want to share a couple of items I knit using, drum roll please, alpaca yarn.  There seems to be a recurring theme to the type of yarn I like to use.  Please excuse my picture taking as this is a skill I'm also learning.

I traded some of my Suri fiber for this beautiful gray Huacaya fiber.  My husband and I helped Circle R Ranch with their shearing day last year.  Once I got my hands on this little girls fleece I knew it had to be mine. Luckily for me, Rita was interested in a trade.  I love trading and bartering with fellow fiber friends(hint, hint).

I sent Shay Bonet's fiber to be processed at Stramba Farm in PA.  My favorite yarn is fingering weight so of course this years shearing was all processed into, you guessed it, fingering weight .   Then I found this wonderful beret pattern from Ysolda called  Ishbel Beret at Your Local  Yarn Shop.  I just love how it knit up.

There is also a matching scarf I hope to eventually knit.  I don't know of any of my knitting, spinning, weaving friends who don't have the same problem.  Not having enough time to do what we love most!.

Little Colonnade
The Seaform cowl shown with the beret is a pattern by Kalamazoo Knits.  It is made out of 100% alpaca fingering weight yarn purchased at Your Local Yarn Shop.

Then I found this awesome designer by the name of Stephen West.  I have become addicted to his patterns!  I have just about everyone he has published.

Little Colonnade is the first of his patterns that I knit.  The yarn is a blend of Suri, yep,from our animals, mixed with merino and silk. It was a joy to make and I like to wear it as pictured, like a scarf.  Sizing can be changed by repeating more or less of the column lace or by choosing another yarn weight and/or needle size.

So, that's it for me on this Fiber Arts Friday.  Don't forget to check out all the other Fiber Arts Friday postings at Wonder Why Alpaca Farm's blog.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday

For this Fiber Arts Friday, I would like to show case the projects I've made using patterns from KellyJ Knits.

All Keyed Up
I started off with her hat pattern All Keyed Up.  I used a blend I hand carded from one of our Suri alpacas.  I hand spun the yarn and used it as the accent color (contrasting color/CC).  This pattern is great for using hand spun.  I only used a total of 65 yds for the CC.

You do need to have a high contract between the main color (MC) and the CC color.  I paired my hand spun with Therapi by SWTC.  Therapi is a commercial yarn blend of 30% Bowlder (Jadeite) Fiber, 50% fine wool and 20% silk.  I love knitting with this yarn and it comes in many shades.  It just seems to mix nicely with the hand carded batts I've created..
You Hold the Key
Next, I knit KellyJ's mitten pattern called You Hold the Key.  Again I used a hand carded Suri blend that I hand spun.  I also used the Therapi by SWTC.  Why mess with a good mix, right?

Key to Warmth
KellyJ's third pattern is a cowl called Key to Warmth.  For my first cowl I used all commercial yarn.  Yep, I do knit with yarn that is commercially spun.  I used Misti Alpaca for my MC in a dusty rose color #3720.  I just love it when the yarn companies name their yarn instead of just giving it a number but I can certainly understand how hard it is to come up the just the right color name.  The CC color is Autunno, again only a color #30502, but it has a very slight variation of cream, grays and pink. 

I'm currently working on a second Key to Warmth using  a hand carded blend of Suri, Angora and merino that I hand spun.  It is in shades of purple, pink, grays and I'm using Therapi SWTC again for the MC.  I know, I know, as I've mentioned before, I just love this yarn and it's wide range of colors.

Key to Warmth in process
I was working along nicely on my second Key to Warmth when I got a very nasty cold which stopped me in my tracks. I was so tired I didn't knit for a couple of weeks.  Then our local yarn shop in Battle Creek, called Your Local Yarn Shop started a Knit a long with KellyJ's newest pattern Winter's Rhythm.

Of course I had to start this knit a long.  My last blog has pictures of some of our first efforts and talks about the pattern and yarn used.

So that wraps up my posting on the KellyJ Knits Key trio.  Hope you have enjoyed your Fiber Arts Friday as much as I've enjoyed mine.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Winter's Rhythm Knit A Long

Friday, February 25th, was our first knit-a-long using Kelly J Knits pattern Winter's Rhythm.  The knit-a-long is being hosted at Your Local Yarn Shop in Battle Creek.  Since Kelly J is co owner of Your Local Yarn Shop, what better place could we have asked for to host this event! 
Jill's Rhythm

The yarn for this project was hand dyed by Jill June of Studio June Yarn.  The yarn is 100% superwash merino named "Squishy Soft Worsted".  True to it's name it is squishy and soft and Jill has dyed the most amazing colors for this event.
My Rhythm

I started out with a bang and was able to get to round 10 only to find out the next day I had a twist.  So out came the needles and I ripped it out and started over.   I'm now back to round 10 and am just loving the pattern and the yarn (minus the twist).

There are about 15 of us meeting for this knit-a-long and I will post  pictures of all our projects as we progress along. We are all using different colorways and it will be fascinating to see all the different colors as they emerge from our needles.

Kelly J's Rhythm
Lenette's Rhythm
Linda's Rhythm
We will be meeting on Friday nights from 5:30 to 8:00 and Kelly is positive we will have the project completed by March 25th.  So now it's back to my needles for me so I can get the 21 rows complete that is our homework for this week.  Only time will tell if I move beyond the homework.  After all, that will be where the color work truly begins.......