Friday, July 10, 2020

Multi-tiered beading - multi tiered worry

Some days the studio and the creative process mask the anxiety, some days the studio and the creative process increase the anxiety.

Given how new this scenario is, I am finding it difficult to sort through my feelings and understand the best way to cope.  I get up in the morning and I'm never entirely clear on which kind of day I'm getting, the 'everythings ok, I'm safe at home with a loving partner and plenty to do and supplies to do it' or the 'the world is out of control and there's no end in site, I can't see my family and I'm not sure how I can create'.

Strangely this isn't the blogpost I meant to write.  Sometimes I can write the blogpost about my creative process and it's sincere and what I'm choosing to share on that day because it's one of the 'good days'.  It's not that today is terribly bad, I'm just unsettled.  You'd think with long stretches of time that really doesn't need to be accounted for much in the way of real work, that I'd welcome the endless hours to just create.  But instead I flit from one project to the next.

Here's an example and this is just my bead world, yarn and fabric have similar looking stacks of  in process projects.

I'm trying to examine why I even consider this a problem, but I am not having much success.  I've tried giving myself permission to pick up whichever thing speaks to me in the moment, I've tried the focus and finish method of picking one thing to work on, I've tried talking it through with other creatives, and using time blocks for one project vs another, but still I find I'm unsettled.  What I haven't tried is taking a complete break from making.  Maybe a book, a jigsaw puzzle or a nap might be in order.

I think that a contributing factor is that the choice to mostly retire from my bead teaching career of the last 20 years was already a time of change.  It's one we embarked on so that we'd have more time for grand babies and travel, balanced with homelife and being creative.  Having had half that equation removed makes for complicated feelings.

I have the exceptional good fortune to be planning an airstream outing that will have us self contained sitting on the bay with just a couple of projects that I'll take a long.  I have always found the small space of the airstream and the forced selection of fewer projects to be soothing and  I usually become my most productive self.  

In the meantime I do need to do some work on the museum of beadwork tile.  6 of the 8 'word petals' are done.   The shrink plastic that allows the permanence of words does not lends itself to the detail prisma pencil drawings that I prefer for coloring, so theres been some adapting of technique required.  Since I don't want to compromise there, two of them need to be redone with hopefully better results.

I know and appreciate that many of you still have pre-retirement lives requiring new ways of working and that long days of freedom to create would seem ideal.  I don't want to trivialize anyone's struggle to arrive at workable scenarios no matter what their situation is.  These are just my musings on my particular situation.  May you and  your loved ones be well and may you find some routines that work for your peace of mind.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

What's your best creative environment?

What brings this question to mind is that today is house cleaning day.  I am fortunate to have a 50% partner in the effort, I do all the surfaces, kitchen, bathroom, tables such and he does all the floors, vacuumed and mopped.  I have black hardwood floors and a black tile kitchen, so the clean lasts about two days!

I really need a fairly neat and clean environment to allow the peace of mind necessary for me to create.  Clutter makes me crazy and so I tend to have to stop every few days and clear the mess I've left in the wake of previous projects.

I've been traipsing from one type of project to the next which also contributes to the chaos.  For most things I end up auditioning supplies so at any given time there is yarn, fabric, beads and now shrink plastic all over the place!  Somehow the concept of putting things away as I go never works for me and then I have to do a serious amount of effort to clear the decks.  

I so wish I could train myself to be a put away as I go type of gal but it appears that discipline escapes me.

I'll leave you with yesterdays make.  I haven't sewed much of anything since having to give up my  weekly sewing class, but the inspiration  of a facebook group focused on the designs of Tina Givens had me wanting to make something new to  wear.  I had some lovely softened pale pink linen and a new pattern called Elope.  The pattern included a top and pants so I set out to make both.

It appears that I have a significantly reduced attention span these days so it took me a while to cut and sew with a fair amount of dilly dallying between.  The lack of attention span also contributes to my not being attentive to directions and I sewed the bottom of the pant leg to the waistband instead of the bottom of the pant leg.....sigh.  After a short temper tantrum and the questioning of my skills I sat down with the seam ripper and remedied the error.  By late afternoon I was rewarded with new pants to go with last weeks top. It's due to get really hot here this week, so pale pink linen and a comfy cut are going to be perfect. I suspect my quest to up my blog game a little means I should learn to take a selfie without a mirror and an iPhone!  

Today after a little deck clearing I will get back to my 6 x 6 tile for the Museum of Beadwork entry.  I've printed and cut my words and today I will color them with alchohol inks and draw with my pencils and shrink.  Then I'll be ready to assemble and bead embroider.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Creative Anxiety

I find that almost always somewhere in the creative process I suffer from creative anxiety.  Maybe it's picking out colors for a third colorway of a familiar design, maybe it's assessing my skillset for the ability to create the shape or feeling I envisioned.  It may be that I doubt my ability to find the right scale and balance for the finished piece to be pleasing.

Sometimes of course it goes right and a piece I love is born.  I find this most often with a focal that speaks to me and a small vignette like Bell Mabel.  There were of course still design decisions but one of the things in favor of smaller work is that the investment of time in things that didn't work is much less.

I imagine that other artists in the medium of beads or other artistic expressions have a better ability to envision the final result so their time is not invested in failure.  I'm pretty sure except for a rare few this is probably not the case. I suspect thaf failed design decisions along the way have led up to better decision making that inform the design process.  If I look back my design work has certainly improved from my early days of beading.

I'm not sure why I insist that it is failure for me to go along a path that doesn't result in finished work that I love.  I've certainly watched my husband make three and four prototypes on his quest for the best outcome.  Perhaps that box of beaded bits and bobs that didn't work out should be considered my prototype box.  Every once in awhile something emerges from that box that has found it's time to be successful.

Sometimes a piece that I started out thinking was trite becomes a favorite, which just goes to show that my thought process about a piece's lovabililty is not always spot on.

As my time becomes more available for the exploration of different artistic endeavors I think my creative anxiety is being triggered because I am starting out at the bottom of several learning curves.  I'd like to try to manage this feeling so as not to be overwhelmed by it.   

Many of the things I am trying,  I am using other peoples design sensibilities and engineering skills so in that case my job is to just be the best technician that I can be.  I think this is true of the English paper piecing I am doing from a kit, but not true of shrink plastic designs I have been making.  Perhaps keeping a mix of the two will keep the feelings manageable.

Do you suffer from creative anxiety and if so, what tools have you found useful in managing it? 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

English Paper Piecing with Tula Pink

Yes, today my new found love of EPP rose to the top of the list, it's like I am not in charge.  But first.......

I decided to see if I could improve my ipad blogging experience by uploading my photos to the cloud.  I've avoided this step previously because I have a LOT of photos and unfortunately through some error of my ways I managed to upload many duplicates as well.   When I first uploaded my documents to the cloud the effort brought my home network to it's knees and so I am hoping to avoid that.

So this morning efforts I manually managed to remove unwanted and duplicate photos for almost two years, which means about 12 or so more years to go.  I'm going to take it on though because my digital life needs a clean up and it's silly to upload a bunch of  duplicate and in some cases triplicate photos.  I an only guessing it happened when I uploaded photos from the phone and somehow incorrectly answered a prompt.

But back to making.  I got up this morning and stitched a few of my tula pink paper pieces together. They are a part of the Sunrise Quilt I started back in February.

I am learning a lot about my workflow here.  Given the shape of the larger triangle, it is entirely possible to stitch the wrong sides together.  At 16 stitches per inch and about a 3 1/2 inch side, that is a lot of stitches in vain, so it is best avoided.  I've done it more times than I care to count, so now I have a process.  (I was a system analyst in my corporate life, there is always a way to finetune the process for efficiency!)

I love my makes in progress to be pretty so I made myself some cute see through zipped pouches to carry all the various parts. There is a video on you tube by  Erica Arndt. This is the one I used but there are many others.

I've taken the time to learn about the tools which help paper piecing be successful.  Tula Pink has 3 great videos she did with the Fat Quarter Shop.  The thread is dyed to match Tula fabrics and is from Aurfil.  Changing to that from the bobbin threads I was using made a huge difference in the tangulation factor.  Next was needles.  These are a number 10 big eye from Tulip.  In beading I don't care for a short needle, but in paper piecing it's perfect for pushing through the edge of the fabrics and catching just the tiniest bit of threads.  Since as I said I like pretty tools, I have a pair of Tula pink scissors.  

The last little thing you see is the magnet holding the two pieces to be sewn together.

This is the correct orientation of the two triangles,  the flat on the smaller one is the interior of the circle formed by the triangles.  It is super easy though to get turned arouond and sew the two sides together with the points in the same direction.  With practice I'm getting more attentive, but also you want to be stitching in a direction so you end up ready to stitch your next seam.  If I stitched from the top down I would end up at the bottom and to stitch my next pink triangle (we have to assume to the left of these has already been stitched) then I would have the bottom of the purple triangle between the needle and the next seam.  

So to avoid all this, I've developed a habit.  

When I'm done stitching a seam, I position the next one to be sewn, triple checking the orientation and also flipping it so I will be stitching right to left ending up a the correct point.  I always position my Sew Tite magnet with the silver side facing me (the flip side is purple plastic) and then even if I put the work down, when I come back I know if I pick it up silver side facing me and I stitch right to left I will be correct.  I've stitched 7 of the 12 medallions and I am hoping that the next 5 will require no ripped seams!

I've always dived deep into any new artform by buying the best tools I can.  In this case I resisted both thread and needles, opting for a less expensive thread and my beading needles. I decided after watching Tula and understanding that I was undertaking probably a years worth of this activity, I should invest in the correct tools.  I know own the aurfil thread and the Tulip needles.  While I certainly could have used my Gingher dress shears for cutting, these Tula Pink ones were too cute to pass up plus which they are always in the pouch with all the other tools.  No having to go look for the  Ginghers.

Do you have an Engish Paper piecing tool you can't live without? Please share, it may be that I need it too!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Consistency Challenge Month of July

There was a time I posted almost all days.  I love to go back to that point in time and review the posts because it's my history....a little bit at a time and many memorable moments.

I read about this challenge on Gaye Gillespies blog and was introduced to Mattie James.  

I have no desire to be an influencer but I do admire the people who do it well and do it to bring attention to their art and/or life philsophy around subjects that interest me.  I certainly appreciate both.  Creative pursuits get most of my attention but I also love cooking blogs, home decor or diy blogs and travel blogs.

For years this blog served as details from my life experiences and my career as a bead artist.

Now I am mostly retired from the bead world with a very few engagements, which also means less design and pattern writing.

As this life transition moved more into me exploring different artistic mediums I have used this space to record my makers life.

I have been busy improving my knitting, learning to sew garments, hand piecing my first quilt, exploring shrink plastic as a medium and still beading a bit.

You've seen lots of photos of my makes, but not too much in depth about any of them, so during this month I'm going to be diving a little deeper as I work on some of my current projects.

One of the things I've been enjoying is the marriage of beads and shrink plastic.  Recently the call for entries from the Museum of Beadwork caught my interest.  The idea is to create a community project to explore the ways beads build relationships.  The received 6 x 6 beaded tiles will be wall mounted at the museum.  This spoke to me because my connections over the past many years have all been the result of my work with beads.  I have friends around the world that I am in touch with on a regular basis, many of whom I've had the good fortune to work with, travel with and create some of my best memories with.

I've decided on submitting a tile to hopefully be included in this community wall.  This is the start.  I debated on documenting the process but since it's not a challenge with no voting and no need to be kept secret, I decided to update you as I work on it.  

I didn't want to hand stamp or hand print my words to I settled on using the inkjet printer to print out the chosen words.  That provided my first challenge to overcome, since I didn't realize the inkjet ink was water soluble.  This I discovered after finding the word Kindness had disappeared from my earring after putting them on with wet hair!  There is an after shrinking fixative I could use, but I don't want to count on having to spray each piece so I remembered an older package of shrink plastic that was specially treated to be printed on with the inkjet.  I've tested and thankfully it is permanent!    So with that problem solved I will have to replace my kindness earring and remake a few more of my favorites.

This is how my journey with words and shrink plastic started.  I regret that I didn't understand the impermanence of my words, but as with any new medium I experienced learning curve!

This project will take up a good portion of my art time this week.  Although there are a lot of other projects that will get bits of attention as I move through the month

In no particular order

I have started a Sabine Lippert Double RAW Dimensions Dodecahedron from her master class.  
I am making Mark a vest 'His Vest' by churchmouse in a beautiful blue/grey malabrigio DK yarn.
I just finished my third pair of Urth yarns Uneek socks and have a new colorway.
I made a pale pink linen Elope top by Tina Givens and have cut out pants to match.
I ordered yarn to crochet some mandalas, possibly as airstream decor.
I have Kestral linen  yarn in a pale aqua to make my second ranunculus sweater. I have a lavender one and it's one of my favorite to wear.
I signed up for the Heidi Kummli Beaded Object class which begins July 22nd.
Oh, and I continue work on my hand pieced Tula Pink Sunrise quilt.

Whew!  that was a lot of links.  As I work through these and share photos I will link again, or I will link back to this list of all of July's projects!  

What's on your July list of projects?

iPad blogging

iPad blogging can be a challenge. Since I will be traveling soon with just an iPad, I am testing the limitations here. Yes...traveling, in the airstream near the bay for a change of scenery. I look forward to long days of relaxation, cooking, knitting, and beading.

Uneek socks by Urth Yarns

Monday, June 15, 2020

Making sustains me

I truly don't know what I would be doing or where my mental health might be if I didn't have the gift of making things.

I still find the magic in taking a raw material and creating something new that never existed before.  Having said that I am finding myself a little scattered with so many different projects that I've had to find some time  to 'focus and finish'.

I'm still playing with shrink plastic.  I created a pendant and offered it as a kit, so I had a LOT of shapes to cut and color.  Thankful for my zoom with friend sessions where we all visit and work on things while we chat about life.

This was another challenge for the shrinkets facebook group using Julie Haymaker techniques.  The challenge was for wings or feathers and so I gave my previously done wings a fairy and turned her into a necklace. 

Here I handwrote words on each of the petals of the lightly molded flower.

I finished my own Love Note sweater  from tincanknits last week and I absolutely love everything about it.  Even the striped sleeve that happened because I would have run out of the darkest of the three gradient set of yarn I was using.  I did make several modifications so if you're interested I am beadartist on Ravelry. This sweater has been knit at least 1,000 times which is wonderful for the designer.  If you use instagram try the hashtag lovenotesweater to see a huge number of variations.  The other fun thing about this sweater is how size inclusive it is, going from a baby to a 5x. The gradient is from Unique Sheep in a colorway I believe was called Santa Rosa.  It was a special yarn they dyed to be able to make a contribution to those effected by the large California wildfires that had happened a couple of years back.  When I realized that the Love Note sweater was written for dk and mohair I knew I was going to use it.  Christina at Chelsea Purls had dyed the most wonderful rose gold mohair and I new it was the perfect yarn to carry with it.  If you don't know unique sheep, have a look at their website.  You can pick  your base, your weight, your yardage, and your color way and they will dye it.  So many pretty yarns.  I did buy myself this years advent kit, due to be shipped in November.  I've never bought one before and I decided this was the year for a treat.

My local friends have all been doing paper piecing so I joined in.  I was not totally enamored at first, but after watching three videos by the designer Tula Pink I learned enough to really improve my technique and now I am totally enamored with everything Tula Pink.  This is one of twelve medallions at the center of the Sunrise quilt and now I have 4 1/2 completed.  I've linked the first of the three videos and from there you'll be able to find the other two.  The first talks about cutting, the second about threads and needles and the third about the sewing.  I was doing so many things wrong.  The videos are really well done in conjunction with the fat quarter shop.  This young woman is a super talented illustrator with a wicked sense of fun when it comes to fabric design.  Her use of color is brilliant and she is a master of her brand.  Quite impressive.

Given that paper piecing has a lot of pieces and you need thread and glue pens and small scissors I made myself a new pouch and added an inside pocket to it.  This pattern is by Erica Arndt on You Tube.

Here is the slightly more colorful love note sweater that I did for my six year old grand daughters birthday, along with a skirt and a pouch.   The pouch was full of her treasured swedish fish candy so it was really the highlight of the day!

I haven't been sewing as much but this is a jacket I did with beautiful fabric that I bought during our trip to Spain with our oldest grand daughter Sam.  It has many fond memories and I'm overall happy with how it turned out.  It was a very old pattern that I had and the construction was a bit odd with a funny underarm gusset.  But I  think it shows off the fabric well.

There is much to be thoughtful about and I am doing my best to listen and learn.  I am so weary of the hate I see played out every day.  I am hopeful that we are ready to have meaningful conversations to create change.  

I hope you are all well and managing to keep your mental and physical health cared for.

When I originally designed the peace sign in beads it was for my friend Rosemary, a friend of of 40 years who always embraced the peace sign.  She just sent a link to this wonderful video reminding me of how much I loved living in Santa Cruz.  Peace Train

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Shrinkets, knitting, stay at home, and other thoughts

The biggest new thing I have found is shrinkets, shrink plastic art has come a long way since the shrinky dinks of my youth.

I did stray into the medium a few years back when I met a gal at a local craft fair and took a class from her.  Susan's art circus a quck check and she's still doing shrink plastic.  I didn't pursue it much but I did use it to make 'the dream' which fit into the dream keeper vessel ring.  It was the perfect material to personalize the ring, be a secret inside message, and to make it sturdy.

This past February before we were all required to stay home, I went to Tucson for the first time in many years.   I ran into Gail Crosman Moore who was making these amazing shapes and told me to go seek out Julie Isaacs Haymaker and she'd set me up.  So a set of molds, some die cut shapes, some 8 x 10 sheets of shrinket material and a heat gun came home with me, and then I got busy with other things.

I attended a wedding, I met some deadlines, I knit and then on March 12th the Governor of California put in place a Stay at Home order.  Time was now my gift, time and anxiety and worry all of which needed to be managed, so I got out my shrinket and joined Julie's facebook group.  For me it is a really calming medium, basically it's like coloring when you were a kid, only grown up.

I soon found that I needed better pencils than I had and some alcohol ink pens and a sharperner and maybe some more molds, and a gold leaf pen, and then more gold leaf pens because they are magic.

The facebook group, and Julie's website offered inspiration as well as some challenges and so I began in earnest trying to learn the medium.

My first set of shrinkets were ho hum....but then I got the hang of how I liked them to look and soon I had a big group.

Here's detail of a charm/trinket that I made.  Julie's molds are what make it possible to get the three dimensionality which changes the medium so much!

Here's a sweet pair of earrings with just a little touch of shrinket at the top.

 Here I've given a go at fairy wings, someday there will also be a fairy....I hope.

Each of the grand daughters got a heart pendant.  Bella is a huge lover of everything rainbow so here's hers.

Here is a Poesie pendnat in progress.  I love the combination of molded shrink plastic with beadwork and in this case a piece of German glass.

This one I offered as a kit and more people than not opted for me to make their shrinkets to include in the kit.  So a weeks worth of work happened.  

This one was done for a monochromatic color challenge.  The material itself started out pink and I used deep fuchisa and orange pencils to color it.  The sweet heart at the bottom is from bead artist Patti Lakinsmith.

I think this was also a challenge but at the moment I can't remember what the challenge was....hmmm... But I like it.  

This was a tide pool challenge.  I made each of the fronds separately and then underneath the fossil was two layers of shrink plastic, one smaller than the other, creating a channel.  The fronds were curved over a bowl while shrinking and then glued into the channel.  The gold leaf pen is a game changer.  This is about 4 inches across and I use it as a decorative item on my etagere.

Desert flowers was another challenge which I met with a large flower, petals stitched to bead backing and a rivoli center with golden head pin 'stamens'.  I placed all of that in a shadow box.  This is a process shot of coloring the leaves.  

Here it is resting on the etagere, but I've since mounted it on a dining room wall

I have a current piece in process and ideas for more.  Looking back over that, it's a lot of work in one medium in a short time.  The process however soothes me.  It's a combination of doodling and coloring and reasonable instant gratification, at least in comparison to a fully bead woven pendant.  It lends itself to bead embroidery and also to all the little bits that live in my studio and have waited to find the perfect use.

I'm also knitting.  I finished a love notes for a six year olds birthday, and am in process on my own love notes.

Mark and I also made in excess of 75 masks for friends and family.  

Days run together, worry is still a problem, I want my kids and my grandkids to be safe and not have serious financial effects.  I want myself and my husband to stay free of the virus and I want the same for all of my friends, well for everyone.  But that is not what is happening and it's worrisome.

We missed a long planned family outing that I was desparately looking forward to, two visits from dear international bead friends, our summer airstream travel plan to Seattle and weekly get togethers with friends.

What we do have is each other, a house that cares for us really well, nice weather, weekly zoom meetings with family and friends that I cherish.  I have needed art/fiber and bead supplies to sustain all my interests. I have  yeast!  yes, that is exciting, bread and pizza dough are staples here.  We're busy planning some veranda/yard upgrades to give us a beautiful space to spend the summer.

Stay safe and well, I love you.  Marcia

Monday, February 24, 2020

I am quilting!

For years, really years I have avoided quilting.  I did some Rosemary Eichorn style freeform quilting in the early 90's, maybe even the 80's but I always deemed trying tp machine piece quilts too fussy and precise for me.

Two to three years ago my local gals all started quilting and the call for me to join them was loud.  But I resisted.  I chose to spend my time knitting, beading and trying my hand at art to wear clothing.

But it was bound to happen, one particular project called my name loudly.  The Hexies pillow by Modernhandcraft .  I saw the first one in my friend Gails Instagram feed and I was enamored.  I'd been wanting a new pillow for my living room chaise and my shopping trips weren't finding what I needed.  Well I did find a custom velvet watercolor one at ABC home in New York but I don't have the budget for $400 pillows.

These two belong to my friend Gail.  She is leading the way with her quilting skills.

I ordered the pattern from Modern Handcdrafts and watched the imbedded video assists for her techniques on creating the hexis.  She starts with a square and thread bastes them around the hexes, then glues to the backing fabric before stitching.  Creating the hexis was a lot of fun.  I see many more hexi projects in my future.  For now this is the pillow I created for my chaise.  It is great to have pops of color in my living room which is a largely neutral pallette.  My machine quilting is far from perfect but it got the job done and I think it looks great.

Now onto my Tula Pink 60 inch by 60 inch sunrise quilt.  It's more paper piecing which I like for it's portability. 

 I'm busy under my friends guidance acquiring the tools of the trade and watching videos. One thing I purchased was a lazy susan type cutting map which makes cutting out the small shapes much easier.  It should arrive this week. The one in the photo is a loan from my other quilting pal Judy.  My first block of 12 is done.   I'm  aiming for one a week, but then I am also aiming to finish my Patty Lyons sweater soon and I 'm heavily into design mode on a new beading project.  We shall see.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

A few more things I've made

First up a Johnny pendant.  The Johnny collection came about as a result of my love of all things Johnny Was.  In this one I was trying really hard to show off the diamonds being used to create a bracelet.  This was prior to my Tucson Chapter Embroiderers Guild of America class....I was already to do a double craw rope on each side of these three diamonds when the beads shouted out.....I need to be a pendant!  I happened to have the perfect colored tassel and I  turned the bit of double craw I had done into a bail and now I have a pretty new pendant.  

Next up, given my new found interest in cooking I decided that occassionally an apron would be in order.  Like when you 've invited company and you're wearing velvet for example.  I had this ghoulies fabric in my stash and decided it was perfect.  My sewing teacher had the pattern which is a little vintage and a little feminine.  I turned out great, although I may put a velcro tab on the strap and do away with the long ends....someday.

I needed a pair of lavender socks to go with my lavender linen ranunculus.  This is the first one which fits like a dream.  I've since finished the second.  I am now so comfortable with this pattern that I knit the heel flap, turned the heel and picked up the gusset while on the 8 hour ride to Tucson.  It's a shortie, rolled cuff, slipped stitch heel and barn toe on a 1.5 Chiagoo short needle.  I go down one needle size and do the heel flap on double pointeds.  It makes the heel flap nice and snug.

Aaaandddd......I've been resisting this for a couple of years now.  My local friends have been paper pieceing and trying to temp me.  This hexi pillow was a pattern from modernhandcraft and I have to say I had a blast picking the colors and making the hexis.  I think the green is off in value but being my first project I'm going to live with it.  My fabric stash is not quite as large as say my bead or yarn stash, but it is growing.  The pillow goes nicely in my living room.  Now to finish the quilting because next up is Tula Pinks Sunrise quilt for which I bought a kit.

So that's what I've been up to.  I think I am going to enjoy the paper piecing because it will be another portable project that I can take with me on the airstream.  We plan on doing a long trip this summer and it will nice to have some varied projects to work on.  I hope by then to have completed my Volition sweater by Patty Lyons and move on to my Esjan shawl by Stephen West.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Beginning knitting

I post on facebook and instagram about my knitting which led to some friends thinking that they would like to give this handwork a try. So I put together just a small guide of where I might go if I wanted to learn today. First up goes without saying, if you have a local yarn store that gives beginning classes this may be your best bet. Nothing like someone sitting beside you as you get comfortable with those two sticks and yarn.

So to those who asked and anyone who is considering trying their hand at knitting....There are paid courses on bluprint but first I think you need to know if you enjoy it at all. I think very pink knits does a great job with her slow motion videos. You can find the list here

If you do embrace it and want to learn everything, I recommend Patty Lyons as a great technical knitter. I think the Sally Melville videos also do a good job. Both designers are technically very good but both have styles a little less eclectic than I might want to knit. Having said that Patty Lyons does two sweater KAL's (knit alongs)a year with video assists for every step of the construction. If you want to explore further she has a lot to offer in the learning department.

I also think that Debbie Bliss's The Knitters Book of Knowledge is a comprehensive reference book and the illustrations are large and very easy to understand.

For starting I would pick a worsted weight wool like a malabrigo on size 7 or 8 needles. A great scarf with lot's of texture which requires only the knit stitch (you can and should learn purl, but this is a good starting scarf) can be found at Purl soho

This would look great in one of the tonal malabrigo yarns. If you don't have a local yarn store Malabrigo can be purchased on Webs or Jimmy Beans

For needles, my current favorite are Lykke, but there are many to choose from. For this scarf I would use a 24 inch cable circular. You can knit flat on circulars and they can be easier to manage (no dropped needles) and on larger pieces they keep the weight of the piece off your hands.

If I had to learn today I would start out trying to learn the continental way, sometimes referred to as picking, german or European knitting. You manage your working thread with your left hand. It is thought to be faster. (The very pink knits videos show both ways, alt hough I hold my yarn opposite to how she is showing it for wrapping. Every person needs to work out the best way for them. It will get natural over time.

I work by what is called English, throwing or wrapping the yarn with my right hand. I've tried continental and can reliably knit that way but I can't adjust to the purl stitch after 50 years of knitting my way. Interestingly, without the benefit of the internet or the advantage of any knitting friends, I never knew there was another way until one time I saw my mother in law knitting socks. She was of German descent and knit continental. I couldn't fathom what she was doing!

You might also try watching a few Vlog's (video blogs) on you tube for inspiration about what you may want to knit. A few of my favorites are the Grocery Girls, The Chelsea Purls, Espace Tricot, Kristy Glass Knits. GGMadeit and Fruity Knitting. They all have different styles but they all present a plethora of knitty goodness. Kristy Glass and Fruity knitting tend to interview other knitters. The Grocery Girls are two Canadian sisters who design and are plain fun. The Chelsesa Purls are a yarn store owner in New Jersey who dyes yarn and her friend in knitting, Miriam. The Fruity Knitting vlog is hosted by a married couple. Wife Andrea is a very technically competent knitter and she also interviews a lot of guest artists so you get a wide smattering of knitting styles. Espace Tricot are business partners in the Canadian store by the same name and are a treat to watch. GGmadeit loves all things orange and has many words of wisdom to impart plus her enthusiasm is contagious. There are many many more, not all good, but you may discover some that speak best to you.

If you are not already a member sign up for Ravelry. The amount of information here is incredible. You can search on and buy patterns, you can browse and add patterns to your queue to review later, you can join groups inline with your interests, you can explore how many knitters have made a project your interested in and see photo results in different yarns on different body types.

I hope that you will give knitting a try and find comfort in the relaxation it brings (eventually!) and are happy with the many beautiful things you can make.

Monday, January 20, 2020

NYC and Vogue Knitting Live

I had a great few days in NYC as I always do.

In between a Patty Lyon class and a Steven B lecture I met with my friend Edgar Lopez for a great visit. We of course talked beads as that is our connection. Edgar was one of the amazing bead artists featured in my third book, Marcia DeCoster Presents. Edgar's work is always bold, colorful and sparkly!
Here I am in a Kristy Glass selfie after the Subway storm ride. What is a subway storm? A huge gathering of knitters met at the Times Square subway station and rode the train to south ferry and back while wearing their finest knitwear and knitting. Kristy posted this on her instagram stories but I missed it, thanks to a friend for the screen capture. Later in the day I saw Kristy at the VKL marketplace and I gave her the crown. Completely her color and she loved it, so now it’s hers!

In the hopes of staying focused I had a plan to purchase beautiful yarn for one project, Esjan by Steven West. Mine will be in different colors, I bought a gradient set which I’ll show you when I get home and have the real computer. I am still stymied by the fact my photo stream does not show up in Blogg, so it’s complicated.

Since Mark is with me and I didn’t want to spend every minute at the knitting show, well I did but that wasn’t really fair...this is a shot from our trip to MOMA. There was a temporary exhibition called taking a thread for a walk.

That’s it for now. Today we travel home. I have lots of knitting to keep me company in the airport and in the air. 

Tomorrow I will take the fabulous new eyeglass frames I purchased in NYC to my local optician. Stay tuned, they are bright and so fun!