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The projects just kept flowing (pun intended)

Artesian: relating to or denoting a well, drilled perpendicularly into water-bearing strata lying at an angle, so that natural pressure produces a constant supply of water with little or no pumping.

Synonym: flowing  (Google search)

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Yes, Romi Hill’s Artesian shawl is just that:  flowing asymmetrically off the shoulders to points.  What a brilliant pattern and yet so simple and quick to knit – just knits, yarn overs, and short rows.  Time from start to finish?  A neat 10 days of evening knitting.

So much fun… I knit three in a row. A knitting record!

The first creation, intended for my sister Diane, was knit from Madelinetosh lace weight, color Spectrum (the blue above).   I tried it on, wore it to a dinner …. I LIKED it a lot!!!  I never considered myself a shawl-bearing person but its beauty and simple elegance captured me.

The shawl insisted on staying with me.  We had multiple discussions – it was supposed to be a gift! – but the shawl would not relent.

No sweat. I had purchased 2 skeins of Spectrum and used only one.  I could just knit a replica for my sister.  But where is that other skein you ask?  Hmmm…. if only I could find it.  BUT… 2 partial skeins of Madelinetosh Wicked (the deep purple above) peaked out from my stash so…  a second Artesian was born.

Then the missing Spectrum reappeared on the floor behind my knitting chair while vacuuming (yes, cleaning does have some benefits).  The first Spectrum shawl was so lovely and I knew my sister would love one just like it.  I checked in with the original and indeed, it was adamant about remaining with me.  So a third Artesian shawl was born.

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New technique learned:  Russian splicing.

When I first started knitting with lace,  I joined new yarn by knotting it to the last of the old yarn.  I couldn’t figure out how to hide the join – with heavier weight knits I would knit the 2 yarns simultaneously for a while, then weave in the ends. Hiding the ends in an open lace pattern is much more difficult.

Then I came upon Russian splicing.  This method looked a little unnerving at first, but I bought  a sewing needle with a sharp end and a large eye and found that if you slightly untwist the yarn as you thread the needle through the strand, you end up with a fabulous, strong join that is imperceptible.  Nice! You also have to make sure you thread a long piece of strand through.  If it’s too short, then it is not strong and gives way. Give it a try!

For visual learners:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=0103qC6GH8I

For written instructions:

Increases- Techniques with Theresa: Knitty Spring+Summer 2010

http://knitty.com/ISSUEss10/FEATss10TT.php

creative-hours

the calculus of a naptime

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Packing the stroller – 20 minutes
Walking to the park – 30 minutes
Playtime at the park – 30 minutes
Snacktime at the park – 20 minutes
Walking home – 30 minutes
Filling each little belly with blueberries and scrambled eggs when we arrive home – 30 minutes

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Time each child napped after our marathon morning? 2.5 hours, my friends! I cleaned the studio and managed to start cutting out a new tunic/dress/thing. And then I knit a little. I’m not sure what kind of calculus I would need to figure out the mental value of that creative time, but boy, that number is high.

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Deco Cardigan – designed by Kate Davies. Silky Wool from Elsbeth Lavold.

 

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from the inside out

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My mentor in college had a rare, rare gift. She dealt with the work of her students from the inside out. That is, she had the ability to understand your work’s intentions, to find out where you would like to take the piece, and to advise you on how to actually communicate that intention to your audience.

This was useful to me as an artist, but even more as a teacher: deeply useful feedback doesn’t start with the teacher’s ideal style or product. It starts with what the student would like to achieve.

Sounds basic, right? But I’m finding that giving that kind of feedback needs practice, practice, practice.

I teach a lot of standalone classes, 2-3 hours long. My biggest challenge, in that brief amount of time, is to connect with each of a dozen or more students long enough to pick up on his or her aims – and then help them forward.

In a monotype workshop a few weeks ago, I got lots of practice giving feedback and then getting out of the way while students made decisions.  The group was flexible and fun, willing to be stretched, and all knew each other well.  And I think every student left with something they were proud of.P1018123

Not that there weren’t bumps along the way! One student in particular hated everything she made with the initial assignment in mind. After our mid-class check-in, she decided to go in the opposite direction. Immediately, her body language relaxed and she completed six pieces in quick succession, which truly took advantage of the unique properties of vellum + akua ink (lots of lovely transparent color and some light texture). They also fit her poetic interests – small, boiled down to essentials, intimate.

I was happy to see my assignment pushed out of the way while she charged headlong in her own direction. In a lot of different ways, every day, we have to make those decisions. Do we keep going in the same direction? Do we stick with what other people want or expect from us? How do we figure out what we want?

P1018146In an art class, the answer is much easier: always, always, my loves, follow your own voice.

 

creative-hours

jeans jamboree

finished jeans
Yes – that’s my Little in the background. “Photos, mama? I can haz?”

Momentous News: these things actually fit me pretty well. You may have seen the first selfie snap a few weeks ago if you follow me in Instagram – but, well, daylight hours and spare photographers are a little hard to come by around these parts. And I didn’t want to leave you with just one grainy selfie. I wanted you to bask in the glory that is a second pair of jeans.

Sorry I’m not sorry.

And y’all, I have learned so much. With the help of a few fake-o darts hidden at the pocket seams, some creative cussing, and a whole mess o’ naptimes, they fit. Did I say that already? They fit.

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Are you curious about lessons learned? Me, too. Allow me a quick recap:

  • What on earth kind of home sewing machine can actually make it through 12 layers of denim at a go? There were several areas – final top-stitching of the waistband and the belt loops in particular – that were just simply too thick to fit under the presser foot. There must be some smart ways to thin things down. Drop me a link or comment if you have a suggestion!
  • Flat-felled seams sound awesome. They’re no doubt durable. But they are just too thick for this material.
  • I need a little additional shaping around the waist area built into my pattern so I don’t have to fake darts at the 11th hour.
  • It’s more of a relaxed-fit pattern than a skinny-jeans pattern, despite my re-drafting the leg lines. Probably just as well, since this denim doesn’t have as much stretch as my store-bought pair.
  • I averaged a 1/2″ seam allowance ’round the whole thing, for those of you who were following my saga of annoyance. In a couple places, I might have slipped out to 5/8″, but I neglected to note exactly where. So for future pairs, 1/2″ it is.
  • You should always, always, ALWAYS double-check which side the button belongs on and which side the hole belongs on BEFORE you take a seam ripper to your pants. Or else you’ll end up with a hidden patch on your otherwise lovely jeans. Not going to lie, it took me a week or two to recover my courage and put on the finishing touches after that mistake.
  • And on the note of buttonholes – my automatic buttonhole stitches didn’t work for jeans. Thread and fabric too thick for those tiny little stitches. So I set a straight stitch at 2.4 mm and created a slightly sloppy square of stitching instead. This worked, once I figured out which side the hole belonged on.

You know what comes next, right? I get cocky and royally mess up a pair of jeans for my husband. I can practically smell reality knocking.

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And when it does, you’ll know where to find updates!