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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pretty Things

After a weekend away doing the Craft Ontario Craft show in Toronto, it's good to be back in the studio....though even that seemed to be full of people for a while (but nice).

The Machine Knitting Club of Kingston met in my studio for the first time on Tuesday (we meet the second Tuesday of every month in different members houses) and I think we had our largest gathering for a was great. Three of our members had been down to the Finger Lakes Machine Knitting seminar in September and had lots to tell us. I had been in Toronto doing a show and before that had wrestled with the custom order and the yarn mailing problem, one person came from Brockville (over an hour away) and another showed up who we hadn't seen in ages so that was a blast.
Anyway, my friend Karen lent me a collar which was made by her designer sister in rose collar which can be worn....well, however. I tossed it over one shoulder and wore it with a short black top (used to be an ankle length dress) over black jeans and some dark red pointy mules. Sheesh, I could have sold that thing over and over I got so many compliments!


Before I left a box of black Yeoman Cannele Mercerized cotton arrived which I had ordered to make an LBD (little black dress). Well, the back is nearly done, I'm working it on my Brother 930 with my Garter Carriage...what fun. I'm working the #7 pattern (roses) and here is a sample I worked in brown cotton. I've sewed some beads on it, which I want to do on the finished cocktail dress). It takes a lot of back and forth to the machine as I'm shaping the pieces as I go...not cut and sew, fully fashioned. It's also noisy in the studio with my TV on loud so I can hear General Hospital (etc) over the GC!

Another nice surprise was when I delivered a cardi to a client. It was Thanksgiving and though she said not to bother I was so glad I did. It took me into the countryside on a beautiful Fall day. We chatted about fibre, carpets, knitting and got to spinning....I admired some of her work...and she gave it to me!!!! Here is the skein of wool and I want to work it in to a felted jacket....hopefully this week, in time for the Wearable Art Show in Toronto on October 25 & 26th.....we'll see!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ups & Downs!!!

Whew, what a fun September! Where did Summer go?  I took up SUP (stand up paddleboarding) and discovered a wonderful new that I can share with my husband. I took my board to Dorthy's Lodge a couple of weekends ago for the VayClayTion, a retreat with a pile of wonderful polymer clayers.

This event was hosted by Geogia Ferrell of Artemesia in Wesport Ontario and our fearless instructor was Gera Scott Chandler from BC. I learned some techniques I will be using in my buttons....and I got to do some SUPing.
My efforts.

This is all up but ... as the saying goes 'What goes up...' where is my big bottle of TLS (Translucent Liquid Sculpy) somehow got lost in the throws of two weekend workshops. I headed out to our local Michaels  and they don't have any! If anyone notices they have an extra bottle, do let me know.

Then there is the custom order you take in good faith, quoting a price to the client then over the next while bits and changes are added that require a trip to Toronto for findings unavailable at home that have to be hand picked...not ordered online. (I made it a whole day and took my Summer student).

Of course there is the extra cone of yarn ordered because this was for a large person and I didn't want to run out of that colour....which, by the way, was a colour I would never use! I checked to see if I could return the excess cone if it was not broken problem. And I didn't have to break into the second cone.

As I was headed down to a workshop in the US I thought I'd mail it there, quicker and cheaper I thought. Taking the packaged and labelled cone of yarn plus a DVD which needed returning to the US company I headed to an Office Depot which had USPS signs all over the place and a large shipping department.......

Long story short - after 45minutes I walked out with both my packages and directions to a post office in the next town up the road back home!!!!!!  The gentleman behind the counter tapped away on the computer but kept telling me the DVD could only go by UPS...wha!!??  I stood in front of the USPS Flat Rate Display, under the USPS sign and another Flat Rate display of packaging with a Flat Rate padded envelope in my hand and was told my package couldn't go USPS!!!!!!!!

The next town - Leesburg visit it it's beautiful - had a lovely USPost Office where a lovely lady directed me to use a cardboard mailer. I told her I seemed to be doing alright with the padded envelope I had found but she insisted I might as well use this mailer. Well...after addressing the thing and tucking the disk inside the next helpful lady said that it was going to cost $19!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I told her it definitely wasn't going to cost any more than the $5:75 I had been trying to pay with the 'Flat Rate' mailer at the Office they sent it for $4:75...which I got reimbursed from the company.!!!!!!

On the ups, I got to do a bit of creative painting (something I never do!). There's a wonderful retaining wall down by the lake where the park it surrounds is beautiful but in jeopardy so there was a wonderful Summer event of art to celebrate the area. Yes that's me...woman painter...for five minutes. It's such a lovely part of town I hope these folks efforts pay off.

Oh, the saga of the yarn doesn't end there. Wondering where my replacement cone was I called the supplier and found it had been sent off...I looked at my credit card and found a chunk of change debited by them for .... shipping! Apparently one cone of yarn cost $60CAD to get from a place in the US I could drive to in a short day. With the original delivery, the return and the replacement I figure that lovely cone of Merino has cost me about $130!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Machine Knitting Handspun Yarn

Last weekend was the Sheepdog Trials event in Kingston at Grass Creek Park. It's an annual event in which I have taken part for years. I have a lovely time and my work travels back to far flung places such as the US and Australia! 
The skein I was handed.
One of my favourite parts is the Sheep to Shawl event where Handspinner/Weaver guilds race to the finish working on a woven shawl which starts with a fleece straight from the sheep. I stood watching for a while, chatting to the spinners saying that my Mum once spun be a tiny bit of yarn to work on the knitting machine and I wondered if a knitting machine would qualify for the 'shawl' part of the sheep to shawl....rules inspected - No. Anyway they would have to spin way more to compensate for the warp that it already on the handweaving looms at a Sheep to Shawl.

At the end of the day one of the spinners handed me a skein of yarn they had spun after the event especially for me to give it  a try. I brought it home and washed it in Eucalan, not a big wash so it still smelled a bit of 'sheep' but lots of 'guck' came out. Here it is hanging on my washing line.

 Here is is dried and ready to wind and knit.
Small ball.

 Here it is on the knitting machine, I had to be careful as the fluff in the yarn kept getting caught on the brushes so I had to pull it tight as the carriage came close to the work.

I used my Brother 930 with a lace pattern on Tension 5.

Here is my finished swatch using the whole skein and then steam pressing it. I may wash it again to see if I can soften it up and get the rest of the 'sheep' smell out (which I actually like!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer '14 Exhibition

As a wearable art textile artist I rarely exhibit in 'art' shows that feature wall art (paintings, hangings etc) but I made an exception with this show....I took in my 'Village in Spring' felted jacket to be hung on the wall in the Summer Exhibition at the Window Art Gallery here in Kingston.

The Window Art Gallery is attached to the Kingston School of art and is a bright space which has hosted a myriad of wonderful art exhibits. This one will be fun because the call out was to all artists in Kingston or owners of art, not necessarily the artist. 

I took in my jacket after putting the buttons on it. I usually wait to fit the purchaser before I put them on but I wanted it to be complete....I love this jacket....maybe because it looks so good on me?!

Now I need to check my stock for my
Polymer Clay Workshop
here at my studio tomorrow

July 17th 10 - 4.

I still have room for one or two more.....
613-545-5986 or

So do pop down to the gallery for a peruse of fine local art.

July 16th - August 28th
647 Princess Street at Victoria, Kingston ON.

Call for hours but usually Wed - Sun 12 - 4pm

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Help!....I Have Help!

For you machine knitters doesn't this look like a fun machine....I haven't investigated but it looks like you set it up and let 'er rip! That's what the uninitiated have been saying I do for years....we know it's not so by any stretch of the imagination.

Anyway, I don't have a whiz bang machine..except for my Garter Carriage...and even then I seem to be doing short rows and shaping which means I have to sit in front of it while it knits a few stitches.....I have a STUDENT!

Years ago I had a young women from high school who used to come for about three hours a week and knit sleeves for me. This Summer I have Ella, a high school student doing a placement who requested me. My studio didn't scare her off as she had already visited a couple of years ago on a studio tour.

At 17 she is an accomplished hand knitter and I will make a machine knitter of her before too long. 

Her teacher says she is to do anything that is involved in running this business: inputting receipts for bookkeeping, setting up for a show (I have the Sheepdog Trials coming up), knitting, felting, photographing work, learning to make and design buttons, helping at workshops....the list is endless.

(Of course this means I'll have to tape General Hospital and watch it at night instead of as I knit!)

       .....I'm so excited.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Getting Personal - Work Related Health Issues.

There are many health concerns that go along with doing what we artists and artisans do on a daily basis. We have to contend with repetitive stress on various joints in our hands, elbows and arms, maybe even legs (I do alternately roll my felting with my feet).

Anyone who sits for hours at a computer designing illustrations, photoshopping photographs and so on has their back to think of and the fact that they are not doing the standing that we are told is better for us.

Having sewed, knit and now felted for most of my life and for over three decades for a living I've had my share of aches and pains. I suffered for more than a year with De Quervain syndrome in  both wrists. That was from using a Dekker comb for moving stitches on my knitting machine while using cotton....which is not forgiving! The cure was to immobilize my thumbs...yeah, right! It eventually sorted itself out, with the use of hot paraffin wax treatments and wrist braces. One of my customers gave me this test in my show booth at the One of a Kind show....just to check....Pain YES!

I just pulled a muscle in my back last week shifting my heavy outdoor mirror in my car in readiness for Artfest here in Kingston. I felt a bit of a strain and spent the rest of the day not bending in the middle! Fortunately a visit to emerge (it was a Friday and my doc couldn't see me) told me it was muscular and no injury to my spine...whew!

All I could think of was my sister who, years ago, riding the bumper cars on Toronto Islands, was bumped into as she sat partly twisted with her arm around one of her girls......she spent weeks on living on the living room floor crawling on her hands and knees to the bathroom. She had injured a disc....which she still has to take care of.

Fortunately, I believe, my practice (not often enough) of Pilates helped in that my mid section was already strong....I felt better over the weekend. I was told three weeks and after a week....much better.
Trust me, this feels good!

I've spent 32 years lugging heavy stuff and I won't stop. Weight bearing exercises helps keep my old bones strong, especially as treatment for breast cancer has reduced my numbers slightly on my bone density test. I've lugged my boxes, show booth display and glass and rocks (when I used to work for two different glass artists over the years).

                                                                                                  Now the getting personal part....for which I'm working on an Indigogo project to get myself a felt rolling machine ($4000)....when I work on my wet felting I spend most of the day standing. When I'm laying out my design, felting and fulling at my work table, which is raised up to just above my waist height, I'm on my feet....and I found I got....hemorrhoids!  Also my feet get really tired too.                Yup, sorry, fact of my life...but when I stop and go back to knitting (sitting at my knitting machine most of the time) and up and down to the ironing board they go away!                        This image is from a 'Wired' post.

I know they say it's good to stand to work as this image and article shows....but I think there can be too much and also I'm not 30 any more!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reviving An Old Passion

Well, the only thing this has to do with knitting is that I am working with a Cotton Jersey knit fabric. With an honorarium book token I went off to Chapters to pick up a book on dyeing I had seen....but I came home with a sewing book:

'Alabama Studio Sewing + Design' 
A Guide to Hand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe.

Its from the company Alabama Chanin which is all about simple, stylish, quality wear made from cotton jersey knit. I love that is's 100% cotton as I only wear natural fibres (those 'personal Summers' require no synthetics)! And I love that I've been doing hand stitching which I used to do a lot when I was waaaay younger and growing up in England.

Here is my first outfit, consisting of a long sleeved T and elastic waisted skirt. Yes, every stitch is done by hand, the side seams, neck binding, top stitching, even sewing on the waistband by hand.  I started while I was on holiday by the relaxing and escapist. Using cotton jersey I got from Designer Fabrics in Toronto....and grey was the  best colour I could find, at about $6 a yard. I cut a bit and practiced some o the stitches in the book...straight and stretch.
Here you can see my stitches in the seams and around the neck.  Also, a note, none of the edges are hemmed....just left a nice raw cut edge. (So that makes it easier!)
I then went on to make the camisole. The pattern for the T was a bit small so I had to cut it a bit larger and it fits me well (not so much this size 10 form) so when I cut the cami I did the same and it came out a bit larger. I stitched two more 'darts' into the back of the cami to bring it in and it fits better now....I may do a couple in the front. There is a cami pattern with more seaming...maybe next Summer for that.

Stencil sample.
There is lots of stencilling in the book and in their work but I haven't decided how or where to embellish. I could cut some shapes out and stitch them on or just stencil. Until I decide I first did a test patch....which I might turn into a cushion, but for it's first wearing, to a friend's art opening featuring flowers, I just stencilled a long strip and wore it as a belt.

Well,  now that I have done my first three pieces I'd like to make a long dress.....

Hand stitched elastic waist band.