The Mother of the Bride

I had to admit, at some point I felt a little panic during the production of this dress (just a little). I tend to think about too many “what if’s” and I have to remind myself that I will be fine. I was checking my emails a few days ago, and the first email from The Mother of the Bride was on October last year. I met her in December and I agreed to design her a dress for her daughter’s wedding. Talking about a little pressure, right? I worked on it really slow and I took my time before walking to the next step. I guess I take dyeing for granted (since that’s what I generally do almost each week), because when I realized that it was the time to dye the dress, again my “what ifs” started to go around my head again. I don’t have a lot of experience with indigo. My friend Charmaine kindly spent an afternoon with me showing how she prepares her vat. So, I was on my own and I had to dye the dress with Indigo. I took my notes, and started my first indigo vat. So, one cold afternoon, I held my breath and I dipped the white dress in a stinky dark liquid hoping that the magic would do its trick for me… And it did!

The reds from the cochineal turned purple, the yellows from the Osage Orange turned green and the white wool and silk turned blue.

indigo Dress

Indigo Dress indigo Dress

The making of this dress tought me a few things. One of them was feeling ok with using buttons to fasten the garment. And the other lesson I learned is being p-a-t-i-e-n-t!

indigo Dress Back

The dress was modeled by my friend Gina.

Patricia

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Knitting and Spinning for a Blanket

 I had this urge to spin for a chunky blanket. I spun about 1 1/2 lb of Polwarth Top to be able to make it. I didn’t know how much yarn I would need before, so I just made a rough calculation as how much I needed to spin. Even that the logistics to make the blanket was simple (spin and knit a basic square), knitting it was another story. I used US 50 mm needles and it was a little hard at the beginning to get used to holding the gigantic needles. Nonetheless, I’m very happy with the end result.

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Big Needles

Chunky Blnaket

 

See you soon!

 

Patricia

Hand Spun

I’ve been spinning for a few years now, and my stash of hand-spun yarn keeps growing and growing. I know this is not news for any of us that spin our yarn, but I’m selling and using less of my stash and producing more. When I want to knit something in particular, it gives me a special joy going through my stash and finding something suitable for that particular project. A few days ago, I came upon a “forgotten” skein hidden in a bag inside another bag. It is single strand dyed in a variety of pastel colors spun from Merino wool. At that moment I didn’t know what I wanted to knit with it, but I left the skein sitting in a place where I could see it form time to time. I wanted to knit something in the round, but not another hat. Since Merino is perfect for next to skin garments I thought that a scarf would be suitable for my skein of yarn. So, I started my project with a crocheted circle made with 16 sc, and then I casted on 16 st around a to start knitting my circle.

Casting on

I’m using 9 inch circular knitting needles, which is a little pain in the… It took a while for my clumsy hands to get used to handling such a small length but after the second circle, I got a bit faster. I can’t imagine people with big hands being able to use these needles without any problem. The next day, my hands were a bit sore and I’m suspecting that it is from using the needles. I might switch to double pointed from now on.

Knitting circles

I managed to finish a couple of circles for my scarf. The idea is to connect them later on using a crochet hook.

Knitting int the round

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There is a nice pleasure that comes from knitting with a hand spun yarn. I really enjoy when small bumps, color changes and twists pass through my fingers.  It’s something that I don’t get when I knit with mill spun yarn. It has a different character that shows well in your project. The yarn blooms with every stitch and I love that unique quality and funky look that it gives to my projects which I don’t usually get with commercial yarns.

Hand Spun

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I still have a few more circles to do at this point, but I won’t be knitting today. I will be busy working on some felting pieces for an exhibition at the Bolinas Museum this coming March. There is so much preparation to do that I better get back to work…

Patricia

Natural foot prints.

This was a fun experiment. I finished this piece a few days ago, but I’ve been collecting the leaves since last summer. Lately, when I go to my friends house I observe their gardens and neighborhoods in a different way. I try to spot plants that can be used for dyeing. I just discovered a nice ginkgo tree in Point Reyes near the Creamery and I think I can get nice prints with the leaves and using iron as a mordant.

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I finished my piece on time getting it submitted for an exhibition at the Bolinas Museum for their Annual Miniature Show, but I wish I had more time to let the bundles cure a little longer, and get more defined prints of the leaves onto the felted fabric. The maple leaves left a nice imprint, but surprisingly not with the eucalyptus, although I’ve been thinking that it depends of the porosity of the fabric.

I would like to try next time with cotton and see what kind of prints I can get.

In the next few days I will posting an invitation for a Christmas Holiday Party that my friends and I will be hosting here at my house. Each of them will have a booth, offering their hand-made goods for sale. I’m so excited, because my friend Sophie Webb which wrote and illustrated the book “Far From Shore”  with great reviews by the NY Times, will be join us to sell her art work, prints and books, so please, stay tuned.

Gee!

Yeah, it’s me again. Do you remember me? I used to be more frequent with my posts here, but it seems that I’ve been out of the loop for a while. I’ve been spinning, felting (which brings me so much joy), a little bit of traveling, and just having a good time since I decided to quit (how do I put this nicely) an old job I had before,  and now I have more time. Yes… I have more time on my hands (and not posting anything here, uh?). I’ve been finding a little difficult to re-structure my day and my week. But I’m sure I will manage just fine. Good thing I did it in the middle of winter, so I can find an easy escape for my excuses and stay home on rainy and cold days like today. My studio happens to be about a mile and a half from my house and is where all the dyeing process happens. The place can be cold especially during the winter, because there is not insulation, and unless there is a little bit of sunshine, I freeze my ass out there, so going on a rainy day can be a little overwhelming for me right now. I’d rather stay at home and knit, spin or work on my felting. Still plenty to do here. Knitting is another of my favorite activities I love, and I HAVE to find the right place and space to do it since I used to knit while I was tending the shop (my old job) and never knitted at home before. So that needs to be re-structured too.

I’ve been trying to knit this hoodie with a cable pattern that I found in the “The Encyclopedia of Knitting” by Stanfield & Griffits and I’ve been enjoying knitting without a cable needle. It seems that it goes way much faster than using an extra needle that gets tangled between my clumsy hands, but I have to be really quick to catch the loose stitches before they disappear before my eyes. I also found on Etsy this useful magnetic bookmark that I can place right below the row I’m working on, that way my eyes go where my knitting is happening without getting lost and cross eyed. Brilliant idea! Well, I get a bit excited because I’ve never seen this clever idea before.

I just finished spinning a pretty batt I got from a trade I did with Lanitium Exmachina. The batt was carded with Masham, Camel, Tencel, Alpaca and so much more! Nea really packs her batts with so much yummy fiber.

I also got from Nea some Polwarth which I’ve never spun before in the form of fleece. This is really soft and clean, and the picture doesn’t do any justice to the actual fiber.

I still haven’t decided if I want to spin it from the lock or having it carded into a batt. We’ll see.

The days are getting longer, and hopefully I will be able to have full days again at my studio like before. But for now, I’m here happily enjoying winter wrapped in a warm cocoon. Well, I get out once in a while too.

Tomorrow happens to be Valentine’s day, so have a HAPPY VALENTINE DAY!

The felting bug

Well, it’s not really a bug, but a deadline… for this coming fall. I’m a bit hesitant to even write about it, because it will make it official, but  I will be having my first solo show in November at the Bolinas Gallery. The theme: so far all I can think of is that wool will be included (of course), in any form, but my mind keeps going towards felting. I’m so excited about it that I have started with a few pieces already. My goal is to be able to felt one piece a day. Ok, I have to be very realistic and some days will be impossible to do any felting at all, but I’m open to the idea that it can be changed and eventually could evolve into something different. Since I haven’t made felt for a while, my plan is to start with simple pieces before I can do anything bigger than a scarf. I want to keep it simple any way.

So far I have felted three pieces. It has been fun and educational to be able to use different materials. Among my stash I have cashmere, camel and yak. Cashmere and camel have been a delight to work with. It felts wonderful.

So, here is my first piece that is made with cashmere and silk dyed with eucalyptus:

The second piece is a neck scarf. Materials: camel, silk, cashmere and a piece of an old lace.

I made some sort of a flower. I still don’t know how it will be attached to the scarf.

And today’s piece is made with camel hair and silk chiffon dyed with walnuts, felted with two pieces of lace at each end of the scarf.

This is what I have so far… more to come (I hope). Now, I have to go back to my felting, I only have 9 months left…

Re-skilling

I’m excited to let you know that I will be teaching a Felting workshop at the Regenerative Design Institute on October 31st as part of their Re-skilling Series.

Re-skilling is a term used by the Transition Town Movement to revive the art of traditional craftsmanship. As we transition away from global consumerism and towards localized, earth friendly economies, we need to reclaim these skills for ourselves and for our community. Beyond just providing for our personal or family needs, these essential skills can provide the basis for emerging cottage industries that can revitalize the local economy with genuinely “green” principles and technologies.

Re-skilling requires that we connect more deeply to the natural world. It involves cultivating (or foraging) plants for basketry, building materials, medicine, general body care, dyes, food and clothing. It invites us into a closer relationship with domestic and wild animals, and asks that we pay more attention to the changing of the seasons and the cycles of the natural world. It also fosters a deeper gratitude for all that nature continues to provide us.

Workshops will focus on hands-on learning, and will include topics like fiber arts, rustic furniture making, soap-making, herbal medicine, mushroom cultivation, and more. This fall, RDI will be hosting several fiber arts workshops – the first in a series on how to transform raw local materials into beautifully hand-crafted clothing. Read more about the Re-skilling Series and the Fiber Arts workshops.