Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Gift Within the Gift

This Christmas, my lovely sister-in-law, Ruthie, sent me a delicious skein of yarn, made with fine merino wool, cashmere and silk, and dyed a deep, rich, garnet red.  This yarn is just dreamy.  Soooo soft and warm.  She stipulated that it was to be made into something for me - a treat!

You'd think that I would know exactly what I would want to make.  Well, no.  Especially lately.  I've been having these creative voids these days - a combination of burnout after the busy holiday crafting season and cabin fever, I think.  Mostly I've spent a lot of time groping this yarn, trying to get a feel (literally) for what it might want to be.

One thing I know:  I want this yarn next to my skin a lot, for sure.  Hat, scarf, cowl, mitts, socks, some kind of shoulder wrap?  Lacey or solid?  What stitch pattern(s)?  Dimensions?  Use a pattern already written or create my own?  Use the yarn alone or add in other yarns?  Add beading?  Fringe?  Ribbon?  Oh, the possibilities!!

The design process can be overwhelming. And yet...

It strikes me that the real gift I have received here isn't just a skein of beautiful yarn.  I've been given the gift of endless possibility and the opportunity to uniquely express myself.  I've been given the gift of another's confidence in my creative ability.  Best of all, I've been given the gift of having people in my life who understand that, for me, a simple skein of yarn means so much.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Experimenting with Fair Isle Using Tapestry Crochet

This winter I'm determined to try at least a few of the techniques I have on my "to do" list, amassed over the past three years.  January 2013 has been Fair Isle month for me, having found a book called 200 Fair Isle Motifs: A Knitter's Directory by Mary Jane Mucklestone while browsing the bookstore at the end of last year.  The book contains wonderful instruction about all aspects of Fair Isle knitting, plus color photos and graph diagrams of 200 patterns, which can be easily transfered to crochet.

This type of color designing has also allowed me to try tapestry crochet - a method of carrying the unused color thread inside the stitches of the color being used, so that the back of the fabric contains no loose threads.  A two-fer!!

Fair Isle knitting is said to have originated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland, which are actually located closer to Norway than Scotland.  Traditional Fair Isle knitting patterns were made with various shades of fine wool spun from Shetland sheep.  Alternating multi-color patterns typify the Fair Isle design.  Usually, a smaller border-like pattern is alternated with a larger multi-color pattern. 

I started simply with a base and accent color, trying out tapestry crochet as I went along and keeping the color changes straightforward (see the teal and white pattern below).  Crocheting this way requires a lot of patience and untwisting of yarns as you progress!  Then I began working in border patterns with shapes.

So far, I'm proud to show you what I've done - please tell me what you think and feel free to share your own attempts, if you've tried this, too!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My First Model and Print Ad!

Sometimes I forget to get the word out about what I'm trying to do.  Thankfully, I have good friends who remember me!  Recently, one of these friends worked out a rather complex barter deal that led to her daughter modeling my work for a print ad in a regional business magazine!  I'm very grateful, and excited for me, the model and my friend - a triumph of collaboration :D. 

Now... to flesh out that marketing plan...