Busy Little Bee

Nice weather does not equate to inactivity! In fact, I’ve been keeping quite busy. So busy, that I haven’t posted in a while.

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The inspiration for the scarf/wrap/wall hanging.

After putting a request out on Facebook for colour selection, I received many responses for “Sunrise”. That could mean pretty much anything, but I found a photo and decided to go for it. The results were even better than expected.

It’s difficult to show the full effect because I really have nowhere or no way to hang it at the moment, but hopefully these photos will give you a bit of an idea of what I was able to accomplish with a vision, many threads, and a lot of time.

Work What You’ve Got

I have no shortage of fibre goodies. Some may say I have too much. Pfft! Like that’s a thing. Even if you have more than enough, sometimes you just need to put a different material in your hands.

Lately, I’ve had the dilemma of where to store all my yarns. I could go out and buy baskets or materials to make baskets, but why bother when I know I’ve already got tonnes of stuff spilling out of my shelves and closets.IMG_20170510_145432.jpg

I decided to try my hand at plarn. Yes, plarn. Or plastic yarn. Or plastic grocery bags cut up and looped together into a long chain that can be used like yarn. This material has been used to make and supply water resistant sleeping mats for the homeless. I wasn’t feeling so philanthropic and my efforts were entirely selfish.

It was an interesting experiment in patience, materials, and trial and error. The end results, though, were pleasing. I thought the finished product would be more stiff and scratchy, but for plastic, it’s surprisingly soft and springy. I didn’t count, but I estimate that this one basket used about fifty bags. Thought the bags were all taupe, the variation in tone added an interesting effect in the final outcome.
Whether I make another attempt is yet to be seen, but now I have one more storage basket for my yarn!

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My Favourite Part

I just pulled a piece of the loom I wasn’t thrilled with. In fact, it took me four whole days to get up the motivation to finish. I’ve learned though, that just because I don’t like something, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t, either. I’m sure I’ll find someone to love it for me.

But now that that is done with, I can move on to other things. Like my favourite part—throwing a bunch of yarn into a pile on the floor.

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I go through bags, bins, boxes, and baskets looking for bits and pieces that may or may not go well together. I arrange and rearrange in my pile until I’m satisfied with the over all look and feel. It’s all about colour and texture. Since most handwoven items are hand wash only to begin with, I’m not very concerned about mixing different types of fibres. (Anyone who wants to put one of my finished pieces in a washing machine doesn’t deserve to have one.)

So now I’m off to the warping mill and then the loom. Only time will tell if my pile has paid off.

Music and Missions

I was recently asked by my friend and director of the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra, Paula DeWit, if I’d be willing to partner with the organisation to sell some of my original work sharing profits with both the CSO as well as Chilliwack Victory Church missions. Never one to give up the opportunity to support two of my passions—music and missions, I got to work right away!

I’ve donated  similar cards to the CSO on previous occasions, but not like these. Last year I discovered the stunning capabilities of Chameleon pens and decided to apply them to some antique sheet music I picked up at a used bookstore years ago. Each card is one of a kind, never to be replicated.

These along with others will be for sale at the next Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra concert on May 27.

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5 Ways to Get the Glam Shot

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The camera shown takes film, but the photo was taken with the digital camera I use for my project photos.

After snapping a few photos of my works in progress with my phone, it was time for the glam shot. These days phones can take great photos, but I’m still a fan of my nice, big DSLR (digital single-lens reflex).

There are a few photography tricks than can take any handmade project and make it look like a professional product.

  1. Get outside. The odds that you have a professional photo studio in your home are slim. The lights you have in your house aren’t very bright compared to studio lights and tend to cast a yellow pallor along with heavy shadows. If you can take your photos outside on an overcast day, you’ll be happier with the outcome. While a bright sun is great for getting a tan it—like the lights inside—can cast unwanted shadows. A fully clouded sky diffuses light giving you even coverage while still being bright enough.
  2. Get close. If you have digital zoom on your camera, don’t use it. Digital zoom only takes what your camera can do and artificially increases the size of the photo. You’ll end up with blurry, grainy photos. Instead, frame your shot and get as close to your subject as your camera will allow while still able to focus. You shouldn’t have to do much cropping after the fact.
  3. Get multiples. Take more photos than you’ll think you need. Since everything has gone digital, there are no longer exorbitant costs involved in taking extra shots. Go nuts if you want. The more you take, the more you’ll have to chose from in the end.
  4. Get software. There is free photo editing software out there. You don’t have to be a computer genius to figure it out. I’ve used Photoscape in the past with good results. Simple things like colour correcting and adding a bit of saturation and contrast can take a good product photo and make it a great one.
  5. Get creative. There are no rules when it comes to taking photos of your own projects. Try different ways of displaying your work so that you can present it in the best way possible. Avoid adding unnecessary items that clutter a photo, but go ahead and use props that help to enhance your product.

Above all, have fun! I spent an hour or so outside yesterday playing with my camera and my most recent projects. My background was the old backyard fence and, to hang my wraps, I used twine and an empty wrapping paper tube. A simple setup can go a long way!

 

Rose Garden

IMG_20170421_175456I go through phases. My psychological makeup makes me autodidactic and allows me to hyperfocus when I find a situation or activity interesting. How is that for big words? Simply put, I can teach myself almost anything in a short period of time—which is good because my attention span isn’t that long. If I happen to teach myself something interesting, I go at it full force until I’m bored with it and then I move on to the next.

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My current phase might be considered a Saori type of weaving. There are no rules. I put a bunch of coloured yarns and threads in a pile adding ones I like, removing ones I don’t. When I’m satisfied with the overall look, I go for it. Within an hour, I can have a new warp tied on to my loom (I have a dummy warp set up so I don’t have to re-thread every time) and by the end of the day, I can pull off a finished project.

I usually stick to scarves 18-25″ wide with a warp around 100″. Any longer and my attention span will run out and the project will sit on the loom indefinitely. I’ve pulled five scarves off the loom in the last week and have another ready to tie on.

The latest is this lovely pink and green creation. A single ball of novelty yarn got this one rolling and, in the end, I’ve got a rose garden to keep me warm.

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Scrapper

Anyone who has ever taken on a fibre project would know that there are always ends. If you’re going to make a blanket or a sweater, you buy an extra ball or skein of yarn just in case. When you’re done you’ve got less than a ball left and nothing to do with it.

I’ve been collecting ends like this for years. I inherited my mother’s collection of ends. She collected her grandmother’s collection of ends. Needless to say, I have a lot of bits of a lot of yarns, but not much of any of them.

IMG_20170419_171406_editBut I found hope when I found out about a non-traditional style of weaving. I’m no professional. I haven’t even been playing the weaving game for long. I just enjoy playing. Ever since I saw a project done in Saori style, I discovered hope for my boxes of half balls and knotted ends. It’s addictive. Grab a bunch of yarns and threads that look like they match and have at ‘er. There are no rules. Texture and thickness are a matter of taste and style. Grab a handful and start warping. No cross required if you’re brave enough. You may even surprise yourself with the results.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

Do you ever start something with the belief that it will be simple? Not much involved? Easy? I started one of those things at the beginning of this year.

Simple. Easy. Ha!

I was introduced to the world of spinning and weaving. Not much to it. Or so I thought.IMG_20160304_114435.jpg

The world of fibre arts is a deep, deep rabbit hole. You start with one thing and then move on to another and another and another. Spinning yarn isn’t enough. Soon, you have to
IMG_20160211_175316.jpgstart dyeing your own. And when you run out of commercially prepared fibre and someone drops off a bag of freshly shorn fleece, you simply can’t turn it down.

So once you’ve learned to spin, dye, and process your own wool, you’ll have a pile of handspun yarn waiting to be used. What then?

You could go back to the same old crocheting, but that’s boring. You’ve got some new and exciting yarn, you need a new and exciting craft!

So I got sucked into weaving. It was difficult not to when the local Spinners and Weavers Guild room is always full of projects on the go.

“Why don’t you try this?” is a challenge for me. Whether it be a fibre I’ve never spun before – like silk, flax, or cotton, or a new way of using what I’ve spun, I can’t turn down a challenge.

The beautiful thing about weaving is that you don’t even need a pattern. Using this pattern-less method, it’s pretty difficult to make a mistake. Not to mention, the possibilities are endless.