Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nearing November

Is it really only a week until November? I cannot even begin to say how fast time is flying here - I have already been in TX for two whole months and yet it seems like so much less (or more, depending on the day and my mood).

I celebrated my birthday last week, and with it came a bit of a yarn shopping spree at my new (and favorite!) LYS, WC Mercantile. The owner, Stephanie,is super nice and even brought cookies. One of the perks is also that you get 20% anything you purchase once during your birthday month.  So I used that to get yarn for my next sweater. The sweater is "Tell it Slant" and the yarn is Simplicity by HiKoo. It's a nice blend of merino, acrylic and nylon and I can tell just by squishing it that it will hold up well. 

I have also been off and on spinning on some local Texas Alpaca and finally finished the singles of the my brown the other night. I decided to get some black tussah silk at WC to pair with it, and was given some natural white alpaca for free, which I will also be pairing it with. I just hope I have enough of them all to make a nice yarn. 

Speaking of spinning, I had an accident about a month ago involving my smaller spindle and the concrete at the art fair. I've tried super glue, but it's not working. Anyone else have a suggestion? I love this spindle so much I hate to see it un-usable! :( 

And finally my basic scarf is speeding along. The color in this photo is totally off (but don't we all experience that at some point?) but I'm done with exactly half of it. I plan to put it aside to start my sweater, but pull it out when I need mindless knitting (like at the movies!). It's so soft that I can understand why angora is addictive. I know it will be my favorite once it's done.

Weekly Inspirations:
Knitting: My mom sent me the latest issue of KnitScene and once again I am in love with at least 75% of the magazine. Specifically: Gothic Gloves, Lise Hat,  Ravenna Cowl and  Paros Hat
Art: I went to a couple of openings in Houston this weekend. Although the networking I needed didn't happen, I did see some great art. I was truly inspired by Alexa Kleinbard and her gorgeous partial abstract landscapes. The way she paints really got me thinking about my own works. 
Food: Last week I made eggplant parm with some local grown eggplant. I decided to cut the carbs and used quinoa instead of pasta. The result? FANTASTIC! 
Life: I'm seeing a Physical Therapist now about my shoulder and spine. She's given me a ton of moves to straighten my spine, which is apparently very curved. I'm kinda freaking out to be honest, because that also means I need to start sitting straighter and working on it more. Anyone have any tips on how to sit straight and knit at the same time/???

A huge thank you to everyone for reading my rambles from week to week - even those who don't comment. I really love blogging and sharing my thoughts, and I am so glad that there are people out there who are the same way.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Blast from the Past

Anyone ever feel a sense of nostalgia when they think about the past and everything that has happened over the years? What about when you reach into your yarn stash and find a special yarn or pattern that has a story and history?  That's how I'm feeling tonight as I post this. All of my projects as of late have some sort of history that goes back at least a couple years, if not more.

Growing up my mom crocheted (among other things) and started to teach me when I was in late elementary/middle school. I tried to like it, really, but I never liked how the stitches looked. I always wanted to learn to knit so I could get the "v's". But some things never leave you and I found myself itching to crochet something, anything, a few weeks ago. As I mentioned in a past post, I reached for the closest yarn and just went for it. Well half way through a basic scarf I discovered the Chi-town crochet cowl and decided to try that. Overall, I like the end result, even though I am pretty sure that I did a different type of single crochet (is that possible?) each go round. Whatever. I do wish I could wrap it twice. I always have that issue with cowls. 

I actually can't believe I haven't blogged about this hat yet! It went faster than I thought it would. And was definitely a learning process as well. The pattern is Temple Cats, and it made me feel really nostalgic as I knit because it was one of the first patterns I received in a RAK way back when I used to do those.  At the time, I was scared of colorwork but knew I wanted this hat someday. Well a couple weeks back I finally decided to tackle it and there was no better yarn then the left overs from my artsy Stephen West shawl. I doubled the yarn and it was perfect with gauge. I added an extra cat repeat because I knew it wouldn't stretch well enough to fit me. 

Once I bound off, the bottom was curling really bad, so I knew I had to block it, even though it fit my head so perfect the way it was. After soaking, I realized how much the yarns I was using stretch (and also fuzz a bit) and found myself with a hat at least two sizes too big. I was so sad because I really loved how it came out. I slept on it and woke up deciding I would try to felt it. No harm, no fowl. Every time I've tried to felt in the past, I've failed, but this time around I actually succeeded. After a run through the machine on hot and the dryer on hot, I ended with the results above. And it's not even felted too bad! I'm so happy, because this hat really is the perfect pattern and the perfect colors. I think it's the world's way of saying to never give up!

Finally I have had no real project on the needles for a few days now and was itching for something, anything. Mick and I were going to a local film festival today and I wanted something to take. I decided to pull out this angora/wool blend I got in Scotland back when I went three summer's ago. Talk about nostalgia, that was such a great trip! But anyway, I decided to go basic stockinette scarf and this is the result after about three hours of knitting in the dark. Only 2 slipped stitches!!

Weekly inspirations:
Art:  I am 2 "likes" away from 100 on my Facebook page. You should go check it out, I am constantly updating with all kinds of art news!
Knitting: I saw this pattern and bought it instantly (it was on sale...). Now I just need to break down and buy the yarn. 
Food: I found this on Pinterest and it almost makes me want to go Vegetarian - so many delicious recipes! 30 days of vegetarian recipes. 
Life: Guess who turns 24 in 3 days? Me of course! I am hoping for a good, relaxing day. I don't really like to go party, so if I'm lucky my roommates will respect that. Either way though, it will be nice to celebrate another great year of living. :) 

So there's more drama happening around here, but I am not going to get into it on my blog again. For the time being, let's call everything happy and enjoy life. Knitting is going great, art is going great and nothing can bring me off that cloud.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rainy Saturdays

It's a dreary, rainy Saturday here in Navasota. Those kind of days make me unproductive, especially when plans get changed because of the rain. We were going to go paint a mural today, but obviously that isn't happening now. So instead I am going to take a bit to tell you what I've been up to.

After finishing my chevron cowl I had a ton of the blue/black and orange left, so I did some poking around Ravelry and decided that Funicular would be a good fit to use most of it up. I decided to strip it a bit more than the pattern calls for and then I ran out of the dark so I had to do an orange top. I'm still not sure how I feel about it, maybe I should have done the top solid orange instead. But I also think it depends how you wear it also. Either way, it's a good fit.

On the painting front, I started a new series. I decided to do what I've been talking about and paint pictures of my ball sculptures. These two are small but I hope to also do a third, large, painting of the same form. It was really fun and challenging working on these because of the size. I didn't feel like I could be as loose with a smaller brush. The color is still spot on though.

I am also helping out with a Halloween Party in Bryan at the end of the month. They were looking for local artists to paint window scenes for part of the decorations. The boards were provided so all I have to do is bring it to life. I'm using acrylic for this one because I need something fast and the board is made of foam. As I work I am remembering how much I dislike acrylic and everything about it. But hopefully with some layers it will all work out.  The scene isn't very original either, but that's what you get when it's not super important. 

Weekly Inspirations:
Knitting: The knitters guild here is doing a secret santa and we drew names last week. Now I have to start figuring out what I want to make and pair with it. Those are always so much fun, but so challenging at the same time!
Art: If you get the chance, you should read this article about me and my fellow residents. It's pretty good and we had so much fun doing it. The other articles in the issue are fun too - so much is happening in Bryan!
Cooking: Last week's recipe was a throwback to something my mom always makes. It was super delicious and I highly recommend it for a cool fall night. Herb Mushroom Chicken. 
Life: I finally got a new ipod after mine got stolen (ok left on the curb). I ordered a used iPod nano and it is super cool. I am really liking the Nike Fitness app - it counts my calories, pace, steps, time, etc on my runs. Super helpful!
Well, I hope you are all having a great weekend. Thanks for the input on my last post/rant - I really appreciate it. Keep being awesome guys!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Questioning My Motives

Dear blogging friends, I hope you don't mind if I take a second to vent/rant/ramble/etc, but I have something I need to get off my chest.

As you all know by now, I am one of three Artist-in-Residents in Navasota, TX. The experience so far has been amazing - I'm learning so many things about myself and my art and it's only been a 6 weeks.

However, I find myself struggling with the fine line between making art for myself and making art for the public. Let me explain myself:

One of my fellow residents has been living off of selling their work for the past few years, and thus is used to that mindset. I am not saying that their work isn't amazing or that they are only creating what they create because they know they can sell it - I definitely see passion behind their art. What I am saying is that their brain is pretty much wired to the idea that selling art is a priority.

The first few weeks here, I didn't really notice it too much, but I am coming to notice it more and more. The constant "Oh, well maybe you should try this - I know it'd sell!" or "Did you sell anything at the show last night" are starting to wear thin.  Would it be nice to sell one of my big paintings? Heck yes! Is that a priority for me and my time here? Hell no.

We had yet another "discussion" today about how my working smaller is a good move if I want to sell more art (because I can price it lower). That may be true, but that is not the reason I have chosen to work smaller as of late. The reason I have chosen to work smaller is because I want to focus more on the form and the color study, and I am unsure how it will all come together, and I don't want to risk it not working by going large right away.

That being said, I am a very impressionable person and was actually listening to their advice the first few weeks - I even ordered some fine art prints of my ink drawings to sell at our art fair, because I was told they'd sell - only to have none do so.  I am coming to terms with the fact that the art market here may not be the right place for me (for the record - they haven't sold much either), and I am ok with that. I have had amazing response to my works at both the art fair and the show we have up downtown right now.

As an artist my main priority (for right now anyway) is to create work that is about myself and NO ONE ELSE. If someone happens to like it enough to want to buy my work, then that is great, but at the end of the day, me making work that I know will sell isn't me being happy. Happiness comes from making art that you can stand back from and say "Did I really just make this?". Those are the moments I am most proud of and those are the moments that I hope to have many of while I am here in Navasota.

So to anyone who thinks that you have to make art that is marketable and appeals to the common man just to get by as an artist can (pardon my language) suck it. That, to me isn't art and as long as I am na artist that is something I will not be doing. EVER.

What is your opinion on this matter? I'd love to know what you have to say. :)


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Etsy Round 2 + New Art!

Wednesday. It's the middle of the week. The perfect time to share some new adventures in my life.

I'm back on Etsy! This time around I am selling fine art prints of my gouache paintings at very reasonable prices, as well as these nifty greeting cards. These cards are perfect for the knitters and fiber enthusiasts in your life and make the best gifts!  There's only two sets up right now, but more will be up within the week. You really should take a look and consider buying, it all goes to support my time at my artist residency. 

My other new adventure involves knitting as well, this time in the form of sculpture. I'm assembling white balls into miniature, abstract sculptures. And then I plan to paint pictures of them, similar to my current paintings. If you want to read more about my process, you can read my residency blog.




Weekly inspirations:
Knitting: This is my new (non-art) knitting project. I'm using up the rest of my dark black/blue and orange from the cowl. Overall, I'm really excited to get this going. 
Art: The Texas Reds Steak and Grape festival was this past weekend. As an A.I.R. I got to exhibit my work. I had great feedback overall (didn't sell much though :( ). Some other great artists were there as well! Including Robert Ruhmann and J. Vincent Scarpace. I had the chance to talk to them both and they had some good insights!
Food: Last week I made some of my favorite sweet potatoes, and finally blogged about it. Yummm
Life: We have a group show up at the Frame Gallery in Downtown Bryan, the opening is tomorrow and there is also going to be a First Friday event. I'm really excited - I hope something sells :) 

Well, happy Wednesday all. Please do consider checking out my shop and giving me some feedback!


Friday, September 26, 2014

FO Friday in Texas :)

This is probably one of the first time's I've actually been able to do an official "FO Friday". I usually don't have FO's lately, let alone on a Friday. But I finished up two projects this week and decided that they needed sharing.

The first one up is my Chevron Cowl, a project I started before I left good old Kansas. This project actually has a lot of history in it as well, something that makes it extra special.

The story starts with me seeing this cowl on Snapdragon crafts (aren't her colors amazing!) and knew I wanted one. I was stash diving and decided it would be a great way to use up some lose skeins. The merino is a yarn that my aunt gave me that she got in Europe. She didn't give me enough for a sweater, so I have slowly been using it for other projects (See DrehenGrace Lace, and another hat I never published). The last skein was matched up perfectly with some dark Dream in Color I used for my first socks (Here). All that was left was a third, which was chosen at the Salina LYS in the form of Ella Rae in a nice pumpkin color.  But then, about 6 repeats in, I ran out of the Dream in Color! To my horror, it was impossible to figure out a matching yarn in that brand since their dye lots change so much. To my luck, the LYS here in Navasota had a good substitute: Kenzie by HiKoo. And luckily, it matched almost seamlessly. Well sadly, I still ended up casting off before the pattern said because I ran out of the turquoise, but I liked the length and decided to just go with it. I'm glad I did because it wraps nicely both single and double. Sure to keep me warm if it gets cold this winter. 

So there is definitely a story behind this cowl: Yarn from my first socks, yarn from overseas (and a gift!), yarn from my hometown and yarn from my new town. :) 

When I first realized I was out of yarn for my cowl, I decided to just put it aside. So I cast on a new shawl, one that I had been planning for a while. Multnomah is a beautiful pattern that is super easy to execute. It's mostly garter ending with Feather and Fan. And even that was simple to finish (But then again, I do have a lot of free time here!). My only qualm is that it's a bit small. If I could do it again, I'd probably knit the garter part for a bit longer before starting the feather and fan border. 

My version is knit with some Knit Picks Stroll that I dyed two summers ago with my friend Ivy. I had planned it to become this shawl, but never got around to it. I'm glad I finally did, I love how the colors pool and work together. And I still have a skein and a half left. What else should I make? 

In the world on non-knitting (or at least, non pleasure knitting), I have stumbled upon a new idea and possible direction for my art. You can read about the whole process here! I have started making "Sculptures" out of various knitted balls. And I want to start  painting pictures of them too, with nothing but the sculpture and a background. The example below is in gouache, but I want to try it with oil paint next week.

And on that note I also finished an oil painting this week. I don't have a decent photo of the whole thing to share, and I am also saving it for the guerrilla show I'm doing next month (Themed Serenity). But here is a snippet of the bottom right corner. Isn't the color spectacular? It's looking from above and supposed to be like a pool of water. Do you feel it? 

Finally, I got really fed up with the big plastic bag of needles hanging out in my yarn bin and decided I needed to do something. I remembered that I had some oatmeal tubs downstairs in my still life props box (Yes, I have a whole box of props) and figured I could make it pretty. I found the scraps from my greeting cards in my drawer, grabbed my mod-podge and went to town. I think the end result is a suitable fix, don't you? 

Weekly Inspirations:
Knitting:I think my next project is going to be the Scroll Slouch from my Knitscene magazine. I have been eyeing it for awhile and have the perfect yarn in my stash.
Food:  I wish I could share a recipe with you, but I haven't had a chance to update my food blog lately. I can say that I was eating on some delicious homemade marinara with pasta this week. The recipe is here and it's amazingly easy.
Art:  My fellow resident, Mick, just finished up a mural in Waco. It's pretty awesome and you can read more about it here.
Life: It's finally cooling down here. Which means I don't get all gross when I go outside. I've been exploring the town more and discovered some new things. A yummy Taqueria, another bar (that I haven't gone in...) and a few more cute shops.

I hope the weekend treats you all well. We are going to vend at an art fair this weekend and I am sure lots of fun stuff will happen. I can't wait to share it with you all.


Monday, September 15, 2014

All Things Creative

Being in such a lovely place with no real job, just unlimited creative time, has given me so many different projects to work on. I have so many creative adventures to share with you all this week! From knitting to painting to even a bit of crochet.

First on my list is this gorgeous handspun with a special story. Two years ago I purchased two bags of beautiful local brown wool at a craft fair. I sent one bag to my friend Ivy and kept one for myself. The idea was that we would each spin singles with our bags, then send half of the singles to each other to ply together, so that the end yarn would be a two ply, made up of one ply mine and one ply hers. This yarn has been done since this past Feb/March, but it just never came off my spindle. Well, when I went to start my Texas Alpaca, I discovered it and knew it needed to come off. This is the end result. Isn't is gorgeous? Now I just need to perfect pattern for it!

My Multnomah shawl is making speedy progress as well: I can't spend my entire days painting after all! I went to my knitting group yesterday ready to start the feather and fan portion and left with 3 repeats done (out of 10). I have a feeling that in another week or so this will be bound off and ready to block. 

I'm not sure why (ok, maybe it was the knitters guild I went to and the quick crochet tutorial they gave this week), but I had a hankering to start a crochet project yesterday. It's so weird, because although I use crochet for edgings and cast-ons, I haven't actually made anything substantial with it. Out of pure laziness. Because it's so pretty, I grabbed the hand-dyed naturespun yarn that was sitting on top of my yarn bin and decided to start a scarf. As it turns out, the width I am making it creating a very cool diagonal pattern. I hope it stays that way!

I have also been creating some super cute watercolor stitch paintings as of late (gotta have something to do while I finish up watching Lost). I decided to turn them into greeting cards to sell at a coming up art show (and then hopefully etsy after that).  What do you think? Would you buy them? 

 I have a finished oil painting also, but I haven't seemed to get a good photo of it yet. Stay tuned for that in the next post. :)

Weekly Inspirations:
Art: Me and Mick are planning on participating in a Guerrilla Art Takeover in College Station next month. We met with the creator and are super excited to do it - it sounds like so much fun!
Knitting:  Stitched Together has made yet another gorgeous striped project, and I am once again feeling inspired. Is this in my future?
Food: I made whole wheat pancakes yesterday and they were super yummy! Want my recipe? Check out my food blog!
Life: It's finally cooling down here in Texas, thank god. The humidity has been getting to me. But hopefully that will pass soon.

I hope everyone has a happy and productive week. I see mine being just that.