Friday, March 27, 2009

Colorway Inspiration

Many times I am asked how I come up with different colorways. I wanted to share a recent inspiration.

A couple weeks ago I attended the annual Art and Soup Celebration. It is a wonderful event featuring various Utah artists along with soup tasting from local restaurants. One of my favorite artists is a potter, Ben Behunin. This year I found a pie plate. The colors grabbed me and wouldn't let go. So, home it went with me.

A couple days later found me in my dye studio, studying the colors of the pottery. I dyed some sample rovings and named it "Pottery." The colors are bright, fun, and unique. I'm not sure I would ever have chosen to put this color combination together, but inspired by the pie plate, this has become a very popular colorway.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Make Your Own Blocking Wires

Today I read an article reviewing some stainless steel blocking wires used to block knitted objects--particularly lace shawls. I had wire envy! Next to my bed sat a sad, crumpled-up lace shawl, waiting patiently for me to block her. The reason she had been neglected is that I dreaded taking the time block her out with dozens of pins.

My blocking experiences have never been great. As soon as I finish placing all the pins in place, I inevitably find that one edge is longer than another, or the corners are not quite square, and then comes the unpinning and hoping the second or third try is better.

So, after reading the article I determined that blocking wires would make my life easier. The only problem? The $40+ pricetag and the fact that I would have to wait for them to be shipped. I wanted to block the shawl Today.

Being a thrifty knitter, I decided to make my own blocking wires. I rummaged through my husband's closet until I found four wire clothes hangers that were coated with paint. I knew that I could not use regular wire clothing hangers because they could possibly rust when blocking wet items. Next, I found some wire cutters and a sanding block. Sandpaper could be used, too.

I straightened out the wire hangers as best as I could. My hands were pretty tired by the time I straightened the fourth one. If you have a strong-handed friend, this is the time to call them over! I used the wire cutters to cut the curved ends off and then sanded the ends gently so the wires would not snag on the knitted fabric and fibers.

All this time I had the shawl soaking in the sink

I ran the wires through the upper stitches of the shawl and pinned the wires down. I then ran the wires through the points of the shawl and pinned the wires in place. It was easy to stretch it to a certain length by using a measuring tape. Here's the picture of it being blocked.

So, for $0 and 30 minutes, I have my own blocking wires!
The pattern used is "Flower Basket Shawl" from Interweave Knits Fall 2004. The yarn is some of my handspun Merino "Greenwood Fiberworks Skinny Singles" in the Plum Tree colorway.

Now, if I can only have patience to let it dry! Hmmm . . . maybe I'll have to get out the hairdryer again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Should proximity to a yarn store determine where one goes to college?

After months of working through the difficult college application process my daughter, Emily, found out that she has been accepted to Smith College. This is the second college that has accepted her and she is still waiting to hear from several others.

Now . . . the ethical dilemma. . .

How much influence should I try to have on her decision. I mean, really--did you know that Smith College is in the same town as Webs Yarn Store? Ok, so that may not be all that exciting to you who live in New England, but to me, who lives in the desert of Utah, this is fabulous!

Just think of all the trips I would have to take to visit the store--ahhh--I mean, my daughter, at college. Just think of all that yarn--oh--I mean those mother/daughter bonding moments perusing the yarn--ooops!--I mean campus. Oh boy, this is a tough one!

May I also mention that Emily received a colored brochure from Smith College describing the arts at the school, and there was a picture of some yarn that had been named for the school's founder! Does Smith know that my daughter comes from a fiber-friendly family? Someone in public relations is doing waaaaay too good a job.

So, the question is: Should proximity to a yarn store be a determining factor in where one goes to college? I'd love to hear your opinions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Handwarmers made from "Retro Boy" Roving

Etsy customer AmbjerKnits created these really cute Handwarmers from Greenwood Fiberworks' "Retro Boy" roving. I love how she used a simple pattern to effectively show off the great texture of her yarn.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Three Wishes" now carries my Rovings!

On Saturday I stopped by "Three Wishes," a fabulous yarn/spinning/weaving store in Salt Lake City. I brought a bag of my hand painted Merino rovings with me. Kristine, the shop owner, was very complimentary and wanted to carry these rovings in her store. I was so happy. I feel like a professional having these rovings in such a quality store.

What was even nicer was that before the rovings were even unpacked, two of them were purchased. Nothing makes me happier than sharing a bit of what I enjoy with others.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The new face of Greenwood Fiberworks

I am so excited today! I just received the most wonderful artwork from
Morag Lloyds of Scotland. She created the artwork for my banner. Don't you just love those sheep? She is an artist/felter who has more of her work for sale at her etsy shop: My Ark Gallery. She has the most darling little pieces of art. If you are a fiber addict, you've got to check out her other sheep paintings.

Her art will be the new face of
Greenwood Fiberworks. My shop has been needing a face lift for some time. I think the style of her work compliments the handspun yarns and painted fibers in my shop. Tomorrow will be a fun day as I will be making up stationary, business cards, and hangtags--all with the new pictures.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The 24 Hour Knitting Project

A knitting project finished in 24 hours? Yes! It is possible. How do I know? I just completed one.

Now, I have to say that I even surprised myself at how quickly this project went together. All the specs are up on Ravelry. It is called "Sarah's Easter Shrug." I found an easy lace shrug pattern called "Little Silk Shrug" in Pam Allen and Ann Budd's Lace Style book. I used only one skein of Incatops Alpafina that I purchased from Webs some time ago. I dyed it with the natural dye, Logwood, to a lovely lavendar color.

I started while getting my hair done, then took it to an informal dinner that night. I came home and knit a little more that evening. When I awoke the next morning, I realized that if I stretched the lace out to where I would block it, I already had the necessary length. All I needed to do was finish off the garter stitch edging and block it before sewing up the ends. I pinned the shrug to the floor (my usual blocking technique) and my daughter Sarah dried it with a hairdryer. Here's a picture of her at work.

It took only about 5 minutes for the lace to block. I sewed the ends of the shrug together and knitted the garter stitch edging while supervising my children's piano lessons. Somehow they seem to escape and not practice well if mom isn't watching. I'm finding that this gives me a good excuse to spend and hour or so knitting or spinning while attending to my motherly duties. It also makes the time much more pleasant. Somehow, I don't hear the complaining as much when I'm having so much fun knitting. Gotta love multi-tasking!

Best of all, Sarah loves her shrug. Even Emily, my teenager who wasn't too keen on the project on the needles, really liked how it looked when Sarah tried it on. Isn't it cute?

Now, I need to help teach Sarah how to sew the dress this shrug is supposed to go with. She has never sewn before. I am trying to muster up all the patience I can. Maybe we will get started on it this week.

Friday, March 06, 2009

It's My First Day Here

Hello! This is my first posting on my blog and I am so excited to have better communication with the fiber community. I would appreciate your feedback and comments.

I have recently relaunched my etsy store:

This is where I sell some of my creations. Right now that means hand painted rovings, blended fiber batts, and handspun yarns. I would love to have you visit!

Here are pictures from my latest dyeing session. The first is a picture of the hand painted Merino roving and next to it is a picture of yarn spun from that roving. I just love how bright the colors are and how the different values of color make a most interesting yarn.




I plan to post tutorials on how to spin hand painted roving in order to achieve the color results you desire. Stay tuned . . .