Fiber Art DOTW - Week 4
Why did buying our clothes instead of making them become a thing?
Is there something inherently insidious about the reasons why home-economics and shop classes have all but disappeared from the classrooms, thus ensuring more people would be forced to depend on stores which employ severely underpaid workers in 3rd world countries to make clothing for them and hired services to do the things their grandmothers and grandfathers could do? This article came out the other day which had me thinking about it. Feminism is often blamed for the disappearance, but I wonder if that’s wholly true - I mean feminism could have also encouraged boys to attend home-ec and girls attend shop. Feminism fought forced gender roles, not life skills.
Sometimes I feel like I’m grasping at loose threads in order to keep what we’ve known from unraveling and ultimately forgotten. I think we are losing our collective self-efficacy as we lose our self-sufficiency.
One more (unrelated) thing: for the love of unicorns and rainbows, can we please stop referring to fashion designs (or anything) as “gypsy?” I love the style, not the slur. Folk-inspired? Artsy? Mori Kei - now that’s a style I really like. It’s a Japanese term that literally translates to “Forest Style,” which is a folk style that uses lots of earth tones and looks like you just walked out of a woodland fairytale story.
I found that I have a few shirts that could use some embellishing, like this rather plain tank (except for the rope strap, which is really neat). I love this tank, though unfortunately it had a stain or two on the front that would not come out. No problem, we’ll cover it up.
But first, I wanted to add something to the bottom. I thought maybe this knit material I found in the remnants bin a while back, pinned it up, slept on it, and wasn’t feeling it. I did decide to keep the lace though.
Instead, I found this lace crochet thing I’d started working on years ago. Back when I was fairly decent at crochet. I’ve since forgotten quite a bit and would like to get back into it, as well as knitting. The pattern looks similar to one I found in my easy crochet patterns book, but it just as easily could have been sourced online. Since I have no plans to finish this, I decided I would attach it to the front of my tank instead.
I still need to put a few more stitches in to really make sure it’s secured (it’s a lot of individual little stitches…) but I really like how it turned out!
Since I mentioned I would like to get back into crochet, which would largely be for embellishing type things, I thought I’d try working on some crochet flowers that I can later attach. I found this video online which shows how to make a spiral crochet flower. I couldn’t decide which yarns to use, so I ended up making two at the same time - every time it was time to switch colors, I’d go to the other flower and repeat the last row. I love how they turned out and think if you kept making rounds of petals back to back, you could make a nice carnation or rose to attach to a dowel, maybe make a bouquet of them.
A close friend of mine gifted me this pattern from Spite & Sparrow after I told her how much I admire it, so that’s what I’d worked on this week. In terms of design, it’s pretty simple and easy for a beginner. I wouldn’t say the pattern itself is the most complicated one I’ve tried, but definitely the largest (and I personally ended up over-complicating it anyway). I’ll likely join her Patreon myself next month when I have some spending cash to try out her other patterns.
So on to how I over-complicated the process. First, I learned about the lark’s head picot join, which really makes the join much prettier and actually allows the picot to be featured as a visual element rather than this twisted tiny join - depending on your needs this may or may not be something you want. I don’t think it’s necessary with the leaves. I think it’s much prettier on this bracelet. That being said, it’s a PITA to learn, took me several minutes to get each join just right the first time, rather than with the regular lock join which just involves pulling the loop up, throwing the shuttle through, and tightening it. This blogger mentioned another way of doing the lark’s head which involves twisting loops, but I’m barely out of the total-noob stage and cannot visualize how she’s doing it. They do mention a few other things to improve the look, but one thing at a time.
The second way I over-complicated is by reversing the stitches when I do the chains so all the stitches are on the “front” - this wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the picot in the middle of each chain, which then involved me getting confused as to which stitch I do the picot on and then flipping it back and forth to count how many stitches I’ve done (since it looks different from the back). Eventually I figured out when to put the picot in when reversed. Overall, I think the results will be much nicer on this bracelet.
Third was to try to remember to put the shuttle through the ring before closing it. It was tough to remember at first but halfway through the second row I finally got it down.
It’ll possibly end up being a bit loose on me - the pattern called for more rings/chains, but when I tried it on the ends were already touching, so it’s something to keep in mind if you decide to follow a bracelet pattern - test to see if it fits, if it’s too long or too short.
I’m getting so much better at this spinning stuff! My yarn was actually not super twisty as it has been, which is super exciting! I decided to try setting the twist this time using steam. I have a little hand-held steam cleaner thing I got from Aldi years ago for $20. I was a bit nervous about trying it since I hadn’t used it in years, and we have hard water here. To put it another way, when I used my old steam mop (which I’d had for a number of years) for the first time in a while, it exploded. I have a new steam mop now but I’ve learned to use distilled water instead. It’s more expensive than tap water, but cheaper than replacing a whole steam mop.
So I plugged this thing in, stood back, pressed the button a few times to see if it was actually working, and nothing exploded thankfully. I don’t have a niddy-noddy so I used a silicone-covered 3lb weight at the end of the yarn to weigh it down in the bathroom sink and held the other end of the yarn as I used the really loud steam cleaner thing to set the twist. It worked! Best part is it really cuts down the drying time, and this may be better for art yarns anyway.
Because there was a lot of the alpaca yarn, I decided to only use a portion of it for the weaving, especially since I already used the same colors in the core-spun.
I started out weaving the same way as I had been up until now - pass the shuttle through, beat, downshed, pass shuttle through, beat, upshed, pass shuttle… but then at one point I thought wait. Why am I hiding the chunky bits into neatly packed rows hiding behind the warp? So I made a pass, plucked some of a chunky bit out between the warp, and I loved it. After that, row after row, if there were any chunky bits, they got pulled out a bit for texture. As I got to the end of the yarn I made from wool scraps, I added the feltspun (for lack of a better term) alpaca and started clasped weft weaving, to give it a bit of visual difference from the corespun alpaca using the same colors.
This week’s TAST challenge stitches were the stem stitch, and the bonus was the Portuguese stem stitch. I don’t really have much to say about this, other than I was having difficulty thinking of something special to do with it, so I just outlined the red chain stitch and turned the starburst into something more of a sunrise. I’m not a morning person, so I normally am not functioning when the sun comes up, and I normally miss the summer sunrise. As much as I dislike the shorter days of winter, I do like waking up and seeing the bright orange-red sunrise coming in through my bedroom window. I suppose that’s January-inspiring enough.
To try out the bonus stitch, I just worked a circle (free-handed) around the shuttle-tatted medallion I added last week. It’s not my favorite part of the square, but it’ll do. One more week of stitches for this block (hence leaving the bottom open) and then I’ll fill the rest in with stitches from the earlier weeks to finish off the January square before making the one for February.
I finally got started on my big-project-of-2019. Except for last year, every year I would aim to do a big project of some sort. Big doesn’t necessarily mean size (though in this case it does, as this one is 2 feet in diameter), it’s also how complicated/involved it is. One year I made this Little Prince ball, which now resides somewhere on the Isle of Man.
I really loved working on this project, and the Little Prince is one of my favorite books, so I may end up making more Little Prince things in the future.
Then two years ago, I finished the Sun, Moon & Stars banner, which had its beginnings as a group effort the year before with some local homeschool friends at a playdate.
I worked on it a bit more, then set it down for a while before I was ready to finish.
Working on big personal projects is very different than working on things like commissions, monthly exchanges, etc. There is a lot more stuff that goes into it, emotional/energetic stuff. The Little Prince ball, for example, was a healing project for me. I was trying to disconnect from a person in my life that was very similar to one of the characters he met on one of the planets, so it was as if I were travelling with him as I made the characters, engaging with them, coming to the same conclusions and moving on. It gave me closure and helped me start on my moving on mentally/emotionally process in my own life. That being said, if I’m feeling in a particularly bad mood, I won’t work on projects either - I don’t want to associate that kind of energy with my work. I may choose to do other things, repetitive things like crochet, shuttle tatting, maybe art journaling, or avoid working altogether and jump on a video game instead. Luckily those days are rare.
It’s a bit difficult to explain, but when it comes to artistic endeavors, sometimes it involves waiting for it to want to be finished. I still have a Leszy waiting for me that I started a while back. If I’m no longer feeling connected to a piece I’m working on, it gets set aside until the moment when I feel it calling to me. It will inch its way into the back of my mind and kinda go “hey… remember me?” If I ignore it too long, it starts to nag, until I pick it back up and get to work. I won’t be able to put it back down until it’s done. New projects do that too, like the one I started this week. It’s been on my mind for a few years now, even collecting inspiration photos for it that I can later reference. I’ll know I want to make a certain thing, I’ll write it down, and eventually the idea will nag at me saying “It is time.”
Now, it’s not to say that I don’t put any thought or effort into my commissioned or exchange or tutorials (actually the tutorials are similar to the “need to make me” projects, they’re just smaller). A different energy goes into those - that being a connection to the recipient. Sometimes my personal projects end up in my shop to find a new home - like the Little Prince. Other times, they find permanent residence in my own home - like the Sun & Moon. I’m not sure yet if this one will stay or go - I wont know this until I’m done with him.
I received some beautiful sparkly snow-white merino roving as part of a recent monthly needle felting exchange, and while I did consider possibly using it in a wet felting project (I need to make some more planner covers for my shop, for example), I’d also wanted to try to make some yarn from already-made roving. It does make the spinning process go easier/smoother I think. Especially since most of the wool I own is chunky and better suited for needle felting. Since I only had a bit of it, I decided to make some corespun yarn to stretch it out as much as possible. Considering the core is white, it also helps to hide any mistakes, LOL. But I do think in general I did a better job with this one than the last one. I do really enjoy corespun yarn, as it lets me dress up cheaper plain yarn with fancy stuff, and get more out of the fancy stuff. In regular yarn, some of the fancy stuff gets lost on the inside of the yarn. I see it as similar to needlle felting using core as opposed to using the dyed stuff all the way through.
other things done this week
Lots and lots and lots of dyeing. I’m almost done going through my dyes to create swatches for my swatch book. I also started working on a “replacement” for the midnight blue color I’d been using in my kits in an effort to slowly replace the colors with ones that I personally have dyed. It isn’t going to be an exact match (though I know how to make an exact match), but something more exclusive to my shop.