I opened up the workshop this weekend and tried my hand at pulling a few prints. A new edition is all set to go next week but this was my chance to clean up, take stock, and loosen up with some new colors and old art. Working out the kinks proved a bit easier this year, though I did spend way too much time out there playing around with multiple colors and random paper stocks. It’s just too easy to get lost in the process and try out way too many things. Some things work. Others don’t. But I suppose that’s when new concepts emerge, so I usually roll with it and see where things go. No time like the present.
For the practice run I pulled out some of my very first Marietta screens and printed a short run of single versions of my “Untitled (Double Negative)” print. They turned out pretty well. Well enough that I think I’m ready to retire these screens and make room for some new artwork. Can’t wait to get started!
Spring is in the air. Well, so says the Cherry tree that dominates our front yard like a true diva. Though the days seem to fluctuate from damp and dreary to bright and shiny at the blink of a eye, it looks like we’re turning the corner. We have to. It’s inevitable, thankfully.
So along with the blooming colors come new color studies for fresh screenprints for 2014. I’m narrowing things down and finalizing the artwork while the weather contains me to the on-deck circle, but with so many beautiful colors out there it’s becoming very, very difficult to narrow things down*. Two-color is typically the way to go. And sometimes three. I always say that I’ll attempt more four- or five-color prints — last year I did manage one or two — but I think this is the year I break out of my comfort zone and try even more. I think. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring. Stay tuned.
*Choosing colors can be a daunting, yet liberating, endeavor for me. I typically scatter dozens of swatches (paint chips, colored paper bits and whatever else catches my eye) out on a flat surface and see what pairings work best (kind of like Jean Arp, but perhaps not so grandiose). I don’t typically have any preconceived ideas or favored hues and don’t really care about trending colors. I just react to what’s in front of me and go from there. It’s easier for me that way and a bit more random and fun, too.
In addition to knitting, reading is one of my hobbies. A few years ago I met a great group of local ladies through a Goodreads group called Ladies & Literature. Since then the group has opened up to international members and numbers in the thousands. I am lucky to be one of five moderators for the group. One of my projects is the Annual Top Reader Competition that challenges our book club members to participate in every single “official” book club discussion for the year. That turns out to be 16 book discussions a year, one each month with a quarterly Classic book on top. This year we had 8 ladies complete the challenge. Of those 8, three win the big prize.
One of the prizes I supply is a custom knit piece. This year I worked with two of the winners to make a custom piece just for them based on my patterns. I love it when two hobbies can come together!
In addition to the prizes, one of our moderators is expecting her first baby, which was recently revealed to be a boy. After looking through patterns and inspiration, I decided to create my own version of a hooded blanket with bear ears. I had some Bernat Baby Blanket yarn on hand and was so pleased with how soft and thick a blanket it makes. You can get the notes for the blanket design here.
Trust just released their sophomore effort Joyland a couple weeks back. As you might know from reading this blog, we’re very much into Trust. I dread trying to categorize them, but just know that their music is totally synthetic and totally irresistible (i.e. catchy electronic pop). But there’s enough weirdness and darkness throughout to keep things interesting. Trying to keep up with Robert Alfons’ shapeshifting vocals, for one, is pretty much an act of futility. But one you’ll be entranced by nonetheless.
While perhaps not quite as good as their debut, there are more than enough stellar tunes on Joyland (like “Rescue, Mister”) to keep us coming back for more. Who knows? Maybe after a few more spins we’ll love the whole thing. But for now we’re just happy to have Trust back in our lives.
Liz got this song stuck in her head earlier today and, of course, I then got it stuck in my head also. That just goes to show you the power of a good pop song. And in this case we’d say one of the best ever.
I mean, sure, “Rio” is a close second and “Planet Earth” is right up there too, but the irresistibility of “Girls on Film” is just undeniable. The infectious bass line, the singalong chorus, the nonstop hi-hat—it’s all there. John Taylor could very well be the most underrated bassists of all time, btw.
But, now that I think of it, shouldn’t the entire 80′s Duran canon be celebrated? There are so many great ones: the Bond theme “A View to a Kill” and “Wild Boys”. We’d probably even throw “Notorious” in there too, if we’re being generous. Maybe.
No wonder Andy Warhol was such a fan. Clearly, it was the tunes.
After working on longer projects, I decided to visit the yarn stash and make some quick projects for the fall Arts Festival stockpile. I found some great yarn that I hadn’t used and some remnants from projects that would coordinate to create something unique.
Wine & Pink
I started with pairing a big ball of wine color yarn with some color changing roving in pinks and purples that was left over from smaller projects. I made a pair of herringbone fingerless gloves and liked the result. I still had a good amount left and decided to make an extra roomy version of my Meringue hat pattern. I especially like the way the alternating rows of yarn work in this pattern.
Orange & Silver
I found a bunch of bright orange roving that a friend gave me a while back and thought it went perfectly with the silver and gray yarn left over from a hat request. It makes a great hiking hat with the bright orange! The roving shows off stitches so beautifully I couldn’t resist continuing on with some chunky cabled fingerless gloves.
Smoky Jewel Tones
After that, I decided to make something on the delicate side with some beautiful handspun silk and merino yarn. It was thinner than expected, so I paired it with a charcoal gray sock weight yarn that let the beautiful color variations of the specialty yarn shine.
I have a few book club prize knits on the list to complete next. What are you working on?
I was so pleased to finish this blanket in time for a friend who is expecting in the next month or so. I have given her the blanket, so now I can post it! I created similar blanket for a friend in the past, and was so pleased with how this one turned out. We picked out the yarn together to make sure we found the perfect combination for this reversible brioche stitch blanket. Since one yarn was worsted weight and the other was sport weight, I knit two strands of the sport weight at the same time and it evened out perfectly.
The thickness and stretchiness of the fabric created is perfect for a snuggly baby blanket. You can find information on this stitch in the book Knitting Brioche by Nancy Marchant. This is the book I used to teach myself the technique and it includes the how-to on the cables as well. Happy knitting!
After the holidays I slowed down on knitting projects and circled back to a little item I have wanted to make for a while: a thick cowl for winter. I was gifted two beautiful skeins of Knitting Fever KFI Luxury Roving in blues and thought this would be a perfect project for them. I also received the book Harmony Guides: Lace & Eyelets for Christmas. I am planning to use it as inspiration for a shawl. As I flipped through, I found a bunch of beautiful patterns and settled on the Pillar Openwork Lace stitch.
Notes on the Cowl:
Knit like a regular scarf and bind off and then sew ends together after blocking
Needle size: US9
Pattern repeats: 16
I used both skeins a left a bit at the end to sew together the edges after blocking. This pattern is very easy and creates a nice thick fabric that has a bulky feel. It made cowl that can be worn as a single or double loop.
Here’s a monoprint I completed this past November when I was wrapping up the 2013 print season. It turned out to be eight colors on light gray stock. It’s an odd combination of colors—ones that I would never think to put together—but still just seems right.
One of my screenprints has found a new home out on the west coast. As you can see, she’s made herself comfortable right there in the stairway of a fab duplex in SF and pairs quite nicely with a chair in the living room.