Prints: Untitled, 2018

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Just locked in two colors on this new screenprint for 2018. I’ve been very much looking forward to exploring more hard-edged, geometric abstraction this year and Untitled was an awesome design with which to kickstart the season.

Seriously, is there anything more exciting than designing a multi-color piece and locking in that final color on the print run? It’s like putting in that last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. The thrill never gets old.

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Knits: Colorwork socks

Socks are one of the things I enjoy knitting for friends and family –  they express love in the effort they take but are a practical garment that can be made interesting with color and pattern. This year, I’ve been inspired by the ESK Yarnathon Zodiac Knitter badge to knit 12 pairs, though I know I will probably knit more.

I’ve focused on textured patterns in the past, pairing them with solids or semi-solid colors or simply striped colorwork. This year I decided to take advantage of some of the beautiful multi-color exclusive Under the Sea yarns paired with solids in addition to multiple solid color options. Here are a few of the first patterns I’ve knit up, just a peek of what is to come:

Superellipse Socks: This is one of 4 patterns created with a 2-color slip stitch technique. I love the simplicity of this technique in allowing you to slip stitches to create the pattern instead of relying on stranding colors. It keeps things from getting tangled and feels more like knitting stripes.

Paper Birch Socks: These are stranded colorwork socks, which can become a bit tedious and tangly, but well worth the effort. I love the idea of a solid color overlaying a color-changing yarn. It allows all of the beautiful detail to pop through with a restrained beauty.

Both patterns utilize an afterthought heel, which allows you to knit the sock pattern without interruption. This was a new technique for me, but I like the result.

 

 

Prints: Dot/Dash – 2017 Year in Review

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2017 was the year I jettisoned formal, finished compositions – for one year. In place of a clearly articulated vision prior to printing, I tried loosening things up by composing on the fly, working in the moment and just rolling with it. I went with a few graphic patterns that piqued my interest – mainly dots and stripes – and played with them in random compositions as I printed. Some small editions came out the process, but the prints are all mostly unique. Color choices were determined similarly. I had some hues in mind to start but mainly just built up color as I went along.

It was all very different from my usual working method of super-tight, controlled situations where everything is designed and prepared in advance of production. In that scenario, production is merely a process devoid of all decision making – a means to an end and satisfying in a different kind of way. I suppose I was inspired by Sol LeWitt’s seminal Sentences on Conceptual Art of 1969, numbers six and seven in particular:

“6. If the artist changes his mind midway through the execution of the piece he compromises the result and repeats past results.”

“7. The artist’s will is secondary to the process he initiates from idea to completion. His willfulness may only be ego.”

Perhaps a little too much. Because I next wanted to bust things open and let it rip. I worried that things were getting a bit too dry, too expected. Working in the moment and forcing decisions would open things up, let fresh ideas in and set my work on a different course, I thought.

That happened. Sort of. Because the results are oddly not too dissimilar from my usual work.  

The limited design elements really helped temper the atmosphere and hold it all together. Things could easily have gotten out of hand with a messy swirl of color and blobs of form. You know, like Lord of the Flies in two dimensions. Or worse, dried macaroni and construction paper collages. But here I got the best of both worlds: crisp compositions that emphasize simplicity of form and color combinations that I would not have otherwise considered. It was just the right balance of experimentation and restraint.

Take a look at a few of my favorites:

Knits: Baby Hue Shift

 

I couldn’t resist creating a quarter-size baby version for a friend due in the fall. It is the perfect size to tuck a little one into their baby seat. All the colors of the rainbow are perfect for a girl or a boy.

Knits: Hue Shift Afghan

 

My favorite local yarn store, Eat Sleep Knit, holds a number of knit-alongs every year. This year they decided to hold a year-long KAL for the Hue Shift Afghan. I instantly fell in love with the color possibilities and looked through all the projects on Ravelry for inspiration. With the help of this wonderful color picking tool created for designing your hue shift, I tried at least a dozen combinations of Cascade 220 superwash (ESK carries the whole line) and decided on sunny shades mixed with neutrals.

I started by ordering my picks online, but found that going to the store was required to tweak a few of the gradient choices to get enough separation and consistent vibrancy of color. I would definitely recommend picking yarn for this project in person.

I made a few modifications to the pattern as written: 1) I knit all of the squares in the same direction. I liked the diagonal running across the whole surface and also liked avoiding any piecing together a the end. Each square is knit on the edge of previous squares. 2) I decided not to add a border. I preferred the squares running to the edge and letting the pattern be the statement without “framing.”

After an extra trip to get more yarn (it takes about 1.3 skeins per color in Cascade 220), it took over 3 months to complete the Afghan. I was able to work on many other small portable projects and leave this one for home knitting in the evenings.

I would highly recommend this project to anyone looking for a blanket project that avoids monotony. Color choice transforms the design and knitting the blanket in small units keeps it from feeling overwhelming. The excitement of seeing how each color combination looks keeps you eager to start the next square.

Knits: Siren Song Shawl

 

My favorite local yarn store, Eat.Sleep.Knit, held a Flash KAL in March featuring the patterns Song of the Sea and Siren Song. I decided to go the extra mile and complete the shawl size of Siren Song.

I decided to use some Madelintosh Eyre Light that I already had on hand in electric rainbow, onyx, and smokestack/optic. I love how the electric rainbow created a mother of pearl effect. I had enough yarn of each color to transition between colors for each pattern size change. On that note, this pattern really eats up the yardage. If you decide to make the shawl, be sure to have plenty of yarn on hand.

Knits: Spinning yarn

 

My neighborhood has a number of fiber artists and a few of us finally got together to share our interests. One of the things I never thought I’d do was spin yarn. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to get started with a minimum investment in both money and space – all I needed was a drop spindle, a niddy noddy, and some fiber.

The result is the collection of small skeins above. There are a bunch of helpful videos on youtube to get a feel of techniques: I found this one from MeganERisk helpful for learning how to park and spin. I also liked this one for understanding how to draft fiber consistently for different thicknesses from Spinning Sara. This one from Megan LaCore was helpful for learning how to ply yarns together.

It’s good to know there is a simple way to get started spinning if you’ve ever been curious. Like knitting, I have a feeling that it just takes time and practice to build skill.