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Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Freeform Ingredients!

Coffee and goodies.  Seven women.  One instructor.  LOTS of colored yarns, needles, hooks.  3 hours of fun playing with yarn and new techniques.  Pot luck lunch to talk about it all.


The PERFECT ingredients for a highly successful workshop with Lisa Doherty of Freeform Yarny Things!  And we all came away newly charged up and anxious to keep it going.



The backstory is an example of making lemonade from lemons.  Jane Thornley, one of my knitting icons, and I have been trying for years to actually meet in person.  An idea emerged to sandwich a visit and two-day workshop at my home between her cadres in Charleston, SC and Easton, MD.  All was arranged with 12 of my knitting buddies.  Unfortunately, Jane had to cancel for health reasons.  We WILL meet one of these days!


So….left with a two-day gap in the schedules of the 12 original participants, a FB posting reminded me of the talents of Lisa Carney Doherty.  I contacted her to see if she'd be interested in coming to Wilmington to teach.  Et voilà!  Some either had no crochet knowledge or weren't interested, so they opted out.  But what evolved was fabulous!  Above is a Lisa Doherty garment, fro a class she took with Prudence Mapstone, a well-known figure in the word of Freeform!


And to top it all off, we so loved it that we've decided to form a monthly group to gather, share, and continue to learn and experiment.

And my Scrumble is evolving.  Mine is in the photo above on the lower right.  And below are several more pieces yet to be incorporated.



As of this morning:

As you can see, when some pieces are not yet connected, I can play with the configuration.  Not sure what I'll do with this yet.  It could cover a bag, become a scarf or other garment.  I can tell you that it is one of the most time-consuming projects I've undertaken, and therefore has give me a far greater appreciate of the effort, time, and materials involved.  Each piece is made individually and then attached to the starting piece.

I have done my own version of freeform crochet for years that is quite different, but also very interesting.  I randomly crochet using, single, double, half-double, chains, etc., adding different yarns as I go along.  You can see a piece constructed like that in the photo above on the top left just under the top center piece.  My style of freeform adds 3-dimensional qualities to the pieces and final construction. I think I like the combination of flat and other surface designs.  

WHAT SHOULD THIS BECOME?
I welcome your thoughts!



Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Repurposing Continues……!

After deciding to cut up previously felted bags for reuse, I got into the swing of considering anything and everything for recycling.  This can be dangerous!  And sometimes I have to restrain myself from cutting, sewing, embellishing, borrowing, repurposing, upcyling too many things around my house and especially in my studio.  Yesterday I pulled a couple of things from Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts, things that haven't sold in too long, and perhaps could be used in other ways.  I'm thinking making brooches from a scarf, maybe button earrings, or more adornment for bags of all sorts.

So….in the last week, I've made several knitted and felted clutches, a Sassy Sac, and several Crazy Ring Neck Wraps, and several Felt-Tipped Scarves using such materials.  A brooch or another bag are in my head.  Here are some of the new results:

Crazy Ring Neck Wrap
(using recycled napkin rings)


Felt-Tipped Scarves


And many more viewable right now on flickr!






Friday, March 14, 2014

Repurposing is my Middle Name!

As a designer and creator of all things yarny, felty, and unique, I relish the opportunity to redesign and repurpose my own and others' objects and work.  I am a thrift store hound, but I often find things to repurpose right in my own closet or on display in the cooperative gallery to which I belong, Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts.

Lately, I've been frogging many of my original pieces that haven't sold or that I particularly dislike now.  Some have yielded yarn to reuse; some have been total disasters.  One ended up in the trash can because I simply could NOT unravel the yarns.  In frustration after many hours, I took my trusty scissors and CUT the thing up the middle!

My latest experiment looks to be one that will work and could at least salvage some very lovely wet felt I made a long time ago and fashioned into small clutch bags (that were beautiful to look at but defied functionality!) - too small and too flimsy.  Here are the three I'm repurposing right now.

    

I'm knitting and felting some wools from my stash (always tricky!), attempting to create Sassy Sacs.  Knitted felt is elusive and capricious; it will take the form it likes best, based on the type of wool, the direction of the knitting, and the felting time.  I love that I never know what I'll get from the original size and shape out of the washing machine or Wonder Washer.  So far, the two I'm working on have become - NOT Sassy Sacs - but clutch bags.

I'm undoing the stitching of the hand felted bags and cutting the felt to work as an appliqué to the flap and around onto the back of the knitted/felted clutch.  Using coordinating wool and a felting needle, the piece is attached to the bag, making a very interesting looking (and functional!) bag.  Here is the first finished one: black knitted and felted wool body.  I left the embellishment on the flap and needle-felted the appliqué in freeform style.
And competed this one yesterday….!







Sunday, March 09, 2014

Times Flies! Particularly today!

Daylight Savings Time!  It makes the day seem so short, so I managed to get up early to not miss a minute of this beautiful day - finally!  Rough winter here in Southeastern NC, but then it's been the worst everywhere, it seems.  It looks to finally be getting to be Spring here, with temps expected in the 70s today. Tennis, a walk with the dog, and the usual Sunday chores.

But then I realized I hadn't blogged in ages - since before my trip to AZ!  A glorious trip with my daughter, first to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Scottsdale and then to Sedona and Grand Canyon.   All excellent memories - perhaps for another blog day.

But here's a story that came out of the trip and then traveled home.  A couple of years ago I had made a unique necklace/neckwrap for my SIL, using a 3-ring intertwined squares napkin ring with freeform crochet and beads. You can see all of them here.  I remember buying the napkin rings at World Market (I think!), thinking they'd make an interesting project.  I also remember that every other one of them sold - and that I still had one more napkin ring at home.  So when I got home (with yarn, beads, and Roberta's cold), I decided to use some of the AZ yarn and beads to make such a piece for me. One of the ones right below is the one I made for Karen - not sure which!

  

Below is the one I just made upon my return and decided to keep as a memento of my trip.

MINE! 

I wore it to a gathering the other night, and one of the women asked me if I "could make one just like that" for her.  I told her that no, this was the last of the square napkin rings.  BUT….I was awaiting some others - not square - but possibly to use for these necklaces.  
  

They arrived, and I nearly broke my hands trying to reconfigure one of them.  However, I did produce this:

I showed it to another fiber artist/friend who loved it, so I sent the photo to the woman who had wanted mine.  SHE LOVED IT too!  SOLD!  It doesn't quite have that organic look as the squares, but it's interesting as well, and I have FIVE more of the rings to struggle/play with!  New ones coming soon!

If any of you reading this see the squares napkin rings ANYWHERE, please either let me know right away or buy me half a dozen.  I'll pay you back and reward you, I promise!  :)

Friday, February 07, 2014

Web Designer? Me?

I can't say this is something I've always aspired to do.  I DID take an online course in HTML about 10 years ago - just prior to going to Europe for 7 weeks - and then got into other things. Needless to say,  the rule of "Use it or lose it!" prevailed, and so that was the end of my idea of creating my own website.

But time passes and technology changes (some good/some bad!), and now there are MANY website design services and servers that make the execution much easier for those of us who don't know HTML or don't want to learn it.


I guess in the back of my mind I've always wanted to have my own website, but never felt I could nor did I want to pay someone to do it for me.  Several months ago, I stumbled upon Weebly and based on recommendations and the simplicity of other's websites, I thought I'd give it a try.  As a voracious web user going back almost to its beginnings, I felt I had this intuitive sense of what works and what doesn't.  Too many websites get bogged down in verbiage or are difficult to navigate efficiently or look uninviting, overloaded with content and images.  Those sites bore me very quickly (thank you, elderly ADD!)  I would just as quickly leave and move on to others that immediately grabbed my attention.  Closer scrutiny determined that the best designs incorporate visually pleasing colors, easy to read fonts and text, beautifully edited images, and most importantly…intuitive navigation.  THAT is what I'm always aiming for.

An opportunity arose to take over the web site management for the local co-op gallery to which I belong, Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts.  Knowing it would be a major challenge for me, but also a terrific learning opportunity, I volunteered to do it.  I KNEW it needed to be moved from its previous ISP, and so there was the issue of transitioning the domain, working with both the previous support people (thank you, Verio!) and with the Weebly support staff.  I DID IT!  and the site has a whole new look.  Hope you'll like it and perhaps leave a comment on the Contact Page.


In looking just now at the list of issues, concerns, and many questions I posed to Weebly, I realize that the project was/is well underway and viable in about 10 days.  Having an ice storm and being three days housebound allowed me the time to focus on this project, and I am pleased and quite proud actually to announce that the Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts website is renewed, refreshed, refurbished, and reality!  You can find it here!  Please keep in mind that it's always a work in progress.  You will find images of our gallery, our mission as a cooperative 3-D gallery, blurbs about each of our artists, and photos of our work.  Those images will change periodically.

Weebly makes it easy to make changes, add images, create slideshows, galleries, links within and outside the site, and so much more!  I had created my own website months ago using Weebly, but now I know SO MUCH MORE, so redoing my own website is next in line.  It already has an entirely new look, and I invite you to follow its progress.  Here's a preview!


If you have it in YOUR mind to build a website or redesign one, I highly recommend looking into Weebly.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Neighbors & Hospitals, Winter Blues in NC, and Websites!

You may wonder where I've been!  Well, I've wondered where I've been too!  I certainly haven't been attending to my creative juices, which haven't been flowing at all!  I've been preoccupied with a number of other things.  Briefly:

  • Neighbors & Hospitals: Our wonderful next-door neighbor of 10 years passed away three weeks ago today (RIP, John B.)  Two days later, I brought his wife to the ER in A-Fib and with breathing issues.  TODAY, SHE IS COMING HOME if we can get there - but still in A-Fib and with breathing issues.  She has no one nearby except us and other concerned neighbors.
  •  Winter Blues: or perhaps I should say, Winter Whites and Ice!  On Tuesday of this week, this area of the South had an ice/snowstorm that has virtually crippled the region.  Coming from RI, we and our cars are/were used to this wintry mix.  However, in these parts, people are ill-equipped to handle it.  Consequently there is NO treatment at all on secondary roads.  We've been housebound for three days!  Driving is still treacherous, and all those not used to this type of weather have no clue how to drive in it!  
  • Weebly: I have taken on the responsibility of managing a new website for Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts!  This link is temporary (and as I return to it now, I see that neither URL is currently working!)  ARGGGGGH!  I am NOT a web designer or graphic artist!  However…..I've found a web creation site (weebly.com) that is excellent!  I had previously developed a site for myself, (Scarf It Up!) using their service, with SUPERIOR and IMMEDIATE support from them.  They now seem to be growing so fast that their support is not quite as immediate as earlier, but I have learned SO MUCH through their FAQS, tutorials, and webinars that this has been a perfect project for me during these housebound days.  Ours later, I am still awaiting resolution to my various issues.
So please bear with me and be patient as my time and attention have been diverted and fractured in the last three weeks.  Bouncing too many balls in the air at once.  But what fun is it if you only have just one?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Howl Cowl!

C O L D weather has imprisoned many of us in the South (and everywhere else for that matter!), cold like we've not seen in our 10 years here in Wilmington, NC.  Better than New England, but since acclimating to normal southern weather, this is indeed B R R R R R !  Still glad we're no longer in RI to have to deal with the white stuff!

So what better to do than knit up some nice warm wooly cowls to beat the chill wind and cold.  I've been looking at free patterns in various places, and modifying them to make them my own.  It's fun and a great stash-buster!  Stash-busting is something I desperately need.  But then I just ordered some new yarn from a Raveler the morning.  I'm trying NOT to buy any yarn until I go to AZ in February.  Of course, DBNY and Berroco send me enticing emails every single day, and Elann, Noble Knits, and Webs frequently too, so we'll see how long I resist their temptations.

So I'm making cowls - different lengths, different stitches, colors, textures, and process.  Some I like better than others; one of the patterns is driving me crazy.  Here are some photos of recent creations and links to free cowl patterns:

  • knit 1 LA - be sure to scroll down and look to the right for a list of Free Patterns as well as those for purchase.
  • Pinterest!  My go-to website for everything! 
Now I think I'm ready to try longer versions!  Stay tuned!

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