Wednesday, November 08, 2006

SOAR 2006

I'm back from 11 days at SOAR and it is good to be home again with Hannah and Kelly. I had a really good time at SOAR this year--probably the best I've ever had. It was a blast hanging out with the SOAR staff--Anne, Ann, Vicki, and Nancy. We really had fun working hard together. It went really smoothly with only a couple snafus. Participants and mentors were really happy, the resort was fantastic, and the weather was pretty darn good for the beginning of November in the mountains. I was just so glad that it didn't snow that the rain from Wednesday through Friday was okay--and in the end we got sun again. We did get ice on Saturday morning--and I learned of one participant who really bit it--but she was recovering well later--though her computer is a little worse for the fall. Ice and steep inclines--and folks hauling spinning wheels are not a good mix. Fortunately the sun came out and the ice went away.
The hardest part for me was being away from my family. Last year Kelly and Hannah came and that was good--but then it was hard to do both my mommy job and my job job.
This was my tenth SOAR. I love the chance to connect with people with like passions, even though there is never enough time to really talk and being a bit sleep deprived really doesn't help my conversational skills. I found though, that motherhood was really good training for SOAR. I wasn't nearly as tired as I remember being in years past. It would be a really strange thing to go to SOAR as a participant. I've had some classes at other conferences, where I got to just be a student--and it is almost a surreal experience. This year felt like a family reunion in a lot of ways. And meeting new people was also a treat. I got to meet Stephanie Pearl-McPhee--for me this was akin to meeting J.K. Rowling or Jane Austen. Seriously. Meeting Jane Austen would be slightly more exciting (mostly because, well, you know, she's dead)--but I had to try to supress my star-struckedness and try to be normal. It didn't really work. Stephanie got a kick out of providing me with the word "spindle" when I was trying to describe the bowl with a center dowel that spins beads onto stringShe and I are exactly the same height. She told me that she was disappointed to learn this because she said that she thought I was short. If she looks slightly shorter than me in this photo it is only because we were standing on a slope.
I bought some great fiber at SOAR and have started spinning it up. I spun about a yard on my handspindle at the spin-in--the only chance I had--so I had to make up for all that time of watching people spin and not being able to join in when I got home.
This is 1/2 of the 4 oz of Bluefaced Leicester that I bought from Janel Laidman of Cameleon Colorworks. Boy, was it fun to spin. It is softer than I imagined BFL to be--and the colors are so gorgeous. It bled when I washed my yarn--so I rinsed it until the water ran clear. I started knitting a sweater for Hannah out of domino squares--I learned how at SOAR 2002 when Vivian Hoxbro taught domino knitting. Someone at SOAR had a little swift just like mine--except without the candlewax dripped all over it. I can't remember who it was. But we both found them in fleamarkets--mine was found by a friend. It's a wonderful little swift and works much better than my big one that was damaged in the Fort Collins flood.
The stitch marker I bought from French Hill, Diane Trussell and they were made by Carolyn Baldwin who comes to SOAR every year from the U.K. I have never used stitch markers much--but these are so fun that I want to use them. I think I'm going to have to get more fiber before I can finish the sweater I want to make for Hannah, though.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Daughter of the Forest

I've always loved the Six Swans Fairytale--one of my first beaded pieces was a translation of one of my watercolor paintings into beads (Delicas--the first and probably last time--they are better suited for weaving than my style of bead embroidery). I even have the beginnings of a novel based on the fairytale that I work on in fits and starts, but haven't made much progress on in years. A little bit ago I came across Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters trilogy and her book, Daughter of the Forest. I was a little bit sad that the book I wanted to write had already been written. But now that I'm halfway through the book, I realize that there is no way I could write a book that is this captivating, believable, and steeped in history and folklore. Now I'm just glad that Juliet Marillier wrote it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Napkin rings

I forgot to take a photo of the finished napkin ring before I gave it to Katie for the Knit Scene photo shoot yesterday. doh! But here it is in progress. And the backside as well. Actually it is easier to see the pattern before I made it a ring. The double knitting helps keep the shape--so it really does function as a napkin ring--no starch needed! All my knitting these days is small--but I can see the potential in this little bit of knitting--wouldn't it make a great pair of socks or a hat? Even a sweater--but it is hard for me to imagine doing double-knitting on size 0 needles for a project that big. I'm still working on my Dad's sweater--started in 1996. Each year between Christmas and his birthday in February I make progress on it--a little bit of progress. Maybe this will be the year that I finish it. 10 years later! The problem is that it is millspun and brown. I thought it would be faster that way--(the millspun that is--I didn't consider how mind-numbing millspun brown would be)--but it has turned out to be much slower. And Dad has lost weight since I started--so we'll see if it is too roomy or not.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Catching up on projects

Here is the spinning belly piece that I mentioned in yesterday's post that I started while I was recuperating. It is the first in a series based on the Three Fates Greek Myth of Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. Clotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis measured it and Atropos cut it. So it is an image of my hugely pregnant belly (with Hannah) and my hands spinning. When I started this piece it mildly shocked my husband, mother, mother-in-law, and Kelly's aunt. I think they are okay with it now. But it just shows my belly, nothing else. I've also started a small piece of a poppy to fit inside a Fobbie--a cool invention made by my friend Liz Mrofka for wrapping packages.

Lulu is eyeing the yarn on the chairs. I was too lazy to wind the skeins into balls--I'm sure I'll be cursing my laziness later on when I decide to move the project elsewhere. This is the sampling stage of the Knit Scene staff project--the napkin rings. Actually, I think I'll be lucky if I get one done. And if that one is not my sampler, then I'll cooking with fire. Or oil. Or whatever the saying is.

I ordered my yarn for the project while paying close attention to the colors, but forgetting to look at the size of yarn (on the web sizes are easily over looked by folks like me who usually make their own yarn and aren't used to paying attention to sizes of millspun yarn--that's excuse, anyway). So the yarn arrived and it is gossamer weight--beautiful, lofty, and very fine. I proceeded with my plan--to make a double-knitted fabric with a leaf motif. So I'm doing charted double-knitting on size 0 needles. See why I'll be lucky to get more than one done by next week's photo shoot? Here are the front (orange/yellow) and the back (green) with the leaf motif starting to appear.
I'm also very excited about the new desk in my office. It is perfect for both work and play--filled with my photos, stamps, and special papers. On the window sill are the three pieces that I worked on--two reframed for the Hibberd/McGrath gallery in Breckenridge, Colorado and one completed Iris piece for Heidi. I need to put them in their frames and then send them off to their destinations--but for the moment it is nice to have them around.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Surgery=beading time!

Well, who knew? I really didn't expect that I'd be able to get much of anything done while I was recovering from surgery (a myomectomy to remove fibroids--benign tumors in my uterus that had grown a lot during my pregnancy)--but I did! I was able to finish up Heidi's Iris and start a new piece. I'll have to post photos of it later as I haven't shot any of it yet.
I thought I might get a lot of blogging done while I was recovering--but sitting at the computer made me nauseous. It was nice to have a break from my normal routines.
I also got to spend a lot of time with Hannah--now the house seems empty without her cheerful little chirpy voice filling it up. She's started singing. So cute! She's been singing the bottle song ever since the doctor said no more bottles (she's been weaned to cow's milk since July after we couldn't resolve the biting issue) at her 15 month appointment. So milk is delivered in a sippy cup now--she takes one sip and throws it away.
I was hoping to do some spinning, too, while I was recovering--but found it was too physical and too much for my abdominal muscles--I'll try again soon. I have a staff project for Knitscene to work on next--I've been working on ideas--but need to try them out on the needles.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Heidi's Iris is almost done

The big exciting news here is that my sister had her baby! Little William (after our grandfather who died in March) his middle name is Austen after Jane Austen. Julia was born on Jane Austen's birthday, 195 years later. I'm kind of late reporting this to the blog. July 14th was the big day--I got to be there taking photos (from a discrete angle). Hannah was there, too--just not during the actual delivery--she waited with my dad and brother and Eric's brother's family while William was being born. Kelly was at the race track--but he got to meet William on Saturday.

I'm nearly done with Heidi's Iris--two meetings at work yesterday, back to back, each running over by 1/2 an hour and long to begin with helped a lot. I'm almost touching the edges on the three remaining sides. This is always an exciting time in my beadwork--I announce it excitedly to Kelly--who is always appreciative, but who doesn't share the excitement that I feel. And of course appearing to be close to the edges and actually reaching them and covering them with beads means hours more beading--but still--it is exciting. Really.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

June in fast forward

I'm really, really behind in posting to the blog. So, I will do my best to get caught up. All in one post. At the end of May I taught at the San Gabriel Bead Company in Arcadia, California (30 miles outside of L.A.). If you're ever in the vicinity (like west of the Rocky Mountains), make a detour to see the shop--it is huge and has every bead and bead related item available. Not only that--but Kelly Thompson who owns and runs the store really understands beaders. She has great class room space! I want to go out again to take classes. I had a good group of students and we had a lot of fun over the three days. Hannah and Kelly came with me and they managed to have a good time, too (despite Hannah getting really sick with the flu on Saturday night--thank goodness for Children's Hospital and their on-call nursing staff--they helped us get through it).

Then there was the Estes Park Wool Market in Estes Park, Colorado--good fun for the whole family. Hannah came up with me thanks (seriously--thank you!) to the help of my parents and Kelly's mom and aunt who watched her while I was working in the booth.
Here's a photo of my friend and colleague, Liz, teaching a kiddo how to spin on a CD spindle. With a hat and poncho like that she's destined to become a great crafter. Reminds me of the outfits I wore as kid--not to mention some of the things I made!

After that there was just enough time to finish Melinda's tiara in time for her June 30th wedding. I got it done about a week ahead of time so she was able to take it to her hairdresser's to practice the updo. Sadly for me her wedding was during Convergence, so I didn't get to go--but I'm sure it was beautiful and I look forward to hearing all about it when she gets back from her honeymoon! The tiara is actually two small combs wrapped with wire with beads. I celebrated my 37th birthday on Tuesday and then on Wednesday I went to Convergence! I was not looking forward to being away from Kelly and Hannah for five days and I had been working on saving up enough milk for Hannah since March--so I was a little stressed out about having enough milk before leaving and getting everything done that needed to get done before I left (wrapping up stuff at work, getting ready for SWA meetings at Convergence, and preparing for my two classes there). That said--I had a great time. It was a slower paced Convergence than years past--and I liked not being crowded everywhere--but it had ramifications for the Market. The exhibits that I saw were very nicely put together and the work was inspirational. I loved running into people I know in between events, at the market, and in coffee shops. The best part was participating in Lindsay Obermeyer's The Red Thread Project. Lindsay organized the making of over 700 hats that were connected together with a thick, knitted red cord and then arranged in a spiral in a park in Grand Rapids. We were invited to partipate (just had to sign a photo release) by putting on hats and dancing with the group. The idea is that people are all connected. The project raises awareness and money for cancer treatments. To see all of my photos from this event, click here. This is me and Vicki--I think that's Sunita's elbow in the photo--Liz is taking the photo.
Now I'm back home (it was so good to come home!) and working on my staff project for Interweave Crochet's Fall issue--I have to finish it by the 13th of July--our photo shoot. I sat out on the back porch in the early morning light yesterday for a bit and worked on it.
Oh! And my sister's baby is due any day now! Speaking of babies--Stephanie (aka Yarn Harlot) had a great post about breastfeeding and a campaign to make baby hats to give to new mothers to encourage a nutritious start to feeding. I'm going to make a hat or two! As a nursing mother, I just want to say "here, here!" (or is it "hear, hear!"?) to Stephanie and also fight off the temptation to call her up and ask for advice on how to deal with Hannah's new desire to use her new teeth on everything, including the precious source of her milk. I called the lactation specialist at the hospital where Hannah was born--so we'll see what they say when they return my call.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Guess who's one!

It's hard to believe that it has been a year since Hannah was born! It has gone by so quickly. We had a fun birthday party on Sunday with lots of friends and family--my grandmother Barr came out from Kansas for a week and we got to get together with her a lot for dinner--though I forgot to take the generational photo that I wanted to take with Hannah, me, my mom and Grandma Barr. Darn it.
This is Hannah with Evan--who is already 7!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A survey of projects

We're back from Maryland--well--we've been back for a while, actually. I've let my photos accumulate. I'm just now getting around to posting some. There are more here. It was great, of course. It was fun sharing the event with my husband and daughter--we even got out of the booth for a little bit to look at sheep! We had a quick trip to Delaware on Sunday night to visit my aunt and uncle, but had to head back home on Monday so that I could finish up Spin-Off and Kelly could go back to work. I wanted to stay longer. My aunt Debby fostered my love of textiles from an early age--she's a quilter and designer--everything she touches is beautiful.

I've had the spinning bug bad ever since I got back. I'm sure it had everything to do with the WooLee Winder I got at Maryland--it is fantastic! So I spun this, and Navajo-plied it after reading this and was moderately successful--it was a bit over twisted and my friend Amanda pointed out that I could have run it back through the wheel to take some of the extra twist out. But I didn't think of that--so I just blocked it and knitted cuffs as a sample for the socks that I eventually want to make. I bought the fiber at SOAR 2004--a big carded batt of wonderfully colorful wool. I'm also working on Melinda's tiara--she came over on Saturday and we had fun playing around with ideas. I did a quick survey of the projects I have going in the house right now. Active projects--not counting the UFOs. So in the living room is Melinda's tiara. In the family room, Heidi's iris. I've got the cuffs on the needles--in my back pack from work. The bobbins on my wheel contain the Romney that I've been spinning. Then we take a journey upstairs--and find this fabulous fleece! It arrived on my doorstep this evening--I found it at 8pm as my husband was heading out the door to go to a softball game. It's an early birthday gift from my friend Carol! It is so gorgeous! I love the way fresh fleece smells. I really do. Hannah agreed that it was wonderful. By 8:30 pm Hannah and I had laid it out on the upstairs landing and started washing locks. Just this week I was reading an article about the dangers of multi-tasking. But I'm having so much fun!
This weekend I'm packing for California--I'm headed to the San Gabriel Bead Shop in Arcadia (outside of L.A.) to teach a 3-day bead embroidery workshop. I'm excited!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Off to Maryland!

Early this morning, I was busy working away on the final pieces of the Summer 2006 issue of Spin-Off (which goes to press today! yikes!) and I heard a little noise coming from Hannah's room--it was the sound of two little plump hands clapping. Happy little baby wakes up clapping! We're all going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival tomorrow--so maybe that's why she was clapping--in anticipation of seeing all those sheep, llamas, alpacas, goats, and happy people.

I've made some progress on Heidi's Iris--I'm just about to reach the first edge of the piece! Very exciting. I'm about half way done.
Gotta go finish up a magazine and pack for Maryland!
See you,

Monday, April 17, 2006

Heidi's Iris

I've started a new piece! Well, I actually started it on March 28th--and am just now getting around to blogging about it.
This is the piece I'm making for Heidi--the wonderful Heidi who redesigned my website. It took me a long time to get to this design--I knew I wanted to do something with polka dots because of Heidi's affinity for dots and Heidi had mentioned persimmons as a possibility. I couldn't find persimmons in Colorado though I looked and looked (I'm sure that it has more to do with my timing and forgetfulness than the availablity of persimmons in Colorado). So then I moved onto other ideas--polka dots on my pregnant belly (I've been working on this for a while!), polka dots on a comfy chair, holding fruit against my pregnant belly--but none of these were working for Heidi's piece.
So then when Heidi was visiting in March, we talked and looked at the designs. She mentioned flowers--poppies and iris--and I have lots of photos of those that I've taken from my garden and we looked through those photos. And then after she left, I found more polka dot fabric and took an iris from a beautiful arrangement my sister-in-law gave me, and came up with this design that Heidi liked!
So I was able to start beading (here is the beginning on Thursday March 30th)--and it has been going very quickly. I've learned some things, too.
For many years, I've been telling people that I can bead a square inch in 2 hours with my size 15 Japanese seed beads. Well, I actually started timing myself and the reality is that I can bead a square inch in 2 1/2 hours. While this may not seem like such a big difference--it means that a 5x6 piece that I thought would take about 60 hours (or about two months of beading since I do this in my spare time) will actually take 75 hours.
Here's the piece on 3-30-06 (40 minutes).
This isn't marathon beading, by the way, it is just beading as I normally do for relaxation and enjoyment in the evenings while I hang out with my husband and daughter and watch tv (preferrably something that I've seen a lot, like a lot, doesn't have subtitles, and isn't on a channel with commercials. This is so that I'm not too distracted while beading, but still pleasantly entertained. I really like listening to narrative while I work. Books on tape work really well if I'm on a deadline--then I don't get distracted by the visuals.
Here is the piece on April 2 after 3 hours, 55 minutes.
So far, I've put in an average of an hour a day--I've completed a circle that is 3 inches in diameter--so that means (using the trig math my husband so wonderfully remembers!)--that I've beaded 4.71 square inches in 17:55 hours.
Oh wait a second there! That's 3.82 hours per square inch. What is going on here? I'm sure it has something to do with my math.

Okay--I know that I've spent 17:55 hours on the piece and I know that it measures 3 inches across. So I divide that in 2 to get the radius= 1.5 inches--oops! I see what I did--I forgot to square the radius.
Here is the piece on April 5 after 7 hours, 25 minutes.
Phew--this makes more sense. So the radius squared is 2.25 x 3.14 (pi) = 7.065 inches and that is 2.5 hours per square inch--much better.

I'm glad to have these moments to use math--even though I can really freak myself out.
I forgot to take photos for a bit--so here is the piece this morning after 17 hours and 55 minutes.

The iris on the blue polka dots is a real challenge to bead because the dots are nearly the same color as the iris, except for places where the fabric has a shadow cast across it. It is a wonderful challenge that I'm really enjoying. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Lucie--the silamide sleuth!

Here is Lucie--she took the workshop in Montreal that I've been talking about (look here and here). She brought in some quilting thread and wondered if it would work for beading. I tried it out and it worked well enough, but it was a bit more difficult to thread the needle and it tangled a bit more than the silamide that I've been using ever since a student introduced me to it in another beading class. Silamide is a 2-ply waxed nylon thread that is sold on cards or on spools and comes in a range of colors (though not as wide as nymo, I believe). I usually buy it from my friend Betcey at Beyond Beadery when I see her at bead shows or from her online store. I like it because it is fairly easy to thread into the size 10 sharps that I use to bead (though not as easy as nymo)--and also because it doesn't tangle as easily as nymo. Like nymo, I stretch it between my hands before I start beading (usually when I put the knot in the end).
You're probably wondering why Lucie is the silamide sleuth--it is because she had a hard time finding silamide in Canada--but was not detered. Even before she took the class she had been looking for the supplies for beading and came with ideas for where to find Japanese seed beads--size 11 and size 15 in Canada. So if you're looking for beading supplies in Canada, here is the scoop from Lucie (she gave me permission to post to the blog):

Hi Amy!
Just a quick update regarding Silamide thread suppliers in Canada. I further investigated the matter with Canada Beading Supply: the retail price of a spool (900 yards) is 14$CA, but you must add something around 10$CA for handling & shipping (plus the applicable taxes). I'll continue shopping for it and keep you posted.
I did however find the Clover Desk Needle Threader Lily had: it was not at Kava (on St-Hubert Street, as I wrongly understood) but at Quilte Classic in Pointe-Claire. La Maison de Calico, also in Pointe-Claire, carries it too. But Pointe-Claire might be a bit too far away (it's in the western part of Montreal) for those of the girls of the workshop who do not have a car.Now, with respect to Silamide thread, should I be looking for a specific gauge?! Thanks,Lucie

Hi Amy!
Me again with my Silamide anxieties ;-) Here's the latest update:That Bead Lady in Ontario, who does carry Miyuki 15, sometimes have Silamide thread on 900-yard spools, or they will special order it if needed. They sell it 10.99CA$. Their shipping rates are quite reasonable.
If anybody else finds any other good Canadian sources for both Silamide and Miyuki 15, I'll be glad to know. From what I learned on Internet, Size A is the regular (and maybe only?) size Silamide is available so there will be no confusion, I guess.Have a nice day, Amy!Lucie Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 07, 2006

Montreal Part II

Here are more photos from my trip to Montreal March 16- 20, 2006. I was invited to teach at the Montreal Center for Contemporary Textiles by Louise Lemieux Berube (see part I here). There were 19 students in the 3-day workshop--Designing for Bead Embroidery--many of them already established artists working in fiber who were interested in adding beading to their quilting, felting, weaving, or embroidery.
I was very excited to see how they adapted the techniques for their own purposes.

 Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 03, 2006

Why my husband does most of the cooking....

I'm working on Part II to my trip to Montreal--but in the meantime, here is a photo of what happened on the stove top this morning. It started off as a small sauce pan of milk and chai tea bags. This is what happens to milk if you leave it on low on the stove top for say, an hour or nearly two. It is solid mass! And it has beaderly beauty to it with all those little dots. (Notice that it is the same red sleeve as in my piece, Atalanta's Apple.)
Now I understand how knitting needles can be made out of milk!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Montreal! Part 1

Thanks, Lucie, for encouraging me to post my trip to Montreal in parts. Here is the first part:

Montreal was wonderful! I taught a 3-day workshop at the Montreal Center for Contemporary Textiles March 17-19, 2006. The textile center was so inspiring--I wished I was taking classes. Here's a photo of Hannah and I on our way to class in the morning--we were bundled up because it was cold!
Kelly and Hannah came with me so that I could nurse Hannah. It wasn't quite the vacation we envisioned for Kelly (here is Kelly trying to nap in the dye room adjacent to the classroom while Hannah sleeps)--but we still got to get out and see a bit of the city after class in the evenings.
Louise Lemieux Berube invited me to teach at the Center after she saw my work at Convergence. She started the Center 15 years ago--and if you have a chance to study there--I say take it! It is an impressive facility.
They have an exhibit space right when you walk in the door--it also served as a lecture hall for the talk I gave on Thursday night about my work. The garments are part of an exhibit of the students of the center that will travel around Canada--Rosie Godbout (one of the students in my class) made the purple dress in the fore ground.
There is a computer room with a number of I-macs, a room filled with knitting machines, another one with sewing machines and heavy-duty irons, a huge room filled with looms (with a number of jacquard looms not to mention spinning wheels!), a dye room, another small room for two jacquard looms, and a lunch room. Almost all the rooms have huge windows for natural light and a lot of space. Our classroom space was in the room with the looms--we had two large tables for 19 students to sit around.
Most of the students spoke English really well, but there were a handful who didn't--but other students were great about translating as we needed since I don't speak French (yet--I'm going to learn!).
I really enjoyed teaching this class because the students were really ready to learn bead embroidery to apply to their own artwork--they had really great questions and we were able to get a lot done in three days because they worked diligently and creatively. Here they are choosing paint for one of the brainstorming exercises.