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Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Finished Swirl

I am currently experiencing a rare bit of delight.
{Note - I am still "glowing" about this project. I think it must have something to do with the size, scale, time & success involved in the completed project. 
Updated 4/7 with more pictures I'd forgotten I'd taken...}

I finished a project.
A Knitting project.
A BIG Knitting project!
And it's even a BIG Knitting project with a great story!!

The great story was related in last year's July 20th blog post: "I'm up to the Sleeves! Ack, Yarn Shortage. Yay, Ravelry Miracle!".

That blot-title pretty much tells the tale.
Two ladies in particular came to my rescue and provided me with the exact color and shade of yarn that I needed to finish my Swirl Coat.

This blog post is dedicated to Smallfields411 and Althea.
Without their generous spirits, my swirl coat might still be languishing in yarn-shortage purgatory or even frogged back down to skeins-in-waiting.

Again, ladies - Blogs and words cannot express...my heart-full, grateful thanks.
You are my heroes and the tales of your kindness will be retold with each wearing of my Swirl Coat or visit to these blog posts.
Blessings be on you and yours. {Happy sigh}

So - here is the Rest of the Swirl coat story: 

The yarn search and happy conclusion occurred in July 2012. 
This was just after the Little Brother had moved back to his own apartment near the end of the diabetes-stuff and about the time that my own medical adventure started. Ha - followed by the beginning of the Unemployment Adventure. {Jeez, 2012 was an "interesting" year. sigh}

Anyway...it was too big to carry around so I only worked on it at home - sporadically. I finished knitting with the 1/2 skein I had left from my original yarn and then started working with the yarn from Althea and Smallfields411. I specifically wanted to use yarn from both of them because I loved the idea of yarn/generosity/karma/vibes from these generous souls being included in this project. 

The coat was put aside for holiday gift-knitting and taken back up after Christmas. I think the actual knitting on the coat was completed in mid-January. Then I had to find time to finish and block it. 
About then I started attending classes for the Fiber Arts Degree Adventure. {grin}

I made some weekend time to finish it but, in re-reading the brief finishing instructions from the "knit, Swirl" book, I found I needed to block the coat first and then seam it up. 
OK-then...I needed water and daylight - and more time.

After another "pause", I made time in mid-March (Spring Break) to do the blocking. 
Outside. Away from "helpful", t-pin-stealing, yarn-chomping cats. {sigh}

I soaked it {twice - adding a little vinegar to the 2nd soak}. 

I squished out the extra water (by sitting on the coat rolled up in towels) and undertook the blocking. 

Blocking that took Quite-a-While - arranging, measuring, pinning, re-arranging, re-pinning.... {arrrrrrgh}. 

I covered it with a sheet to minimize any possible wildlife helpfulness and waited for it to dry.

The following week, I invested a bit of time to pin it together so I could seam up the sleeves/bodice/collar. 

And over the next few days, I actually performed the seaming. 
Several times. Because it took some finagling. 
Some of the excess coat {wry grin} was caused by my removing two welts to make the sleeves much smaller around {which turned out to be a very good idea}. But it took me a while to get the extra knitting to meld in with the seams. 

But now.......it's done. 
And it fits!!
Ok, the sleeves are a skoch too long {even after the instructor at Kiwi re-calc'd the pattern to shorten the sleeves for my T-Rex-esque arms} - but it's nominal.

{grin} My finishing timing is rather silly. We're not likely to get another cold spell to allow me to WEAR my new coat for 7 or 8 months. 
But still - I am delighted. And thankful and tickled. 

I'm off to work on homework. I have 3 school projects due next week. 
But large knit-project-wise, I'll now be pursuing my February Lady Sweater

With a little more confidence and a completed coat to my name.
Thank you again, Smallfields411 and Althea. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Seriously?!? But I swatched!!

I feel BETRAYED!! 
{Yeah, that looks better when I spell it right. Back to the tirade...}
{Oh - whilst you're reading this, would you please apply a melodramatic and slightly whiny tone to the tirade?}

I was virtuous - I swatched. Several times! {kinda}
At the January Bear Cabin Retreat I cast on to swatch.

I measured in 3 different places on the swatch as advised by Gwen Bortner in the gauge class I took with her a couple of years ago!

{Apologies - I edited/correct picture inserted on 3/30 when
I realized I'd posted the same gauge pic twice.} 
I didn't initially get gauge {too many stitches per inch} so I changed up a needle-size and swatched some more. Which left me with just slightly too few stitches per inch. {SIGH}

I figured I was in the ballpark and cast on, considering that it would probably work for this project - The Origami Pullover. It has a poncho-like roominess with nice drape-potential. And it's all 1 x 1 ribbing so I figured it would be ok. {i.e. inherent stretchiness}

Alas, I knit for about 18 inches on the smaller "front panel" and, although I liked the resulting fabric, the back of my brain whispered "You'd better re-check your gauge.".  So I did.
And {ACK!} - I was getting significantly more stitches to the inch!?!

Which also meant I was even shorter of the expected width for the required gauge and I began to wonder if I would have enough yarn.

Well....that's not fair! 

Um, Minor Point {confession}: In all fairness, I feel I must note that I didn't actually cast off to make an actual separate swatch square...or wash the swatch. Or keep it. Ok, I did take pictures, but still... 

However (!!), the above point should have absolutely NO bearing on the fact that gauge and the universe betrayed me when I was virtuous, semi-methodical, and I had faithfully swatched!!

Ok-then. Moving on. {wry grin}
I swatched some more (on my 18-inches of wrong-sized knitting) with a larger needle and I was back in the vicinity of the pattern-gauge. Actually, I was literally at gauge. Bizarre.
Ripping ensued and I started over.

Well see what happens next in the adventure that is my knitting.
But, based on previous experience, MY gauge isn't to be trusted.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Graceful finger art (Not by me)

I recently became smitten with the art of Judith Ann Braun.
I became intrigued when I saw a picture of part of a wall she'd done in an Artist Daily blogpost: "The Art of Your Fingertips".

Some further exploration lead me to Judith Ann Braun's website and I went from intrigued to smitten.

Smitten with her version of a "Pride and Prejudice" T-shirt (scroll down when you get to the web page {I'm also fond of the "in training" shirt}). ;-)
Ms. Braun said "Edirp and Ecidujerp" is Pride and Prejudice spelled backwards, something the honorable Jane Austen was fond of doing in personal letters!"

Smitten with her Text Art - this one in particular:
"Oh May I" (far left text when you get to the web page.)
{No, I personally don't aspire to draw on the level of Jane Austin's writing, but I love that Judith Ann Braun (a real artist/person who can draw) would have this thought!}

And I am quite smitten with her Charcoal finger art.
She has had installations in the Indianapolis Museum of Art ("Without Pleasure All We'd Have is a Bunch of Stuff Vibrating") and in the Chrysler Museum of Art ("Diamond Dust", 2012).

This video shows her creating part of "Diamond Dust" in the Chrysler Museum of Art:
"Without Pleasure"

Another "Diamond Dust" video from the artist.
{Love the fluttering grace of her fingers. I am boggled at how her brain works that she can create on this scale with deft, slight finger movements. Wondrous and excellent!}

I spent a bit of time exploring her website and videos. Pretty cool.
Another favorite: "My Five Minute Life".
(I can't get this video to embed, so you might want to take 5 minutes and go be charmed by Ms. Braun).

I thank her for her clever art, for sharing herself with us, and I wish her good health and continued creativity.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why Charcoal Reminds Me of Fulling Wool

Why does charcoal remind me of fulling wool?
Drawing with Charcoal, like fulling {felting} a knitted item, is extremely forgiving. And both hide a multitude of sins!

Yep, we recently experienced the medium of charcoal in my Drawing class. I've decided I rather like it.

I knew of charcoal drawing implements but I didn't know from whence it came.
"Vine" charcoal used in drawing is from grape vines!
There is even a knot in one of the vine/charcoal sticks I received from the teacher.
Cool, huh?
The teacher gave us a half-sheet of Grey Canson paper for our first charcoal drawing.
He had us cover the paper in charcoal.
No, seriously - scribble allllll over the paper.
And then we smeared it around with a paper towel.
Fun start. I liked it.

He had us draw an apple, and then a cone. And we visited shading a bit more.
The Cone became a....well, a jigger. Then we were to add a box and a window....corrections and highlights effected via paper towel (and a special grey highlighter/eraser-thingy made just for charcoal).
The teacher augmented this a little so I can't
take all the credit for this drawing.
I was pretty tickled with how easy it was to correct/remove/shade with charcoal.
My clueless strokes looked rather good - almost as though I'd done that apple shading on purpose.
Kinda fun.

We sprayed a fixative on the drawings so they wouldn't smear. Because, as you'd expect, charcoal smears wonderfully.
And yes, I did to to Target one day after class {with a smear of charcoal running from my left cheekbone down to my jaw} to purchase a very inexpensive spray fixative alternative to the high-end artsy kind.

I purchased my first-ever can of hair spray. {wry grin}
The DH was mildly excited with the purchase of hairspray too.
He says you can use hair spray to avoid corrosion on car battery contacts/cables. ;-)

Homework: Charcoal Still Life on a full sheet of Canson Paper with a border.

Does the subject matter look familiar?
Yep, I drew the same bottles/cat statue on the bottom shelf of the IKEA baker's rack/plant stand that I outlined in graphite for a previous homework assignment.

I did try to include the Christmas Cactus leaves on the right side of the drawing but I couldn't quite figure out how to do it in charcoal. (They were unrecognizable as black spikey blobs).
But hey, didn't I do an excellent job of rubbing out my cactus-leaf drawing attempt?!?
{grin - the teacher did comment on shading in that corner being a little too dark...}

I have to confess, I liked that drawing more before I applied the white-pencil highlighting. I think I over did it some. Ah well.

The last charcoal drawing assignment was to place 12 hand-sized, complete cones on a full sheet of (pink) Canson paper.
The teacher quickly altered the assignment to allow other shapes and some creative drawing. I felt challenged enough with basic shapes and shading (but there is one spot of whimsy in my drawing...enhanced by the teacher.).
Did you see it? {hint-it's upside down}
We've moved on into perspective with graphite (pencil) now.
But I'm hoping we'll revisit charcoal drawing. I think it is kind to rookies.  Not unlike the fulling wool. Both charcoal drawing and fulling wool seem to flow well, hide mistakes, and finish magically.
Charcoal is the "felting" of the drawing world. {wry grin}

Friday, March 8, 2013

Of Graphite and Negative Space

So - my drawing education continues.
Don't get your hopes up {grin}. My drawing has not improved, I'm just learning about more drawing tools and techniques.

We continued with more Still Life stuff and there was some shading and perspective discussion.

Actually, this was imagined still-life with spheres added later at the teacher's add-round-things-with-shadows request.

This was the result of the next homework assignment:

"Draw three things from your kitchen plus a Sandwich".

So I chose a Hawaiian quilt-patterned oven hot-pad
{because I'm a clueless ninny that didn't consider how HARD it would be to draw}
and the Lunch that I'd packed for the next day - which included a sandwich.

I did my best to draw it and tried to apply the new shading/perspective stuff we'd been shown.
The teacher offered some suggestions on how to do the shading behind the yogurt/apple better and indicated his concerns about all the background shading I'd added (I tried to explain everything had been on a dark background).
He seemed pleased that I'd drawn a "pita-bread" sandwich instead of regular-bread sandwich.
{Harrumph - it wasn't pita-bread! It was a wheat-round...bread-thingy.
But yeah, OK,  in my drawing it does look like pita-bread.} ;-)

We dashed through more technique/practice in the next class:
"Thumbnail" sketches of a variety of sections of two long tables of white-painted "still life" bottles, cans, jars, etc.
 Yes, the one on the bottom right is particularly sad. {grin} He had us draw it without looking down at our paper.

The one in the upper-left became a larger-scale in-class drawing {because it had to include flowers and I liked the grouping}. I think he sent this one home with us to tweak/finish too.
(Click to em-biggen.)

Near the end of class, we had to draw a section of the white-still life items in reverse to show the Negative Space. The examples included the shadows from the items being left white. And for some reason this concept boggled me and I had a hard time with this exercise.
{And my subjects appear to be listing to the right - or
maybe it's my photography? Hmmmm.}
We were assigned homework to do a "negative space" drawing of 4 or 5 items from our home.
Bonus! He gave us a ginormous sheet of paper to take home to draw upon.
(Of course it was raining when we left class that day... {grin}).

When looking about my home for resident "still life" clusters to use in my drawing, I realized I have a lot of junque, uh, dusty..., uh, Potential ART subjects around my home. {sigh}

I chose to draw this bottom-shelf of an IKEA bakers-rack/plant stand:

It turned out to be quite a challenge for me, but I think the resemblance between Negative Space drawing and still life isn't bad:
{The interesting pattern in the shading is courtesy of the ancient cardboard puzzle-caddy
I used as an easel to accommodate the ginormous sheet of paper}
So...I'm learning.
I think most things I've drawn are recognizable - which is more than I had thought possible!
All-in-all, I think it's going reasonably well {but I need to pick less-challenging stuff to draw}.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Scales of Grey to a whole Color Wheel

Our Color and Composition Instructor is working very hard to "train our eye" to

  • Value* - "how light or dark a color is"; "the quantity of light a color reflects"
  • Hue* - "name of the color itself"; "determined by the specific wavelength of a color in a ray of light"
  • Intensity (Chroma)* - "how bright or dull a color is"; "the quality of light a color reflects"

She started by asking us to create a Grey Scale. 
We used the core Black and White paints and then combined them to find the middle grey between. And then we find the grey between the Middle Grey and Black...and then the grey between that "new" grey and black. And so on. 
Black, White and 7 shades of grey make up the Grey Scale. 

We did some of the painting/mixing in class - and some at home. 
Knowing that los gatos would be more than willing to help me play with paint, I setup my paints outside on the table on the back porch. 
I tried to work my way through the greys I needed to create but I do seem to have a knack for creating a particular shade of grey: 

Hey, wait..that shade of grey looks familiar...

I ran out of daylight and it was getting cold so I moved inside.
But there was still the quandary of the helper-cats. Hmmmm. 

So - I took over the stove-top in the kitchen (as it tends to be cat-less.) 
I finished cutting down the swatches of paint I'd created, put them in the necessary order, and got out the glue. 
I turned in the grey scale and got a pretty good grade on it! {Even though one of my greys was a little too dark}

The next assignment was a bit brighter. After all the grey shades, color was a bit shocking. 
{Yes, I started out on the back porch and ended up working on the stove-top again.} ;-)
We needed to create all the shades to build this color wheel. 
The extra challenge to this exercise being: the primary Blue we were using is green-based as well as super dense (I believe the red has yellow in it as well). This means yellow has an unexpected influence on your shade-creation. Moreover, it takes the amount of {dense} blue paint you could put on the head of a pin mixed with a tablespoon of Red to make "violet". 

And the Secondary* (colors from 2 primary hues) and the Tertiary* (from all 3 primary hues) colors are not quite what you'd expect. For instance "violet" isn't the royal purple we're used to. It's kind of a brown-scarlet {below to the right of the blue in the triangle section - that's the correct, teacher-approved "violet". I kid you not}.
I was a little heavy-handed with the blue but I still earned a pretty decent grade on my color wheel. {Yep, most of the tertiary-color comments from the teacher you see in the picture above suggest "a little too blue"}.

There was one more exercise related to training our eyes to hues....but I didn't take pictures before handing it in. Later I'll include pictures of the White to Blue scale I did and we'll see what kind of grade it earns. Although - it's quite probable I was still a little heavy-handed with the blue in...my Blue scale. {wry grin}

* All color-related definitions from this post are credited to my Color & Comp. Instructor (and stored in my brain for a color-terminology quiz.)  ;-)