Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Designing fabric - new beach themed pillows and fabric

A few years ago when I was coping with chronic migraines I started taking a bunch of different classes. One of the classes was surface pattern design. 

It was a very random side trip in my art journey. I never really had a particular interest or even knowledge that such a thing as surface pattern design existed. It was just kind of a "hm, that's sounds kind of interesting, I'll take it" type of experience. And I truly started from scratch. I didn't have any design or graphic art background that most of the other students had, so some of my early work? Heinous. But, some of it surprisingly good and I'm even starting to revisit some of the ideas. It's been a consistent pattern as I learn anything new such as lamp work, polymer clay, metal clay. I start with really ugly things (but with interesting possibilities) and some surprisingly good stuff. I'll share another post on the surface pattern design journey. 

What I love about surface pattern design is being able to make things I visualize for my home into seamless repeats for pattern and objects. Learning how to create repeats that I can use as backgrounds on my blog? Score! (Yep, I made that bright yellow/green organic plaid on my blog.) Creating my own fabric for use in clothing and pillows. Bonus!


I've searched some of the various third party customization stores and I settled on Zazzle for the level of control I had over the products my designs would be on. I earn a design royalty on each object sold with my design on it. If I promote the product, I can also earn an additional commission.  I've ordered products from Zazzle for my own home and have been very pleased with the results of the pillows (my favorite!) and the wall art and cards. Their service is excellent and the prints have turned out very well. 

Recently, I started decorating my home in a beach/ocean theme. I'm not a huge fan of the ubiquitous motifs (that are everywhere especially once you move to Florida). I decided I wanted to embrace beach living through color. The varied blues and green are what take my breath away about being near the water. 

I got my pillows yesterday and I'm in love! I made four designs in the brighter palette for this effortless boho vibe. 

And to maximize the designs, each pillow has a "bright side" and a "subdued" side. The subdued side is two-toned. Flip the pillows to mix it up.

If you're a "matchy-matchy" type of person, just order two of the same pillow. 

Spoonflower Fabric

In addition to pillows, I got two yards of the fabric through Spoonflower. The colors in the fabric pop a little more than on the Zazzle pillows. I'm going repaint and reupholster some bistro chairs with this fabric. Can't wait to get moving on that project!

I really, really love the pillows I ordered through Zazzle and fabric through Spoonflower. I've been very happy with the quality and service of both companies.

If you are digging the fabrics or pillows, order yours through the above links! I earn commissions on each sale. 

If you want to design your own, both have "create your own" options on each. I have been very happy with their service and can happily recommend them to others.

Monday, May 11, 2015

More Knitting

More knitting. I can't seem to stop. I'm currently super obsessed with Cascade Casablanca yarn. (I have been liking the discounts at Yarn.com). I'm a color-a-holic and I love, love, love the way the colors graduate from one to the next. The rainbow scarf I did below is seamless using a provisional cast-on and kitchener stitch to join. It's actually difficult to see the transition. Available for sale in my Artfire shop!

This scarf is knit as a wide scarf or wrap in the fern lace pattern using the Casablanca discontinued color of neutrals (tan, brown, cream, gray, offwhite, and black). Also available in my Artfire Shop!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Learning how to knit - I encourage Continental style

Here is a list of videos I recommend to help you get start with knitting:

Long Tail Cast On

Very Pink Knits. I love her videos, I usually start with her series when learning something, but I like watching multiple videos to find the subtleties that will work for me. This video is great for long tail cast on with a slip knot. I think it's a wonderful beginner way to learn how to do long tail cast on.

Another version with the slip knot start: Long Tail Cast On

This is closest to the way I do it. I like how slow she is in showing how to do a long-tail cast on. Long Tail Cast On

Learning how to knit - Continental Style

Continental and English style knitting are two methods of how you hold the yarn while knitting. I learned English and was encouraged to switch to Continental because my hands would hurt with the English style. I'm very glad I made the switch. Continental is overall more efficient (i.e. faster) because you move your hands less. You can get very fast with the English style, but your hands still move a wee bit more. However, as is pointed out in the last video, it's good to know both styles of knitting to help when you have repetitive motion stress/injury. Being able to switch it up gives your hands and arms a rest. 

This is one is good with beginner continental.... but how she pulls the stitch through is good for beginner but very inefficient in the long run. However, I like how she teaches this because it's how I've noticed beginners tend to work when learning Continental.

When you get comfortable with the beginner, here is the version that helps you refine your continental knitting. This is the video I used to help me when I switched from English to Continental. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Knitting OCD

Ever since I knitted three of these neck warmers for my lovely friend from New Zealand, I've been a knitting fool. 

Oh, yes. I've gone off the deep end. Below is the pile of things I've knit since then. Three blankets (one already given away) loads of scarves and cowls, three capes (two given away).

I'm particularly fond of the three very colorful pieces in the front. The one on the far left took two weeks of serious OCD knitting. I made a second one in a different color way and that was already given away. The middle one took about a month with a more intricate lace pattern. And the one on the right, I just love it's rainbow color transitions in the fern pattern. I did that  in three evenings of OCD knitting.

It's been so bad, I haven't even wanted to stop long enough to write these posts. I've composed them in my head... but I can't break my fingers off the needles. But, here I am. Finally trying to make some time to start blogging again. 

I'm going to have to start selling my stash of snuggly cowls and scarves to support my habit. See stash below. Oh yes. I have fallen in love with several expensive brands. Sunday Knits, Malabrigo, Cascade Ultra Pima. I have learned, if I'm going to spend so much time with these yarns, I want them to feel good, and I want to enjoy feeling and looking at them. I went back to knitting with craft store yarn for a one of the six projects I have started, and I'm not just feeling inspired. I'll try to get going again. It is teaching me useful techniques. 

Latest arrival of delicious Cascade Ultra Pima to be knit into a decorative baby blanket. Oh, the sheen on this cotton is sublime! Will probably make another one in the Cascade Super Wash for daily use.

                       Stop! .....

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New knitter notes

So, technically, I am not a new knitter. I've been trying to learn to knit for 30 years. Someone taught me the basics when I was a teenager and I can make scarves. I would try off and on (mostly off) for years and years but would get frustrated and give up.

In 2009, a lot of the art blogs I read, the artists were picking up knitting and I really wanted to learn. I even signed up for lessons, but never really could break through. When I moved back to the U.S., I had a friend who was a knitter and I made more scarves and starting exploring unique yarns. Still, only progressed to scarves with interesting patterns, and a few blankets. One small breakthrough in this I phase was that my friend encouraged me to learn continental knitting. I switched from English to continental through a YouTube tutorial. Much much easier on my hands. It takes about 1-2 weeks to get comfortable with holding yarn in the new way (a scarf or blanket project). It has been totally worth it for me.

Finally at the end of 2014, I suddenly "got it." The Internet is a fabulous resource for figuring out certain stitches and how to read a pattern. YouTube for showing me how to try different stitches.

I'm going to credit my friend for wanting a chunky neck warmer.

I had been shying away from heavier and chunkier yarns because I live in a warm climate in Florida. I need thin, light yarns, right? Wrong! I can still use chunky yarns in blankets! Bring on the chunky yarns!

This simple neck warmer taught me a whole bunch of things: how to read a pattern and adapt and fix mistakes. Plus chunky yarns are very forgiving. My seams on the three neck warmers are not very good but you can't really tell. In addition, these projects were very satisfying. It's s quick, one-skein, one-night knit. Boom! You're done!

With the chunky yarns, I made up a cape of my own design, knit top down... This is teaching me gentle shaping techniques without having to be precise yet. My tension is still inconsistent. Another benefits of chunky yarn is it hides or embraces inconsistent tension.

To sum up, if I were passing along notes to another new knitter:
- start with chunky yarns and bigger needles
- English method is easy to start with, but switch to continental style when you get serious