inspired

beadsThe design process is creative and rewarding, but the journey from inspiration to the release of a pattern can be a bit of a mystery. Join us on this fun and interactive adventure where together we’ll design an accessory and yarn color from scratch. We don’t know what it is going in because we make all those decisions together during the course of the workshop!

Over three sessions and some in-between homework, we’ll share stories, stitches, shapes, textures and colors for the design inspiration; choose a yarn base and color family and style; swatch! (of course); talk about flow and transition of stitch patterns, cast on and bind off; make bling decisions; discuss photography and consider naming options; and finally bring it all together with a pattern release and cast on party, where each participant receives their own copy of the pattern and enough yarn in our designed colorway to complete the project!

dyepot_greenThis project is highly interactive and participants will gain knowledge through lecture, demo, and hands on participation with guided swatching, testing, dyeing or other input into our garment.

No design experience necessary. Beginning and advanced knitters are welcome: this project is suitable for adventurous knitters that are able to cast on, bind off, knit and purl, and have completed a few projects on their own. Final pattern difficulty will be influenced by the group.

stitch_books

The nitty gritty details:

  • Timing: 3 sessions on Tuesday evenings: Feb 28 (6-9pm), Mar 21 (6-9pm), Apr 18 (6-8pm), plus in-between behind the scenes homework
  • Peeps: Designer Susan Gehringer of grist creative and Dyer Sarah Lukes of Seattle Sky Dyeworks
  • Location, location, location: The Nifty Knitter, Issaquah WA

Can’t wait to start? Call The Nifty Knitter (425) 369-3098 to sign up
Craving more? Learn about Susan at http://www.gristcreative.com and Sarah at http://www.seattleskydyeworks.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ewekulele

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ewekulele, 2016, Susan Gehringer

ewekulele // art

Northwest Folklife Festival is a Memorial Day weekend tradition in Seattle. Every year, folks gather to enjoy music and art and friends.

The Northwest Basket Weavers started a tradition last year combining the love of fiber with the music of Folklife — fiber-bombed instruments. Techniques such as twining, plaiting, knotting, quilting, tie dye, sewing, and crochet have been used and this year I join in with knitting.

ewekulele
2016
Susan Gehringer
wool, wood, glass beads, metal, plastic
techniques include knitting: cables, lace, stranded color work, steeking, stockinette, reverse stockinette, garter, ribbing; seams in 3-needle bind off, chain (crochet), cross stitch, and mattress stitch; beaded strings.

Come see ewekulele along with other fiber-bombed instruments in the Fiber Arts Tent near the Fisher Pavilion at NW Folklife this weekend, May 27-30, at Seattle Center. If you’re looking for a fun fiber activity, check out the (sedentary) Fiber Flash Mob.

 

 

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whirlwind

January was a whirlwind of design and knitting and pattern writing and the happy result is new patterns available in February! If you’re on the West Coast in February, come see the samples in person at Abstract Fiber at Madrona and then at YOTH Yarns, Magpie Fibers, and Abstract Fiber at Stitches West.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst up is square ruthless, a mathematical shawl based on square roots. Don’t worry! I do all the math so you can have fun knitting. This shawl was inspired by both my math geek husband and my favorite roller derby girl. The large size and simple seed stitch works up beautifully in Abstract Fiber Temptation with gorgeous sweeps of favorite colors, team colors, or subtle tones—be inspired by nature or skyscrapers or your favorite team.
This pattern releases Thursday, February 11. Come see and feel the sample in person Feb 11-14 at the Madrona marketplace in the Abstract Fiber booth.  ETA: square ruthless pattern link

allotrope_100_cropped Next we have allotrope, a wide cowl or long loop. Marilyn Monroe sang it best: diamonds are a girl’s best friend. A stunning Magpie Fibers Swanky Sock gradient worked in textures, slipped stitches, and lace make a wonderful cowl that is fun to knit and easy to wear.
This pattern releases Thursday, February 18. Come see and feel the sample in person Feb 18-21 at the Stitches West marketplace in the Magpie Fibers popup inside  the YOTH Yarns boutique. ETA: allotrope pattern link

Continuing on to fococo, a cropped vest with lacy texture. A simple shape and easy-to-memorize stitch puts the yarn at center stage in this elegant vest. Sophisticated YOTH Yarns colors on Rocky Mountain Rambouillet wool yarn that was grown, spun, and dyed in the USA make this plush vest a joy to knit and to wear. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This pattern releases Thursday, February 18. Come see and feel the sample in person Feb 18-21 at the Stitches West marketplace in the YOTH Yarns boutique. ETA: fococo pattern link

What’s up next? Watch for more patterns and a new book coming out later in the spring!

Thank you to YOTH Yarns, Magpie Fibers, and Abstract Fiber for their generous support of gorgeous yarns. Shout out to my intrepid test knitters Nancy Kolton and Rebecca Zanzig whose attention to detail, wide range of knitting knowledge, and nimble fingers are such an asset! Lots of gratitude to the beautiful Lina and Jasmine, who make the knitwear look so lovely. Craving more? Here is the  downloadable patterns link.

Well, that was my January. What a kickoff for the new year!

Happy knitting!

tagline life is a creative adventure

what I did on my summer vacation…

We had a very hot summer here in the Pacific Northwest but there were cool mornings and evenings that were perfect for knitting and lots of time for other fun fibery activities. This summer was a bit of  a busman’s holiday with lots of spinning and weaving and dyeing and designing and knitting!

summerfiber_silk1 summerfiber_silk2 summerfiber_silk3 summerfiber_silkblendsummerfiber_abstractfiber_bonfire summerfiber_abstractfiber_sunset

Spinning  There was an amazing week of spinning “silk and friends” with ~20 of us enjoying a fabulous array of silk, blends, and great camaraderie… the stinkiest part was silk cocoons–we boiled them so we could reel the silk and they are beautiful, but oh the smell! There was tussah and muga and bombyx and white eri and red eri (gorgeous!) and that was just the first day! Then we moved into blends: silk + baby camel, silk + cashmere, silk + merino, and even a special one-of-a-kind blend of Finn + baby camel + tussah (there’s a sweater in the future from this blend). It was an inspiring week! I didn’t spin much last year but got so inspired at the retreat that I’ve been spinning about 20 minutes every day since and filling up those bobbins with luscious 50/50 silk/merino from the amazing Abstract Fiber (full bobbin shows “bonfire” and “sunset” is in progress).

summerfiber_weavingcampWeaving  After spinning there was glorious weaving! A week of weaving camp with a small group of weavers and concentration on household linens.  My favorite weaving projects are yardage and kitchen towels. I love instant functionality of kitchen towels and I’m promising myself that the yardage will become garments (I learned to sew long before knitting or spinning or weaving). I was so busy weaving that I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but here’s what the room looked like in the warping stage. We started with the same basic materials (unmercerized cotton, cotton boucle), added some extras like cotolin or handspun, put our creativity to work for individual designs and were rewarded with some absolutely gorgeous projects that came off those looms.

summerfiber_color1 summerfiber_color2 summerfiber_color3 summerfiber_color4 summerfiber_color5 summerfiber_color6

Color  We’ll leave dyeing for another day, but the garden was the inspiration for a lot of natural and acid dyeing on wool and silk this summer, and also a lot of tasty meals!

Designing  This was a summer of shawls with two new pattern releases. They’re both designed for knitting on the go: knit night, road trip, or walking around fall festivals.

summerfiber_paperlacePaperlace was released as a collaboration with YOTH Yarns and what a joy that pattern was to design. This breezy shawl was designed especially for YOTH Yarns Big Sister puppies–gorgeous limited edition gradients hand-dyed at YOTH HQ. It has an easy-to-memorize pattern and can be made with or without fringe; a perfect wrap for cool evenings.

Finished Measurements: 72” wingspan x 24” deep (180 x 60 cm) after blocking, not including fringe. The non-fringed version using 2 full skeins of Big Sister measures 78” w x 26” d (195 x 65 cm).
Yarn: YOTH Yarns Big Sister Puppies (1 gradient stick) or 2 skeins of YOTH Yarns Big Sister  (462 yds / 200 g)
Gauge: 13 sts & 16 rows = 4” / 10 cm in pattern stitch on US 7 (4.5 mm) needles after blocking
Available as a downloadable pattern: Paperlace e-pattern

summerfiber_venturesome Venturesome was designed as a knitting adventure…as unique as the knitter that creates it. All about fun and choice, there are two sizes as well as multiple inset and border options for endless customization. Simple patterns allow for a variety of yarn choices — this shawl works well with gradient, tonal, semi-solid, self-striping, or patterned yarns. The cut-out-in-a-square shape stays in place and will provide great warmth for the next adventure. Choose a favorite yarn, pick a stitch pattern (or patterns), and have fun!

Finished Measurements: large 36” x 36” (90 x 90 cm); small 28” x 28” (70 x 70 cm)
Yarn: Fingering/sock yarn, 2 skeins for large and 1 skein for small
Gauge: 20 sts & 26 rows = 4” / 10 cm in stockinette stitch on US 5 (3.75 mm) needles after blocking
Available as a print pattern: Venturesome print pattern, or a downloadable pattern: Venturesome e-pattern

Fall Fiber Festivals  After a summer of fun Fairs (the Lynden Fair is my favorite), it’s time for Fall Fiber Festivals! here are so many choices, but we hope you’ll come see us next weekend, September 26-27, at the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival (OFFF) and November 6-8 at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival with Black Sheep Creamery. There will be books, patterns, yarn, and of course cheese! Hope to see you there!

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ecoprinting

leaves and berries and tea, oh my!

ecoprint scarfNatural dyeing takes a whole new (ancient) path with direct application of dyestuff to substrate…in other works, ecoprinting!

There are wonderful resources in books and on the interwebz and in workshops for this beautiful and serendipitous process — this post captures my first attempt (of likely many more) at ecoprinting and hopefully inspires you to try.

A big thank you to Pat for leading us through this in a demo/mini-workshop at AC15w2!

set up

  1. gather necessary components: substrate (I used a silk scarf), string for tying bundle, stick or something to wrap bundle around (optional)
  2. prepare mordants appropriate for substrate fiber and printing dyestuff: during the workshop we  used iron and vinegar,at home I used alum because I had it handy
  3. steamer: a pot and steamer insert that is only used for dyeing–don’t use anything that is also used for food!

gather potential dyestuff

  • DO have fun gathering dyestuff, use common and uncommon sense and take all proper safety precautions, consult the wonderful variety of resources for dyestuff that will yield results you’d like to see, check the cupboard for tea or coffee or anything else that may leave beautiful stains, look around the yard or garden for great dyestuff (I’m trying carrot tops since they made such a great yellow dye on wool yarn)
  • DON’T gather on private property, make sure if you gather on public property that it is okay, don’t use rare or endangered species, be very careful of anything that may be harmful to humans or pets or anything else

tap into your inner artist

these steps are all based on the materials I used, your materials and results may vary. ta quick search should result in a lot of great resources with much more detail; these are just quick notes of my first attempts

picture of ecoprinting layering dyestuff
ecoprinting: adding another layer after first steaming
  1. dip the scarf into mordant (1/2 tsp. iron in 1 qt. water) and lay it out flat
  2. lightly mist with vinegar (no dilution)
  3. dip a leaf or flower petal into mordant and arrange on scarf; repeat
  4. sprinkle with additional dyestuff (I used black tea leaves and cochineal bugs, others used instant iced tea mix and blackberries)
  5. (optional) take a picture! (I forgot to do this the first time, but it would have been a nice reference)make it  a lasting commitment
  6. starting at one end, place the stick on the scarf and roll snugly to the other end
  7. tie tightly with string — or optionally roll in plastic that won’t melt in the steamer and tie with string (the plastic option is good if you are steaming multiple bundles and don’t want the dyes to contaminate their neighbors; if merging dye is pleasing to you then by all means skip the plastic)
  8. ecoprinting: non-fancy steamer of dye pot and 2 cans with lids removed from both ends
    ecoprinting: non-fancy steamer of dye pot and 2 cans with lids removed from both ends

    steam the bundle for a while — this is pretty open, my first bundle steamed 20-30 minutes and it printed well on the inside but not so well on the outside. stems and sticks will take longer than leaves — this is a try it and check results step!

  9. carefully remove from steam bath — tongs are a good idea–and allow to cool
  10. remove string and open the bundle — open the first few inches and if there is not enough print then retie the bundle and steam a bit longer
  11. remove the dyestuff and allow the scarf to dry in the sun, cure it for a few days (shade is ok) before washing

My first attempt in the workshop yielded some lovely results and some area where there wasn’t much happening, so after returning home I repeated the process using alum as the mordant and browsed the garden for carrot tops, tomato leaves, dandelion leaves, and camellia leaves for a second layer. Some folks in the workshop did an indigo dip around the edges — wish I had some photos of the stunning results.

So…try it! There are great resources with very detailed steps that should help guide your own creative process.

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