Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Frog Prince (or, My Life Really Is A Fairytale!)

We all know the story of the Frog Prince. The story includes 2 very important elements: the frog and the kiss. Without these 2 elements there would be no story.

My life as a fiber artist also incorporates these 2 elements that are an integral part of my art. First is the kiss. Many of us also know KISS as an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. I've often used that rule in my designs (the less is more concept). There are three very good reasons for keeping designs simple. First, there is nothing more elegant than something simple that shows your personality or fashion flair. Knowing when to stop adding things to a design is what makes the difference between an artist and a wannabee. Too much of a good thing is just that, TOO MUCH! Remember the wedding gown in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Second, it helps keep costs down. Every time you add something extra to a design the basic material costs go up. Don't go overboard here and minimize to the max. Once again the difference between an artist and a wannabee can be plainly seen. Too little of a good thing is TOO LITTLE! You know what I mean. A bracelet made with only two types of beads alternating throughout its length is simple but lacks imagination and personality.

Third, if you plan to duplicate the pattern, make the pattern available commercially, or use it as a teaching pattern, it is much easier to write it out with fewer mistakes if it is simple. It is also much simpler to teach a simple pattern and give your students a feeling of accomplishment when they can easily learn it and walk away with something they can be proud of.

The only thing left to discuss in this allegory is the other main element, the FROG. Anyone who has ever been involved in any form of needle art knows the frog stitch. Rippit, rippit, rippit!

By now you understand why I say my life really is a fairytale. I'm sure your life is also one!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dragon Tote Bag

Photo of a large fulled tote bag I designed for a Ravelry swap.

Drafting and Detours

I finished reading the posts in a Ravelry group concerning how to spin evenly a little while ago. Most of it dealt with how to draft your fibers to make a smooth thread. Some of it dealt with making neural pathways within ourselves to handle these new tasks. This started a whole new stream of thought for me.

I have become very aware of my own network of neural pathways over the last 15 years while dealing with the effects of Parkinson's. I believe that many times I have set up detours on my neural pathways in order to accomplish tasks that have become more difficult due to the rigors of the disease.

Finding detours or new routes has always been part of my life, even before the Parkinson's. I remember the first Christmas after we got married when we got stuck in a blizzard on the way back to Nebraska. Some of the roads had 8 foot drifts blocking them. We ended up following snowplows on some back roads to bypass the snow drifts. When our children were small, we always enjoyed roaming the countryside in the station wagon, finding new roads to get where we wanted to go. I still enjoy roaming around in my vehicle, when the gas prices are down, of course.

Now I have a new network of roads to discover. But this network is all in my head. I've discovered new routes to familiar locations as well as paths to new places.

Life is always an adventure, both on the physical roads and landscapes as well as the mental ones.

First Photos

Here they are! The first photos of items made with my first hand spun yarns! These are both small handbags made with a 50% Merino wool/50% silk blend combined with a solid wool yarns from my stash.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I am very excited. I finally finished spinning two bobbins (50 grams each) of a handpainted merino/silk combination on my new spinning wheel. It's a learn as you go process since I can find no teachers within a hundred miles. I think they're slightly overspun in places, but hope that plying the yarn and washing it will help loosen it up and turn it into a viable 2 ply yarn.

I spent a couple of hours working to ply the the two bobbins together. I had a few mishaps along the way, but finally turned out a full bobbin. I used the Niddy Noddy to turn it into a skein, then got dressed and went to the monthly Treasure Coast Art Association meeting. I took my finished skein with me to show a couple of my friends. What fun!

Today I took my skein and gently washed it by hand in hot, soapy water I really started worrying when the water started turning red, but it cleared up when I rinsed it out. I added a couple drops of vinegar in the third rinse and the some lavender essential oil in the final rinse. My finished product is now hanging up to dry. I have envisioned using it to crochet a medium size round bag.

Plying was an interesting experience. Reminds me a lot of marriage. The smoothest looking sections of my yarn were the areas where each strand was equal in the spin. Marriage also goes smoother when both partners put an equal amount of time into the ply. There are also many times when one partner or the other puts less "spin" into the ply, turning the marriage into a thick/thin combination. I also like using variegated colors in my finished yarn. This really shows up the differences and the colors which complement each other and make life interesting. I do wonder, though, what will happen with the piece of handspun that was left when the plying was finished. Will the remaining partner from the many years of plying be as messed up as the leftover piece of handspun. I guess I will just have to find a use for that leftover piece of handspun. Will it be plied with another piece or be put to some other creative use. I do not think that it should ever be thrown away.

Insomnia and Computers

The title of this post says it all. It reminds me of the question for all the ages: "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

I'm sure that many of my most creative ideas come at 3 in the morning. I'm also sure that many of my most ludicrous ideas come at 4 in the morning. It remains to be seen whether the creative ones are also ludicrous. That's the question for 5 in the morning. This makes me wonder if a blog written before 6 in the morning should be considered creative or ludicrous. I guess it depends on what time I really woke up.

I wonder how many people spend half the night on their computers. I know my younger son is usually on his until 3 or 4 in the morning, sometimes even later. I know that I see a lot of people on Pogo or Ravelry during those wee hours of the morning, although it may not be middle of the night for many of them. The internet really is a worldwide community with no limitations based on localized temporal habits and rituals.

What's in a name?

Shakespeare had it mostly right! Even more so in today's world where the right name can mean so much in the virtual world. Therefore, my new venture and my new blog need a new name, Kathleen's Spin. They say to make it personal and simple. So the combination of my name with a word of many different connotations should work well. Join me in, for, and around the spin!