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The last year went by so quickly! What have I even been doing this whole time?

Bobbin Lace

The summer thing that kept me busy was helping to design and illustrate (and sometimes edit and sometimes make samples for) the newest book from The Lace Museum, Let’s Begin Making Bobbin Lace! It’s a book full of patterns appropriate for new young lacemakers. Check out more details about the book on the museum website.

Let's Begin Making Bobbin Lace book by The Lace Museum.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BIDMDSxhvRU/

The other thing that’s kept me busy is that not long after the book was finished (and gone to press, and went up for sale at the IOLI convention), my husband and I found out that we are expecting our first baby! I drew up something for the occasion that I’m hoping to turn into a bobbin lace piece before the due date in May.

"New Beginnings" Painting by Joyce Ann Martin
I originally made it as a bobbin lace design only but there wasn’t any time to execute it before we announced to our families and friends on Facebook, so I did a quick treatment in Inktense pencils.

I entered that quick bookmark from the last post (was it really that long ago? eesh!) and my first Chrysanthemum piece in the 2016 San Mateo County Fair. The Chrysanthemum piece was fun to have in for participation, but the bookmark took second place in the Bobbin Lace category and a Judge’s Choice ribbon! Imagine my shock when I wandered up to the cabinet and saw it. I don’t think I would have done half as well without the guidance of my (then-new) teacher.

Bobbin lace bookmark - awards at 2016 San Mateo County Fair.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BGkg2h0qgIm/

I finally found my bobbins, and of COURSE after all of my griping about spangles in the last post (and a couple of months of trying other continental bobbins), I gave in to my obvious spangle envy and turned to the Midlands side.

Making spangles for bobbins.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BId1snHBtvT/

Using spangled bobbins.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BLxRlH7BF-Y/

I’ve been working on a lot of projects in class, but I’ve made little progress on the Torchon Proficiency Manual, which I suppose is reasonable considering the amount of excitement that’s been happening. I tried to take some time out this winter to design and make some ornaments as Christmas presents, but that went nowhere fast. (The pieces are still on my pillow, oops!) I think I’ll finish one for our own tree, and make that it.

Bobbin lace ornament in progress.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BN2lzcohi6M/

Knitting

With the baby on the way, I wanted to finally start working on one of the patterns that bought me to Ravelry, the “Reversible Celtic Patterns Baby Blanket by Kathleen Sperling“http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/reversible-celtic-patterns-baby-blanket. It’s a huge double-knitted endeavor that I am making out of KnitPicks CotLin in the Coffee and Cashew colors.

Reversible Celtic Patterns Baby Blanket in progress.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BNVZYuphrLh/

I’ve finished a couple of hats since last April but really they are nothing to write home about.

Spinning

A Lace Museum friend that I met during Jean Leader’s class back in February introduced me to her spinning guild and that has been a lot of fun! I haven’t gotten much time to just sit down and spin; it’s some function of time available to spend on things that can only be done at home, I think, so it is nice to have some time carved out when I’d just be spinning. I’ve been doing the same white wool forever though and I think I’m going to take it off the wheel for a while to get my mojo back.

Fibery Curiosity

I’ve been trying a bit of embroidery! Here’s the first project sampler from Doodle Stitching.

Working on embroidery sampler from Doodle Stitching.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BPPXKLWBF1_/

I like the “instant” feeling (or as instant as it gets, perhaps) of translating thought to thread. It’s like sketching as opposed to painting. Appropriate. ;)

Instagram

You might notice how many of the images in this post originate from my Instagram feed, which is where I’m trying to keep up posting shots of my crafty life on a semi-regular basis. ;) Feel free to pop over there if you’d like to see things as they unfold. I tried embedding them directly from Instagram — that would have been rad and made my life so easy! — but my blog software didn’t seem to like it after the first one. Will have to experiment, when I’m not busy trying to be crafty.

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Bobbin lace has engulfed my fiber life for the past couple of weeks, much to my delight! After some encouragement, I have begun taking regular classes again a little closer to my new home and it has been such fun to dive back in. I’m working towards starting the IOLI Torchon Proficiency Manual, so my teacher and I are choosing patterns to help shore up some of the skills that I’d like to improve before diving in.

My first project was a quick bookmark out of Egyptian cotton, Gütermann silk (fan weaver), Madeira Metallic (fan passives), and DMC Pearl Cotton 8 (gimp). The haloed spider was the newest thing for me, and I was making a concerted effort to concentrate well on my tension.

Class Work 1 - Bookmark in Progress
Class Work 2 - Bookmark Finished

Next up is a Torchon mat. Its rectangular shape will be something a little different from the squares and circles that I’ve done some of already, though come to think of it, I don’t know if I’ve done things with a filled center…as far as I can tell, the tiny hexagonal motif from the Bucks Point workshop a couple of posts ago was the first and only so far. Better late than never!

Class Work 3 - Rectangular Mat in Progress

(Speaking of better late than never, I JUST tried tallies for the first time during that Bucks class, and I still have not tackled leaves, because I am scared, but I know that my secret will be out uncomfortably soon.)

For a personal project, I’ve been working on the Amanda Hanky from Stott’s The Bobbin Lace Manual. I’m about 50% finished and I’m getting a bit tired of it now, which I think is 100% due to the amount of concentration it takes for me to tension the fir tree fans around the outside. Unfortunately the mat that I’m starting is also surrounded by the same fans, so I need to finish these ASAP so that I can be free of them.

Amanda Hanky in Progress

On to something totally different! I broke free of the grid during another two-day workshop at the Lace Museum last weekend. Sylvia Fellows came to teach Chrysanthemum Lace, and she was fantastic.

Chrysanthemum Lace Workshop with Sylvia Fellows

I was new to the style along with two of the other four students, and she had us up and running on the first pattern of Belleville’s Chrysanthemum Lace book straight away. Tape-making horizons: expanded!

Chrysanthemum Lace Workshop with Sylvia Fellows - Work In Progress

Chrysanthemum Lace Workshop with Sylvia Fellows - Finished Piece, Pattern by Cathleen Belleville

All of this time spent making lace has had me thinking about my bobbins. I’m currently using some 4” hardwood square continental bobbins, the same type that I’d started with. They’re definitely the cheapest on the market, which made me feel comfortable with buying plenty.

Tools - 4" Square Bobbins

I have been lusting after a couple of new styles, though…a fancier one and a more slender one, both longer and square. I’m so torn, though, because my current bobbins aren’t terrible at all, and I’ve been able to get my hands on one style and not the other, and I don’t want to buy a ton of new bobbins all at once just now since my current ones are really okay. But I can’t help “window shopping” online over and over!

They’re definitely going to be continental, though. I love that sound of clicking wood they make as I toss and flick them all over the pillow. The whisper of spangles is pleasant, and I have experienced my fair share of spangle envy, but can see myself falling into a deep dark beading rabbit hole and I figure: why make my life even more complicated? Also I see a lot of sewings in my future and I have enough to think about without adding a ring of beads, thank you very much.

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Baby Blanket - 1

Recipient: LR+DR
Pattern: Plainweave, mostly purple with slight, somewhat random blocks of color in warp and weft

Baby Blanket - 3

Using the Weavolution Weaving Calculator (http://www.weavolution.com/weaving-calculator):

Warp Worksheet

Calculation Variables
Length 30”
Sampling 6”
Loom Waste 24”
Takeup 10%
Length Shrinkage 10%
Width 30”
Width Shrinkage 10%
Draw-in 10%
Warp Sett 6 epi
Extra Ends 0
Output
Warp Length 70” (1.9 yards)
Length to Weave 36” under tension, 33” relaxed
Width in Reed 36”
Warp Ends 216
Warp Required 410.4 yards

Weft Worksheet

Calculation Variables
PPI 6 (to get 216 picks, trying to balance with epi)
Takeup 10%
Output
Weft Required 199.6 yards

Results

Actual Length 32” (plus 2” fringe on each end)
Actual Width 30” (end) – 30.5” (beginning)

Baby Blanket - 4

Fibers

Bernat Softee Baby Solids & Marls
DK / 8 ply; 100% Acrylic ; 362 yards / 140 grams
30185 Soft Lilac – 517.3yd/200g (1.43 skeins)

Bernat Super Value Solids
Aran / 10 ply; 100% Acrylic; 426 yards / 197 grams
07445 Yellow – 136.6yd/63g (.32 skeins)
53221 Soft Fern – 160.6yd/74g (.38 skeins)

Care Tag
Scrap Cotton
Embroidery Floss
Textile Marker

Notes

I actually sleyed this blanket twice. The first time, I used my 12-dent reed in every other dent, which was great until I actually tried to weave. The Super Value ended up being so thick that it wouldn’t move smoothly up and down against the metal. After some shenanigans I re-sleyed in an 8-dent reed (0-1-1-1-0-1-1-1) and it was significantly better, which should have been obvious really, but I’d only had a 12-dent reed at the time.

Baby Blanket - 5

I had the best of intentions at making a balanced plainweave fabric. I’d even planned out my 216 picks in WeaveDesign! During weaving it didn’t seem so balanced to get a fabric I liked, and when I ran out of picks at about 20” I realized that I’d have to improvise to finish it off. I do like the look and cushiness, but balanced it is NOT.

Baby Blanket - 6

I had a HUGE issue with tension in this project! Not only were both of the yarns that I chose stretchy acrylic, but the two types were of slightly different stretchinesses. I did the best I could, and most of the irregularities came out in the wash, but it’s got a touch of waviness at the starting edge, and the two different yarns made the selvedges pretty wonky (but consistently wonky). Lessons learned!

Baby Blanket - 2

I was especially proud of my hemstitching. The leading and closing edges feel solid and natural. I am pleased with the finished fabric, and I think it will be a great blanket (or artsy decorative throw). Not bad for my first planned project, I think. :) On to the next!

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Long time no see! Not long after my last post, life became a whirlwind, as often happens. The husband and the cat and I moved house, which did not lend itself well at all to long pontifications about fiber. The last few months of the year became dedicated to illustration things, which was great but also busy, of course. During all of the craziness I started an Instagram in an effort to just make more, and it has really helped me take some chunks out of my day to play with fiber and enjoy sharing progress.

Heels Turned on Socks

Getting Warped

In November I turned 30 — a baby still, as my comrades in fiber keep telling me! — and for my milestone birthday the DH and I started looking around for a floor loom. We finally found a great used one in December: a Harrisville Designs 4H/4T.

HD 4H-4T Floor Loom

I’ve been loving playing around with it!

My First Weaving Project - 1
My First Weaving Project - 2

I’ve just finished off my first wide project from my floor loom, a baby blanket for a friend.

Baby Blanket - 1
Baby Blanket - 2

I’m happy with my beginner endeavor, wonky selvedges and all! Next is a scarf for me hopefully. I have yarn for the warp but haven’t gotten much further than that, so I have a bit of planning ahead.

Bits of Lace

Moving house has also meant that it became much more difficult to make it to the Lace Museum for class and volunteering. I ended up stopping altogether, which was quite a bummer.

I finally was able to dive back in when last month, the museum hosted a weekend workshop taught by Jean Leader. I was so fortunate to have her for my first two-day intensive class! You could choose to take either Torchon in color or Bucks Point, and since I’d been intending to try Bucks for a while, that’s the way I went. She is an amazing teacher and I learned a whole lot of lacy things, not just about Bucks, though I learned plenty about that, of course. :)

Bucks Hexagon in Progress
Bucks Hexagon Finished
Bucks Point Hexagon Pattern by Jean Leader

I also met a couple of other amazing ladies in class that happen to live right near my new abode, which has me unimaginably excited since I’ve been looking for a fiber family!

Due to some other circumstances I’ve also gone back to volunteering for a little while. Instead of helping out in collections, I’ve been trying to get the museum computer in order, which is quite the adventure!! I feel like I am making a great contribution there, though I acknowledge that most of the others will not be super affected by the reorganization. ;)

Keeping It Real

After years of only making things in a digital context, I am relishing the remarkable feeling of making something with warmth and weight — even if it is just a little weight, in the case of my lace. Working in the tangible realm is so satisfying…though you surely knew that already, it’s just taken me this long to understand why it is so compelling!

I enjoy being all sappy and writing about my love for creating in fiber. Thanks for indulging me.

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This past week, I helped set up the new exhibit at the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale (click to see details on the current exhibit), Thread Around Holes!

It’s an exhibit featuring 27 guest artists (many from the Bay Area, with a few from elsewhere) that created contemporary lace and lace-related artwork. There is also a children’s section and a mini-exhibit called “Make Lace Not War” featuring 20th century anti-war and patriotic themed pieces of lace and lace-making tools.

I’ll put up the promotional postcard once we have that designed, but for now you’ll have to pop in to see it. I’ve gotten quite inspired by the marriage of traditional and contemporary in color, form, and presentation. You might too! :D

The exhibit runs from June 27 through October 31. A celebration party will be coming in early September, so more details as I have them!

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Summer has finally come to the San Francisco bay area and I’ve put aside my usual knits in favor of new and less lap-insulating projects.

I’ve been working more on my lace, which is obvious since I’m taking weekly classes, but still. I’m currently very enthused about my picots, which are turning out much better than my first picots made using a different method. Another woman was working on picots at the museum and my teacher showed her this method (see ‘double thread picots’): http://www.lynxlace.com/learningbobbinlace-basics.html#picots, which I tried out as well and got easy, beautiful, and stable results.

Improved Bobbin Lace Picot
No longer scared of / annoyed by picots!

I’ve also been playing with a bit of needlework. I designed a set of three 13-count bookmarks right after my City Needlework adventures, but the “13-count” canvas that I bought actually turned out to be 10-count, so obviously instead of going back and getting more I decided to order some canvas online since I’m scared of people sometimes. My 14-count needlepoint canvas (since finding 13-count was a real struggle and 14-count would work with my thread bundles) arrived in the mail, so I pulled out my liquid acrylics and tried painting my designs. It was a blast!

Painted Needlework Canvas - Bookmarks

I’m currently working them up in the silk that I got and it is so smooth, like working with butter. The difference between this and the cheap craft floss that I was using reminds me of when I first worked with Malabrigo after only working in Red Heart’s basic acrylic. Night and day! I’m considering some large-scale projects that may make working with silk all the time unfeasible, but at least for my small luxury projects, I am quickly becoming spoiled.

Needlework Bookmark - Stitching

I’m very happy to be working on my own designs as well; I always feel a little awkward working on someone else’s design when I have something in my head that wants to get out.

One of my favorite new things in my crafting area is this LED lamp. It has a flexible gooseneck, three light levels (you cycle through them by tapping the light switch), and a rechargeable battery, so I can unplug the lamp and take it to my current crafting area. Handy and eye-protecting!

Bobbin Lace and LED Lamp
The cat is a fan too.

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The San Mateo County fair has come and gone and I finally made my first visit!

San Mateo County Fair Sign

First I stopped by the fine arts galleria (where photography was not allowed), where I popped in to make collage ATCs. I was inspired by a piece of paper with all of these cute birds. Super fun! Definitely want to try incorporating some of these techniques into my artmaking.

ATC - Comin' Round the Mountain
My more melancholy piece.

ATC - Dessert
My more lighthearted/romantic piece.

In the creative home arts section (where photography is allowed), I sat with the English Paper Piecing Bee and learned the basics of English Paper Piecing. Also great fun! My sewing machine and I are not the best of friends, so I had thought that quilting was out of my reach, but now I can apply my love of handwork to it. Time for some pretty fabric adventures! :)

My First English Paper Piecing Project

I browsed the creative home arts section a bit more and was blown away by the juxtaposition of traditional and modern. I’m currently very attracted to the combination of royal blue and gold and there were a couple of quilts that really made me want to give quilting a chance. Of course there were great knitting and spinning and weaving pieces, and people from the Lace Museum made a fantastic showing in both entries and demonstration.

I went outside for a while to sample some eats. I got a recommended corn dog and some cake from the 4-H kids! I checked out some of the other buildings, including the sustainable living section, where I picked up a little fabric bundle from Fabmo. Adorbs.

Summary of My Fair
A summary of my day.

I ended my day by wandering around the fine arts section again and came upon some great dimensional shadowbox pieces. Very cool! I’ve been embracing flatness lately and seeing these flat images transformed into basically 3D sculptures was inspiring.

I definitely want to enter SOMETHING next year! Whether it’s in the creative home arts section or the fine arts galleria (or both) is yet to be seen.

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I recently — and by “recently” I mean “my first day was last Friday” — became a volunteer in the Collections department at the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale, CA. I’m helping to describe pieces of the museum’s collection, which then get entered into the museum database.

For the day’s project, we took down a half-examined box of Teneriffe and Nanduti lace, which was exciting right off the bat since I’d never encountered it! I was enchanted by the variations in texture (and very occasionally color) that the lacemakers achieved in the circular patterns. Luckily I’m full up on new crafts at the moment or I’d be making myself a little Teneriffe loom right now instead of writing this blog post.

Tenerife Lace - via Wikimedia Commons
We haven’t yet taken photos of the pieces at the museum, so here is a photo sample of Teneriffe lace from Wikimedia Commons provided by Joedkins. (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

Regarding spelling: the spelling of “Teneriffe” appears to be something that varies; the origin island’s name is “Tenerife”, so I see that spelling online as much as I see the other. For my sanity’s sake, I’m going with what I’m writing on the description forms.

While we were plugging away at descriptions, a woman came in with a box of donations that included some beautiful embroidery from France. I wish I could show you! Perhaps one day after they have been categorized and photographed. :)

I also got to help set up the knitted lace for the e-book release party of The Lacy Kniitting of Mary Schiffmann by Nancy Nehring. It was a delight to handle these pieces and learn about Mary! The book is modeled after her 10-week lace knitting class and is available from Interweave. (I’m not a selling affiliate [yet]; just pointing the way towards something that delighted me.)

I have a great deal of appreciation for those before me who preserved these art forms so that people like me could stumble blindly into loving them, all while never realizing the work and dedication it took to have them available in the first place. Fiber may not have been a large part of my past, but I am grateful that it is open to me now.

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Today I popped into City Needlework in San Mateo, CA.

I managed to walk right by the shop twice before finding it! The name of the store is above the large awning, which is perfectly visible from the street and the other side, but just walking by on the sidewalk, not so much. The window is full of painted canvases, but somehow my eye glossed over them while looking for the name and address number.

It’s a smallish shop, but packed to the gills with beautiful painted canvases and fine threads. Like the other local crafting stores I’ve been to, there was a table at the front where you can come and stitch a while; a woman was there working on a piece today, in fact.

They did not carry perle cotton, so that part of my expedition was a bust, but I was soon enchanted by their silks and other threads with various textures and effects. Upon finding out I was an illustrator, I was helped to some blank 13-pt canvas to get started with a basic project of my own design. (Very exciting for my wallet, since those beautiful painted canvases come with a price tag of appropriate artistic compensation.)

I didn’t have anything in mind to start with, but I chose three colors I liked together and added black and white just in case.

Silk threads from City Needlework.

I’m planning to start with a simple bookmark design and go from there. I made a brief foray into needlepoint in the past, but I made the mistake of choosing a poor quality craft thread and was a little soured by the experience. I am confident that this will go much better. :)

On the way home I was already thinking about the project after this project, maybe something involving sweets because I love them and if I can’t eat them, I might as well make art with them. And I want to go back to the shop and talk with the ladies a little more!

What I learned today: I love shiny things! (Okay, maybe this wasn’t something I learned today but it was really apparent in the shop.) I need to try something with metallic thread ASAP to scratch this itch.

P.S. With regards to the perle cotton, instead of heading out this weekend to go to Jo-Ann Fabrics, I decided to just buy it on Amazon. I figured that way I’d be less at risk of another big craft store trip. ;)

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Today I had my sixth bobbin lace lesson at the Lace Museum, and today I was introduced to plaits and picots. It feels strange after four weeks of torchon to not be doing groundwork!

First plait and picot project.

It is fun to watch my technique get better as I work from top to bottom on a bookmark. I’m sure that as usual my second go-around will help shore up the things that I am slowly learning on my first run through.

This week, I was lucky enough to be working alongside a woman at the museum who was applying braids and picots to a much more advanced piece of lace. Hopefully it was a little peek into the future. :)

First plait and picot project - closeup.

For next week, I need some perle cotton, so it’s time for my first trip to my (closest) local needlework shop. Hopefully I’ll be able to control myself to just the perle cotton but I make no promises. Being surrounded by fiber! You know how it is. :)

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