All the yum…
I just got a copy of The Missing Link, by Cindy Wimmer. No, it’s not about genetics or anything Darwin related. It’s about making linked connections in jewelry – specifically, really clever chain type links that are wire wrapped, not soldered.
I have a kind of love/hate relationship with “how to” books. I really don’t use them much, preferring to Google as needed. Or at least, I did when we had internet in our house. Still, there are a precious few books that I love and refer to quite often while I’m working. I have a feeling that The Missing Link is going to live on that shelf of books. I’m so glad I bought it! It was totally worth the money.
Links and chain are not my favorite part of making jewelry but I got some great ideas from this book! The solutions to several project-specific problems became crystal clear while I was reading it last night. It was hard not to run down to the studio and start working. Only the fact that it was 2am and Captain Sexypants hates it when I hammer past midnight kept me from the bench.
Now, some things are universal. If you give someone a spool of wire and some pliers, they’re eventually going to come up with certain shapes quite naturally. I’d organically come up with my own versions of many of the “easy” links, over the years. But the more complex stuff was a really exciting and inspiring trove of how-to treasure. I’m not ashamed to say that I would NEVER have come up with some of these complex ideas on my own. Quite a few of the links were cleverly engineered with multiple parts and my brain just does not work that way without help. Seriously awesome. I’m so grateful for the how-to and the inspiration!
The book contains 30 individual links – complete with tutorials on how to make them. There are an additional 15 projects from different jewelry artists that you can make with the links in the book – again with tutorials. I don’t generally get into the project sections of books, but I’m so glad they included them here. Not because I want to make them exactly as they are presented, but I found it really helpful to see how the links can work together. And the artists they got to contribute really had some creative ideas!
This is a great resource for any jewelry studio. Unless you’re like a super genius wire-worker who has nothing new under the sun to learn, you’ll probably be really glad you bought it for your reference library. And if you ARE a super genius wire worker, I bet this book might show you that you had something new under the sun to learn after all.
The Missing Link by Cindy Wimmer from Interweave Press. ISBN 978-1-59668-707-3 $22.95 (I got it for like, $15 on Amazon) and available from Amazon, Interweave, and it’s also probably in stores like Barnes and Noble right now, given that it’s all hot and fresh and new.
I was going to call this finished yarn “Electric Lotus” because the two colorways I spun together to make this yarn were “Elektra” and “Lotus.” Based on pictures I’d seen on the site, I was expecting something much brighter but since I bought them on variegated BFL, it has totally changed the color profile of the yarn.
It was a surprising spin and I love it. Deep grays, rich burgundies, deep browns, streaks of cream and some surprising pops of midnight blue…
I didn’t really have a master plan when I spun this up, beyond, “Spin enough to knit Sorcha a generously slouchy hat.”
Wait. You mean I have to knit this gorgeous yarn into a hat for someone else? Fine. But I don’t have to be happy about it. I have no idea how much yardage I have from the 8 oz I spun because we were having niddy noddy issues* and I was so frustrated that I didn’t bother to count the wraps. There’s definitely enough there for a generously slouchy cap. Perhaps two. Which wouldn’t make me cry.
I went for a mostly Aran weight yarn, with some deliberately thick and thin bits here and there, just to give it some textural interest. As with every other Fat Cat Knits fiber I’ve ever spun up, it was a dream to spin, beautifully prepared, and the yarn is deliciously soft and squishy.
Not Quite An Electric Lotus. More like, a Luddite Lotus. A low tech, still on dialup, no I don’t have an iPhone kind of yarn.
*niddy noddy issues = For those following along at home, a niddy noddy is a helpful tool that you can use to make up skeins of yarn when winding it off the bobbin of your spinning wheel. Well I don’t actually own a proper niddy noddy, but I live with a grip. Grips, in case you didn’t know, are very good at solving problems with whatever bits of string and tape and wax that you might have on hand. Thus, my niddy noddy is now an old wooden chair. We turn it upside down and set it on the kitchen table when I need to wind yarn. Captain Sexypants put super clever clove hitch rope knots on each of the legs to keep the yarn from sliding down when I’m winding it off the bobbin. Rope + cats + before coffee + having to retie knots = hilarity has ensued.
I’ll be honest. Financial challenges are for the birds. There is all sorts of stuff I need for the studio, we have a huge show coming up, and the extra money to prepare for it just isn’t there.
But here’s the thing.
The situation is forcing me to work outside the box because I’ve had to work without the comfortable safety zone of certain supplies. In terms of creative growth, that’s not really such a bad thing at all. And sure, maybe a few weeks before a show isn’t when you want to be all “growth!” and “experiment!” because your brain is focused on “production!” and time can feel a little bit short, but… it is what is.
So I am finding that it’s quite simple, really. Do the best you can with what you’ve got.
If you haven’t got what you wanted, try to find something you can use to replace it. Make it yourself, or work around it.
Use your tools.
Use what you have.
Make it work.
Make it up.
My grandfather was all about making stuff up with what he had. It isn’t like he wasn’t able to easily go out and buy the easy fix, but the store wasn’t where he mentally started. It was a last ditch resort. He had a lot of fun figuring stuff out. If he were alive today, he would be considered a Lifehack super-genius and people would be all about his Pinterest feed. If something was broken, he’d go down to the shop, putter for a bit, and come back with a little something he’d whipped up to do the job. It wasn’t always pretty, but it always did the job. Sometimes it was pretty – like when he carved Grandma a little wooden fish out of scrap wood, and put a hook on the end so she wouldn’t burn her hands on the toaster oven rack in the mornings. Sure, he could’ve gotten her something at the store. Or handed her a potholder. But the little wooden fish was way better. The wood was there, and he had two hands and the time so that’s what he did. My dad is the same way. He fixes stuff. He engineers clever solutions to life. Captain Sexypants is very much cast from the same mold.
And then there’s me. If someone carves me a clever wooden fish, I’m thrilled to use it, but my first thought was probably to buy one. My most notable life hacks have been Spanx and refried beans. Imagine my chagrin when I remembered that both of those inventions were already available at Target. I keep trying, though.
I’ve been thinking to myself that this isn’t such a bad attitude to take towards life. Better late than never. Living in the mountains is making this whole transition to a new mindset a lot easier. I haven’t built up the muscles I needed to use in order to make do with what I have, because I was living in a city near five shops that had a shiny new version of whatever it was that I wanted. And I had a lot more income to buy those shiny new things when I wanted them. It can be a bit more challenging to develop those “make it work” chops when there is Thai takeaway just a phone call away. Living up here, I have to plan ahead and make my own damn curry.
So. In the studio. Making it work with what I’ve got.
At other shows and in our shop at Crafted, I’ve always tended to fill in around the edges with the art jewelry while focusing on the more traditional collections. This time I’ll be using mostly art jewelry to carry the show. I have absolutely no idea whether or not this stuff is going to go over well. I’d be lying if I said that I’m not a teensy bit worried – I need to do very well at this show. But you kind of have to shove that sort of anxiety and fear into the back of your mind when you are working in the studio or you get into all the wrong sorts of conversations with yourself.
What matters in the short term is that I’m having a good time with it.
I do really love how these more textile oriented pieces – which I have named the “Into The Woods” collection – work with the hammered metal of the Urban Tribal collection.
The new pieces are a lot of fun to wear. Irish linen is very comfortable!
So for the next few weeks, I’ll be in my studio. Making it work. Making do. Making it fantastic. If you need me, you can find me rooting through all the forgotten corners of my stash for things to play with while the cats shake their little pom poms and act encouragingly.
It’s a form of encouragement, anyway.
Today is the day! You can sign up for the Bead Soup Blog Party by clicking here. That’ll take you to the main blog and the sign up link is on that post. She’s only letting people sign up through midnight tonight, so get over there and get in on the fun!
I got the idea for the “wine” spilling out of the jug but then it sat in limbo for a full year while I tried to think of something to do with it. I just couldn’t figure out how I wanted to string it and what I wanted to do to set it off.
Well I finally figured it out.
Some Irish linen, garnets, rustic tourmaline rounds and a lentil art bead from a Southern California glass artist helped pull it together.
A little sari silk and some more garnets, with some copper clay rings.
A copper clasp from Patricia Healey, wrapped in bronze and patinaed sterling.
It finally all came together! A layered, sparkly, rustic looking, bohemian bit of sheer fabulousness. Definitely worth the year of waiting.
If I hadn’t done Bead Soup last year, I’d never have found Sheila’s shop and gotten the focal and made this fantastic necklace. So I’m awfully glad I did it!
Posted in in the studio, jewelry, The Artist | Tagged 8th annual bead soup blog party, art beads, art jewelry, bead soup, blog party, lampworked glass, stone design, tangible light studios, textile jewelry | 2 Comments »
I know, I know, it’s been a lot of yarn porn lately. But you know, that’s what’s going on at Spacious Nuthouse Estates these days. All The Yarn.
Dug into the stash and grabbed some fiber by another one of my favorite fiber color artists. Ginny, who runs the company Fat Cat Knits. I’ve been a huge fan of hers for years – and it’s so exciting to see her operation getting bigger, and her fiber garnering more and more raving fans. Her Ravelry group is a thriving and helpful community of knitters and spinners and the boards are a lot of fun to hang out on. It’s a really friendly community and I always feel really welcome there.
What makes Ginny’s club colorways really cool is that you don’t get just one color to play with. She always dyes up two distinct-but-related colorways and you get half and half of each. They are designed to work together so you can either ply them against each other nicely, or so that if you spun and plied the two distinct yarns separately, they would be very complimentary. This is nice for stripes or colorwork. I think Ginny’s club fiber colorways would be great if you were going to do a Mesa Rock or something, though I think you’d want more than 5 oz of fiber if you were going to do that.
I took the path of least resistance with this one and just plied the two bobbins against each other. I’m pretty happy I did. It’s a really wild array of colors and yet, they’re all quite harmonious. That’s why I named the skein “Autumn Array.” I’m so happy with this yarn! I feel like I’m starting to get my spinning chops back.
You can pick a 5oz or 10 oz option with the Fat Cat Knits fiber clubs, and she’s got a “pay as you go” option which means you don’t have to pay the full amount for the clubs up front in order to join. She charges your Paypal for each individual shipment over time. This has been such a great option for me in my current financial circumstances.
Fat Cat Knits fiber bases are incredible and the prep is always so good. This stuff spun up like butter and it has been stuck in a packed bin in the stash for 3 years now. No felting at all. I easily got a very even single and the plied WPI was mostly nice and consistent around the skein. A few spots are less than perfect… but that’s the beauty of handspun!
I got 206 yards of aran weight yarn out of 5 ounces of top. I was actually pleasantly surprised to get that much. Blue Faced Leicester always tends to give me kind of short yardage. I’m not sure why, but I’ve read that other spinners have similar issues with it. It’s a fun fiber to spin, though, and really good for beginners. BFL blended with silk is pretty much heaven in a skein. I’m taking my own project advice… I’ve got enough to use this as the main colorway for a Mesa Rock cowl and it’s definitely soft enough to use as an against the skin yarn. Perhaps it is time to scour the stash for a good contrasting BFL/silk colorway.
Autumn Array – 2011 Fat Cat Knits fiber club – BFL/silk.
206 yards of Aran weight yummiliciousness!
Oh my holy gosh, yum.
Seriously have you ever seen something so delicious?
I’ve had this bump of fiber sitting in my stash for aeons, and I finally pulled it out and thought I’d spin it up this week. A certain someone who lives in a wet, chilly climate is having a birthday later this month and a new hat is required.
This was a club fiber from Becoming Art, way back in 2011 or so. 100% Finn top. I originally planned it to be a worsted weight 2 ply, but, I ran into a little bit of trouble pretty much right from the start. It was so felted from being in a bag and compressed in my stash for 3 years. I could not get an even single, not even with some serious pre-drafting. After a really frustrating and hand crampy half an hour, I finally gave up and let the fiber be the thick and thin lumpy yarn that it wanted to be. “Express your inner art yarn.” I said. “Be free!”
Ok, that’s not actually what I said. But I probably shouldn’t repeat what I actually said. SO we’ll pretend I was all in support of this wild and crazy yarn idea.
Given who I was spinning the yarn for, I guess that wild and crazy isn’t too shocking.
Rumors of me throwing the lump of fiber across the room and swearing, while in a fit of fiber-induced rage are completely true.
Once the two bobbins of singles were spun, I realized that plying it against itself as originally planned was not going to be an option given that I didn’t want to mix them up. I like the little splashes of contrast in the long stretches of brilliant solo color. It really needed to be plied with something though, so I dragged out a cone of nubbly silk laceweight yarn and used that to ply with.
So the problem with plying a thick overspun single with a delicate silk lace yarn, especially when you’re doing things like coils (even loose ones) is that the lace yarn snaps. Of course. And there are several spots where that happened and I had to knot the ends together and keep going. I think it’ll be ok in the knitting but geez, it made for some exciting moments while I was plying. A little bath (and no thwapping, I didn’t want to snap the silk ply again) and it’s pretty much perfect. The silk fluffed up a bunch after washing too. I’d forgotten that coned yarns are often oiled, to be used in machines.
Catch Me A Rainbow.
Proof that sometimes things don’t go according to plan but if you can roll with it, you might just get something better.
219 yards of bumpy, lumpy, springy Finn deliciousness. Thanks, Becoming Art!!