Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beach Bombing

I'm a little early for the International Yarn Bombing Day, which is set for June 11, 2012, but I just couldn't resist because the weather was so nice. We don't get all that many really sunny days here. When we do, though, it really reminds me just how beautiful it is.

I'd been eyeing the four big trees in front, which are bare of branches half way up. They are calling out for some big crocheted spide webs or something that I'd like to string between them. Since I don't have enough time to make something that big, I thought I'd start small and just play around down on the beach.
I started out by making a swatch using a shell stitch (seems appropriate for the beach, don't you think?) and then attaching the piece to the branch stubs of an old beach log. I used a scratchy wool yarn so it would biodegrade over time.

When I got done, those branch nubs seemed like they needed more, so then I worked some chain stitches between two of them. But, it looked kind of boring, so I made a circular flowery, spider webby shape and crocheted it onto the chain stitch structure.  
Because it was still too nice out to go home and because I was really enjoying doing art outside, I started making a flower vine. I crocheted a flower and then made some chain stitches and then crocheted another flower until it was the length I wanted. I then wound it around one of the branch nubs and then added some more crochet chains and a couple more flowers.
By then, it was time to go home. Now, the next day, I'm thinking about other things I can crochet down on the beach. There's the trail to the beach to decorate, all that driftwood just lying around, all those big granite rocks that could use some doilies on top...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Freeforming around the House

Sometimes, I get inspiration for the shapes or colors for my freeform scarves from things around the house. Lately, that inspiration has come from, of all places, my bathroom. Every time I sit, you can probably guess on what, in the bathroom, I admire the colors and flowing lines of the floor tiles. They mimic stone of some kind and have nice complementary yet contrasting shades of brown, cream, and tan. I wondered if I could create those swirls in freeform and how I might go about it.
I’ve used tile as an inspiration for crocheting before but not for freeform. Tile patterns can make good motifs for, say, afghans. In fact, I think it was Carol Alexander, executive editor of Crochet! magazine, who told me that she once designed an afghan after being inspired by tile in a restroom.
So, I dug into my yarn bins and went back and forth to the bathroom with balls of yarn, laying them on the floor and standing back until I got a nice collection of yarns to match the colors. I couldn’t match them exactly but tried to capture the flavor of the tiles.
Brown Flower scarf, bathroom tile,
and River Rock scarf
I made the River Rock scarf first by making a chain and then crocheted along both sides of it. The flowing lines were created using a technique that I think was in a book by Sylvia Cosh. You create a wave effect by crocheting a number of single crochet stitches, then half double crochet, then double crochet, then half double crochet, then back to single crochet. I did this until the scarf was the width I wanted and then added surface stitches using the same wavy lines. While crocheting around the outside edge of the scarf, I sometimes worked a single crochet several rows down, gathering the scarf a little at that spot.
I made the Brown Flower scarf next, using the same yarns, because I really like making flowers and I find it interesting to try making a totally different scarf using the same collection of yarn. I made each flower individually and sewed it to the next in a line. I then crocheted around the entire scarf with a nubby yarn that I’d gotten out to use with the yarns for the River Rock scarf but felt it was too fuzzy for the look I wanted. It worked perfectly, however, with the flowers.

Pink Granite scarf and Pink Granite Flowers scarf
with bathroom vanite countertop

Those two scarves were so much fun that I decided to play with capturing the look of the pink granite countertop of the bathroom vanity. With the first scarf, I again took a more literal approach and tried to mimic the look of the granite. I crocheted rows of single crochet with each row being a different color of yarn. I randomly worked some single crochet stitches into rows below, folded over the corner, skipped stitches or made lines of surface single crochet stitches.
Again, I used flowers for the second scarf. This time, the flowers were smaller and I attached them into two rows. I now have my eye on the inside of the bathroom door where a black and burgundy mirror hangs against tan wood. I like the color combination and want to play with it next. And then there's the area rug in the living room....

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Eye Candy

Inspiration for the things I make comes from many sources. I need lots of eye candy to keep my brain moving in new and unexpected directions. Because I’m on a small island with not a lot of places to get eye candy, I often turn to the internet or to books and magazines. 
Soft Peach Convertible From Cowl to Scarf with Color Inspiration

I use the internet mostly by looking at pictures of other people’s work and fashion photos. I can bookmark pages for inspiration but because I find so many, the bookmarks have quickly gotten overwhelming. Plus, they often go away. Because I don’t have a color printer, printing them isn’t an option unless I’m just looking to the shape or idea of something instead of the color for inspiration.

Steampunk Neckwarmer with Color and Style Inspiration
 I also buy or borrow books for inspiration. I copy pages out of borrowed books, but again, without the color, I can only use them for shapes etc. Books that I’ve bought, I put little sticky notes on inspirational pages or fold down the corners. But, it is kind of a pain to go through a bunch of books trying to find that one picture I know I saw somewhere.

Rose Scarves with Several Inspiration Pages and Yarn Used

By far, though, magazines are my favorite place to go. They are easily portable from the beach to the couch. They are cheaper than books and I don’t feel bad about ripping out the pages. I then file them into categories such as sweaters, color inspiration, or freeform crochet ideas. When I need some inspiration, I start pulling out the files and going through them. I take the page and match yarn colors to it. Then, I keep the inspiration page nearby as I work on the item. I’ve started taking photos of the item with the inspiration page because I want a record of what I used and how the final item turned out. I find it interesting to observe my own creative process. Brains are such amazing things! The creative process can take you to such unexpected placesa page torn from a magazine and a pile of yarn transformed in an evening to a soft scarf that becomes eye candy itself.