My First Coloring Page

Along with the lettering/calligraphy practice and all the playing with yarn, I’ve been turning my hand again to illustration and drawing. When the coloring book craze first started off I kept thinking, “I could draw those.” I’ve always drawn and doodled. According to my parents, since I was old enough to hold onto anything to make marks with.

I gathered up my paper and drawing implements and began doodling some ideas. I’ve always loved using templates to create basic shapes then filling in the shapes with lines or organic shapes. I purchased many of these templates during my college days when I was taking graphic arts classes. You can find similar templates thru art and hobby supply shops.

Geo 515 Coloring Page – 2017 – Andee Graves/M2H Designs

For those of my readers that would like to try their hand at coloring my finished page I’ve attached a PDF that you can download and print out to this blog post. Geo 515 Coloring Page 2017 – Andee Graves M2H Designs

I recommend using a nice heavy weight printer paper. If you are going to be coloring with pencils, look for a paper that has a bit of “tooth” to it. I purchased this ream of Neenah “Exact Vellum Bristol” a few months back and have been very happy with it. It is great for dry media like colored pencils, crayons, pastels and ball-point pens. I haven’t tried any of my color markers with it yet.

My pigment illustration pens work well with it too, as long as I don’t let the pen point sit on the paper surface too long. These pens are quickly becoming my favorites for final drawings. The variety of nib widths give me a number of options for thickness of lines and the ink supply is generous.

For this first drawing I drew a pencil sketch using my templates, then drew over the pencil drawing with my black ink freehand. A few of my lines came out a bit thicker than I wanted, but I wasn’t too concerned. I then scanned the drawing into my computer and used my graphics program to clean it up a bit. I printed it out on some of the cardstock and refined it with the pens, adding thickness to some of the other lines to balance out the original heavy lines.

I then copied this refined drawing on the heavy cardstock. I made a number of copies so I can try various “fill” drawings for the shapes. The drawing in the PDF is just my first try.

For those of my followers whose focus is on crochet and yarn crafts, don’t worry, I’m still designing and creating lots of fun crochet patterns. If all goes well the next month I’ll have a lot of exciting crochet designs and videos to show you very soon.

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Learning Lettering

This weekend I’m running a bit behind. Our Friday was super busy, it was the last day of school for both the boys and there were ceremonies and socializing that kept us on the go all day. I was carrying around my crochet project, but only caught a few minutes here and there to work on it.

Saturday was our first “official” day of summer break, though you still couldn’t tell it by the weather. It was cold and damp all day. We even had a bit of hail, making me very glad I hadn’t purchased a hanging planter of petunias that I was looking at the other day.

Instead, we all hung out as a family watching movies on the television. Not the most exciting first day of summer break, but pretty awesome to not have to worry about the school schedule next week. I did spend some of my day inputting next Fall’s school calendar in my calendar app. I figured I would get it out of the way while I’m still in the “school” mind-set. Hopefully this means that the start of school in the Fall won’t sneak up on me.

I have my dreams (some might call them fantasies, but let’s not split hairs). It could happen, I even put in a reminder about getting school supplies before the shops are all sold out. For now I’m ready to be in summer mode with the boys.

One of my goals this summer is to practice handwriting exercises with the boys. Cursive writing and penmanship are not really taught in school these days, so I’m hoping to fill that gap with a little home education. This is also inline with my New Year’s resolution to learn how to do Calligraphy.

I’ve been working on that resolution. My first step when wanting to tackle something like this is to read all about. Being I’m a bit old fashioned that usually means books. I did update my way of reading the books this time. I purchased my first book as a Kindle book off Amazon, “The First Steps Series: Calligraphy” by Don Marsh; 1996, North Light Books.

This is a good “nuts and bolts” kind of book. Honestly I found it a bit of a slog initially, so I am treating it more as a reference book. When I feel the need to add to my knowledge base I go back to it. There is an amazing amount of jargon that goes along with this new art. I suppose there is also a lot of jargon in crochet and knitting, but they have been so much a part of my life for so long that it seems much more familiar.

I decided to focus more on the art of Hand Lettering, rather than the formality of Calligraphy. I was intrigued by the reviews on Amazon for the book “The Art of Whimsical Lettering” by Joanne Sharpe; 2014, Interweave Press. This is a really fun and inspiring book. Lots of samples in the book of Joanne’s work with suggestions and guidance on making your own hand-lettered work.

My favorite thing about this book is the encouraging tone of the book. Joanne starts the book off with a quote from “The Wizard of Oz” by Glinda the Good Witch, “You’ve always had the power”. A big aspect of the book is Joanne encouraging readers, that no matter how much you might hate your hand writing, it can be the basis of beautiful and artistic lettering. The book has loads of beautiful and inspiring examples of Joanne’s work. My head was buzzing with ideas once I had read thru it.

It was in this book that I read about the Pilot Parallel Pen. I purchased one and liked it so much that I purchased a set of them in 4 different sizes. They come with black and red ink cartridges and I purchased a set of 12 different colored cartridges as well. Currently 3 of the pens are filled with black ink, but I’ll be trying out the colors soon.

I had also purchased another book in print form. “Hand Lettering: An Interactive Guide to the Art of Drawing Letters”, written and illustrated by Megan Wells; 2016, Peter Pauper Press. The reviews I had read of this book made it sound like one that I should have a physical copy of. It is sort of a workbook/journal style and has lots of pages that you can use for practicing your lettering. I am still reading thru it and trying the various exercises for practicing my lettering.

My favorite bit so far has been the author’s advice to not think of hand-lettering as writing, to instead approach it as drawing your letters. Now that might sound quite simple, but it really rang a bell for me. Suddenly I didn’t feel like I was struggling so much with what I was doing. I could relax and depend upon all those years of drawing to help me create lettering that I would like.

I’m still really in love with calligraphy and it will play a big part in any lettering art I create. I’ve been practicing with the parallel pens drawing various letters and words. Getting the hang of holding the pen properly is a big part of the process. I finally was ready to try to create my first real serious lettering project.

I used a pencil to create light lines on the paper to be guides for my letters. I also roughly followed the illustrations for writing italic style lettering. I picked one of my very favorite words.

I got really fancy with my letter “B”. But it still was a bit rough looking, the rest of the word needed a little cleaning up too.

I got out my new Staedler pigment pens to do the “drawing” part of my lettering to re-shape and refine the letters.

After all the tidying I was much happier with my work. I pulled the page out of my sketch book and copied it onto some heavy stock Vellum Bristol printer paper I purchased a few months back. I’m planning on playing with drawing and coloring on each of the pages to create different looks.

I also scanned my finished word into my computer, so I can play with it in my digital drawing program.

Like this.

I’ll hopefully have some other fun versions and more lettering to show you all soon. I’m excited about incorporating words and quotes in future art projects.

A fun exercise for you all in the meantime. Count how many words you can come up with that have “ea” in the middle and end with “e”. I’ll start you off with one of my other favorites: “Peace”.

Is Summer Coming?

This week has been the last week of school for both my sons. It’s been a wild one, not only is it the last week of school, it is the last week for each of them in their current schools. My youngest is making the transition from Elementary school to Middle school, and my oldest is graduating from Middle school to High school.

I’m a bit in shock that we are basically parenting 2 teenagers for all intents and purposes. Yikes!

Here in Colorado on my mountain it hasn’t felt much like summer is so near. Especially with the freakish snow storm we had this past weekend. We ended up with 4.5 feet of snow in our backyard. For those of you on the metric system that is approximately 1.37 meters.

This was the view off my deck on Tuesday, May 16th.

This was the same view 2 days later on Thursday, May 18th.

My poor pooch couldn’t even jump thru the snow like she usually does because it got so high. Instead Himself was very kind and shoveled out a path for her thru the deepest snow right in front of our backdoor.

She appreciated it, though the cold temperatures meant she wasn’t in a hurry to stay out there.

Snow up here on the mountain in the springtime is pretty typical for us. But freezing temperatures and that much accumulation, especially this late in May, is very unusual. Having said that, we seem to be having more springtime weather like this every year, so maybe this is our new normal.

This snow storm brought with it lots of power outages. We were without power for 24 hours combined, though fortunately not all in one stretch. It did make me revise what I could work on those days. It also meant a great deal of time was used up cooking on the wood-stove, hauling fire-wood and keeping the wood-stove burning so that our house didn’t get too cold.

I don’t mind “roughing it” when we go camping, but I’m definitely not cut out for living in the 1800s.

I did finish a sample for my new design, “Nimbus Poncho”. I’m hoping to have the pattern published and available to purchase thru my Ravelry shop before June 10th. It was lovely to work on. The yarn is Berroco’s “North Star” an incredible soft, fluffy, elastic, superfine alpaca blend.

I also worked a few more rounds on my caution tape plarn “Dart Bucket”. I don’t know how people spend hours crocheting with plarn. I really had to take frequent breaks. My progress on this project may have to be more of the tortoise than the hare. Slow and Steady.

Fortunately, it has warmed up quite a bit this week so far. My youngest was having fun spotting all the trickles and torrents of water coming down the canyon sides as we were driving home today.  We stopped for this one to take photos and video. It was amazing and loud.

The stream running away from it was more the burbling brook sound that I love. Hopefully we are finished with freezing temperatures and snow for the next couple of months. Though I have been enjoying the nice high 50s and low 60s of this week so far.

I’ll be doing some traveling this summer to places that have “real” summer temperatures and high humidity. I’m going to keep the photos of the heavy snow on my phone to hopefully cool me off. Or at least they will remind me I wanted a break from the cold.

Playing Yarn Chicken

Have you heard that term before? It’s a game a lot of us dedicated yarnies play, especially when we are working from our stash and may be cutting it close for having enough yarn to finish a project. As a designer I play this game a lot. Partly because I’m always trying to get the most from the yarn I am using for a design. This week though, I was just being silly.

I thought it would be fun to use up some of the orphan balls of yarn in my stash and make another “2 by 2 Cowl”. I especially wanted to try it in one of the long color changing yarns, and with a fiber content that would be more comfortable to wear with the warmer temperatures. Currently I am wondering about those warmer temperatures since we have been experiencing a record breaking late  May snow storm with below freezing temperatures.

I had come across a ball of yarn that I had lost the label to, but I loved the colors and it felt like it had quite a bit of cotton in it. I was pretty sure I had purchased the yarn at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe, so I brought it in with me when I went there this Wednesday for Casual Crochet.

Jane, the lovely manager at LYS, was able to tell me the yarn right away. It was Plymouth Yarn Company’s “Kudo” a blend of 55% Cotton/40% Rayon/5% Silk {sadly this yarn is discontinued now}. The original weight of this skein according to Ravelry is 100g and 198 yards. I must have used a little bit of it though, my skein was 95g. That number is going to be very important. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the skein before I started crocheting my new cowl.

I started my cowl while at the Casual Crochet meeting. By the time I was back home where I could weigh it, I had worked 9 rounds off the foundation. According to my scale I had used 50g of my yarn. I decided I had better weigh my remaining yarn too, just to be on the safe side. I had 45g left to work with still.

Now it was time for a little math. 95g of yarn to start with, 47.5g is half the ball. That means I had used more than half the ball of yarn to get to the end of 9 rounds.

95g divided by 50g = 1.9 x 9 rounds = 17.1 rounds. That means I have enough yarn for 8 more rounds.

I want to be extra sure, so I crocheted another round, then weighed my cowl again. 55g this time. That leads me to the conclusion that it takes 5g of yarn for each round. More math.

9 x 5 = 45 so 50 – 45 = 5g, which means my foundation round took only 5g of yarn. Making an assumption, my finishing round will take 5g of yarn.

95 divided by 5 = 19. 19 – 10 = 9 more rounds.

After all that math I decided that I should be able to work 17 total rounds in the stitch pattern for the body of the cowl, then one more round for the finishing edge.

When I got to the end of Round 15 I thought about stopping. I liked the width of the cowl and with the edging it would be a nice size for spring/summer wear. I took some photos comparing it to the first sample I had crocheted.

One of the fun thing about working with a long color changing yarn was the way it was striping in this pattern. It is also good for being able to see that you are working the “join and turn” part of the pattern correctly.

I decided to keep going to see how my game of yarn chicken would turn out. At the end of Round 16 I weighed my remaining yarn. I had 11 grams of yarn left, things were looking good.

Then this happened. I was just short of enough yardage to finish. Sigh I pulled it out to the end of Round 16 and worked my finishing round.

I’m actually very happy with how the cowl came out. I wasn’t too thrilled with the mustardy yellow being the finishing color, so removing 1 round actually solved that issue. I really love the striping effect of the color changing yarn in this design. I thought the changes at the join might be too harsh, but I don’t mind them at all.

The question now is, where did I go wrong with my math? I actually don’t think it was my math, it was my tension as I was crocheting. The blend in this yarn has absolutely no “give” to it at all, so as I was working the last half of my project my gauge got a bit loose. It was just enough that it made me use more yarn in my final rounds.

The looser finishing edge actually works out. I like the slight flaring that the cowl has. When it is worn with the foundation round at the top, the slightly larger edging round gives it a graceful fit across the shoulders. If I was working this cowl for a design sample I might be more concerned and would pull it out to rework the loose rows. Instead, this was just for my own entertainment, and will probably be added to my wardrobe.

In my opinion the most important part of playing yarn chicken is a willingness to re-imagine the final project. By eliminating a few rounds I made a beautiful cowl with the yarn I had picked, even though yardage and weight were quite different from the yarn I originally used in my design.

How about you dear readers, have you ever played “yarn chicken” with a project? Hopefully you were happy with your finished project once the race was over.

 

2 by 2 Cowl Pattern

Hello my dear readers. May has been zipping by and I can’t believe there are only 2 weeks left of the school year for my boys. This summer is already beginning to look very busy. Between fiber arts conferences and family trips I’ll be on the go pretty much non-stop.

This is my newest design the “2 by 2 Cowl”.  I wanted to start the summer off with a fun pattern for everyone that doesn’t take a lot of yarn and is relatively small to have in your hands or lap when the temperatures start to rise. It uses only 1 skein of Lion Brand’s “Heartland” yarn with a size J hook.

This was all that was left of my skein of yarn when I finished the sample, just 5 grams or a little under 9 yards.

I start this cowl with my favorite foundation: Stacked Rows. If you need a little help with understanding how to work a stacked rows foundation I created a video to help you. You can find it here on my YouTube Channel. For those of you that are ready, let’s jump right into the pattern.

2 by 2 Cowl

Designed by Andee Graves

Skill – Easy

Stitches you need to know: Chain (ch), Double Crochet (dc), Single Crochet (sc), slip stitch (slip st)

Finished size: Approximately 14” wide x 34” around (35cm x 85cm)

Materials

Yarn: Lion Brand Yarns “Heartland”; 100% Acrylic, 142 grams/5 oz, 230m/251 yards. (sample was made with 1 ball of color #147 Hot Springs)

Hook: J-10/6mm, or size needed to obtain gauge

Blunt yarn needle

Gauge:

6 rows and 16 stitches in pattern = 4” (10cm)

Pattern Notes

Foundation is worked in stacked rows to create a scalloped and elastic circle that the rest of the cowl is built off of.

Body of the cowl is worked in joined rounds off the straight side of the stacked row foundation. Look for the hole at the base of the double crochet rows to find the single crochet row to work into when crocheting Round 1.

Instructions

Foundation:

Row 1: Ch 2, sc in 2nd ch from hook.

Row 2: Ch 3, turn, 2 dc in sc.

Row 3: Ch 1, turn, sc in first dc.

Rows 4 – 65: Alternate repeating Row 2 and Row 3

Row 66: Repeat Row 2, join strip of rows into a circle without twisting, slip st to base of Row 1. {33 Scallops, 33 sc rows}

Body of Cowl:

Rnd 1: Turn to work along straight side of foundation rows, ch 3 {counts as dc here and thru-out pattern}, dc in side of first sc row, *skip next dc row, ch 2, 2 dc in side of next sc row; repeat from * until work in last sc row of foundation, ch 2, slip st to top of beginning ch-3. [66 dc, 66 ch-2 sp]

Rnd 2: Turn, (loosely slip st, ch 3, dc) in first ch-2 sp, skip 2 dc sts, ch 2, 2 dc in next ch-2 sp; repeat from * until work in last ch-2 sp of previous row, ch 2, slip st to top of beginning ch-3. [66 dc, 66 ch-2 sp]

Rnds 3 – 21: Repeat Row 2.

Rnd 22: Do Not Turn, ch 1, *sc in first dc, ch 2, 2 dc next dc, skip next ch-2 sp; repeat from * until work in last dc of Rnd 21, slip st to top of first sc of Rnd. Fasten off

Weave in all loose tails. Gently block if desired.

Well, That was Quick

Some of you may recall that one of my goals for 2017 was to open an Etsy Shop. I did do that in mid-January. Unfortunately it turned out that it wasn’t currently the best place to put my focus, so I closed my shop today.

There may come a time in the future that I will look into doing an online shop for selling my art and craft creations, but right now I want to focus my energy more on developing new designs and classes in crochet and needle-felting. That will include expanding my videos on YouTube.

Just wanted to let you all know what was going on in case you couldn’t find me on Etsy and wondered what had happened.

 

Experimenting with Felting Methods

A few weeks ago I posted about making a felting pad to work on when needle felting. If you missed my post about that you can find it here.  My friend Pam and were talking about all the work that went into making my felting pad, and that it might be faster to use some felted fabric in the construction.

That got me thinking about crocheting some wool yarn into fabric that could then be felted in the washing machine. It has been a long time since I felted a crochet project, or “fulled” one as that is the more accurate term for this process. I had forgotten that my fabric would felt better if I had a lot of air in the stitches. The openness of the stitches allow the fibers to move and bind more easily to each other.

Recently I shared about crocheting with pencil roving, the plan being that I would felt that circle to use in making a felting pad. Unfortunately I should have used a larger crochet hook. My finished fabric was actually pretty dense, which did not allow for the easy movement of fibers.

I also have the handicap, when fulling crocheted or knit fabric, of a front-loading washing machine. It’s a great washing machine for efficiency, but not for getting my projects to felt. Of course, difficulties are just a form of motivation for me. Or as my Dad always says, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In this case not so much invention as inspiration.

There is this relatively new product out there called “ArtFelt Paper” from Skacel. I have been watching numerous videos of it and how it is used to make felt. I actually purchased some recently, but have been too busy with deadlines for design projects and all the end-of-school-year activities for my boys, to experiment with it yet.

I was really intrigued by the method of felting demonstrated. I’ve never been a big fan of wet-felting because of the excessive amount of physical labor involved in transforming loose fiber into actual felt. Always seemed like a recipe for repetitive stress injuries. The ArtFelt method ends up with wetting the fibers then rolling the whole thing up with plastic and putting it in the dryer to be felted. It’s not the heat from the dryer, but the agitation that promotes the felting of the fibers.

After watching a few videos of this I began to wonder if I could felt or “full” a crocheted fabric this way. If nothing else, it would be a good experiment. My first step was to get my pencil roving circle wet.

I had gathered up my supplies: a plastic bag large enough for my circle to fit inside, an old cotton towel to keep the fabric from crimping when rolled up, and (not pictured) an old stocking.

I drained off the excess water and put the wet circle inside the plastic bag. I was recycling a bag that our bread comes in, so I made sure that all the printing on the bag was not touching the fabric.

Next I rolled up the old towel and set it on the outside of the bag at one end of the circle.

I rolled up the whole thing with the towel in the center.

Then secured it inside the old stocking. I tossed the whole thing into the dryer with a load of towels on high heat. I took it out after 15 minutes.

It had felted a little bit, but I decided it would take too long using that method.

I took the fabric to the kitchen sink and added a little bit of dishwashing soap. I then scrubbed it between my hands and alternated rinsing it in hot and cold water. It began to felt down very quickly.

I returned to the sink and rinsed and scrubbed some more. I rinsed out all the soap.

Next I tossed it in the dryer for a little while, then rubbed and stretched it to get a somewhat squared off shape. It was still fairly damp, but it had felted down to about half the size it started out.

I sat it on the top of my woodstove to dry overnight.

The next morning it was still a tiny bit damp, so I waited until that evening to begin the needle felting part of turning it into a felting pad.

The needle felting method I used was somewhat similar to what I’ve shown here before. I started by covering one side with a thick fluffy mat of fiber.

Then I filled in a few of the more obvious openings that were left in the fabric after the fulling/felting.

Similar to my other felting pad I made, I kept switching between working with my single needle tool and my multi-needle tool to felt down the fibers.

Once I had the first side well covered I flipped it over to work on the second side.

On this side I started out by filling in the hole in the center first.

Then I covered the whole side with a layer of fiber and needled it down.

I liked the way the top of the stitches in my original fabric showed and decided to leave them exposed in the finished version of the pad.

This experiment wasn’t really conducted in the true scientific method. I had too many variables and didn’t do a good job of tracking the measurements of my fabric as I felted it. It did work well to use a felted fabric to give me a good starting point when creating a felting pad.  It was a lot more work to felt/full the original crocheted fabric than I had anticipated.

I may repeat this experiment again if I can get hold of some more plain pencil roving. I would crochet the fabric much loosier and use a different method of “fulling” to get the fabric felted down as densely as possible.

I’m also hoping to create some thick pads of felt using the ArtFelt paper I purchased. I still need a few more felting pads for when I am teaching, that gives me some opportunities to experiment.