Saturday, June 17, 2017

Summer 2017 Crochet and Weaving Classes in Eugene, Oregon!


I have arrived in the USA and I am excited to announce that I will be teaching two classes while I am here, at the lovely Cozy yarn shop in Eugene Oregon. 

If you are going to be in the Eugene area on Friday June 30th, and/ or Saturday July 1st, here are the descriptions of the workshops:

PAINTED CROCHET ART PENDANTS- A new approach to color in crochet! Crochet a specially designed motif, then use watercolor paints to bring the stitches to life. The art crochet piece you created will be stitched into an eWoodStory "Olive" shaped Stitchable Pendant, to make a one-of-a-kind accessory that is sure to be a conversation piece!

BEGINNING LAP LOOM WEAVING- An introduction to modern weaving with a lap loom, to create small scale woven paintings created using a mix of techniques and surface textures. The class will teach you how to use all of the tools in the eWoodStory Ultimate Weaving Kit. The kit will be yours to take home and continue creating with! In addition to learning how to weave, you will learn how to make tassels, pom poms, and lucet cord with the specially designed tools in the kit.

If you are interested in signing up, you can sign up online here, or in person in the Cozy yarn shop.

I am really looking forward to this, and hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Vibrant Beet Root Yarn!


My adventures in natural solar dyeing continue! This time, I decided to try beets. I peeled and cut up the root only and put it in a jar with water and white vinegar. I put the yarn on top, and left the jar in a sunny place for two weeks. I was careful not to move it during this time because I wanted the yarn to be variegated. I was absolutely thrilled when I opened up the jar and found these beautiful colors! The yarn that was touching the beets turned a rich dark red and the yarn that was closest to the top turned a beautiful pumpkin color. I am ready for fall! I washed the yarn in Woolite after removing it from the dye, and still the color remained vibrant. Did I mention how much fun I am having with this! Stay tuned for the results of walnuts, pomegranate with rusty nails, and green onions!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Choosing Colors For Crochet Motifs




Through working on the Weaving Stories project, I faced many interesting challenges along the way in dealing with the contributing artists.

I am used to doing all of the design work myself for projects, so guiding the artists by phone and email, seemed like working with my hands tied behind my back!

I had a particularly enlightening experience with one of the artists who was a crocheter, Ghadah Al Moosa, of the Crochet Cafe. She submitted a design that was inspired by the Islamic theme. She designed a crochet motif that was inspired by a traditional islamic design. I gave the artists color palettes for each theme so they could choose their materials accordingly. Since I was going to be putting so many different panels from different people using different techniques, the color scheme was key in making the installation cohesive!

I thought that it would be straight forward for this panel. It turns out, that the type of yarn and order of the colors made a huge difference in the look of the panel. I had Ghadah try a few color combinations based on what I thought would look good, but somehow they just weren't right. I felt so bad asking her to do so many samples, and I felt even worse rejecting them all! I decided that the best way, would be to try drawing and coloring in samples to get an idea of what would look best. My freehand drawings weren't effective enough, so I went in search of a program to trace the photo, so I could print and color it. I was thrilled to find this free online, easy to use stencil making program! In a nutshell, you can take a photo of your motif, then upload it to the website and choose from three different types of tracing options, depending on what gives you the best result. From there I edited the traced photo in a photo editing program to make it even sharper. 

I printed out a page of the traced motifs and set to work with some colored pencils, trying all of the combinations I could think of. I narrowed it down to my two favorites, and Ghadah graciously agreed to crochet a few more versions. She sent me photos of each, and I cut and pasted multiples of each version side by side, to represent how they would look as a panel in the wall. From there it was easy to determine which would look the best. 

Some of the color options I experimented with.

The actual panel on the blocking board (photo by Ghadah Al Moosa)

I think we really succeeded with this version, as the Islamic section of the wall was one of the most photographed by the media!

The Islamic themed section of the Weaving Stories Wall (photo by Tammy Asad)
Weaving Stories article in the Kuwait Times newspaper.
To sum things up, the stencil making photo tracing program opens up a new world of opportunities to help with making color choices for your designs!



















Sunday, May 14, 2017

Solar Yarn Dyeing Experiment Part 2!


After two plus weeks of soaking in the dye baths, the true colors of my dye experiment were finally revealed!

I was blown away by the gorgeous colors! The cochineal is a stunning magenta, the red onion skins a beautiful burnt orange, the turmeric and orange peel an almost florescent yellow, the red cabbage with vinegar is a pretty lavender, the pomegranate skins, are rich gold and sand colors, the mint gave the yarn a slight green tint, and the red cabbage with baking soda turned the yarn an amazing blueberry color!

I am planning to make a weaving with the mint, pomegranate, and onion skin dyed yarns. Some sort of dip dyed effect. It will be extra satisfying since I started from the ground up with the solar dyeing!

I think it was a great success and I can't wait to start my next batch with , beetroot, walnut powder, avocado, berries, grapes, henna, and strawberry tops. I will will report back with my progress!

Now I am off to create with my new colorful yarn!


Friday, April 28, 2017

Adventures in Solar Yarn Dyeing!

From Red to Purple: Cochneal, red onion skins, orange peel and powdered turmeric, pomegranate skins, mint and tree leaves, purple cabbage with baking soda, and purple cabbage with vinegar.
I have always had an interest in natural dyeing and wanted to do it, but hadn't actually taken the plunge!

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who is an experienced dyer, invited me to join her in dyeing several hanks of handspun wool. She had obtained all kinds of natural dyestuffs from Turkey that are used in dyeing wool for rug making. She also had some indigo, and some dyestuffs from Kuwait.


It was an amazing day! We had around 6 pots boiling at all times, and we produced a rainbow of yarn colors! She gave me the confidence to give it a try on my own. 

I felt like I wanted to experiment with small quantities of yarn to see what colors I like best and are the most successful. I stumbled upon information about solar dyeing in small jars with basic mordants such as vinegar, baking soda, and alum. It was something I could start right away with supplies I already had in the house!

My daughter was on spring vacation last week, so we did it as a project together. It was a creative science project! We were amazed at the colors of the water. We put the some of dyestuff in the jars with the mordant, and a bit of hot water. Once the alum was dissolved we added hanks of off white wool yarn, and some natural handspun wool, more of the dyestuff and water to fill the jars to the top. We put the lids on and found a sunny spot on the window sill. Fortunately we found a place that gets morning and afternoon sun. 

It has been 8 days now, and we are planning to open the jars and check on the yarn next week to see how strong the colors are. I have read that other people kept their yarn in the jars anywhere from 10 days to the entire summer. I don't want the dyestuff to mold, so I probably will only keep them a few weeks. 

Stay tuned for an update on our progress. Hopefully the outcome will be some beautiful colors that we can turn into a lovely crochet project or a weaving!





Monday, April 17, 2017

Introducing eWoodStory's New Weaving and Fiber Arts Kit!



This past year has been a whirlwind of activity! After finishing up the Weaving Stories Exhibition, I was incredibly inspired by all the work that was made by so many talented hands coming together in the woven installation,  that I decided that my husband and I should design a loom that would be fun to use, and that would get people of all ages working with their hands!

It has been many months of experimenting, designing, and testing. A special thanks goes out to Tammy Asad, of TS Daily Treasures, Suad Murad, and family members who tested our kits and instructions to give us the valuable feedback we needed to make this available to the public!

We are so proud of this kit. It started out as a weaving loom and grew into a fiber arts kit with the inclusion of the tassel maker, pom pom maker, and lucet for making cord. It is lightweight and portable and designed for people of all skill levels!

We have just begun selling the kits in the Sadu House Gift Shop in Kuwait, and worldwide in our Etsy shop. I also plan to offer workshops that will teach people how to weave and use all of the tools in the kit. Please stay tuned!

Our Ultimate Weaving Kit


Pieces Created with the  Kit

Monday, April 3, 2017

Freeform Crochet Workshop for the KTAA


a Collection of Student's Pieces from the Workshop
I just realized that I forgot to tell you about the freeform crochet workshop I taught at the Sadu House a few weeks ago for Kuwait's Textile Arts Association!

It was a two day workshop with over 20 students. The only requirement for the workshop was to know the basics of crochet and the objective was for everyone to go home with a piece of freeform fabric that they created.

Many of the attendees had never seen freeform crochet, so I brought a collection of my favorite Freeform books by Prudence MapstoneJenny Dowde, and James Walters & Sylvia Cosh, to show them.

We started off by learning to crochet a selection of textural stitches that work well in freeform. That took the entire first session. We ended the session by learning the Russian Join. I assigned them a little homework, which was to make a magic ball of yarn using the Russian Join.  It is a good technique to know, and I thought it would be nice for them to be able to concentrate on the stitches instead of changing colors and where to change colors when making their first freeform piece.

For the second session, we got right to work freeforming! We played a game to create a "pattern". I had them pick stitch types out of a basket, and then roll the dice to determine how many of each stitch to make. The only thing they had to decide was where to place their hooks to make the stitches. It was a little hard for them at first to resist the temptation to work in rows or perfect circles. They kept asking me if what they were doing was "right". I told them there is no real right or wrong in freeform. If it looks good to you it is right! Once their pieces started to evolve, there were many "aha moments"! I only wish the workshop had lasted another hour, as they were just getting into it when we had to end the session. Since the workshop, I have heard from some of the students that they have done more even more freeforming, and they are really seeing the possibilities. They are sending me photos of their work and are saying that they can't stop freeforming, which is so amazing!

Below is a photo of Ranju Gandhi's first piece of freeform. Isn't it stunning! I can't wait to see what she does next!








Thursday, March 23, 2017

Springtime Petals Crochet Collar!



There is about a week left of National Crochet Month, and I hope you all have been crocheting to your hearts content! 

I had over 900 downloads of the Petals Collar Pattern this month, and I am hoping to see lots of project photos on Ravelry! 

The first project photos were posted last week, and it the collar is so pretty, I asked the maker, Mimouna, if I could share her photos with you. Thankfully she graciously agreed! She says she is a newbie crocheter, and you would never know it from her beautiful work!

I just love how the collar looks in purple, and her photo really celebrates spring!

I would really love to see more versions of the collar, so anyone who makes one, please post your photos!


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Weaving Stories Exhibition, The Next Chapter!


In honor of Kuwait's National Day, we were asked by 360 mall to exhibit the Weaving Stories woven wall and interactive loom for 9 days! It was wonderful to be able to share the exhibition with even more people! 

The interactive loom was a real hit and many people of all ages stopped by to try their hand at weaving and write a little something that they wanted to share about themselves.




The loom filled up several times during the 9 days, and we now have a lovely collection of woven strips. We are brainstorming how to display them in the gallery.

Here are snippets of all of the crochet panels that were in the wall. Some wonderful techniques and stitches were represented: applique, filet crochet, interlocking crochet, freeform crochet, broomstick lace and crocheted motifs. It was wonderful to have another chance to photograph the wall again, as I was able to focus on specific elements this time, and take pictures in natural light! 

                                                                        "DESERT"

"SEA"

"ISLAMIC"

"TRADITIONAL KUWAIT"

"MODERN KUWAIT"

Soon, we are hoping to have a permanent location to display the wall for visitors to see for years to come!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Crochetville Designer Blog Tour 2017 Giveaway!



I am thrilled to be a part of Crochetville's National Crochet Month Blog Tour! It kicked off yesterday with posts by: Kristine Mullen and Marie Segares

Follow along the tour for up to three special daily blog posts from crochet designers and giveaways from designers and companies. There are a lot of ways to celebrate this month! You can keep up with the tour on Crochetville's website and Facebook page.

Every year I do something a little different for the tour. This year I decided to do a limited time giveaway of one of my accessories patterns listed on Ravelry. For one week (March 2nd-9th), I will be offering the whimsical Petals Collar pattern as a free download! 

I originally designed this pattern with my daughter in mind, and that is why I crocheted the sample in bright colors. You could also make it look more sophisticated by changing the colors. I think it would look amazing in black and white for a woman. You can experiment with different types of yarn and various embroidery stitches, to embellish the collar as well. As I always say, there are endless possibilities! If you make one, I would love to see your version! Please post any photos on Ravelry, so they can appear on the project page. If enough people post photos, I will do a special blog post to show off all of your collars!

To get the Petals Collar Pattern, click here, and when checking out, enter the coupon code: Crochetville.

I hope your March is filled with lots of wonderful crochet!

Petals Collar

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Crochetville 2017 Designer Blog Tour!


It's that time again! National Crochet Month! Celebrate with Crochetville all month long! Crochetville has lined up a host of designers and a collection of giveaways. Follow the tour with daily posts from the designers who will be doing special posts in honor of the month. I am scheduled to post on March 2nd, and I am going to be offering one of my patterns for free for a limited time, so please visit my blog this Thursday to get the code to download it from Ravelry.

It will be a fun month, so plan to add the tour to your blog reading list every day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Tale of Two Japanese Crochet Hooks!



Recently I was at Daiso, which is always so much fun! There is nothing like aisles and aisles of interesting things that you have never seen before, almost all priced at $1.50! I read that they produce 1000 new items a month, and every time I go there I find some little treasure.

This time I found their section of crochet hooks and knitting needles. I was intrigued by their ergonomic crochet hooks. I am a huge fan of Tulip Etimo hooks, and use them almost exclusively, but since these hooks are available locally, I thought I would give them a try!

They have a large selection of ergonomic and acrylic crochet hooks as well as bamboo knitting needles.

The first thing I compared when I saw the two hooks side by side was the head of the hook. The hook on the left is from Daiso, and the hook on the right is from Tulip. You can see that the Daiso hook is rounded at the top and has a less defined throat. 

The Daiso hook also isn't as smooth as the Etimo, and has less of the hook of the hook exposed. 


They both have silicone handles, but again I found the Etimo to be smoother.

The shape of the Daiso handle is triangular, which is quite different from the Etimo hook that has a relatively flat top and rounded back.

I didn't realize it until I tried the Daiso hook, but the Etimo handle is much more universal due to its shape.

The Daiso hook is really only comfortable if you hold it like a pencil, as illustrated on the package:


I hold my hook two different ways, but not exactly this way, so it would take me some time to get used to it.

I really like the large flat thumb rest on top of the Daiso hook, and think it might be nice if the Etimo's was a little more like it.

Overall, the best thing about the Daiso hook is its price: $1.50 in the US and about $1.95 in Kuwait, vs. $10.63 for the Etimo. I believe the old addage "you get what you pay for" applies here. I think I would be able to recommend the Daiso hook more highly, if I held my hook the way they intended you to.

This test really highlights the importance of design!

If use the pencil hold and have a Daiso near you, give these hooks a try to see how you like them!





Sunday, January 29, 2017

Weaving to Beautify a Community Garden!


Yesterday was a really fun day! In an effort to get people interested in working with their hands, Tammy Asad of TS Daily Treasures, my husband Emad of eWood_q8,  Maryam Al Nusif of Mimikuwait, and I organized an afternooon of weaving with recycled materials, yarn crafts, and woodworking! Maryam who is known as Mimi, started a local community garden in the Salmiya area of Kuwait that hosts free weekly gardening sessions, workshops, and an artisanal food and craft market. We decided to make one of the trees into a double sided loom to weave into. We even left a little stash of yarn in the tree, so anyone visiting the garden can weave while they are there.

 We had the idea to have an afternoon of weaving to teach people about the craft, and to beautify the garden at the same time! Tammy collected wooden pallets and for the month leading up to the event, we all collected plastic strapping that is used to secure boxes and bricks for transport, and is often found on trash heaps in Kuwait. We thought this would be the perfect material to use, because it is practically indestructible. It will stand up to Kuwait's high summer temperatures, and it is easy to clean. I was just hoping that it would look great woven into the pallets. Thanks to the wonderful work of the upcycled!

Tammy prepared little weaving kits that were warped and ready to weave, so people could weave while they were there or take them home. People were even walking around and weaving! My daughter Sara and I prepared popsicle sticks and yarn to make godseyes to hang in the trees. All the visitors were fast learners and all of our yarn was transformed in to little works of yarn art! It was a great way to show people that you can make something wonderful with very basic supplies!



The garden had some tires that had been painted and donated, so we decided to try our hand at making some seats for the garden. Simple, effective, and festive!


Emad set up a little workshop at the garden and began building an entrance arbor for the garden. We will go back this week to finish it! It will be fun to see if our tree weaving has been added to by any anonymous guest weavers!



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gearing Up for a Freeform Crochet Workshop!



I am very excited to be preparing for an upcoming workshop that I will be teaching the members of the Kuwait Textile Arts Association!

It will span over 2 sessions of 2 hours each. I have a lot of activities planned, so I hope we can fit it all in!

Freeform Crochet is what first got me interested in learning how to crochet, and the International Freeform Guild got me started!

The idea of crocheting without a pattern is so thrilling to me. I love just seeing where the yarn takes me, creating interesting textures, and adding embroidery embellishment. The above photo is a close up of a handbag I made for the Crochet Guild of America's annual design competition. It is such fun to incorporate many different types of fibers, beads and found objects into crochet work!

I will report back after the first workshop on February 1st with some photos from the workshop. I hope many of the crocheters will fall in love with freeform as I have!

Some stitches to be learned in the workshop!

Monday, January 9, 2017

New Year's Resolution #1, Check!


The first thing on my list of things to do in 2017 is to join the Surface Design Association! I recently discovered its existence and the discovery was well timed as I found out that their bi-annual conference will be in Portland, Oregon this summer. I am thrilled that I can attend since I will be vacationing there!

They have many interesting opportunities to exhibit your work and they provide a platform for the exchange of ideas, methods, and materials pertaining to the fiber arts. Since I like to mix techniques and I have recently been getting more into embroidery and weaving, I thought thad the SDA would be very inspirational! I am looking forward to seeing where this new membership will take me!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reflecting on 2016 and Hinting on my Stitching Future for 2017!

2016 was a year full of new challenges and experiences, with many highlights! I wore many different work hats last year: designer, project manager, textile collaborator, instructor, liason, and coordinator. All of these jobs have enhanced my creativity and how I work. 

Let me tell you about some of this year's highlights:

I was so excited for my work to be featured on the cover of Interweave Crochet, last fall. My work has appeared in 15 issues of Interweave Crochet over the years, and this was my first cover with them! Magazine work is really such fun. The thrill of seeing your work among the vibrant, glossy pages never gets old!


I got to teach my first workshop for eWoodStory at the Sadu House. We crocheted motifs, then painted them and stitched them into "Olive" shape pendants. I love how each one was so very different and beautiful!


Next month I will be teaching a session Freeform Crochet Workshop for the Kuwait Textile Arts Association at the Sadu House as well.

In addition to working in crochet this year, I also learned more about modern weaving, learned how to weave on a rigid heddle loom, and between me and my daughter, we now have 7 looms in the house!


I also started experimenting with weaving that incorporates my crochet work. This is a piece I have in progress with some of my hand painted crochet:


I can't wait to learn more about weaving and how I can put my own spin on it! I dream of making garments incorporating pieces of my weaving.

While working on the Weaving Stories project, I had the opportunity to be on the radio and television twice! Most recently with my daughter, Sara. We got to talk about our weaving, and I hope we got some of the viewers interested in the fiber arts as well!


I also got to meet so many amazing people through Weaving Stories. Some of the best moments were people discovering the joy of weaving and working with their hands on our specially designed interactive loom that was made by my husband who co-designed it with Professor of Textiles, Lesli Robertson. People who have never tried to weave before, sat down with the intention of weaving for a minute or two, and ended up weaving for an hour! We had tags made so people could attach their name or their thoughts about weaving to the sections that they created. We had to warp the loom three times during the exhibition. The more that was woven on the loom, the more people wanted to weave on it. The colorful yarns and fibers were attracting people like a magnet!

We created 7 new pendant shapes to add to our eWoodStory Modern Stitchable Pendant line, making it a total of 13 shapes in addition to our Mini Masterpiece Frames, for people to stitch their own creations into:


We also added several pendants to our Featured Artists Series, where we ask artists that we love on Instagram, to create special Mini Masterpiece Pendants. It is a way for us to showcase our pendants, and to connect artists to people interested in their work. We have met so many amazing people through this series!
Mini Masterpieces that have been created by the Artists


I have a great feeling about 2017 and have started lining up some fun projects involving the community, as well as some special commissions. I also hope to work on some new techniques that I haven't tried yet like tapestry crochet and macrame. I just want another few hours added to every day to have more time to create! I hope that this next year is happy, healthy, and wonderful for all of you!