Warm-Up Paintings

American Dad Mini Paintings
American Dad Mini Paintings

 

I actually took a commission job.  I’d normally never take one, but this one was requested by a good friend who already knew what he wanted.   Like most of my paintings, I’m just recreating a cartoon for him.   Unfortunately, I can’t show what I’m working on until it’s finished and given as a gift to the person he’s buying it for.

 

It’s been a hot minute since I finished my last painting.  So, before I started that project, I got back into painting with a mini-series from American Dad.  I had these already primed and they’ve just been sitting around waiting to be painted on.   I like working on these minis, they are quick and easy and I usually accomplish one or two a night.

 

Hopefully, I can show off the latest painting after Christmas.  I spent a good amount of time last week on it and I’m hoping to have it done this week or maybe next week if I’m lazy.

Marabu Fashion Sprays

Last weekend I took a trip to the local art store and wandered around. I only needed a paint marker but I left with a whole cart full of things. People complain about doing that at Target or Joann’s, but try doing that at a fine art store…. Your wallet will hurt.

In the back of the store, they keep the discount shelf which I usually ignore. I’ve been back there enough times to know they usually don’t have anything I want. Also, I’m there enough that the staff points me at any sales I would be interested in.

But it so happens I was there long enough to need the restroom and you have to walk past these discount shelves to get there. That’s when I saw bottles of “Marabu Fashion Spray”. After reading the bottle I determined this could likely be used on yarn since it was made for dyeing natural fibers and I normally work with wool. Granted, the product was made to spray designed on fabric with stencils, but that shouldn’t matter. They were steeply discounted so I grabbed a bunch of colors and got home to play.

It took me a while, but I sprayed the hell out of 4 skeins of yarn while trying to use most of the colors so I could see how they’d each turn out. I was most excited to see how the navy and gray colors came out. Most of them were pretty wild colors but these two colors stood out as being really nice and I could definitely see using the gray a lot.

I let them sit for 2 hours as the instructions indicated, then put them in the oven for about 10 minutes at a low heat to set the dye. By the time they were pulled out of the oven and left to cool it was already after midnight. I get up for work at 4 am, so this was a sacrifice. All that was left was to rinse them off.

As soon as I started rinsing, they began turning back to white.

Almost all the dye came right out. Works on natural fibers, my foot!

After I calmed the rage and got some sleep, I realized they would likely work on cotton and cellulose/plant-based fibers. While “natural fibers” is a blanket term, I really wish they’d stop using it. Dyes usually only work on plant –or– on animal fibers, not both. But both are considered natural, obviously.

With that said, the cotton yarn I used to bind the yarn prior to dying, didn’t retain color either. They did, however, stain my nylon gloves pretty easily.

All I can say is that this stuff is a mystery but it may work on t-shirts…. Maybe.

But you know what the good thing about working with yarn is? If you mess up, you can always dye it black!

October 2017 YarnBox Socks

This month’s YarnBox angered me and it has nothing to do with Sugarbush Yarns.

First, I get gray yarn.  Even after going through all my preferences for bright colors, no pinks, etc etc.

Second, they sent 3 balls of yarn that are 50g/140m each.  Which sounds fine, until you realize that:

  1. if you have big man feet, one ball is not enough, which is why I’m assuming you get 3, or
  2. you have small feet and this makes 3 socks… but who needs 3 socks? and
  3. 140m for 50g is not the standard for sock yarns… it should be closer to 200m (180-220ish).

It sounds petty, I know, but this is how you piss off a sock knitter with big feet.  Yes, I got ample yarn for a pair of socks, but now my socks will have knots randomly in the sock where I ran out of yarn and joined another in.  180m is really pushing it for my basic socks so I’m definitely going to have knots.  I’m guessing 140m will get you to about a men’s size 10.

I haven’t knit my socks, so I can’t say anything about the yarn itself, I’m sure it’s amazing, but for now, I just tossed it aside and canceled my YarnBox subscription because I’ve had enough.  It’s a decent service that I’m sure works for most people, I just haven’t been happy with what I’ve received in months and they provide no way to exchange yarn or make me happy at this point.

Kiln fired glass painting

I’ve known for a long time you can use some ceramic products on glass, I just never got around to trying it.   I used to do a lot of glass fusing but I never really got into it.  It just wasn’t very consistent and that frustrated me.   But I got out some Mayco Designer Liners, which are known to work if you sandwich your painting in between two pieces of glass.

But the real question was whether or not it was going to work with a microwave kiln.

Painting on glass is a pain especially with a water-soluble product like Designer Liner.   If you try to do any layering, the previous layer will come off the second it gets wet. Dripping product onto the glass will work, but brushing will not.

Using a glass calligraphy pen seemed to work well at dropping product where I wanted it.   It also let me scrape product away.   Eventually, I had a cute little lightning design and after letting it dry completely (we don’t want to have boiling liquid on glass) I sandwiched the design with another piece of glass and crammed it in the microwave.

The results were not great.

The product cracked around the edges (the liner, not the glass) and a giant bubble of air was trapped in the middle.  In an actual kiln these air bubbles would eventually rise to the surface and it wouldn’t be an issue.  An actual kiln would be fired for many, many hours and not a few minutes like this microwave one.  Now that I see the result, I’m not sure if this will actually work.

I could try nuking it again to see if I can get the air to release, but I don’t really want to try, it already looks bad.   I also need to try and get the Designer Liner a lot thinner.   I had been warned about that but I guess it wasn’t thin enough…. hence the cracking.

I may try again after pondering it a bit, but for now I’m moving on to other projects.

Oh yes, more socks

handmade size 16 socks

Are you sick of socks yet?   I kind of am!  I should say, I am kind of sick of writing about them.   I still find it enjoyable to make them.

I took a picture this morning of another custom order going out.  These monsters are another pair of size 16.   The last pair was reported to be slightly short and an additional inch was requested.

I also dyed these as well.  Dyeing seems to be a little hit and miss for me. These are brown, sort of.  They’re supposed to be chocolate brown but in person, they look almost purple.   I also dyed some yarn “true black” the other day and they came out almost navy – dark, but not black.  Maybe I’m not using enough dye.

But, aside from those issues, I seem to be getting better at some of the dyeing methods.   This is one of many skeins I did last weekend.

hand-dyed skein of sock yarn

You may see some strange out of place threads in there, but those are just extra ties I hadn’t cut off yet, so ignore those.    But pretty decent, right?   I was at least encouraged to keep trying, so you may see some more skeins pop up if there is anything worth showing.   At least it wouldn’t be socks, right?

September 2017 YarnBox Socks

I was excited to open the mailbox again yesterday when I saw my YarnBox bag waiting for me.

Then, I opened it.   :/

I don’t mind pink, I’ve gotten several pink skeins in the last few months.  But they were always something funky, like pink with chartreuse, they weren’t just pink.  This has some notes of other colors, but they’re all muddy colors, and not enough to be interesting.

I looked at Apple Tree Knits and they have some beautiful yarns.   Now, if I would have been sent the ‘Jimi’ or Zigi colorway in their Purl Jems line I would’ve been ecstatic.  But this solid-ish pink just isn’t for me.

So, I emailed YarnBox because their site mentions an exchange policy, which I could not find anywhere.  To their credit, they responded pretty quickly, I just didn’t happen to like their answer.  Basically, if you don’t like what you get you can join a forum and attempt to trade it with other YarnBox people.  Not much of an exchange policy, is it?  They have an overstock section on their site that you can buy previous yarns at a discount, I don’t get why I can’t just exchange for one of those.

I updated my preferences on the site for NO PINK but I am still trying to decide if I will continue buying.   I accept I won’t always get something I want and several times I didn’t,  but there should be options when that happens.   I think I’d rather just hit Etsy or find a local dyer and splurge on something pretty once in a while and actually get something I want.  It won’t be a big surprise, but YarnBox’s support is on this issue is very meh.

It looks like I’m stuck with this one.   I may have to do a giveaway.

Trying my hand at self-striping yarn

I did it again.  I stuck myself with a bunch of custom work for friends and family.   And, of course, I said they’d go out this week.   I’m really good at setting myself up like this.  They didn’t even ask, I offered.   That’s how good I am at sticking myself with work.

I decided I was going to attempt to make self-striping yarn.   It started off pretty well.   I prepped my yarn by creating a makeshift warp board with some clamps so that I could organize the skein of yarn into stripe sections.   I dyed them in colors close to what was requested and then set down to wind all the yarn back into a ball so that I could knit with it.

And, that, is where the problems started.   It didn’t occur to me how hard it would be to get it all back into a ball.   It took me hours for each skein.  So many knots… so many…

I tied it all up like I had previously, but I must be missing something that would make this easier.   I’ve watched plenty of videos on it but no one ever shows the last part, they just set it all up and dye it… those sneaky bastards.   They could at least warn people.

Regardless of my troubles, I finished the socks and now they are hanging to dry before being shipped off.

Backyard Deck

It has taken me several weeks to finish, but I refinished the backyard deck. Most of it was scraping and sanding.  Then an afternoon of painting.   It turned out pretty well.   I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the dog destroys it with his giant paws.    When that happens, I’m just going to burn it down, because I am not going through this again.   That was way too much work in the hot summer sun.

Then, said dog, hurt his leg and ended up needing knee surgery.

This dog, right here.

He’s lucky he is so adorable because I had to spend my weekend building him a ramp so he could get to the yard and make his boom-booms.  He’s not a small dog, so it had to be good enough for a 130-ish pound monster to walk up and down it.

He doesn’t much care for it but he’s getting better at using it.  He kind of has too unless he wants to hold it in for 8 weeks while he recovers.

A Weekend of Dyeing

This weekend, I got a lot of dyeing out of the way.   I’d been stacking up plenty of natural/undyed yarns and it was time to get that project out of the way.   I watched a bunch of youtube videos to refresh myself on the process and got to work.  I planned on tackling a few different methods this time but ended up doing 2 methods.

First was a hot dye pot method where you bring your pot up to a simmer and drop your dye strategically around the pot.

dye pot

I dropped in red, olive and yellow.    It didn’t work out very well for me.   It just mixed and became murky.  I’ll assume responsibility on this one since I probably messed around with it too much and let it get mixed.

But while that was simmering I got a few bowls of dye ready for some 2-color batches, which I will call halfsies.  I’m sure there’s a term for this, but basically, I just dyed my yarn in sections.

Here, I was trying to create a skein similar to one I received July 2017 YarnBox.  When you do this method you’ll get a finely striped sock like this one:

Knowing that I like this result, I did this with several color combinations:

Pink and Green skein of wool

(The one on the right here was the muddy one from the dye pot).

Black and blue skein of wool

They’re currently hung up and drying.  I can’t wait to try these out!  I may eventually start putting some of these up for sale once I get a few sample socks done for images.

Birthday Gift Success

I’m happy to report all my research and planning on my mother’s birthday gift was a complete success.  I was worried about it but she reported that the socks fit perfectly and even sent me a picture.

Did you know my mother is also a crafter?   You should check out the stamping and card making she does over at her blog.   http://craftiblog.wordpress.com