This is my first plied handspun skein. It is that Romney that I posted before. Now, what to knit with it?
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I am learning to spin! Finally, after years of wanting to and with fits and starts, I realized that I needed to take a class in order to really learn how to spin. Now I am a few weeks in and it is going well. My first attempts (above in white) are very rustic but my later attempts (the brown wool on the spindle) are better. The latest yarn is even spun from wool I picked and carded myself: some beautiful Romney from a small town in Utah called Cornish. In the coming weeks, I will get to learn on a spinning wheel and then maybe my spinning wheel that I received as a birthday present from my parents 25 years ago will actually get some use.
Friday, February 13, 2015
The Granary in Ephraim, Utah is hosting an exhibition called “A Measure of Salt: Contemporary Artists Engaging Great Salt Lake.” The exhibition is curated by my friend Hikmet Loe and has some amazing art, all inspired by or using salt. And I am lucky enough to have two pieces in the exhibition: the Halite Choker and Salt Bracelet. The opening reception is tonight if anyone is in Central Utah and wants to see an intriguing exhibition. Information about the exhibit is here.
Monday, February 2, 2015
We took an impromptu but much-needed trip down to Bryce Canyon National Park over the weekend. I had been to Bryce Canyon before but it has been almost 20 years, and I had never been in the winter. But, oh my! The Beauty! It was so amazing and unbelievable, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have guessed the views weren’t real.
As my oldest son exclaimed: “It looks like someone put icing on everything!” And it really did. Although many of the hikes were closed because of the snow, it didn’t matter because we felt incredibly lucky to just get to view the park in the winter.
Although we have taken many, many trips to the red rock country of southern Utah, this is the first time that I have been so inspired. I am thinking I need to knit something. I might just expand my artwork to encompass Southern Utah and the Colorado Plateau as well as the Great Basin!
Monday, January 19, 2015
South shore of Great Salt lake in the fall
I have been thinking about my knitting, designs and art lately. Because my practice revolves around my environment, specifically Great Salt Lake, the notion of place has been an important idea to everything I do. I have been thinking about this in relation to terroir. Terroir is defined as “the combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight that gives wine grapes their distinctive character.” It has been expanded over the 20th century to apply to other food products like tea, cheese, chocolate, and coffee. And in the 21st century it has been applied to non-food items, morphing into a kind of philosophy of place. I am interested in this idea and how it pertains to my art and practice.
What does it mean to have terroir in knitting? Is it focusing on the specific climate and land to influence shape, color, texture, and design? Can it be applied to materials and location of practice as well?
I have been asking myself these questions over the last several months and wanted to explore this idea further. Specifically in the design I am working on right now based on the changing shoreline of Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake shoreline is an ever-changing geography. Maps of the lake often need to show approximations of the lake’s boundaries, with a high point and low point outline. This fluxuation is routine for people and animals that live along the banks and make for a beautifully vibrant ecosystem.
North shoreline of Great Salt Lake in spring showing the pink bacteria coloring the water.
For this design, I not only want to show the texture, line, and color of the Lake’s shoreline, I wanted to capture the terroir of the Lake. I found a woman who lives on the shores of the lake in Centerville, Utah. She raises her own sheep in her backyard then dyes and spins the wool. I was lucky enough to purchase some beautiful purple and white yarn that she had grown and spun along the shores.
These yarns have realized a design of the shore that I have put into a cowl. I abstracted the fluctuating shoreline into a minimalist form. I have two designs in mind so I am knitting both. The first is finished and I absolutely love it. I am doubling the half oval pattern for the second one to see if I like that as well. It is currently a work in progress. Ignore the color differences in the two cowls below. Light is fickle, but they are the same yarn.
Knitting an item inspired by the shores of Great Salt Lake, using yarn grown and spun on the shores of Great Salt Lake, while knitting the item on the shores of Great Salt Lake is my attempted practice in terroir.
My niece and I took a trip out to Great Salt Lake yesterday and I took some pictures of her wearing the finished cowl. I am pleased with my first venture into the idea of terroir. In the coming month, I hope to finish the second cowl and then I can show them both here. More terroir designs coming soon I hope!
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Every year for Christmas, instead of giving one big gift, my sister and I fill each other’s stockings. We usually try to make it a theme stocking and they, of course, have many things associated with knitting: patterns, notions, yarn, etc. This year my theme for my sister’s stocking was spice. It was fun coming up with different things for her like spiced lip balm, exotic cooking spices, spice colored yarn.
I also wanted to design her an original pattern in the theme. My sister loves mitts. She has knit a lot of them. They are her relaxing knit that provides quick satisfaction. So, I decided to design some quick mitts for her. I knew that I wanted to incorporate a more obscure spice, juniper berries. For my wedding, I had juniper and berries in my bouquet and my sister embroidered juniper and berries in white silk on my white wedding dress. I even had juniper jewelry. I think it is time I give back for her time embroidering juniper with some juniper berry mitts.
So, last month I swatched a couple juniper berry motifs that I created.
I liked the right hand one best and incorporated that into a mitt. They turned out very cute. The juniper berry motif is subtle but I like it. They are fun to knit and now I can publish the pattern now that my sister has already seen it.
And of course, I was inspired by my lovely Utah environment! Juniper is everwhere.
The Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) is the most dominant species of tree in Utah; they cover nearly one-fifth of the state. They are also very hearty and can live to be 650 years old. Juniper berries are the female seed cone (not a true berry) with unusually fleshy and merged scales making it look like a berry. The berries can be dried and made into beads for jewelry and are also deliciously eaten by jackrabbits, foxes, coyotes and people.
Friday, November 14, 2014
I have been playing around with knitting construction lately; how to mold knitted fabric into a three-dimensional form through just the knit and purl stitch. I have been thinking a lot about this idea mainly because I am fascinated with salt crystals, how they grow and how to translate growing crystals into knitted forms. As you have noticed, Great Salt Lake has been on my mind a lot recently and the salt has captured my imagination. The growing salt flats from the receding lake are both beautiful and terrible.
Salt crystals on the Bonneville Salt Flats
Part of my fascination began when last year my museum showed a work by CLUI (Center for Land Use Interpretation) called Great Salt Lake Landscan. It was an amazing and beautiful high-definition video commissioned by the UMFA. The video was shot in a helicopter and showed the outskirts of the lake along with the industry that harvests salt from evaporations ponds.
Of course this led me to research a little on the salt industry at Great Salt Lake. I was surprised to learn that no table salt is produced from GSL, only industrial use salt. All the salt is harvested from large evaporation ponds scattered around the lake. One such salt is called mirabilite.
In technical terms mirabilite, also called Glauber’s salt, is a sodium sulfate salt used in the production of salt cake. It is harvested from evaporation ponds on Great Salt Lake in the cold winter months and was named by Johann Rudolph Glauber who synthesized it. The salt itself crystalizes in sharp-edged shapes but dehydrates quickly turning the crystals into white powder. More poetically, mirabilite’s name is based on the Latin phrase Sal mirabilis or “wonderful salt.”
These geometric crystals have inspired me to create a seamless geometric pouch that can be knit in one piece: the Mirabilite Pouch. It is quite fun to knit and I created a pattern for two different sizes (mostly two different widths that create more volume inside). This is a great knit to show off your vintage buttons too!
I created a few different colors because I couldn’t stop making them. And there are two sizes. The white one is larger (more volume) and the blue and pink ones are smaller. They are a quick knit and so useful for holding a variety of things. I mostly store my knitting notions in them right now but I think one of them will be reserved for all the salt crystals I gather at Great Salt Lake. You can find the pattern for the Mirabilite Pouch on my Ravelry site here.