Tag Archives: Creative Process

Stop! No, Go!

Sometimes I am so taken with an idea that I have to drop everything and try it because I’m not going to focus on anything else. It all started when I received a lovely green braid from Napa Valley Fibers (I used Deborah’s kits as an excuse to buy a drum carder…tee hee hee… ). I decided the green braid would look so lovely with these other fibers:

Yes, they are that vibrant!

I had this other brilliant idea that I would document this whole process so a) I could share it with you and b) so I would know what I did so I could replicate what I was doing. I kinda played more than I documented. But that’s ok…you’ll get the idea.

I took roughly one arm’s length of each fiber and split them in half lengthwise. I took the one set of the halvsies and ran them in strips/stripes on the carder twice. Once to fluff, second to lightly blend. I came up with this:

Squish the rainbow (batt)! Drool…

Well, I got really excited about this fluffy! It’s soft, smushy, and a rainbow! I love rainbow yarn! I love the color!

But another part of me was super curious…what if I mixed the different colors together? Blue and pink, blue and green, green and yellow, and yellow and pink? What if I did that and made a self striping yarn with long repeats? Ok. I ran each color set separately through the carder three times. I got this:

Color mixing is an art as well as a science. I wish I had blended equal amounts of each color.

I split these batts in half crosswise (the short way), predrafted ’em and started spinning.

It was a little too stoplight-y for me

That’s when I realized I made something that looked like an Excel stoplight chart. I did not like this. What’s not apparent in this photo is how much of the red color there is.

This was intended to be more of a sampling project (ok, a Tour de Fleece withdrawal project) than a yarn design project, so I tried to figure out what I could do without adding more colors.

I’m not a huge fan of tweedy yarns. They’re ok, but I’m really on a self-striping trip now. That Stoplight was nope, though. I took the other half that I hadn’t spun yet and quartered each color. I didn’t want little color bits and a full quarter of each color seemed to be too much. I misjudged the math, so the color repeats weren’t equal. It was ok. I came up with this compromise:

They look like technicolor snakes. I wonder how much wool is stuck to the carpet…

I had been kicking around the idea of plying this with the dark purple you see on the bottom bobbin because I didn’t know what to do with it. It’s all I have and to ply it on itself was likely to be painful (pull skeins and fine singles can be a pain when they tangle).

Kate’s full!

It wasn’t bad. I kinda liked how it was coming out. And I think it was the first time I’d ever made a non-chain three ply yarn. It was trippy trying to figure out how to hold them together and keep the right tension. It was going along fine until…

I didn’t plan that as well as I thought…oops

I took what was left on the middle bobbin and wound it into a tiny pull skein. That was a little painful, trying to manage the two ends of the same ball and keep the tension on the third strand (my foot came in really hand-y. Har har har…).

What fresh hell did I get myself into?

I had a little of the dark purple left, so I plyed it with the little bit of what I call the “Mud Yarn”. I spun up the leftover bits on the carder and made a yarn only a mother could love.

This is why we don’t blend green and pink together…

It was a few yards at most, and it will probably end up in a weaving or something. It looked pretty good with the purple, amazingly.

I know, you’re probably wondering what does the finished yarn look like? I proudly present to you, the Stoplight yarn! Ta-da!

Green! Green! Green! The finished Stoplight Yarn!

I really, really like it now. I’m glad I saw it through. I now have 245 yards of sock/sport yarn that I’m really not sure what I’m going to do with it. Weave it? Knit it? Crochet it? Sell it? I don’t know. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Artist Crush – Art Scarves

If you have been following me on Facebook and Instagram, you’ve seen a lot more of what I’ve been working on. My plan is to do a series of posts to show more of the process of my projects. It’s both for me to document what I did and for you, in case you want to know what I’ve put into it or if you want to try something yourself. I would love to hear what you think, so don’t hesitate to comment below.

If you know anything about me, you know that I’ll go on a project tear and I develop some serious artist crushes. I’ll get really super obsessed with an another artist’s work and have, have, HAVE to try it. It can be in fiber, on paper, or with pixels (pixels are FREE!). Sometimes I finish it before the next muse shows up, sometimes I don’t. I’ve learned to stop worrying about that and choose smaller projects that stand a chance of being completed.

This is something I finished:

If you love that as much as I do and you’re a weaver, go on and sign up for UrbanGypz’s Art Weaving Beyond the Basics. I’ll wait for you. *grin* I’ve been reading Stacey’s newsletters for quite some time and I had, had, HAD to do this! The weaving bug hit me while The Boyfriend and I were moving. (I saw a pretty weaving video, I unpacked my studio, I became consumed by the wool fumes, had to buy this, really wanted to drop everything and weave, stop judging me.)

Stacey is super awesome, both as an artist and as a teacher. I learned so much watching her demonstrate each technique and even what she was working on for herself. This is either my recipe for success or disaster. I’ll let you decide that for yourself:

Watch Stacey’s free weaving videos. Become obsessed.

Buy UrbanGypz’s Art Weaving Beyond the Basics because I must have all. the. information.

Move house and be forced to wait until much later to watch the rest of the videos.


A photo posted by Jaime Shafer (@yayforj) on

(By the way, I’m not affiliated with any of the links in this post. I’m just a mildly obsessed fangirl.)

Unpack the yarn and warp that loom!

Time to play with Loomikins! #Weaving

A photo posted by Jaime Shafer (@yayforj) on

For the technical specs of my scarf, the yarn was just remnants of all kinds of yarn I had left over from other projects. I used longer little bits for the warp and tiny little bits in the weft. I used all kinds of yarns too. Cheap wool/acrylic to novelty stuff. There’s handspun and commercial in there. Loomikins is a 24” Ashford rigid heddle loom. I used the 7.5 heddle.

Start weaving and playing with the techniques!

And so it begins… #Weaving

A photo posted by Jaime Shafer (@yayforj) on

The yarn at the top was some left over ruffle yarn. It made for some really interesting texture. Since I’m not an expert weaver by any means, the class was very enlightening. I decided to use every technique she showed in the class. It may have been overkill from a design standpoint, but boy, was that ever FUN! I love how it came out.

Close up 1
Close up 1
Close up 2
Close up 2
Close up 3
Close up 3

To finish it off, get some beads with a hole big enough to stick the yarn through. That seriously blinged it up.

Bling and texture close up
Bling and texture close up

I guess as cliché as it sounds, just have fun with it. You really can’t screw it up that bad. Use a few yards of your better yarn in it. Take a chance and put random colors together. You won’t be able to judge it until you take if off the loom and wet finish it. It’s amazing how it’ll make it come alive. Give it a shot! I think you’ll find it a lot of fun!

(This was originally posted on the old Yay for J in an article called, “Artist Crush – Art Scarves”. Since the website deconstruction, that post is no longer available.)

Ginger Cat Knits Package Design

The purpose of this assignment was to design a package for something. Being a knitter, I noticed yarn and yarn kits rarely come in a box. I wanted to create a box that would hold the kit contents as well as be able to be used as a gift box when the project was finished.

I was thinking I would be using the box for my own yarn products, so I wanted to make something I could print on a home printer on demand. I liked the look of pillow boxes, and I have used this tutorial to make small ones, so I thought I could make one with two 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of paper. I ended up with a very odd shape when I folded the ends and I hated it.

Then I got the idea that the ends reminded me of my character, Angry Owl. So I drew a mockup on the paper:

First prototype (Angry Owl)
First prototype (Angry Owl)

That shape also reminded me of the cat logo I did for my friend Lea of Ginger Cat Knits:

First prototype (Ginger Cat Knits cat logo)
First prototype (Ginger Cat Knits cat logo)

When I showed them to Lea, she said it reminded her of the Owl and the Pussycat. I wasn’t familiar with the poem, but I learned there was also a turkey and a pig. That got my wheels spinning. Now I had two problems; how do I make this package (what shape is it?, can I even do it?) and what do these animals look like? It would be geared towards children, but the people buying the kit would likely be adults.

Package size prototypes
Package size prototypes. It would’ve been easier had I bought a box of fries and enlarged it. That was the shape I was after.
Owl and the Pussycat character sketch
Owl and the Pussycat character sketch. Would they work on one package together?

After several iterations, I settled on this shape for the box and this style for the animals. As my instructor pointed out, they were a little bland. Let’s get some color in there!

Package Prototype
Rough of the package shape and character design

Very well, then. Here’s some color and texture per your suggestion, Mr. Instructor. (Good idea.) The animals had a cardboard texture added to them, so they look like they are made out of bits of paper or felt. I carried that over to the background of the box, and used Ginger Cat purple on them.

Pig and Turkey
The Piggy-wig and the Turkey
The Owl
The Pussycat

I was a wee bit optimistic thinking I could finish all four by the deadline when I didn’t have the proper product photography and we weren’t sure how we were going to print these and make them into real things. We settled on the cat design and printed it on economy vinyl and stuck it to white cardstock.

Vinyl printout
Final package design printed on economy vinyl

I know there are some design/engineering issues that need fixing if I were to produce these, and I also know there’s a very good reason I did not go into engineering! Overall, I’m thrilled with how it turned out (as were Lea and Mr. Instructor)!

Final Package (Front)
Final Package (Front)
Final Package (Back)
Final Package (Back)