Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Retail Therapy

And I had been behaving so well.  One of the little lies we knitters tell ourselves is that we are working down our stashes and trying to be in control. We would only be tempted to visit the wool shop for altruistic reasons: the gift scarf would be so much nicer if it were in her favorite color and matched her coat, I could mend my poor bachelor neighbor's sweater sleeve if I can find a red that matches, I just knit a sweater with 22 balls from my stash and now I need buttons. You know these lies, although you may reframe them in the metaphors of your different avocations.

I was behaving well. I visited Jimmy Beans Wool in Reno over Christmas and despite having finished the mittens I brought along to work on, I bought nothing. Today, I wasn't even in a yarn shop. I would not normally ever shop for yarn in the big box craft stores. I'm a bit of a yarn snob and don't like the froofy acrylic "novelty" stuff and the dishcloth cotton I associate with the chains.  I was in Craft Warehouse (nicest of the chains IMHO) shopping for frames.  I won't say buying frames, because I was saddened to find out that what I imagined to be a standard size, alas, was not. Frustrated because I now am having to custom order one, I stomped around a bit looking for some miracle to bail me out of my dilemma. I did pick up some acid-free foam core because I am perpetually and inexplicably out of it. One day I will figure out which bookcase I slide the sheets behind and I will find 20 sheets, along with 800 missing ball point pens that had slipped down behind as well.

So there next to the framing department, while I waited for the gal to fetch the foam core, I saw giant bins filled with bagged yarn and signage declaring a grand mill ends closeout. The only think I like less than plasticy novelty yarn is bags of novelty yarn.

Met and started chatting with a lady there who searching for the right color of yarn for a Star Wars character in a bin of loose balls. When I asked if she meant something like a Yoda amigurumi that I had made from a pattern on Etsy, she said "Yes, Yes!"  We had a lovely discussion of which yarns would good Ewoks, and how challenging it was to find the perfect Yoda green.  And then I put my hand in the bin. The black eyelash yarn would be great for making soot sprites (from Totoro and Spirited Away) for Hannah. And a ball went into my basket.

We then discussed a strange netted yarn called Starbella that can be used for making really simple ruffled scarves. And a ball went into my basket. The rust and green and black on used in the example on the link.

Then I looked closer at the bag yarns. They had no labels, no information, no fiber content listed, no weight or gauge info, no hint of brand. They were packaged as 1 pound bags for $8.39. They had to be total crap yarn, right?  Mostly yes, but I saw a bag peeking from a few layers down that looked, to my surprise, like Noro or Knit Picks Chroma.  It looked like a wool blend, single ply with the color shifting and tweeding a bit.  I had bought some Noro Sock yarn a few years ago that was $20 for a 100 gram skein (over $80 for a pound.) I knew this couldn't be as nice, but damn, it looked good and was an amazing deal.  A little more sifting and I found several more bags, including some in a heavier (worsted?) weight.

Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop. (That was the sound of four bags landing in my cart.) I had to stop myself from taking them all. Besides, without being able to properly fondle it bagged as it were, I may not like it at all. Not all the balls in each bag were the same color, which will be important to figure out when It comes to scheming up a project. Also, whoever bagged it was conscientious to ensure there was at least a pound in each bag. One had 6 oz above and beyond!  The good news is that unbagged, it looks and feels like quality yarn. How did this happen? For under $40? In a chain store?

So I blog this score as both a rationalization of an unneeded purchase and the confession of a yarn hoarder. Besides, It was nice meeting someone from the Tri-Cities who actually knows what amigurumi is. Time to turn my attention back to things that I actually need to do, rather than rambling on and on.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Old School

And here are a few tiny paintings I did last week using more traditional materials - ink and paint. I was on the road, so it was interesting to see how adequately I packed my travel art box. I know of a few things I need to add/change.

Scanning Electron Microscope

I wish I had one. It would take pictures like this, at least that's what I think it looks like. These are fractals that I generated using the Mandelbulb rendering software. The coolest thing about fractals is that the closer you look, the more you see. Makes you want to just dive in and keep zooming, which you can do until your computer's floating point arithmetic runs out of digits.
Closeup of one of the blue lines in the bigger pic below

Monday, January 7, 2013

Digital Snowflakes

I've taken a challenge to make art every day in January. We're not required to finish something every day, which is good.  I have done a bit every day so far - even when we've been on the road. I'm sharing pictures today of some digital renderings I made of fractal equations. I thought they looked like snowflakes, so I colored them as such.  I'll post some of the other (traditional media) finishes from this week when I bother to get the scanner back on.

rotated and zoomed