Friday, September 26, 2014

Captain Zamira Drakasha - Badass Pirate and New Art Yarn Project

I am currently listening to the audio book version of The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch (@scottlynch78 on Twitter). I stumbled upon the first of the books on Amazon years ago, put it on my wish list - mostly because I read about there being a badass woman pirate in the second book - and then kind of forgot about it. I had so much on my mind then, writing my thesis and reading only stuff I needed for that purpose.

A few months ago, a customer who has also become a friend told me she loved the books, and said I should definitely read them. By then I was already hooked on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin and didn't see myself starting another series soon. But then it came to me: I looked for the audio book, as I always need something to occupy my mind while spinning. Though I do enjoy (re)watching Star Trek, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Buffy, and other shows, it's nice to have someone read to you now and then - and Michael Page, who reads the Gentleman Bastard series, does a fantastic job.

I have finished book 2 now, the book where the aforementioned female pirate captain comes into the story. And I am in love! She is a middle aged black woman, pirate captain, talented at sabre fighting, mother of two, and utterly fantastic. And what do I do when I am so in love with a character? Yes, exactly - I pay homage to them by spinning a yarn ;-)

Here she is, the magnificent Zamira Drakasha, Captain of the Poison Orchid!

 I decided on dark brown, reddish brown and golden brown to represent Zamira's ship and clothes, and teal and turquoise to represent the ocean. Fibres used are merino wool and bamboo.

For add-ins, I chose sabre charms for Zamira's fighting talents, yak bone skulls for the piracy, and coin charms for gained treasure. Also, I added strips of red silk, as in Zamira's universe being a pirate is referred to as sailing under the red flag, the equivalent of the Jolly Roger. The strips are spun in so the ends of them will flutter magnificently from the finished yarn.

The colours are a bit off in these pictures, as my camera has a slight problem with teals and turquoises - they always seem bluer than they actually are.


(By the way, when I googled Zamira I came upon this article, a response by author Scott Lynch to a critic of the character Zamira Drakasha. As always when something is about (strong, independent, powerful) women, the "critics" (read: obnoxious dickheads) come crawling from their sorry dark holes. The response by Scott Lynch is great, though, and you don't necessarily have to know the story or the character to read it.)

If you're interested in the book series, here are the titles:
1. The Lies of Locke Lamora
2. Red Seas under Red Skies
3. The Republic of Thieves
(Four more books to come, according to Wikipedia)

Essentially, the series is about two likeable (male) con artists and their varying followers who plan schemes to get rich. They are also priests of the so called crooked warden, the nameless thirteenth, god of thieves, and as such have certain obligations which sometimes interferes with their actually getting rich. The schemes are clever and sometimes quite funny, the dialogues are fun, the writing is great... Trigger warnings should be given for a certain brutality, though in my opinion it's much less than in A Song of Ice and Fire, for instance.

Though both of the protagonsists are male and there could be more female main characters for my taste, at least in this world women are visible, and work in varying professions. There are female guard and city watch members, assassins, personal guards, alchemysts, pirates, thieves, magi... And after Zamira and her second in command in book 2, book 3 now features another two women who I hope will get more screen time (is there a word for that when I'm talking about books?), and book 1 also had a few interesting female characters, though they didn't get that much time. 
So, all in all - very enjoyable books, fun to read, and even more fun if they're read to you by Michael Page ;-)


Monday, September 22, 2014

Are You My Mummy? - Art Yarn Challenge

*Contains slight spoilers for Doctor Who (2005 relaunch), season 1, episodes 9 and 10*

I was challenged by a dear customer to spin a very specific Doctor Who art yarn, comprising the episodes "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" from the first season of the 2005 TV show.
The Doctor and Rose find themselves in 1941 during the London Blitz, Rose hears a child calling for his mummy and goes after him, only to be tangled up in the rope of a barrage balloon. She clings on, a Union Jack prominently on her shirt, and is rescued by Captain Jack Harkness. The child reappears again and again, wearing a gas mask, asking everyone "are you my mummy?" and shouting "muuummmy, muuuuummmmy" all over the place.
Now, I don't want to retell the whole story here - if you know it already you will understand my explanations about the add-ins, and if you don't know it I don't want to spoil it for you completely.

When my customer challenged me to spin this yarn, I was instantly excited. I searched for charms and other things to spin in, but it became clear very quickly that I would have to substitute some things, and make others myself. I chose a space rocket to represent the space ship of Captain Jack Harkness (though it looks very differently) and the barrage balloons (since the form is somewhat similar). Not a perfect substitute, but working. I couldn't find any gas mask charms small enough to fit in the orifice of my spinning wheel, so I had to figure out how to make some from polymer clay. They are a bit ugly, and also not perfect, but the best I could manage, and I think they are recognizable. I made five, as it's not only the child "wearing" a gas mask.



Now for the other charms: I found some Union Jacks way back, and used one of them in this yarn, representing Rose's shirt. I used apples and teacups for the representation of the loaded tables Nancy and the children plunder, a Big Ben charm as that is where Captain Jack Harkness parks his (invisible) space ship, a telephone charm as the empty child repeatedly calls to ask for his mummy, a clock face charm because Rose and Jack flirt in front of the Big Ben clock face, and a handmade TARDIS charm the reason of which should be obvious ;-)


I chose blue, black and grey fibres, mostly because these are the colours that come to my mind whenever I think of the episodes in question. I think it might be not exactly right, there are lots of scenes in brown and yellowish tones also (which I realized when I looked at pictures again), but it seemed the right way to go anyway, and I think these tones predominate the beginning of the episode and the scenes outside. Oh, and I added lots of sparkling copper angelina to represent the nanogenes.





 The yarn is 175 m (191 yards) and 126 g (4,44 oz)


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Batwoman Returns

Three years ago I spun a beautiful Batwoman art yarn. I had read Batwoman - Elegy shortly before and was smitten with the epicness of the whole thing, and a bit in love with Batwoman herself.

Between then and now I read two more volumes of the series, and I am still smitten and in love ;-) Two more books have arrived recently and I'm waiting for a quiet moment to read them (and I also have a Batwoman wallpaper on my phone which I am very fond of). Anyway, the other I felt it was time for another yarn interpretation, and I decided not to have a look at the photos from the first yarn before getting started.

I did remember debating with myself whether to use black or red silk strips for the cape, but I didn't remember which I chose then. Batwoman's cape contains both, you see - it's red on the inside, and black on the outside. I knew I used bronze bat charms for the first version, but decided on silver ones for the new one. Overall, the new one is darker, but the red parts are more vibrant, it's a bit thinner and less heavily textured. But see for yourself:

Batwoman I



Batwoman II


The first one sold soon after being listed, so it's been gone from the shop for years, but the second one is still available (at least at this very moment ;-)).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Parade of Ice and Fire

A few months ago I finally decided to start reading George R. R. Martin's epic book series, A Song of Ice and Fire. I don't often take much time for reading, so it's slow progress, mostly, but I enjoy it immensely (though I thought book 2 was a bit lengthy at times), and it's given me so many ideas for art yarns! High time I showed you some of them :-)
Clicking on the titles will take you to the listing in the shop where you can find more info.



Ice & Fire

A take on the general concept of two opposed elements. Alpaca fibre, bluefaced leicester wool, merino wool, shimmering mother of pearl thread, and lots of sequins.
201 m (220 yards) / 52 g (1,83 oz)

Dragon's Egg I

Inspired by one of the dragon's eggs Daenerys Targaryen receives at her wedding to Khal Drogo. It will later hatch into the Dragon Daenerys calls Rhaegal. This yarn was part of a series of three, but there is only one other left besides this one. There is also a special offer. 168 m (184 yards) / 82 g (2,89 oz)
The Vale of Arryn

 Home to Lisa Tully, sister to Catelyn Stark, the Vale of Arryn is described as a vista of green fields, with hundreds of lakes, stretching to the misty east. I chose blue for lots of sky, green and yellow for the fields, and silver thread and sparkly beads for the lakes and the starry night sky. 222 m (243 yards) /103 g (3,63 oz)

King's Landing at Sunset

I think of King's Landing in tones of coloured sandstone, dusky yellows and pinkish browns. I didn't have fibres in the tones I wanted, so it's more pink than I originally planned, but I added matte mookaite beads in the exact colours I imagined.
138 m (151 yards) / 91 g (3,21 oz)


House Tully

The house and family Catelyn Stark comes from. Their colours are blue and red, their sigil a silver trout, and their motto is "Family, Duty, Honor". You can see how I chose colours and add-ins ;-)
 199 m (218 yards) / 102 g (3,60 oz)


  
Dragon's Egg II

Another one of Daenerys Targaryen's dragon's eggs. It will later hatch into the Dragon Daenerys calls Viserys. This yarn is also part of the above-mentioned series, and thus part of the special offer.
222 m (243 yards) / 106 g (3,74 oz)
 




 Daenerys Stormborn

Hand dyed kid mohair fibre in storm colours and genuine, faceted amethyst beads the colour of Daenerys' eyes make this yarn truly unique. It's fuzzy, and one of my personal favourites.
153 m (167 yards) / 56 g (1,98 oz)

House Lannister

I was very tempted to name this one The Lannister Lions - but wouldn't you think them a football team? :-D
Red and gold are the colours of Lannister House, and the lion is their sigil. I added lots of silver and gold sequins to demonstrate their wealth, as well.
98 m (107 yards) / 121 g (4,27 oz)


Beyond the Wall

Far stretching landscapes of white snow and snow-covered forests, haunted by the white walkers, crossed by Mance Rayder and his people. You know why there are so many skulls in this one ;-) Some black, some white, both types made from howlite.
135 m (148 yards) / 97 g (3,42 oz)


The Blackfish

Uncle to Catelyn Stark and very stubborn, Brynden Tully is called the Blackfish, which inspired me to use House Tully colours mixed with black, and simpler fish charms than in the Tully yarn.

 172 m (188 yards) / 106 g (3,74 oz)



 Storm Clad

I spun this one also with Daenerys Stormborn in mind, using grey and teal fibres for the stormy sea around Dragonstone, where Daenerys was born during a raging storm. I added shimmering peacock-grey (genuine) freshwater pearls.
296 m (324 yards) / 106 g (3,74 oz)




These are only the ones still available, and I decided against showing you the ones which have already sold, as it would be a bit mean to show the ones which are no longer available. You can look for them yourself in our sold orders, though, if you'd really like to see them (and some might well be respinnable if you fall in love ;-)).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Adorable Sweater from Harry Potter Yarn

I am a bit shocked I haven't posted anything in such a long time... I have taken to using Facebook when I post just a picture and not much text - if you're interested in that sort of thing, please come join us! :-) I hadn't realized how much time had gone by since I last blogged, though.

Today I have something special: I just received pictures of a child's sweater from a dear customer. She has used mostly Hoggy Warty Howarts, as far as I can see, with a border of Dragon's Fire. I meant to check with her, but I have an unexpected opening for blogging in my schedule right now, so guessing will have to do. Without further ado, here are the photos Mel kindly allowed me to share with you:



Isn't that just fantastic? So cute, and so cleverly combined. As some of you may know, I mostly spin and only knit rarely (and slowly), and I am always amazed to see how my yarns look knitted up (or crocheted, or woven, for that matter!). The stripes in house colours have turned out really great, don't you think?

I'll post pictures of the yarns, too, as I think the comparison is interesting, not only for those who have never worked with art yarn and would like to see before and after pictures, so to speak.


Addendum: Mel informed me she also used Merlin's Beard for the sweater - here's a photo:



Thank you for sharing the pictures, Mel - I am still delighted! And I hope to blog a bit more often in the future, though I have mostly pictures to show.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Road Goes Ever On

I've been hit with a serious case of Lord of the Rings fever! Not that I haven't had it before, it just seemed to have been dormant for some time ;-) And it started with a customer (and fellow geek, I might add) asking me to spin an Elanor yarn for her. I have to admit, I had to google this, and I found out that Elanor is Sam's daughter, named after a golden, star-shaped flower which grows in the forest of Lórien.

My mind went off into hyper creative mode and I started carding and spinning like mad. I have not only spun the requested yarn but three more Lord of the Rings inspired ones - and I'd like to thank my customer for the inspiration! :-)

Elanor 

 The colours were suggested by my customer, and I added not only the flowers ans leaf ribbons, but also small golden leaf sequins which are not visible in this photo.

Galadriel 

Spun from exquisite blend of merino wool and silk, with added alpaca fibre, wild silk, a small amount of shiny green bamboo, a bit of sunflower yellow merino and sparkling gold and silver angelina. I decided against pure white, which was my first thought, and instead added a hint of the colours I chose for the Lothlórien yarn. There are white leaf ribbons in the yarn, as well as lovely white and transparent glass beads, and silver and golden leaf sequins.

Lothlórien

This was spun from merino wool in tones of green and a small amount of sunflower yellow, with a hint of shiny bamboo and wild silk. No beads, but lots of golden and silver lead sequins.

Misty Mountains

This has been on my list for years, I think. Somehow I never got around to spinning it, until now. I decided on mostly grey with a bit of brown and a touch of dark teal, and white, cloudlike mohair spun in irregularly. No add-ins beside the mohair, just silver thread and lovely yarn texture.









Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Introducing: Vegan Art Yarns

When I started spinning, about eight years ago, I started testing many different types of fibre. As the possibility of sock knitting and of spinning my own sock yarns occurred to me, I bought some artificial fibres to make the yarn sturdier. I never spun my own sock yarn, as I then dived into the complex and enjoyable art of spinning art yarns, and the artificial fibres (which I didn't like much, as a concept, I much preferred wool) were forgotten in one of my stash drawers. Until someone asked me to spin a wool-free yarn to due allergies. And then another person asked me to spin a vegan yarn. I took out the artificial fibres again, and bought black viscose fibres as an addition, which is a fantastic fibre, by the way! Anyway, I started rethinking the concept of artificial fibres, and although I personally still prefer wool (and alpaca fibre!), I thought that some people might want art yarns made from artificial fibres, due to health or ethic reasons, and why should I not give it a try?

I went ahead and spun the Flower-Eating Dragon - which sold before I could even list it in the shop (sometimes people see photo previews of a new yarn on our Facebook page and request a reservation before I get around to listing the yarn in question. Not complaining here! It's the best of compliments :-))



I liked how it turned out. The black viscose gave it a sleek, smooth look, and it felt kind of flowing, very drapey. I decided to experiment more, and I've been carding vegan batts and spinning them into art yarns :-) (unfortunately, the pictures could be better...)


Melting Ice
White artificial fibre (details unknown), carbonized bamboo, turquoise bamboo, white bamboo, and glass beads.

Fake Snow
 White artificial fibre (details still unknown), white bamboo, snowflake sequins.

Art Yarn yet to be named
Yellow artificial fibre (no idea what exactly), carbonized bamboo, turquoise bamboo, white bamboo, sequins, glass beads.

The fibres require a bit more attention and spinning skill than wool does, as they tend to be slippery, and bits of fibre tend to fly around and settle in your eyes and mouth. But all things considered, it's worth the extra effort. After spinning, a yarn has to be washed so the twist can set, and afterwards it's usually much less curly than directly after spinning. That's not the case with artificial fibres, as it seems - the yarns were still rather curly after washing.

I will put these in the shop soon. Please note that they have been spun in the same environment as my other yarns, and the fibres have been blended on the same drum carder. I cleaned it extra thoroughly, but the vegan yarns might still contain traces of wool. Very, very light traces, but I still think I should mention that.

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