Monday, January 04, 2021

New Fiber Vessels

(Above:  An assortment of recently stitched fiber vessels.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

During the past two weeks, I've been busy in my studio making cording and then zigzag stitching it all into a new collection of fiber vessels.  So many were finished that I couldn't quite arrange them in a single photo!

(Above:  More recently stitched fiber vessels.)

There were several reasons for turning my attention to this.  First, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show went virtual this past November.  I participated, created a unique sales oriented blog featuring these fiber vessels, and actually sold quite a few!  Thus, I wanted to replace them.  Second, a blog reader sent an email.  She had a couple questions regarding my free, on-line tutorial for making them. 

(Ernie the Cat ... helping to unravel a small, green shawl with plenty of lime green fringe.)

Finally, I had a lot of fun unraveling a sweater and a small green shawl trimmed in lime green fringe.  Both were donated to my stash.  Ernie loved helping!

(Above:  Making the cording.  Lots of strands of yarn are first shoved through the cording foot of my Bernina.  Then, I zigzag over it.)

The tutorial mentions "six to eight" strands of yarn but I often have more.  Why?  Well, I'll use just about anything!  Some yarns are just thinner than others.  Basically, I use as many as I can. As long as the widest zigzag stitching goes over the twisted bunch ... GREAT!  (In the photo above, I've separated the yarns.  When actually stitching, I hold them close together ... with a slight twist.)  All these yarns were part of skeins ... except the fuzzy lime green.  I fed it into the strands, one after another.

Often, I have the individual strands in various boxes or nearby drawers.  This prevents them from getting tangled on their way to the machine.  Of course, Ernie had to help with all of this.  (The lime green fringe is on my work table.  When one piece ended, I fed the next one into place.

For two or three days, all I stitched was balls of cording.  Believe it or not, there's fuzzy lime green fringe in both green balls. The smaller green ball of cording is 87 yards in length.  I only know this because I used a fancy, 100% nylon, celery green decorative yarn made by Crystal Palace for their "Party Ribbon" collection.  Apparently, this color is no longer available.  In fact, I think the entire company closed in 2017.  I don't know where I got this yarn (probably Bill Mishoe's auction or a yard sale). It still had its wrapper, never used.  That ribbon yarn was fairly thick and sort of obvious in the cording.  I started the larger green ball of cording when I ran out of the "ribbon".  Generally, running out of a yarn is no problem.  Anything similar looks perfectly great.  Therefore, stitching excess yarn into cording is a wonderful way to give new life to old material.

In order to answer the nice lady's email questions, I took a few photos of the first fiber vessel stitched.  The lady wasn't sure how I got the spiral of yarn to start forming the vessel.  (She had her machine in a cabinet.)  I explained that I don't use any sort of flat attachment.  When the spiral gets to the edge of the machine, my hand (which is helping the rotations) happens to be pushing slightly downward.  The first time I made a fiber vessel, I didn't realize that this was even happening.  Because there's nothing under my hand, the spiral doesn't stay flat ... in starts to curl!

Within just a few more rotations, the downward curl is obvious.  This is the base of the fiber vessel. Please note, I keep the center of the spiral at a 90 degree angle from the needle.  My right hand is holding the cording and making it lay against the spiral.  My left hand is open ... helping the rotations and keeping the spiral/vessel in place.

As I zigzag around, the vessel forms.  I also keep my machine at the edge of my work table ... so that the fiber vessel holds its shape even after it is wider than the machine's base is tall.
Of course Ernie had to help with almost every fiber vessel ... which was an awful lot of work for one cat!  By the end, I had twenty-one fiber vessels finished, photographed, priced, and uploaded to my sales blog!  All the previously sold vessels have been removed from that blog.  Selling on-line is a new world ... and a lot of work for both an artist and her cat!



Shannon said...

I don't think I realized that your vessel cording was made of multiple yarns! Serves me right for not looking up the tutorial. I have scads of inherited yarn that isn't really suitable for knitting and have been wondering what to do with it! Clearly I should try making cording!

Margaret said...

I too didn't realize one could use yarn for this sort of thing (I don't make 'em; too fiddly for me!) I think I have some "yarn" that you might enjoy for this. I may just dig it out and send it along. I'll keep you posted by PM! :-)

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

Love the mini instructive tutorial - and of course the lovely Ernie.

I make from time to time a knitted cord - aptly named i-cord and the "i" stands for idiot cord. Usually around 5 stitches on a double pointed sock needle - knit row and then slide everything back to start - bringing your knit yarns with you and continue with more rows. It could be mistaken for french knitting that has nails on a reel - but I happen to have difficulties with that kind of gadget.

I've never made vessels with my cord but I've wired it often that then means I can create shapes. I might have a go at making an actual vessel when I'm next in that mood...

bookwraps by said...

I love your fiber vessels! the colors, the textures, so yummy. Thanks for sharing your technique...

Cathy K said...

Just received my bowl and it's even more fabulous here in my hands! Thanks for showing how you work, very generous. And thanks for the chuckles Ernie!

Susan Lenz said...

Thanks Cathy!
I love making these fiber vessels and am so happy when one gets to "go someplace"! Thank you so much for providing a home!