DianeHamillFiberArt

An Adventure in Design

I am very grateful for everyone who enjoys my art. Some supporters read this blog, some follow me on  Facebook or Instagram, others check my Etsy store….all are appreciated! When anyone actually makes a purchase of my creations, it is an affirmation of what I work hard to create. Everyone needs to feel they have purpose and meaning in life and fiber art is one of the ways I work at finding that sweet place of contentment.

A dear friend and longtime supporter of my work recently ordered several cashmere throws as Christmas gifts for family members. Here are the results…..I hope she and her family have a cozy, cashmere Christmas!!

I also feel that it is important to conserve our resources. I’m not always good at resisting the urge to purchase “stuff,” but I’m trying! My parents were both born at the beginning of the Great Depression and consequently, they were extremely financially conservative. They were raised with the motto, “Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, Or Do Without!” This is part of the reason I find creating art from recycled cashmere so satisfying. Also, my mother would find it extremely funny if she knew how much I love to find a bargain at a resale shop!

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All of my cashmere creations including scarves, baby blankets and throws are made from 100% cashmere sweaters.  I’ve purchased them from resale shops, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, or they have been given to me.  I’ve created custom designs from sweaters that belonged to a beloved family member.  Some blankets have a theme, others are color combinations I love. These knits are wonderful to work with.  There is nothing quite as soft and cozy as cashmere!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You can see why I titled this blog Ying and Yang!  We recently became the forever family to the Ying and Yang of pugs….Buster and Emma Lou.  We are not the first family to rescue these babies.  Buster and Emma Lou came to us in a very special and unique way. Their first rescuer was a hospice patient where my husband Joe is the medical director. She knew we were “pug” people and her family asked if we would become the parents to these two cuties. The owner passed away and Emma Lou and Buster came to live with us about two months ago.

Emma Lou has taken to the fiber arts.  She enjoyed getting into the pictures as I tried to photograph a recent cashmere blanket.  She is also a snuggle bug and loves to sit next to you or curl up in her bed.  She is a little shy and wants to take her time to get to know you.

Buster is friendly and outgoing.  He likes to bark at any activity going on outside.  He is quick to greet everyone and loves attention.

Pugs just make me smile.  You can’t help but laugh at their cute faces and be uplifted by their sweet nature.


As you can see, the whole family has fallen in love with these two. We are glad to share our home and family with Buster and Emma Lou!

This summer I added another chapter to the story of the friendship of Aly and Diane, as we celebrated 50 years of friendship.
It all started in the summer of 1969 when I was a guest in the Vinke home in Harderwijk, The Netherlands. I participated in an exchange program through International 4-H Clubs Teen Caravan. I met a girl very much like myself, Aly Vinke!
Among the memorable events of that summer was getting up in the middle of the night in The Netherlands to watch the first men walk on the moon. The Vinke family stood with me to sing “The Star Spangled Banner”!
Fifty years have passed, but our friendship has stood the test of time. We both married, had children and raised families. We have visited in each others homes many times, bringing parents, husbands, children and grandchildren along to share in the fun. We have celebrated wedding anniversaries and weddings together. We have lost beloved family members.

Aly has begun the process of downsizing.  She is moving next door into a much smaller house.  She has already given away or repurposed most of her possessions.  While I’m not ready to do what Aly has done, I admire her courage and tenacity!  Aly has a set of two blue leather chairs that will move with her to the new house.  I picture her sitting in one of these chairs, enjoying her new space!  It’s cold in The Netherlands in the winter, so I thought Aly might enjoy a cashmere sweater blanket as a housewarming gift.  You can see the initial layout of sweater pieces below.

Until I can visit Aly in her new home, I will see her in my mind sitting in her blue chair wrapped in blue cashmere.  Thank you to the fates that brought us together so many years ago—-there is no greater joy than a true friend!!

 

 

Several days of cold rain have been great for the yard, but after awhile, my soul needs some sun! This is fall in Oklahoma…..90 degrees one day and 30 the next!  Some years we have beautiful color, others, winter seems to come overnight.

While waiting for the sun to come out, I decided to make another cashmere throw.  Not only would the colors be warm and sunny, but the cashmere is so soft and comforting, I feel better just working with this wonderful fabric.

On the left, I’ve arranged pieces of cashmere cut from four sweaters.  You will notice I’ve included the sweater construction details, such as necklines and pockets.  I think this makes for a more interesting finished product.  An “away” Saturday for my favorite college football team (Oklahoma State) is the perfect time to sew.  I can listen to the game, stop for exciting plays, yell at the television and accomplish a lot of sewing!

So, here is the finished product….sunshine and warmth in a cozy, comfy cover-up!  Emma Lou wanted to get in on the action while I was trying to photograph and the teddy bear had to substitute for someone taking a nap.  What do you know….the sun came out just in time for pictures!!  This blanket will soon make it’s way to an Etsy listing where I hope it will find a person that will love the softness and appreciate the environmentally friendly process of up-cycled cashmere.

 

How do I know someone is going to get the blues? I made them for her! Sometimes I write about something I’m weaving and someone will contact me saying…”Oh, I love what you made, but can you do it in (fill in a different color)? This time I have a request from a very special friend. I know her lifestyle often leans toward wearing jeans and denim, so she will be getting this shawl in shades of blue with a touch of soft gray and a tiny bit of blue and silver sparkle. I hope it will be a perfect addition for her wardrobe!

 

 

I love the way this piece can go from casual to very dressy.  It would be perfect over a little black dress, or with leggings and a tunic top.  It’s large enough for a shawl, but could go at the neckline of a coat and will fold up and tuck into a tote for travel.

If you would like something that is one of a kind and custom made just for you, contact me and will collaborate on a special project!  Wouldn’t that be fun?

Thanks for reading my post!  I hope you enjoy seeing what’s on my loom and my finished projects.  If so, please invite your friends to come along on this creative journey with me by subscribing to this blog.

Why does today seem so much colder than the past few days?  The temperature is about the same.  I was outside doing intervals yesterday, and it didn’t feel as cold as today.  Maybe it’s the cloudy, rainy weather….it’s the type of day that just feels cold down to the bone!

This day is ideal for a recycled wool sweater blanket!  As you can tell, I did not take these photos on a cold, cloudy, rainy day.  Actually using the blanket is much more appropriate today!  There is just something so cozy about a sweater.  Imagine an entire blanket made of soft, warm sweaters….perfect!!

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This blanket is made from 100% wool sweaters that have been washed, felted and cut apart.  The pieces (sleeves, backs, fronts, details like buttons and pockets) were cut into uniform pieces and I worked on the design.  Sometimes it takes several times of laying the pieces out, moving them around and generally playing with where the colors and textures fit to create a harmonious design.  I love this part….moving pieces….making sure no two like pieces are next to each other.  I photograph the design as it is placed.

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Then comes the sewing.  I usually sew in blocks or strips, then sew them together, rather like piecing a quilt.  Taking care not to stretch the pieces, and pressing with lots of steam, helps to transform the sweaters into a beautiful new creation.

I chose to add a crocheted border to this blanket.  It adds to the rustic, casual feel of the piece.

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Finally, the completed work!  Sweaters with holes, sweaters that had once been loved and were no longer useful, sweaters that were outgrown or just no longer thought to be pretty, are now beautiful again.  It’s the perfect day for a sweater blanket!!  This one of a kind artwork is available on my Etsy site at:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/DianeHamillFiberArt

I love, love, love cashmere! It is absolutely the softest, lightest weight and warmest fiber. What could be better than to curl up under a cashmere throw with a good book?

When you consider where cashmere comes from, and then think of the final product, it is wonderful to see the transformation.  Who would think the hair from this guy would be transformed into your favorite sweater?

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Even the finest of cashmere sweaters may not last a lifetime.  Accidents happen….we spill something, moths find their way into our closets, the sweater gets thrown into the laundry and is felted beyond wearing.  I just love it when this happens because you cannot bear to throw your once beautiful cashmere sweater into the trash, so you donate it to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army store.  Finding your unusable sweater is like finding treasure to me!  I can transform it to something beautiful and useful again!

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This 100% cashmere throw was once about nine cashmere sweaters.  They have been machine washed and dried, cut apart, arranged and sewn back together.  Even some of the structural details, like a neckline, have been retained.

 

Great care has been taken to keep the wonderful soft hand of the sweater, so snuggling up under this throw is  especially comfortable.

It’s fun and very satisfying to make art from something that might otherwise be thrown away.  This cashmere throw and other designs in cashmere and wool are available on my Etsy site at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DianeHamillFiberArt

Thanks for reading my story!!

 

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