Getting Cozy: Chilly Temps Bring Yarn Craft Indoors for the Season
MARTINS FERRY — It’s part art studio, part Santa’s workshop for the boho crowd.
There are fluttery strips of hand-dyed silk and a tall, hammered-copper still that’s occasionally used to capture the lushness of today’s garden in a linen spritzer that will be used through the bleak midwinter. There are neck drapes — “scarf” is too simple a label — that involve bits of ribbon, Turkish yarn and, perhaps, faerie dust.
Lynne Mamone, whose work is featured at Artworks Around Town in Wheeling’s Centre Market, is cozied up for the season change.
“In the summertime, I’ll sit out on the deck and knit,” Mamone said of a home environment that includes a small flock of chickens that cluck in such a mild-mannered way it almost sounds like a cat’s purr.
Now that mornings and evenings are turning cooler, she’s back in the next-to-the-house studio she shares with husband Jeff Mamone, a retired art teacher who works in glass etching, photography, jewelry making and wind chimes.
“Sometimes, I fall asleep on the futon,” Mamone admitted of the extent to which she enjoys the happily cluttered, wildly colorful space. A blanket knitted with needles thick as broomsticks drapes across the back of that piece of furniture, practically inviting such a result.
“I just like fiber,” Mamone said of her primary medium. “I like the feel of it. It’s just fun. There’s so many different things that you can do with it.”
While Mamone, who also teaches pre-school at Ayers Elementary in Martins Ferry, hand dyes silk for scarf making but her focus is clearly yarn. Her stash includes about 300 skeins at any given time.
“I try not to over buy, but it’s so easy to do,” Mamone noted of one part of her acquisition of raw material. The other part is harder to control as it sometimes involves the dispersal of another knitter’s estate. “I found three boxes of yarn on my porch.”
When it’s wool yarn, whatever the source, she often is producing something “felted” these days. Her studio includes a row of “monsters” likely destined to hold Halloween candy. Mamone created them from loosely knitted shapes that are heated and essentially beaten into a solid form by a manipulated laundry cycle.
While those items worked out as intended, Mamone noted that she tends to experiment — not always successfully. She recently knitted strips of discarded saris together with white wool. The combination caused the felting to fail. But, turning around a yarn circle as large as a Friday night pizza in her hands, the artist was already considering other possibilities. Could it cover a cushion? Maybe.
Mamone has even felted high-color rovings — unspun wool — into soap balls encased in what is effectively a built-in wash cloth. The soap is of a hard, milled variety because it must remain at least mostly intact during a laundry cycle during the felting process.
Once, at a friend’s request, Mamone tried making a soap ball with a higher-moisture facial soap. That was another failed experiment, she joked. The result was a soap-sodden mess. She went back to the hard soaps. “They feel really good on your feet.”
They also feel at least a tiny bit good in her wallet. “I sell a lot of them,” Mamone said of the soap balls. “They’re probably my top seller.”
Indeed, Mamone has reached the point that it is difficult at times to keep up with demand at the booth she rents at Artworks Around Town. She said she sells nearly everything she displays, sometimes to her dismay.
Projects like a multi-pocketed felted yarn container that she was working on in early September are such bears to complete she always ponders keeping them. “Sometimes, there’s something I don’t want to sell. I put a high price on it. But, then, somebody buys it and I’m like, ‘Oooaaaa!'”
Because hand-knitting and crochet is so time intensive, Mamone tends to focus on smaller pieces — like scarves, fingerless gloves and the soap balls. “I get bored. I need little things that I can move on quickly (or) it becomes a chore.”
The focus on quicker turn around also reflects the time-money continuum, she noted. Her arts pay is regular but not particularly large.
Her monthly sales revenue is offset by monthly booth rental, a 5-percent commission on sales and a gallery requirement for artists to put in a day’s worth of work at Artworks each month.
“It’s just fun to know that I’m doing something that I can love and make a little money at it,” Mamone said of one side of her studio production. The other is joy, she added. “When someone tries something on and it just looks nice on them and they love it, that just makes me happy.”