Monday, May 20, 2019

New Hooded Baby Blanket Pattern
I get so much satisfaction from publishing patterns.  Every time I publish one, I feel a surge of motivation and I tell myself that I need to set firm goals and get more done.  My good intentions are usually waylaid by general life stuff, so I guess I need to learn to coast on the high I feel when I actually do publish.

Do you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of small craft businesses?  I do all the time.  When I see a particularly great photo, I wonder how many shots it took to get that great one.  How many different set-ups did they try? Where did they find that model?  We in the crafting world have all had to become our own photographers and marketers which I always think is the hardest part.  I daydream about a magical intern who will do all my pictures and listings for me so I can spend all of my time designing.  Alas, it is all on me and not just me I fear.  When you are the offspring of a pattern designer, chances are about 100% that you will get roped into helping out.  

I have two son's, so they manage to escape quite a bit by virtue of being the wrong gender for much of what I make.  However, I am not shy about enlisting them for help. I have to giggle when I think that part of their childhood memories will be some of the weird things I have asked them to do for Wind Rose Fiber Studio. For instance, just yesterday, I had my 19 year old son hold a life-like baby in his arms so I could get a picture of my Hooded Baby Blanket for the pattern.  The poor guy had to sit there and play daddy with a baby doll and he was such a good sport.  I love my kids!
I guess I should share a bit about the pattern while I'm here.  I wanted to make something super soft and fluffy so people could use it as a prop for precious new baby pictures.  At the same time, I wanted it to be practical.  After toying with a few ideas, I remembered my kids old hooded bath towels and how cozy they were.  It was fun to wrap them up after a bath from head to toe and let them snuggle. I decided to make the same kind of thing only as a furry blanket. You can burrito up a baby with hood included or just use it as a nursery blanket. While the pattern is not difficult, it can be a challenge to work with fur yarn.  You need to be able to feel for where the stitches go, but as long as you are comfortable with a crochet hook, the Hooded Baby Blanket should be a quick and easy pattern.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Early Bird is The Tired Bird

I just had a shot of my favorite cold brew, so hopefully I'm good to go. 

I am on Day 1 of waking up early.  When I say early, I mean the 4 o'clock hour. I don't know if this is a trending thing, but I blame, um, I mean, I give credit to WheezyWaiter for this little adventure.  I follow him on YouTube and last week he shared his experience with shifting to an early to bed, early to rise schedule. If you're curious:

This is one of those videos that stuck with me.  To say I value time, especially creative time, is probably an understatement.  I often feel frustrated when my creative energy runs out, but the night is still young.  I end up watching a couple hours of TV because who goes to bed at 8pm?  

So I tried it.  I slept with my Apple watch on and a 4:30 alarm set to vibrate. It actually took 12 minutes of vibration before I woke up, but I was trying to spare my husband an early morning alarm.  I'm sensitive like that. :)

I usually wake up around 6am, so this didn't feel like that much extra time.  Determined to make the most of it, I went for a sunrise run, listened to my current audio book, Creative Quest by Questlove and I killed a few zombies (PvZ 2). Now, at 3:12 in the afternoon, I am feeling the sleepies, but I am determined to push through.  I know it's going to take a few nights to fully transition.

I think I am going to switch my wake-up time to 4am.  I want just a little more am.  I'm hoping I'll have an easier time getting to sleep tonight.  Last night I tossed and turned which is adding to today's roughness. 

This may be a crazy, short lived experiment, but I can't resist giving it a go.  I would much rather spend two hours in the early morning being creative, running, or just generally doing stuff than that same amount of time laying in front of the TV.  I wonder how I'll feel a few days from now?   

Thursday, April 18, 2019

There Is a Better Way, But I'm Doing it This Way Anyway

There is a better way to do this thing I'm doing, but I'm going to go ahead and do it this other way anyway. This sounds crazy and yet with almost every design I undertake, I find myself thinking this kind of thought.  It's different from second-guessing or some sort of crisis of confidence, but rather my brain telling me that there is another way of doing the thing I'm doing that would be even better. I will ignore this intelligence and continue on, very often wasting some of my own precious time as well as yarn which I would argue is also precious. 

Case in point, my current project is a baby blanket for my nephew's first.  My idea is to take a classic doily pattern and make it up in a soft, baby yarn, modifying it just a little to take out some of the larger spacing in the design so that it would serve well as a blanket. The idea is sound, even kind of fun and appropriate for my vintage loving nephew and his wife, but as I work up the blanket, I know it would represent better in a solid yarn and better still in one with a less fluffy texture.  Yet here I am, ignoring my own reasoning and working through with my initial yarn purchase.  The best thing you can say about this variegated, furry yarn is that the colors will be appealing to the indented recipients and it has an impressionist air which will probably even present the suggestion of lace when complete. Even so, I know deep down that I will end up crocheting the whole piece over again and this will become something taking up space in my studio or at best, donated to a charity which will have no idea what it is supposed to be. 

Why do I do this? 
Do I want to prove myself wrong? 
Is it because I can't abandon a project once I've begun?  
Will writing this phenomena down create personal change?

Honestly, I think this is just a shout into the void, an existential "why?" and one of many I have about myself and my creative brain. Perhaps I'm just wondering if anyone can relate. 

I'll come back and share my finished baby blanket, both of them. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Daydreamer Dolman Sweater Pattern and More!
I was just reading my last blog post from September of 2018.  That's right, September! Blimey it's been a long time!!!

At least let me follow up my last ancient post.  Since the fall of last year, I have managed to get a couple projects done.  The Daydreamer Dolman Sweater is my brand new pattern that has been months in the making.  I really wanted to design something to showcase all of the fun, cake style yarns on the market. This was made using Caron Latte Cakes and I just love how the colors present themselves in cool, geometric patterns. Of course you could go solid or design your own.  I made
up this second one with short sleeves using Yarn Bee's Fur-Ever Style and trimmed it out with a pretty blue from my stash.  This one is lighter weight and a nice layer to throw on over a tank.  It's worked in a free size for all of us fans of loose, comfy clothes. 

So that's my big new pattern, but in my last post I was talking about my All Wrapped Up in Circles & Squares Applique and how I was working on project using this motif.  I ended up assembling two of the 10" squares and designing a handbag.  All of the details can be found on Instagram by searching #circlesandsquaresbag You can find me on Insta @jennofwindrose and here is what the finished project looks like...

Cute, huh?
I guess I have one last share before I call it a night.  I recently found a source for really nice quality Recycled Sari Silk Sliver.  It is free of little threads and bits that are commonly found in recycled sari silk so its pure pleasure to spin.  If you love all of the gorgeous and somewhat random colors that can be found in recycled sari silk, you will go crazy for this fiber.  Oops, can't forget the pic!

Okay, I am going to call this Wednesday done.  Hope life is treating you well!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

All Wrapped Up in Circles and Squares - New Crochet Patterns

All Wrapped Up in Circles and Squares is the name of my latest pattern, but it also feels a bit like my mental state, at least the "all wrapped up" part.  With one child in grad school and the other starting under grad, I have achieved a level-up of sorts.  I'm greeting my newfound autonomy with over-eagerness, jumping into all of the projects that I have been promising myself I would do if I had a little more time. I have wrapped myself up in all of them.
Of these myriad projects, was the goal to design and publish more patterns.  For starters, I had an idea to design a mandala, only to find out that they have been all the rage for at least a couple years.  How did I get so out of touch?  Oh well, I designed my mandala anyway.  I call this the Tulip Mandala.  There are subtle little flowers worked into the pattern.
After the mandala, I decided I wanted to create a lotus flower in profile.  You see plenty of crocheted lotus flowers, but they are typically an overhead view.  They start at the center and work their way out to the petals.  Crocheting in the round lends itself to flowers made this way, but I have always loved that iconic lotus in profile, so I created an appliqué to be used as a centerpiece or embellishment.  Here's my Lotus Flower Appliqué.

I guess after the lotus flower, I must have been on an applique kick, because that's when I designed my latest motif, All Wrapped Up in Circles and Squares.  The inspiration for this design came from some old fashioned yarn play.  I was stuck on a plane, so I pull out a hook and a skein of yarn (never leave home without the essentials) and just started to noodle or doodle or whatever it is we yarn people do.  I ended up with a circle where the outer ring was a fully wrapped round of stitches.  It was overlay and underlay.  It had texture and what I think of as a stained glass effect, colors peeking out between lines. I did not know how I would use it, but I knew I had to turn it into something.

When I sat down to work with my new shape in earnest, I thought, "What if the circle becomes a square?" I turned my wrapped circle into a square and then I turned it back into another wrapped circle, and then again a square.  It was a challenge to write, a brain teaser of sorts.  It's easy to crochet in the round and it's easy to make a square, but going back and forth was something new, at least for me.  In the end, I had a nice, big 10" square.

Currently, I'm working on designs utilizing the All Wrapped Up in Circles and Squares motif.  I'm giving the first tutorial away CAL style on Instagram.  You can find all of the posts by searching #circlesandsquaresbag and you can find me on Insta @jennofwindrose

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Tall Muk Luks Pattern is Here! I have been crocheting my Tall Muk Luks for well over 13 years now, but making something, and writing a pattern for that same something, are two very different enterprises.  I have gone through quite a few versions on my path to this final product.  The Tall Muk Luks are so beloved to me that I could not bring myself to publish a pattern for them until I was truly happy with my work.  The day is finally here and I am so pleased to be able to share this pattern with you!  The Tall Muk Luks Pattern is available in my Etsy store and more details on the pattern can be found in the listing.  It's a challenging crochet for intermediate to advanced skill levels, so if you are a beginner, find an experienced helper.  I've included 27 pictures in this mammoth of a pattern to carry you through to success!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fiberpunk Beads

If intentions were blog posts, you would hear from me often, but today I am making good and turning my thoughts into typed words.  

I have been having fun in my studio playing around with my Fiberpunk Beads and I've started to make sets of them for other jewelry makers to explore.  I am hoping they will find their people and be used in new and inventive ways. 

I'm starting out by creating sets in solid colors.  Each one contains a large pendant, a tube, 6 spacers and three extenders.  I hope I have chosen components that will be assets to any design, but once I have a good variety of these kits, I'll branch out.
I love the texture fiber adds to jewelry and the way it contrasts the hardness of metal.  The beads I'm making are a combination of tatting and crochet and I'm trying to create designs that are out of the ordinary.  When you look at these beads do you see earrings or a pendant necklace?  Maybe you see a multi-strand bracelet or embellishments that can be sewn on like appliqués.  Most of all, I hope you see possibilities!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Where Was I, Oh Yeah, Gift Baskets!

Yesterday, I ran out of steam before I could finish sharing all of the new Gift Baskets at Wind Rose Fiber Studio.  In addition to the "learn to spin" baskets, I also put some together for the experienced spinners.  I've never met a spinner who thought they had too much fiber.  They might sheepishly say they do, but would they give any of it up?  So for these enthusiasts, near and dear to my heart, I made two gifts.  

The first one is full of the classics and I call it the Favorite Spinning Fibers Gift Basket.  This gift is stuffed full of Merino, Creamy Alpaca, Mixed BFL and I even threw in an ounce of Firestar.  I don't know about you, but I love sneaking just a little sparkle into my yarns.  

For the second basket, I incorporated some of the nicest fibers in my studio.  This one I call the Luxury Spinning Fibers Gift Basket.  This one is dedicated to soft, fine fibers including Yak, Silk, Organic Polwarth, Merino/Yak, and Alpaca/Silk.  This one is sure to make any spinner smile.

My last two baskets are for the felters and dyers out there.  In the Dye Your Own Wool Gift Basket, there are 6 full ounces of Merino, Jacquard Dyes in Fire Red, Sun Yellow and Brilliant Blue and Instructions.  Don't forget that I also have instructions here for How To Dye Wool Roving

Last but not least is The Felting Basket.   This colorful treat for the felting fans starts off with 1oz of Merino Wool and then it time to add some colors.  There is .25oz each of Bright Blue, Crabapple, Silver Grey, Black, Olive, Violet, Aqua, Red, Yellow, Brown, Orange and PInk in wonderfully feltable Corriedale.  What a great variety to add to a felter's stash!

There you have it.  Including the drop spindle baskets from yesterday's post, there are 7 in all because sometimes you just want to give the gift of fiber!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Spinning and Dyeing Gift Baskets

I've added something new to my little shop at Wind Rose Fiber Studio.  It came to me one morning in December, that it would be fun to make gift baskets.  While I plan to carry them year round, I'm sure this idea was motivated by the holiday season.  It tends to be the time of year when people are shopping for loved ones.  I thought it would be nice to have something all thought out, wrapped up and ready to give. 

I ended up designing 7 gift baskets in all.  I made three for spinning:  one with 19 micron Merino in Vermillion, Leaf and Orchid, one with natural fibers Organic Polwarth, Mixed BFL and Merino, and another 19 micron Merino basket with Cardinal, Ginger and Cyan.  They all come with a top whorl drop spindle and a set of detailed instructions for learning to spin.  They are all carefully arranged into bread baskets and then shrink wrapped.  I finish off all of my baskets with a little blank card that can be addressed to the recipient and for that added homemade touch, I crocheted star ornaments from some of my own handspun.  These go on the outside along with a yarn bow.  Actually, the Star Ornament Pattern is available here for free. 

That's only three of the seven gift basket themes, but I'm starting to wear out tonight.  I'll share the rest tomorrow.

Well I did It

I just thought I would quickly follow up on yesterday's post.  I did manage to get out there and run in spite of my moodiness.  As if in response to the metaphoric rain cloud over my head, it started to drizzle just as I was leaving.  It didn't bother me very much, mostly because this is the desert and rain rarely amounts to anything.  I played the odds and ran anyway.

I ended up running 8 miles.  I think I had something to prove to myself.  I don't know.  Like I said, I was moody.  Actually, I'm still moody, but I'm trying to snap out of it.  It occurred to me that it could even be a vitamin deficiency, so I took some B12 just for good measure.  I also finished off today with cauliflower fried rice.  This is where you process the cauliflower and use it instead of rice.  It's pretty tasty stuff.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Working Out After a Day Off

Yesterday I shared a bit about my fitness endeavors.  I talked about MyFitnessPal (the app) and the different exercises I've done along the way.  I like the idea of adding a little journaling to the process right here on my blog.  It seems that so much of getting healthy is mental.  

This mental aspect is on my mind because today, is the the day after, a day off.  A couple of weeks ago I decided I would give myself one day off a week.  I felt like my muscles needed a recovery day particularly since I've started doing exercises that are more challenging for me as well as longer runs.  I guess I should be more specific.  I do 25 minutes of a bodyweight bootcamp 6 days a week, and I run three times a week - 2 shorter runs (4 to 6 miles) and one longer one (8+).

I think I was spot on about the muscle recovery, but what I did not consider was how having a day off would affect my mental state.  The thing about daily exercise is that you get used to it.  You know it's coming and you know you'll get through it.  After taking yesterday off, I'm rather fixated on the fact that I'm running later today.  Can I still go the same distance?  How will I feel?  

One day off and I'm suffering a crisis in confidence.  A recovery day for my muscles has become a breakdown day for my brain. I imagine after my run, I'll be singing a different tune.  After all, I got through my morning workout just fine.  Still, it makes me wonder if I'll feel this way every Monday.  If so, is a day off worth it?  

Sunday, January 8, 2017

You Have to Start Somewhere

As far as blogging goes, 2016 was my lost year.  As far as everything else goes, it was actually pretty cool.  My sons grew ever more independent and impressive in their older teen years.  A wedding brought my whole family together as weddings do.  I did my fair share of crocheting and designing.  My biggest project being my Solomon's Knot Drape Front Vest.   I also decided to focus on learning how to play the guitar which I have owned for over 25 years.  All in all, 2016 was a year full of the richness that life offers.  

One of the biggest changes for me was when I somehow decided that I was going to get into better shape.  More than decided really.  Have you ever had that experience when something kind of crosses over in your mind and you know that you are actually going to accomplish your goal because you just do?  I had one of those. 

It started at the beginning of September when, feeling guilty about being rather lazy over the summer, I decided to get back to exercising.  Now, here on the outskirts of Phoenix, September is still crazy hot, so after one walk, I was already feeling defeated.  Then two things happened.  First, my sister-in-law shared this very fun looking video on facebook of The Fitness Marshall doing a short cardio hip-hop workout.

My first thought was, "Hey, I could do this inside!"  So I went over to The Fitness Marshall's YouTube channel, picked out enough videos to make an hour long playlist, and decided to hip-hop my way to being more fit.

Right about the same time, my oldest son, who was already back at college, tells me about this app he's using and gets me to sign up on My Fitness Pal.  I put the app on my phone, friend my son so we can be fitness buddies, and I was off.  Something about the combination of finding a fun exercise routine and tracking it in a diary along with my calorie intake just clicked for me.  I never thought I'd be a calorie counter, but it really helped me to monitor and be mindful of my diet.  

Flash forward to present day and I have logged onto the MyFitnessPal app for 127 days in a row.  I went from cardio hip-hopping to kick boxing and now I'm using a body weight bootcamp video and I've started running.  I've lost 38 pounds, donated more than half my wardrobe to charity and I kind of don't even know what size I wear right now because I'm still getting used to this smaller me. 

It's weird to say all of that in a nutshell because its been such a long journey with sweat and sore muscles and feeling like I can't lose another pound no matter what I do (the lows) and being elated when the scale rewards me with a nice little drop (the highs).  

I haven't reached my weight loss goal as of yet, so the journey is ongoing.  Aside from losing weight, I'm really focusing on strengthening my core and upper body.  I want to slim down, but I want to feel strong at the same time.  

I'm 15 pounds away from my ultimate goal.  The more weight I lose, the harder it seems to be to keep losing.  I keep having to up my exercise and be ever vigilant about my diet.  If you are out there trying to be a more fit version of yourself, I'm right there with you! If you would like to buddy up on MyFitnessPal, my username is fiberpunk.  I've just started giving myself Sundays off, so tomorrow, it's back to the mat!

Oh yes, and Happy New Year!