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.  

https://www.etsy.com/listing/541797927/fiberpunk-beads-turquoise-blue-11-piece?ref=shop_home_active_3
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 appliqu├ęs.  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!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hat Parade!

This fall I was asked to teach a crochet class to a group wishing to crochet for charity.  This put me into a frenzied state of hat design.  I started by actually writing up a pattern I've been making for 10 years.  It's the one I have pictured here in the upper left hand corner and it's called The Portland Beanie.  This is a great go-to beanie pattern using DK or light worsted weight yarn.  It looks terrific in solid colors and can be stunning made up in colorful hanspun.  

After finishing that write-up, I decided it would be nice to be able to make a similar hat only in heavier weight yarn.  They would make up quickly and so could be produced on a larger scale for charities.  The Thick and Quick Portland Beanie is the result of that effort and is pictured on the center left.   This pattern uses heavy worsted weight yarn and offers three different sizes great for growing youth to adult and also includes the Little Hat Flower Pattern for free.  

I wasn't quite done with my Portland Beanie stitch.  Once I started designing, I couldn't stop.  The next pattern I made was The Portland Beret. In this pattern I used a sport weight, variegated yarn.  It's pictured in the lower left corner.  It can be worn slouchy style as shown here or it can be worn like a traditional beret.   

After the Portland Beret was complete, I wanted to make an actual slouchy with that exaggerated poof in the back.  I used a worsted weight yarn and created The Portland Slouchy in in the last two pictures of the right column.  This one is my new favorite.  It's comfortable and can be worn all day as a stylish accessory.  It seems to look great on any shaped face or with any hairstyle.  So versatile!

Once I had a hat for all of these different yarn weights and in a fun variety of styles, I had one thing left on my list of hats to make and that was a The Baby Beanie.   It's in the upper right hand corner in blue, but of course it could just as easily be made in pink or any other color of the rainbow.  In this design, I use single crochet stitches for a beanie that will hold in warmth.  The pattern comes with instructions for the tassel topper you see here and a flower option.  I gave it a rolled brim so it can grow with baby for at least a few weeks.

This is what happens to me when I'm asked to teach a class.  I've always been one to over prepare.  These short periods of prolific design are fulfilling, but it's probably good that I don't teach regularly.  I fear all other aspects of life would suffer.  I have even one more hat that I designed this fall, but I'm saving that for another post.  This fall was a veritable parade of hats, hats and more hats!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crochet Covered Storage Tin

It's my birthday and what am I doing?  I'm yarn bombing a 6oz tin just for the fun of it.  I might be getting one step closer to a tea cozy crocheting stereotype, but I love making things out of yarn enough that I don't even care. 

I finished off a 6oz tin of almonds the other day and couldn't bring my self to throw it away.  There are so many bits and pieces in the crafting that I do, so why not hold onto a perfectly good storage item?  


Flashback to my father saving baby food jars for his workshop.  He would screw the metal tops to the bottom of a shelf and then screw on the little glass jars.  This way he could see and keep organized his smaller hardware pieces.  Genius!

The thing is, how can I allow something so plain as a tin to enter Wind Rose Fiber Studio?  Somehow, always, fiber must get involved!  So I grabbed a bit of leftover yarn, I think this is a Noro silk and wool blend, and started making a cover.  The wonderfully colorful Noro was definitely an improvement, but I thought it still needed a little something.  That's when I got the idea to make a classic storage container label slot.  Three sides are sewn onto my cover and the top is open so I can label the contents of my tin. 

Now it's a proper yarn lovers storage container and pretty cute if I do say so myself. Wouldn't a little grouping be fun together?  It could also be cute to decorate a gift tin of cookies.  

I don't think you need instructions for this one.  I've hardly invented the cozy here.  In the way of guidance, I started with a basic 6 stitch circle (working in the round with H hook and in sc) which I increased in circumference until it matched the bottom of the tin (42 sts).  Then I did a round in the back loops only without increasing to form the bottom rim.  I continued on with the same number of stitches in the round until it reached the height of my tin.  I slip stitched one final row around to give it a nice edge.  I covered the bottom of my tin in Weldbond to keep the cover in place.  I don't really think the sides need glueing.  

For my label cover, I chained 17, I single crocheted in 2nd ch from hook and in the next 4 sts, 3 in next st for 1st corner, sc in next st and then 3 sc in next for 2nd corner, sc in next 5 stitches, then 3 sc, sc, 3 sc over the last three sts to create 3rd and 4th corners, join with sl st to first sc, finish off sewing the edges together as you weave in those ends.  I whip stitched it onto my cover with needle and thread and there you have it. 

I guess I basically just wrote a pattern after all.  Of course you can keep the top that came with the tin.  That could also be yarn bombed if you too abide by the notion that everything is better when covered in yarn. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Regensburg Scarf Revisited

Last night I was in the mood to crochet a little something as I wound down for the day. I wanted something familiar, so I chose one of my own designs.  I'm always promising myself that I'll revisit my patterns to see if I think they are holding up over time.  The more pattern writing you do, the better you get, so it makes sense to go back to earlier patterns and do a little editing.  

The pattern I picked is called The Regensburg Scarf.  I wrote it back in 2011 after a trip to Germany including the town of, you guessed it, Regensburg.  It wasn't any scarf in particular that inspired me.  It was the fact that people were wearing scarves all the time and everywhere.  The scarves were almost always the wrap around style where you bring the ends forward and they seemed to become part of an outfit, more like a necklace than a utility.  

https://www.etsy.com/listing/78919415/the-regensburg-scarf-pdf-crochet-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_17
The reason why I wanted to share this pattern here again today, is because it's pretty unique.  I was reading over it last night and even found myself watching the companion video I made four years ago.  I had a strange moment of wondering how I came up with this because it's different than anything else I've designed and it's just kind of fun to do something a little different.  

Slowly my thought process came back to me.  I know I liked the idea of working the fringe in as you crochet.  I've always liked the idea of one uninterrupted thread creating an entire piece.  I also made up a ruffle.  I saw a lot of ruffles in Germany as well, so I wanted to make a crocheted scarf with ruffles.  I wanted more than the texture from a popcorn stitch or something similar.  I wanted an actual ruffle. 

So if you find yourself in the mood to crochet something with a couple of unique elements, The Regensburg Scarf is a fun and relatively quick project.  I think you'll enjoy the process, and if you're like me, you'll start thinking about what other designs you can make with a built in ruffle or fringe. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Drop Spindle Earrings


In my last post I shared a doll-sized drop spindle.  Today I'm going from small to smaller with my new Drop Spindle Earrings.  My thought process was not terribly involved.  I think it went something like, "If small is cute, than smaller would be even more cute." 

So I set out to made tiny drop spindles which turned out to be pretty fun.  One night I sat in front of the TV just sanding the ends of at least 50 little spindles.  It was almost meditative. During that time, I took one of my favorite pictures.  Here they are, my little spindles.  They seem to be floating or falling through space. 

Now that I had all of these cuties, I had to figure out how to turn them into earrings. They are much too small for any cup hook to be attached. I'm using fine wire to simulate the yarn.  The wire allows me to create a centered loop at the top so that the earrings hang in a straight and balanced way.  You can see that I have wrapped the wire at the top as though it is hitched into place above the cone of "spun" fiber.  

They can be challenging to make because they are small and call for precise work.  The spindles are only one inch long.  The end result is a nice little dangle earring.  Maybe people will recognize it for what it is, maybe not.  The spinners will know and that's what counts!

I have a few pairs made in my Gift Section at Wind Rose and more colors on the way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Doll Sized Drop Spindle

At the start of September, I found my way back into the studio.  My first project was to replenish my supply of Oversized Tatting Needles.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the interest in these 12" needles.  I have loved the one I made for myself, but you just never know how other people will feel about your ideas.

While these needles are not complex in their design, they can be a challenge to drill.  Needle tatting needles should not exceed the diameter of the yarn or else your tatting will be loose and less stable.  The idea is to have a needle whose diameter matches most bulky yarns, which is actually a rather small diameter.  However, the needle hole needs to be big enough to thread the yarn.  Basically, I'm trying to perfectly center a 3mm hole on a 5mm wooden needle.  

The reason I'm telling you all of this is because as I'm making these needles, there is some inevitable waste.  This got me to thinking and playing around with these bits of wood.  The result is a doll sized drop spindle.  Is there a market for such a thing?  I have no idea, but they are terribly cute.  I'm going to make a handful of them for the shop and sell them with a little ball of wool like my doll has here.  It's a way to use my wooden mishaps and share the spinning love with our 15 to 17 inch friends.  I'll post an update when I have a few made.

On a side note, I looked up the name of my doll, one of the few toys I have left from my childhood.  My mother tells me that my dad loved this doll when they were holiday shopping one year.  The left arm rotates and the doll changes expressions.  After a quick bit of internet research, I can tell you that this is Mattel's Saucy doll from 1972.  I have also discovered that she is featured in a few scary/creepy doll videos on YouTube.  I've always thought she was cute, but I guess it can be a fine line between cute and creepy in doll world. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Summer Hiatus

Gracious, I'm tired of seeing the same post at the top of my blog!  Especially one that begins with ack!  I must admit that I entered a purposeful dormant period over the summer.  I was feeling burnt out.  That along with a son graduating from high school, travel to Ireland and a tenth grade curriculum to write, I decided to take the summer off from fiber arts.  At the heart of this decision was not so much my busy life, but I wanted to miss fiber arts. 

It was not unlike fasting or other forms forms of deprivation.  At first it's not so bad, but then the cravings begin which soon turn to pangs.  Before too long, it's just painful.  Then there's that odd calm period and then the cravings begin all over again.  Of course I couldn't go all summer without food, but I did mange to go without fiber arts.  Towards the end, I came close to cheating several times.  I'd pick up a crochet hook and start thinking about crocheting something, anything, and then I'd force myself to walk away.

What I was hoping for actually came to pass.  By the end of the summer, not only was I itching to get back to fiber arts, but I was brimming with ideas.  So much of the time I spent denying myself, I also spent thinking about what I would make when I finally felt the time was right.  After four months celebrating life's big moments, exploring a bit more of this planet and preparing for the year ahead, I was ready to get my hands busy again and even better, it felt like an earned reward.  

I've been back at it since the beginning of September and the only reason I haven't written before now is because I was too consumed by my own deluge of creative activity.  So, no pictures today or links to products, just a promise that over the next few weeks I'll be sharing what I've been up to.  I have been posting at Wind Rose Fiber Studio on Facebook which I think of as the lazy writers' friend.  It is time to brush off that enabling friend and get my fingers typing!