Thursday, July 31, 2008

Star Man Pendant Necklace

If whimsy is your thing, you're going to love my little Star Man! Actually he's not so little. The pendant measures 2.5"x 3". He started out as a plain starfish pendant, but gained hands and legs and eyes all of which were made using findings and tiny glass beads. He's been carefully wired together and hung on a strand of complimentary glass beads with two little wire stars to keep him company. The necklace is 17" long and closes securely with a lobster clasp.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Today at Wind Rose Fiber Studio #6

I'm ready to get back into work after a week of hosting my sister.  I've got lots of roving waiting to become yarn, so that's a priority this week.  I also plan to get back into a dyeing schedule.  I've promised a client a light aqua blue merino so that will be my first color.  I'm expecting a delivery of alpaca this week, so it will be fun to add some alpaca to my inventory.  If you are ever reading this blog and have color requests for roving, feel free to comment for go to Wind Rose Fiber Studio and you can contact me there.  

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Grand Canyon

My family and I just spent a day at the Grand Canyon. Here are a few pictures to enjoy. The only thing I have to add is that if you are planning a trip to the Canyon, Frommer's Guide gives some good travel advice. Especially if you are driving up from the south or Flagstaff area. If you take US 89 to Arizona 64 and go in by the east entrance, you in for a much nicer less crowded drive. We drove back from the south rim so we tried out both routes. The 89 to 64 may be a little longer, but aside from the lesser amount of traffic, the condition of the roads were also much better. I noticed too, that there are a few more Trading posts along the way for those who enjoy shopping.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Great Bead Store Discovery in Scottsdale, AZ

I'm wiped out tonight, but I just have to share my great discovery of the day.  I was taking my sister around the historical/shopping district of Scottsdale when we stumbled onto the best bead shop I've ever been in.  It was huge!  It was so awesome to see some really unique selections.  A whole wall was dedicated just to African beads.  If you live here or are coming for a visit and you're tired of always seeing the same beads, this is the place for you!  It's called Razzle-Dazzle and can be found on 7219 E. Main Street in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Long Day

It's been a long day today.  My sister arrives late tonight from VA.  I've spent most of the afternoon getting my house presentable as well as trying to add a few fresh touches here and there.  The early afternoon was spent at the pediatrician......    zzzzzzzzzzzz  

Well it's a day later then when I started this post and I'm a lot less tired.  I am sad though because I ruined my goal of blogging at least a little every day.  I MISSED  A DAY! : (

I'll be taking it kind of easy this week enjoying my sister's company and savoring the last week of summer before the kids go back to school.  Saturday we are taking a day trip to the Grand Canyon.  I'll have to post a few pics for you next week. 

I haven't forgotten about my experiment, results are still forth coming.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wool Dyeing Experiment

It's the great wool dyeing experiment of ....  hmmm.....  of my kitchen!  Alright, it might not be that great, but I just have to do it.  What's "it"?   It's presoaking versus not presoaking.  I know the  wisdom is overwhelmingly presoak, but I have to just have it test it.  

Now it has to be said that I dye a lot,  I mean A LOT of fiber.  I also maintain a stock of certain colors that I reproduce, so I have a very controlled dye method which does include presoaking for at least 30 min.  The reason I'm compelled to do this little experiment is because no matter how careful I am, everyone once in a while a batch will come out a little uneven which makes me crazy.  At the same time, there have been a few occasions when I have been in a rush to get an order done for someone and have skipped the presoaking and had the fiber come out just great.  Is it a fluke?  Can presoaking be a waste of time?

Now I know some of this depends of the fiber, it's quality and type.  I've worked with roving where I was presoaking as much to get is really clean to accept the dye as anything else.  But today I am working with top quality Merino.  

I'm compelled to do this test as today is one of those days that my fiber came out a little uneven even though it was babied through my usual controlled process.  Like I said it makes me crazy, so I ran upstairs, grabbed another half a pound and here I go again.  This time, no presoaking, just the same two dye baths that I made earlier today.  

The experiment is still happening, so I will have to report on the results tomorrow.  I'll post a couple pictures so you can judge along with me.  

Today at Wind Rose Fiber Studio #5

It's 4:30 in the afternoon, so I guess I''m not getting an early start to my day.  I have made it to the post office which I always try to do before lunch.  I take pride in being a fast shipper.  (you have to take pride in something you know)  I spent a very important hour lounging under cotton ball clouds and a bright blue sky.  Feeling recharged, I now have half a pound of Merino roving dyeing away on the stove.  I'm doing 4oz each of two colors today; Sun Touched and Golden Brown.  These are custom colors that I designed and are part of a skin tone line that I sell at Wind Rose.  The skin tone line has been really popular.  I keep wanting to make enough extra to combine them into sampler packs, but they sell too fast.  I'm not complaining, but once the kids go back to school, I'm going to dye at a greater pace so I can do just that. 

I do still have a poll going to get gift ideas for the holidays.  If you happen to be reading this, please take it.  Please?  I want to know what you think.

I have also spent a little more time today at flickr.  I've joined a few groups and added a few more pics.  Someone has already added me as a contact, so I'm feeling a little more welcomed.  There seem to be so many people who love the site, so I just have to find out for myself.

One last extremely important fact.  I have just discovered nacho cheese flavored Sun Chips.  If you have not tried them, you must!  Go to the store now!  I've never been a huge chip person, but they are soooo soooo yummy!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today at Wind Rose Fiber Studio #4

Most important things first... Did you know that today is National Ice Cream Day?? That's right! The third Sunday in July. Have you had your ice cream today?

Back to business. I've started writing these little segments in part to keep myself focused and also to document a day in the life of this Etsy store owner. So today, even though it's Sunday, I've spent some time on my business. I'm in the process of opening a Flickr account. It's trying to load my avatar as we speak. I've also added two colors of merino roving to my inventory. I wrote about them in my post earlier today. They're the Crimson and Emerald hand dyed roving. The third thing I did today was list a Wind Rose Fiber Studio Gift Bag for sale at my store. I really like the idea of offering people the option of buying a gift bag with their item. The one-stop-shop; that's me. The gift bags have been customized with Wind Rose Fiber Studio labels and tags and come with 2 sheets of glittery green tissue. The gift bag costs $3.50, but it ships for free with any purchase to anywhere in the world. I also plan to use these gift bags to make holiday gift collections so ultimately they will serve two purposes. Well that's my day. I'll probably be playing with my new Flickr page until late tonight. I'm a junky.

Hand Dyed Roving in Crimson and Emerald

What are you spinning for the holidays? Actually, these two rovings are just the latest additions to my inventory at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. They are both 22 micron Merino and are sold by the ounce. The little sampler you see to the left is the 8" length of Firestar that I give away with all of my Merino Roving. It's been dyed to match in the same pot with the fiber. 8 inches of Firestar is enough to give some sparkle to any skein of yarn. When I'm designing a new yarn using my drum carder, I often add some Firestar. It has such a lovely shimmer to it. Firestar also spins easily, so as you are spinning your roving, you can gradually incorporate the Firestar as you go. So why Crimson and Emerald? As a crafter with a store I do need to start thinking ahead, but really these were just two shades that were out of stock. I do my best to keep every color of the rainbow and a few in between in my store. I like selling my roving by the ounce. It's a small enough amount for felters to buy and not be overwhelmed and its nice for spinners too. You can pick out 3 colors that appeal to you and have your own special skein of yarn!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Handspun Yarn - "Paint the Town Red"

Here's the newest addition to handspun yarns at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. "Paint the Town Red" is the result of a late night inspiration. There I was, in my studio, surrounded by prepared roving just waiting to be spun, when I got this idea. Of course I abandoned all other projects for the night and went for it. I have a cache of beautiful nylon ribbon and I began to ponder how it would look plied with a wool. I was planning on making something in red, a lot of people have been inquiring about reds lately, so I already had the roving dyed. I carded one ounce of the red merino with 8 inches of matching Firestar (a sparkling nylon roving) and then spun it into a sport weight single. Next I plied that single with the red nylon ribbon making sure to allow the wool to come through in the twist. I'm so excited about the result. It's two, rich shades of red loaded with texture and shine. It's also wonderfully soft and feels great next to the skin. This is just a great skein of yarn for people who love red! Right now I just have one in stock at 58 yards, but I will be making three more to allow plenty of yardage for your projects!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Rescue Kittens

I'd like to introduce you to our new kittens. The Tabby is named Costello and the little black kitten is Elvis. We've had them for almost 4 weeks now. Their animated antics have given us many happy moments. It's also nice to have a little kitten curl up on your lap and purr itself to sleep. They have both been sick since we've brought them home. They've been fighting bad respiratory infections and eye infections. It's made me feel even better about adopting them. It doesn't take very long for animals in shelters to become ill. I'm happy these two will be nursed back to health. Just in case you're wondering, I do keep the door to my studio closed and I am very careful to keep my fiber life away from my kitty life. I know there a lot of allergies out there. Your wool is safe with me! Anyway, for everyone who has adopted a pet, I hope you are as happy as we are!

Today at Wind Rose Fiber Studio #3

It's Friday! I love Fridays, don't you? Well this morning, after posting a sale, I've done absolutely nothing work related. I went to a friend's house and chatted the morning away while our kids played. Ahhh! Actually it was a little work related. We both have Etsy stores so we have to talk about them a little. We also shared our mutual fantasy of opening our own brick and mortar store. Does every crafter have this dream? Ours, mine and my friend's, were very similar concepts. Future partnership? Maybe.... it sure is fun to think about.

To report on my Wind Rose Fiber Studio accomplishments, I finally made my dye order. I finished one skein of "Buried Treasure" yarn with two more carded and ready to go. I would love to get some more fiber dyed. If not today, tomorrow. All in all, it's been a good week. I hope you have had a good week too. Cheers!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kathleen's Beaded Yarn

                                                                                         So I've mentioned the yarn I''m making for my Mother-in-law, Kathleen, a couple times.  I thought you might like to see a couple pictures. This is a dye-free yarn made from Merino Roving and I plan to put touches of Firestar throughout.  The Firestar is the smaller, whiter fiber to the right.  It's a nylon that has a lot of luster.  I want the yarn to have a little shimmer to it without going over the top.  The beads are multi-faceted glass and play nicely off the light. I included a picture of the beads strung onto slivers of the Merino roving.  They are now ready to be spun right into the yarn.  I will randomly space them and anchor them in place as I go.  I haven't asked her yet, but If I know Kathleen, she'll probably want a DK weight or no more than worsted.   I'll spin it as a single.  I've tried 2ply before, but the beads tend to look less showy.  The only thing you have to be a little more careful about with a single is setting the twist.  I also stay away from any beads that are too big and heavy.  Generally I go with 4 to 6mm.  So anyway, all the elements are ready and waiting.  Now I just have to find a little time to spin. 

Today at Wind Rose Fiber Studio #2

I think the goals I set for myself yesterday were a little too ambitious.  I'm sad to report that only about half were met.  It's because of this very blog that I was distracted from my tasks.  Someone at Etsy started a Blog Roll Call where everyone lists their blogs so we can check each other out.  After looking at about 6 or 7 I became depressed.  Everyone seems to have more advanced skills than I when it comes to image editing and the like.  I couldn't take it anymore so I spent the entire afternoon on this computer teaching myself how to make a better header and changing my template and adding more pictures to my Etsy mini.  geek, geEK, GEEKERY!

I  do hope it looks better.  

So I still need to order my dye.  I did do some work on Kathleen's yarn, but today I need to pay my monthly taxes.  FUN!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Today at Wind Rose Fiber Studio #1

Good Morning!  This is the beginning of a series on what this Etsy store owner does each day to keep her business going forward.  Personally,  I tend to get more done if I have a plan for the day.

 So here's what's happening at Wind Rose Fiber Studio today:

Today I need to order more Jacquard dye for my inventory.  I wait until I've run out of one color and then I order.  You have to order in Units of 3 with a minimum order of $50.  I sell Jacquard Acid Dyes because I use them to dye my wool and soy silk plus other fibers.  I became a dealer so I could keep my prices low and to offer it to people who like to dye their own.  It's not a product that is typically found in craft stores.  

 I also have three different handpun yarns in various stages of production including the one you see here.  I call this one "Moonlit Dance".  I always try to provide a decent amount of yardage with each design so I have one more skein on the way.  I have three more skeins of "Buried Treasure" to produce and a third design that is a beaded yarn form my Mother-in-law's birthday.  
Happy Birthday Kathleen!  (you've been blogged : )  So I guess today's goal is to keep advancing these.  I'd like to at least get the fiber carded for "Buried Treasure" and to finish the beading for Kathleen's yarn.  I'll post a pic of hers when it's ready.

Finally, I want to use my new software, Pixelmator, to design a gift bag label.  I like the idea of my store being a one stop shop, so in addition to designing gift bags for the upcoming holiday season, I would like to offer a customized gift bag with tissue paper and a To:/From: tag for purchase year round.

Well, I think that's my day.  It goes without saying that I'll be doing these things while taking care of daily chores around the house, working out (40 laps a day in the pool), gathering clothes for the donation truck that's coming tomorrow and playing with my kids.  Whoa Baby!  :D

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hey Fiber Girls, What do you want for Christmas?

I know it's the middle of the summer, but fall is coming which means shopping season is approaching. When you make things by hand, you have to plan ahead.  I was wondering if I could have a little help.  I want to create gift bags in my store and I'd really like to know the kinds of things fiber girls wish for.  Would you like wool roving and dye with dye instructions?  How about fiber that has already been dyed and is ready to felt or spin.  How many of you are into plant fibers like soy silk and bamboo? Handspun yarn? Little project kits?  I welcome your comments and also invite you to vote on your favorite ideas on the left hand side of my blog.  I'd really like to know what you're wishing for.

Buried Treasure Part 2

I thought you might like to see some pics from my previous post. To the left: my "Buried Treasure" handspun yarn. And to the right is I oz of "Golden Ochre" Merino Roving. I sell my roving by the ounce. The Merino is a wonderful price at just $2.50. I also include a free sample of matching Firestar with each ounce you buy. Firestar is a nylon that is super lustrous. Most spinners are big fans because it adds a lot of sparkle to any skein of yarn. It can also add strength to softer fibers like soy silk.

One more pic before I call myself done for the day. I also sell a line of skin tones for felters and spinners. There are a lot of needle felters doing gorgeous work out there and I decided to design a range just with them in mind. I'll post a couple links in my favorites so you can see some needle felting if you're unfamiliar with the craft/art. Although I was focused on the felters when I designed these skin tones, I have to say, that as a spinner, these colors have a great deal of appeal.

Buried Treasure

O.K., so I have decided to become a more faithful blogger, starting now.  Of course I've done this with written journals for the past twenty years resulting is a handful of beautiful journals with about  five pages of writing each.  My hope is that it will be different on the computer.  I'm here everyday anyway.  I spend most of my time obsessing about my Etsy store, so I may as well put some of this obsession in writing.  It's healthier.  Right??

When I leave this post, I'll be heading up to my son's room where I take all of my pictures for my store.  This involves clearing his art table of piles of paper and drawing implements, then washing the table as it is usually covered in crayon and ink.  Why bother?  It's simply the best surface with the best light in the house.  I can't let too much of the day get away from me.  I've become very focused on where the sun is in the sky.  It makes all the difference.  

Then I'll go to my studio to retrieve my latest handspun yarn; my "Buried Treasure".  I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  The primary color is rich, golden brown.  Twisting its way through this earthy tone is a treasure trove of beautiful autumn hues.  What really strikes out at me is the small amount of bright green soy silk.  It has that natural silky sheen and really plays off of the light.  I'll be listing one skein today of 80 yards and there are three to come.  

I've also been busy at the dye pot this week.  two new shades, "Golden Ochre" and "Fire Red" will be  listed today.  I'm also restocking two favorites from the Skin Tone line:  "Peach Glow" and "Sun Touched".  Click on the link to the left to see all the fun new additions to Wind Rose Fiber Studio today!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Design Play

I have a friend with an Etsy store who sells crocheted jewelry with wire and beads. She's still finding her niche (anyone with an Etsy store knows that it can take a while) and I started to think about her store and what she could do to advance in such a competitive market.

I got this idea that other artists might like to buy plain wire pieces and then embellish them in with their own creative spirit. My next
thought was "What would I make?" So I crocheted myself a couple of wire cuffs. Next I incorporated my medium of choice, wool.
Using a beading needle, I weaved slivers of dyed roving through the wire mesh leaving the beginning and ending pieces both on the outside of the cuff. Once I had the cuff saturated with color, I threw into the washing machine to felt it down. While that one was in process, I started on the next. This one I did the same way only I trimmed the lengths before starting the felting process. About halfway through the felting, I filled in any gaps that were showing with some additional fiber. Ultimately I found that starting out with shorter fibers did make more sense.

The results were fun, textured, colorful cuff bracelets with a stong wire base. They hold their shape really well. With regular felted cuffs, you have to be careful during the felting process not to let them crease. With the wire base, this really wasn't an issue.

I haven't listed these in my store yet. I can't help but think they may new a few sparking beads or something. I'm just not done playing yet! Visit my friend's store: The Pink Armadillo