Friday, June 26, 2009

Jacob Swirl Roving ~ My Idea of Fiber Heaven!

Here it is. My idea of fiber heaven! This is Jacob roving milled to perfection! Jacob sheep are a rare breed with beautiful spotted coats. They grow up to six horns and have been around for some 3000 years. They are almost mythical in appearance, but wonderfully real. I discovered their fleece the first year I became a spinner and it has been my favorite ever since.

Why do I love it so much? Well, first of all, it's great to spin. As a beginner, this fiber really helped me get a feel for drafting. It is soft next to the skin, but it has incredible crimp which makes it so nice to handle. The results you get are different every time. It is exciting to watch it grow on the spool in tweed-like and striping effects.

Secondly, it gives you so much versatility. It felts like a dream whether you employ a wet or needle felting technique. With the natural range of colors, it can be almost like buying three wools in one. It blends remarkably well with other fibers and can be the foundation for spectacular roving batts.

Don't blend it too much though or you'll break my heart. I searched high and low for a farm that mills their Jacob fleece without separating or over blending the colors. This Jacob is not easy to come by, but I am so grateful to have discovered Sweetgrass Farm that celebrates the natural beauty of this rare breed!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Craft Fiber Collection - Rainbow Tones

I just finished another one of my Craft Fiber Collections! This one is in a Rainbow of colors and stuffed full of eclectic fibers. There is an incredible 4oz and more than 112 yards of craft fiber. Every single strand of measures over 4 yards long. You'll discover ribbons, eyelash, boucle, fur and novelty yarns.

With each length measuring at least four yards, you have more than enough to create beautiful ties on gift packages. You can bind handmade books or embellish scrapbooks and greeting cards. Use them to add another dimension to your mixed media pieces or texture to a handmade doll. The possibilities go on and on.

How Do You Picture Gold?

When you think of Gold, do you picture something more yellow or something more brown? I'm just curious. I'd like to settle on a nice gold Firestar to keep as a mainstay in the shop. These are the two golds I dyed this morning. I guess I personally see the color on the right as a more true gold, but I like the other color too. Maybe I just offer them both, but then what do I name them? Light Gold, Dark Gold? Yellow Gold, True Gold?

As always, I love your feedback! Which gold do you like best?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two Skin Tone Merino Roving Colors ~ Back in Stock!

Phew! It's hot here in Chander, Arizona today! I just dyed some fabric and it took about two seconds on the clothes line! I've also been busy trying to restock some roving. I just relisted these two shades today. Golden Brown and Peach Glow are both part of my skin tone line. This is a line of eight colors that I designed with the felting community in mind, but seems to be equally loved by spinners.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Pear Project

If you want to learn a little more about me, I'm featured on today. The architect of this project reveals, "The Pear Project is a project I founded in November 2007 about incorporating artisan made goods into your everyday life. In a world of mass produced goods it is important to take a step back and discover the talent and craftsmanship of independent designers."

She is doing a summer series entitled:
I Am, I Make, I Believe Her goal is to take a closer look at the modern artist. I am very pleased to be a part of this endeavor and I look forward to reading future posts about my fellow artisans.

Teal Sparkle (1.5oz/125 handspun yards)

I promised Hanna and Lan I would spin their wool batt by the time they get back from the Grand Canyon. (Everyone who comes to visit us also goes to the Grand Canyon.) I want them to get to see and feel the yarn that their carding experience created.

I had to name this skein Teal Sparkle. These are fibers I may never have chosen on my own, but they are so beautiful! It's about 30% each of Teal Merino and Soy Silk and then 40% Firestar in Teal and Spruce. It was really fun watching the girls pick out the fibers. The fact that they threw in extra Firestar makes this skein super duper sparkly. It even has a slight eyelash quality. It's been such a fun experience that I just may have all future guests design a skein as part of their Arizona experience. I liked getting away from my favorites and seeing my studio through the youthful eyes of my dear young friends!

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Drum Carding Service for Wind Rose Shoppers!

Thank you so much Redd and Buckette for your comments on my earlier post! Yours was the encouragement I needed! I decided to go for it and I've made my listing for a Drum Carding Service at Wind Rose.

I was a tricky listing to write, so if anyone reads it and finds it confusing in any way or if you have a suggestion to make it even more clear, I'm all ears! I hope it will be something that future customers enjoy.

Would you like Drum Carding Services?

Here's an idea that I've been thinking about. For over a year I've been selling fiber by the ounce at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. You can purchase larger quantities, but I list by the ounce for a couple of reasons. One is that I know many of my shoppers make felted creations. An ounce is often more than enough to fill their needs. The second reason is that I really like the idea of people being able to create their own yarns by buying an ounce of this and an ounce of that. I love giving people a wide variety of fibers and colors to choose from.

So here's my idea. I'm thinking about offering a carding service for people who would like their fiber purchase blended and combed. Of course you can mix fibers together when you are predrafting and spinning, but its so nice to have them carded. It blends the fibers well and they are so soft and easy to draft. I have a very nice Pat Green Drum Carder and it would be something I could do for spinners with relative ease. I was thinking of charging something like two dollars an ounce which I think would be reasonable for my time.

The carded wool you see here was designed by my weekend guests. Hanna and Lan used to be my crochet students back in VA. They are visiting me here in AZ and I took them into my studio to show them what I've been up to lately. I asked them if they would like to design my next skein of handspun yarn and they jumped enthusiastically into the task. They chose an ounce of Teal Soy Silk, an ounce of Teal Merino. A half ounce each of Teal and Spruce Firestar. (They love sparkle just like their teacher.) Then we divided the rovings in half and carded them into two gorgeous batts of ready to spin fiber. I love the colors they picked! It makes me think of fairy dust. It's so fanciful and sparkly!

Hanna and Lan had such a good time designing my next yarn. Watching them explore my studio looking for the perfect combination of fibers reinforeced my thinking that a carding service would be fun for customers. So what do you think? Good idea? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Underwater Fantasy II

Happy Friday everyone! I'm already feeling that weekend state of mind coming over me especially with friends coming to visit all the way from VA. Before I fully embrace some chill time, I have one more new listing this week.

I've said it before, but I really strive to try to give my buyers plenty of yardage when I design a yarn. I can't tell you haw many times I've seen gorgeous art yarns, but the skein only has 55 yards. I don't know about you, but I need more to play with! I'm sure most artists will produce a few more yards for you upon request, but I like to go ahead and spin up enough for anything from a small project to a more ambitious one.

With that in mind, I just spun this new skein that I'm calling Underwater Fantasy II. It's a prefect match for the shell spun Underwater Fantasy and it gives you another 165 yards just in case you need it. I also spun more of this roving just because I like the colors and the sparkle. With or without the matching yarn, you could create something soft and lovely.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How To Dye Wool Roving

Preface: I just want to briefly preface these directions by saying that this is the method I use at Wind Rose. There are many wonderful variations on how to dye wool of which this is just one. I have developed it over the course of dyeing over a hundred pounds of fiber. I have not gotten into exact recipes for achieving different colors. I will let you have the fun of creating your own favorite hues.

How To Dye Wool Roving

(*The utensils you use should be exclusively for dyeing.) When I dye 100% wool, I dye 4 ounces at a time. it is a comfortable amount for me to work with using a 3 gallon pot. First I prepare my dye solution. I use 2 cup canning jars. They are glass jars with an air tight lid. I combine the whole jar of Jacquard Dye (.5 ounce) with 1.5 cups of warm water. I close the jar and then shake it until all the dye powder has dissolved. I label my jar because this much dye will last a long time. I keep it stored in a dark, cool pantry.

Next I prepare my roving. I weigh out 4 ounces and then I put it in a bowl of water to soak for at least 30 minutes before I start to dye. This helps the wool to dye evenly. If you are working with locks or unprocessed wool, you will need to clean the wool well before dyeing to remove any vegetable matter and oils from the fiber.

When I'm ready to dye, I fill my pot with luke warm tap water leaving 4 or five inches from the top. I turn my stove on to medium heat to let the water start to warm up. Then I take out a glass measuring cup and the dye solution I made earlier. How much dye I use really varies depending on the color I'm trying to achieve. Two tablespoons of my dye solution is enough to dye my four ounces of wool a medium shade of most colors. Use less if you want a pastel or light color and more if you are going for a deeper shade. If the dye solution has been sitting for a while, It's good to shake it up before opening the jar. Then I mix my dye solution with about one cup of warm tap water in the glass measuring cup and stir. (This is the perfect time to mix colors and create your own special recipes.) You could pour the dye solution right into the pot and stir. but I do this extra step just to make sure the dye is well mixed before going into the pot.

Now add the dye water you have just created to the pot. Stir well to make sure it is mixed thoroughly. Now it's time to add the wool. The water in the pot should still be just warm at this point. You don't want to shock the wool by putting it into a hot pot. It will start to felt. Squeeze the excess water from your wool and then gently place it into the pot. Make sure that are no tight twists in the roving. The next 10 to 15 minutes are critical because it is when most of the dyeing is going to take place. I give the wool a gentle stir to make sure the dye water is getting to all of the fiber. Now it's time to add your acid. I use distilled white vinegar. You only need about one fourth cup. After I add the vinegar, I give the wool another gentle stir. You don't want to over agitate the wool or this too can cause it to start to felt. By now the heat should be rising in your pot. I stir about every 3 or 4 minutes turning the wool over almost like the folding process used in baking. The goal is for the wool to dye evenly, not to mix it up. You've already done the mixing before you put the wool in the pot.

A lot of dye directions talk about letting the heat get to just below boiling. I don't think it needs to get quite that hot. I wait until I see steam start to rise but the water is not starting to bubble yet. At this point I turn the heat down to medium low. After the first 10 minutes, I stir less frequently. Usually, in 20 to 30 minutes, the wool has completely absorbed the dye and the water is clear. You can take the dye pot off the heat and allow it to cool completely, but you can also remove the wool when the water is clear.  If you are dyeing multiple batches, this cuts down on the wait time.  I place a strainer in the sink to catch the wool and I pour the the contents of the pot out over the strainer. (You may also remove the wool with tongs and reuse the water.) You don't want to rinse your wool with cold water. That too will shock it and cause it to felt. If the dye water is clear, there is no real need to rinse the wool. The dye is colorfast and will not bleed. After I strain the wool, I use a towel to blot out any excess water. Then I lay it out on a fresh towel to dry in the sun.

Final Note: I just want to say in closing that this is a general explanation for dyeing wool. When dyeing other kinds of fibers, adjustments have to be made to accommodate their specific characteristics. This is a great place to get started. I intentionally strayed away from too many detailed calculations (weights and measures) to keep it user friendly. Anyone should be able to do this in their kitchen and achieve success. As with anything, there is a learning curve. The more you do, the more comfortable you will feel and you will find yourself perfecting the process for your personal needs and goals. Just remember to have fun along the way!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Merino Roving in Two Sunny Yellows!

It's summertime and I'm working hard to make sure Wind Rose Fiber Studio is full of color! Today I've added two sunny yellows. The first is Bright Yellow, the very essence of summer sun. Intertwined is my second shade, Golden Ochre. The ochre has an even warmer base note and conjures up images of harvest time. So the yellows are here and ready to add some sunshine to your summer spinning and felting!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crazy for Sarsaparilla Roving!

I had a customer come and visit this weekend with a link to the purchase she had made from my shop almost a year ago! I am so grateful to every customer, but there is something just so cool about people liking what you do enough to come back for more. The color she was looking for happened to be one I haven't dyed for a while.

That color was Sarsaparilla. Now I have to admit, that this is not the color I think of when I imagine Sarsaparilla. It neither resembles the plant nor the soda pop, but it is the name of the dye color made by Landscapes Dyes. Maybe Australians think of Sarsaparilla differently. Even so, it's a beautiful shade and how fun to see the way each fiber takes to the same dye. In this picture I have Soy Silk, Merino, Alpaca and Firestar. Can you tell which one is which?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bracelet ~ Exclusive Spirit Jump Design

I've been working on a bracelet design that the kids and I can make together to send as Spirit Jumps. I think I finally have something I like and that is easy enough for the kids to help out.

This bracelet is strung on elastic cord and has beads with larger holes. The kids should be able to do all of the bead stringing. Then I'll take over and knot and secure the cord and add the jump rings. To each jump ring I have attached a round disc of mother of pearl.

I like the color combination here. The wood looks nice next to the silver and then the mother of pearl adds another element of earthiness. I've been testing this one out today. I love the little dangles. It's a nice, feminine touch without being too much. It also feels light on my wrist and the elastic makes for easy on and off. So what do you think? Would you be happy if someone gave you a gift like this?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cubes and Coils Bracelet

Here's bracelet #2

Cubes and Coils
Striking in Black, Silver and Red, this whimsical play on shapes will surely draw attention. Lampwork black cubes with white polka dots stand out in contrast to the smooth silver coils. Red glass beads add an extra touch of color to this playful piece! It is strung on black waxed cotton and closes with a lobster clasp. A little metal charm with the work "joy" makes a happy finishing touch. will comfortably fit wrists 6 to 7.5 inches.

O Bracelet

Hello all. I listed a couple new bracelets at Wind Rose Boutique today.

O Bracelet
This bracelet has a wooden "O" as its centerpiece and its central theme. Offset by metal and enhanced by jasper, this piece is cool and casual. It is strung on nylon coated steel and completed with a jasper charm. Measuring 8.25" from its lobster claw clasp to the very last chain, it is ideal for wrists from 6.5 to 7.5 inches.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baby Camel Top

Baby Camel Top! It's here! It's downy soft! It's a gorgeous natural light tan! It's available at Wind Rose Fiber Studio! Baby Camel 1oz ~ Baby Camel 2oz

How To Make Your Own Gift Boxes

Hello all. Just thought I'd share my latest packaging idea. For my fellow crafters and for anyone who likes to give small gifts, this is a great little box that you can really personalize. This design is pretty simple, but you could have a lot of fun by adding more color or artwork.

It's a matchbox style box using basic printer paper for the inside (the green box) and cardstock for the outside (the white) The cardstock helps to make it more sturdy.

To fold the green box, I took a regular sheet of printer paper, in this case green, and trimmed 2.5" off of the length. This leaves you with an 8.5" square. (A Fiskars paper trimmer with both a cutting and a scoring blade makes this project go really fast!) Then follow these handy dandy Origami Box Directions to fold your green paper into a neat little box. It's just the perfect size for jewelry and other small gifts.

To make the outside box, I take a sheet of cardstock quality printer paper. (white) It will be the standard 8.5" x 11". Cut it into 3" strips. If you are using a paper trimmer, change the blade to a scoring blade. If you don't have a trimmer, you can use a ruler and a butter knife to score your paper. Traveling down the length of your strip, score the paper at 3 1/8, 4 6/8, 7 7/8 and 9 1/2 inches. (If you are using a trimmer, it's easier to score the individual spaces; 3 1/8, 1 5/8, 3 1/8, 1 5/8 inches) Fold your paper at the score lines. You should have two approx. 3" sides and two approx. 1.5" sides and an extra flap. Use a little craft glue to affix the flap to the botton of your box.

Now your green box should slide right into your white box. I use some of the leftover paper to decorate the box. Since I don't have one of those perfect soft jewelry box squares to protect my gift, I use some poly-fil stuffing. It's the same kind of material and I can use as little or as much as I need. In the end, my gift is protected and packaged in a personal way that is sure to make the recipient feel special!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Merino/Angora 80/20 Top

As promised, there are some new fibers coming to Wind Rose Fiber Studio. I just listed the first of these today. I am now pleased to offer this unbelievably soft Merino/Angora 80/20 Top. This fiber is so luscious. I wish you could feel it!

Right now you can purchase this gorgeous roving either in 1oz or 2oz lots. I do have a little extra stashed away in case you need more.

Butterfly Blue Bracelet

Since I've been playing with beads lately, I guess I should at least photograph them with fibery things. (I don't know why blogger doesn't recognize the word "fibery" LOL!) Actually, I've been beading and spinning beads for a long time now. I think it's probably healthy for me to get out of the dye kitchen from time to time and breath some fresh beady air.

One of my favorite things to do when I'm beading is to play around with new ways to use findings, spacers and other components. On this piece I have decided that the two long cones look like butterfly wings. The only thing left to do was to give her a body and Butterfly Blue was born! I surrounded her with flowers and some other little blue friends. I think they look pretty happy together resting on my organic cotton!

Spirit Jump Bracelet

Lately, you've been seeing the words Spirit Jump on my blog quite a bit. It is an organization I have joined whose mission is to care for the inner spirit of those struggling with life threatening illness; specifically, but not limited to, cancer.

The bracelet you see here is one that I designed to send to someone in need of a "jump". I don't think I can honestly imagine what someone goes through when they are literally struggling against a disease to stay alive. I've seen it and I've been close to it, but I personally have not lived it.

I don't often get very personal here on my blog, but something I will share is that I don't tend to be a joiner. I'm not a recluse. I think most of my circle would describe me as outgoing and extroverted. Myers Briggs would confirm their point of view, but in spite of this nature, I don't tend to join groups. I think the reason is that it can be overwhelming for me. I tend to feel things deeply and I have a great amount of conviction for what I believe. To be a part of a group, I almost feel like I have to be a lesser version of myself. I have to tone "me" down.

I'm sharing this because it is the reason why it feels remarkable to me that I just jumped right in to being a Spirit Jumper. I have to say that I am not feeling overwhelmed by being part of this group. I feel grateful for this opportunity to connect with other people on a spiritual level. I think it is creatively appealing for me as well. I live to do something; make something. Spirit Jump has created this avenue for me to feel, do and create. What an incredible offering.

Having said all this, I will add that I ponder over the lives of people who do join many different groups. I wonder how they manage their lives. Personally, I try to set very achievable goals for myself. If I exceed them, great, but it's alright if I just make my goal. To help me steady my life which consists of marriage, kids, business, family and friends, I have set a goal of one Spirit Jump a week. I know there are many who do more. Maybe there are some who do less. For me it feels like what I can reasonably maintain. There are so many things I love in life. I am always seeking to master the supreme art of balance!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Underwater Fantasy (3oz/150 handspun yards)

I think of Underwater Fantasy as my signature design at Wind Rose Art Yarn. It is truly unique and full of sparkle. What makes this yarn so special is that it contains close to 200 beads and shells spun right into the 150 yards of fiber from end to end. In every yard, give or take a few inches, you will encounter, fresh water pearls, tiny conch, glass beads, mother of pearl and little shell pebbles.

The yarn is a single ply blend of Merino in Sapphire, Happy Green, Raspberry and purple. There are also three colors of Sparkling Firestar; Sapphire, Raspberry and Gold. The weight of the yarn is comparable to a light worsted or DK and the shells and beads are anchored into the spin of the fiber.

This skein also comes with a 33 yard companion skein of the same single ply fiber only without the shells and beads. It can be used as a trim for your project or however you wish.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Peace Bracelet

Today has been a peaceful day and perhaps that inspired this new Peace Bracelet. I know I run a fiber studio, but I have a passion for beading as well. I think summer brings it out in me. It starts to feel a little warm to always be handling woolly things. I think this season also creates a desire in me to simplify my routine and my jewelry.

I love cord style jewelry for that reason. It's simple yet it can be very striking. This bracelet is an eclectic blend of metal cones and rounds, ceramic cubes, copper coils, and wooden discs. These unlikely friends come together to form a peaceful harmony. It is strung on waxed cotton cord and has a lobster clasp. It will fit wrists from 6 to 8 inches. You can find this bracelet and other unique designs by visiting Wind Rose Boutique.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy Flower (Amigurumi)

I've been playing Show and Tell with my little Happy Flower for a couple weeks. Now I finally have one for sale! My brand new Happy Flower has purple petals and a light blue face surrounded by soft, fluffy loops of mohair. Her two leaves are stretched out as if just waiting to give you a big hug!

You can find this Happy Flower and other great gifts at Wind Rose Boutique. Remember, if you are buying a Spirit Jump, let me know for a special discount.

Pagoda Red Merino Roving

There's a brand new color at Wind Rose, Pagoda Red! If you read my blog than you know I'm a dyer, but there are a couple colors that sometimes give me trouble. One of those is red. I find it challenging to come up with a really, rich red.

I want my customers to have all of the beautiful colors I can offer, so I went to see what my distributors might have. I also didn't want just any old fiber, I wanted something lovely and soft. I am so pleased that I found this Pagoda Red. It's 100% Merino and very soft. The red is deep and warm. It has a yellow undertone which makes the name very appropriate. It does look like a red you would see in Asian fabrics. Perhaps like a dark poppy. It's so pretty.

You can buy this new Pagoda Red Merino by the Ounce or I'm also offering 2oz listings. If you every need more or less of a fiber, just let me know, I can also make a custom listing just for you!

Happy Flower is ready to "Jump" Spirits!

I am pleased to introduce my completed Happy Flower and my third Spirit Jump. Here's a small snippet of the letter that I'm sending with her,

"..I hope she puts a smile on your face. Position her in a place where you can see her often and when you look at her happy face, remember that you are not alone. There are so many of us who care..."

Jump, Happy Flower, Jump!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jacquard Acid Dyes

I'm kind of between projects right now, waiting on fiber and in the middle of a Spirit Jump. It occurred to me that some of you may not know that you can also find dye at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. Over the last year, in addition to all of the fiber I dye, I've been working to expand my inventory.

Jacquard Acid Dyes are what I use to dye my wool, soy silk, alpaca; all of my protein fibers. They offer a huge range of 40 colors and I keep them all in stock at Wind Rose. You can buy just one or a set of three or six. The dyes come with a set of instructions by the manufacturer, and I'm always available to answer questions as well. They are called acid dyes because you use vinegar to set the color. You should see the looks I get when I fill up my cart at Costco with huge bottles of Distilled White Vinegar. LOL!

Ecru Fibers, Ecru Yarns, Jacquard Dyes and tons of Dyed Fiber; It's all at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Firestar Now Listed!

It took all morning, but the Firestar is now listed in the shop at Wind Rose. I have to be the only shop on Etsy with 2 pages worth of dyed Firestar!

So now, before I go running and screaming from my computer (I'm so tired of sitting here!), I've got some links for you.

All of the Firestar can be found in the Craft Fiber section of my store. Let me give you direct links to the samplers. There is a Super Sampler with 16 colors. There is a regular Sampler with 12 colors and I made up one Mini Sampler with 4 colors.

That's all the Firestar news for now. Remember I've got new fibers on the way too. Awesome new things to try like super soft Camel and Merino/Yak. Summer is my time to build up my stock because I know for many crafters it's when they gear up for fall. I want you to have all the fiber supplies your hearts desire!