Monday, November 30, 2009

Dyeing with Cochineal, Indigo and Madder

If you are someone who loves fiber and is curious about dyeing and using natural ingredients, I have a couple wonderful links to share with you. They are new for me too and I have been enjoying reading and educating myself. I just thought I'd end the month by sharing these wonderful websites:

Weaving in Beauty
Posts of interest:
The Dyer’s Picnic: Cochineal, Indigo and Madder
Dyes that Madder: A Rainbow of Colors from Indigo, Cochineal, Madder and Osage Orange
John Marshall: Works in Fabric

(The picture here is actually of some ironwood that I recently used for dyeing.)

Top Whorl Drop Spindle Kit ~ Beautiful Roving!

Happy Cyber Monday to all! I just made a new Top Whorl Drop Spindle Kit. I like to come here and show my new kits as I make them so you can see the pretty roving that they come with.

With my newest kit, you'll receive 2oz of this pretty hand carded and pulled roving. It's a blend of Gypsy Wine BFL, Purple Merino/Cultivated Silk, Silver Grey Longwool/Mohair and Cabernet Firestar. It's so soft and sparkly!

Remember, you'll also get everything you need to begin your adventure into spinning and the world of fiber arts!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wonderful Knitting Patterns by ArizonaKnitter

Peacefully Knitting in Arizona is a lovely Etsy shop. I'm not the world's biggest shopper, so as I was making my second and third purchase from my friend ArizonaKnitter, I realized that I should probably blog about it.

I don't knit myself, but my mom does. A few months ago, I stumbled onto these unique designs and just knew my mom would love them. I started off with a hat pattern of which my mother has now made three.

This weekend Mom is here for Thanksgiving. We've been enjoying a little shopping time together and part of that time has been spent in Peacefully Knitting where we found two more patterns my mom liked. This Celtic Diamonds Neck Warmer is one of them. So pretty! The other one we bought was the Painted Cables Scarf Pattern.

So here's my cute mom in her hat that she made using ArizonaKnitter's Rolled Brim Cabled Crossed Hat pattern. We think we may go into my studio and pick out some roving that matches this hat. That way I can spin her a variegated, self-striping yarn that will match this hat. My mom loved the yarn in the Printed Cables Scarf Pattern so I will try to make something similar to that only in a different colorway.

So if you have a knitter in your life like I do, these patterns make wonderful gifts. It's so quick and easy to make a purchase and with patterns, you don't even have to wait several days for a package in the mail. Within 24 hours, you receive a PDF via email. My mom and I are having fun with our patterns and I know you will too. Just visit Peacefully Knitting in Arizona on Etsy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Firestar 2.25oz Sampler

I sold my last 3oz Firestar Sampler right before Thanksgiving, but I knew I needed to dye more. Everyone seems to love these samplers, so two days before Thanksgiving, I managed to dye 9 pots of Firestar so I could bring you this 2.25oz Sampler just in time for the holidays!

What is Firestar? It's a sparkling nylon fiber, created like roving with a generous (around 4") staple length. It can be spun on its own for a shimmering skein of yarn that would be stunning for warm weather garments. More commonly, it is used to add sparkle to projects. A little Firestar can go a long way. Simply tease loose the fibers and introduce them sparingly to your roving as you spin. The end result will be a skein of yarn full of lustrous shine. Firestar blends incredibly well with other fibers and will even needle felt!

(You can find this Sampler on ArtFire too!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm Rearranging my Stuff!

My second anniversary with Etsy is coming up. On December 8th I will have been selling online for 2 years. I guess that still makes me a relative newcomer, but I seem to be starting some traditions already.

Last year on my anniversary, I went nuts! I opened 2 additional Etsy Shops and joined up at ArtFire. Overnight I went from running one store to four. Why? The main reason was that my store was just so crowded. I was up to more than 20 pages of listings and it was getting ridiculous every time I needed to manage my products, I had to scroll through page after page. If I didn't enjoy it, how could I expect my customers to search through all of my work.

I dye so many different kinds of fiber, I knew I had enough there to support a pure fiber shop. That's what I did and I took my yarn and made a specialty shop just for art yarn. I placed all of my handmade goods into a boutique. I loved how organized I was able to become, but I didn't like having to handle so many accounts to make it happen.

Not long after I had my three Etsy locations sorted, I signed up with ArtFire. Many of my creative friends were singing the praises of this new venue and there is just something fun about being part of a ground breaking. It's exciting. I also really love the philosophy there. These are my own words, but they really seem to believe that what is good for the handmade movement, will be good for ArtFire. It's not just about building ArtFire as a business, but there is a real focus on supporting the artists that I respect and admire. Best of all, I can have as many categories in my shop as I want to! This may seem like a small detail, but when you are a bigger shop, it makes all the difference in the world.

So now here I am a year later and I'm changing things up again. With ArtFire as the happy home to my handmade and an ever growing supply of roving, I went ahead and closed my boutique and I'm getting ready to close my Art Yarn Shop. I struggled with where to put my handspun yarn, but in the end, I chose Etsy. I'm sentimental towards my Etsy store. It's my home and where I got started.

I think that there is enough in common between yarn and roving for them to live in harmony. Plus, when I feature a new yarn, I can also feature the fiber I used to create it. I like that you can share the story of a skein from ecru to dyed to finished handspun yarn. That's why I decided to name my new yarn section Hand Crafted Yarn. It's so much more than just spinning. It's washing and dyeing and carding and in some cases, beading or felting. There is so much that goes into the finished product.

So now I'm getting down to a more manageable two stores. Everything has a home and it still feels organized. I'd like to think that I'll keep it this way from now on, but you never know what the future will bring. I think it's good to stay flexible, maybe not too flexible. LOL! :D

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wild Wood Thick and Thin (2.5oz/100 handspun yards)

Over the past couple weeks I've been blogging about the roving I dyed with natural ironwood. I did list some Ironwood Merino in the shops, but I also saved wool to spin.

The first yarn I made was Ironwood Stripes. It is pretty typical of the kind of yarn I like to spin. I went back and forth between my lighter and darker shades of ironwood wool to create a striping yarn and I added some Firestar for sparkle.

Then I got to thinking. I've gone to all the trouble to dye two shades of wool from wood shavings, I should make some yarn that reflects this wild and natural process, something with more personality and life to it. The result is my newest skein of yarn that I named Wild Wood.

The first thing I did was card my two wools. I layered the light Merino over the darker BFL and wound it through my carder. Then I sent it through a second time to blend it even further and to make it light and lofty. This created the wool batt that I used for my thick and thin single. Because half of my fiber was BFL, I had some nice long fiber and could make pretty long thick sections without compromising the stability of my twist. I had a good time making my thick and thin single.

Next I had to make a lace weight for plying. I spun this from one ounce of the lighter Merino wool. I knew one ounce would be more than enough to ply my two ounces of thick and thin. Spinning lace weight yarn has become second nature to me. I can sit and zone out in front of the TV and have a couple hundred yards in no time.

Finally I was ready to ply. I started off slowly. I really haven't made a thick and thin in a long time, maybe not since those unintentional ones you spin in the early days of learning. My main concern was that I would over spin my ply in my need to make sure my thick areas were secure. I was pretty happy when after a soak in a warm water bath, I picked up my hank of yarn and it hung nice and straight. That's really the Ahhh! moment in handspinning. Isn't it?

I feel like this skein of yarn is more worthy of the wool and the process. I like how the thick areas are a little carefree and wild. Consider. It all started with a gift jar of finely ground ironwood. I imagine a knitter with a large pair of needles whipping up a scarf that's soft and full of texture. That would be a scarf with a story to tell.

Top Whorl Drop Spindle

I'm probably a little late getting on the holiday bus this year, but I'm here and I'm trying to fill up Wind Rose Fiber Studio with great gift possibilities.

I've been making my Drop Spindle Kits for a few months now, but it occurred to me that some people might like to just buy a drop spindle without all of the roving. For some, they may already have a nice stock of wool just waiting to be spun. Others might like to select their own wool and goodness knows I have plenty of that to choose from.

I was just going to list the plain drop spindle and then I couldn't bring myself to offer it without at least including the directions I wrote for my kits and a leader cord. So that's what I did. Otherwise, the Top Whorl Drop Spindle is 9 inches long with a 2.5" whorl and weighs 1.8oz. Drop Spindles make a wonderful gift for anyone who enjoys crafting. Kids love them too. Often when I'm visiting with friends or at the park, I'll take an extra drop spindle. There is always a boy or girl who doesn't quite know what to do and that's when I bring out my spindle and a little roving. It's amazing how much time kids will spend with this simple wooden activity. It warms my heart!

Corriedale Wool Sampler 6oz

At some point I'm going to have to stop all of this listing and go buy a turkey, but let me procrastinate a little longer and show you what I've been up to today.

I have one more sampler. This is a big six ounce Corriedale Wool Sampler. These are commercially dyed and I know that makes a difference to some folks, so I want to be clear. On the other hand, these would make a wonderful gift along with a drop spindle or perhaps some felting needles.

Corriedale has a longer staple length, between 4 and 5 inches. This makes it much easier to handle if you are using a drop spindle or even a spinning wheel. The fibers just won't come apart on you that easily. Felters like that they can quickly cover more surface area in less time.

When I look at these colors, Jet Black, Silver Grey, Pagoda, Dark Blue, Olive Green and Crabapple, I can see so many possible combinations. You could spin some striking skeins of yarn and that's a fact!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Classic Christmas Hand Dyed Wool Sampler 2oz

I had to make one more sampler. You just gotta have those classic Christmas colors! So here's my Classic Christmas Hand Dyed Wool Sampler.

There are .5oz each of Fire Red BFL, Happy Green Merino, and Silver Falkland. All have been hand dyed right here at Wind Rose. This sampler also includes .5oz of sparkling snow white Firestar.

This is perfect for needle felting holiday ornaments or embellishing your Christmas handmade projects. It would also make a lovely gift for someone who loves working with fiber. Happy Holidays!

Contemporary Holiday Wool Sampler

Here is something brand new at Wind Rose and just in time for the holidays. It's my Contemporary Holiday Sampler. I get asked to make samplers all the time. With my hand dyed roving, it's almost too labor intensive for me to keep samplers in stock and keep up with everything else I do. Yet, it's the holidays and I know people are having fun making small felted ornaments or shopping for gifts. I don't think I could call myself a proper fiber studio if I didn't offer something for the season!

This is a 2oz sampler offering Four Modern Holiday Colors. It contains .5oz each of Crabapple, Olive Green, Dark Blue and Silver Grey. This is Corriedale wool so it wet and needle felts great! The generous 5" staple length of the fiber makes it a perfect choice for both beginning and experienced spinners!

So if you just can't resist a sampler, or if you have a friend who spins or felts in your life, this will make a perfect gift for the holidays!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ironwood Yarn ~ From Naturally Dyed Roving

On November 12, I wrote a post about some finely milled ironwood I was given and my plan to work on my natural dyeing techniques. Next I came back to show the results of my first batch of wool dyed with the wood. Then I played around with a couple more batches of ironwood dyed wool.

All of this has led up to my brand new skein of yarn I'm calling Ironwood Stripes. To create this yarn, I used an ounce of the darker ironwood in BFL and an ounce of the lighter in Merino. I alternated between the two to form a striping single.

To make this skein a little more interesting, I joined the two colors with a short length of Firestar that I dyed with the ironwood as well. This gives the yarn a subtle sparkle which I think is nice given the neutrality of the tones.

All in all, the yarn comes to 2.4oz and 262 yards. This is a sport weight single and the twist is very well set. I confess that I kind of pride myself on that. This yarn is seriously one of a kind so I am hoping 262 yards is enough for a complete project. As a crocheter, I know there are quite a few accessories I could make, but I'm less familiar with knitting and the amounts needed to knit different items. Of course it could always be combined with other yarns to create a larger project.

I have enjoyed my little journey with ironwood and natural dyeing. I still have some left so there is more adventure to come!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Merino Roving ~ Now Selling by the Pound!

As of today, I am selling 21.5 Micron Merino Roving by the pound. I'm excited to be able to offer it at a great price. I usually don't talk money on my blog, but I can't help myself. (shhh... $18.85)

Your pound of merino will ship in two 8oz bags. Domestic orders will ship priority mail and orders placed outside of the US will ship First Class International.

Long live Fiber Arts!

(Click on the word link to go to Wind Rose on Etsy and the photo to head over to Wind Rose on ArtFire.)

Highland Peruvian Merino ~ Thick and Thin Ecru Yarn

Good Morning! Just a quick note to let you know that I have Highland Peruvian Merino, Ecru Thick and Thin Yarn, back in stock!

In Wind Rose on Etsy

In Wind Rose on ArtFire

This yarn is incredibly soft and wonderful to work with. It comes in 8oz hanks of 250 yards, just perfect for those quick knit and crochet projects. Enjoy it in the natural ecru or have some fun dyeing your own yarn with the Jacquard Dyes that can also be found at Wind Rose!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brand New Drop Spindle Kit!

When I sell a drop spindle kit at Wind Rose I get so excited! It means I get to go into my studio and play. I walk in and am surrounded by bins of fiber in every variety and color. I'm kind of used to this, but the luxury of fiber at my fingertips is not lost on me.

I try to pick colors that are generally well liked. I use wool as a base because it is easier for a new spinner to handle, but I add softer fibers too. This roving has soy silk and even cultivated silk. Finally I go for the sparkle. Every Drop Spindle Kit must have some sparkle! For this fiber I included generous amounts of purple Firestar. I believe that learning to spin is even more fun with gorgeous fiber!

Find this Top Whorl Drop Spindle Kit on Etsy too!

Naturally Dyed Ironwood Merino Roving

Hi. One more quick post today. If you've been admiring the Ironwood Merino and thinking, "I wouldn't mind trying out some of that," you're in luck. I dyed a few extra ounces and they are now listed in my shops!

Ironwood Swirl ~ It's what I'm spinning!

I find myself with a little free time this Monday afternoon so I thought I'd show you what I'm spinning right now.

Over the weekend, I did some more ironwood dyeing. I experimented with how the natural dye would work simply using my regular dye method. This time I used Merino roving and even threw some Firestar into the pot. The result is the lighter shade you see in my swirl picture. It's very soft and natural looking. My first thought was that it would make an excellent skin tone people who do lifelike felting.

The darker color is from my first ironwood dye batch. That time I used BFL and let it soak for a long time.

For my yarn, I'm making a striping single alternating between the two colors and using shorter lengths of the Firestar that I also dyed in the ironwood, to join the colors; dark, sparkle, light, sparkle, dark, sparkle.... and so on. I only have 50 yards or so done, but I can tell it's going to be pretty. I'll be sure to post pictures of the yarn when it is complete.

Handspun Yarn from Springtree Road

It's Monday of a new week and I find myself between projects. I have some yarn on my spinning wheel and some colors on my "To Dye" list, but while I'm working away, I thought I'd share some fiber art from another Etsy seller.

This pretty handspun skein is called Kimono and it comes to us from Sringtree Road. I love her blend of colors here. She has painted Blue Faced Leicester in shades of pink, brown, green and blue and then spun it into a lovely sport weight single.

I always like yarn spun from hand painted wool. I'm conscious of getting a glimpse into the mind's eye of the artist and as a result, a more personal connection is made. This is why I think people are drawn to handmade. Visit Springtree Road to see more from this artist and have a great week everyone!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ironwood ~ Natural Dyeing ~ The Results

So here I have the results from yesterday's dyeing. The pictures show the ground ironwood and then the glass of dye stock and finally the resulting colored roving. I was actually a bit surprised to see this honey color emerge. When just looking at the wood shavings, I felt like I was seeing more red and that perhaps the color produced would lean towards chestnut. When I strained the dye stock, the color as you can see in the glass, had the appearance of a bold coffee in my mind. Yet, from the moment I introduced my dye to the dye pot, it became clear that what I had was more of a nice honey color. Those reds my eyes detected were just enough to bring in some subtle oranges. I happened to have a honey jar on my counter when I was dyeing and I couldn't help but notice how alike the colors were.

For my fellow fiber geeks, I'll go into a little more detail about my method. In this case, I used two cups of the ironwood and 12 cups of water to create my dye solution. Now that's a lot of water to use and I did so knowing that my dye stock would be less concentrated, but I kind of had to go that way. I have a couple pots that I use for dyeing and I think it's important to have dedicated equipment. My pots are no less than 5 gallons and so I needed a certain amount of water just to cover the base and have a couple inches to simmer. I realize I could have used more ironwood, but I kind of hated to use too much on my first batch. I wanted plenty in reserve for future dyeing. I knew I could make up for the less concentrated dye stock by simply using more of it when it came time to dye.

I put my ironwood and water mixture on the stove at 10:30am and brought it to a boil. Then I turned down the heat and let it simmer for the rest of the morning and until about 4:00 in the afternoon. I checked on it from time to time and gave it an occasional stir. After 5.5 hours, I really felt like I had extracted what color I could hope to gain from the wood.

I chose Blue Faced Leicester for my first batch of wool. I presoaked the wool in just plain water. Originally I had considered adding a little soda ash to the soak, but when I thought about it, I really couldn't see any real need or reason for the soda ash. If I was dyeing cotton, sure, but this was a nice porous protein fiber. I told myself I could try another batch later using soda ash if the wool failed to absorb the color well. Another reason I chose the BFL is because it has a little more staple length than say Merino. It would have less of a tendency to felt and this was a consideration as I thought it may need to spend more time in the dye pot.

Some dyers are seriously scientific. I feel the need to pause at this moment to say that I am not one of those dyers. I am only scientific to the extent that I keep a record of what I do and the specific amounts I use. I have a system and I take notes, so I guess that's a little sciencey, but I also go by my gut a lot. So when it came time to decide how my dye stock to add to my dye pot, I went by sight. I have done enough dyeing over the years that I just kind of know what I want my dye water to look like. I can tell if I need a little more or less to get my desired color. In this case, I wanted to go for as much color as I thought I could get form my ironwood stock. I ended up using 2.5 cups. I know that sounds like a lot, but remember, my dye stock was a little less concentrated.

From there I used my regular dye method only I did keep the wool going for about twice as long as I usually do. You get to a point where you just kind of know that the wool has absorbed all it's going to. Maybe if you let it go overnight you'd get a little more color, but not much and you'd run the risk of having your roving turn out uneven or blotchy.

It's been a good experience working with the ironwood. I like the pretty honey color that it produced. I feel like I played with this wool a little too much while it dyed, so I may just keep this batch and spin it up myself. I'll dye another batch to sell at Wind Rose. I'm also planning to dye a couple different kinds of fiber to see how they each take the color. I think some ironwood Firestar could be pretty fun!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ironwood ~ Natural Dyeing

When one of the members of the Telaraña Weavers and Spinners Guild asked if anyone would like some Ironwood for dyeing, I said "Sure". Then I Googled Ironwood. I assumed it was a tree, but that was about all I could come up with on my own. Also, I have no real experience dyeing with raw ingredients like this. I've worked with fiber reactive and acid reactive dyes and I've brewed a lot of tea, but that's about it.

So here I sit in front of my computer, with an Ironwood concoction simmering on my stove downstairs. I'm a learn by doing sort, so I didn't research to find a dyeing process. I think my instincts are pretty good and I like putting them to the test.

Varieties of Ironwood can be found around the world and it is endemic to the Sonoran Desert. It is referred to as a "nurse plant" and is one of the biggest (anywhere from 15 to 30 feet tall) and longest living trees in the desert. While the wood is too hard for animals to burrow into, the falling of their leaves provides a healthier soil for other plants, like cactus, to grow. Small animals can make their homes in the plants shaded and nourished by the Ironwood. The great canopy of the tree becomes home to a variety of birds, insects and lizards.

Desert Ironwoods are a member of the pea family. The shape of their flowers and leaves resemble the Sweetpea and their seeds provide another source of food for desert wildlife. The actual wood of the tree is among the hardest woods known. In Mexico, the Ironwood has become known as the "Axe Breaker". The wood is so dense it will sink in water. It must have been and industrial strength food mill that ground it up so fine as you can see in my photograph.

So back to my dyeing process. Right now I am simmering 2 cups of the Ironwood in 12 cups of water. It has been shaved so fine, that I think if I heat it long enough, the wood will break down into more of a pulp or thick liquid. This will intensify the color I am able to achieve and also make straining my dye water easier. Because I have no deep knowledge of the plant, I am covering my nose and mouth as I work with the Ironwood. It may be perfectly harmless, but better safe than sorry.

Once I have some fiber dyed, I'll be back to share my results.

Tiger's Eye Glass Cabochon Beaded Cuff ~ Finished!

I finished my first ever bead embroidered cuff! It feels to good to actually finish something! I'm feeling really good about this project. Often when I make a creation for the first time, I end up with a long mental list of things I'll do differently on my next effort. There are only a couple changes in my mind after making my bracelet.

Next time, I'll dye the material that I sew the beads onto a darker color or a black so that the white does not show through. I intentionally left it white on this bracelet for two reasons. The first and most important thought was that I might have had a hard time seeing what I was doing on a black surface. I wasn't feeling confident enough yet to work on black. Secondly, with white focal beads, I felt like I could get away with a white background.

The other change for my next bracelet will be to make it a little longer so that the cuff isn't too tight a fit. I was relieved that I could fit this project over my cuff when it was done. I failed to allow extra length for thickness and to acommodate the bend in the aluminum.

While I'm at it, let me share an excellent source I found. I was looking for cuffs to use as a base. I had already ordered some brass cuffs from Fire Mountain Gems when I discovered a wonderful Artfire shop. Not only did they have cuffs, but they also had a super deal on Lacy's Stiff Stuff Beading foundation. The name of the shop is You can buy a set of twelve 2" aluminum cuffs for $13 or a six pack of Lacy's Stiff Stuff for $19.99. I might not be the best comparison shopper, but I think these prices are great. They also totally sold me on using aluminum for my cuff bases because it's lighter than brass. Beadwork can have a fair amount of weight to it, so wrapping it over brass would make it even heavier.

Ok, my post is getting a little long, but one more quick thing. I'm excited about the fabric I found for my backing. Most of the articles I've read have people using suede to back their cuffs. I'm not as hot to use leather products so I was looking into Ultrasuede or microsuede as alternatives. When I got to the fabric store, I was really unhappy with how these two fabrics looked. There was even some fraying and I knew at the very least I wanted a fabric that wouldn't fray. I started looking at the felts. Then I found this great fabric. It looks and feels just like felt only its stronger. The ends have no fray at all. Guess what it's made out of? Recycled plastic bottles! How cool is that? I don't spend a lot of time in the fabric store, so maybe everyone already knows about this stuff, but it's new to me and I think it's pretty cool!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tiger's Eye Glass Cabochon Beaded Cuff ~ Almost Finished!

The beading is now complete on my bracelet. I still have the final process of backing and sewing the fabric onto a cuff. Still, it's nice to have the beading done.

When I had just a little beadwork left, I decided to alter my pattern. I wanted to take my symmetrical design and throw a small wrench in it. Why? I guess it feels like a signature to me. I definitely have those two sides to my personality, one that likes order and perfection and the other that completely rebels against the same.

It's a personal preference, but I tend to be drawn to things that are flawed. They just seem more real to me and those deviations make them more interesting and possibly even more beautiful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tiger's Eye Glass Cabochon Beaded Cuff

Every so often I like to pop onto my blog here and show one of my current projects. I usually have a handful of things going at once. I'm still working on my Spindelnät Scarf that I started in September, but it has currently been shelved to allow me time to make presents for the holidays.

Though I don't have any experience making these, I have started working on beaded cuff bracelets. I have always loved them and I'm hoping some of the women in my family will like receiving them for Christmas.

What I like about projects like this one is that you get to design as you go. It helps to have a general plan, but it seems to help even more to keep your mind open to different possibilities. I am probably crazy to think I'll get several of these made. It's not a particularly fast process and I already have plenty demands on my time. I'm going to try to make them anyway though because I think they are pretty and I really do enjoy the process. I need something that I can wind down to at the end of a long day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Medieval Feast ~ Recipe for Rose Petal Bread

I think this is the first time I have shared a recipe on my blog. I usually try to stick with fiber art and artists, but my family and I had such a good time with dinner tonight that I am compelled to share.

My youngest son is in the fourth grade and right now he is studying the middle ages. We decided that this weekend we should have a medieval feast! I love some of the stories and sayings that have come from this time period, so we tried to incorporate those into our experience.

For example, dishes like our roast chicken were often served on a mess. Mess was the bread under a meal that would absorb the meat juices and keep them from running out on the table. The mess was not eaten, so at the end of the meal, you had to clean up the mess!

Tonight we ate our meals out of trenchers which is the hollowed out bread loaf you see in the picture. No forks and knives. They were not commonly used. Tonight we ate with our fingers. The kids loved it! In medieval times the trencher would have probably sat on a mess, but I decided to only make one mess (I used pizza dough) and use it as a platter for our roast chicken.

The goblet is filled with mead. When I lived in Virginia, I used to do a lot of craft shows. I became friends with a potter and had her make these goblets for me. My husband is a mazer. All I can say to that is YUM! It's so awesome to be able to say, "Hey Honey, let's have a glass of mead tonight!" With our medieval feast we enjoyed a 2 year old Blueberry Melomel.

To the right of my goblet is our Rose Petal Bread made by my husband and my son. (I helped a little.) Today we often use the words "upper crust" to refer to socially important people. This saying actually came from medieval times. The first course in a feast was a loaf of artfully decorated bread. The decorated top crust of the bread was carved off first and served to the most important noble at the high table. My son, Sir Westen, received the upper crust this evening.

Candle light, Celtic music and a vase of roses rounded out our experience. It was the most fun we've had at a family dinner in a long time. I think it was even more special because we all chipped in and helped to make the feast. At the end of the meal, each of the kids shared three facts about the middle ages. We toasted their knowledge and off they went!

I know, I know. What about the recipe? Here it is! It's called Rose Petal Bread and the recipe comes from the book Knights and Castles by Avery Hart and Paul Mantell.

Rose Petal Bread

You will need:
1 package of active dry yeast
1.5 cups lukewarm rose water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3-4 cups flour
Cornmeal and butter
Food Dye
1 egg white

To begin, make the rose water by simmering rose petals in a small amount of water. Remove the petals.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the rose water. Stir sugar, salt and some flour into the yeast. With clean hands, knead the dough. Add more and more flour until it won't take anymore.

Push the dough around on a floured board. When the dough becomes smooth and elastic, cover the bowl with a clean cloth and go play for an hour!

When you return, the dough will be bigger. Punch down the dough, and divide in half. (we made ours into one larger loaf) Form each half into a circle, oval, heart or long loaf. Place the loaves on separate buttered baking sheets that are sprinkled with cornmeal. (We just placed ours on a silicone baking mat on top of a cookie sheet.)

Next comes the art part. Mix a food color with a little bit of egg white to make "paint." Paint vines, leaves, flowers or any other art on the top of the loaves. (my son chose blue food coloring. We painted the whole top of the loaf and then decorated with rosemary and chives.)

Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes at 400ºF. Delicious!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tussah Silk

This post may look similar to the one before it, but the fibers are very different. This is Tussah Silk also known as Peace Silk. It has been given the name Peace Silk and sometimes Vegetarian Silk because the silkworm is allowed to live out its natural life cycle. The silk is only harvested after the moth emerges from the cocoon. The silk is then degummed and processed into a light and fluffy roving with approximately a 3" staple length. It is extremely soft and full of that particular luster only to be found in silk.

You can now buy Tussah Silk at Wind Rose Fiber Studio in:

1oz, 2oz and 4oz amounts at Etsy
1oz, 2oz and 4oz amounts on ArtFire

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bamboo Roving for Spinning and Needle Felting

Hi all! I'm still working my way through my studio and listing fibers in my shop at Wind Rose. I basically have two jobs, so I always feel like I'm playing catch-up. Even so, I mostly manage to stay on top of things.

That's why I was surprised that I didn't have any bamboo currently available in either of my shops. It was sitting patiently in my studio, waiting to be noticed.

Today I have corrected this oversight and now have bamboo available in 1oz, 2oz and 4oz lots. You can find it both at Wind Rose on Etsy and in my ArtFire shop. I don't have much bamboo dyed at the moment, but I'll get there... one step at a time!

(Click on the links to go to my Etsy store and the Photo to go to the Undyed Fibers section of my Artfire shop.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Floral Bloom Necklace by Claudia Chavez-Scharn

I still have a few treasures left to share from my trip to Santa Fe. While there, I spent a Sunday afternoon walking around the downtown square. I am not someone who enjoys traditional shopping. I avoid places likes malls and superstores and marvel at how others can tolerate weekly trips to these places. On the other hand, give me a beautiful day and streets lined with tents and tables and I am in heaven!

There is just nothing to equal the experience of discovering something you have never seen before. The adventure increases when you get to have an actual conversation with the very individual behind that creation. On this particular day in Santa Fe, I had the true pleasure of meeting the artist I would like to introduce you to today.

The beautiful necklace before you is a one-of-a-kind original by Claudia Chavez-Scharn. This design is called the Floral Bloom Necklace.

On this particular day, I had my husband and two sons with me. They don't exactly share my enthusiasm for street fairs. What it boils down to is that even mom should get a turn every once in a while. Consequently, I have adopted the habit of perusing displays quickly, only stopping if something really catches my eye. Claudia's display of Floral Bloom Necklaces was just such a thing.

I love how wonderfully delicate her necklaces appear. They have a floating quality as though the flowers and pearls are suspended only by air. I wanted to touch the pretty necklaces, but I hesitated. Claudia immediately reassured me and encouraged me to pick one up. I was impressed to realize that they were in fact sturdy feeling. Claudia uses very high quality materials in her work. Stainless steel jeweler's wire makes a durable base for the glass flowers, gemstones and pearls wrapped with sterling silver.

Ok, so you can tell I liked them, because I bought two! I just couldn't pick a favorite so I solved my dilemma by allowing myself more than one choice. The one above will make a nice birthday present for my mom in a few weeks, and the one on the left is probably staying home with me.

If you would like to learn more about the Floral Bloom Necklace or how to purchase one of your own, contact Claudia at

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Green & Chartreuse Merino Roving

It's official. I'm back to work at Wind Rose and back in the dye kitchen. Today I dyed two shades of green in nice, soft, 22 micron Merino.

When looking through my stock, greens were definitely missing. So now, back from hiatus, we have Chartreuse and Happy Green! These two bright and popular hues look great together!

I do like grouping fibers when I take pictures. It really helps to distinguish their individuality. I never want customers to feel like they saw one color on their computer, but got a completely different one in the mail. It's challenging though. Let's face it. All monitors are not created equal and so many things can alter color. I have gotten to the point where I use different backgrounds for different colors. Purple seems to work fairly well for green.

If your color needs are very specific, I will always pull a small tuft of fiber and put it in the mail for you. There's no better way to make sure you've found the perfect shade than to see it with your own eyes.

I'll be dyeing every day for the next couple weeks. If there is anything you are in need of, just let me know and I'll add it to my list. I'm going to try to get as much dyeing in as possible before I host Thanksgiving this year.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mohair Locks and More

After and incredibly busy October, full of travel, birthdays, and Halloween, I'm trying to get myself focused back on my work. I'm starting to feel guilty about how long I've been away from my dyeing and other endeavors.

It's hard to jump back in so I am warming up by going through my studio. It really is a wondrous world of fiber in there! LOL! One by one, I've been going through the different fibers in my inventory making sure I have sufficient stock levels and that everything that should be listed is taken care of.

As I work my way through this process, I am coming across new things to list. Today I have added ecru (or dye free) Mohair Locks. I have been dyeing these myself, but I thought that there might be some fiber lovers who would like them in their natural state. They are very nice. They have a soft curl and a generous 5" staple length. They do have some vegetable matter, but I like to say that the veggies let you know it's real.

Mohair locks are lovely to spin and are terrific for lock spinning. They are also a luxurious addition to any carded wool batt. Often you'll see them used as doll hair for a more natural look than synthetic fibers. Personally, I think they are a lot of fun to dye. I love making my batches of multicolored locks.

(Click on the link to go to my Etsy store and the Photo to go to my Artfire shop.)

Now Accepting Amazon Payments!

I'm happy to announce an exciting new addition to Wind Rose Fiber Studio on Artfire. Now you can shop at Wind Rose and pay using your Amazon Account. I know there are many folks who like to shop on line but have been hesitant to set up PayPal accounts. It's just one more thing to manage. On the other hand, I don't anyone without an Amazon account. Amazon has developed into an amazing superstore offering everything under the sun.

Now Amazon is taking it one step further and making shopping and gift buying even more convenient. Their latest endeavor is called the Universal Wishlist and I love the concept! In their own words,

"What is Universal Wish List?

Universal Wish List allows you to add products from any website to your Amazon Wish List with one simple click, making it easier than ever to keep track of all the gifts you wish for, all in one place.

Getting Started

It's easy! Simply add the Universal Wish List button to your browser, and start shopping. When you see something you'd like on any website, just click the Add to Universal Wish List button, and the item will appear on your Amazon Wish List."

At Artfire, the button is already there for you. You can shop the entire handmade site and add all of your favorite items to your Amazon Universal Wishlist with an easy button click. When friends and family view each other's wish lists, buttons next to each item will take you directly to the store where that item is listed.

I wanted to make check out as painless as possible, so I have added Amazon Payments to my check out options at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. You will enjoy all of the ease and options that Amazon Payments have to offer. This year it will be super easy to add your favorite fibers and handmade to your wishlist!