Sunday, May 30, 2010
Hi. I thought it would be fun to really explore iSpin Toolkit together. Here's my latest skein of handspun, so let's use it as our model. I'll go step by step through the tools offered by the application so you can see and decide for yourself if this is an app for you!
The first screen you see when you open iSpin is Twist Angle. Whether your final yarn is a Z or an S twist (spun clockwise or counterclockwise), you can measure the angle of that twist. You line your yarn up parallel to the center line and then drag your finger across the screen to adjust the angle lines. The angle of my yarn seems to be right about 16.3 degrees.
I have to say that I mostly spin for my own enjoyment. I don't enter my yarns into competition nor do I embark on a project thinking about the exact angle I want for my twist. However, let's say I use this yarn for a larger project and I need to spin a second skein. Knowing the angle of my twist gives me a detail of information that will help me produce a second skein that is as similar to the first as possible.
Moving along the bottom bar, next we come to a WPI (Wraps Per Inch) Gauge. You can scroll down to discover stripes and find the one that best matches the width of your yarn. It gives you instructions to help you find the right one.
My yarn seems to be about 13 WPI. If I don't trust this guage, I can go ahead and wrap my yarn around say, this Sharpie, and then hold it up to a ruler and count my wraps. Do I have to go hunting for a ruler? No, I can just click on More in my iSpin App and there is a ruler right there for my convenience. How about that?
So now we know our WPI. What can we do with this information? If we move on to the next button, we can pull up a whole list of calculators. Second on the list is WPI to Grist. Grist refers to the length of your yarn per unit mass.
When I enter my yarn's WPI, 13, I receive an approximation of how many yards per pound or per ounce I have. It also indicates meters per kilo or gram if you use the metric system.
Uh oh, wait a minute. I know I have more yards than that calculation would indicate. Hmm...
I need to pause at the moment to say that I am writing this in real time and taking pictures as I go. So I feel I've hit a snag.
I weigh my yarn and I have 2.4 oz. If I believe my 13 WPI calculation, that would mean that this skein is only 25.344 yards and I just know that isn't true.
Next I take out my yarn meter and run the skein through. It shows 335 feet so that's 111 yards. Then I wrap my yarn around a 2 yard niddy noddy and I count 64 wraps so that's 128 yards. The difference between the yarn meter and the niddy noddy make sense to me because there is more tension involved in wrapping the niddy noddy, whereas the yarn is barely stretched at all going through the yarn meter.
Ok, so I must be way off on my WPI. The WPI gauge does say to hold my yarn "taut, but not stretched" which I really didn't do the first time around because I was taking pictures. So I went back and held the yarn taut between my fingers. The difference was significant. I now estimate my yarn at 27 WPI which would give me a grist of approx 45.56 yards per ounce which works out to 109.344 yards which seems to be a much more accurate approximation. I would, however, have to squish my yarn pretty tightly together around my Sharpie to have 27 wraps squeeze into an inch. This leaves me a bit ambivalent about this particular gauge.
So the lesson here is that you definitely have to hold your yarn taut when gauging your WPI. I would take it farther and say that the first few times you use this tool, you should double check your numbers. I think that once you get used to the gauge, you could feel comfortable with the accuracy of the calculations. Just remember they are approximations.
I've digressed, but maybe I've saved you from the same hiccup. That would be nice. No one likes the hiccups.
Moving on, there is a simple one inch square that you can use to measure your twists per inch. Next to that I have a picture of a calculator that I find fascinating, but I warn you, I haven't tested. This calculator estimates the number of treadles needed to create your desired TPI (twists per inch) taking into consideration your wheel ratio and your draft zone. That's almost too much information!
Finally I took a picture of a little chart I always find useful, defining yarn weights. I didn't notice this at first and then I scrolled all the way to the bottom of the WPI Gauge and there it was. This was a happy discovery.
I haven't covered everything. There are quite a few calculators and I kind of need to move on with my day. I guess we'll have to call this an overview. All in all, I'm still a fan of iSpin Toolkit even after my little WPI adventure. I'm sure I will find myself using some features of this app more than others, but I'm alright with that. Part of me is just excited that someone would think to create such a tool just for us spinners. That is a unique and special event!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
It's a quiet Saturday afternoon here at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. My big plan for the rest of the day is to finish my current spinning project while listening to an audio book. I finally broke down and bought Eat, Pray, Love.
Before I go off and enjoy what should be some nice, peaceful time, I have to get a little whining off my chest. I'm a sad spinner right now because my wheel has developed a squeak. The wood that connects my treadles on my DT Louet S10 Wheel is rubbing and making an annoying squeak. I can adjust it and get a few minutes of relief, but then the squeak returns. There doesn't seem to be a permanent fix for the problem which has me daydreaming about a new wheel even though this one still performs just fine.
For me, the whole point of spinning is how relaxing and therapeutic it feels and this squeak is affecting my bliss. Anyway, I just wanted to cry out to the understanding world of fellow artisans; the people who I know can understand things like this. Thanks for listening!
Oh, before I go, I'll share my project with you. I have one singles yarn completed spun from this very colorful, hand painted Merino wool. On my other spool I'm spinning some straight black Merino. Then I'll ply the two together creating a sport weight 2ply. I plan on calling this skein Stained Glass because I'm using the black to offset the color of the variegated yarn. It reminds me of the lead joining colorful panes of glass. I hope it will be pretty.
Have a great weekend everybody!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
For the past two days I've been dyeing away and the results are in. Back in stock at Wind Rose Fiber Studio are the ever popular Merino Wool Skin Tone Samplers.
There are two to choose from:
.25oz each of 10 Great Colors or
.5oz each of the same 10 Shades
Whether you select the smaller or larger sampler, these are the colors included:
In the middle: Porcelain Fair and Sun Touched
Starting from the top middle and working clockwise: South Pacific, Golden Brown, *Precious Peach, Mediterranean, Peach Glow, *Crimson Pink, Deeper Brown and Chestnut Brown
That's the 8 skin tones that have become so well loved at Wind Rose, plus two *bonus colors. I thought it would be nice to include pink and peach as well. There are a limited quantity, so I like to let my blog readers know right away when I have them in stock. They tend to move pretty fast.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
There's nothing like the blend of old technology with new. This is especially true when the new helps us out with the old. Sometimes it's little things like niddy noddy calculations. I have a niddy noddy on which one wrap is 60 inches. I can't tell you how many times I've had to do a math question like (60 x 113) ÷ 36 = ? to find out how many yards of yarn I have.
Spinners are always solving math problems. If I spin a yarn that has 18 Wraps Per Inch, approximately how many yards will I have in an ounce? How many ounces do I need to spin to have enough yards for my project? How do I achieve my desired twist on a wheel ratio of 1:6 with a short draft of about 4 inches. It goes on and on.
Well guess what? Today I stumbled onto what I think is a seriously cool iPhone/iPod Touch app for the spinning community. It's called iSpin Toolkit. You can measure the angle of your twist, find your WPI or TPI and calculate a myriad of things from WPI to grist, niddy noddy figuring and even the number of treadles needed to create a certain TPI. I've been playing with it this afternoon and I have to say, it makes the calculations fun. You can choose a light screen or a dark one, whichever is easier on your eyes. There's even a ruler to check your gauge.
There are a lot of craft apps that look cool, but I can't really see myself using them. This one is loaded with practical tools. I think iSpin Toolkit is worth checking out.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
This little art basket rests on top of my printer. It's filled with a collection of handspun yarn. They're just bits and pieces really; those remaining yards at the end of each project. I keep them handy to wrap purchases of jewelry and other special items before they post.
Now the basket's quiet presence seems to be a reflection of my own inactivity. My studio lays dark as my attention divides among the ending school year, summer travels and planning for the fall. All of the dyeing and spinning I love, wait patiently for me to sort things out and get back to my usual activities.
Today I'm doing just that. As I write this post, two batches of wool are soaking, getting ready for the dye. It feels good to reunite with the familiar. I'm looking forward to that smell of vinegar and sheep that will fill my kitchen. It calms me and makes me feel like all is well in my world.
Friday, May 21, 2010
As a blogger I enjoy seeing where my visitors come from and what interests them. I'm enthralled by the flags of the world as people cross virtual oceans to find information. I still have moments of wonder and awe when it comes to the internet.
It's also cool to discover new blogs. When I scrolled down yesterday to take a peek at my Feedjit widget, I noticed that one of my visitors had arrived from a blog called Totally Tutorials. "That sounds fun," I thought as I clicked on the link.
I found myself perusing a very established blog with hundreds of tutorials and 1,376 followers. Provided are how-tos on over 80 unique categories. New ones are added daily and you can even submit your own tutorial. I love sites like this that are driven by information sharing and spreading the love of all things crafty!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Over the past couple weeks, I've been doing more cleaning than creating. I don't know why the urge to sort and organize hits me this time of year. It makes no sense really. It's gorgeous outside, yet every fiber of my being tells me to tidy my closets, drawers and all of those smaller spaces that become cluttered throughout the year.
For me, this also means going through my bag collection. I have many totes. I can't go anywhere without a project in tow, but I never seem to go back to the same one. I end up with half a dozen bags filled with all sorts of unfinished creations. Some go unvisited for shameful lengths of time. Going through them feels a bit like walking down memory lane. "Oh yeah, I remember when I was going to make that!" Then I'll think to myself, "That's kind of cute. Why didn't I finish it?"
So yes, like a truly mad woman, I talk to myself as I rediscover my own forgotten work. And let's talk about the tools! For every stowed project, there are hooks and needles, thread and scissors, beads and findings of all sorts. It's the crochet hooks that really get to me. I have so many crochet hooks, but as sure as I'm typing this post, I'll go crazy hunting for a G hook in a couple of months. I'll eventually get tired and frustrated with looking and buy a new one at Michaels. The collection will expand.
Monday, May 17, 2010
If I count this one, I've posted 628 articles to the Wind Rose Fiber Studio blog. Blogging has become my favorite part of the day. It's my quiet time when I get a chance to process and share.
Over the past three years, certain posts have emerged as the most visited among the herd. I find this interesting because it's a snap shot of what currently interests people.
For at least a year now, my husband has been telling me to make a list of my most popular posts. Well guess what honey, I did it! Now if you scroll down just a short way on my left side bar, you'll find links to the Top Ten Most Viewed Posts here at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!
Friday, May 14, 2010
My big plan for today is to clean house which is kind of depressing. At least it's one of those quick return activities where right away you see the results of your efforts. That's about the best thing I can say about cleaning.
Before I begin today's adventures in domesticity, I have two bits to share...
My Sewing Circle ~ I just learned about this site from my friend at Peacefully Knitting. It is basically a Ravelry for people who sew. This handbag lining is about the extent of my sewing, but at My Sewing Circle, members of the sewing community can share projects, patterns, ask questions and just generally commune with their people. I think that's pretty cool!
The Dover Sampler ~ I have probably blogged about Dover Publications before because I love them! (By the way, there's a $10 coupon good until May 30.) If you love to read, are creative, a mother, a teacher or just basically a living, breathing human... this site rocks! The Dover Sampler is a really fun feature. If you sign up, once a week they'll send you a link to free content from books. You get things like coloring pages, short stories, stencils, drawing lessons, excerpts from books and I could go on and on! They are wonderfully generous and so much fun!
Well okay, that's my two bits for today. I wish I could think of more because now I'm off to clean...
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Last night my weaving guild held a silent auction. There were many cones of fiber as weavers tend to buy in bulk sizes. One of these cones stood out just based on sheer mass. Guess who bid on it? That's right, me! I am now the proud owner of over 11 pounds of Lace Weight Jute.
It's actually a really nice fiber. This has been spun light, about 18 wpi or a little higher. Looking at it, I starting to see the possibilities:
*It can be used as the core for corespun yarn or lock spinning. The coarse nature of the jute makes it very easy to work with. It wants to take hold of the wool.
*This is also great product for people who make primitive dolls or do folk style art.
*It makes a wonderful, natural wrapping material for your products so it's a great addition to your gift closet. Use it to tie gift tags or tie packages for an all natural look.
*This jute is perfect for making jewelry in the same way that hemp jewelry is made.
*Use this jute to bind handmade books or to embellish scrapbooks and cards.
...and that's just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are all sorts of applications.
Jute fiber comes from the "skin of the plant, making it technically a bast fiber. It consists mostly of cellulose and lignin so it's basically a woody plant fiber. The feel is slightly more coarse, but definitely in the same arena as hemp.
What am I going to do with all of this jute? Good question! I'm going to share it with you! I'm winding it into center pull balls each weighing 2.5 ounces. They come to over 225 yards each. I'm selling them at a super low price, because I got this jute for a super low price.
I'll also keep some around the studio because I like to have fiber like this on hand. I do think it would be awesome for core spinning. It's so light that you could make a fingering or sport weight yarn. It would be so much less expensive than using other commercial yarns as a core. I also like to use natural fibers for gift wrapping, so I'm sure to add a couple skeins to my supply closet.
You can find Lace Weight Jute in Wind Rose Fiber Studio on Etsy or in My ArtFire Shop!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I just finished a new pair of Apricot Painted Wool Earrings. I'm pleased with how this pair turned out. The beads are just 1/2" wide making them look more delicate. The color is also very feminine and pretty. It's one of those colors that almost works as a neutral so these earrings would compliment a lot of different outfits.
They are 2" long from the tip of the Czech glass bead to the loop of the earwire. For dangling earrings they are incredibly light. I can't even get one to register on my super sensitive work scale. The best I can tell you is that they weight less than 1/10 of an ounce. Now that's light!
I love the contrast between the warm softness of the hand painted Merino wool and the cool metal wire. I think, in great part, it's my love of texture that draws me to these fiber beads and makes me want to create more!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Creative people love to create. I know I'm stating the obvious here. What I mean to say is that even though they may have a special area of interest, I don't know a single creative person who doesn't like to try their hand at a multitude of crafts. I'm the same way. I love the world of fiber arts, but I also love doing anything that's fun and hands on. My house and yard, in their own eclectic and whimsical ways, reflect that love.
We are about to host a big party at our house. We have many neighbors and friends planning to attend. I love to use events like this to motivate myself and, ahem, my husband to do a few extra chores. I have to give my husband major props because this past weekend, he took out our pool fence. It was starting to rust at the base and it was time for it to go. I didn't expect the change to be as dramatic as it was. All of the sudden, our whole backyard seemed to open up. I couldn't wait to decorate.
So while my husband ground through metal, I planted flowers and gave a fresh coat of paint to some of our metal sculptures. I never realized how much fun spray paint could be! I started off planning to give them a fresh coat of their original colors, but I ended up giving them sort of tie-dye meets splatter paint looks. I had a good time.
I also installed stepping stones which offer new shortcuts to our pool area. I love that when you stroll around our backyard, you encounter these funny little creatures along the way. Of course those lizards better look out because this roadrunner has her eye on them!
Monday, May 10, 2010
I'm here with a little show and tell this Monday morning. This is my little collection of fiber beads. I played around with this concept quite a bit last week. To tell you the truth, I still haven't decided what gauge wire I think is the perfect one for these beads.
I went from coiling the wire in bulk to making the beads one at a time. If I make the coils in advance the wire I wrap over the roving is a separate piece. This means I can change to a different gauge, but I have more end pieces. If I make the beads one at a time, I can produce them with only one cut of wire, but then that wire has to be a thickness that works well for the coil as well as the outside wrapping.
I'm kind of torn about which I like better. I think I'm just going to have to make a ton of beads until I can see a clear preference emerge. This is one of those cases where having so many choices out there is making the decision more difficult. In case you happen to be experimenting too, right now I'm leaning toward 22 or 24 gauge dead soft wire. I'll be back when I've made up my mind. :D
Sunday, May 9, 2010
My parents were not shutterbugs. I don't really know why they didn't take more pictures, but because they didn't, it has made the handful of pictures from my childhood that much more precious to me.
This one is my favorite. This is a picture of my mom and me. It's a simple little shot, not posed and not on any special day. I look like I'm about three years old, so she was probably just following me as I explored the wild flowers. To me it's the perfect mother daughter moment, just the two of us enjoying a simple pleasure. I'm so glad it was captured on film!
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Summer and wool sound like a contradiction in terms, but when you love working with fiber, you don't take the summers off. Perhaps you won't be making a sun hat from this pretty Falkland top, but just imagine a needle felted seascape!
These sunny days have put me in the mood for soft summer colors. That's why today I have added Soft Aqua and Soft Sapphire to my shops at Wind Rose.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Real Mothers don't eat quiche;
They don't have time to make it.
Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils
Are probably in the sandbox.
Real Mothers often have sticky floors,
Filthy ovens and happy kids.
Real Mothers know that dried play dough
Doesn't come out of carpets.
Real Mothers don't want to know what
The vacuum just sucked up...
Real Mothers sometimes ask 'Why me?'
And get their answer when a little
Voice says, 'Because I love you best.'
Real Mothers know that a child's growth
Is not measured by height or years or grade.....
It is marked by the progression of Mommy to Mom to Mother.....
The Images of Mother
4 YEARS OF AGE - My Mommy can do anything!
8 YEARS OF AGE - My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!
12 YEARS OF AGE - My Mother doesn't know everything!
14 YEARS OF AGE - My Mother? She wouldn't have a clue.
16 YEARS OF AGE - Mother? She's so five minutes ago.
18 YEARS OF AGE - That old woman? She's way out of date!
25 YEARS OF AGE - Well, she might know a little bit about it!
35 YEARS OF AGE - Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion.
45 YEARS OF AGE - Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?
65 YEARS OF AGE - Wish I could talk it over with Mom.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes,
Because that is the doorway to her heart,
The place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole,
But true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.
It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she
Shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
It seems kind of silly to take a picture of one earring, but that's all I have completed at the moment. I'm still having fun experimenting with fiber beads made on coiled wire.
In this latest design, I coiled the base, added the painted roving and then finished the wire work all while the wire was attached to the coiling gizmo. The whole bead is made with only one cut of wire. That makes me happy.
At first I was going to slip a small chain through the bead and make it into a hanging earring that way. I realized I wouldn't be satisfied with that because the bead might not stay in position and it could look pretty goofy on it's side. That's when I decided to fashion my own hanger for the bead. Not only does this do the job of keeping the bead in place, but I think it looks better than the chain did. The simple wire makes for clean lines and doesn't draw attention away from the fiber bead.
On the bead, I added a loop in the center as I wrapped the wire. This was to allow me to add a dangling bead. I like the bit of sparkle the cut glass bead lends to the overall earring. The full length of the earring comes to two inches. Now I just need to make another one so I have a pair. I realize the 80's are back, but I'm just not ready to go around wearing one long earring!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Ah, Falkland wool! It almost looks like candy. For spinners and felters, it is candy! Falkland wool is soft, but still has a little more texture to it. Spinners tend to like wool that feels good to them as they draft and Falkland is a fave. It also has a very long staple length which is why so many in the felting community are starting to look for this fiber. They can cover a larger surface area faster and still have that downy feel. It was actually on the encouragement of a felting friend that I started to carry Falkland at Wind Rose.
Today I have two new colors in my studio. I have a bright Sunny Yellow and one of my personal favorites, Gypsy Wine. I love the way they look swirled together!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I'm shifting my focus back on dyeing this month. I fear my inventory has lacked for attention. So today I have two colors of Falkland Wool back in stock, Violet and Turquoise. They look pretty twisted together, but you can buy them individually, by the ounce at Wind Rose Fiber Studio.
Click on the names to visit Wind Rose on Etsy or click on the picture to head over to the Falkland Wool Section in my ArtFire Shop.
I'm not sure if I have the right magazine, but isn't it Highlights where they have that page of close-up pictures? The photographer has zoomed in on part of an object or an animal and the kids have to guess what the picture is of.
My picture here, of coils and Pipe Cleaners, made me think of that. If I had not named this post, "Coiled Wire..." would you have to look twice?
I'm sharing a little organizational idea with you today. I've been working with coiled wire lately. Since I'm turning the coiled wire into beads and shapes, I like to make more than one coil at a time so I have a little stock of wire at the ready. When I work with the coiled wire, I like to have it attached to something to make it more stable and easier to handle. These desires led me to my craft closet yesterday.
I was looking for something I could pass through the coils when I saw a collection of Pipe Cleaners. Initially I was thinking I'd like something less flexible, but now, I think Pipe Cleaners for coil work and storage are a pretty cool idea.
1. Both the large and small diameter coils will fit on a standard Pipe Cleaner
2. You can color code your inventory to help keep track of different wire gauges by using different colored Pipe Cleaners.
3. You can also organize different colors of wire by using different colors of Pipe Cleaners
4. The coiled wire does not slide off so you could store your stock of coiled wire by hanging them on a wall. They're Pipe Cleaners after all, so they would easily attach to a hook on a pegboard or something as simple as a string stretched between two nails. You could also use removable 3M hooks.
5. You can work with the coiled wire while it's on the pipe cleaner by attaching either end of the pipe cleaner to something stable. For example, you could use two clamped down corner braces. The holes in the braces create a convenient place to attach either end of the Pipe Cleaner.
There you have it. Coils and Pipe Cleaners! It's a handy combination!
Monday, May 3, 2010
I had planned to get some dyeing done this weekend, but it was so windy, that I didn't dare set roving outside to dry as is my habit. I never knew how windy the Phoenix valley could be. Wind seems to be the way in which storm fronts manifest here in this part of the state. All in all, there are much worse weather conditions to deal with, but these wind storms can be pretty fantastic.
Okay, enough about the weather. Since dyeing was out of the question, I had to find something creative to do. Last week I started playing around with a new form of fiber jewelry utilizing my hand painted roving and coiled wire. While I was making those bracelets, I got the idea for this pair of earrings. Coiling Gizmos come with two rod sizes. I knew the smaller one would be nice for making this pair of earrings. I wrapped the wool in a fairly thin layer so that the coil would stay flexible.
I love the look of this fiber jewelry. It's also very enjoyable to make. I use my fingers and turn the coil around and around to smooth the wool and allow the fibers to gently felt together. It's so tactile and sensory. Jewelry making takes a certain amount of technical skill, but this incorporates touch and feel so much more. It's what I love about working with fiber and bringing the two worlds together is very satisfying.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I had a very nice woman from Ravelry ask me about my Muk Luks. It made me realize it was probably time to get busy and actually making listings for them in my shop. So now there is an official Muk Luks section at Wind Rose Fiber Studio in my ArtFire shop. I only have four pair, but now they are available to buy. I still plan to donate the pair I made from our Mini Muk Luk Crochet-Along. I think they would make a nice Spirit Jump.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I've mentioned before that I'm a transplant. I moved to Arizona from Virgina almost three years ago. I can hardly believe it's been that long, because most of the time, I still feel like a newcomer here. This was the first big move of my life; big in the sense that I came to live in a place where I knew no one and the surroundings were completely unfamiliar. It's been exciting and I have loved the change. Still, it's just hard to meet new friends.
So anyway, I checked out Meetup after I moved here and didn't see any groups that felt right. It pays to look again though, because that's what I did just recently and that's when I found a group of crafting people to join. I knew that I would feel more comfortable in a setting where everyone was making something. It not only gives you an activity, it also helps to make conversation and I think you learn a lot about people when you share creative time together.
So last night I headed out to spend an evening with strangers. I packed up everything I needed to make my sister's present along with a bottle of my husband's homemade mead and a batch of fudge. I figured that people generally like you when you show up with fudge. The evening turned out to be a fun night of crafting and conversation. I'm so glad I went and I think I may have even made some new friends. Amazing!
I just wanted to share this little story about how creativity can help us make connections. There's a bond among people who like and need to make things. It can be a pretty powerful attribute to have in common. There are personality traits that we all share or at least to which we can relate. This society has been very comforting to me in my move across country. Whether I'm online tweeting, in an Etsy forum, on Ravelry or even just writing this blog, I feel connected to the other creative people out there and I'm so grateful for that!