Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crocheted Drape Vest ~ My Latest Project

I feel I should start off by apologizing for my drawing. I'm not much of a sketch artist, but I just can't blog without a picture, so tonight I scribbled my own.

I'm working on a new design. A couple weeks ago I was in the mall shopping. This is an incredibly rare event for me, both because of my schedule and the fact that I don't really love to shop. On this day however, I was enjoying myself. One of my purchases was a lightweight, knitted vest that drapes in the front. It's sort of hard to describe, thus the drawing.

Anyway, I'm loving this vest and it seems to look cool with so many different outfits. Another bonus is that it isn't something that can make you feel too warm. Even a light scarf can start to feel confining especially here in the southwest. This vest is different. It's light and breezy and just a fun accessory.

Having fallen for my new vest so hopelessly, I had to take it and lay in out for a proper examination. I took one good look and decided that I need to design one of my own. I've already figured out a stitch pattern I like mixing Tunisian and regular crochet and I'm using a yarn that's working great. I'm pretty jazzed about the whole thing to tell you the truth.

Hopefully I'll have a prototype to share in a few days. If all goes well, I'll be writing up the pattern. Sometimes I don't blog quite as much when I'm in the middle of designing, so I just wanted to check in and tell you what's happening here at Wind Rose.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wonderful, Wild Mohair Locks!

I love these mohair locks and I've been having a great time dyeing them. These colors were a customer request and what an awesome request it was! I'm a big fan of green anyway, but all these shades of green together are totally fun. They make me think of Oscar from Sesame Street. He was always my favorite. In the orange and yellow locks, I also tried to incorporate some shades of saffron. I'm not sure how successful I was, but the colors are so vibrant and perfect for this time of year. I hope people will enjoy mixing things up with these wonderful and wild mohair locks!

Variegated Soy Silks ~ Three Colors!

I spent this morning painting soy silk and since it's 103º here in the Valley of the Sun, they are already dry and in the shop! In each case the variation of color is very subtle yet consistent throughout the roving. I think they'll spin up beautifully and be a refreshing break from solid tones.

Starting from the left: Blue Spruce takes you from blue to green, while keeping it all in the spruce family. The Turquoise ranges from deeper blue to icy light. On the right is Forget Me Not which showcases the blues and purples in which these pretty little flowers can be found.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fire Moss and Soy Silk

I've been waiting on this pretty new fiber for a couple weeks, but I think it was worth it. This pencil roving by Louet is called Fire Moss and it's the newest fiber at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. I love these colors! I happen to be wearing this exact shade of green today. If it was a little cooler here, I'd have to whip up a quick scarf for myself.

That's one of the fun things about pencil roving. It's easy to spin, but you can also just knit or crochet the roving itself. It's also a great choice for felted totes or handbags. It works up so fast and felts like a dream!

I tend to list just a couple ounces at a time, but always feel free to contact me if you need more.

I also wanted to let you know that I finally have a replenished stock of white soy silk. It's been on backorder for a while now. This means that new colors of soy silk will soon be appearing in the shop. I'm sorry to keep the soy silk lovers waiting.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

*Snap!* the job's a game! ~ Artist Feature

Today I'm excited to share the talents of my feature artist Krysten of Gherkin's Bucket.

You know, there are Ravelers and then there are Ravelers. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's probably time for you to check out Ravelry.) I've been on Ravelry since September of 2008. I'm a pseudo regular. I log in to share patterns and host crochet-alongs. I also had a great time spinning in the Tour de Fleece with my Ravelry group the Team of Wonder. Compared to some, however, I'm a babe in the woods.

Krysten, better known as gherkin to her Ravelry friends, is a true presence on the site. She's completed 145 projects and has another 704 in her cue. She has her own group, appropriately named Gherkin's Bucket Group, with 158 members and growing. Somehow she also finds the time to run her own Etsy shop, Gherkin's Bucket, where she sells handspun yarn and hand painted fibers.

Given all this, I was really pleased when I saw that she had chosen one of my patterns for a project. I've always enjoyed sharing my designs, but I rarely get to see how they are used. Krysten combined my pattern, Jenn's Quick & Easy Open Weave Scarf, and her own handspun yarn in the creation of her project *Snap!* the job's a game!

As you can see, she was inspired by Mary Poppins and the scarf worn here by Julie Andrews. If you click on the picture of the DVD case, you should be able to view a larger image. The design is similar to my scarf pattern. Who knew? I guess Krysten, that's who!

She made the scarf a bit wider. (I actually have instructions on the pattern on how to increase the width.) She also added a fringe to match the one worn by Mary Poppins. The colors of her yarn are so perfect and with the stripes, it really does look like Mary's.

What a fun idea! I'll never look at my pattern the same again and I mean that in a good way!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Worldwide Spin in Public Day

In my last post on the subject, I called it National Spin in Public Day. I wasn't sure if it was a worldwide event. Since then, I've seen enough articles referring to the WWSIP Day, that I feel confident in it being a global gathering. All I can say to that is, "Even better!"

It was yesterday, this 24 hours of fiber lovers taking their art to the streets. People gathered in their local yarn shops and other meeting places to spin yarn in public. My plan was to get up early and spin in the park. The early part was crucial as the temperatures here in Phoenix are still reaching above 105º.

My back had other plans for me. It likes to act up every so often and this week I have been waking up stiff and in pain. Saturday morning came and I knew I was going nowhere fast. By midmorning, the muscles in my back were loosening up to the point where I could imagine spinning comfortably, but the temperature outside was already pushing 100º.

I envisioned all of my fellow spinners out there, treadling their wheels and spinning their spindles. I wanted to be among them. I had to bide my time. The official sunset is right about at 6:30 these days. I told my kids we would head out at 5:30. Though our days are still summery, our nights are starting to cool off. I knew the best time to be outside, if not early in the day, would be at sunset.

Apparently I wasn't the only one with this thought. I was so happy to see some cars at the park when the kids and I pulled up. Even more families arrived after us. When you live in this climate, nightfall is a special time of day. The sky is radiant, the colors supernal and the air relaxes and becomes pleasing. There is a tangible feeling among both children and adults of happy freedom. Finally, we emerge from our air conditioned crates and run wild.

Still a few minutes away from sunset, I hunted for a little shade. I ended up sitting cross-legged under this fun climbing apparatus. It seemed appropriate to spin under something akin to a spiderweb. It also put me in the middle of the action so I could chat with the kids and keep an eye out for them. A few curious boys asked me what I was doing, but barely paused to hear my response. I couldn't blame them. It was much more fun to run and climb.

The sun sank low enough for me to move to the wall surrounding the playground. Whoever designed the park was nice enough to put in benches for the parents, but neglected to plant any shade trees. With the air becoming cooler, the wall was a nice place to spin. My drop spindle could travel four or five feet before touching the ground. It drew the attention of some other parents sitting nearby. They asked me questions and seemed to enjoy watching a craft they said they had never before seen.

The sky was growing dark as we left the park. My boys were sweaty and tired and I was feeling content. I managed not only to spin in public, but also to share my craft with others. That's all I wanted to accomplish and it felt good. Even though I didn't join a group of spinners yesterday, I like to think I was part of a global ensemble. An orchestra of spinners, playing our spider songs for the world to hear.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Welcome Crocheters! Welcome!

Over the past couple weeks, Crochet Pattern Central has been adding my free crochet patterns to their website. My blog has never been so busy! I want to welcome everyone to Wind Rose Fiber Studio. Thanks for visiting!

For those of you who are currently crocheting a pattern, I do check for comments on past posts everyday, so I am here to answer your questions. You can also contact me through my Etsy shop. I'll receive email notification and I'll be able to respond even faster.

I do like to give patterns away, so check back from time to time. In the picture you see here, I'm working on a slipcover for my Mac Pro laptop. If it turns out cute, it will probably be the next free pattern. The yarn I'm using is some of my own handspun. It's kind of wild and crazy yarn, but that's what I like about it. The design I'm working on is fairly simple, so I'm using a colorful yarn to make it more interesting.

Once again, welcome and I hope you enjoy the site!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

National Spin in Public Day ~ Saturday, September 18

This is a fiber arts blog, so I must proclaim to the world, or at least my handful of readers, that this coming Saturday is National Spin in Public Day.

Whether it's for 20 minutes or all day long, grab those drop spindles and spinning wheels and head outside. Set up in a park, a coffee shop, a bench in the mall, a street fair or even the grass of your own front yard. Be in a place where people can see you and where you can share your craft.

Whenever I tell people I like to spin my own yarn, I get responses like, "Do people really still do that?" or "That seems like a pretty unique hobby." When I tell them there are thousands of us spinners out there, they look skeptical. Well now's our chance to show the nation just how many of us there are!

Even better, we can answer questions, give demonstrations and share our love of fiber arts with others. This is a chance to invite new young spinners into the fold. Whenever I spin in public, I always find myself surrounded by children. If I put a drop spindle in their hands and show them how it works, they get very excited. They call their moms over to see what they can do. The spark has been ignited.

So my spinning friends, I implore you. This Saturday, find a shady palm, perhaps the good company of a sombrero wearing frog, and spin!

Luxurious Mohair Locks (Crimson and Burgundy)

Just a quick post today to share the locks now that they are dry. I call them Luxurious Mohair Locks because they're nice and soft and have a great a staple length. I also love that curl. This batch of locks was dyed with the colors crimson and burgundy. The blend creates a range that includes crimson, pink, wine and burgundy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Locks of Appreciation

I probably shouldn't reveal this about myself, but I'm a big pushover for a compliment. When one of my customers told me she liked the way I prepared my locks, I didn't just say thank you. I asked her for her favorite color combinations so I could dye her some more!

She happily replied back and had some really nice ideas about color. Today I started the first of several batches of dyed mohair locks. These are scoured Texas Mohair with a long (up to 5") staple length and a pretty shine. They also have a nice crimp and curl.

This first batch is still drying. The sun is so bright today that it's a little hard to see the depth of color. Tomorrow I'll be able to take a better picture so you can see the full range of crimson, burgundy and wine working through the locks. The colors are very striking together. I've dyed enough for my new flattering friend with more for the store. I'll be back when the mohair is ready for it's next photo shoot.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Wind Rose Spindle Noddy ~ It's Here!

Here it is! I'd like to formally introduce The Wind Rose Spindle Noddy! I'm so excited!

The Wind Rose Spindle Noddy is a drop spindle and a niddy noddy all in one! Use the Spindle Noddy to spin beautiful skeins of yarn and wrap them right onto the 24" Niddy Noddy.

Singles can be placed on a swift and wound into center pull balls for easy plying. Or you can make single ply yarn that is conveniently wrapped onto the niddy noddy as you spin. Slide off your completed hank and it's ready to be washed and the twist set. You may also enjoy having the 2 foot niddy noddy for making sample skeins or short skeins for smaller projects.

The Wind Rose Spindle Noddy weighs 1oz with an 8.5" spindle length. The arms of the niddy noddy are 6" long allowing three inches on each side of the spindle. This is enough room to spin nice big skeins of yarn.

The Spindle Noddy is made from unfinished birch and comes with spinning instructions, a leader cord and a .5oz sample of roving. It's shipped in a sturdy box for safe travels.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Woodworking at Wind Rose

This afternoon my studio became a woodworking shop for a few hours. I was contently measuring, sawing, drilling and sanding when I paused to look at my workspace. I decided to take a picture. It's not everyday that my little room in the back of the house looks like this.

Whenever I work with wood and that first whiff of sawdust scents the air, I think of my dad. He built wooden boats for fishing and sailing which is a pretty high contrast to my projects. Still, I can't help but think that my childhood, playing in the Virginia Boat Shop (my dad's workshop) is the reason why I'm comfortable with tools today.

I made a handful of my Wind Rose Spindle Noddys and tomorrow I'll be able to photograph them and start listing them in the shop. I'm still deciding if I should include other things in the box with them like my Top Whorl Drop Spindle Spinning Instructions or maybe an ounce of wool. It's always nice to have a little fiber to play with when you buy a new spinning tool.

Tomorrow I'll return with the pictures and tell you a little more about them. Night all.

Cinnamon Roll & Lavender Merino

I have a couple new Merino colors to share today. I was doing a custom dye job for a customer and I have one ounce leftover of Cinnamon Roll Merino. Yes, she is using it to felt cinnamon rolls and so I thought it only right that I name this fiber after the project for which it was made. I did make a note of my recipe, so I'll be able to make more.

This lovely Lavender is a different story. I'm not sure I'll be able to reproduce this exact color. I don't want to get all "Disney Vault" on you, but when it's gone, it may be gone for good. I'm sad about this because I love lavender and this is such a soft, pretty shade. I'll definitely try to figure out a way to at least get close to this again. I have two ounces of lavender listed at Wind Rose, but a total of four ounces in stock. Contact me if you would like more than two and I'll adjust the listing for you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Vandyke Necklace ~ Available for Purchase!

I rarely allow so many days to go by between blog posts. This week however, I found myself in the middle of multiple projects. In other words, I was trying to do too much at once and so nothing was getting done.

My goal for this Sunday has been to finish some of what I have started. I now have half a dozen Vandyke Necklaces completed and ready for purchase at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. This pretty light blue version was crocheted using a bamboo/silk blend. I think the design looks very nice with this yarn and so I may have to make a few more!

In other news, I took the time to post my free crochet patterns on Ravelry a few days ago. I expected a small surge in my blog traffic, but nothing like I received. I was blown away by over 1200 page loads in one day. I just want to say thank you to the Ravelry community for visiting my little blog here at Wind Rose. Thank you and Welcome!

The Wind Rose Spindle Noddy is still in production, but I expect to have them available by the middle of this coming week. I'll be sure to let you know when they are ready.

I guess that's all for tonight. I hope everyone had a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Merino/Yak/Silk Top ~ It's New!

I am so excited to offer this luxurious fiber. It's 60% Merino Wool, 20% Tibetan Yak and 20% Cultivated Silk. Sometimes in blends, the wool seems to play the starring role. In this roving the yak and silk are center stage. Yak is often used as a more affordable substitute for cashmere. Yes, it's that soft! The Yak and silk come together in the fiber to create amazing softness and shine.

The overall color is a silky silver, however, it is far from monochromatic. As you can see from the side view, there are deeper tones as well as lighter ones. Sometimes a white background can wash out silver, so I have taken a picture with the roving laying across a purple and a white background to help distinguish the color.

Merino/Yak/Silk Top has a generous 3" to 3.5" staple length for spinning with ease. It's available in 4oz, 2oz and 1oz sizes at Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Vandyke Necklace ~ The Pattern is Ready!

I hope the holiday weekend has been relaxing and fun for everyone. It makes me wish all weekends were three day weekends. I get so much done and I still feel rested. It's wonderful!

Drum roll please... after much proof reading, The Vandyke Necklace Pattern is now complete and available for purchase at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. The pattern is very detailed and includes the exact materials I used to make this model. It also contains eight helpful photographs. I love visuals, so I always include quite a few in my patterns.

I've been enjoying making this necklace up in different fibers just to see how they look. So far, I like the 100% cotton by Sinfonia that you see pictured here very much. I think the cotton shows off the details of the lace. I've also made the pattern using wool, recycled cotton and I have plans to try it with a bamboo/silk blend. I'll share my results when I'm done. Making these models also means that I'll have a few available for sale in the shop in a few days. If you'd rather buy one than crochet one, they are on their way!

I promised a couple more views last week, so here's a picture of the necklace from the front. I have also taken a pic of the closure. The necklace fastens with a hook and chain. The chain creates the possibility of extending the overall length from 15" to 17". Once you have worked through the pattern, it will become clear how you can easily adjust the length of the crocheted neck chain as well.

I'm excited about this new design. I think incorporating a little vintage style with a modern wardrobe will result in eye catching ensembles. Sometimes it's the unexpected accessory that can make the whole outfit come together!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Wind Rose Spindle Noddy ~ Coming Soon!

I've taken the day off from crocheting and pattern writing and I've done a little wood working instead. I've been planning on making these for a while now, so it was really fun to shut myself in my studio and get busy.

This little guy is the first ever Wind Rose Spindle Noddy. If you follow this blog, you may have seen a post or two on a small niddy noddy drop spindle that I purchased on a whim. It has turned out to be one of my favorite spinning tools especially when I'm traveling. The sad thing is, the place I bought mine from doesn't sell them anymore and I haven't seen them anywhere else. It's time to make my own.

I have named my design the Wind Rose Spindle Noddy because it is a cross between a drop spindle and a niddy noddy. Actually, it's both. It could be used just as a niddy noddy. Each wrap of yarn creates a 24 inch loop which has become a popular size for short skeins or sample skeins. On the other hand, it can be used just like a drop spindle.

Let me tell you why I like my spindle noddy so much. I think it's really fun when I'm traveling, to be able to spin a medium weight singles yarn and wrap it right onto the niddy noddy as I spin. When I have enough yardage, I can slip off my yarn, set the twist and let it dry. The next morning I have a new hank of yarn just waiting for me.

Once I took a four day trip to North Carolina. I spun on the plane on my way there. The second day I finished spinning and washed my yarn. I set it on the dash of my car to dry in the sun while I went hiking. Then on the third day I made the yarn into a baby hat for my niece who we were expecting to arrive any day. I created a handmade baby gift, start to finish, in three days!

I also think the spindle noddy makes a good lap spindle. By lap spindle I mean that it's comfortable to spin while sitting. It's easy to park the spindle between your legs and extend the roving to an arm's length and let the twist travel on up. It has come on more than one ride with me whether I'm traveling by car or by plane.

My spindle noddy design is very minimalist looking. I think the Swede in me tends to lean towards the Ikea school of design. I like basic shapes and simplicity. I have one more change to make before I'm ready to launch these in my shop. I need to make it just a little heavier. Right now, my model weighs .5 oz and it's feeling a little light to me. I'm going to up the diameter of my wood pieces to gain at least another half an ounce. Otherwise, it works like a charm.

When I have a few ready for sale, I'll be back with more pictures so you can see it from every angle. For tonight, I just wanted to share today's efforts. Have a great weekend everybody.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Vandyke Necklace

I didn't expect to take quite so long bringing this pattern together. I found myself thwarted by a twisted wrist. The cause of my pain was one of those seriously graceful moments in life. I was bringing a large, 4o lb box into the house left by UPS. I also happened to be wearing a crocheted vest with an open weave design. My screen door caught me by the vest and I had this slow motion fall in which I tried to protect both my vest and my box. In retrospect, it may have been wiser to protect myself!

Though my sore wrist slowed me, it didn't stop me. When I'm in the middle of designing something new, it takes more than a little pain to shut me down. I get rather obsessed. Tunnel vision ensues, blocking out all other distractions. I'm sure my family will attest to this.

I need to stop running on and tell you about my necklace. I'm calling it The Vandyke Necklace. In my research, the name Vandyke seems to appear more in embroidery. A Vandyke Stitch is basically a zig zag chain. The inspiration for my design came from a pattern for Vandyke Lace Edging from 1895. I was thinking that I might give my necklace three points, this large one in the center and two smaller ones on either side. In the end, I decided less was more.

The Vandyke Necklace is worn close to the neck. It's very light and comfortable. In my previous post, I mentioned that I thought it would look nice paired with a boyfriend blazer. I had to try that out for myself now that I have a necklace completed. It's a cute look! I think this necklace would be pretty with blouses or offset by a collar. I also think you could get a little more fun and funky.

I have chosen an 8mm Czech Glass Crystal as my pendant, but you could choose most any ornament. Just think of all the charms and beautiful stones out there. Part of the fun with this pattern will definitely be a trip to the local bead shop to pick out just the right pendant for the look you desire.

As for the yarn, the necklace pictured here was crocheted using 100% cotton in a sport weight with a size D hook. When I write this pattern, I will be recommending cotton, silk, soy silk, bamboo or any very smooth fiber. I have made a second necklace using wool just to see what it would look like. It turned out fine, but the texture of the wool diminished the details of the lace.

What about the pattern? My goal is to get it written over the holiday weekend. I should have it in the shop by Monday or Tuesday and I'll post a link to the listing when it's ready. I think this will be a great gift pattern. It's one that you can make up to suit different personalities and it's easy to adjust the neck size. It's also a quick project. Now that I have the pattern worked out, it's taking me about an hour to make one necklace start to finish. This will be a nice pattern to have on file for birthdays, Christmas and all those special gift giving occasions.