Monday, November 29, 2010

Tatting Ribbon

I spent part of my Thanksgiving weekend reuniting with my yarn collection.

When I have a four day weekend, I feel like I should be getting things done. Much to my family's chagrin, I sort of feel like they should be using the time to advantage too. These two notions merged to become a garage organizing project.

Now I probably shouldn't admit this, but a big part of my yarn stash was living in the garage in plastic bags. I know it's shameful, but my studio is only so big and a lot of this yarn is leftover from projects. I don't really use it very often, but I can't bring myself to let it go. You know how it is.

So I found myself sitting on the living room floor surrounded by yarn. In my sorting, I came across old favorites. I had some gorgeous, hand painted ribbon (pictured above) left over from a shawl I made a few years ago. I thought it would be fun to see how it looked tatted into bracelets. Then I got hooked on the idea and started looking for other ribbon yarns.

I found a whole skein of ribbon in pretty sunset colors. This ribbon is only about 1/4" wide, but it has fun little eyelashes on either side. I really like how this one turned out.

I just did a chain of split rings starting from a small, six stitch ring, then ascending to a large middle ring. Then I decreased the rings back down again to a small ring on the other end of the chain.

I need to keep hitting the books with my tatting so I can get comfortable with more elaborate patterns. I guess I've been taking a short break to explore yarns and find out which ones tat the best. I'm discovering that you need yarn or thread that has some strength. A tight twist seems to be a good thing too. Now I'm definitely adding ribbon to the list. In fact, tatting with ribbon might just be my favorite!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tangled Up

It's been a couple days since my last post. I've been a little tangled up around the house. In fact, when I'm done writing, I'll be heading into my studio to organize this yarn. Why is it that no matter how neatly I put away my yarn, it always ends up looking like this?

Well, it's the weekend after Thanksgiving and the neighbors are starting to decorate their houses for Christmas. My email inbox is full of ads from any retailer who's managed to procure my address. Blockbuster movies are filling the theaters. Ready or not, it seems the holiday season is here.

As for me, I'm not thinking about the upcoming holidays just yet. The approach of early December represents something different to me. It means that the anniversary of Wind Rose Fiber Studio is coming. This year, on December 8th, I will have been in business for 3 years.

Really, December 8 could come and go and change nothing but the date on the calendar, but for some reason, the anniversary affects me significantly. I start to think about what I should change and what I should keep the same. I end up organizing and planning. How do I make Wind Rose even better in the upcoming year?

I can get seriously caught up in organizing. My brain starts to look a bit like this yarn photograph. I stay up late at night with notepads and my laptop as though I were running an empire and not a small craft business. The results of my efforts are usually minor, but worthwhile.

Last year I expanded my inventory and took my accounting online. This year I've decided to commit to keeping a group of core colors in stock. I like the idea of being the place where you can find a huge variety of hand dyed colors any day of the year. When I was writing down the colors I had to have, the list grew long. For every color of the rainbow, I want a cool and warm represented as well as a light and dark shade. I also want to include the earth tones not to mention grey and black. By the time I was done, I narrowed my list to 40 colors. These are just core colors mind you, there are others I'd like to include if time allows.

I don't think it would be practical to undertake this goal with every fiber I sell, so I've decided to keep my core colors in Merino wool. Merino is by far the most popular fiber I carry. For two other favorite wools, Falkland and BFL, I'll keep smaller, more primary selections. I'll try to do the same for soy silk if I can ever get enough back in stock. There is one more fiber dear to me and that is Firestar. I will keep a selection of colors in stock for this fiber too. As for blends and silks and all the other wonderful wools out there, I'll keep stocking them in ecru, but will probably only dye them upon request. This makes sense to me as the demand for them is much less.

So, with my anniversary looming, I'll be dyeing pounds of wool in all of the core colors I have chosen. This should take me a couple weeks to accomplish. Then the real test will start. The goal is to keep these colors available consistently throughout the year. I suppose it won't be long before I know if this is a reasonable goal or if I have chosen too great a number of colors. I'll be back another day with that color list so you know what you can expect to find at Wind Rose in 2011.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wind Rose Fiber Studio wishes you a warm and woolly Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tatting ~ Bracelets & Earrings

I didn't write a blog post yesterday, but that doesn't mean I didn't tat. Quite the opposite. I have now become absolutely obsessed with tatting. I have this idea that I would like all the women in my family to receive something tatted for Christmas. I'd like to send them each a bracelet and a pair of earrings.

I'm having a great time coming up with simple designs. The bracelets are just a combination of split knots and Josephine chains. While this is hardly advanced tatting, I think they're cute and they're fun to make.

One of the things that I find myself devoting a lot of time to is yarn choice. I have a studio full of different yarns, many of them my own handspun. Every time I make something, I want to make five more just to see how it would look with different sorts of yarn.

The earrings on the far left may be the goofiest, but I love them because they are made from yarn I spun years ago when I was just getting into spinning. My husband came in and asked if anyone would wear earrings made from yarn besides me. I gave him the only answer I could, "I don't know, but I'm have fun making them!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tatting Little Shapes

This is beginning to look like a tatting blog! When I get into something new, I really get into it!

Yesterday I began to play with tatting small shapes. To get me started, I purchased a pattern book from a fellow Etsy seller, Heather A. Johnston. Her collection, Tatted Earrings & Things, looked just like the kind of little motifs I wanted to try.

This pair of earrings shows her pattern for side view butterflies. I love how delicate they look and the variegated, size 20 tatting thread worked out well. The do look a bit like hummingbirds though. She has another pattern for hummingbirds which is very similar and of course gives the birds tail feathers. I'll try that one next.

I've also been playing around with a few shapes of my own. Well, there's one more butterfly in there, but the rest are mine. So far, the silver earrings are my faves. I love making the Josephine Knot chains. The spirals make me happy.

I used both shuttles and needles when I was working on these. I found myself liking the shuttles better for the butterflies, but I used tatting needles to make the other earrings. I'm getting more and more comfortable as time goes on. I think what I need most now is just plenty of practice. I plan to keep picking out patterns so I can become comfortable with the way they are written. I think it's good to be able to follow a pattern even if my goal is to create my own designs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Needle Tatting ~ Here I go!

Yesterday I made the transition from shuttle to needle. What I discovered took me by surprise. I thought that once I started needle tatting, I'd never look back. I knew I'd be able to create double knots faster and I figured that if all the same design elements could be created with a needle, then needle tatting would emerge as my favorite form. I didn't expect to be missing my shuttles almost right away.

It's true that the rings and chains moved along quickly, but my mind almost immediately began to see limitations to working with a needle. I felt like I had less control in a way. I think that my feelings in large part were affected by my choice in books. Learn Needle Tatting was falling a bit short for me. Since I've already practiced the basics, I was thinking ahead and wondering how split rings and chains would be possible with a needle. I flipped through the pages only to find that this particular book doesn't go that far. It includes rings and chains and adding on a new color, but that's it.

Now, in all fairness to Learn Needle Tatting, I should mention that I went from there to The Complete Book of Tatting by Rebecca Jones to find that she too had only gone so far as rings and chains where needle tatting is concerned. Of course the Complete Book of Tatting states in the subtitle that the focus is on Everything You Wanted to Know but Couldn't Find Out About Shuttle Tatting. So in my tatting shopping frenzy, I clearly failed to supply myself with a good needle tatting guide.

What now? YouTube, that's what! Hooray for YouTube! So I have some new favorite videos. This one: TotusMel Needle Tatting Spilt Rings & Josephine Chains.MPG clearly shows how to create a split ring and a Josephine chain with a needle. Split chains are well explained is this turoial: needle tatting - split chain and split ring (kinda). I know the word "kinda" doesn't inspire confidence, but she's referring to the fact that she kinda covers split rings as well as split chains. One more video link for fun: Needle Tatting Flower Pendant.MPG. In this video, the tatter creates a flower pendant from start to finish in 7 minutes.

So now my enthusiasm for needle tatting has been revived. I'm ready to go back in my studio and see what I can create with my tatting needles. By the way, I haven't been taking the time to block my pieces before photographing them. I'm too impatient to go on to the next project. The Pink and silver samplers up above are two separate pieces, but I thought they looked kind of cute layered on top of each other for their picture. The little silver one will probably become a Christmas tree ornament this year.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tatting Class 8 ~ Split Chains!

I'm back today to show off my first split chain. You can see that I made things a little more interesting for myself by by my choice of yarn. When I say interesting I really mean difficult. I don't know why I can't stick with basic crochet or tatting thread. This lace weight yarn has a mild mohair quality that made it more challenging for me to see what I was doing. It also made it tough when I needed to frog a knot. Oh well, live and learn.

In spite of my slightly furry yarn, I made it through my first split chain. The most challenging part for me was remembering to hold my tension and keep my stitch placement close. On my first attempt, it looked like I had a picot right next to my joining loop and that was due to my failure to slide my tied-on knot into position and keep it there with a finger pinch. The interesting thing about learning to tat, is that your brain has to be focused on several new things at once. It's a good mental workout!

I'm now planning to move on in my tatting journey. Up to now, I've been using Learn to Tat by Janette Baker as my guide. This is probably the first time I've ever followed an instructional book from cover to cover, and in this case, it's been a good experience. I feel like this book has given me a strong foundation to build upon. There is actually one more lesson about front side tatting verses traditional, but there is such a minimal difference in technique between the two, that I'm not really going to worry about it for now. What I will do is keep this book on my shelf as a wonderful reference as I go forward.

Where to now? The next book in my lineup is Learn Needle Tatting by Barbara Foster. Just flipping through, it seems to use most of the same beginning designs only this time I'll be utilizing a tatting needle rather than a shuttle. I think having seen and tatted the patterns before will make the transition easier. My ultimate goal is to be able to move from shuttle to needle to crochet hook with relative ease. I love the idea of being able to incorporate lace elements into my future crochet projects.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tatting Class 7 ~ Split Rings!

Yes! I love split rings! Class number 7 in my Learn to Tat book made me very happy. Well, first it confused me and then it made me happy.

I've been using the dvd that comes with the book quite a lot. Seeing and doing is my preferred way of learning. So I was watching the pretty manicured hands make a split ring and I thought, "No problem. I've got this." Then I tried to mimic what I had just seen only to to find that it wasn't working. It didn't look right and I couldn't close the ring.

Now if you haven't tatted, you are probably wondering what I'm talking about. If you have, you are probably giggling at my rookie mistake. I started over. I watched the video again looking and listening carefully for what I must have missed the first time around. "Wait, what's that? Did she say reverse the stitches? ...and don't transfer the stitches???"

I cottoned on to reversing the stitches fast enough. Over then under instead of the other way around. No problem, stitches reversed. What gave me pause was the don't transfer your stitches comment. The pretty tatting hands just kind of threw that in there like it was no big deal. I've just spent a week getting really comfortable doing classic double knots, transferring my stitches. Can I convince my hands to go back in time?

Seriously, I had a moment in which I wondered if it was even possible for me not to transfer my stitches! Then my brain caught back up and I figured out that if transferring stitches was all about loosening the tension, then not transferring had to be about maintaining tension. My light bulb turned on. I was home again!

After that, it was all downhill for me and split rings. I found a nice skein of orange cotton and split ringed my heart out. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had enough yarn on my spools to make a chain that would reach around my wrist. I found a couple copper findings and added a clasp. Hello new bracelet.

Class 8 will have me splitting chains. I'm ready!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tatting Class 6 ~ Double Shuttles

Here's my little practice piece from tatting class number 6 in my Learn to Tat book. The new concepts were working with two shuttles and also making Josephine Knots for the first time.

I used size 8 tatting cotton and it was so nice to get back to a finer fiber after my class 5 project. Working with two shuttles was easy enough. I used two different colored plastic shuttles so I could tell them apart.

What I'm starting to realize after just over a week of tatting, is that I could end up with big shuttle collection. I wonder how many shuttles the average tatter owns? It's easy to have some thread left over after a project. I don't really want to unwind and waste all that thread, so I find myself looking for another shuttle to use.

I picked up a couple of these metal shuttles. They are nice because they have a bobbin that slides in and out. If you have thread left on a bobbin, you can just use a new bobbin. The extra bobbins are sold in four packs and both the shuttle and the bobbins are reasonably priced.

Another perk with this bobbin shuttle is that you can give it a little tug when you need more thread. You don't have to spin the whole shuttle around to unwind some length. A down side to using these might be double shuttle patterns. How would you tell one shuttle from the other? Maybe a cute little sticker on one of the shuttles or something like that.

Back to my sampler. The Josephine Knots are the little rings on the top of my edging. They really aren't hard to make. Now that I've gotten comfortable with the basic double knot and the handling of the shuttles and thread, the new concepts are coming easier. I'm actually really looking forward to the next lesson because it covers split rings. When I first decided to dive into this world of tatting, back when I discovered cro-tatting, one of the first things I wanted to make was a continuous chain of rings. Now I know that it's the split ring technique that will allow me to do that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tatting Class 5 ~ I'm Going Knotless!

That's right, knotless. There's not one knot in this whole piece! That's what lesson 5 in my Learn to Tat book was all about.

I started this exercise kind of late one evening. I chose a sport weight cotton mainly to be kind to my eyes. At about 9:00, my contacts want to call it a day and my glasses and I don't have a very good working relationship.

I feel I can say, once and for all, that shuttle tatting with Dk or sport weight cotton is ridiculous. Shuttles were just not made for such fat yarn. On the other hand, doing this exercise with a heavier weight fiber made for some good practice. I couldn't fit very much yarn on the shuttle which forced me to reload about five or six times. I now feel fully rehearsed in thread joins.

This piece is the Easy Bookmark pattern that the book provides. I decided to make it a little shorter and I may even sew on a clasp so I can wear it like a colorful cuff bracelet. I want to bond with my tatting.

The next lesson will have me tatting with two shuttles at once. Great googly moogly!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tatting Class 4

I'm working my way through Learn to Tat by Janette Baker. This is a book that comes with a companion dvd. So far I'm impressed with the instructions. They are in a very sensible order and easy to follow. I feel like I'm getting a solid introduction into the world of tatting.

Class 4 focuses on ring and chain instructions. You can see that I am working with two threads now. It's more practice in making those close joins, reversing my work and also how to handle the second string. I used DMC size 8 Perle Cotton.

Now I'm working on the 5th lesson and I feel like I'm getting down to the nitty-gritty. I'm learning how to have my tatting contain as few knots as possible. I'm making a practice piece in which I have carried the beginning threads along with my work to weave them in. I'm also about to find out how to join a new thread when it's time to refresh my shuttle. I'll show you how that goes tomorrow.

Also today, I want to thank Gina for her comment on yesterday's tatting post. She writes a blog called Threads of a Tatting Goddess and was kind enough to recommend some good practice threads. Her blog is a wonderful place to find tatting patterns, guides and tutorials as well as a long list of resources. She also offers plenty of inspiration. I love the autumn leaves she shares in her Oct. 31st post!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Skin Tone Samplers Are Back!

Okay, as promised, the Skin Tone Samplers are back in stock at Wind Rose. I carry two sizes. The small sampler has .25oz of each color and the large sampler has .5oz of each.

They both have all ten colors: Chestnut Brown, South Pacific, Golden Brown, Deeper Brown, Porcelain Fair, Sun Touched, Precious Peach, Pink Blush, Peach Glow and Mediterranean.

Tatting Class 3 With Size 80 Thread

Yesterday I shared my tatting progress in the form of a butterfly. Class 3 in my Learn to Tat book was all about making joined loops. The thing is, I've been teaching myself with size 10 crochet cotton and even some larger cottons. Technically, I haven't been tatting lace yet, not until today.

The last time I was near a Michaels, I ran in and purchased some size 80 tatting thread. I might have gone with a 60 or a 70, but Micheals didn't have a very good selection. It was size 8 or size 80 and nothing in between. I wanted to try my hands out on some real tatting thread. It doesn't get much finer than size 80, so I knew I was in for a challenge.

I decided to take a picture of my lacy little butterfly next to the larger size from yesterday. That way you can see just how great the difference is. Yesterday's butterfly was made from a DK mercerized cotton. It looks sort of bumbling and huge next to the teeny tiny butterfly made from the size 80 tatting thread.

I was pleased with how well I adjusted to the fine thread. My hands felt comfortable right away. I guess a double knot is a double knot. What was more challenging was getting the loops right next to each other. This little butterfly is actually my third try. The loops were okay in my first two, but even a tiny length of space between the them ruins the butterfly form. I had to keep trying until I got it nice and tight. I'm such a perfectionist even when I'm learning something new. I can be pretty hard on myself.

I'm sure I nearly went cross-eyed more than once this morning. I'm not really planning on making lots of really fine lace, but if I change my mind about that, a magnifying glass is in my future! For now, I'm just enjoying the learning process.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tatting Class 3!

I just mastered tatting class number three. The class wasn't actually about making a butterfly. The butterfly pattern was used to practice making joined loops. This seems like it should be easy, but it took me a few tries.

When I was cro-tatting, this wasn't even an issue. It was simple to start the next loop where the last one left off. With the shuttle, you have to be aware of which string to hold tension on so that your first stitch of the new loop stays in place.

The other thing I'm finding as a new tatter is that the quality of thread really does make a difference. In particular, I think you need a tight and well set twist. I was practicing with one brand of size 10 cotton and I kept having to let my shuttle hang and unwind. The cotton kept trying to ply on me which was a nuisance, not to mention the fact that it can spoil a picot.

I hope you don't mind coming on this tatting journey with me. In the meantime, I'm doing my best to not neglect Wind Rose Fiber Studio. I have 2 1/2 pounds of Merino drying out in the sun right now. They are destined to become my next batch of skin tone samplers. I'll be able to list them back in the shop tomorrow and they'll be ready to ship out Tuesday morning.

Related Posts: Tatting Class, Me & My Shuttle

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tatting Class

I'm excited to show you my progress! I went from awkwardly shuttling my first double stitches to making rings and picots with relative ease. I've now completed the first two classes in my Learn to Tat book.

I am doing my best to stay disciplined and take it step by step. Typically, I get overconfident and jump ahead or move too quickly. Then I ultimately find myself needing to go back and figure out what I missed. I think my tatting will be much better if I take my time and practice.

I just got my tatting needles in the mail today. I went a little tatting crazy on Amazon. I'm going to need a little basket or special place just for my tatting supplies. The presence of the needles is going to make it harder for me to focus on my shuttling. I want to do both, now. I'm such an impatient student!

One more thing, in my online travels, I came across this really nice crochet site called Crochet Memories. They have a wonderful page of Thread Information that includes terminology, thread varieties and even some recommended brands of thread. I just thought I'd share that with you. It seems like a nice reference to keep bookmarked.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Me & My Shuttle

My tatting shuttles came in the mail today and we are getting acquainted. Teaching myself to make a tatting double knot on my afghan crochet hook was a breeze compared to this. Wow! Have you seen someone tatting and their fingers are just flying along? Well, that's not me! I feel like someone hit the slow motion button for my hands. If you listen closely, you can hear my inner voice saying, "over, under, release tension, pull".

I've always considered humility to be a good thing and right now I'm getting a healthy dose of it. I feel kindred to everyone on the planet learning to do something for the very first time. I wonder if they feel me too?

I'm using two reference materials. I'm getting started with Learn to Tat by Janette Baker with an interactive dvd. This is a 48 page book set up in the format of classes. The language is easy to follow and the dvd is a great companion. Graduating from class to class is a good motivator. I get to say, "Yay, I finished the first class!"

The second book I have on hand is The Complete Book of Tatting by Rebecca Jones. I was drawn in by the subtitle
Everything You Wanted to Know but Couldn't Find Out About Shuttle Lace. There were also a couple reviews citing it as a "must have". I like having a good, complete reference on hand. It's like keeping a dictionary in the house. When you have a question, you can just look up the answer.

So that's what I'm up to today. I also plan to workout. All this sitting around learning how to tat is great exercise for my fingers and brain, but not so good for the rest of me.

I'll also be dyeing this weekend. My last batch of Merino Wool Skin Tone Samplers flew out of the shop, so it's time to make more. On the day I sold my last one, I got an email inquiring about them. I guess it's good to have a product in demand.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hair Jewelry

This is about as close as I get to putting pictures of myself on my blog. *giggle* For the last couple weeks, I've been playing around making hair jewelry.

I have long hair, but I'm not a pony tail girl. I don't even like hair clips really, but I've always liked hair jewelry. When I was younger, I sometimes took sections of my hair and wrapped them in string or ribbon. Of course that's a good way to end up with tangled, damaged hair.

Then a couple weeks ago, I was at a Native American pow wow and got inspired. Some of the women were selling hair clips with beads dangling from one end. I bought a pair and then later chastised myself for the purchase. I know I'll never wear them no matter how cute they are because I'm just not a hair clip person.

Then I got to thinking. What I really liked about the clips was the beadwork, so why not attach beads to something I will wear. So I bought some medium hair elastics and did some bead stringing of my own.

Now I realize I just made pony tail holders and they could be used for braids or pony tails, but I like to wear them wrapped around a section of my hair just behind the ear. They get to hang down loose and free just like the rest of my hair. It's a subtle bit of bling or as I like to call it, hair jewelry.

I guess it's sort of a bohemian look, but that's kind of my style. Neither me nor my hair shall be bound by social conventions. Some pretty sparkling beads on the other hand, well... that's okay.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cro-Tatted Pendant Necklace

I'm still enjoying my latest discovery. I have cro-tatting on the brain these days. Here I've made a pendant from size 10 cotton. This is a simple cro-tat shape and I found a green aventurine star to sew in the center. I used my KumiLoom to make a matching cord so that I could turn it into a necklace.

After I started exploring cro-tat, I knew I was hooked so I ordered a needle tatting book. I want to learn more stitches and designs. Since I can't stay away from tatting while I wait for my book, I'm sitting around trying to figure out designs of my own. Most of the time, the result of this exploration is me frogging my work. Still, I'm having fun trying.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Corn Fiber ~ The Colors are Coming!

I finally started dyeing my corn fiber this weekend. When I start off with a brand new fiber, I basically work my way from one end of the rainbow to the other. This is particularly interesting with corn fiber. Not only am I dyeing a new fiber for the first time, but I'm also working with a brand new kind of dye.

To begin with, I have dyed a nice Red, Light Yellow, Dark Orange and also a Light Orange. Next on my list, I'd like to dye a more intense shade of yellow and then I'll be moving on to the greens, blues and so on. I also plan on dyeing black and brown. By the time I'm finished, I hope to offer a complete spectrum of colors.

I'm Thankful for Orange Merino!

...and Bright Yellow and Pumpkin and Burnt Orange and Bright Orange. I love the weekends! I get to catch up on my dyeing. I sold every shade of orange Merino in my shop during the month of October, so I'm glad to say that it's back.

I do try my best to keep seasonal colors available. If you ever need a color and you don't find it in my inventory, let me know. I'm happy to dye any color of the rainbow!

Bamboo is Back with Merino/Yak

Bamboo Roving is back in stock at Wind Rose. I don't have any dyed yet, but you can purchase it dye free, in it's lovely, luminous white. I have listings for 1oz, 2oz and 4oz lots.

Merino/Yak/Silk (60/20/20) is also back in stock. This luxury fiber is out-of-this-world soft and flew out of the shop the first time around. If you haven't tried it yet, put it on the list of fibers you must experience. You won't be sorry! It is listed in 1oz and 2oz amounts.

As always, if you need more of a fiber than you see listed in the shop, feel free to contact me. I'm always happy to make a custom listing to suit your needs.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cro-Tat Practice

Practice, practice, practice! I've been working on my cro-tat today. I was using the first scrap skein of yarn I came across which has a little mohair quality. Next time I need to work with something that will allow me to see what I'm doing more clearly. My main objective was to get my hands and brain used to the process. I still have some tension issues. I can see that consistent stitching and tension will make all the difference between okay work and pretty cro-tatting.

I made this cuff bracelet because I also wanted to practice attaching my pieces together. You really have to think about where your points of connection will be. It's kind of like piecing a puzzle together. It's fun to make something three dimensional. The painful part was taking this picture. Photography seems to shine a spotlight on every little flaw, but at least it helps me see the things I need to work on.

A quick Wind Rose update before I sign off. Dyeing corn fiber is still on my "to do" list. I was planning to get it done last week and then I got so busy with other orders. Anyway, sorry it's taking me a little longer than I said it would, but the corn fiber is coming.

Back in the shop today are two fine fibers. You can now find Bamboo Top in 1oz, 2oz and 4oz lots. Also returning is Merino/Yak/Silk roving. This fiber is so soft and gorgeous! You can purchase it in 1oz and 2oz lots. If you need more, contact me for a custom listing.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


This is one of those times when I suspect that I am the last person to discover something. No doubt people have been combining crochet and tatting for centuries. Although the name, cro-tat, this is new to me.

What's in a name? For me, everything! You see, I have long admired tatting and even thought to myself that I should one day learn. I wasn't in a hurry because tatting seemed like a craft that would require me to learn a whole new skill set and that takes time.

Then today, as I was reading my blogs of choice, my new friend Angie was sharing her latest creation. She crocheted an iPod case and embellished it with cro-tatting. Somehow, the prefix cro-, knocked down whatever barrier stood between me and tatting. I am comfortable with cro-! I have a collection of afghan crochet hooks in every size. "If I can tat with a crochet hook, I'm in!" I thought.

My first move was to Google cro-tat. My search led me to this Prym Newsletter with a set of basic instructions for cro-tatting. It looked like a great tutorial and I've gotten used to translating the European stitch abbreviations into what we use here in the US. Still, I felt like I would need a little more instruction to get me started.

I headed over to YouTube where I found this lovely video for the basic cro-tat stitch. This helped me quite a bit. The way the knots are cast on seems like it would be second nature for anyone who knits, but as a crocheter, I took a hard look. Once I had that part down, I was in great shape. I went back to the Prym tutorial and made this little flower shape.

Now my mind is whirling with excitement. It is so much fun to teach myself something new and I can't wait to do more. Of course now that I have cro-tatted, I can easily envision needle tatting and I can even see the ways in which needle tatting may be easier. There would be no worry of dropping your yarn as you pull the hook through your knots. It would be fun to try to make my own needle tatted lace. I can also see endless possibilities for incorporating cro-tatting into my crochet projects. Like I said, WHIRLING!

Okay, I'm probably getting ahead of myself, but I'm excited. I hope you enjoy exploring these links, but I warn you, the cro-tatting bug may be contagious!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My First KumiLoom Braids

Last week I told you all about my new KumiLoom. I thought I'd come back today and show you my first braids and how I have turned them into cords for pendant necklaces.

The pendant on the bottom represents the Tao of Creativity. It's my favorite piece of jewelry. I realize it's just a simple pendant, but being creative is important to me and so I like to wear this symbol around my neck.

I love the way the pendant looks on the silver and black braided cord. This is my first ever KumiLoom braid. I thought it was going to be too big in diameter, but the weight of it seems fitting for the large pendant.

The smaller pendant with the Celtic star belongs to my son. His favorite color is blue, so he picked light blue and black for his braid. He is currently reading Peter and the Starcatchers, so when he wears his pendant necklace, he imagines himself to be a catcher of stars.

To finish them and create a closure, I went to my favorite online bead store, Fire Mountain Gems, and ordered end caps for my braids. I ordered several sizes to have on hand, but for these necklaces, caps with a 5mm opening worked out great. I already had the hook closures, so it was just a matter of attaching my hook and loop to the end caps. I did this by inserting a headpin through the end cap, trimming off the extra pin length, and then curving the remaining metal wire around my fasteners with a loop. A wire cutter and a pair of round nose pliers were my only tools.

Before inserting my braids into the end caps, I wrapped them with metal wire to keep them from unraveling. Then I used a dab of E6000 glue to secure the braids to the caps. The result is a nice, finished look for my necklaces.

Now I'm working on my first square braid. I had to braid several rounds before muscle memory took over. The square braid has a few extra moves. I found a YouTube video that goes through the process step by step.

Well that's all my braiding adventures so far.
It's nice to be making something that even my sons and my husband like. I've finally discovered something I can make for the guys in my family. Woohoo!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Crocheted Coral Reef, The Smithsonian & My Friend Hanna

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is now on display in Sant Ocean Hall at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The show runs from October 16, 2010 - April 24, 2011, but I have to confess, there's another reef that I'm more interested in today!

The project I want to share is The Smithsonian Community Reef also on display for the same dates as above, only this one can be found in The National Museum of Natural History.

This summer, my dear friend Hanna (one of my first crochet students), was taking a class on Fibers and Textiles given by the Institute for the Arts. She was given the opportunity to learn about hyperbolic crochet and also to contribute to the Smithsonian exhibit. How many people can say their work is in the Smithsonian? Well Hanna Poeschl can!

Hanna crocheted four pieces for the community reef.

The Smithsonian informs, "...the Crochet Reef project also operates in the tradition of community art practice. Over the past five years the Wertheims and the Institute have worked with communities all over the world to create local crochet reefs in cities as far flung as New York, London, Melbourne, Cape Town and Riga (Latvia). The latest of these “Satellite Reefs” is the Smithsonian Community Reef..."

The display looked so massive to me that I wondered if Hanna was able to locate her hyperbolic crochet forms. She said it took some hunting, but she found all four. She also got to see her name in print as a contributor to the project.

I'm so glad her parents had their camera ready. This is something she'll want to remember and to be able to share with others. I would also like to thank Hanna for allowing me to share her photographs with you. They are spectacular!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Handmade Lace Jewelry ~ Artist Angie Winnicka

It warms my heart that there are still people making lace by hand. It's so beautiful. No machine could ever duplicate the artistry that comes from the imagination and talent of lace maker Angie Winnicka of Agasunset Studio.

I can't remember the exact occasion upon which I discovered Angie's work. I suspect I clicked on a link in twitter one day and found myself in her Etsy shop. I was so impressed, not only by her tatting, but by the originality of her work. I recognized immediately that I was gazing at the art of a true designer.

With each new creation, she seems to explore and expand the world of lace. Her pieces look delicate and sculptural and dare I say provocative. There is something alluring and emotional about her designs. You feel as if she has put her heart and soul into each one. It is incredibly unique to see that reflected so clearly in a person's work.

The picture I have here is of a pendant Angie sent to me. It's nice to be able to see the quality of her work up close, but this is really just a small sample. I would urge you to visit Agasunset Studio for a chance to admire her work more fully. I'm sure you will find yourself as captivated as I.