Thursday, April 28, 2011

Continental Knitting ~ Practice Swatch

It looks kind of like a pineapple, doesn't it? Actually, it's the result of my first practice session with Continental knitting. I just goofed around going from knitting to purling. I threw in a little two stitch ribbing and even tried increasing and decreasing.

Having the yarn back in my left hand feels good and my fingers have quickly adjusted to their new responsibilities. What I'm struggling with most is tension. When I crochet, I don't wrap the yarn around the outside of my left fingers. I allow it to drop through my hand and then I curl in my ring and pinky fingers to control my tension. I know there are more ways than one to wrap your yarn even as a crocheter, but this is how I've held mine for years.

I totally get why you have to have the yarn on the outside of your fingers when you are knitting. I find the continental method of purling very comfortable and I love how easy it is to switch between the knit and purl stitches. What I'm not loving is the pinky wrap tension. If I wrap the yarn around my pinky once, I feel like I don't have enough tension and the yarn has even slipped of my finger a couple times. If I wrap my pinky twice, it's too much tension. What's a girl to do?

Here's what I did. I looked online to see how other knitters were holding their yarn. I found one video where the knitter wrapped the yarn completely around her index finger. I tried that is it does work. You can still purl without the yarn falling off your finger. I think it looks a little funny though and it's still not quite the tension control I want.

I have noticed that in the demo I shared on my last post, her stitches are very loose. She even comments on this and says that she will often use needles two sizes smaller than the gauge suggests. So maybe this means that Continental knitting is just much looser and I have to get used to that. Mainly, I think I need to keep practicing!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Baby Leaf Hat

Hey, look! I finished! I actually finished a knitting project! That feels so good. Here's my hat on Windy, my Wind Rose Fiber Studio, lifelike baby model.

Mine is a little smaller than my mom's hat. That's because you're supposed to switch to the next larger needle size after you complete the leaves. I don't own knitting needles in every size just yet, so I just stuck with the ones I was using. I measured the diameter which is 6 inches, so when you multiply times pi, that's just about a 19 inch circumference and that's not counting the stretch factor. I think a newborn baby noggin could fit in there. It would make a cute baby picture. It sort of has that Anne Geddes thing going for it. Oh, I should mention, if you like this pattern, it's called Knit Lace Leaves for Baby ~ 8 Designs by Jeannine LaRoche.

Okay, now that I'm just getting comfortable, I'm going to switch things up and try out continental knitting. I have a feeling I'll be happier in the long run if I learn to knit in this style. I don't have a pattern in mind. I think I'm just going to knit and purl back and forth until I get the swing of it. Wish me luck. :D

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Continental Knitting

I've been showing my mother a few crochet stitches while she's been teaching me to knit. Today, with her new understanding of crochet, she said she wished she could show me how to knit continental style because it would probably be so much more natural for me as a crocheter. So I jumped on YouTube and found this demo. I'm definitely going to try this style of knitting on my next project.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Learning to Knit ~ Leaf Cap

My mom is a knitter and I am a crocheter. She's visiting from Virginia this week and so I have decided to take this opportunity to get a few knitting lessons. She in return, is getting a little crochet practice. More and more often, we are both seeing patterns that combine the two crafts. My mom is making a sweater that calls for a finishing of single crochets and picots. As for myself, I just hope to one day feel as comfortable with knitting needles as I do with a crochet hook. That would be amazing.

So this is the pattern that I'm using as my learning tool. It's a very sweet baby's cap and I'd love to be able to knit something like this to give as a gift. Now, in the art of knitting, I'm a beginner. I'm not being modest. I have actually never completed a knitting project in my life. I have started a few, so I have a little experience, but not enough to get me to the finish line. Well, now that I think about it, I guess I have made a couple scarves, but that was just straight knitting. I wasn't reading a pattern or trying to create an interesting design. So that's the knitting background on me.

Here's my cap in the darker green. This is the farthest I have gotten without making a mistake. Okay, I feel doomed now that I just typed that, but I'm feeling very proud. This is probably my fourth attempt. I ended up frogging the first few. With this leaf design, getting off by even one stitch ruins the pattern, so it's been a bit of a challenge. Now I have one more row to create the leaf points and then it will be 24 rows of plain old knitting. If I can just get through this last row!

I think one of the most valuable things I have learned is how to go back either knitting or purling so that I can fix a mistake. That is what used to make me crazy. I could identify my mistakes, but I couldn't fix them. I have probably spent even more time studying that and the way the stitches look than I have learning new stitches. Really, I feel fairly natural knitting, purling, increasing and now I can add SSK to my list.

The next group of mystery letters are PSSO. I feel a little like I've joined the military or some radical group. The PSSO will be protesting the new administration. See? It works! I'm a radical!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sheep Coasters

These cute sheep coasters were a gift from my mom. Aren't they fun? I've been trying to decide which is my favorite, but I'm torn. I love the "Hand Wash Only" one with the sheep hanging on the line. I can also relate to the "Bad Hair Day" sheep.

Anyway, they're all so cute I just wanted to play show and tell. Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tower of Yarn ~ Knit Happens

I'm just back from my first visit to Knit Happens in Scottsdale, Arizona. I've been meaning to check out this shop out for a long time. Today, with my knitting mom visiting from Virginia, we decided to take a field trip.

Knit Happens is a beautiful shop and so nicely organized. When you walk in, the first thing you see is a long table where knitters sit contently with their projects. I love that. I think a good yarn shop should make you want to sit and stay for a while.

My mom and I had specific yarn needs in mind, but first can I just say that I have never seen a larger selection of Noro yarns in one place ever?! Who doesn't love Noro?

The staff was very helpful, and my mom quickly found a yarn to suit her project. I had a great time too. Since it's more fun to have a project in mind when you go yarn shopping, I decided to buy the yarn I will need for a Bruges Lace project I have planned. My pattern calls for around 1500 yards of fine sport weight yarn. I guess I should add that its a shawl. That's why so much yardage.

I ended up picking out this Tapping Tootsees yarn from Done Roving Yarns in the color Cardinals In The Pine. The colors are gorgeous and it's made of 60% superwash Merino, 30% bamboo (thus the shine) and 10% nylon. Each 4oz skein contains 434 yards. I think it will be very nice.

Then I couldn't resist buying a couple bulky yarns. You know I like to play with my oversized tatting, so I couldn't resist these yummy, chubby yarns.

The one on the bottom of my yarn tower is made by Riviera in color 502. It's soft and bouncy and I love the colors. Then I wanted to get some blue for a piece of wall art I have planned. For this I chose the Cornflower skeins in the middle of my tower. This gorgeous 98% Merino, 2% polyamide was spun in Peru by Mirasol.

Yarn shopping is so fun. I couldn't wait to get home and wind my skeins. Now I can't wait to play with them!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sunset Blush Merino

Sometimes when I'm dyeing my wool, I have happy little accidents. I produce a color that's a little different than the one I'm going for, but it's still a very pretty color. This happened the other day and the result was this very pretty light pink with subtle orange tones throughout.

Although this color was not intended, I couldn't be happier with my accidental roving. It's such a soft and lovely shade. I gave it the name Sunset Blush and I wanted to share it with you because I don't plan to reproduce this one. So, For a limited time, you can find Sunset Blush at Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Firestar Samplers are Back!

Yes, it's 2.25 ounces of sparkly goodness! The Firestar Samplers are back!

Firestar Samplers are very popular at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. I have found that I am not alone in my love of this nylon fiber that adds endless sparkle to your handspun yarns or needle felted projects. I sell a few of the most popular colors like Silver and Night Blue by the ounce, but the samplers are special.

When you buy a sampler, you get .25oz of 9 different colors. If you look, you'll see that I've tried to cover the rainbow in my shade selection. I've got Gypsy Wine, Crimson, Burnt Orange, Golden Yellow, Grass Green, Spruce, Night Blue, Violet and Silver. My hope is that no matter what the project, there will be a piece of Firestar to either compliment or match!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Sheep Drive

Saturday, April 16th, I had the opportunity to experience a piece of history. For over 100 years, bands of 2,000 sheep have walked the Heber-Reno Sheep Trail here in Arizona. The Dobson Sheep are the last two bands that make this 220 mile journey each year. Someday, perhaps in the not so distant future, this trail will see it's last herd and then this piece of Arizona's heritage will change forever. I could not pass up my chance to see a real sheep drive.

The sun was just coming over the mountains when I, along with my husband and two sons, arrived at the corner of Signal Butte and Brown roads in Mesa, Arizona. It was six in the morning and I was surprised to see that quite a few cars already lined the street corner. I knew that members from my spinning and weaving guild would be there, but I didn't expect so many others. It made me smile to see such a large group coming together to see the sheep.

We didn't know exactly when to expect the sheep. Our gathering continued to grow as the minutes ticked by. We milled about and gazed southward, impatient to see our woolly friends. Finally, off in the distance, we could make out the flashing lights of the police cars that were clearing the path ahead of the flock. Then, slowly at first, the band of sheep came into view. As they rounded the corner, with a sea of dust in their wake, we could begin to see just how many there were.

Before we knew it, they were upon us. The crowd cheered and the cameras went crazy as Felipe, the foreman, lead the sheep north. I was surprised by how quickly they moved. I knew it would not take long for them to pass. I alternated between trying to capture the moment with my camera and attempting to take everything in with all of my senses.

The motion of so many sheep trotting at once, the sound of their baaing and the smell of their general sheepiness was all around me. My kids, who a few moments earlier were getting tired of waiting, were now animated and calling things out to me. "Look at the black one! Did you get a picture of it?" The air seemed full of energy. It was exhilarating!

I don't know how long it took for the band to pass. It was just a few minutes and it went by so fast. I found myself wishing there were even more sheep so that the moment could last just a little longer. Some members of the crowd chased after the herd in the hopes of getting just one more picture or one more look, but the sheep disappeared into that cloud of dust made by so many hooves. Though we squinted and craned, we found ourselves just a group of people again.

It took me a few seconds to regain my focus. There were my kids, my husband, my friends. There were the smiles of the kindred folk with whom I had just shared this experience. There were the roads, Signal Butte and Brown, now filling with cars, car noises and car smells. If it were not for the adrenalin I still felt, it might have seemed unreal. I giggled as I walked to the car. What a wonderful way to start the day!

As for the sheep, they will continue north. Over the next 45 days they will travel into Usery Mountain Park, through Bulldog Canyon to the Salt River. From there they will cross the Blue Point Bridge and on towards Sugarloaf Mountain. They'll travel over Reno Pass and cross Tonto Creek heading on to the Sierra Anchas Mountains. They will proceed through Pleasant Valley and climb to the top of the Mogollon Rim and finally on to the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

They will spend about six weeks in the cool mountains before they return home in October. This is all to avoid the soaring summer temperatures of southern Arizona, but the mild fall and winter will be the perfect climate for mother ewes to graze and to give birth to their young.

You can learn more about the story of the historic Heber-Reno Sheep Trail by reading Emily Walks the Sheep Trail by Cindy Shanks. In her book, Cindy gives a charming and educational account of this journey from the point of view of Emily, a young lamb. Emily will tell you all about life on the farm and her first trip up and down the trail.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tatted Charm Bracelet

I just finished this tatted charm bracelet. It's meant to be a little Easter gift for my mom who is coming to visit. Of course I probably just spoiled the surprise, but I'm hoping she's too busy packing to think about my blog today.

This is just my third charm bracelet. I started making these during my last vacation. I was on the plane and started to tat little shapes. The shapes made me think of charms, so I gave them stems and leaves so that I would have a loop by which to hang them. Finally, I designed a simple vine chain and my tatted charm bracelet was born.

For my mom I went with two shades of pink. She's likes pastels and I thought the two colors looked pretty together. When it's on her wrist, it will hang so that the light and dark pinks alternate. I used size 10 crochet cotton so they are dainty , but still showy enough. The charms measure just over half an inch at their widest point.

I also think it's interesting that my magic number turned out to be 8 for this project. When I'm designing anything, a number usually emerges. I end up calling this my "magic number" in my head which I guess is silly. It begins with a base number. Let's say I decide to make a flower with nine petals. Then I have the number 9 in my head. Thereafter, I'll find myself making everything for that project in either factors or multiples of nine. If I stray from my magic number, things start to look wrong. "You have to stick with the magic number!" I remind myself.

My magic numbers are almost always odd, but now that I think about it, I'm not surprised to have a even magic number for a tatting project. Especially when I'm making split rings that are even on both sides. I also kind of like that the number is 8. My mom was born on the 8th day of her birth month and her bracelet has 8 flower charms. It's seems only fitting that her magic number turned out to be 8.

Now that I have revealed some of the odd workings of my mind, I will run and hide. Actually, I need to go dye some sapphire blue Merino. Oh no, not hiding at all!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


The story of the sheep drive is coming! For now, I give you this photo. There are many more on the way!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Summer Cotton Crocheted Bracelet ~ Free Pattern!

I'm pleased to offer this new free pattern today. The Summer Cotton Crocheted Bracelet was inspired by a trip to Virgin Gorda. It's perfect for those casual, carefree days of summer when only the feel of cool cotton will do. This bracelet is so fun and easy to make. You'll want to design one for all of your friends!

This pattern will make a bracelet that is 7 inches long from one end of the clasp to the other. This is a medium size. At the end of the directions, I will discuss how to make the bracelet a little larger or smaller so that you can customize it to your needs. I will also suggest some fun variations to spark your imagination.

You will need:
Aunt Lydia's Crochet Cotton Size 3 (Natural)
32 Size 6/0 Glass Beads
Crochet Hook US D3/3.25 mm
Beading needle
Sewing needle
Clasp (I'm using a lobster clasp with a closed ring)

Threading The Beads

Before you begin to crochet, use your beading needle to easily slip your beads onto the cotton thread. You may want to thread a few extra in case you need to increase the size of your bracelet or just so you don't have to worry about miscounting. It's fine to have too many beads, but you don't want to be a bead or two short. Slide your beads a couple feet down the thread and you are ready to begin.

Making The Bracelet

Begin with a slip knot on your hook leaving a 10" tail for sewing on clasp [picture 1]
Row 1: ch 2, sc in 2nd st from hook, ch 1 turn
Row 2: 2 sc in st, ch 1 turn
Row 3: 2 sc in each st, ch 1 turn (4 sts in row)
Row 4: sc across (4 sts) [picture 2]

Beaded Chain 1: ch 3, (slide a bead down close to your hook and ch 1, ch 3) 6 times for a total of 27 chs. Ch 3 more, turn, sc in 2nd st from hook and in next st (beginning of opposite end rows) [pictures 3 & 4]
Beaded Chain 2: ch 1,
(slide a bead down close to your hook and ch 1, ch 3) 6 times, slide a bead down close to your hook and ch 1, ch 1 for a total of 27 chains, sl st into same st as the beginning of Beaded Chain 1, sl st in the next st of row 4 [pictures 5 & 6]

*Note: While you should be careful not to twist your Beaded Chains, don't be overly concerned if some of the beads are facing in opposite directions. When the bracelet is done, you will be able to give it a little tug and manipulate the chains so that the beads are all facing up.

Beaded Chain 3:
ch 3, (slide a bead down close to your hook and ch 1, ch 3) 6 times for a total of 27 chs. sc into the last two sts (the opposite end rows created in Beaded Chain 1) ch 1 turn, sc in first two sts
Beaded Chain 4:
ch 1, (slide a bead down close to your hook and ch 1, ch 3) 6 times, slide a bead down close to your hook and ch 1, ch 1 for a total of 27 chains, sl st into next st of Row 4, sl st into final st of Row 4
Beaded Chain 5:
ch 3, (slide a bead down close to your hook and ch 1, ch 3) 6 times for a total of 27 chs. sc into the last two sts (the opposite end rows created in Beaded Chain 1) ch 1


Working along the opposite end rows of your Beaded Chains [picture 7], sc dec two times, ch 1 turn, sc dec, ch 1 turn, sc, finish off leaving 10 inches for sewing on clasp. Use the beginning and ending tails of thread to sew on your clasp. Weave in loose ends.

Pattern Notes

1. When the bracelet is complete, I like to give it a gentle tug. Cotton has a little bit of give and this allows the beaded chains to even out and lay nice.

2. Sizing - The best way to adjust the size is to increase or decrease the Beaded Chains by 4. This adjustment measures just about 1/2 inch. For example, if you want to make a bracelet that is 8 inches long, you will add 8 ch sts to the Beaded Chains. Remember to account for the additional beads. If you desire a bracelet that is 6 1/2 inches long, then you will need to subtract 4 ch sts from the Beaded Chains.

3. After you have successfully completed your first Summer Cotton Crocheted Bracelet, you can have fun making up new variations on the pattern.

You could double the pattern for a cuff style bracelet.

If you'd rather not sew on a clasp, you could use the tail ends to simply tie on your bracelet. For a sturdier tie, you could begin and end your bracelet with chains long enough to tie and untie.

You could also make up this pattern with metal wire or handspun yarn.

You could use one bead for every stitch of the Beaded Chains for a striking bangles or
you could substitute the beads for charms. You may decide to use no beads at all for a more laid-back look.

I hope you enjoy making this pattern your own!

Related Posts:
Summer Cotton Crocheted Bracelet
Summer Cotton Crocheted Bracelet ~ The Pattern is Coming!

Here's a handy list of knit and crochet abbreviations provided by Lion Brand.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Summer Cotton Crocheted Bracelet ~ The Pattern is Coming!

Phew, it feels good to get all that dyeing done, but my husband tells me that I have too much fiber on my blog lately. Now how can a fiber blog have too much fiber???

Seriously though, point well taken. I do have a variety of interests and I like to offer a little diversity here at Wind Rose. A few days ago I asked if anyone would like me to write up the pattern for my Summer Cotton Crocheted Bracelet and a few of you said, "yes", so that's what I'm going to do!

I just made up this new one so I could think about how I'll write the pattern. The first one had amber beads and this time I chose water colors. I also took my pictures inside for a little more light control. In this photo at the top of the post, I splayed the chains so you can see how they take on the appearance of five bangles.

I took a couple more poses just to show the bracelet at all angles. The twisty picture makes me happy. Anyway, before I digress, The pattern is coming. I had a guild meeting yesterday and an art class today, so tomorrow is the earliest I can get started. I just wanted to assure you that I will write this pattern and it's coming very soon!

One final thought today, also in the interest of blog variety, I'm planning on attending (at least for a short distance) a sheep drive on Saturday morning. I've never seen 2000 head of sheep on the move, so this should be pretty cool. I was actually wavering on whether or not to go, but I don't think I should let the opportunity pass. I'm announcing this on my blog because if I write that I'm going, then I know that I'll actually get up in the 4:00 hour, early Saturday morning and go. I need a little motivation to get up that early!

My Merino Color Chart!

Pdlrrrrrrrrrr........ (that's my drum roll)

Here it is! My Merino Color Chart. Here are the 40 colors of Merino that I keep in stock at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!!!

This has been my goal since January. Every year I make resolutions for improvements to my shop and this year my plan has been to have a large, staple inventory of Merino colors. These are the colors you can count on finding when you visit Wind Rose!

Of course now the challenge changes from getting them all in stock to keeping them all in stock. I guess I'm about to find out if I can maintain an inventory this size. I'm just one dyer, but I'm pretty determined!

PS ~ If you click on the image, you should be able to view a larger picture of the chart. :D

The Purples & The Earth Tones ~ Merino Roving

Here are my last two color families. I don't dye six shades of purple so the grays and black joined that group. All together, starting at twelve o'clock and going clockwise: Violet, Lilac, Periwinkle, Silver, Cinder and Jet Black.

Finally, I give you the earth tones presented in the same order: Golden Brown, Mediterranean, Sun Touched, Nutty, Sandy Beach and Porcelain Fair. Some of these earth tones are from my skin tone line, but I should point out that my Skin Tone Samplers offer even a few more shades with which to create.

I'm actually out of stock of my Skin Tone Samplers right now or I'd share a link. Now that I have all of my 40 shades of Merino finished, I can start dyeing my samplers again. The first sampler will be my Firestar Sampler as I have had a special request and then I'll get working on those skin tones!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Blues ~ Merino Roving

I'm trying to get all of my color collages completed today, so I'm back with the blues. The blues and the greens definitely have some overlap as I have included the teals and the aquas here with my blue family.

So, once again, starting at twelve o'clock and going clockwise: Night Blue, Light Blue, Teal, Turquoise, Sapphire and Soft Aqua.

I've started work on my Merino Color Chart and it's looking really nice. It's going to be great to be able to offer such a visual of my work!

The Greens ~ Merino Roving

Good Morning. Today I bring you the greens. These are all the shades of green that I keep in stock at Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

Starting at twelve o'clock and working clockwise, there's Bottle Green, Chartreuse, Grass Green, Happy Green, Emerald and Spruce.

I should also share that I also refer to Grass Green as Merry Green during the Holidays. Of all my greens, it's the one that I see as the most merry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Yellows ~ Merino Roving

I'm in the process of posting all of my Merino Colors here on my blog. I don't mean to be drawing it out so long. I just have so many things I'm always trying to do.

I think it's fun to see each color family this way. When I'm done, I'll probably arrange them together in one final post. I think it will be nice to have a reference to all of the colors in one place.

Starting at twelve o'clock and going clockwise, the yellows include: Bright Yellow, Baby Chick, Golden Ochre, Moon Yellow and Butternut.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Summer Cotton Crocheted Bracelet

The first thing I did this morning was go into my studio and crochet this bracelet. I've had this design in my head since my vacation to Virgin Gorda a few weeks ago. While I was on the island, I saw a bracelet in a little beach shop that was simple, but cute. I took a couple mental notes because I knew right away that I wanted to come home and put my own spin on it.

Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved what I think of as summer jewelry. You know, those great hemp and cotton bracelets or necklaces that you tie on and just wear until they fall apart. Whether they're knotted or braided, plain or beaded, they just seem to be a part of the summer season. I used to gauge how tan I was by shifting my bracelet and seeing how fair my skin remained beneath.

The bracelet I saw in Virgin Gorda was actually leather with plain leather straps made to look like a group of bangles. I do love that bangle look, but what really caught my eye was that each end was crocheted. Now I have to admit that there was a time when I probably would have had some difficulty figuring out how to make this bracelet especially in one continuous piece. Now, having made and designed Miser's Purses, I knew almost without thinking how I could create a multiple chained bracelet in one unbroken piece. Maybe it's silly, but I have this thing about having as few knots or joins as possible in anything I make. I just think it improves the integrity and strength of the finished product.

In the end, its just a simple cotton bracelet. It could be made in all sorts of colors. It could have charms instead of beads or no beads at all. It's the kind of piece that's fun to make because you can change it up a little every time. I think I will always love wearing unassuming pieces of jewelry like this and I know they will always make me think of summer.

I'm thinking of writing this pattern up to share here on my blog. As pattern writing is always a bit of work, I like to check first to see if anyone out there is interested. So if you would like me to write this pattern, leave a comment on this post. I don't need a lot of encouragement. Just a little. :D