Friday, September 30, 2011

Introducing StarBright!

It's always fun to welcome a new product to Wind Rose Fiber Studio and I'm especially excited about StarBright! StarBright is a blending nylon. More specifically, it's a high luster tri-lobal nylon that, although it doesn't have the luster level of Firestar, has far more luster than Snow Mountain. StarBright's softness is equal to a 19 micron wool which puts it in the superfine realm. It also has a great staple length of approximately 3 inches. I think you're going to enjoy this wonderful new addition to the blending nylon family!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Tatted Wall Art

I finished this piece of chunky tatted wall art a few minutes ago. I couldn't wait to take a picture and share it with you. I'm proud of this one because I designed it on the spot. I took out a piece of paper and doodled until I had a shape I liked, then I jumped right into the tatting. I took my best guesses as far as the size of the rings and chains. My fear was that my outer chains would be too short and that the whole piece would curl like a bowl. If I made them too long, well, that wouldn't look good either. Everything turned out great and I couldn't be more pleased!

It's a pretty big medallion. The diameter measures a little over 12 inches. I'm thinking about doing something similar to use as Christmas wreaths for my front door this year. I may dress those up with some flowers and I found this free pattern for crocheted pine cones. How cute would that be?

As for this medallion, it's going to be the centerpiece in a montage of green tatted shapes. I have three others made:

These are all about the same size at right around 9 inches across. I'm planning on making one more smaller shape so I'll have a group of five. Hopefully I can arrange them in an interesting way. It's all part of my master plan to turn the home of Wind Rose Fiber Studio (me) into a fiber filled fantasy land!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chunky Tatted Wall Art

Hello blog world! How have you been? People are always saying "What a crazy week I had", but honestly, my past week has had elements of true crazy. That, along with the fact that my other half was away on work travel, kept me very distracted.

As a result, I have little to show for myself in the way of creative accomplishments. My only offering is this piece of chunky tatted wall art I made yesterday afternoon. It was my way of celebrating Friday and the end of a rather maddening seven days.

I love the idea of fiber wall art, but I've only just begun to play around with it. This is a rather simple design. I like the contemporary feel of it and it's just the sort of piece I needed for my chosen wall space. In case you were wondering, my wall is not this pinkish red color, but more of an earthy yellow. I just needed a background that didn't wash out the colors and red seemed to do the trick.

In tatting, you can create very elaborate designs. When placed vertically, they make me think of scrolled metal art only much softer. The challenge using yarn is both making the tools to tat on this scale, and also creating a piece that will hold its shape. In making this leaf design, I was experimenting with the ability of the yarn to hold a more elongated shape. Though this picture was taken with the piece laying down flat, it does maintain this shape hanging on the wall.

I'm looking forward to making more tatted wall art. I have designs dancing around in my brain. It will be fun to set them free!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hairpin Lace Project ~ My Personal Commitment

Here it is, in all its glory, my hairpin lace project! A couple nights ago, I went to my monthly guild meeting and this year they're introducing a challenge. The wise women of the guild have called upon our group to complete a project that has maybe been sitting around for a while. It could also be trying out something new that you've always wanted to do.

The idea is that we commit to completing our personal challenge by March 14th, 2012. At that point, all of our creations will be professionally photographed and mad
e into a calendar. Of course we will then buy the calendar to help support our guild and all of the good things it does. We'll get the added kick of having our project featured on it pages. That is, if we finish our project.

I didn't have to think very long to come up with my own personal commitment. My hairpin lace project is both new, as I have never made a hairpin lace piece before, and sitting around. It spends most of its days in this basket. Nice basket, huh?

I started what will eventually become a colorful, hairpin lace sweater back in... gee let me check.... gosh, was it really January 9th? This is worse than I thought! This personal commitment is exactly the push I need to get back to work. March 14th. That gives me 181 days to finish my project. I think I can. I think I can.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wind Rose Fiber Studio is Getting Social

Well, I did it. I made a Facebook page for Wind Rose Fiber Studio. You can now openly like me.

There's something so silly about Facebook and yet I can't help but be grateful that it exists. All of my family and most of my friends live in other parts of the country. Without a vehicle like Facebook, I know I would lose touch with some very special people.

I went back and forth on whether or not to create a page for Wind Rose. I even made one about a year ago and then deleted it. Since then, the page design seems to have improved, so I'm going for it.

I hope you will enjoy the convenience of being able to see updates on your regular visits to Facebook. It will be fun to have conversations with you and share our thoughts on all things fiber!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yarn Just Keeps Getting Better!

It was the turn of this century when I began my own crafting business and became a real customer of commercial yarn. I had yet to begin spinning my own, but I was designing my own products and selling at craft shows. After a few years, I felt like I had sampled every yarn on the market. This can't really be true, but I bet I came close!

After a few years, my world turned to spinning and dyeing. I went from yarn snob to serious yarn snob. At one point I even decided to eliminate commercial yarn altogether. Then, a couple of years ago, my focus began to shift again. While my business had become a dyeing enterprise and still is, I began to focus more on design and pattern writing.

When I create a new pattern, I usually end up making several run-throughs of the design before I'm happy with my finished product. I found myself turning back to commercial yarn because it saved time and I could work up my first prototypes with inexpensive fiber. I also decided that I wanted to make my models out of yarn that was affordable and readily accessible to everyone. This meant going back to the big chain stores. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. Commercial yarn just keeps getting better doesn't it?

So I opened my heart back up to commercial yarn and began to visit my old haunts. They are probably your haunts too, like Webs and Yarn Market. Not only has the variety of natural fiber yarns expanded, but the acrylics too. Once more, the acrylics are becoming more sophisticated and softer than ever and don't even get me started on the blends. There are so many wonderful blends! Here are some of my recent purchases.

The thick and thin on the left is by Universal Yarn. It's called Bamboo Bloom Handpaints in a colorway called Koi Pond. It's 48% Rayon from bamboo, 44% wool and 8% acrylic. It comes in nice 3.5oz, 154 yard skeins. I was looking for a variegated worsted weight to make up my Regensburg Scarf, and I think this is going to be very pretty.

On the far right is a sock yarn by Wisdom Yarns called Poems Socks in the color Aurora Borealis. I'm so happy that sock yarn has become as popular as it is because I love this weight for so many projects. The beefy skeins are nice too. This one comes with 459 yards which is plenty for me to make my City Scarf. I'm working on Christmas projects and these colors are just perfect for someone on my list!

Now I have no idea what I'm going to do with the crazy acrylic in the center. I first saw this Triana yarn by Katia when I was in Germany earlier this year. Sadly for me, the woman ahead of me got the very last skein in the little shop in Uberlingen, but the store owner showed me a scarf that had been knitted from this novelty fiber. I should have guessed that this style of yarn would become all the rage as it seems to be popping up everywhere. Even Patons is launching their own version tomorrow called Pirouette which is selling out practically before it hits the stores. There are YouTube videos demonstrating how to work with this style of yarn. So far all I've seen are a bunch of ruffly scarves. I'm sure over time, the creative community will come up with some cool designs for this new, funky yarn. I hope I do too!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Three New Drop Spindle Kits!

I just stocked Wind Rose Fiber Studio up with three new drop spindle kits. If you know someone who wants to learn to spin, this is a great gift to get them started. The kit comes with complete directions, a drop spindle and leader cord and an ounce of natural Bluefaced Leicester Top. Then to make things fun, I add a couple ounces of hand dyed, carded and pulled roving. I like to introduce newcomers to the joy of spinning with very pretty fiber!

If you see one you like, just click the picture and it will take you to the listing. :D

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tunisian Crochet with a Basket Weave Design

The last thing I need is another project, but every time I finish one, I start two more. I blame the yarn! You see, I ordered yarn for a project and then kind of forgot about it. Well, this week the yarn came in and it's been staring at me, beckoning. What kind of woman would I be if I ignored this poor, innocent yarn?

This is how I ended up starting a new Tunisian crochet project even though I have a long way to go on my current one. There are a million tote bag patterns, but I wanted to make this particular one because of the basket weave design. I've never done this with Tunisian crochet before, so I wanted to check it out. The basket weave is subtle, but I hope you can see it in the picture here.

I'm enjoying this project more than I imagined I would to tell you the truth. It's moving along very quickly which is always a plus for those of us with attention issues. Creating the basket weave adds just enough detail to keep it interesting and the yarn is pretty cool too. I think it's perfect for a market bag like this one. The color is Grass and it's made by Plymouth Yarn. It's 65% cotton and 35% hemp. If I had to guess, I'd say they dyed the cotton green and then carded it with natural hemp. The result is a sort of distressed look like worn denim only in green. It feels just how you expect a market bag to feel and I think it will be strong as well.

In case you're interested, this is one of 13 patterns that can be found in Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet by Sheryl Thies. This book has a nice variety from sweaters and scarves to pillows and place mats. It's a fun way to hone those Tunisian crochet skills.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Needle Tatted Scarf Necklace

I devoted a good part of this past holiday weekend to completing my tatted scarf necklace. This is a design that I first started talking about back in May. At that time it was a mere pencil sketch and I had begun to make flowers and leaves in all different colors.

Then last week I took my first shot at a prototype. I wasn't happy enough with the outcome to post about it. Now I feel like I'm beginning to do my idea some justice.

This version in black and silver is making me happy.
You can't really tell by this picture, but I designed the necklace so that there are three chains in the center, so that even when you only wrap it around your neck once, you look like you are wearing a layered necklace. I have the scarf wrapped around the mannequin's neck several times for the purpose of the photograph. I wanted to be able to show the tasseled ends with the flowers. This is actually a pretty cute way to wear it.

I wore it to my crochet class today to get feedback from the group. At the time I was wearing it wrapped around my neck just once. The piece is long so that with just one wrap, the ends come down almost to the waist. The sweet ladies in my class gave me some lovely, positive feedback. I did however, as the day went on, begin to feel like I had made the scarf too long. I wrapped it around my neck one more time bringing the ends more to chest level and liked that look much better. I think my future tatted scarf necklaces will be made a little shorter than this one.

The last time I talked about this project, I was wondering what I should call it. On a whim, I searched for "scarflaces" on Etsy. Wouldn't you know there were quite a few, but it seems like the most popular way to refer to this sort of accessory is as a scarf necklace, so that's where I've landed. Now that I have a design I like, it's time to play with different colors!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook ~ Love It!

Over the last couple years, my family has developed a ritual. When we get to the point where we need a nice night out, we head over to Brio's for an Italian dinner. Brio's, besides being a tasty treat, has the added attraction of being just down the sidewalk from a Barnes & Noble. In essence, once every six to eight weeks, we spend too much on dinner and then walk down the street and spend too much on books. It's a lot of fun!

When we hit the bookstore, tummies full, we fan out in four directions. The men head upstairs for Sci-Fi, the children's section and general fiction while I head to the back corner downstairs where they hide the craft books. The first thing I always look for is a book on tatting. I never find anything, but I figure someday, someone's just got to publish and excellent book full of innovative tatting projects. Then I pass a little time looking through the different crochet motif collections. I might pick up a volume on scrapbooking or jewelry making and lament that I don't have more hours to deeply explore all of the things I love.

On this particular visit, I was heading out of the craft corner empty handed when something caught my eye. If I were a shorter woman, I might have missed it altogether, for up on the highest shelf sat The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. Of course I stopped dead in my tracks and grabbed the one and only copy like securing the last new release at the video store, back when we all went to video stores. My inner voice told me I should wait and see if they have it for less on Amazon, but I just couldn't put it down. Brio's and Barnes & Noble night is a dangerous thing.

Just as the slip cover indicates, the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook details over 200 fiber producing animals and is full of amazing photographs both of the animals and of their fiber in various stages of preparation. To give you some idea of the depth that the authors, Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, went into, the book has a six page bibliography. The body of the publication includes four hundred and nineteen pages covering everything from Alpaca to Zwartbles. There are maps showing the regions or points of origin for each species. It's the most comprehensive encyclopedia of fleece and fiber that I've ever come across. It's gorgeous!

I can't wait to seriously explore my new favorite book. I get a lot of questions at Wind Rose Fiber Studio and with this on my bookshelf, I feel prepared for even the most obscure inquiry. Ask me anything, fiber lovers, I'm ready!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tunisian Crochet & Tatting ~ Two Projects in the Works!

Truth be told, I have about 10 projects in the works right now, but two are occupying the front burners this week. Today I finished making the main length of my needle tatted chain. It's hard to tell from the photo, but this chain is about four feet of split rings. In the middle portion of the chain I've alternated between large and small rings.

As soon as I'm done with this post, I'm heading off to work on the finishing details. At each end of the chain, I'll be joining three shorter chains to form a sort of tasseled end. Flowers will be joined as I tat the tassels to add a decorative element to this piece.

I'm not sure what to call it because I'm designing it to be worn like a scarf. The idea is to wrap it around your neck and have both ends facing front. It's 100% cotton, lightweight and meant to be more ornamental like a necklace. It's a ... scarflace. No, that doesn't work! I'll figure that part out later. When it's finished, I'll come back and show you how it turns out.

The other project that I've been devoting time to is my Tunisian Crochet Project. It's coming right along. I'm on my second skein of sock weight yarn. It' looks like I'll get about 10 inches of length from each skein so I'll need about 5 1/2 to get to the goal length of 56 inches. Then it will be joined together like a Möbius strip and worn as a casual shawl.

This will probably take some time to complete just because of the size of the project. On the one hand, it's a little tedious, but on the other, it's nice to have something about which you don't have to think very hard. This is exactly the kind of crochet where you can watch TV or maintain a conversation and not lose your way. It's for when you're in the mood to crochet, but you don't want to strain your brain; a good end of the day project!