Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Ashford Joy DT ~ The Resolution

I've been sharing my experience with my new Ashford Joy DT, so now I'm back to share how my issues have been resolved.  I wrote to Ashford just to let them know about the troubles I was having.  I was hoping that maybe I could spare someone else a similar experience.  

They wrote me back very promptly and suggested I take pliers and bend the connecting piece of metal (A).  From the beginning, I knew that this piece of metal was a big part of the problem, but it's a very hard metal.  I had even tried to pull on it with my hands, but it didn't budge.  I was worried that the force I would need to use to bend it might put too much stress on the wheel.  I didn't want a piece of wood to split or to compromise where the metal is soldered together.  As it turned out, pliers were not very useful.  In the end, my husband just pulled on it while trying to brace where the piece is joined to the other treadle.  I winced as the wheel shuddered under the force, but my husband managed to bend the piece of metal enough to keep the two legs from knocking into each other.  

Having made that adjustment, I was able to reattach the right leg to its treadle as intended.  It's still a good thing that I shaved a little wood from the right treadle (B).  Even with everything put together correctly, the left treadle leg would have brushed against the right treadle.  I think the hole in the left treadle should have been drilled just a little to the left.  It's amazing how narrow the margins for error are on what is essentially a simple machine.  

After all of this tweaking, not to mention a lot of silicone spray to remove all of the squeaks, my Joy is now running like a well oiled machine.  I'm a little traumatized by everything I had to do to get this brand new wheel running smoothly.  I haven't experience a lot of joy with my Joy yet, but hopefully that will change.  I think I just need to spin a few skeins of fun yarn to get over my mixed feelings. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tunis Fleece

Last week was party week here at my house.  My youngest turned 12 and we threw a little block party to celebrate.  As a result, I didn't have any time to play with my new Tunis fleece from Tri-Ply Fibers.  Today I plan to rectify that!

Tunis is interesting because it is not only a rare breed, but also the only true red breed of sheep.  They are born red or reddish brown and even though this color fades with maturity, their wool retains a red undertone.  I guess you could call it the sheep equivalent of a strawberry blond. 

The first Tunis came to America in 1799 as a gift from the ruler of Tunisia.  They became popular both for their meat and for their fleece.  George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had flocks of Tunis sheep.  Tunis are still popular today with more flocks on the east coast than out here in the west.  From my reading, they seem rather low maintenance to raise.  They thrive well even on unexceptional pasture land and they often produce twin lambs.  I've tried to select some of the highlights, but there is quite a lot of information on Tunis.  It's well worth a Google!

From a spinner's perspective, I like the feel.  This fleece ranges from 24-30 microns.  I would say that mine is on the high end of that, but it still has a softness to it.  I think it would be ideal for a warm pair of mittens or a nice winter beanie.  In most of the articles I've read, they have given Tunis a staple length of 4 to 6 inches.  Mine, raised in Queen Creek, AZ, has a significantly shorter staple.  I don't find this surprising.  It would be downright cruel in this climate to allow sheep to suffer under 6" of wool. 

I kind of like working with a shorter staple length and this wool has a very nice crimp.  I know it will draft easily and handle well.  So that's just a little bit about Tunis.  I have 2oz which I'll divide in half and then make into a 2ply yarn.  I'll probably spin a sport or DK weight so I can get some yardage out of my ounces.  I'm thinking that I'll devote my finished yarn to my 2012 Ornament Project since I'm making all of my ornaments in ecru.  Having said that, I feel compelled to add that I can tell this fleece would take dye like a dream.  It's very porous I think would achieve deep colors with little effort.  Perhaps I'll dye the next batch.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Flower Power Pinned Brim Hat ~ A New Design!

My inspiration for this hat was threefold.  First and foremost, Craft Hope's Project 16: The Littlest Warriors energized my creative juices.  There's no better feeling than creating with a purpose and supporting kids through their cancer treatments is very motivating.  As a mom, my heart really goes out to those families and how difficult it must be. My inspiration for the style came from my love of 20's fashion with a little 70's flower power thrown in the mix.  I also kept in mind that this hat would be worn by a girl who will be spending time in bed or on the couch recuperating.

As you can see, the back of the hat turns up like a traditional beanie.  The brim is soft and flexible, so even if one is laying on their side, it will feel comfortable. The more angled shape of the crown, gives this hat some stylish flare while still keeping it cozy and practical.

I have a couple busy days ahead, and then I hope to get this pattern written down.  I have a little niece that I think would look adorable in this hat, so I think I have to make one more.  I also have another design rolling around in my head.  This one will be keeping for the boys.  If I can manage to make what I see in my mind, I think it will be fun and a little funky! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Decorating the Tree

It was a strange feeling to hand my son a few ornaments and ask him to trim the tree.  After all, it is January and I don't usually have a tree in my studio!  

Since I started the 2012 Ornament Project, I figured I may as well keep my 6' pine from Terry's Village in my studio.  That way, as I design a new ornament each month, I can go ahead and see how they look.

Each time I create a new design, I tend to make a handful of them.  Sometimes I play around with the sizing and other times I just get caught up in the process and can't resist making several.  By December, I should have a fully decorated tree.  I think it will be a fun, ongoing project!

PS ~ You can find the free crochet patterns for my ornaments on the Crochet Patterns Page.  This one is called The Flower Wheel.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Spiral Beanie ~ Youth to Adult Sizes ~ Free Crochet Pattern

Crochet Hook Size J
Yarn - two colors of worsted weight yarn - Sample made with Patons Classic Wool, color Paprika [4] and Sensations Angel Hair, color 4729 [5]
Scissors, large eye needle, stitch marker (optional)

Note 1: yarn (A) will be the color with which you begin your beanie.  In this case it is the Paprika (orange).  The brim can be worked in either color.
Note 2: This pattern is worked in the round.

Stitches: You will be using the following stitches - chain stitch (ch), slip stitch (sl st), single crochet (sc) and changing colors.
(∆) will symbolize changing colors throughout. I will use this symbol when you come to the last stitch of a color. You will start the stitch in the same color, but on the last yarn over, you will replace your yarn with the other color and pull up your loop. *Repeat instructions between asterisks* the number of times indicated.  Crochet 'N' More has a useful stitch guide.

Beginning at the Crown:

Begin with color (A). The center of the crown should not have a hole in the middle so we'll begin with a magic ring also known as a magic circle.  Wrap the tail end of your yarn, clockwise, from back to front around the index and middle fingers of the hand with which you hold your yarn. There should be 2 loops of yarn around your fingers. Insert your hook under the front loop and hook the back loop. Draw it under the front loop. Yarn over and pull through the loop on your hook. Pull the tail of your yarn to tighten the circle, but not all the way.

Sizing - Work the following rows until the diameter is the correct width for your desired hat size.  Remember, circumference = 3.14 x diameter.  For a 21 inch hat, the diameter should be approximately 6.5 inches.  If you want a 22 inch hat, then stop when your crown has a diameter (width) of 7 inches.  For a 23 inch hat, the diameter should be approximately 7.5 inches.  I'm rounding these numbers, so if you want to do the math, just divide the desired size of your finished hat by 3.14 (π).  For my sample hat, which is made to fit a 22" head, I worked Rows 1-12.  When your diameter has reached the desired width, move on to the Body or Length of the Beanie.

Row 1: (A) work 4 sc in the circle, sc in the circle (∆ B), sc in the circle (equals 6 sts) Pull the tail end of the yarn to close the beginning circle the rest of the way.
Row 2: 2 sc in next 3 sts, sc in next st, sc in same st (∆ A), 2 sc in next 2 sts. (equals 12 sts)
Row 3: *1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next st* 3 times, sc in next st (∆ B), 2 sc in next st, *1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next st* 2 times (equals 18 sts)
Row 4: *sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st* 2 times, sc in next 2 sts, sc in next st (∆ A), sc in same st, *sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st* 3 times. (equals 24 sts)
Row 5: *sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st* 2 times, sc in next st, sc in next st (∆ B), sc in next st, 2 sc in next st, *sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st* 3 times (equals 30 sts)
Row 6: *sc in next 4 sts, 2 sc in next st* 2 times, sc in next st (∆ A), sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st, *sc in next 4 sts, 2 sc in next st* 3 times. (equals 36 sts)
Row 7: *sc in next 5 sts, 2 sc in next st* 1 time, sc in next 5 sts, sc in next st (∆ B), sc in same st, *sc in next 5 sts, 2 sc in next st* 4 times. (equals 42 sts)
Row 8: *sc in next 6 sts, 2 sc in next st* 1 time, sc in next 4 sts, sc in next st (∆ A), sc in next st, 2 sc in next st, *sc in next 6 sts, 2 sc in next st* 4 times. (equals 48 sts)
Row 9: *sc in next 7 sts, 2 sc in next st* 1 time, sc in next 3 sts, sc in next st (∆ B), sc in next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st, *sc in next 7 sts, 2 sc in next st* 4 times. (equals 54 sts)
Row 10: sc in next 11 sts, sc in next st (∆ A), sc in next 42 sts. (equals 54 sts)
Row 11: *sc in next 8 sts, 2 sc in next st* 1 time, sc in next st, sc in next st (∆ B), sc in next 6 sts, 2 sc in next st, *sc in next 8 sts, 2 sc in next st* 4 times. (equals 60 sts)

Row 12: *sc in next 9 sts, 2 sc in next st* 1 time, sc in next st, sc in next st (∆ A), sc in next 8 sts, 2 sc in next st, *sc in next 9 sts, 2 sc in next st* 4 times. (equals 66 sts)
Row 13: sc in next 10 sts, sc in next st, sc in same st (∆ B), * 1 time, sc in next st, sc in next st (∆ A), *sc in next 10 sts, 2 sc in next st* 5 times. (equals 72 sts)
 Body or Length of Beanie

sc in each st around. ∆ colors in second to last st of each opposing color row. For instance, if you begin crocheting in color (B). The sts you are working into are color (A). When there are only two color (A) sts left, sc in next st (∆ A) and then continue working around in (A). Follow the pattern in this way until you reach your desired length minus 1 inch for the brim.  (I recommend 7.75 to 8 inches from the top of the crown.) Sample has a total of 29 rows before the brim.

Decide which color you would like to use for the brim.  On the  last row of the body, you should change to this color. The remainder of the hat will be worked in the brim color, so the other yarn can be finished off leaving enough length to weave in the loose end.

(use stitch marker if desired)

Rows 1-4: sc in each st around.
Row 5: sc to last st, sl st in last st, ch 1 turn.
Row 6: Skip first st (the sl st from previous row), sc around, sc in ch 1 space.
Rows 7-13: sc in each st around.

Sl st into next st, finish off. Fold up last 7 rows to form brim. Weave in all loose ends.

To add a scalloped trim and a flower to the brim, please visit this related post:  Baby Girl Beanie

A Beanie For Craft Hope

Yesterday Craft Hope announced Project 16:  The Littlest Warriors.  This time we'll be crafting for kids fighting cancer.  Craft Hope is collecting beanie hats for babies through teens and bags for the kids to take to the hospital.  You can even fill the bags with crayons, coloring or activity books and anything else the kids might like.    

I couldn't wait to get started, so last night I got to work on a larger version of my Spiral Baby Beanie.  I've always liked this hat and I knew it wouldn't be hard to enlarge the size.  I need another day or two, but I'll be posting a free pattern for this beanie in youth to adult sizes.  

For this particular hat, I picked colors that I thought would look cute on a little boy, but half the fun is making them in different colors every time.  You can get creative with embellishments too.  On my Crochet Patterns Page you'll find a couple free flower patterns and a little leaf.  You could also buy sew-on decals for boys and girls at most craft or fabric stores.  Novelty yarns can also take this beanie to the next level.  Imagine a fur trim or a nice bouclé.

I like to get the kids involved in these projects too, so I'll be designing an easy sew fleece hat or something that we can do together.  My boys just don't want to learn to crochet.  Can you imagine that? 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mixed BFL & Then Some!

Hi,  I've just got one more quick note to let you know that I've been a busy little Etsy shop owner today!  There are a lot of new listings including this pretty Mixed BFL in amounts from 1oz up to a pound.  

There's Corn Fiber, Hemp, Mohair, all kinds of good stuff.  I really need to go through my inventory more often!

White Soy Silk ~ Back in Stock

I'm going through my inventory today and finding some goodies including a nice supply of White Soy Silk.  Sometimes, as a business comprised of one employee "ahem" me, things can get a little hectic.  This poor soy silk was just hanging out waiting to be noticed.  

Now it's back in the shop and I have it separated out into 1oz, 2oz and 4oz lots so you can buy as much or as little as you need.  Welcome back Soy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tunis from TriPlyFibers

I just ordered my first ounces of Tunis.  I've never tried Tunis wool before so I'm looking forward to a new experience.  At the same time, I'm excited to introduce a new Etsy shop, TriPlyFibers.  The owner of TriPlyFibers happened across my shop and realized that we were neighbors.  He lives in the next town just east of my own.  I'm grateful to Jerry for sending me a little note and the opportunity to make a new connection.  

When I found out that Jerry shears sheep for local farms, I was very curious to find out what kind of sheep people are raising.  I pass by quite a few small farms just driving around the valley.  When I see sheep, I always crane my neck to see if they might be a breed with fine fleece.  Most often, they are more primitive breeds.  Cute, but not the best spinning fiber.  So when Jerry told me he had some Tunis from a local farm, I was intrigued. 

I did a little research and was excited to find that Tunis sheep are an ancient breed.  I'm feeling a little sleepy tonight, so rather than summarize, I'm just going to pass on a link to this wonderful blog post by Sittin' n' Spinnin'.  I also found this picture of a Tunis sheep in the Wiki Commons.  I love how their wool has a "rose undertone" as Jerry puts it.  He has a nice supply of Tunis roving in his shop right now if anyone else wants to give this pretty fiber a try.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wool ~ The Book

I think this is kind of wild, so I'm sharing it.  Tonight I was having happy hour with the husband when he told me about his latest Kindle purchase.  He just bought Wool by Hugh Howey.  Actually, he bought the whole series.

So how did he stumble onto this?  He was looking for the top science fiction listings and there it was for just 99¢ a copy!  The names are great too.  The first is just entitled Wool, but then there's Wool 2 - Proper Gauge.  Moving on we come to Wool 3 - Casting Off and last, but not least Wool 4 - The Unraveling.

I have to confess that sci-fi is not my go-to genre.  I read a little now and then, but I don't seek it out.  However, it's hard not to be a little curious about this particular series.  Scrolling down to the reviews on Amazon, people are giving it high praise.  The only complaint I read is that it was too short and they wanted the story to last longer.  I may just have to borrow my husband's Kindle! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Miniature Japanese Garden ~ Show & Tell

Our Japanese garden is complete and on display in our family room.  This project was so much fun.  My son and I enjoyed making all of the elements and took extra joy in some of the smallest details.  We studied our stones and separated them into five categories based on shape.  These different shapes represent wood, metal, fire, earth and water.  We were also careful with our placement as we turned our stones into a retaining wall for our river.  

I'm glad I wasn't able to find a small bridge or stone lantern because it was more gratifying to make our own.  We used Crayola Model Magic which is my favorite clay for school projects.  It's so easy to mix the colors and it sticks to itself so you make individual shapes and fix them together.  We made small round rocks and stuck them together to form a stone bridge.  I used a glass tumbler to make a perfect arch.  My son made the stone lantern freehand style and it turned out so cute.  We even hid a little nesting bird in the moss.

I can't say enough about how much fun this was.  If you are looking for a rainy day activity or just some good, crafty entertainment, look no more!  We made a Japanese garden, but really you could design any little world of your choosing.  Oh, one last bit.  I used a 15 inch plastic tray for the base.  These are sold at Home Depot to put under planters for just around five dollars.  I used regular garden soil as my filler under the moss.  Okay, I think that's all the details you need to get started.  Anyway, thanks for letting me share.  Now, what was I crocheting again?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lapis Wrap ~ A Good Beginning

I'm off to a good start on my Lapis Wrap.  Of course I've already made things a little more complicated for myself by working in a different gauge.  My natural stitches must be quite a bit larger than the author's, but I have decided not to change hooks or yarn.  

I went back and forth on this decision.  I think that if I switched to a smaller hook, my double crochets would be smaller and closer together which would help the lace stand out.  I think it would probably be a little prettier than sticking with the H hook, but I chose the H hook anyway.  This will create a vest that is lighter and more open.  I can't help but favor breezier garments living where I do.  I'm thinking I'll go ahead and make this one with the larger gauge and then maybe I'll choose a lighter weight yarn and a smaller hook and make another to the pattern specifications.  

Basically, what this means is that I'll be doing more mental math as I crochet this Lapis Wrap.  I'll also be depending on the schematics to help me accurately place my armholes and work the front of the piece.  The pattern seems to be very well written, so I don't expect to have too much trouble.  I really like the "tulip" rows or lace.  They are very pretty and fun to crochet too.  I feel like I'm zooming right along! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Miniature Japanese Garden

It's not often that I go off topic, but every once in a while I can't help myself.  This post has very little to do with fiber unless you count the dried moss in the background.  It is creative however, and a fun project to do with the kids.

My son is reading about Asia in geography.  A particular section on Japan discussed their beautiful gardens and even listed the elements that you find in most gardens.  There's often a teahouse, a stone lantern, water, a bridge to an island or stepping stones.  I started thinking that it would be fun to create our own miniature Japanese garden.  

Here's my plan.  I have a large planter that is about 18" in diameter.  This will be the home of our garden.  A visit to my local hobby store produced this unfinished wooden birdhouse.  I think the shape looks a little teahouse inspired.  I also found some unfinished benches and chairs.  Some sparkling blue rocks will represent water and I also picked up some moss for ground cover.  I bought stones too, but after doing a little reading, I see that we'll have to be careful about the stones we choose and how we place them.  This Historical Japanese Gardens website will help with that and will enrich the educational part of our project.  I couldn't find a small stone lantern so I picked up grey modeling clay and we'll make our own and maybe a bridge too.  

I'm looking forward to spending an afternoon making a Japanese garden with my son.  It will be fun to design it together and make all of the elements.  Maybe we'll stain our teahouse and the garden benches.  Maybe there could be a little fiber after all in the form of a felted bird's nest with some tiny eggs.  Who knows?  Mainly, I want to have fun with my son and learn along the way.  I think a lot of kids would enjoy a project like this, so I thought I'd share the idea.  I think it would be fun to do with live plants or maybe in a terrarium.  There are plenty of creative possibilities!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Lapis Wrap ~ My Next Project

I'm getting ready to crochet the Lapis Wrap by Yumiko Alexander.  I love the style of this vest and lately I've rediscovered the simple joy of crocheting from a pattern.  Sometimes I can get caught up in designing or free forming.  It's a relaxing break to just follow along. 

I'm trying out a new yarn for this project.  I'm using Uptown DK by Universal Yarn in the color Majestic.  I don't often use acrylics these days, but this is the right weight, it's soft and the words "anti pilling" carry some appeal. The pattern suggests using Universal's Renew Wool, but I wasn't feeling the colors and 100% wool can get a bit toasty here in the Phoenix area. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Ashford Joy ~ Follow-up Thoughts

I have a couple follow-up thoughts on my post about my new Ashford Joy.  I remarked before that I bought this model because I've admired how quiet and smooth it spins.  Then when I put mine together only to find that the treadle legs knock into each other, I thought maybe the quiet Joys must have been single treadle.  

Well, one of the members of my guild was at the multicultural festival yesterday with her joy and it was a double treadle!  I watched her spin and it was as quiet and smooth as ever.  I know she has had her wheel for a number of years and I noticed something different in the design of her Ashford Joy.  

The picture of the Joy I have here is what I received.  Notice that the left treadle leg is the foremost.  On my friend's wheel, it was the other way around.  I came home and searched for articles about the Joy from a few years ago and found a YouTube video of a Joy from 2006 designed like the one my friend has.  Somewhere along the way, it seems that they have changed the design, but I'm not sure they have done so for the better.  

I don't have any expectations for myself, but I think I'm going to write to the company and share my experience.  Maybe the one I received was flawed or perhaps this change in the design is causing problems for everyone.  Spinning wheels are pretty big investments, so a new wheel should be a smooth, running machine. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spinning & Weaving at the Multicultural Festival

Once a year I pack up my trunk and head down to the Chandler Multicultural Festival.  I attend with my guild, the Telaraña Weavers and Spinners.  This year I brought along a special guest, my son Wes.  Wes does one service oriented project each month as part of his education.  The festival provided a great opportunity to be out in the community, spending time with others and sharing our love of the arts, in this case fiber arts!

I should refer to Wes not as my guest, but my secret weapon.  You see, I always take a bunch of wool and drop spindles to this event.  I spread a blanket out on the ground and sit at kid level.  I want them to know it's okay to touch and play.  After all, there's no better way to pass on the joy of your craft than by teaching the next generation.  When other kids saw my son sitting with a lap loom weaving, it really got their attention.  I think it made them feel like it was okay to ask questions and try out the loom  and spindles for themselves.

I spent a wonderful afternoon, surrounded by boys and girls and their parents.  At one point I had two brothers and a sister all learning how to work drop spindles together.  Whenever it was time for the kids to leave, I would unwind the yarn they had spun and give it to them as a little keepsake.  So many people asked me if I teach classes.  I don't have any official classes that I teach, but I gave them my card.  If someone really wants to learn, I can't say no to that!  There aren't many yarn shops or community centers that offer classes just for kids.  It's a shame especially when you seen how interested they are.

It has been a fulfilling day of teaching and sharing.  Days like this are rare treasures.  Why can't every day be multicultural day?

Friday, January 13, 2012

My New Ashford Joy Spinning Wheel ~ The Good/Bad/Good News

My new Ashford Joy spinning wheel arrived in the mail yesterday.  That's good news right?  It's exciting to get that big box on the porch and when it relates to one of your favorite activities, even better.  So, after dinner last night, even though I was feeling tired, I thought I would at least open the box and check it out.  It comes almost entirely assembled so I found myself putting the few finishing touches together so I could take it for a spin.

That's when I hit the bad news.  I picked this wheel in particular because whenever I'm spinning with a group of people, the Joys seem so quiet and smooth.  Now I realize I probably should have looked more closely.  I suspect those quiet Ashford Joys were single treadles.  The reason I suspect this is because my double treadle is not quiet.  There seems to be a flaw in the very design.  The wood pieces attached to the treadles rub against each other creating a knocking sound that gets louder with speed.  I had a few minutes of disbelief.  Could this really be the design?  Was it assembled incorrectly.  After triple checking everything, I hit my low of last night. 

I hate returning things and I just refused to accept that this wheel couldn't be made to run smoothly. That's when the tinker in me came out.  It's also how this story has a good news ending.   Here's what I did.  I changed the connecting tube on the right treadle (exhibit A).  Instead of running straight into the hole like you can see on the left treadle, I rearranged it by removing the screw (exhibit B) and then brought the tube up from the bottom of the treadle.  There was enough length in the tube and by reversing the direction of placement in this way, the wooden leg is held back and no longer rubs against the leg of the other treadle. 

That's not all I had to do.  I also discovered that the leg of the left treadle was rubbing against the right treadle.  I actually got out my wood whittling tools (I guess it's strange that I happen to have wood whittling tools) and I carefully reshaped the wood in the offending spot (exhibit C).  At this point you are either thinking that I'm quick and clever or just plain crazy.  It did feel a bit nuts to take a knife to my brand new wheel, but if I sent it back, it would just become a problem for someone else.  The good news is that it now treadles very smoothly.  The only sound is the whirring of the wheel which is as it should be.  I'm a little less than impressed that I had to tinker to get these results, but I'm happy to have solved the problem. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Little Hand Crafted Nostalgia

I was looking for earrings to match my outfit this morning and picked these from my collection.  Then I got to thinking about when I made them.  After a little mental math I realized that these earrings are about 23 years old.  I made them when I was single, living in an apartment.  A mattress on the floor was my bed and I waited tables to make ends meet.  I had pillaged other jewelry for the beads and ear wires.  I used a regular sewing needle and thread to piece them together.  I remember having fun making them and though they are just simple wooden earrings, I've always enjoyed wearing them.  

I guess at 23 it's safe to consider these vintage, but vintage what?  Vintage me?  These are me before marriage and kids, before I started crocheting again and years before Wind Rose Fiber Studio.  One of the reasons I'm attached to them is that I made them long before I thought of myself as a person who makes things.  It makes me wonder about my crafting friends.  Do you have anything like this, that you made long ago and still wear today?  What's vintage you? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lace Weight Jute ~ It's almost gone!

About 18 months ago I bought this giant cone of lace weight jute at a guild auction.  Somewhere in my mind I thought that the crafting community would find uses for it.  Maybe the primitive doll makers or scrapbookers would like it.  On the other hand, I could wind up owning a giant spool of jute for the rest of my life.  In the end, I think I bought it because there was something absurd about buying over 11 pounds of jute.
I brought it home and started selling 2.5oz, center pull balls of jute for $1.20.  I figured the $1 was fair compensation for my time winding the jute into a ball and the .20 covered the listing fee.  So for just over a dollar, you could have 225 yards of lace weight jute for... whatever.
To my surprise, the jute was a big hit.  I found myself winding jute for people on a regular basis.  Still, the cone was so big that no matter how many balls I wound, it seemed to stay the same size.  Eventually, over time, my giant hunk of jute did shrink until one day this week a customer asked for $20 worth and I just sent her all I had left on the cone.  All that remains of the original 11+ pounds are 3 balls of jute that I had already wound and stored with my other fibers.

It feels the the end of an era, the jute dynasty or something.  Even my kids said, "Aw, the jute's gone?"  Absurd!  Well, even though this is a rather odd post to say the least, I wanted you to know that it's your last chance to buy 2.5oz of Lace Weight Jute for $1.20.  When these last three skeins are gone, they're gone for good.  Goodbye Jute!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Snowfall Studio ~ Crocheted Plushies for Children

I am very excited to share a new store on Etsy called Snowfall Studio.  The owner of this shop, Kristen, is a good friend.  We met when our oldest sons were both toddlers.  Each week our little playgroup would come together and we'd spend a couple hours trying to keep the kids happy while we also tried to have adult conversation.  Of course most of these conversations ended up being about our kids.  

When Kristen joined the group, I admired her right from the start.  She was quiet, but I could tell that she was tuned in to everything.  The rug rat chaos often made me crazy, but if it bothered Kristen, her face revealed nothing.  At coffee time with my husband, I would recount the previous play date and tell him that the wise woman of the group was certainly Kristen.  

Over the years we've stayed in touch even though we have both moved away from the neighborhood where we first met.  Kristen is the mother of four beautiful kids.  The youngest is now in school, so for the first time in 14 years, she has a little free time.  She is devoting some of these precious hours to making original, crocheted designs for children.  

I love her mermaids with their Waldorf inspired simplicity and their whimsical details.  The one to the left is my favorite because I like the colors.  I guess I have a thing for brunettes.  I didn't mean to saw her in half, but I want you to be able to click on the picture and see the details for yourself.  I love the shape of the mermaid's tail and Kristen's stitches are so flawless.  The starfish accents are the perfect touch to bring your imagination to life as you picture this mermaid in her magical home.  

Kristen also makes kitties, turtles and birds.  Quality is very important to her as she knows these will become beloved toys.  They are made for play and though I may be getting a little old for dolls, I'm getting ready to place an order at Snowfall Studio.  I can just see my mermaid, perched on a rock by the swimming pool or maybe on the chaise with a good book! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ January

The Flower Wheel

Ch 2
Row 1:  work 6 sc in second ch from hook, sl st to beg sc
Row 2:  ch 3 (counts as first dc) 2 dc in same st, 3 dc in each st around, join with sl st to top of beg ch 3 - 18 dc
Row 3:  *ch 5, skip st, sc in next st* 8 times
Row 4;  ch 5, skip next st, sc in first unworked st from Row 3 (working in front of the loops), *ch 5, sc in next unworked st* 8 times, ch 5, sl st to first sc made in Row 4
Finishing:  Pull loop on hook until it measures 2.25 inches. Cut off yarn leaving 4” for weaving.  Tie the loop and the 4” piece using the beginning shoe lace tie.  Weave in all loose ends.

Picture Notes:

It's a simple little shape and makes up very quickly.  To me it looks like a cross between a flower and a wheel, so that's why I named it The Flower Wheel.  I played around with the size by changing the stitch in row 2 to a hdc or a sc, but in the end, I liked the look of the dc best.  

If you need a stitch guide or help with the abbreviations, Crochet 'N' More is a great place to find all of the basics. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January's Ornament ~ Sneak Peak

I've been doing my best to get back into regular blogging this year.  That's why it's killing me that I don't have a little more free time today to post the pattern for January's ornament.  Instead I have a sneak peak for you.  I made these last night while writing pattern notes.  I played around with sizes and also made the attached ones on the left.  I've always liked ornaments that drape over a tree branch.  Give me another day or two and I should have the pattern posted. 

I also have a teaser for the crochet fans out there.  I just found out that a good friend of mine has opened a new Etsy shop.  She is making the cutest crochet plushies.  I can't wait to share her work with you!

That's what's coming up this week and I'm sure there will be more.  My local multicultural festival is coming up, so I'll be getting ready for that too!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ 12 Months 12 Ornaments

I have a goal for myself this year.  This coming Christmas, that's right, just under 12 months away, I want to decorate a tree with ornaments that are all handmade.  Specifically, I want them to be crocheted and/or possibly tatted.  The rules I have made for myself are as follows:

1.  The yarn must be handspun by me.
2.  If I choose to add color, then I have to dye the yarn or finished ornaments. (I haven't decided whether I want to add color because I think a tree all decorated in ecru would be pretty.)
3.  I have to design the ornaments.  They will probably be uncomplicated, just shapes that I find appealing.
4.  I will share the designs each month here on my blog, so if you like something I design, you can make it too!

The next post on The 2012 Ornament Project will be labeled "January" and then each month to come will also have an ornament post.  

I've already started preparations for this month.  Yesterday, I spun the Merino yarn pictured above and let me say that this is the skein that finally pushed me over the edge with my spinning wheel.  I've been thinking about replacing my Louet S10 DT for some time now and I keep talking myself out of it.  By the time I began spinning the second singles for this two ply, I was fed up.  In fact, I paused in my spinning, ordered a new wheel online, and then finished up this skein as quickly as I could.  I just can't stand how noisy my Louet wheel has become and it's more than just a squeak that I could lube although there's that too.  It's the bobbin sliding and knocking around the all of the superfluous movement that the wheel generates.  Argh!

Sorry about that.  I needed to rant.  Still, I managed to spin about 115 yards of 2ply Merino.  I plied this skein a little tighter that I often do and I like how it looks and the springy feel.  I think it will make pretty ornaments.  

To the left of the yarn is January's ornament.  I've already come up with the design using the yarn I plied from my Turkish drop spindle the other day.  Now I just need to write up the pattern and make an ecru version.  I think the dye free yarn will be better for my post.  The stitches will be easier to see and I'll take some photographs along the way.  

So this is my plan.  I'll be designing 12 ornaments over the next 12 months and you are welcome to come along and join in the project.  The designs will be quick and easy, so they might be nice to do with the kids or a beginning crochet class.  Now I just have to stay on task and make my goal! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Two Skin Tones ~ Back in Stock

I'm still busy dyeing Merino to restore all of the color choices.  Back in stock today are Sun Touched and Mediterranean.  These are the two most popular shades from the skin tone line.  Sun Touched is fair with just a hint of peach glow.  Mediterranean is a soft brown with a very subtle olive undertone. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Dye Almost Dry

It's a drying party on the studio room floor as yesterday's dyed colors lay out and enjoy the sun coming through the window.  They are about 90% dry after spending yesterday afternoon outside in the sun and fresh air.  The weather is wonderful for dyeing in the Valley of The Sun this week, mid 70's and sunny.  By tomorrow morning, this Merino top will be more than ready to ship off to new homes.  As such, I've already listed them in the store.  If you want to see their close-ups, click the color links:  Russet, Bright Yellow, Crimson, Pink Blush, Golden Ochre and Happy Green!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The First Dye of 2012

Yesterday, a customer asked me how to place an order.  Thinking she was new to Etsy, I explained how ordering works.  Then she wrote back to clarify.  She wanted to know how to order certain colors that didn't appear in the shop.  If that's not a "get back to work" push, I don't know what is!

It was my idea to try to keep 40 shades of Merino in stock, so I guess I'd better get busy.  It's so easy to slack off during the holidays, but it's time to replenish the inventory at Wind Rose

I'm dyeing 1.5 pounds of Merino broken down into 4oz lots.  Each will get their own color in their turn.  Up first on the stove are the reds.  Russet and Crimson are on the menu today.  They take a little more time, thus giving me a chance to write.  Waiting in cue are four more bowls of pre-soaked wool.  They will be dyed Happy Green, Pink Blush, Golden Ochre, and Bright Yellow.  

Depending on how fast everybody dries, they should be in the shop by tomorrow afternoon.  Up next I'll be making sure the rest of the reds and pinks are in stock since Valentine's Day is the next big holiday.  It might take a week or two, but I'll get all of the colors back in stock.  Then I'm determined to get some Skin Tone Samplers dyed!

Well, that's what's on the stove at Wind Rose.  What's cookin' in your kitchen? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Turkish Spindle Distraction

I promised myself that I would take down my Christmas decorations today.  For the few of you who have visited my home during the holidays, you know that this is a pretty big job.  Feeling the desire to stall, I took a detour into my studio looking for a distraction.  You see, I can justify putting off chores if there is fiber involved.  

That's when I thought of my Turkish drop spindle.  I guess I've had spindles on my mind since spending a recent afternoon with a spindle enthusiast.  I have a Turkish drop spindle that I have taken on numerous outings.  I've been working on this ball of yarn, bit by bit for a long time.  I decided that today, at long last, I would remove the yarn and ply it. 

I originally bought this spindle because I liked the idea of being able to ply from one ball using the center pull, beginning strand and the outer ending one.  The wool that I've been spinning has sentimental value as it is a carded blend of some of my earliest wool purchases.  It mostly began as raw fleece and I did all of the washing, dyeing and carding.  This was back in those wonderful experimental days before I really knew what I was doing.  Also, I had yet to come across my favorite wools with which to work.  As a result, this yarn is a funky blend of Rambouillet, Mohair and I can't remember what else.  There's even a little leftover grease as my washing could have been better.  

Today is the first time I've plied yarn from my Turkish drop spindle.  I pulled the center end out from one of the larger side holes.  At first I was thinking I would put it on a lazy kate and just go for it.  Then I realized that it would probably need to roll free. I was worried about the two strands twisting together as they unraveled.  Then, as I started plying, I discovered that although they did twist as the ball rolled around, this really didn't interfere with the plying process.

Typically when I ply two singles, my I hold the two strands separately in my right hand and control the twist with my left.  When I plied this ball, I just held them together and fed them right in.  No muss, no fuss!

In the end, I find myself with about 95 yards of medium weight yarn.  Since the colors are sort of Christmas-like and the texture is more coarse, I think I may use it to make ornaments.  This year I was thinking that it would be fun to decorate a small tree with nothing but crocheted or tatted decorations.  Of course one needs to plan ahead for such things.  I think starting in January might give me just enough time!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hairpin Lace Project ~ A 2,000 Loop Situation!

I'm back to work on my hairpin lace project and I feel like I'm in the midst of a fiber situation!  Currently, I'm making the longest piece of lace for which my pattern calls, two thousand loops!  I have no idea how other people handle their hairpin lace, but I feel the need to keep things organized and twist free.  This is no small challenge when you are constantly rotating your work, especially as the lace gets longer and longer. 

For some time now I've been in the habit of using safety pins.  I have pins joining every ten loops on each side.  This means I don't have to worry about the loops getting pulled out of shape and it makes for easy counting.  

Keeping the lace free of twists has been manageable up until now.  Even with pieces 600 to 700 loops long, it's not that hard to stop now and then and untwist the lace.  With this piece however, the length is making things very tedious and my strip is only about halfway there.  Finally, I got the idea to roll up the lace that I have completed so far.  You can see that I have rolled it fairly close to the tool and I'm keeping the roll in place with a regular hair elastic or ponytail holder.  Now when I need to untwist the lace, I'll be able to rotate the whole roll at once.  As the lace continues to grow, I can just take off the elastic and roll more on.  This will makes things much easier.

I'm getting close to having all of the strips ready for this Cardi Wrap.  The next step will be assembling all of my pieces.  I'm getting anxious to see how it will turn out!

Related Posts:
Crochet Master Class ~ The Latest Addition to My Library
Let The Hairpin Lace Project Begin!
The Hairpin Lace Project Continues...
How to Begin a Strip of Hairpin Lace ~ A Photo Tutorial
The Hairpin Lace Project ~ Part Trois
The Hairpin Lace Project ~ I found Yarn B!
The Hairpin Lace Project ~ Part IV

Hairpin Lace Project ~ My Personal Commitment 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Shrug

Happy New Year!  I'm feeling more productive than philosophical on this, the first day of 2012.  Yesterday I started the Aslan Shrug pattern from the winter 2011 issue of Interweave Crochet.  It's a fast moving project.  By the time I put it down in the early evening, the shrug was nearly complete with the exception of the finishing rows.  It took no time at all to work the armholes and end rows this morning and now I'm wearing my new shrug!

The pattern calls for a bulky yarn and a size K hook.  I don't keep a lot of bulky laying around, so I just used worsted weight Merino and kept my stitches nice and relaxed.  The gauge worked out fine and I was able to create the whole piece from remnant skeins.  I decided to use three colors, but perhaps the pineapple theme would stand out more in a single shade.  Pineapples are supposed to be lucky aren't they?  Maybe this is a good way to start the new year!