Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm still here and I'm still dyeing!

Man! I really fell off the blog wagon this Christmas! Sorry to disappear like that. Basically, I just needed a few days off to enjoy the holiday and relax my mind. Now I'm struggling to get back into the swing of things. After a couple gray weeks in the Phoenix area, the sun is back and that really helps me recharge. It also helps me dye wool because I count on the sun to dry my wet roving for me. So thank you sun for coming back!

The truth is I've barely done any work, but I did do one kind of fun experiment. You see, this is just our second year here in Arizona so fresh fruit picked right off the tree is still a wonderful novelty for me and my family. The fall after we moved here we planted two lemon trees, one orange and one ruby red grapefruit. The trees are still young, but the grapefruit and one of the lemon trees produced fruit for us this December. We also have a next door neighbor with two mature orange trees and he delivered a bag of oranges. My younger son is very enthusiastic about juicing the fruit and we have a great time.

This year after juicing the oranges, we had a large bowl of rinds left over and it seemed a shame to throw them away. I found a recipe for candied orange peel and my husband set about preparing the rinds. The recipe called for blanching the rinds several times to remove the bitterness. After each blanching, I drained the hot water and there was so much color in it. I started to wonder if I could dye wool with the blanching water. By the time I had the idea, it was too late for the oranges, but we still had lemon rinds. I just had to try out my idea, so we decided to make candied lemon peel too.

On the left is a picture of the candied orange peels just in case you've never see them before. They turned out really yummy with a great orange taste. On the right are the lemon rinds during the blanching process. In the middle is my dye pot with the lemon blanching water and some additional water so that it would cover the two ounces of wool I introduced. You can see it has a nice pale yellow color to it. So while I candied the lemon, I also dyed the wool using the same method I normally use only allowing it to steep longer.

In the end, the wool didn't pick up very much color. I really wish I had thought of the idea when I was working with the oranges because we had more orange peels and the oranges gave off a stronger yellow color. I think my results would have been much better. The lemons produced a nice pale lemon color, but I just don't think there was enough concentration to dye my wool. My ending result was a length of roving that looked pretty much like it did before taking the dye bath, but that's o.k., it was really fun trying.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Handspun Beaded Yarn - "Sun Touched" Merino with Oblong Red Coral

I finally managed to complete one of my own personal projects. Here is my latest skein of hanspun. I bought these striking red coral beads earlier this fall. I love their whimsical shape and their intense reddish orange color. I decided to pick a more neutral shade of wool and allow the beads to really stand out. The wool I used is some of my own merino. This color, "Sun Touched" is part of my skin tone line. I also used generous amounts of Firestar dyed the same shade. I have a hard time resisting adding a little sparkle to my projects. Because the Firestar and the wool are the same color in this skein, the sparkle adds a lot of life without taking away from my focal beads.

I have come to love adding beads to my yarn. It's like getting beautiful little presents in what would otherwise be fairly typical skeins of yarn. I also like to imagine how they might be used by a knitter or crocheter. I think beaded yarns would make very fun trims or borders. I also like to imagine them being paired with complimentary skeins. I think they would be fantanstic additions to the yarn stash of any free form fiber artist. As a yarn seller, I rarely get to see what my creations become. I'll never know if this yarn becomes part of a scarf or handbag or even perhaps some felted jewelry. All I know is that I had a wonderful time as the designer and that's enough.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fellow Artists, How do you decorate your homes?

You don't have to answer that question, but I am curious. I do wonder sometimes how other arty people live. This is on my mind today because we are refinancing our house and my home inspection was this morning. I don't think of myself as being all that different until I start to walk around seeing my house through the eyes of others. I found myself trying to explain certain choices every time we turned a corner. So just how quirky am I?

We started with the backyard. We have a pool and spa, a swing set for the kids, basketball. It's a pretty typical Arizona back yard until you see that our Christmas Tree is outside. Before you laugh, picture this: A covered porch, on one end a Christmas Tree all lit up, cozy furniture arranged for the sole purpose of enjoying the tree lights, snuggly fleece blankets, off to the side a fire glows in the fire pit, Candles, a little music, a warm drink.... See, it really isn't so crazy. Right?

Inside I had more explaining to do. I have a downstairs restroom which, when we bought the house, was a frightening shade of intense turquoise blue. Not wanting to paint, I decided to embrace the blue and went with a crazy Kokopelli/Southwest kind of theme. I gave it a grass roof and lizards climbing the wall. Well I guess I should just show you, I can't really describe it.

I could go on and on. I have a living/dining room space that has club chairs and a pool table. One of my son's rooms we call Madagascar because that's what he wanted me to create when we decorated. My other son has his own art center and his paintings hang on the wall. Of course my studio is a wild, colorful home to my spinning wheel, looms, roving, yarn and piles of handmade creations. We keep a six foot trampoline in our loft/game area. So maybe my house is a little out there. Mostly it's set up for fun, comfort and to accommodate all of our hobbies.

Well, the inspectors seemed nice and I'm sure they see all kinds of stuff with the job they do. I wonder though, how do the other arty people of the world decorate. Do they confine their art to a studio or to one space or does it tend to find it's way throughout their homes. How stylish, quirky or classic are you?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Make Your Own Drop Spindle With CDs!

Yesterday I introduced you to Jags. She's a new customer at Wind Rose and, more importantly, a wonderful new spinner. After she received the roving she purchased from my shop, she sent me an email that really made me smile:

"My spindle hasn't shipped yet, so I found instructions on making one with cds lol So a dowel rod, 2 cds, some fast dry putty and a cup hook I stole off the cabinet and I'm spinning!"

Isn't that great!? I'm beginning to think that Jags represents everything I love about spinning! I have seen CD drop spindles before at festivals. I've seen them with painted designs and thought they were really cool. I just never thought of making my own. Yesterday Jags passed on the website she used at least in part when making her CD drop spindle. You can find the instructions at Making A CD Drop Spindle. I've perused the instructions and they look really good. They have also included some nice links.

To the right is a picture of Jag's CD drop spindle along with the one she purchased. If you would like to see more of her pictures, visit her blog Adventures Of A Fiber Addict.

I was writing on my other blog yesterday and I was talking about my philosophy on a topic. In the end I decided that my philosophy may be, "If you can't find it, create it." The more I think about it, the more I'm liking my new motto. I guess for Jags it was: If you can't wait for it to come in the mail, make one yourself!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Meet a New Spinner and See Her First Skeins of Yarn!

Good Morning all! December is such a busy time, isn't it? My studio has become a gathering place for gifts and wrapping. My spinning wheel sits with half a spool spun and a pile of fiber just waiting. Although I often feature other artists, much of my inspiration for this blog comes from my work. I feel like I've been lagging a bit this month as other things pull me from my wool.

So I'm very pleased to have a new spinner and her work to share with you today! About a week ago, I received a convo at Wind Rose Fiber Studio from my new acquaintance, Jags. She was looking for advice on what sort of fiber she might try. We've been chatting a little since then and she has graciously shared some pictures of her very first skeins of yarn. Actually, she started a very nice blog called Adventures Of A Fiber Addict. I was so impressed when I looked at her blog. First of all, she has been very industrious. I can't believe all the spinning she's been doing. Second, if these are her first skeins, I can't wait to see her work in a couple months. She's obviously a natural!

My fiber recommendation was Blue Faced Leicester. I think it's a nice choice starting out because it's a lovely soft fiber, but it has more texture than merino and can be a little easier to handle. Plus there is the added benefit of it being reasonably priced especially undyed. You can get a nice amount without breaking the bank. I'm glad Jags liked working with it.

I put a couple other little sample gifts in her package. I love to treat new spinners. Their enthusiasm is so inspiring and I remember how much fun it was to get new fiber in the mail. Up above, the brown on the left and the green on the right are two of the presents I sent. The brown merino looks so soft and lovely as a thick and thin and the neon green mohair turned out great. The cranberry colored yarn in the middle was made from fiber she purchased at The Flying Ewe. That skein looks amazing. She's not going to be a beginner for long is she?

Thank you Jags for sharing your beautiful new yarn with us today. I can't wait to see what you spin up next. I'm so glad you created a blog so we can share in your experience!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Purple Snake Bracelet - Beautiful Bead Weaving by Rose Works Jewelry

I have always had a weakness for weaving. When I started my business years ago, the only thing I sold was hand woven purses. I find myself doing all sorts of work now, but weaving will forever be one of my deep passions.

So of course I was delighted to find this beauty while looking through the shop of Rose Works Jewelry. All of her work is wonderful. I love that she pulls from popular culture in some of her designs. I'd be a much cooler mom if I wore a beaded Legend of Zelda bracelet.

This Purple Snake Bracelet is what I found myself revisiting over and over. I love how bold the pattern is while the harmonious colors keep the piece soothing and elegant. This is exactly the sort of eye catching creation that deserves a spotlight. Beautiful, Rose Works, just beautiful!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cashmere Nuno Felt - Elegantly Crafted by enee Fabric Design

I've been meaning to spotlight eneefabricdesign for some time now. Her work is among the most gorgeous nuno felt I've encountered! She has been creating nuno felt for some time now and her work gracefully displays her experience with the art.

Her Etsy Shop is now featuring a small collection of Cashmere Nuno Scarves. They are all one of a kind and uniquely beautiful. It is the perfect marriage of two luxurious fibers, silk and cashmere.

From the artist, " I took my first workshop from Polly Stirling, and little did I know that no other class would ever come close to what I learned from her. She did have a nuno jacket she made that she passed around to the class (5 years ago!) and all I could think of was I was in an enchanted forest..."

Her love of nuno felt is so evident and contageous in her words. She generously offers her pieces at wholesale prices for Etsy shoppers. If you love wearable art, look no further!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Some Of My Favorite Etsy Things!

Have you finished your shopping yet?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Anniversary Wind Rose!

I feel a little silly. It's like wishing yourself a Happy Birthday, but I couldn't let the day go by without some recognition. Today is the one year anniversary of my store opening. One year ago today, I logged onto Etsy and started an account. I think I only listed one item that day. It was after dinner and by the time I made my banner, picked out an avatar and wrote my bio and all, it was getting late. I refused to quit until I had at least one thing in my shop.

I started out with a huge inventory from my craft show days. My first couple months with Etsy was spent photographing and listing my goods. My goal for myself was to make at least 100 sales in my first year. I thought if I could just do that, I'd be happy. My business started off pretty slow; a sale here, a sale there. By March, I knew I needed to put more thought into it if I wanted to make my goal. I started thinking harder about it. Who shops at Etsy and what do I enjoy making that they would want?

Asking myself that one question really helped me focus my business. The fact is, crafty people shop on Etsy so I would reach out to my fellow crafts people. I started selling dyed roving and made the choice to sell it in small amounts. I didn't see anyone else selling roving by the ounce so I thought maybe that could be my niche. Spinners could pick out two or three ounces and design their own skeins of yarn and felters, who work with smaller quantites anyway, could have lots of colors to choose from. That's when I started getting busy.

Now, a year later, I have divided up my store. Wind Rose Fiber Studio was just getting too big. With all of my handmade and handspun mixed in with my fiber, it was hard to manage. I was up to over 300 items and 17 pages to search through. I'm heading into year two with new goals. I love that Wind Rose Fiber Studio is just fiber now. I plan to expand to include more types of fiber and offer more undyed options for those who like to do their own dyeing. For me, fiber is the heart of my business and will be my main focus.

That being said, I do love to make things too. I opened up Wind Rose Art Yarn so my handspun could have its own special place. When I comes to my own creativity, spinning is my favorite thing to do. I love designing yarn and with a fiber studio in my house, I have so many wonderful wools and plants fibers at my fingertips. The other funny thing is, I love it when I'm dyeing and a color doesn't come out quite like I planned. It's like a present for me and my spinning wheel. We'll make somehing pretty out of it!

My other handmade goodies have new homes too, all of those items I spent my first few months listing. I put my absolute favorites into Wind Rose Boutique at Etsy. I plan to keep the boutique small and keep an eclectic mix of things there. It's a place where you can by a formal Little Black Clutch or a one of a kind Baby Cozy or maybe a Felted Cuff. It's small and intimate and a unique mix of handmade creations. As if that were not enough I opened one more store over at Artfire. I needed a place for some of my vintage handmade. Artfire got my curiosity going and I like that there is an option for accepting offers on items or decreasing the cost over time. Customers can feel like they are getting a good deal and I can have some added control over my vast inventory. I think it will be a win win. I call my Artfire shop Wind Rose Fiber Studio too. I wanted people to be able to recognize me in my new space.

So here I am, one year old, 750 sales later. I would never have imagined that many sales a year ago and I especially would not have guessed that I would be running four shops! I want to thank everyone reading this for joining me on my journey. Thank you for your support, your business, your feedback. I appreciate you all so much! Wind Rose has become so much more than my home based business. It's where I have found kindred spirits and new friends. I am so grateful to Etsy for being a place that supports the arts. Thank you for providing a home for the artisans! Finally, to all my fellow Etsians, thank you for being a strong, positive and supportive community! What a great group of people you are!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ode to Muk Luks

It takes a long time before it begins to feel like winter here in the Phoenix area. The changes are there, but they are subtle. Then finally, one day, you realize the house is starting to feel chilly. The nights are colder and the sun, though it tries, it cannot quite warm things all the way back up again. We switched our heat on about three days ago, but for a VA girl, it seems amazing to get all the way into December before doing so.

Being new to the southwest and embracing the change, we put our Christmas tree under our porch out back. We string up lights and I have this funny candelabra that I dress with moss and long red tapers. We also have a gas fire pit that the previous owners were creative enough to install. I arrange my furniture so that I can take in the tree and twinkle lights, the candles and fire all at once. Huddled with a fleece throw and a glass of wine and I feel like I'm in holiday heaven.

I know this doesn't sound much like an ode to muk luks so far, but I'm getting there. You see, for most of the year here, I forget about things like toasty socks, but tonight I came in from the back porch and was looking for something soft and warm and there they were. I have this crazy sort of furry pair of muk luks I crocheted for myself a few years ago. The first time I put them on each winter, they make me so happy. They're absolutely perfect. The pair I wear are the style in this picture, but mine are the color of wine and the accent squares are made from a wild novelty yarn. I love the geometric shapes and angles and how they are more boot-like than sockish (I'm making up words now).

I fell in love with muk luks the first time I encountered them. I was young and probably in some bohemian shop in Georgetown. They were most likely displayed as you normally find them, in a huge pile on a table or in a bin. Normally they are knit in the same basic pattern and in two colors. You see a lot of brown and white or red and natural, that kind of thing. So if all this time you were picturing something fashioned from leather and fur that you would trudge through Canada in, I'm not talking about that Muk Luk. I'm talking about the hippie knit version that you buy off a vendor at a street fair.

A few years ago when my store bought, knit muk luks were falling apart, I got the idea to design a crocheted version. If I love them so much, why not make them? They were pretty complicated to design and even more to assemble, but it was a labor of love. I even made several pairs both tall and short to sell at craft shows. People often admired them, but no one ever bought a pair. Well, maybe one or two pairs sold, but not many. It became clear to me that my love of muk luks what not shared by the masses. That's ok, It doesn't change my feelings for them. I look forward to the coming December nights when my muk luks and I will curl up together out on my back porch. We'll drink wine or the mead my husband brews and listen to the night noises as we gaze at the Christmas tree. That's what we'll do, my muk luks and I.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Creative Connections

I'm kind of just in the mood to ramble a little bit tonight. For the last couple of weeks it's been difficult to find time to do my creative work. It has placed me in a bit of a funk. After all, I call my business Wind Rose for a reason. Creativity is how I keep myself on course. I feel lost without it, but today I had the next best thing.

Today I got a convo (Etsy mail) from someone who had just purchased her first drop spindle. Her excitement about learning to spin really came through in her message. I was able to give her some advice and guide her toward fiber that I thought she would enjoy working with and that would be good for someone just starting out. She thanked me and bought some of what I recommended. Touched by her enthusiasm, I put a few presents in her package, some samples of mohair, soy silk, merino and firestar. It made me really happy to think of her opening her bubble mailer to find not only what she ordered, but these colorful additions.

So on a day that has included a frenzy of house cleaning, working on homework projects, tending to my swollen knee and the bedtime discovery that one of my kids may very well have the chicken pox, there was this special interaction. For a few minutes I got to connect with someone with a like passion and maybe even help her a little on her creative journey. It's one of the coolest aspects of Etsy. On any day, in any given moment, you could find yourself connecting with someone anywhere in the world. It's amazing. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gift Certificates Now Available at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!

I am going to have to write a book called "Everything I know I learned from Blockhead Radio"! Every time I listen to Blockheadrod, I am rewarded with a new piece of wisdom. The latest is the idea to offer Gift Certificates at Wind Rose. Simple and so smart. Let's face it. Most of our loyal customers are crafts people. How nice for them to be able to tell their families, "Just get me a gift certificate." Shopping is easier and everyone gets just what they want!

I am now offering Gift Certificates in three amounts: $10, $20 and $25. They are redeemable at any of my three Etsy Stores:

Here at Wind Rose Fiber Studio:
Or at Wind Rose Art Yarn:
Or at Wind Rose Boutique:

The Gift Certificate is printed on bright green paper and comes with its own envelope. It can be mailed to you or directly to the recipient. If you would like your Gift Certificate sent to a different address, please leave that information in the message to seller at the time of purchase.

All the information needed for redeeming this Gift is located right on the Gift Certificate. The recipient will also receive a business card with additional contact information in case they have any questions.

If you would like to purchase a Gift Certificate for an amount other than the ones offered, please contact me and I'll be happy to make a custom listing for you.

For all the details, check out the listings at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Spinning Wheel - A Peek At My Newest Art Yarn Design!

It's been a long day. I still have various colors of paint all over my hands from a Jackson Pollock art project with my son's third grade class. I also still need to head downstairs and put dinner on the table, but at some point tonight, I'll be at my spinning wheel. It's my favorite way to unwind. I guess that's a little ironic since just the opposite will be happening to the merino on my bobbin.

Just for fun I thought I'd share my latest project with you. The photograph doesn't really represent the colors well. It's night time here and the florescent bulbs in my office are casting a yellow light. My main fiber is merino dyed a shade I call Sun Touched. It's actually part of my skin tone roving line. The name describes it well. It's fair with a hint of brown. I also have some matching firestar that I'm working in to incorporate some sparkle. Both of these fibers though, are really just a neutral backdrop to the eye popping red coral in fanciful oblong shapes that I'm spinning directly into the yarn. The colors are looking really nice together. I think the finished yarn will have a sophisticated look. I'll be back to show you when the spinning is all done. See you tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day - 20th Anniversary

This may be a sobering post for 'Cyber Monday', the Black Friday for all of us with on line stores. Many of us woke up this morning ready to get to work; market, promote, sell. I sat down at my computer feeling more curiosity than anything else. I went onto Twitter and started with "Good Morning, What's everyone up to today?" Keep in mind that most of my followers and those I follow are in the craft world as am I. We are generally busy little bees. Today is no different. we are getting our orders ready to post and listing new items in our shops and so forth. Then a tweet came up that caught my eye. "Today is World AIDS Day: STOP AIDS. KEEP THE PROMISE."

First of all, thank you spoons for reminding us that today is so much more than 'Cyber Monday'. It can be so easy to get caught up in our work that we forget to take a breath and focus on the world around us. So that is just what I'm doing. Today is World AIDS Day. The 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day actually. On the first anniversay in 1988, what did you know or think about the AIDS epidemic? How has it touched your life or influenced the way you live? Is it personal for you?

For me, 1988 was the year that I moved to Northern VA, just outside of DC. I was 21 years old, dating and fairly clueless. By the early 1990's I was becoming more aware. I was working for The Body Shop and AIDS Relief was one of the campaigns we worked on. Then it became more personal when I traveled to Romania to volunteer in the orphanages in the northeastern region of the country. Some of these orphanages were completely dedicated to AIDS children. Where I worked, none of the kids had tested positive yet, but there were no guarantees. Among the heartbreaking things I experienced, was children who intentionally cut or wounded themselves for medical attention. Often medical attention was the only kind of special care they received. Daily I was approached by youngsters showing me their bloody scrapes. I would hug them and beg them to be careful and not to hurt themselves.

I have worked side by side with people living with AIDS, I have stuffed envelopes at the Whitman-Walker Clinic. I have viewed every panel of the AIDS Quilt through teary eyes and I have marched on Washington. Today my life is more sheltered. I have children that I'm busy raising and less time to call my own, but today I have made a personal pledge. My pledge is to remember and never forget that the struggle still wages on. I pledge to use my voice to promote awareness and education. We can all do our part. Visit the World AIDS Campaign today and find out what you can do. Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mmmm... Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate - Can Roving Be Yummy?

Those are the flavors these two new Merino Wool colors represent. It's part of a project I've been working on lately with another artisan. I'm not going to give away her new product, but when she's ready, I'll do a feature here on my blog. For now, you'll have to consider this a teaser...

Well, I'm not that much of a tease! I made enough to share. You can find a taste of Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate Roving at Wind Rose Fiber Studio Today!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Carbonized Bamboo Yarn - Handspun with Metallic Thread

Hello. I hope everyone had a super Thanksgiving! I guess I can't leave you looking at a chimp and a tiger cub forever. LOL! It's time to get back to fiber!

Before our holiday, I blogged about Carbonized Bamboo also known as Black Diamond or Black Gold. I also promised to share pictures when I finished spinning up my first skein. So here is my first skein of Black Diamond! It's plied with a metallic thread. Metallic threads feature a strong textured polyester
filament core with a metallized foil wrap. The foil on the thread I used has a prismatic effect and as the light plays off of it, you can see all the colors of the rainbow. It allows the softness and the gorgeous color of the bamboo to be center stage while it adds some light and sparkle.

I'm about to list this 126 yard skein in my shop at Wind Rose Art Yarn, but I wanted to share it with you first. Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Carbonized Bamboo Roving - Black Diamond or Black Gold

I've been exploring new fibers lately and I have an awesome one to share with you today. The fiber is Carbonized Bamboo and the name it's known by is Black Diamond or Black Gold. It has the amazing silky softness of bamboo and a gorgeous charcoal color, but that's not all. This is a fiber that is actually beneficial to your skin. That's right!

Louet reveals, "According to the American Chemical Society, in 1879, Thomas Edison invented the first incandescent light bulb. It used electricity to heat a thin strip of material, called a filament, until it glowed. Edison may also have created the first commercial carbon fiber. Early filaments, were made from bamboo slivers which were formed into the proper size and shape then baked them at high temperatures. Since bamboo consists mostly of cellulose, a natural linear polymer made of repeating units of glucose, the filament was "carbonized," when heated. It became a true carbon copy of the starting material - an all-carbon fiber with the same exact shape. Tungsten wire soon displaced these carbon filaments, but they were still used on U.S. Navy ships as late as 1960 because they withstood ship vibrations better than tungsten."

"Bamboo carbon fiber, called Black Gold or Black Diamond by those in the industry, is resistant to ultra violet rays and possesses anti-odor properties. It also adjusts well to both humidity and dryness."

Black Diamond is now available at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. You can buy it by the ounce or in a larger 4oz lot. I started spinning some up last night and I'll share my yarn with you when I'm finished. It feels great and spins with ease. See you tomorrow!

Source: Louet North America

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wind Rose Boutique - Another Brand New Store!

A couple days ago I shared my new Wind Rose Art Yarn shop with you, but I didn't stop there, I have another new store:

Wind Rose Boutique is where I keep all of my favorite handmade creations. Dividing up Wind Rose Fiber Studio has been a lot of work and at times a little confusing. I'm on the home stretch now and I can see the finish line! What makes me happy is that each shop has a clear and defined focus. They are easy to browse and find what you are interested in and for me it's easy to see the sections where my inventory might need a little boost. I think it's going to be great.

There are Etsy Minis and links on the sidebar for all of my new locations. The three shops also have links so you can easily jump from one to another. Come by for a visit sometime! See you tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Woolly Bear Scarflette Giveaway!

That's right, I'm giving away this adorable Woolly Bear Scarflette from LazyTcrochet.

Last week on the Blockhead Rod Radio Show, they shared a little bit about LazyTcrochet and her family. They are hitting a rough patch these days with health concerns and lost employment. I don't know all the details, and like many of the other listeners that night, I didn't need to know. A fellow crafter was in need, so I made this purchase from her store.

I have to say that I think this Woolly Bear Scarflette is adorable, but the thing is , I live in Arizona. Not just anywhere in AZ, but the Valley of the Sun. I can't see myself getting a lot of use out of this cute little neck warmer, so I have an idea. Why not pay it forward one more time?

So I am giving this scarflette to the first person who does a blog feature on LazyTcrochet's store. You know, something nice to help bring in some new shoppers. Perhaps include a photo or two. The first person to give LazyT a blog write up and comment here on this post with a link or the address of their blog, wins the Woolly Bear Scarflette! I'll reply to your comment with my gmail so you can send me a mailing address for your prize. This could be a nice gift for someone on your shopping list this holiday seaon. It could also be a gift to someone in need. Let's share the love and support each other. After all, isn't that what it's all about?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wind Rose Art Yarn - Brand New Etsy Store!

Good afternoon everyone. I've been talking about organization lately and today is a big day for me. Today is the day that my brand new Etsy shop is up and running! Please let me introduce you to:

Wind Rose Art Yarn is now the home of all my handspun. It's so nice to see my yarn in its own little shop. Now I can divide them up into sections that are appropriate for them. Wind Rose Fiber Studio was getting so full that the yarn was squeezed into a section that also contained felt beads and craft fiber. Now you can easily browse by beaded, novelty, singles or 2 ply and so on. It makes for a much nicer shopping experience.

I made an Etsy mini of Wind Rose Art Yarn for this blog so you can always get a sneak peak at what's new!

I have more changes on the way. It takes time to rearrange your life! LOL! I've been uploading all day! As I complete my projects, you will be the first to know! See you tomorrow!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Feed Hungry People and Get Smarter At The Same Time!

I'm kind of goofing off today, but I don't like to neglect my bloggity blog blog. :D (told you I was goofy) So let me share this incredibly cool website with you:

The name of the site is Free Rice. You simply answer questions and for each answer you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. I think this site used to just be vocabulary, at least I don't remember the other subjects, but now you can also study art, chemistry, English, geography, foreign languages and math.

Just yesterday 179,108,200 grains of rice were donated. That's a lot of hungry people being fed and a lot of people getting smarter and feeling good about themselves. I learned about this website last year when my fifth grader came home from school and started playing it for fun. He began setting goals for himself about how much rice he wanted to earn a day. The questions are designed for everyone. It asks a few starter questions to assess the appropriate level. As you play, they become more challenging.

If you have a Blackberry or an iPhone, you can have fun with this anywhere. I play it waiting in line at the post office or the grocery store. If we are waiting for a table at a restaurant, we can play Free Rice and feed someone else while we wait to eat. To date, over 51 billion grains of rice have been donated. Amazing! So use your mind for good and answer a few questions at Free Rice. It's a wonderful educational tool for school age kids, but it's challenging enough to keep us grown-ups thinking. Feed the world!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Doll Hair Top - Mohair designed just for doll making!

This is a new discovery for me so I thought I'd share it with you. I've been working with a special customer over the last month or so. I have been trying to achieve the perfect shade of blond to match the hair on an antique doll. Initially we were using yearling mohair until I discovered Doll Hair Top.

My customer sent me a sample of the fiber I was trying to match and it was smoother and more glossy than yearling mohair. I could tell it was a natural fiber and not a synthetic, so I took out my Louet catalog. Louet North America is one of my distributors. So I'm thumbing through looking for something that might more closely match my sample, and there is was, Doll Hair Mohair. I had never noticed it before, but then again, I had never looked for it. Doll Hair Top is natural mohair with a longer staple length (around 8") and a little more lustor. The added length makes it strong and easier for a doll maker to work with and style. Of course the length would also make a very strong handspun yarn. It would be great for handbags or any project where strength was desired.

The picture I have here is of some Yellow Blond Doll Hair Top that came out a little darker than I needed for my customer. I have four ounces of it for sale at Etsy. It's a pretty shade of yellow blond that I added a touch of golden brown to for depth of color. So if you are a crafter or a spinner and would like to give this a try, pop on over to my shop at Wind Rose. I may just have to add this to my regular inventory in 2009 and work on developing other shades. For now, the blonds have it! See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Merino Roving on Parade!

This is what my studio work table looks like today! I dyed three whole pounds of 22 micron Merino roving yesterday. Here are the colorful fruits of my labor! There's Mixed Berry, Crimson Purple, Happy Green, Royal Blue, Altered Sky, Bright Yellow, Cotton Candy, Light Green, Bright Orange, Soft Purple, Cherry Red, and Vermillion. I'll be posting these in my shop at Wind Rose Fiber Studio today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Love Nuno Felt? You Have To See This!

This is my third post featuring Michele Johnson of Laughing Cloud Studio, and I have to say, I saved the best for last! I met Michele at the Southwest Fiber Festival and it was there that I saw her dye work. I bought some beautiful "Poppy" colored Wensleydale locks that I shared here on my blog, but what I haven't shown you yet is her hand painted yarn. So here is a photograph of her incredible, hand painted, luscious Italian Merino. Aren't those colors striking?

Ok, but what I really can't wait to show you, is Michele's unbelievable nuno felt. She's been holding out on us!

Her pieces are so extraordinary and original that they leave me speechless!

I don't have comments from Michele on her work. She just modestly sends me a few pictures. She's like a mild mannered "Diana Prince" who goes into her studio and becomes "Wonder Woman"!

I guess I'll just let the pictures do the talking...

It's just so pretty!

So hang out, click on the images to see enlarged views, and then just ooh and ahh for a while. That's my advice to you today! And remember, if you live here in Arizona, you can pay Michele a visit at Cascabel's 28th Christmas Fair on Saturday and Sunday December
6 & 7, 2008.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Awesome Soap Giveaway from The Copper Cauldron!

I know I'm a fiber blog, but I just have to share this with you. My Friend agoodwitchtoo is hosting a wonderful giveaway on her blog The Copper Cauldron. She is giving away a six month soap subscription. That's 2 of her wonderful bars of soap a month, for six months. Here's a detailed description of what you'll receive form The Copper Cauldron:

"TWO generous bars that weigh approximately 5 ounces a piece.

Choice of 24 scents... choose the same scents or mix 'em up! That's a possibility of 12 different scents! Wowzers!

A bit of a surprise. You choose the soaps but I choose when they ship!

Any additional purchases during your subscription get you 10% off. Cool part? This is in ADDITION to any sales that are currently running in the shop!

A Super Secret Coupon. This one promises to be so good I'm afraid that it cannot be used in conjunction with any other sales or specials.

Free sample(s) with every shipment! A scent you haven't selected during your subscription so you can try a little something new.

This is an almost $90 value! Not too mention all the perks that come with a Copper Cauldron Soap of the Month Subscription."

Now to get all of the details on how to enter, jump on over to The Copper Cauldron. I know I'm entering. I have a bar of her Pumpkin Pie Soap next to my kitchen sink right now! It's adorable to look at and even more nice to use!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Organization is Exhausting!

The day is coming to an end and I haven't even blogged!  I don't know what's come over me, but I can't stop organizing.  Isn't this urge supposed to hit you in the Spring?  Today I worked on the former game room closet.  This closet was filled to the ceiling with kid toys.  After hours of sorting,  the closet is now half dedicated to games and such and the other half to business supplies.  The studio is looking a lot better too now that all of my shipping materials have a new home!

Ok, I know I'm boring you to tears with all of this personal stuff.  I promise more exciting things on the horizon.  My friend Michele Johnson just emailed me some pictures of her hand painted yarn and her nuno felt. Her felted work is AMAZING.  I can't wait to share it with you!  I'm also clearing off my work table in my studio so I can get busy with some more nuno felt.  I have some seriously cool fabric that I want to try out.    

I hope all of your work endeavors are going well!  See you tomorrow!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today at Wind Rose Fiber Studio #12 - The Great Reorganization!

It's safe to say that I've been distracted over the last few days. The one year anniversary of my Etsy store is fast approaching and it has me thinking about the future. Year number one has been great and I've come a long way from the intimidated soul I was to the seller I am today. Now I am looking towards year number two and how to grow my business and make my shop even better.

As Wind Rose Fiber Studio has grown in size, I've batted around the idea of a second shop. I put it off because of uncertainty and a feeling that generating brand recognition and a customer base was more important than expansion. It's clear to me now that the core of my business is my dye work. I've decided to make that the full focus of my original shop. To do so, it's time to expand and diversify. It's important that I clear out room at Wind Rose so that I can give the roving the space and organization it deserves.

So here is my plan. I'm not just opening one new shop, I'm opening two and maybe three. I've already gotten started. I will now be selling the largest portion of my handmade at Artfire. I want them to get a chance to be bigger fish in a smaller pond. I'm sure it won't take long before Artfire explodes onto the scene, but for now it might be a venue where my handmade will be less lost in the crowd. It' will take a while to transfer things over, but you can see my new beginnings at my Artfire studio. At Etsy I'll be opening Wind Rose Boutique for my high end pieces; things in which I have more money and time invested. What I can't decide is whether or not to keep my handspun yarn with the fiber or open a shop just for the yarn. For now, I have more than enough to keep me busy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Party Purse

It's a good time of year to start thinking about party accessories. Every so often I weave a purse with nothing but whimsy in mind.

This Woven Handbag is made to party. It's trimmed out in a colorful holiday garland and made in a cheery red chenille. The bag itself measures 8" X 8" although the oversized trim gives it a more angular than boxy shape. It's fully line and has a magnetic closure sewn into the lining. A 48" strap allows this shoulder bag to rest at the hip.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Endicia, OwnTheHour, Art Fire

I have lots of little things on my mind today. Rather than making three or four mini posts, I'm just going to throw it all out there.

First, Endicia. Endicia is a tool for printing postage online and I have to say, I love it! After a year of waiting in post office lines every time I have an international sale (up to five times a week), I am now free! It took me a long time to accept the limitations of the USPS website. I just couldn't come to terms with the fact they they would not allow me to print first class international postage. It seems like price gauging to only offer the more expensive alternatives. I made phone calls. I was denied, transferred and disconnected. Then I got smart. If they won't do it, who will? That's when I searched the old forum threads at Etsy and got turned onto Endicia. Now I'm not comparing it to any of the other online postage places because I really haven't shopped around. There may be other companies that are just as good. What I will say is that I'm still in my 30 day free trial, but I'm very happy and I don't think I'll feel the need to look elsewhere. The process is quick and painless and you print one label that includes shipping and customs. It's great. And there is one nice service the USPS offers, Free Carrier Pick-up. You can set it up online and the next day, your carrier will pick up your package from your mailbox or front door. Very nice! So now with Endicia and Carrier Pick-up, I am free from post office lines. If there are any details I left out or questions, please comment and I'll clarify.

OwnTheHour is another new discovery. One of those Twitter tips I was talking about earlier today. So what is OwnTheHour? Their literature describes it best so I'll quote, " is a great resource for highlighting and finding some of Etsy's top items! Etsy sellers can advertise their product on our exclusive 12 item front page for just $1 per hour. They select the hours, and we do the rest! Etsy buyers, or those looking for great unique gifts, handmade crafts, and amazing pieces of art can stop buy each hour to see items that an Etsy seller has highlighted." They go on to say, "Our goal is to create a resource for Etsyians to promote their items whenever they choose. We use the money we make to pay for advertising to attract more traffic. We make every effort to attract sellers and buyers to OwnTheHour. By recycling the money that Etsyians put into the site to bring people to the site, we hope to create a nice flow of traffic for everyone involved." So where do they advertise? This is what they say, "A lot of people are confused about how others will find, and see, their items on OwnTheHour. Don't worry! OwnTheHour purchases advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and through Google and other direct advertising partners that directly targets DIY and Craft related websites. We also rely on word-of-mouth from all of YOU who are purchasing spots on OwnTheHour. The more you tell others about the site, the more visibility your items get."

OwnTheHour is new enough that it's hard to say how effective it is. As an experiment (you know I like my experiments), I bought an hour. Yesterday at 4:00 EST one of my scarflets
appeared on OwnTheHour. It didn't sell, but 80 people came to check it out. That's 80 people who could be discovering my store and could potentially become buyers. Was it worth the $1 I spent? Could be!

Last topic for today: Art Fire. I've been hanging out at Twitter more often lately, and one of the users I've been following is Art Fire. For all I knew, this was another artisan, and I wasn't paying close attention to the tweets coming from Art Fire until today. Today they got my attention by tweeting "Etsy sucks. Know why? Visit our comparison chart..." So I clicked on the link. Then it finally registered that they were another venue for buying and selling handmade.

I'm a peace lover at heart so I don't really like the tactic of attacking the competition. Even though I can't deny they got my attention, it's an ugly form of campaigning.

Bested by curiosity, I've been checking them out. I love the arts and crafts movement and I think there is room for more than one outlet. I went ahead and registered to get a better idea of how they work figuring the most I have to lose is $7 . Right now I don't know what I think. I'll continue to investigate in spite of first impressions. I enjoy exploration into the unknown. Am I leaving Etsy? NOOOO! I love Etsy! I think I'll always be an Etsian!
I just want to figure out what Art Fire is all about. I'll keep you posted.

Twitter Twitter All The Time!

Do you ever feel like you could just Tweet all day? Or, are you wondering what on earth I'm talking about? Chances are you already know about Twitter. It's basically just a place to hang out and talk. Some people use it to promote their business. Most of us like to throw up a link now and then to show off something we've just made or discovered. The best part is that you can join up and follow people with similar interests to your own and then share. I've gotten lots of great tips from other crafters and artists. You can get opinions on your work or some idea you're cooking up. If you haven't tried it, come check it out. It's pretty fun. Here's my home page or find me by searching windrosefibers. If you wish, you can start by following me!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Handspun Hemp

A couple weeks ago I ordered some hemp roving. I was mostly just curious. I've never spun hemp before and I wanted to try it out. I don't even know if there is a market for handspun hemp, but I guess I'm about to find out.

This is 2ply
Handspun Natural Hemp. I thought it would be fun to make a plied hemp especially for you knitters out there. Why knitters? Because the 2ply hemp will solve the common problem of knitter's slant that you get from a single ply. But really, this 75 yards of hemp is for anyone who loves the natural feel and texture. It's strength and earthy appeal make it wonderful for jewelry making. This hemp yarn is not too bulky. It's more comparable to a nice, even worsted weight. So if you've ever thought about working with hemp, here's your chance!

How was it to spin? Really good actually. It is very grassy or straw-like and at first I thought it might have a tendency to want to fall apart, but it didn't take long to get a feel for drafting it. I like the idea of making my own hemp yarn because I can control the weight and make it more even than you often find it in stores. I've used store bought hemp in some of my own jewelry making and had to cut off pieces where there were big, uneven nubs. I can see how those would occur because sometimes you do come across a thicker piece in the roving, but when you are spinning by hand, you can either pick out those pieces or adjust your twist to accommodate them.

I plan on making more handspun hemp. I want to make a couple hanks of single ply which is what you more often come across in the craft store. For my first skein I chose two ply really because I've never seen a commercial two ply hemp and I wanted to know what it would be like. I like the finished look of it and I think it would look very nice made up.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My First Nuno Felt - Drum Roll Please...

Here she is, my gorgeous Wind Rose model wearing my first ever nuno felt scarf. So how did it go?

Saturday was the day. I fed my kids and husband a huge breakfast in the hopes that I would gain a couple hours before anyone approached me with, "I'm hungry". Then off I went to cut out my fabrics. My original plan was to do most everything outside, but there was a little breeze and it didn't take me long to realize that this wind would not be my friend while I worked with cloudy tufts of wool. So after I had my silk chiffon, plastic, polyester, and bubble wrap good to go, I retrieved my long tables and brought them up to my bedroom. There I could lock myself in at least long enough to lay out my design.

The first kind of beginner decision I made, was to go a little smaller than the scarf template recommended by my book
Uniquely Felt. It was a combination of disbelief at how much the wool would actually shrink down and my work space. I wanted my scarf to fit on my tables and not have to roll it up in sections. I settled on 13" by 72". After I briefly read over how to layer my fabrics; bubble wrap, plastic, silk, polyester, I set aside the book and just went on instinct.

I wasn't working with an actual scarf, just a piece of cut silk chiffon. I was concerned about my edges looking good so I went around the perimeter of the scarf first. Then I filled in the middle. On this first scarf, I didn't take the time to dye the chiffon so I went with natural merino. On top of that I sprinkled white nylon Firestar. I just can't resist adding a little sparkle. Then I used a soft purple merino to make my dancing star shapes. At first I was planning on flowers, but they just seemed to become more star-like as I went. Then to make sure the nylon was tacked down and to add some depth of color, I put finishing touches of Light Grey Coopworth wool. I really had no idea if I was using too much or too little. I just kind of let the design come together the way it wanted.

I think the most nerve-racking part for me was rolling it up. Oops, I'm jumping ahead, I did cover it with the polyester and spritz it down with water first. Back to rolling: Even using a noodle, there was no way to roll it and not possibly have a small crease or two. I just didn't know what impact this would have on the finished piece. I got more comfortable after I rolled and unrolled it a couple times. It made me feel better to check on the scarf and straighten it out before rolling it in the opposite direction. I could tell it would be ok.

Once I felt confident that the fibers were going through the silk, I moved my operation back outside. The fulling process was much more familiar to me having wet felted in the past. From this point on, I was feeling pretty good about things.

This picture is from fairly early on in the fulling process. It was fun to be outside in the sun and working with the hot soapy water. I went with a mild lavender and chamomile soap thinking that if there was any trace scent left behind, it would be pleasant. I have to say that the scarf did shrink up considerably, just as the book said it would. I knew this would be more of a child size, but that was ok with me, as long as everything else went alright.

So here is a close-up of the finished scarf all dry. I was hoping to catch a bit of the sparkle in the morning light, but it's hard with light colors. I do love how soft and light it feels and of course I'm already thinking about what I'll do differently next time. Overall, I'm very pleased.

I'm also thinking that I'm going to turn this first piece into something other than a scarf. I'm planning on perhaps a couple wrist cuffs and maybe a case for my iPhone (I just wore out my old one). I think it's exciting to be able to create your own fabric in this way and then take it from there. The creative possibilities really are endless! I'll keep sharing my creations and hopefully my positive progress. I also have two or three more nuno felters that I would like to introduce you to before I shift my focus. I hope you've been enjoying this series on nuno felt. See you tomorrow.