Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sneak Peak - Nuno Felting

Hi all, one last post for today. Over the next few days I'll be talking about Nuno Felt. You will get to see some amazing designs like this one by Amysfunkyfibers. She's a fellow Etsian and does Nuno felting that is just out of this world! She gave me the generous OK to share some of her pictures with you. This is her "Fire on Water-Beaded Nuno-Felt Scarf".

In our conversation she shared, "The part of nuno felting that I enjoy is the "painting with wool" it is so light and lofty and the variety is endless, another part that I enjoy is the physical exercise! Rolling and throwing are involved along with soap and water, you get wet and soapy and feel energized like a kid again!"

I'll be showing you more of Amysfunkyfibers work as well as other artists from Etsy. I'll also be doing some research and sharing what I find. I'm looking forward to exploring this unique form of felt making with all of you!

Naturally Grey Wools

I'm now offering naturally grey wools at Wind Rose. On the left is Fine Grey Shetland Top and on the right is Light Coopworth. Personally I think "Why dye it if the sheep will provide?" The Shetland is a darker grey while the Coopworth is a light, more heathery shade. They are both soft to the touch and are crazy easy to spin. They will also happily needle or wet felt for you. So if you're looking for dye-free, here are a couple great new choices!

Art and Artists - Finishing up my visit at the SW Fiber Festival with Pump House Studio

Good Morning All! Thanks for waiting on this post. Usually Friday is my day to feel fried, but it's hitting me early this week!

Well my visit to the Southwest Fiber Festival is coming to a close, but not before I share one more artist with you. Her name is Monica Durazo of Pump House Studio. Her tent was filled with gorgeous Nuno Felt designs. Seeing her work is what solidified it for me. I have to Nuno Felt! I don't know if it's where she got her start, but I do know she took a class given by Spirited Hands Studio. She must have been a star student. If I had brought along my checkbook and not just an insufficient amount of cash, I would own one of her pieces right now. That's my lesson learned!

I enjoyed talking with Monica. She had a warm and open way that made me feel comfortable asking my questions. Some artists are sort of guarded and make you feel like you are trying to thieve their trade secrets. There was none of that at this festival and certainly none from Monica. On the contrary, she was quick to celebrate her mentors and freely shared detailed advice. She even gave me the name of the author whose book I now own and will be studying before I try out Nuno felting. (I'll be sharing more about that book soon.)

Here are a couple of my favorite Monica Durazo pieces. On the left is a dress. It's the first time I've seen a dress made in Nuno Felt. On the right is a light and airy top. One of the appealing things about this form of felting is that you can make something so lightweight. It's a way for even us warm climate folks to wear our wool year round. They make perfect layers. Whether it's over a camisole in the summer or a cowl neck in the winter, this is a look you can enjoy in any season!

Well I guess that's the end of my posts on the SW Fiber Festival. I'm excited that they are planning a three day event next year. I think this festival is off to a great start. If you live in the area, it's well worth the drive, but just remember to bring your checkbook!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Until Tomorrow

Hi everyone.  I was planning on talking about one more artist today, but I'm running out of steam.   I had relatives visiting from out of town and I'm feeling tired from a busy day.  I'd rather wait until I'm more perky to talk about Pump House Studio.  I hope you don't mind waiting until tomorrow. 

I am excited to announce that a shipment of Merino wool I've been waiting on has arrived.  That means I'll be getting to work dyeing more colors for you.  I'm always happy to take requests, so if there is a color you're wishing for, just let me know.  

One more tidbit, I'll be adding Superwash Merino to my inventory.  This is machine washable wool and great for your wearables.  Also, I'm adding a couple of natural grey fibers, Fine Gray Shetland which is a darker grey and Light Coopworth which is a lighter, more heathery grey. 

See you tomorrow.  

Art and Artists - Still More Shopping at the Southwest Fiber Festival

I wish I could tell you about all of the vendors at the Southwest Fiber Festival. By making it a family outing, I numbered my minutes. I would like to encourage you to look through the list of vendors many of whom have websites. I'm only scratching the surface of the talent offered.

Today I'm pleased to introduce you to Spirited Hands Studio and the mother/daughter team of Susan A. Thompson and Sally Ann Hall. The two share over 25 years of experience and offer workshops through their studio in Tucson, Arizona. If you go to their website and click on the workshops link, you'll see the charming felted apparel for children that they will be teaching this coming January.

I have to apologize for not having more close-ups of their work. As you can see by the picture I do have, their tent was very busy. There were also photographers from the local paper there and I was trying to stay out of their way. I need a press pass! I do have a nice photo of the Felted pendant necklace that I bought for myself. I love the colors and the whimsical way it snakes around. In addition to these necklaces, they displayed purses, children's clothes, vases, and the most incredible felted flowers you've ever seen. You can see more of their work by using the links I've provided for their studio and their individual websites.

I'll be back later today to share the stunning Nuno Felt designs of Pump House Studio. This will lead into a series of posts I'll be making on the art of Nuno Felting. I have Etsy Artists lined up and so much beautiful work to show you. And then I'll be giving Nuno Felting a try. See you soon!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Art and Artists - More Shopping at the Southwest Fiber Festival

Back again! The chores are ...umm... mostly done, but I'd rather blog about my next artist. Her name is Michelle Johnson from Laughing Cloud Studio in Prescott, Arizona. Her website is still in production, but you can find contact information through the link as well as the galleries that carry her work and her upcoming shows. I had such a nice time talking to Michelle. I hope she doesn't mind if I call her Michelle. First of all, I think it's adorable that she's wearing a skein of her yarn around her neck like a necklace. I had to laugh at myself, because I didn't notice this until I was loading my pictures. In fact, I have to confess that in spite of being surrounded by skeins of what I believe were hand painted yarn, I was focused on the fiber. A terrible lack of observation on my part. I think that because I do more spinning of yarn than buying yarn, I get hopelessly distracted by dyed locks of wool.

So lets talk about those dyed locks. The picture in the middle is from my goodie bag. It's one ounce of Wensleydale locks dyed a glorious shade of "Poppy". The color is awesome, is it not? Michelle had a lovely assortment of fibers and colors. It led to a conversation about how different wools take color in their own unique way; some drawing more warm tones from a dye bath while others the cool. By mixing different fibers in the same dye bath, she creates a study of how wool interacts with color. You may pick up a bag of locks that look blue until you inspect it more closely and find shades of teal, green and gray playing throughout. Maybe it was a bit boring of me to buy just straight Wensleydale, but I loved the color of the "Poppy".

I hope I'll run into Michelle Johnson again one day. A trip to Prescott is definitely on my "to do" list. It seems there is quite a thriving community of artists and crafters up there. For now I'll just enjoy my wool locks. I'm planning on exploring Nuno felting in the near future and I think that this Wensleydale will look amazing! See you soon.

Handspun yarn - Shimmering Sunset

Hi. I know I said I'd be back with another artist, but I have a quick show and tell in the meantime. This just came off my drying rack and into my shop at Wind Rose. I'm calling it "Shimmering Sunset"

This is 110 yards of 2ply yarn comparable to a worsted weight. This yarn is 50% wool in gorgeous autumn colors and 50% nylon Icicle Top in sparkling dark fuchsia and burnt orange. This handspun yarn has the warm glow of a spectacular sunset and is vibrant enough to add life and movement to your fall projects!

Art and Artists - Shopping at the Southwest Fiber Festival

Today and tomorrow I'll be sharing pictures of the pieces I bought at the SW Fiber Festival. I'm sure we all have our own festival shopping strategies. Mine is to do an initial sweep of the event and then to head back to the tents and the items that are still on my mind. So after my first tour, I headed back to Grandma's Spinning Wheel. The first thing I did when I moved out to Arizona was look to see where the interesting fiber stores were located. Grandma's Spinning Wheel kept coming up in my searches, but was a little far away. I was happy to find them at the festival and finally get to see them in person. Their tent was very homey and it looked like they brought a sampling from just about every section of their store. They have a wonderful website with even better pictures than the ones I have here. There is also the touching story of how Grandma's Spinning Wheel came into being.

What caught my eye on this day was a display of woven earrings from Peru. I think I have Peruvian radar or something because I always manage to find weaving from Peru. I'm just drawn to it. These earrings were spectacular and in the morning sun, their sparkling beckoned. First, I have to say to all the weavers from Peru out there, you must demand more money for your work! There is no way that I should now own these earrings for a mere $9.oo. For craftsmanship like this, I would pay more. It is nice, however, for Grandma's Spinning Wheel to not only recognize beautiful work when they see it, but to pass on the low price to their customers.

They were all so striking that it was hard to pick out just one pair. Finally, I settled in on these. It was probably the way the gold thread played off the light that did it for me. They also inspire me. I stare at the pattern and look to see where the threads start and finish and the order used to create the starburst. They really make me want to go weave something! Anything!

So "Thanks" Grandma's Spinning Wheel, for sharing these gems with me and the other enthusiastic shoppers at the festival. I had to wait my turn to get into the tent! Oh yes, and there was another fun item that caught my eye. I totally wanted one of your Techno Drop Spindles. They were so fun. I don't know why, but for some reason I talked myself down from buying one. It may be the fact that I already own four drop spindles, but the Techno Spindles were so groovy. Spinning one would be like watching the inside of a kaleidoscope. Maybe next year!

I have one more artist that I want to share today, but I need to take a break and do a few chores first. I hope you understand. See you soon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The First Annual Southwest Fiber Festival in Amado, Arizona

A few weeks ago I announced my intention to attend the Southwest Fiber Festival. This past Saturday, I did just that! At 8:00 in the morning, my family and I climbed into the car for the two hour drive south to Amado. It's not a bad drive except for the fact that they are widening the highway through Tucson. When that work is completed, it'll be sweet. For me a good trip is when we get where we are going with only one or two, "How much longer?" inquiries from the back of the car.
So here's what it looked like walking into the event on a beautiful Arizona day. It was feeling more like summer than fall. I hoped that the sun would rise just a little faster for the vendors so that their tents would provide more shade. At 10:00 in the morning, when the festival opened, many were already feeling the heat.

The warm day had no effect on the happy mood of the festival. Everyone seemed energized. I didn't realize until I was there that this was the first Southwest Fiber Festival. They are already making plans to extend it to 3 days next year. For a first show, there was quite a large group of vendors and a nice variety. A few of the shops were offering classes. There were raffles and yarn competitions and even some young Alpacas and Cormo sheep. They had it all!

The thing that really struck me was the feeling of community, among the people I mean. (time to stop looking at the Cute Cormo) A lot of the vendors seemed to know each other or had even taken classes from one another. Over and over, while I was chatting with one artist, they would direct my attention to another tent and sing the praises of another artist. For this group, it truly was all about the love of fiber!

I didn't do a lot of shopping, but it wasn't because there weren't tons of fabulous creations. It's more because being at a fiber festival makes me realize how much I already have up in my studio. I did however treat myself to a few new pieces. Over the next couple days I'll be sharing pictures of those and the artists who created them. I also was delighted to experience some amazing Nuno Felt work. I will be sharing pictures of that as well.

Now I know I'm being a bit of a tease, but I also want to let you know that there are some terrific Nuno Felters at Etsy who have graciously agreed to allow me to blog about their work . That's also coming up by the end of this week. I've only just recently become aware of this particular form of felting and I'm very excited about it. I already have a book on order and some silk chiffon so that I too can give Nuno Felting a try. If this is an art form that interests you, please come back and visit, because I'll not only be sharing the work of felt artists, but I'll also share my own exploration into Nuno Felting. See you soon!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Soy Silk dyed in 6 skin tone shades for spinners and needle felters!

They're Here!! I just finished listing these new colors at Wind Rose. A couple days ago I showed you my kitchen counter covered in bowls of soaking roving. I dyed for hours that day and these are my results.

The skin tone line has been so popular in my store and I thought that if people liked the colors in merino wool, they might also enjoy them in soy silk. The colors, starting from the top middle and working clockwise, are South Pacific, Chestnut Brown, Sun Touched, Golden Brown, Mediterranean, and in the middle, Peach Glow.

I think they turned out really pretty in the soy silk. The only one I may tweak a little is the Peach Glow. I may tone it down just a bit. Soy Silk, especially the natural, unbleached soy that I use, takes color very differently than merino. I had to change my recipes a little to accommodate this and it may take one more batch before I'm perfectly happy. I also have one more color to make which is the Deeper Brown.

I hope the spinners, needle felters and maybe even the nuno felters will enjoy these new shades of soy silk. They have such an earthiness about them and because they all have the same base, they look lovely together. Every time I take a group picture of the skin tone line, it makes me want to spin a skein of yarn using nothing but skin tones!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Only for you agoodwitchtoo!!!

I have to tell you something, and there's no pretty way to say this, but I'm the quintessential chain killer. I've never met a chain that I haven't snuffed out... that is until now. Only for you agoodwitchtoo, the beautiful premier follower of my blog. For you, anything!

I also, being a willful child, tend not to follow directions too well, but I'll do my best. It seems I need to share six things I value and six things I don't value. Here goes:

Six things I value
family and friends - my two boys holding the dearest place in my heart
time - just time in general, it's so precious and important to me, every single second
integrity - in every aspect of life. Just living as honestly as possible
Compassion - that stepping outside of oneself, not only to care, but to really feel
Creativity - for me it's lifeblood; balance, happiness, love, everything
Spirituality - awareness that we are part of something greater than ourselves

Six things I don't value
ignorance - closed minds are scary things
arrogance - there is more than one way, not just yours
hate - especially when it's disguised as righteousness
forms - fill in the blank, fill in the circle, check the box; they all terrify me!!!
pigeonholes - never allow yourself to be squished into one of those
alarms and alarmists - life is too short; see time

You see, this is why I stay away from pass it on type stuff, I take it way too seriously! Although, it wasn't an altogether bad mental exercise. So what do you think? Are you up for it? Now I'm supposed to tag 6 other bloggers, but I'm not sure I have it in me. I'll tell you what, it makes for a thoughtful blog post, so if you decide to put your values out there, leave a comment and I'll create a link to your blog. See, I didn't kill the chain, I just maimed it a little.

Dyeing Soy Silk in Skin Tone Colors

Good Morning. Just a quick tidbit today. After our conversations about felting with plant fibers, I've decided to dye some soy silk today in skin tones. One of my biggest sellers at Wind Rose is Merino wool that I dye in a line I developed of 8 skin tones. I imagine that my biggest customers are probably from the felting community. After my own experiment needle felting with soy silk and the recent conversation I had with felt artists at Etsy, I feel like there might be some interest in soy silk in more natural colors. I guess there is only one way to find out!

So here's my kitchen counter, lined with bowls of roving. They are divided into four ounce sections and will each be dyed a different color. The soy silk is in the foreground and the circle of white you see in each bowl is firestar. Firestar is a sparkling nylon and I give a little piece of it away with each ounce of roving I sell. It's fun to play with and can add a nice glitz to any handspun or can be blended in small amounts to enhance a felting project. A little goes a long way. It's just a little treat I like to give to my customers to say thank you.

So do I worry about sales when I try something new? Not really. I guess I figure if the felters aren't interested, the colors are still natrual and pretty and the spinners will enjoy them. As a spinner myself, I'm always happy to play with leftovers. I guess my tidbit turned into more of a wordy post. I blame the coffee! :D See you soon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Etsy Artists Give Their Opinions About Felting with Soy Silk and Bamboo

Last week I chatted with a few of my fellow artists at Etsy to see what they had to say about felting with Soy Silk and Bamboo. Not all of them thought exactly the same way, but that is what makes a conversation interesting. Perhaps at the cornerstone of these differences is how felting is defined. Does it have to be the expanding and contracting like you experience with wool or can it mean any way in which fibers are made to cling together to create a solid piece?

So in case Esty looks like a foreign word, it's a website where artists sell their handmade creations. If their names seem a little unusual, it's because I'm referring to these artists by their Etsy usernames. I encourage you to take an extra minute to click on them and check out their stores. You'll be amazed at the talent you'll find!

So back to our topic, Soy Silk and Bamboo.
HeartOfWool shared, "Felting happens when an animal's fiber shaft is expanded (usually through heat and water) and rubbed together (friction). The tiny barbs along the shaft of the fiber lock together to create the new fabric.
Needle felting works by using the bars of the needle to push the fibers down and creating a tangle." She added, "Also, some breeds of sheep are harder to get to felt because of their relative smoothness."
FeltedFinery joined the discussion with, "I have some bamboo roving and it is a dream... so soft and silky and needle felts beautifully."
eneefabricdesign offered, "Nothing wet felts without wool fibers in the mix. How low you can go depends on what your end product is. For needle felting, rough fibers work best, and you can needle felt without lots of wool and higher mixes of all other fibers, but wool is what makes it felt. I have made nuno felted designs with as little as 30% wool and 70% other fibers, mostly bamboo and silk, but it took 5 years of work to get to that stage. It is basically 3 to 5 times harder to do any felting technique when you reduce the overall wool content. I will try anything, and any fiber, as long as it is natural and can be added to all the other fibers I use. For nuno felting, I almost can't do it at all without adding bamboo, because bamboo adds such an incredible texture and curly felted look that I love it even more than merino wool!"
HeartOfWool re-entered the conversation with, "Hmmm windrose (windrose is my username) . . . I think they may be able to needle felt with it a little. It may not be considered true felting, but because the needle has the barbs on it, it's acting like the fiber shaft would naturally. Does that make sense? Hmmm. . . kinda like I can't dread my hair, but I can sure cause a lot of tangles!! LOL!"
Purplemoonfibers jumped in, "Needle felting is considered felting, you are working with unspun fibers. One of the things about needle felting is that you can work with fibers that do not traditionally wet felt such as silk, soy and bamboo. I would watch out for how the finished product comes out with needle felting. It may be like with merino top, you will show all the tiny pokes with the felting needle. A blend sounds like your best bet for working with non wool fibers."

I want to thank these four artists for sharing their expert opinions. If you are visiting my blog for the first time, you may want to check my post entitled "Can you felt With Bamboo and Soy Silk? - The results are in!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Studio Tour Part II - Wind Rose Fiber Studio

So I'm back with part two of my studio tour and I'm a little punchy. My husband is a home brewer and I just had a glass of his blueberry mead. I'll start with the corner picture. The furniture piece is something I used to have in my dining room. Now it holds a small doll collection from my childhood. I wasn't big into dolls, but it's hard to be a girl and not have any dolls in your life. My favorite, whose name I cannot remember, changes expressions when you lift her arm up and down. Is this ringing a bell for any other children of the 70's?

On top of the unit is some felted work including my pride and joy, the piece in the middle. This is a felted fountain and I used to use it as my avatar. I wrote up a post about it when I first started blogging. You might find it interesting if you are a felter or a felting fan.

In front of the corner piece, you can see my purple star stands holding all of my handspun yarn. They are starting to fill up. Between them is my Louet S10 DT or in normal speak, my spinning wheel. The spinning wheel is cleverly disguising the bins full of my commercial yarn destash.

Moving along the back wall, there are shelves holding all of my tools and small piece items. I never met a craft I didn't like or at least want to try. I really enjoy mixing media. Fiber is always my main stay, but I like to explore how I can use other types of materials in my projects. I play with everthing from acrylic paint to embossing powder; plaster and tile to cut glass and ribbons. If you can find it in a craft store, you can probably also find it in my studio. I know, I know. It's a sickness!

Moving on. Here are shelves full of stamps. I'm not really a big stamper, but I've been known to make my own cards. If I ever dust off my scrapbooks, they'll come in handy. I have to confess that the stamps have a lot to do with having a friend who sold Stampin' Up. You know how it is.

Oh, and don't let me forget this little guy, my CD player. Very important! I listen to 1 to 3 books a week while I'm working. I love it! I listen to all kinds of stuff form lectures to science to history to fiction. Audio books are wonderful for people who work with their hands. I was first exposed to this about a million years ago when I was a nanny for a jeweler. He listened to books while he worked on his delicate pieces. At first, in my youthfulness, I thought he was strange. A few years later, I found myself in a job with a long daily commute. I got tired of the radio and remembered the jeweler. It took a little practice to get used to actively listening to a book while engaged in other activities, but now it's second nature. The other great thing is that audio is getting more popular so that you can find almost any title you want. Cool, yes?

Well, the pizza's here, so I think it will take one more post to finish my studio tour. I hope you understand. A girl's gotta eat. See you soon.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Baby's First Christmas Pointy Hat (0-3 months)

This playful hat is the only one of it's kind at Wind Rose right now. I've been having fun with spirals lately and this baby hat reflects just that. It's a candy cane spiral from the pointy tip down to the white brim. The white yarn has a little bit of sparkle and I gave the brim a subtle, whimsical scallop, like a little holiday elf. The point of the hat is attached at a fanciful angle with a loopy pom pom at the point. This little hat looks cute coming and going!

Can you felt Bamboo and Soy Silk? - The results are in!

This is the question that I've been getting with greater regularity at Wind Rose Fiber Studio, so on Friday, I made this promise,

"Over this weekend, I will take a sample of Merino, Bamboo and Soy Silk rovings and try to felt them two different ways. First I will take a pencil of each roving and loosely crochet a chain and then try to wet felt the samples. I will also try needle felting all three. I'll take pictures along the way and share my results next week."

So this morning I conducted my fiber experiments. First I'll share the wet felting. I chose to machine felt which is the same method I use when I make my felted bangles in my store. So here are the three fibers:

On the right side you can see that I've made each roving into a short, loose crochet chain. Now into the washing machine! I decided to give them thirty minutes in hot soapy water with an old pair of bluejeans. I chose 30 minutes because I knew it would be more than enough for the wool and would give the plant fibers plenty of time to show if they have any felting tendencies. So here's the final picture:

As you can see, the wool became a perfect little felted bean, while both the bamboo and soy are more tangled than felted. Remember, this experiment is with 100% wool, 100% bamboo and 100% soy silk. A yarn that is a blend of wool and soy or wool and bamboo may felt very well, but for the sake of this experiment. we are looking at the fibers individually. So when it comes to wet felting and in particular, machine wet felting. I have to conclude that bamboo and soy silk do not felt.

Now on to the second half of my fiber experiment, needle felting. Using the same three fibers, I gently teased them apart at their natural staple lenght. I laid them in a criss cross pattern to help the fibers interact with each other. Using a single medium sized, barbed felting needle and a foam pad, I decided to give each fiber five minutes. That's five minutes of concentrated needle felting in which I will vigorously work each fiber into what I hope will be a circle. So here they are before being felted and to the right is a picture of the needle and foam pad I used.

It is important to note that each fiber is being felted on the same surface and that the surface is not made of wool. It is a dense Eurofoam that I purchased for the express purpose of needle felting. So here are my results:

All three felted for me. I was a bit surprised because I've never tried to needle felt anything other than wool before today. I think I was expecting that either the plant fibers would not felt or that it would take much more effort. On the contrary, working with them dry and with a single needle, all three felted up for me with relative ease. I didn't feel like I had to try harder on one fiber than another. I couldn't believe the results I had after just five minutes. Imagine if I took more time!

I want to point out a couple more details. The first is that the felted fibers do have different looks and textures. Talking to felters recently on Etsy, it sounds like that is what draws many of them to exotic or different fibers. They want that variation and interest in their work. The other detail or really a final little experiment on my part is about how they hold together. After I took this picture, I picked up each circle in turn and tried to pull it apart. All three held fast. If anything, the wool had a little stretch to it while the bamboo and soy silk. did not. In conclusion, I have to say that bamboo and soy silk do needle felt on their own, specifically dry needle felting.

I do have some comments from felters at Etsy. I will have to come back a little later to share those. My youngest has just informed me that he is starving to death! See you soon.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mobile Wind Rose - It's fiber arts on the go at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!

I know I have a couple other topics in the works, but I just had to pause tonight and introduce you to my Mobile Wind Rose. It's how I bring my projects along with me everywhere I go. I had a great opportunity to snap off a couple pictures today at an Oktoberfest Event. Knowing I'd be spending the whole afternoon in a park, I stocked my mobile studio full of projects to keep me happy.

So how did I come up with this studio on wheels? It all began a few weeks ago when the guy at the paint counter messed up my order and I had some time to kill while he remixed my paint. I was just wandering up and down the isles when I came to the tool boxes and storage containers. I love organization, so I started to poke around. I have always loved working outside, and now that I live in Arizona, I can be outside almost year round. The other thing about me is that I tend to have lots of projects going at all times. My mood dictates which project gets my attention at any given moment. So when I do work outside, I end up making a lot of trips. I'm always running back inside for something else I want.

So there I was, at Home Depot, and they had these awesome tool boxes in all shapes and sizes. I started to visualize having a case big enough to hold lots of equipment. That seemed good. And one with lots of compartments for notions and beads and such. Oooh, they had those too. And then I found it. The perfect portable tool chest. Made by Stanley, sturdy enough to use as a chair, great compartments, a pull out handle and two wheels like you find on luggage, it was perfect! The Mobile Wind Rose was born. Thank you, paint guy, for messing up my order!

I dressed it up with stickers like "Yarn is my Yoga" and "Eat*Sleep*Spin" as well as the ones you can see in the picture. Then I stocked it up. The compartments are so nice that I've begun just using it to keep my crochet hooks and darning needles and other standard equipment. The picture to the left is what you see when you remove the top. It's a big plastic tote that you can lift off to reveal a large roomy box below. Inside that box I keep all my projects. In the tote, I keep everything that I want to have at my fingertips. Even the top has compartments in it. I keep business cards, pens and sunglasses there. It's just so handy! I even use it around the house. It becomes a foot rest, an end table or a seat while I drop spindle spin. It's even a pretty good marketing tool. When people see me walking out to a grassy spot in the park pulling my sticker laden box behind be, they get curious. Then when I open it up and begin to produce colorful balls of yarn and turkish drop spindles, they can't resist asking me what I'm up to. It becomes a fun exchange, a new contact, part of that day's experience.

Ok, so I may be ridiculously excited about a box, but I can't help it. It's just the coolest and I had to share it with you! See you soon.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Can you felt Bamboo and Soy Silk? Share your experience and let's learn from each other!

Hi all.  Just a short post tonight.  I'd like to address the question "Can you felt (needle or wet) with Bamboo and Soy Silk fiber?"  In addition to wool, I sell both of these fibers at Wind Rose.  This is a question that I am starting to hear more and more.  

The general answer is that wool is much more agreeable to the felting process than the plant fibers are.  Wool is easier to work with and it's fibers just want to cling together and are more easily manipulated.  Does that mean you can't felt Bamboo or Soy Silk? Well, no. It can be done.  You can blend them with wool to felt them.  Still, will they felt on their own?  I have sold both Bamboo and Soy to felters on Etsy, but the thing is, I can't really speak from personal experience so here is my plan. 

Over this weekend, I will take a sample of Merino, Soy Silk and Bamboo rovings and try to felt them two different ways.  First I will take a pencil of each roving and loosely crochet a chain and then try to wet felt the samples.  I will also try needle felting all three.  I'll take pictures along the way and share my results next week.  

While I work on my experiment, I'd love to hear comments from anyone who has felted or tried to felt Bamboo or Soy Silk.  That way we can all learn from our shared experience.  I did a little research before writing this post, and I really didn't find much.  This is our chance to help each other and put something out in the blogosphere for rising young felters everywhere!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Studio Tour Part I - Wind Rose Fiber Studio

I was thinking about what to blog today when it occurred to me that I have never shared pictures of my studio. The light is fading today, so I'll make this a two part series so I can take some more pics tomorrow. Have you ever seen that DIY Show Crafters from Coast to Coast? I think I got the name right or something close to it. My favorite part was seeing the creative spaces of all those different people. Some were tidy and organized. Others had a charm only a crafter could love. You know, that organizational system that only the designer themselves can navigate. I loved it.

So here's the door to my creative space. I think mine lies somewhere between the tidy and the charming. Mostly, it's a testimony to how many projects one person can fit into a 12' x 14' space. I always keep my studio door closed because we adopted two little rescue kittens this summer. Cats and Fiber Studios do not mix!! I respect the fact that there are a lot of people with cat allergies so I am very careful to protect my creations from cat exposure. Then there is the fact that if the cats ever did manage to sneak in, they would go crazy. To quote a favorite children's book, "Let the wild rumpus start!" At first I had a hard time adjusting to keeping my door closed. Now I kind of like it. Everyday when I open the door, I'm greeted by a shock of color and the faint smell of wool.

There really is no way to capture the whole space in a single shot. Instead, I've taken pictures of all the specific spaces. As you enter, a large table on the left wall is piled high with ready made pieces just waiting for a good home. It's all there, hats and headbands, things for baby, muk luks and felted beads, jewelry and on and on. It's an inventory I have been building on since my first craft show, always growing and in rotation.

The back wall is lined with shelves that hold a lot of my tools. All sorts of cutters, adhesives, hand made felt, ribbon, etc. Like many of you out there, in addition to my main craft, there is the hope of one day working on and completing family scrapbooks. My stamping and scrapbooking take up a big part of this back wall and corner. On top of the shelves, if you look closely, you may spot my rotary comb for combing out wool locks. There's the sheep that my neice gave me complete with crocheted poncho and purse. She was my first crochet student ever. On the wall above that is my Felted Door Knocker. This is a favorite piece of mine which may never sell, but I like it.

Next to that, is a funny little organizer. I keep business cards from other artists there. You can see my spare license plate. We only use one on our cars here in AZ. It's my first ever personalized tag: ELE4MNT or Four in Element or Foreign Element. Get it? And yes, I do drive a Honda Element. The circles hanging down are handspun samples and the paper doll was made by a special little friend back in VA. I keep it there to remember her and all the little girls I used to teach how to crochet.

Well I think I'm going to stop for today. I got my eyes dilated at the optometrist and I'm still a little blurry. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Felted Bead Bracelets - Picture Show and Tell

OK, sooo, clean my house or share pictures on my blog. Hmmmmm....... SHARE PICTURES! DUH! I'm feeling a little punchy on allergy medicine, so excuse my silliness. I was just renewing some felted bead bracelets at Wind Rose. Fall is here so they are coming back into season. Here are a couple of my favorites:

I love the green popping out of the center of this one. This bracelet is 9" long and features five felted wool beads. The felted beads are 3/4" in diameter. The outside of each bead is black. The centers are cobalt blue with touches of green. Smaller spacing beads are aventurine and black glass. It has the convenience of a magnetic closure.

This bracelet features five felted wool beads and is 8.5" long. The red, blue, green and pink beads are 1" in diameter and surrounded with silver and gold glitter. The smaller spacing beads are made of glass. It too closes with a magnet.

This bracelet is 9" long and features six felted wool beads. The felted beads are 3/4" in diameter. The outside of each bead is deep orange with green and gold centers. Smaller spacing beads are yellow glass and wood. Once again, Maglok closure.

This bracelet is 8.5" long and features five felted wool beads. The felted beads are 1" in diameter. Each bead is heathered purple on the outside and pink with purple swirls in the center. Smaller spacing beads are amethyst, mother of pearl and purple glass. It has the convenience of a magnetic closure.

And how about one more. This bracelet is 9" long and features six felted wool beads. The felted beads are 1" in diameter. Each bead is winter white with black swirls in the center. Smaller spacing beads are made from glass and shell. It, like the rest, has the convenience of a magnetic closure. I love Magloks.

Well I guess my house isn't going to tidy itself. See you soon!

Kathleen's Beaded Yarn - I finally finished!

It was way back on July 17th when I first blogged about the yarn I'm spinning for my mother-in-law's birthday. Almost 3 months later, I can finally say "I'm finished!" I really don't know why it took me so long. I guess I could blame summer or the kids being home, but it's more likely that knowing her birthday wasn't until October made me think I had all the time in the world. The next think I knew, it was October and my time was running up.

Since I shared the project with you at the start, I thought you might like to see the finished yarn. If you are reading this Kathleen, NO PEAKING! Just kidding. So here it is, all 293 yards of it! I also made another 93 yards of the yarn without beads for working the trim on whatever project Kathleen chooses for her beaded yarn. The yarn is undyed Merino wool with sparking firestar spun end to end with faceted glass beads. Happy early Birthday Kathleen and watch your mail. It's coming!

Monday, October 13, 2008

How to Dye Soy Silk Roving - The Method I Use at Wind Rose Fiber Studio

*The method below discusses dyeing soy silk on the stove top. I have a new Preferred Method for Dyeing Soy Silk.

One of my friendly customers just asked me how to dye Soy Silk. It's a big question without a short answer, so I decided to go ahead and write it all out. Since I've already strained my brain, I thought I would pass it on to anyone else out there thinking of dyeing Soy Silk for the first time. I hope this tutorial helps and you can always ask me questions here or contact me through my shop at Wind Rose.

You dye soy silk with acid dyes. The concentration I use is 1.5 cups of water to one .5oz jar of Jacquard Acid Dye. I use canning jars to store my dye solution. I dye my soy in 4oz batches. For most colors, 3 tablespoons of the dye solution is enough to dye 4 oz. For some colors like reds, you will need more. The good thing about soy silk is that it doesn't felt up when stirred like wool will if you're not careful. The difficult thing is that when it gets wet, it piles up or, to put it another way, kind of sticks together. The other thing you need to be careful about is how you stir it. It will want to tangle up on you.

So here's what I do. I allow my soy silk to soak in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes before dyeing. I fill my dye pot (3 to 5 gal pot) mostly full with hot tap water, around 4 to 6 inches from the top. I set it on medium heat to start warming it up. I add the dye solution to the water and stir until it is thoroughly mixed. I squeeze the excess water from the soy silk and then add it to the water. I do this starting at one end and as the roving goes into the water I wave it back and forth so that the dye water passes through the entire roving. Once the roving is in the pot, I add my distilled white vinegar. 1/4 cup is all you need. You don't want your water to boil, but you want it to be pretty hot. Generally most of the dyeing happens within the first 3 to 5 minutes after you add the acid. It's during this time that you want to stir to make sure that the dye gets to the center of the roving. I use a dedicated dye spoon and sort of lift the soy up from the bottom of the pot and rotate. When the roving rises to the surface, you can kind of see how well the dye is penetrating. I keep the roving at the higher heat for 15 minutes and then I turn is down to a simmer. I allow it to simmer for at least 15 more minutes. The water should become clear as the roving absorbs all of the dye. If you are going for dark colors, you will need to use more dye and simmer longer. The colors you see in my shop typically spend not more than an hour in the dye pot. It's all about getting the right dye to roving ratio.

After the roving is done, I pour it out into a stainer and then rinse it. I squeeze out the excess water in a towel and then I ususally take mine outside to dry. I lay the roving out on a towel in the sun. As it's drying, I loosen the fibers. I tease through the whole length twice usually. Once sort of halfway dry and again after it's dry all the way. Teasing it out might sound like work, but I think it's the fun part. It's when you get to see it come back to life. It's so soft and lofty. I wrote a little piece about it
here on my blog. There's no way to say this without sounding self promoting, but you can buy both Natural Soy Silk Roving and Jacquard Acid Dyes in my store at Wind Rose.

Dyeing Soy Silk can take a little patience, but this beautiful roving, with all it's luster, makes it worth it every time!

Handwoven Earrings (more information) - Shopping Local Artists in Asheville, NC

After my post this morning on these lovely woven earrings, I decided I could do better. I put on my sleuth cap and dug around for my receipt. I'm pretty bad about keeping receipts, but guess what, I found it! Woo hoo! Now, not only can I give you the name of the artist, but the gallery as well.

The gallery where I purchased these beauties is the Grove Arcade Arts & Heritage Gallery and the artist is Brenda McVey. According to the nice folks at the gallery, Ms. McVey does not have a website, but they promised to tell her how much I like her work and that she is being featured in this blog. Apparently these earrings weren't selling too well at first and now they are starting to get noticed. I am happy for that and I wish Brenda McVey great success!