Saturday, February 28, 2009

Video Crochet Along - Felted Lantern Necklace - Step 1

OK, I admit it. I'm like a kid with a new toy! I just couldn't resist taking one more video tonight. This one will will get you on your way with Felted Lantern Necklace. The sun is starting to set here in Arizona so I'll continue the pattern tomorrow.

Crochet Along - Felted Lantern Necklace

I honestly don't know what's gotten into me. I was looking through an office drawer and stumbed across the Flip Video Camera my husband bought last year. I think, until now, it has only been used once. LOL! But what better time to break it out than for a crochet along. Truthfully, this is mostly a test video. It's a little blurry which means I'll have to figure that out, but I think it will be nice to use in the future for showing how to do different stitches and techniques. I can also share my projects in various stages and take you with me on field trips. It could be a lot of fun!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Felted Lantern Necklace - Free Crochet Pattern and Weekend Crochet-Along

I just received a nice little note that reminded me of how much I like to interact with other crafters. Sometimes in this online world, I forget how meaningful human contact can be. It's been a while since I've shared a pattern or done a crochet-along, so now about doing both?

Today I'm posting the pattern for this cute Felted Lantern Necklace. I originally designed this pattern for a crochet class I used to teach back in Virginia. I love a pattern where every time you make it, you can put your own spin on the design. These days, with the vast variety of beads and fibers in the marketplace, this pendant can take on so many unique looks.

This weekend I'll go through the pattern step by step in a crochet-along. I'll take pictures of all of my materials and show you the stitches every step of the way. If you've never felted before, this is a great project to introduce you to the fun of machine felting. So dig through that yarn stash and find a little wool and a bead or two and we're off!

Felted Lantern Necklace

Glass Stone Color Key:

Blue – Peace
Green – Happiness
Yellow – Strength
Red – Love

Yarn – Patons Classic Wool (22 feet)
Hook – I or J recommended
Glass Accent Beads – your choice

Beginning (Row 1)
Wrap the tail end of the yarn clockwise around the first two fingers of your left hand one time making sure to leave 10 inches in the length of the tail. Insert hook under first strand, hook the back strand and draw it up. Holding the loop you just made in place, ch 1. Then make 3 sc in loop. Pull the tail end of yarn to draw the loop to a close
Row 2: (working in the round) 2 sc in each of the three sc from beginning row 1. (equals 6 sc)
Row 3: 2 sc in each of the 6 sc from row 2 (equals 12 sc)
Row 4: sc in each st around (equals 12 sc)
Row 5: *dec over next 2 sc* 6 times
*Now choose a glass stone and insert it inside your pouch
Finish pouch by continuing to dec over next two sts until the pouch is completely closed. It should have a nautilus or sea shell shape.

Neck Chain
Continuing with same yarn, chain a length long enough so that when held to the beginning of the chain, it slips easily over your head. (Remember that it will shrink when felted, so be sure to allow a few extra inches.) Then join with a sl st to the top of the pouch. Be sure there is no twist in your chain. Finish off and weave in end securely.

Accent Beads
Using a large eye needle, thread the tail strand of yarn first through a larger bead, then through a smaller one. Thread the yarn back up through the larger bead and use a sewing knot to secure it to the bottom of your pouch. Finish off by weaving in the remaining tail securely and cutting off any excess yarn.

Hand Felting

Fill a large bowl or a sink with water as hot as you can tolerate. Submerge your necklace until it is wet through and then use dish or hand soap and lather it up. At first the yarn will stretch, so be careful not to let the stone fall out. Rinse off the necklace by agitating it in the water. Continue to soap and rinse until your necklace becomes the size you desire. While it is wet, it can be molded and shaped to your liking. Check the neck chain to be sure it’s not getting too short. It can be stretched out some while it is still wet. Blot dry without creasing the fibers.

Machine Felting
Start with a tablespoon of laundry soap, your lowest water setting and a hot wash cycle. About five minutes after agitation begins, check the status of your item. It will actually have gotten larger, as it will have relaxed in the heat of the water. This is perfectly normal. Back into the wash for another 5-10 minutes and you can then stop the agitation and see how it's coming along. Now is when you can pull it back into shape if it's twisted, or you can separate pieces that are sticking together and shouldn't be. Keep checking at 5-10 minute intervals until you have reached the desired size, which may take multiple wash cycles [do not run the entire machine cycle, but just rerun the wash portion]. Once it starts to felt down, it can shrink up pretty fast. You should start checking it more frequently to be on the safe side. If your item is resisting felting or stops shrinking before you'd like it to, remove it from the washer, wring it out, and a quick plunge into an ice water bath and back into the tub will work wonders. Adding a pair of old jeans or a pillow case for added agitation helps speed the process along. Never use a towel or your felted item will lint. It is very important to remove your item before the machine begins to drain and especially before the spin cycle. If left to spin, the felt can crease and those creases will never come out. Rinse off in a sink to remove excess soap. Lay flat on a towel to dry or block pieces like hats over an appropriately sized bowl.

Related Post: The Felted Lantern Necklace ~ Companion Video

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Organizing My Yarn Stash

I have a yarn stash. A really, really big yarn stash! About 12 years ago, when I was expecting baby number one, I got back into working with yarn. I learned how to crochet when I was around 10, but my main hobby in my later teens and 20's was volunteering. Volunteering has many rewards and one of the great side benefits is that there is no accumulation of stuff.

Then came love, marriage and a baby carriage. This meant I could no longer run all over DC any time of the day or night collecting food, working in shelters and driving teenagers safely home to SE at all hours. Well maybe I could have, but it would have been much more difficult and those maternal instincts to nest and protect were freakishly strong in me. So when I found myself heading into my third trimester and feeling my energy draining, I remembered that I knew how to crochet. By the time my first son arrived, he had a collection of booties, caps, sweaters and little shirts. It would have been even better if he were not born on May 22.

So now my baby's almost 12 years old and I have 12 years worth of yarn surplus. It's probably bigger than a normal person's collection because a couple years after my second son was born, I started weaving and felting in addition to the crochet and doing local craft shows. I was creating a pretty significant inventory. Now with Wind Rose Fiber Studio, my focus has shifted again to fiber supplies and hand dyed roving as well as spinning my own yarn. One of my goals for the future is to only work with handspun, but I just can't waste my existing supply.

One solution I've embraced is the creation of Craft Fiber Collections like this one in Brown Tones. I've done enough scrapbooking and stamping to know how handy and fun an eclectic set of fibers can be. Still, I don't want to just trade one stash for another.

So yesterday when I was doing some tidying in my studio, I got an idea. I am going to start making squares. I am going to turn all of my commercial yarn into 4" squares; all kinds of squares. Maybe if I get tired of squares, I'll make circles too. The idea is that they will then be ready made building blocks for other projects. When you think about it, there are endless possibilities starting out with just a square. You can make purses, scarves, shawls, blankets, sweaters, hats and even my muk luk boots are designed using squares. The squares will also be compact and easy to store. I think it will be fun to try to figure out new ways to use the classic square.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Alpaca/Merino/Tussah Silk Roving (50/30/20)

By now you're probably wondering if I am ever going to blog about anything besides plain roving. This is the last one...promise. I have now finished listing my newest fibers into the shop at Wind Rose. The next step will be to start dyeing some colors of these beauties. You are always welcome to send me your color/fiber requests.

I almost didn't order this this roving, but I'm so happy I changed my mind. I was afraid I was going a little blend crazy. I now am convinced that you just can't have too much of a great thing.

I'm running out of words to describe all of these fibers. Each one has its own special quality and all of them are so soft. This Alpaca/Merino/Tussah Roving is so downy and supple. The Silk adds such a radiance and the Merino brings it all together. I've never felt anything like it!

100% Tussah Silk (Peace Silk)

You didn't think I'd supply all of these silk blends without offering you the real deal. Did you?

As of today, Wind Rose Fiber Studio is now carrying 100% Tussah Silk. Tussah Silk is gathered from wild silk worms after the moth emerges and is often referred to as "Peace Silk". It's stronger than cultivated silk and has more than a 3" staple length. It's loved by both spinners and needle felters for its softness and luster.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Merino/Silk 80/20 Roving

Deja vu? This may look like a repeat of the last blog entry, but it's actually a little different. This fiber is an 80/20 blend of Merino Wool and Tussah Silk.

I just wish you could experience how lovely this fiber is! It has the softness of Merino, with the added sheen of the silk. It's kind of like Merino turned up a notch.

You can now find this beautiful Merino/Silk blend at Wind Rose. I just can't wait to dye some for the store!

Merino/Silk 50/50 Roving

I'm gradually working through all of my new fibers. Today I photographed this beautiful Merino/Silk and created a listing at Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

I just wish you could feel how soft this is! It's a 50/50 blend of Merino Wool and Cultivated Silk. This is a product of Ashland Bay. Enjoy this fiber free of dyes or have fun dyeing it in your favorite hues.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Beaded Happy Green Handspun Yarn

I've been talking a lot lately about how busy I've become and it's true. I do have more on my plate than I used to, but I'm still making time for what I love. Making beaded yarn is one of those things. There is just something about it I really enjoy. It's much more time consuming than just sitting down to spin a skein, but I enjoy the designing aspect. Before I even get started, I have to take out my bead collection and see what I have. In the case of this new yarn, I found myself with 4 ounces of extra Happy Green Merino.

The last time I was dyeing, I made four ounces of Happy Green not realizing I still had some of this color in my inventory. At first I was frustrated with myself for taking the time to dye a color that I didn't even need. Then it struck me. I'm a spinner. It was a giant DUH! moment for me. Having too much roving is not a bad problem to have. Sometimes I forget that I have a fiber studio in my house that would make most spinners and felters drool.

So, knowing I would be using green, I hunted through my beads and picked a string of small, round natural stones. The colors looked lovely with the green. I started off by spinning a single of the green with the stones spun right in. I've kind of developed my own method for bead spinning which involves achoring the beads into place as I spin. At this point, I could have left it as a single, but I thought the skein needed a little more depth. One of the colors I use when I dye Happy Green is emerald. I went to my studio and found an ounce of Emerald Green Merino. I spun another thin single. Then I plied the two together.

I'm so pleased with the outcome of this yarn. In one way it's rather monochromatic. From a distance you might just think you're looking at green yarn. Come closer and you see the two tones of harmonious green. Then there's the extra surprise of the little stone beads. The twist is perfectly set and the Merino wool is so soft. Perhaps it's just because green has always been my favorite color, or maybe it's just my most recent creation, but I am loving this new yarn. I think I might have to make mistakes when I'm dyeing more often!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cotton Carryall

I know Spring may still be a few weeks away, but how about some pretty pink flowers to get us in the mood?

This crocheted tote is designed to be worn as a sling and strong enough to carry all your essentials and more. It's made from unbleached cotton and has three accent stripes and flowers in a bright pink. The bag is lined and has a long zipper pocket perfect for your cell phone and sun glasses. The bag measures 13" X 13" and the handle is approximately 45".

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snow Mountain in Three New Colors!

Here are my first three shades of hand dyed Snow Mountain. Boy does this fiber take to color! It's sort of obvious, but the first three colors are Purple, Pink and Teal. Snow Mountain is a brand new fiber for Wind Rose Fiber Studio. I haven't even gotten a chance to play around with it yet, but I can already imagine some good applications. I think it would be perfect to blend into sock yarn to give it some elasticity and help the finished socks hold their shape. Likewise it would be good for cuff bracelets or wrist warmers and hats. I also like the fact that it's cooler than wool so it could be fun for summer attire. As a spinner, I appreciate the approx. 4" staple length, the softness and draftability of Snow Mountain.

Four Shades of Firestar

As promised, I've been listing my little heart out today! Here are the four latest shades of Firestar. You can buy them all together in a 2oz Sampler Pack or individually in .5oz lots.

From left to right and top to bottom, their names are Twilight Blue, Teal, Pink and Slate.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dyeing Nylon - Firestar and Snow Mountain

I took this picture earlier today; two new shades of sparkling Firestar drying in the Arizona sunshine. I received a special request earlier and I decided to get busy this afternoon.

I guess this post is just a little late night teaser, but I won't keep you in suspense for long. Tomorrow I'll be listing four shades of Firestar and three of Snow Mountain. I've gotten the ball rolling with Purple and Silver Firestar already listed in the shop at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!

The Princess Poncho (pink w/multi color fur trim - 1-2yrs)

Before the Christmas holiday, I started exploring other selling venues and I began to reorganize my shop at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. I used to keep everything I made in one place. It was convenient, but the problem was that my fiber studio was just bursting at the seams.

I spent hours deleting and relisting. I was OK with the idea of spreading myself out and managing multiple shops. Then the unexpected happened, I found myself in the position of taking on a new job this January. Now, all of the sudden, what once seemed do-able, now seems like too much.

So now I'm back at it. I've decided to maintain three stores. My Fiber Studio will house all of my dye work as well as commercial products for those who like to buy natural fibers and do their own dyeing. I have my Art Yarn shop which is dedicated only to my hand spun yarn. And thirdly, the Boutique where I keep all of my crochet, felt and weaving work.

Slowly, in my spare time, I'm listing my inventory back into their proper new abodes. Today I just started listing my little Princess Ponchos. The one pictured here is so sweet and made for 1-2 year olds. Selling these used to be my favorite part of doing craft shows. I had this standing mirror which I had painted purple with silver stars. The little girls would try on the ponchos and twirl in front of the mirror. After the first of these shows I started calling this cape The Princess Poncho because that is what I saw on those sweet faces. The were all little princesses!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Flower Pin Collection

I just created a Specials Section at Wind Rose Boutique. It is where I'll be listing special offers for my boutique customers. For my first special, I just listed an enormous Collection of Crocheted Zinnia Flower Pins.

I used to make these pins for my mother. She is a knitter and a felter and liked to have a little color to pin on her hats. These zinnia pins looked great on her stylish felted hats because they are nice full flowers. As it happens, my mom stopped making her hats, but not before I had gotten a little ahead of the game. LOL!

I've decided to sell all of my flower pins in a group. I know someone will find a fabulous use for them. Perhaps another hat maker will adopt them or maybe just someone who loves flowers!

Peek-a-Boo! I See Beanies!

There's enough winter left to indulge in a cozy Portland Beanie from Wind Rose Boutique! These are just three of the 6 unique designs I have in the store. From left to right you have a Green Multi, Burnt Orange, and Green with Blue Novelty Yarn. They are all make from soft Merino wool. I love a hat that's light weight, yet warm and cozy!

Misty Mountain Yarn (1oz/75 handspun yards)

I spun this little skein over a month ago. That it has taken me so long to list, is a sign of how busy I've gotten these days. There was a time when I was photographing creations practically before they were fully dry. Misty Mountain Yarn is full of amazing fibers. Merino, Mohair, Rambouilett, Romeldale and Angelina are all spun together to create my new, sparkling 75 yard single!

Ecru Merino Yarn

Brand new for 2009, Wind Rose is now offering Ecru Yarns by Ashland Bay. I have divided this beautiful 100% Merino Wool into manageable 220 yard hanks. The ends are tied together and the 60" hank is loosely joined in three places with cotton. This 3ply, 21 micron Merino is all ready to be dyed or painted in your favorite colors!

If you just love natural yarn without any dyes, I can wind this skein for you into a center pull ball and you'll be all set to knit or crochet!

This is part of my expansion plan for Wind Rose Fiber Studio. My ultimate goal is to make my little Etsy shop a place where you can find all of your fiber needs. I have three more ecru yarns on the way. I hope you will enjoy the new additions!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Skin Tone Merino Roving - All Colors Back in Stock!

Just a quick announcement today: All of my Skin Tone Merino shades are in stock. From the top right and going clockwise their names are Peach Glow, Sun Touched, Deeper Brown, Chestnut Brown, Mediterranean, Golden Brown, South Pacific, and in the middle Porcelain Fair.

This photograph is one of the original pictures I took when I developed the line. Since then, I have mellowed the intensity of the colors a little. You can click on the links to see the current dye lots.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Time to Treat Myself!

I've had this print marked as a favorite for months now. The original was done in pen and ink and was digitally airbrushed. This whimsical piece was made by Holly Kitaura of HollyvisionArt.

Since I opened by own Etsy shop over a year ago, I've had a tradition. I'm not a big shopper, but I really like supporting the art community and specifically my fellow Etsians. So every time I have one hundred people mark my shop as a favorite, I celebrate by shopping at Etsy. Today I hit the 700 mark!

Thank you to all of the wonderful artists who have supported my shop over the last year! I am so grateful and I love the Etsy community! May 2009 be a wonderful year for all in every possible way!

By the way, this is exactly the way my hair looks when I get out of the pool! LOL!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Snow Mountain - A Nylon Blending Fiber

Snow Mountain is a pure white nylon made by Ashland Bay. This roving is super soft and has a staple length of about 4". Spin Snow Mountain alone to create a yarn that is wonderful for warm weather garments. You may also like blending this roving with other fibers.

Firestar (dye free)

What is Firestar? It's a sparkling nylon fiber, created like roving with a generous (around 4") staple length. It can be spun on its own for a shimmering skein of yarn that would be stunning for warm weather garments. More commonly, it is used to add sparkle to projects. A little Firestar can go a long way. Simply tease loose the fibers and introduce them sparingly to your roving as you spin. The end result will be a skein of yarn full of lustrous shine. Firestar blends incredibly well with other fibers.

Weekends have become catch-up time for me at Wind Rose. My focus is now divided during the weekdays, so on the weekends I dedicate myself to my fiber. Before I went out of town a week or so ago, I posted a picture of all of the beautiful fibers I had just gotten in. I plan to be dyeing these fibers for my customers, but I also like to offer some dye free for those who like to do their own dye work. Firestar is first up, but there more on the way!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spinning On The Road

It's after dark here in the suburbs of Phoenix and a terrible time for taking pictures. If you would be so kind, imagine all of the yellows in this particular shot are white and you'll have a better idea of the yarn I'm making. I realize I could just wait until morning, but it just makes me crazy how hard it is for me to carve out time to blog these days. It's crazy really. A year ago blogging was barely on my radar and now I feel as if something is missing when I can't find the time.

So I'm returning from five days on the road. A trip more sad than the usual excursion, but like all others, I had with me something for my hands. I'm amazed by how many people do not travel with handiwork because I would be lost without it. I don't always even work on my project, I just need to know it's there. My funny little niddy noddy shaped drop spindle has become my favorite airplane pal. Of course with it's funky shape you don't get the same spin as you would with a traditional spindle, but you can't exactly spin at full speed flying coach on an airplane anyway.

I actually took two spindles on this trip. In addition to my fore mentioned friend, I took my Turkish drop spindle. You may remember my Turkish Drop spindle from a post I wrote months ago, but here's one of the pictures to refresh your memory. That little ball of yarn has more than tripled in size since this photo. I'm determined to make it a nice two ply with a decent yardage, so I'll probably take a few more trips with this guy before I'm ready to blog about the next phase of his life.

I have to admit that this trip took it out of me a bit and now I'm struggling to get back into the swing of things. So I'm focusing on balance these days and the wonderful feeling that comes when it is accomplished. Maybe another night or two of good sleep and I'll be restored to my enthusiastic self.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wonderful new fibers on the way!

Sometimes timing can be cruel!  Just yesterday I received the shipment I've been waiting for.  A 35 pound box arrived at my door fill with gorgeous fibers!  There's an 80/20 blend of Merino and Tussah Silk, a 50/50 blend of Merino and silk and I also order 100% Tussah Silk Top.  I just can't wait to get my hands on it.  I have a blend of Alpaca, Merino and Silk as well and it feels amazing! 

I'm going to start selling ecru yarns for the people who like to dye their own.  I have a beautiful brushed mohair, a straight merino, a thick and thin soft wool and a playful boucle.  I'm hoping to find the time to dye some of this up myself!

I'll be introducing a new nylon called Snow Mountain.  I'll be selling it as an ecru for dyers, but I'll also be dyeing up some colors for the shop.  I like the idea of offering a fiber that's light and easy care for the warm weather months.  I know some of you may be asking "What about cotton?"  The truth is I just don't enjoy dyeing or spinning cotton.  I don't like the shrink factor or that it doesn't stay as color fast.  As much as I love natural fibers, cotton is not among them.  I'm sorry cotton lovers.

And for all of you who have become fans of Firestar.  I just got in a ton.  Well not literally a ton, but a whole bunch.  We'll be sparkling all Spring with the inventory I just received!

The cruel timing of it all is that I have to go out of town for five days.  All of this amazing fiber sitting in my studio and I have to wait?!*  Ugh!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Three O'Clock Cheese Plate

I rarely go off topic here at the Wind Rose Fiber Studio blog, but I'm in a sharing mood today. This past weekend my husband and I took the family to downtown Phoenix to play at The Arizona Science Center and see the planetarium show. By lunch time we were starved, so we went to one of the little eateries in Heritage Square. We order the cheese plate appetizer and were brought the loveliest collection of crackers and bread with several cheeses and fresh fruit.

As we all feasted, I couldn't help but relish in the parental thrill of watching my boys hungrily consuming healthy food. In the back of my head, I made a plan. We could do this everyday. What if, when my kids are done with a long day of school and come home hungry, they are greeted with a custom cheese plate? It could have all their favorites. They could graze on brain foods as they do their homework!

It's not that the snacks have been that bad in the past, but this is just raising it to a higher level. And after a big, nutritious afternoon treat, a lighter dinner would make the perfect ending to a healthful day.

Oh, I just can't resist pointing out that there is fiber on the plate, so I'm still Fiber Woman! :D

Sky Blue Fibers - Merino, Bamboo, Hemp and Firestar!

I'm trying to fight off the urge to write something really cheesy like, "I've got the blues." Oh no, I failed. The urge won. Ugh!

Moving on.... I thought it was fun showing the bamboo and hemp in Marigold and then I realized I had both of these fibers and more in sky blue. The upper left is Merino, the upper right is Bamboo, the lower left is Hemp and the lower right is Firestar.

Two different kinds of dye were used. Plant fibers or cellulose fibers require Procion Dyes or fiber reactive dyes. "The earliest fiber reactive dyes were designed to interact with cellulose fibers, such as cotton linen and hemp. When these materials are treated with soda ash to raise their pH, the fiber reactive dye interacts with the cellulose molecules, forming a permanent bond."

The protein fiber (the wool) and the Firestar (a nylon) can be effectively dyed with acid reactive dyes. The work acid might sound a little scary, but it's just vinegar.

All four were dyed Sky blue with differing results. The most drastic difference is found in the hemp. Hemp is a woody fiber and accepts dyes much differently than the more porous fibers. The hemp looked so unlike the rest that when listed it at Wind Rose, I named it Sage Blue because I felt that the name more accurately represented the color.

Fine Mohair Roving

I just listed this incredibly soft Fine Mohair. Enjoy spinning or felting this gorgeous natural white fiber or you may want to have some fun and dye it your favorite colorway!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hemp and Bamboo Marigolds

I thought it might be fun to show these two together. On the left is 1oz of Hemp roving and on the right, 1oz of Bamboo. Both are dyed with the same pigment, Marigold. The difference is striking, but both fibers have taken on beautiful color.

I don't dye cellulose fiber very often, so come and get them while they're hot!

Merino Color Blends 1oz Russet/Brown

This is 1oz of super soft Merino Wool dyed in the color blend Russet and Brown. The resulting color has a very soft, natural look with hues of salmon, brown and an earthy yellow.

Craft Fiber Collection - Black and White Tones

Well I managed to get a little work done yesterday and produced a new Craft Fiber Collection in Black and White. Every so often I have a freak-out moment when I can't believe I'm cutting up my yarn stash. I have to take a deep breath and keep my eye on the prize; a studio with more room for raw fiber.

This listing is for an incredible 5oz and more than 180 yards of craft fiber in an assortment of Black and White hues. Every single strand of fiber measures over 4 yards long and there are at least 12 different varieties. You'll discover ribbons, eyelash, boucle, fur and novelty yarns!