Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Part I

Hi everyone! We are going to jump right in and get started on the Tasseled Miser's Purse. Please click on the name link to find out what materials you will need. I'll be using standard abbreviations. Here are the basic ones:

yo - yarn over
beg - beginning
sp - space
ch - chain
sl st - slip stitch
st/sts - stitch/stitches
sc - single crochet
sc inc - single crochet increase
sc dec - single crochet decrease

Yarn A -
Patons Silk Bamboo - Sapphire
Yarn B -
Patons Classic Wool - Black

Crochet hook size H or 8 (USA 5mm)

This project is primarily worked in single crochet. If you have any concerns about the stitches, here's a very nice Stitch Guide by DMC.

Part I

With Yarn A, join yarn to key ring with sc. Do this by inserting the crochet hook through the ring, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through both loops on hook. you will need to hold onto the beg tail to maintain tension. From this point forward, as you sc around the ring, carry the tail in your stitches thus weaving it into the work as you go. (pictures 1-4)

Sc around the ring until it is completely covered. This will take approximately 32 sts. Your sts should be tight, but not so much so that you cannot work in them. When you have almost enclosed your ring, (picture 5) trim off the excess portion of the beginning tail of yarn. Also in this picture, you can see that by joining the yarn as we did, there is no knot bump. The stitches are smooth all the way around. When you have covered the entire ring, join with sl st to 1st sc. (picture 6)

Making the Drawstrings
*Note - Throughout this portion of the pattern, it is particulary important to maintain even tension. Also, be aware that your work will want to twist. Play close attention to the front and back sides of your piece to avoid error.

Ch 23, turn
Row 1: (front facing) skip first st, sc in next 7 sts, ch 15, join with sl st to the ring just to the right of the first drawstring chain. (back facing) ch 15, work 7 sc back across your 7 sc sts from the beg of this row. (Pictures 7-10)

Rows 2-5: ch 1 turn, (front facing) sc across (7 sts), ch 14, join with sl st to the ring just to the right of the previous drawstring chain. (back facing) ch 14, work 7 sc back across your 7 sc sts from the beg of this row. (pictures 11-12 show row 4 being worked)

Row 6:
ch 1 turn, (front facing) sc across (7 sts), ch 14, join with sl st to the ring just to the right of the previous drawstring chain. (back facing) ch 15, work 7 sc back across your 7 sc sts from the beg of this row.

Row 7:
ch 1 turn, (front facing) sc across (7 sts), ch 15, join with sl st to the ring just to the right of the previous drawstring chain. (back facing) ch 15, work 7 sc back across your 7 sc sts from the beg of this row.

Part I is now complete. You should have 15 drawstring chains attaching your key ring to your work. Picture 13 shows the completed Part I and you can see how the work wants to twist and curl. It is helpful at this point to lightly iron your work. Use medium heat and light steam. Your work will then look like picture 14. Now your ready for Part II!

Special thanks to my son Westen (age 10), the photographer for pictures 1-4.

Related Posts:
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Part I
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Part II
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Part III
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Part IV
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Follow Up

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern

A couple days ago, I received a gentle reminder that I still haven't written the pattern for my latest design, the Tasseled Miser's Purse. You've been more than patient and I'm very grateful for your interest. In fact, though I had originally planned to sell this pattern, I have decided to give it away!

It's actually been so long since I've worked on this purse, that I had trouble locating it in my studio. To refresh my memory, I'll be crocheting an new purse while I write the pattern. This presents the perfect opportunity for a crochet-along. I love doing these and if you've ever participated in a Wind Rose crochet-along before, you know I love to take lots of pictures as I go. So if you like this design, get ready, tell your friends and your Ravelry buddies, because here we go!

First, quickly, if you are unfamiliar with miser's purses, they were popular in the 19th century and ranged from very simple cotton versions to ornate designs fit for royalty. They were carried by both men and women. Men often carried them in their pockets, but they were also worn tied around the waist. This design is made with a key ring and looks pretty carried as a clutch. It's very comfortable to slip a finger through the ring and curl your hand around the drawstrings.

Drawstrings? That's right! This purse opens and closes by a series of drawstrings. You simply pull on the opening and the strings slide through the fabric. When you want to close the purse, you pull on the ring and the opening is drawn shut. The name "miser" was inspired by this somewhat restricted and sneaky access to the pouch. On a positive note, it's very hard to lose your market money when it's held in a miser's bag.

Shopping time! Here's what you will need to make your own Tasseled Miser's Purse:

1 skein of Patons Classic Wool - Black
1 skein of Patons Silk Bamboo - Sapphire
Crochet hook size H or 8 (USA 5mm)
1 inch diameter key ring
Czech glass beads 3 @ 8mm, 8 @ 4mm
Tapestry needle (large eye needle)

Oops, and I almost forgot, a needle and thread for sewing on your beads.

Now I'm going to take a little time to study my own design and give you a chance to gather your materials. I won't take too long. I don't want you to think I've forgotten again. By tomorrow afternoon, I'll have part one posted.

*Note - In the first two parts of this pattern, you will see a size G crochet hook in the pictures. I did start working this pattern with a G and then realized it was the next size up that I wanted. So please ignore the G hook in the photos and use an H hook.

As we crochet-along together on this project, please feel free to comment, especially if you have questions or need clarifications. See you tomorrow!

Related Posts:
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Part I
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Part II
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Part III
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Part IV
Tasseled Miser's Purse ~ Crochet-Along ~ Free Pattern ~ Follow Up

Monday, June 28, 2010

Project 8 ~ The Response Is Great!

There have been so many visits to this blog from the Project 8 ~ Kids Can Help Too! article. It makes me really happy to see how well things are going.

Craft Hope, the visionaries behind Project 8, reported this morning that this is their largest project to date. As of today, they have received 15,173 hand towels.

"We have thousands of people organizing, collecting, and making towels. Corporations stepping in and setting up collections. We are partnering with nonprofits around the globe to collect and make towels to help clean the marine life."

This morning a package of washcloths left my house on its way to Pensacola, Florida. It seems like a small offering, but when it comes together with the rest of the donations, I know it will help to make a difference. That's the power of people uniting their efforts toward a common cause.

There are so many people who care about the disaster in the Gulf and want to help. I want to thank Craft Hope again for this inspired project and for providing the rest of us with a way to get involved!

They will be accepting donations until the end of August. Send your handmade washcloths and hand towels to:

Kimberly Davion
c/o IMMS Oil Spill Relief
1700 East La Rua Street
Pensacola, Florida 32501

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jennie Weaver ~ The Ship & The Ewe

I have spent the last day in a state of nostalgia, the kind where your heart feels warm and you have a lump in your throat. Believe it or not, it all started here, with my favorite, rare breed of sheep, the Jacob.

Peg, the woman from whom I purchase my Jacob wool, happened to stop by this blog. Afterward, she sent me a very nice little email. I'm sure she had no idea how this email would affect me.

"Thought I would share a photo of one of my favorite ewes, Sweetgrass Jennie Weaver. She is actually named after an old Great Lakes schooner that my grandfather worked on as a teenager (summer job) when they were still using sail power! I grew up hearing about the ship "Jennie Weaver" and it seemed like the perfect name for a sheep, but I waited a long time for the right one."

I got chills reading this passage because my childhood name was Jennie and my dad was a wooden boat builder. What an amazing connection to discover! It was one of those moments that makes me stop and say, "I love the internet." Really, how else would we have come to know this common thread?

I shared a bit about myself and then Peg managed to find this magnificent photo of the ship named Jennie Weaver. Isn't she gorgeous? Jennie Weaver sailed the Great Lakes and it is Peg's love of this region that has kept her and her farm, Sweet Grass Farm, in Michigan.

I wanted to respond with a picture of one of my father's projects. This was proving to be a challenge as my father passed away in 1986, long before the internet became the world wide web. We have some family photos, but they primarily reside with my mother.

My dad, Carl V. Pedersen, did make one fairly famous ship. In the early 1980's, he built the Godspeed for Colonial Jamestown. He also rebuilt the Susan Constant and the Discovery, the two other famous ships of the trio, from the hull up. The Godspeed however, was his "baby". He was very passionate about this project and about making it as historically accurate as possible. The Godspeed was also special because upon its completion, the sail from England was to be reenacted on this very boat.

In searching for my father's work, I discovered that the crew from that voyage have kept in touch over the years. One of the members has created a website: Godspeed, The 1985 voyage across the Atlantic. There, on the home page, was my father's name and part of his legacy. I don't know the crew of the Godspeed personally, but I feel connected to them through my father and very touched that they are preserving their experience and this part of our history.

On my website, I explain that it was growing up around my father's great, singular passion that gave me the desire to search for my own. Over the last day, his passion and mine crossed paths and it has left me not only nostalgic, but very grateful. It feels so good to remember him and to connect with Peg. I have one more reason to love Jacob sheep and one more happy memory in my heart.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Santa Fe International Folk Art Market 2010

I'm so excited to be going to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market this year! I've read about the event, but this will be my first visit. It sounds amazing and I also think it will be a wonderful learning opportunity for my whole family. We've been to small multicultural festivals before, but nothing like this. For one weekend we will get to experience art, music, food and most importantly, people from all over the world!

At the Market: Video : Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

I know I'll meet some fine artists. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and I'm sure to find some treasures. It will be fun to share my experience with you. I live for events like this one and I love the idea of supporting these artists even if it is in my own small way.

(Pictured here is a Navajo folk art sheep from my personal collection.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tour de Fleece 2010 ~ I'm in!

Okay, now I've done it! I signed up for the Tour de Fleece 2010 and joined up with The Team of Wonder. Right now I have this sense of, "Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?" *giggle*

The truth is, this will feel like a challenge to me because I don't spin everyday. On the other hand, I think disciplining myself for this event will be a good exercise. I'll probably become a better spinner and hopefully, I'll have some pretty yarn to show for my efforts.

Maybe I should backtrack a little. Perhaps you are wondering what on earth I'm talking about. The Tour de Fleece is an online spin-along that coincides with the Tour de France. When the bikers ride, we spinners spin. Basically, you try to spin everyday of the Tour de France. You can also have your spinning reflect the event by spinning more difficult styles of yarn on days when the riders are facing steep climbs. That sort of thing.

Every year I miss the beginning of this event and I hate to join in late. When I saw WonderWhyGal tweet about it today, I thought I had missed it again. I guess you can tell that I don't follow the sporting world too closely. Anyway, I was informed that the Tour de Fleece begins on July 3rd. Finally, I'm not late to the party!

So I jumped over to Ravelry and found the Tour de Fleece group. Then, to make it more interesting I joined WonderWhyGal's team, The Team of Wonder. In honor of her Alpaca farm, I bought some fleece (pretty) from her Etsy Shop to spin during the tour. I guess now I'm all set!

Can I do it? Can I spin everyday from July 3rd to July 25th? I guess I should mention that we also take the same rest days as the Tour de France riders, the 12th and the 21st. I already know the days that are going to be a challenge for me. I'll be traveling to the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe the second weekend of July. How will I spin after spending all day on my feet overloading my senses with art? I think I'm going to need some encouragement that weekend.

It's never hard for me to decide what to spin. I'm planning on spinning different kinds of natural roving and then painting them afterward. I may keep a few of them plain too. I've been working toward the goal of never buying any more commercial yarn, but then I get excited about a project and I'm not patient enough to spin the yarn before I can get started. It would be really nice to have a variety of weights and plies on hand for these occasions.

So that's where I find myself at the end of this Friday. I'm looking forward to the challenge of the Tour de Fleece!

Landscapes Dyes Starter Kit

I recently made a special purchase of Landscapes Dyes. I don't order this product often because it comes all the way from Australia and the freight costs are painful.

Still, I love these dyes, in spite of the added expense, because the colors are just so beautiful. They are inspired by the Australian landscape, so the names make my mind stretch to imagine Desert Peas and Wallabies.

These dyes are so easy to use and they come with a detailed pamphlet outlining several dye methods. It covers stove top, spiral dyeing and microwave dyeing. It even gives you handy tips to avoid accidental felting. I have long thought that these dyes are a great place to start for anyone new to dyeing their own fiber or yarn.

So with that in mind, I have created this Landscapes Dyes Starter Kit
. It comes with 10 grams each of five colors. You'll receive the three primaries: Desert Pea (red), Wattle (yellow) and Marine (blue). I have also included Wallaby (brown) and Currawong (black). With these five shades you will be able to create your own beautiful range of colors.

I hope this kit will be a fun way for people to explore the art of dyeing!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jacob Swirl Roving is Back!

This afternoon the doorbell rang and when I saw the big box and realized what was inside... well, I simply can't tell you how excited I was. I still am.

It's Jacob Swirl Time here at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!

I love wool. You know that, but nothing makes my gush like this spectacularly milled fiber. I'm so thankful for Peg, my favorite shepherdess, for having her gorgeous fleece processed this way!

If you like, check out my post from June 26, 2009 to see a picture these amazing sheep and learn a little more about them.

Now if you remember this roving from last year (pictured in purple box), you may be thinking that this wool looks a little different. You are absolutely right. Last year it was swirled so that the darker colors were on the outside and this year it has been processed the other way around. It's like white woolen candy with a surprise inside!

I wish I could offer this roving all year, but the demand tends to be greater than the supply. Last year I was out of stock by the end of the summer. I list small quantities at a time in my Etsy shop, so if you would like for me to make a larger listing for you, just contact me through Wind Rose.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Project 8 ~ Kids Can Help Too!

Yesterday I wrote about the washcloths I'm crocheting for Project 8. Project 8 is gathering up handmade washcloths and hand towels to be used to help clean dolphins, sea turtles and other wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico. You can read all about their efforts at Craft Hope.

I love this project and I wanted my kids to be able to take part too. I happen to have two boys who don't sew, knit or crochet, but I still felt there had to be a way for them to craft some washcloths.

We started out by talking about the events that led to the heartbreaking disaster in the Gulf. We watched video of Phillippe Cousteau, Jr diving into the oily water. We also watched as much video as we could stand (which wasn't much) of seagulls covered in oily goop, sea turtles washing up dead on the shore and dolphins struggling to swim in the affected water. It's so horrible, and after just a few minutes, my boys are more than ready to help.

Our idea is to take all of the undershirts that the kids have grown out of and turn them into washcloths. They are 100% cotton which is the preferred material for the project. We also like the idea that we are recycling or repurposing the fabric.

Here you can see my older son, Jens, going through the shirts to separate out the ones that have gotten small on his younger brother. Meanwhile, Wes is using a paper cutter to make a 10x10" template to use as a pattern for cutting the shirts. We figured out that we can make about 5 washcloths from each shirt. That's pretty good!

I lay the template that Wes made over a t-shirt and show the boys how they can go through both layers and cut out two washcloths at a time. After that, we use the first two washcloths as the templates because they will stay in place better than the paper template as the boys are cutting.

Before long, they are both going to town, cutting out washcloth after washcloth. Maybe this is not the craftiest of crafts, but it is something they can create independently. It also gives them the experience of being part of something important. It teaches them that kids can help too!

I hope my boys feel good about their efforts today. I'm very proud of them and perhaps our little idea will work for your kids too. If you decide to make washcloths for Project 8, once they're completed, you can send them to this address:

Kimberly Davion
c/o IMMS Oil Spill Relief
1700 East La Rua Street
Pensacola, Florida 32501

The deadline is the end of August. What a great summer project for the whole family!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crocheting Washcloths for Project 8 ~ Free Pattern

Today I'm crocheting washcloths for Project 8. What's this you ask? Craft Hope "will be partnering with The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, the Audubon Nature Institute, and the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge to assist them in their efforts in caring for and cleaning oiled marine mammals, mostly dolphins, other marine mammals, birds, and sea turtles. Dolphins are naturally curious and have been swimming toward the oil plumes to investigate… and that curiosity gets them in a lot of trouble against the oil slick. So here is what we are going to do… They need hand towels and wash rags to clean all of the nooks and crannies of the dolphins and sea turtles. They only need small hand towels and wash rags, no large towels please. If you can sew, knit, or crochet this project is for you. We are asking that you create sets of hand towels and/or wash rags to send. Preferably in sets of 10 or 20. These do need to be handmade since we are ‘Craft Hope.’ If you are crocheting or knitting, please send whatever you can."

That quote is directly from the Craft Hope website. No one can put this project into words better the the originators of the idea. So isn't this great? Finally, a physical way to help!

If you are making washcloths, the size they are looking for is 10x10" squares. Cotton is the preferred material so I'm making mine from a cone of Lion Brand cotton. My design is very simple and works up quickly. I chose a larger hook because I thought the looser stitches would really pick up the oil. I also didn't trim my washcloth at all because the reality is, after running this cloth down the back of an oily dolphin a few times, it will have to be disposed of. So Here's my...

Project 8 Quick and Easy Crocheted Washcloth Pattern

With a J Hook and Lion Brand cotton yarn, Ch 32

Row 1: hdc (half double crochet) in third chain from hook and in the next 29 chains (equals 30 hdc)
Rows 2-22: chain 2, turn, hdc across. (30 hdc per row)
At the end of Row 22, finish off and weave in loose ends.

That's all there is to it!

Send your handmade washcloths to:

Kimberly Davion
c/o IMMS Oil Spill Relief
1700 East La Rua Street
Pensacola, Florida 32501

The deadline for sending your contribution is the end of August. I imagine it will take thousands of washcloths (10x10") and hand towels (14x27") to do this important job.

Thank you to Craft Hope for devising a way for the handmade community to help!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Seven Shades of Soy Silk Roving

Sometimes I don't know what takes more effort, dyeing the roving or listing it all in my Etsy shop at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. It takes a while to load in seven new colors of Soy Silk, but guess what? I'm all done!

I'll give you their names starting with the Charcoal Grey on the top right. Working clockwise we have Red Rock, Bright Salmon, Night Blue, Russet, Salmon and in the middle is Grass Green.

I'd like to point out that the Night Blue and the Salmon are Kettle dyed whereas the rest have been hand painted. I have used both methods for some time now, but I think as far as silks are concerned, I'll be using my painting method 100% of the time from now on. I like the finished product just a bit better.

Well my inventory is starting to look pretty healthy these days, but I still have plans for more dyeing. Summer is my time to stock up before fall because I know it's when the spinners and felters are getting ready for their busiest season too.

I also want to let you know that I have some more of this gorgeous Jacob Swirl on the way. This is a once a year event at Wind Rose. This Jacob wool is prepared so beautifully and I'm so excited to be able to offer it to you again this year. I'll be posting when I get it in, but I wanted to give you a heads up.

Cheers and have a great night!

Two Hand Painted Tussahs

I'm starting off the week with two new hand painted Tussah Silks. On the left is Violet Night. This is a gorgeous deep shade of charcoal grey with violet overtones. On the right is Tropics. This is a soothing blend of green and blue. The dominant colors are teal and a brighter green, but there are also hints of a pretty night blue.

I've got more colors on the way today. The rest are soy silks. Some pretty salmon shades for the summer and other colors too! See you soon!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Merino ~ What's Coming & A Great Link!

Hi! My days have been jam-packed lately. I can't believe how late it is and I'm just sitting down to blog. I've got three new colors of Merino roving in the shop at Wind Rose.

Left to right we have Antique Blue, Pumpkin Patch and Violet Lights.

I also dyed a couple pounds of Soy Silk today. You should see my hands! I always start out with gloves, but when I'm painting silk, they start to feel like a nuisance and I end up bare handed. As a result, I am stained with charcoal and russet, the two strongest shades from my exploits. Tomorrow I'll be able to take pictures and show you all the new fibers.

On a final, and totally unrelated note, I have a super link for you. It's from Noodles and it's an awesome chart compiling all the keyboard shortcuts for creating special characters. It includes Windows and MacOS as well as HTML number code. It's such a handy thing to keep bookmarked. The next time I write about the Telaraña Weavers and Spinners Guild (um... now), I will not be copying and pasting to make my ñ!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New Hand Painted Merino!

I was a busy little bee yesterday and I got lots of dyeing done. I didn't really have a plan for my painted roving so I just followed my muse. I ended up with four very different blends.

Boots and Jeans, on the top left, has that cowboy feel. It's like the pairing of your favorite jeans and boots. They always go great together.

To the right of that is Summer Garden. This is a bright, almost sun washed mix of pink, orange and yellow along with brown and green.

On the bottom left is Tranquil Waters. The cool teal, sapphire and violet colors make me dream of tropical vacations.

Finally, there's Early Autum. I've taken that same summery teal and brought it into the next season with chestnut and russet. It's perfect for the transition into those earthy fall tones.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dedicating Time For Others

I have this brain that's always filled with 101 things I want to do with my time. I pack my days with all sorts of activities from plain old housekeeping to motherhood as well as my creative aspirations. Time passes by and then I realize that I have neglected to dedicate some of my precious minutes to others. I have to push down on the break and remember how important it is to be a positive part of the universe.

Spirit Jump is one of the ways I try to give of myself to others. Spirit Jump is an organization of people that send cards and small gifts to people who are struggling with life threatening illness. The whole idea is to let people know that someone cares when they need that care the most. It's a wonderful group and a simple, yet powerful idea. I'm very happy to be a part of it.

It's easy to join up if you like the idea too. They send emails with short stories about people who need a Spirit Jump and you can reply and ask for their address. You can send one card a year or one a week. I tend to be sporadic, but I have to say, when I make time to lift someone's spirit, it makes me feel so good.

If you think you may struggle with what to say in a card to someone who is terribly ill, I understand. I know I've had a hard time with that myself. What do you say to a stranger who is in pain? I'm sharing one of my cards today. It's not a long note, but it says what I feel and what I want the recipient to know. I made a small heart to go into the envelope and this is what I wrote:

"I crocheted this little heart for you. It's a small token from hands to yours. When you hold it, please know that I am holding you in my thoughts. Love Jennifer"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stocking Up On Merino

Time to stock up on colors of Merino roving. I'm running low on everything and I can't take it anymore! So yesterday I started out with these four colors.

The top is called Cloudy Pink. This is a variegated pink. The color variation is mild, but it's enough to give felters the pinks they need to add a subtle blush up to totally rosy cheeks.

Next in line is Chartreuse. It's one of those greens that many of us just can't live without.

After that is one of my personal faves. This color is called Earthen Rose. It's a brown based crimson and oh so pretty.

Finally, we have Misty Green. This color is hard to capture in a picture, but next to the rose you can see that it's a light smokey green. This is a new color I'm trying out so let me know what you think. I feel like I could use a few more light shades in the shop.

Over the next couple weeks I plan to do a lot of dyeing. I'm always open to requests and suggestions, so if there is a color you need, just let me know. I plan to paint some roving too, so feel free to name your favorite colorways!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Greatest Supporter

When I first started to really study fiber arts, I used a lap loom and made purses. This crazy looking collection might not seem all that studious. I mean seriously, there are green feathers in there! The thing is, every time I warped my loom, I explored a new fiber and a different technique.

I probably made a couple hundred woven and crocheted bags, and in doing so, I gained experience with all different kinds of wool as well as cotton, nylon, silk, hemp, bamboo, and yes, even feathers. I worked with every weight from lace to super bulky and all the novelties in between. I explored patterns, textures and worked to achieve all sorts of looks. I had a great time and my hands became familiar with how all the different kinds of yarn behave. It was a good education.

Of course I also ended up with a lot of purses. I started doing craft shows to help find homes for them. At the time, I was living in Northern Virginia where the average upper middle class woman wasn't sure what to think about my whimsical bags. That is, all except one.

There was one very special woman who was always ready and waiting to see what I would come up with next. She refused all offers of discounts and giveaways, insisting on paying full price. She wanted to support my efforts and encourage me to continue forward. The collection you see here was her collection. There's a dozen bags there and she probably had more.
This special woman was my mother-in-law, Kathleen.

Kathleen passed away in 2009 and this week I brought all of her purses home with me. I'll keep them and use them and when I do, I'll think of her. I was so lucky to have her in my life for more reasons than I can mention. Her support and enthusiasm meant so much to me and has set an example for how I want to be with my own children as well as with the arts in general.

It's been 18 months, and when I finish a project, I still imagine holding it up for her approval. She would gush and beam and ask questions. She never told me how I could make it better, she just appreciated my endeavors. She could make me feel almost ridiculously good about myself. Everyone who makes anything should have a Kathleen in their life and I hope they do!

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm Still Here

I have to write a little something tonight lest you come to think I have disappeared utterly from the blogosphere. I also need to affirm for myself that I am still capable of stringing thoughts together and convincing my fingers to push the right buttons on this keypad. I'm sorry to have been away for so long. Where have I been? I was all over the state of Virginia!

At least once a year since moving to Arizona, my husband and I pack up the kids and fly back to our home state for some face time with family and friends. These trips are delightful and exhausting blurs in which we try to fit months of bonding with our loved ones into just a few hours.

In eight days we visited nine households in six different towns stretching from Yorktown to Loudoun County. In addition to that, we spent our evenings out, meeting up with as many friends as we possibly could. For this one week we are beyond social butterflies. We are a friendly rabble of four. Our limited downtime is spent with cell phones out, setting up our next engagement.

Sitting here in my old desk chair, at the end of my first day back home, I'm still adjusting. I've spent a good part of my day catching up on work at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. I've packed up orders and made one big trip to the post office. I've sent a dozen emails to all who were owed one. I've done those practical home again things like watering the plants and restocking the fridge. I paused for a few minutes and sat on my favorite perch (the end of our diving board) and said hello to the sun. I actually cooked dinner with my own two hands rather than ordering off a menu. Still, I don't feel quite acclimated. Perhaps after one more good night's sleep I'll feel certainly home.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wooden and Woolen

Wooden ~ Growing up as I did, with a carpenter father, I have always felt a strong affinity for wood. I love the color, the grain and the texture, but above all else, I adore the smell.

My brother has carried on the tradition of woodworking for our family and this week I received a surprise package in the mail. Over Thanksgiving I told him about my dyeing adventures with Ironwood and so he saved me some planed pieces of choice wood from his own projects.

It may sound silly, but this wood is so pretty to me that it seems a shame to boil it to extract the color. I can tell you right now that I plan to save some and place it in a decorative bowl for display in my home. Oh how I wish there were better words to describe smell! I would love to transport your senses to the earthen wonderland that is Rosewood. In the photograph, Rosewood is the more shredded looking of the three. The reddish curls are Honduran Mahogany which my brother says is very nice to work with. The darker, large curls are Western Cedar.

My brother evens his wood with a 100 year old, 16" Baley Plane. These curls are the byproduct of his work and would typically be tossed out with the trash. Heartbreaking! I think it must bother him too, to see pretty wood like this go to waste, so he separated them by type and sent me a gorgeous collection. I will ultimately use these shavings to dye wool. I only have enough wood to dye several ounces for each type, but those will be very unique rovings indeed!

Woolen ~ I posted a similar bracelet to this one just a couple days ago, but last night I tweaked the design. This is what I tend to do. I get a concept in my head and then I work with it until I think I have a good, solid product.

What I like about this model is the fact that it is made with one continuous piece of wire. There are no superfluous cuts to feel scratchy next to the skin. I have also avoided using any glues to keep the wool in place nor have I used a felting needle. I'm never happier than when I feel I have simplified a design while at the same time making it more natural and structurally sound.

I guess it is sort of quirky, this combination of wool and wire. Words like pretty and lovely aren't really appropriate. I think fellow fiber lovers will enjoy seeing another application for wool. It's also a soft element where you might not expect to find one.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stained Glass Merino Wool Yarn

Well here's our yarn model from the post, iSpin Toolkit ~ Let's Check Out This App! It has been neatly rewound into a hank and is on sale at Wind Rose Fiber Studio on Etsy.

I called this yarn Stained Glass. It's a 2ply, sport weight yarn that comes to approx. 110 yards. One ply is a hand painted Merino wool roving and the second ply is jet black Merino. The way the black offsets the colors in the hand painted roving makes me think of stained glass and so that is what I named this new skein.