Saturday, July 31, 2010

My New Earrings ~ Made with Handwoven Moroccan Beads

I'm here with a little show and tell today. It's been almost a week since I've made anything. The first week of school left me feeling creatively drained, and yet, when I go too long without making something new, I start to feel off.

I didn't have a plan for today's efforts, but I knew I had to make something to get myself feeling normal again. So I gathered a bunch of my findings and beads, as well as all the tools of the trade. They formed a circle on the floor in the middle of my bedroom. I sat in the middle of this circle and determined that I was staying there until I came up with something.

In addition to my usual collection of jewelry making materials, I have these gorgeous handwoven beads from Morocco. I wanted to find a way to showcase them. It took some time for my crafting mojo to kick in, but once I tried using metal spacers as end caps, I knew I was onto something. I ended up making these danglers with Czech glass beads adding a sparkling touch. I like they they have sort of an exotic, Moroccan feel to them. How could they not with those beautiful woven beads?

Oh, and please let me introduce you to my earring model. Isn't she gorgeous? Or maybe he's gorgeous. It's hard to say. I was looking for something interesting from which to hang my earrings, and my statue happily volunteered for the job.

He or she should at least have a name. Any ideas?

Color me greedy, but I think these are going into my jewelry box. Actually, I'm wearing them right now. I do have the materials to make another pair. Maybe by Monday I'll have a couple in the shop at Wind Rose to share.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Megan's Headband ~ Making a Comeback!

I have to laugh at this picture because it's totally vintage Wind Rose. This was back in the bad old days before image editing, especially on an Apple computer, had become quick and easy. My camera wasn't much help either, but believe it or not, this photo helped me get into a few juried craft shows.

The featured item here is Megan's Headband. This is a design of mine that was inspired by a sweet young friend named Megan. She went to preschool with my son and her mother I became friends. One day Megan was wearing a very interesting headband. I'd never seen anything quite like it before, so I asked her mom about it. It was something they had purchased on a family trip to Singapore. I asked if I could study it sometime and so that is how Megan's headband came to be.

So I had some definite inspiration for this design and I made some pretty major changes. I used different materials, changed the way the headband is wrapped and tweaked the crocheted kerchief in the back. I bet I made and sold at least a hundred of these before moving out to Arizona. Then I stopped doing craft shows and took my business online. My poor Megan's Headbands have bee sitting in my studio, waiting for attention.

I don't know how much attention they'll receive on the internet. Headbands are the kinds of things that you have fun trying on and looking in the mirror. At my craft shows, I had a tall mirror that I painted purple with sparkling silver stars. Girls would put on a headband and dance in front of it. You gotta love dress up!

Today I'm just here to humbly let you know that I'm listing them for sale in my ArtFire shop. So far there are four, but I have at least another half dozen to go.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pages Are in the Works!

I have a little blog improvement project underway. I'm in the process of building on a new addition to Wind Rose Fiber Studio!

I can hardly believe it, but since I started writing in January of 2008, I have accumulated 684 posts. With so many, it's getting harder and harder to find what you are looking for with ease. When I learned about Pages, a new gadget, I knew it would be the perfect tool to help me organize my blog.

I've already gotten started. If you look to the left on your screen, right under the Wind Rose banner, you can see the first three pages. The first is Home. That's where you are now, with articles posting in order as they are written. Next to that I've created Dyeing Tutorials. This page includes links to my top dyeing how-tos. Right now I'm working on Crochet Patterns. This will make it super easy to find all of the crochet patterns that I have shared on my blog.

Right now I'm taking it one page at a time. When I'm finished, you will be able to effortlessly peruse all of the most popular posts in each category. I think it will make surfing this blog a lot more fun!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Handwoven Beads from Morocco ~ Santa Fe International Folk Art Market 2010

At 7:15 in the morning, on July 10th, I was standing in the early bird line waiting to enter the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. I was excited and had arrived ahead of schedule, but I was not alone. Two of the ladies from my shuttle bus stood in front of me and we began to make conversation. When I revealed that this was my first visit, they commenced sharing their art market wisdom.

The more talkative of the two women had a full on shopping strategy. She talked about how crowded certain booths would become. She knew the exact order in which she would hit each coveted seller. To tell you the truth. She made me a little nervous. My great plan was to wander around and just sort of take it all in. Now I felt this sense of urgency. After all, I was a rookie.

Of the booths mentioned by my early bird companions, one in particular made my ears perk up. "You have to check out the button lady." they instructed. The "button lady" was a booth that sold handwoven beads and buttons. I love beads, so I researched my program and made a mental note to find booth number 32.

As it turns out, those ladies were right about how packed the market would be. It didn't take long before the most popular booths were overwhelmed with enthusiastic shoppers. Booth number 32 was mobbed. I'm not a very aggressive shopper, so I decided to make it my first stop on day two of the market.

Amina Yabis, a.k.a. The Button Lady, represents the Women's Button Cooperative of Sefrou in Morocco. She is married to a school teacher and the mother of four boys. With the support of her family, "she decided to break out of the narrow role defined for her by Moroccan society and help women play a part in the economic and political life of her community. She formed a women's craft association called Golden Buttons to market the hand-woven buttons women had been making in their homes for generations."

The buttons range from tiny, less than 1/4 inch wonders to bigger, bolder beauties. They each have a center hole making them ideal for use as beads. This fact is not lost on the shoppers who can't seem to get enough. Amina is prepared and replenishes her booth almost magically. I don't know how large this co-op is, but these women must be prolific weavers.

My waiting paid off. The booth was much more quiet Sunday morning and I got to pick out buttons at my leisure. I'm going to have so much fun incorporating these into my own jewelry making. I already have a few ideas. I'm so impressed with Amina and the women of Morocco for their amazing artistry!

Information on Amina and the
Women's Button Cooperative of Sefrou was provided by The Santa Fe New Mexican.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Preferred Way of Dyeing Soy Silk Roving

When I first started dyeing soy silk, I used a stove top method. Now, my new preferred way to dye this roving is by painting it. This way, the roving is less agitated during the process, and I think it's easier on the dyer too!

I like to dye 4 ounces of roving at a time. I have 4.1 ounces on my scale so this is just about perfect. Then I place my roving in a bowl of water to soak. Make sure your roving is nice and loose and free of twists. To the water I add a splash of distilled white vinegar, somewhere between 1/8 to 1/4 a cup. I give the roving a jiggle with my hand to mix in the vinegar and make sure the water fully saturates the fiber. Now I walk away and let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

This is a great time to get your dye ready. There are lots of different formulas for dye stock and colors. I talk a little about mine in How to Dye Wool Roving. Today however, I happen to be using Lanscapes Dyes which comes in a powder form. I know from experience that I need about 7 grams of powder to achieve the color I'm going for. Whether you are working with a liquid dye stock or a powder dye, the total amount of water we'll be adding is 4 cups. In a 4 cup measure, I have first added my powder, then, about 3 and 3/4 cups warm water. After stirring to fully dissolve my dye powder, I add about another 1/4 cup of white vinegar. I mix again. Now I have the concentration of color I want in a 4 cup mixture of dye, water and vinegar.

*Note: This is more vinegar than I use with wool. I have found that it really helps the soy silk to have a little more vinegar in the mix. This is even true with the Landscapes Dyes which are formulated so that they need less acid.

Okay, now it's time to have some fun. To paint my soy silk, I use a 9x13 inch clear Pyrex dish and a good pair of gloves. A lot of people actually paint their roving with brushes or sponges. In the case of soy silk, I like to get right in there with my hands. Yes, that's right, we'll be finger painting!

Now it's time to remove your roving from the bowl where it has been soaking in water and vinegar for at least 30 minutes. Squeeze out all of the excess water. Then lay the roving out in the Pyrex dish in a zig zag pattern. Once again, be sure to work out any twists. If your fiber is twisted, It makes it more difficult for the dye to reach the inner core of the roving.

(Click on pictures to view larger images)

After you have your roving all lined up in your dish, pour your dye mixture over the roving. Then put on your gloves and start to gently work the dye into the roving.

In the picture on the left, I have picked up a piece of the soy silk and pulled it apart to see if the dye has worked through the entire roving. When soy silk roving gets wet, the fibers like to cling together. You can see that the center of the roving still has some light areas where the dye has not reached. One of the reasons I like to use Pyrex is because I can pick up the dish and see through the bottom. This is another way I can check on my roving.

I basically just use my fingers to work the color into the fiber. I even gather the rows of soy and turn them over so I can get to both sides. When I'm satisfied that the dye has evenly penetrated all of the soy silk, I cover the dish with plastic wrap.

Now it's time to heat set the color. I want to heat the soy silk and not cook it, so I use a knife to cut a few vents into the plastic wrap. Then I put my dish in the microwave. My microwave is fairly typical. It has a rotating glass dish in the bottom. Since my Pyrex dish is a rectangle and is too large to turn in circles, I set it with one end on the rotating plate and the other side hanging over the edge. This helps to prevent a lot of excess movement.

My cooking time is 2 minutes, then open the door and turn the dish around so that the other end is toward the center. (I do this so that the heat is more even.) Then 2 more minutes and turn again. I repeat this until my soy silk has had 8 minutes total in the microwave. If you are worried about your color, you can check your roving after 4 minutes. Just be sure to wear those gloves to protect your hands from the dye and the heat!

Take your dish out and set it to cool. You can see the steam clouding the plastic wrap. If we take a peek through one of the vents, you can see that the water is clear and the fiber now holds all of the color. If your water isn't clear, you can give it a couple more minutes. If that doesn't do the trick, you may have more dye than you need in your dye mixture. Don't worry, you can rinse it out after the roving has cooled.

*Note: This is a longer heating process than I use for wool. You have to be much more cautious about wool felting. For wool, I do 2 minutes, turn, 2 minutes, turn, 1 minute, turn, 1 minute. Remember that all microwaves can vary in temperature.

After your soy silk has cooled, rinse it out. The water should run clear when you are done. Squeeze out the excess moisture and then lay your roving out to dry. I live in the southwest, so I lay my fiber on a towel in the sun. It will be dry in no time. You could also hang it over your shower.

If you look at the picture of the fiber laying out on the blue towel, you can see how nice and intact the roving is. It has not lost any of its integrity. It's ready to be divided and drafted by a spinner, or perhaps teased and needle felted.

Well, you've just seen me paint one of my favorite colors of soy silk at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. This shade, Grass Green, was developed for one of my customers. Now you can have fun developing your own colors!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Coils and Curls ~ Novelty Yarn

Wow! Tour de Fleece 2010 is coming to an end today. It really has been a fun ride. The Team of Wonder was and is awesome, inspiring company. I'm so glad I went on this spinning journey with you!

I just have to talk about spinning! I went back to refine my bouclé yesterday. I knew I wanted more curls and for them to be tighter than on my first attempt. I was using a push up method when it occurred to me that is is totally how coils are made.

After the Spring 2008 edition of Spin Off Magazine, I started to see coils everywhere. It was like everyone was spinning them. I thought they looked cool, but I didn't explore making my own because I didn't think the yarn would be ideal for the kinds of things I like to crochet. I have to say, "Now I get it!" Coils are just plain fun to spin!

So I abandoned my previous plan, which I seem to be doing a lot lately, and instead made this Coils and Curls yarn. It was ridiculously fun and felt almost reckless compared to my usual, controlled spinning. To tell you the truth, even my novelty yarns tend to be well thought out and carefully constructed. This felt like letting loose. Now, I just want to make a bunch of crazy yarn although I still don't know what I'll do with it!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My First Bouclé

I know I said Thursday was challenge day of the Tour de Fleece 2010, but for me, it was a two day uphill climb. Actually, more like three days, because I just finished this morning!

This bird's nest, fiber doughnut is my first attempt at bouclé. This is before I soaked the yarn to set the twist. It just kind of makes for a fun photo. Right now it's hanging outside, in the sun, drying.

I have to be honest, my first bouclé is far from perfect. It lacks consistency, but I think I understand how to make it now and how I can make my next skein better.

After all my talk of figuring out things on my own, I did the opposite. I started off using mohair and then switched to Falkland top. The mohair was very fine and very much trying my patience. I went back to my comfort zone, good old sheep's wool. The idea I had in my head basically failed. I took an hour off to stew in my juices and then hopped online.

I wanted loopy yarn, so basically that's bouclé. I sort of went with Judith MacKenzie McCuin's school of thought on the process. I spun a lace weight going clockwise, then a heavier weight counterclockwise. Those two were plied together clockwise holding the lace at greater tension. This seemed to be where the learning curve kicked in. I had to get the feel for the right tension for each yarn and find a comfortable angle to hold them. It was pretty cool once I got it. I enjoyed watching my wavy yarn feed onto my spindle. What I also learned is that the next time I make a bouclé, I'll spin my lace weight at a lower twist. I felt like my twist was just a little too high on this skein.

The last step was to take my wavy two ply and ply it with a third yarn to hold the curls in place. With this ply I was back to going counterclockwise. Some people use thread. I have a big spool of silk lace in my studio, so I used that. I also like that the silk will add a little luster and will dye up nice with the rest of the fiber. Now that the hank has been washed and is hanging outside, it looks pretty fun. It's hard for me to look past the imperfections, but they make me want to try again and do it better!

So, notes to self: I need a slightly lighter twist in my thin yarn. I also want to be careful not to lose too much twist on the heavier yarn when I'm plying. I'd like to try adding a little of the push up method to exaggerate my curls.

I'll post another picture after my yarn is dry. I think I want to go ahead and dye it too. It's definitely cute enough to make into something. I hope all the others spinners out there had a good challenge day experience!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tour de Fleece 2010 ~ Challenge Day!

Here's a picture of the yarn I have spun so far in 2010's Tour de Fleece. It's a pretty humble offering compared to other spinners. I bow to these prolific spider-women who have 4oz on a spool before I've even finished my first cup of coffee. Simply, you rock!

Today is challenge day, the day when we are supposed to depart from our spinning comfort zones and try something that is... well... a challenge. I'm going to try a loopy mohair.

I've never made a yarn with loops before and I haven't read any books or blogs about how it's done. I'm basically just going to go for it. Half the fun is figuring it out. Sure I could read how to do it, but where's the challenge in that? "No!" I say. Today is a throw down! It's between me and the mohair and I plan to win!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zulu Dolls from South Africa ~ International Folk Art Market 2010

Today I'm taking a break from my studio sorting to show you my two new dolls from South Africa. In booth 102 of the Sante Fe International Folk Art Market, I met Lobolile Ximba. She is a master craftswoman and the representative of the Siyazama Project in Umsinga. Part of the work these women do is to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in their rural communities.

These two dolls represent Zulu married women. The dolls depicting single women or young girls do not have the same headdress. In my mind, these beauties are me and my younger sister. I'm older, taller and I've been married a lot longer. Maybe I've earned a few extra stripes. Okay, now I'm taking liberties, but I love these colorful figures. The design is fairly uncomplicated, yet they seem full of personality. Look at those sisters, discussing another day in the life with their husbands. *giggle*

There were also dolls which were all in black and white. They're representative of the Ushembe religion. The white beads symbolize purity as well as peace, truth, honesty and innocence. They were very striking and I was drawn to them except for the fact that they had angel wings. I don't want to cause any controversy on my blog or anything, but I find angels to be sort of, hmm... what will get me into the least amount of trouble? Well, they just seem a little silly to me. I know they may symbolize something special to many people, so I mean no disrespect.

Before I flee from these eggshells I'm walking on, when I was talking to Lobolile, she told me that they put the wings on the black and white dolls just for the market. I guess they have found that we are into angels here. As a matter a fact, there were quite a few booths with angel sections making me wonder if it has become a common marketing strategy. The only conclusions I'll draw are that these are very astute business people and I may be in the minority as to my angel sentiments.

What I love about an international marketplace is that you get to be an eyewitness to the commonalities of humankind. There, in plaster, paint, beads and fabric are physical representations of what we all feel and experience as people. You see love, faith, anger, fear and hope. One of my favorite children's books is Whoever you Are by Mem Fox. I used to read it to my boys all the time. I wanted them to know that there were people just like them all over the world. They may look different or live in different houses, but they
feel the same joy and the same pain.

To my sister Erica, if you are reading this, you are also seeing part of your Christmas present although I hate to separate us!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sparkling Metallic Fibers!

For two days straight, I have been plunging into the depths of my studio and coming up with buried treasure. Today I found gold! That is, I found sparkling Angelina fibers looking for a good home.

My studio is actually an orderly place. It's just packed full of my years of fiber enthusiasm. I've been holding onto a large assortment of Angelina fiber and I've decided to go ahead and sell it. For me it's about clearing space, so I'm only charging what I paid. I'll be happy to break even and have a little more studio wiggle room.

So this means, for a limited time, I'll be selling a range of these twinkling metallic fibers. They are made of shredded mylar and metallic film. The are soft and fine enough to go through a drum carder. I've decided to package them in .25oz bags because that is enough fiber to make two or three batts of roving, or skeins of yarn, very sparkly!

I have seven colors to choose from. At the very top of this post is Yellow Gold. Then moving down to my set of six pictures and going from left to right: Lapis & Purple, Mardi Gras, Antique Gold, Silver, Lapis and Crystal Amethyst.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blended Alpaca, Merino & Silk ~ The Newest Additon to Wind Rose!

This is it. This is my last week of summer vacation before my kids go back to school and I go back to teaching. What does this mean? It means that I'm still sitting here in my jammies at 2:00 in the afternoon desperately trying to get Wind Rose Fiber Studio as organized as I can.

Throughout most of the year, I juggle the roles of teacher and manager of my Etsy store. During the summer, I try to accomplish as much as I can as far as dyeing, stocking inventory and just general housekeeping, or in this case, studiokeeping. In the process, I always stumble upon a few surprises.

Today's unexpected discovery is this gorgeous blend of Alpaca/Merino/Silk Roving! It's obviously something I planned to dye and list in my shop some time ago because I already had the fiber divided into 4oz lots. I saved some for dyeing, but I decided to list some ecru in the store for people who like natural fiber or who like to do their own dye work. There are four options. You can purchase a 4oz, 2.3oz, 1.7oz or 1oz amount of roving from Wind Rose on Etsy. I also put a few extra 1oz packs in my ArtFire shop.

This fiber is so nice. The 50% Alpaca gives the roving a 5" staple length. The 30% Merino gives it some body and the 20% Silk adds that silky shine. It's all you could ever want in a fiber really. It kills me that I've had it for months and forgot about it; a casualty of my frenzied existence!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weaving from Malaysia ~ Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

Today I'm back with my third post showcasing some of the lovely pieces I purchased at the International Folk Art Market. So let me take you to Malaysia and the wonderful weaving of Edric Ong.

The green case caught my eye first as I am drawn to all things green. Beyond the color, the detail of the work is captivating. The band around the top of the case is echoed in the pocket beneath. The main compartment is lined with a second layer of weaving and then you have this striking geometric chain attaching the lid to the case. It's strong enough to act as a handle, but even better, you'll never misplace part of your case. I love it!

I was also delighted to find these white nesting baskets. The three point design seems fanciful and even modern somehow, yet I suspect they are anything but. In reality, the shape is quite practical. Not only do they nest neatly one inside the other, but both ends of each basket can stand on these three pointed legs. These three containers can be used as six individual little baskets. They would be nice on a vanity to sort jewelry. I love containers that help me sort and stay organized. I'm torn though. They look special just sitting on a table. They are like magical little sculptures.

This booth was one of the winners of the Award of Excellence. This is part of a handicraft flagship program by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The goal of this program is to provide a marketplace for handicrafts which supports the artisans and their trades. It also looks to establish a level of excellence as well as cultural authenticity. As an added benefit, the buyers can be certain that these award winning products were manufactured in a socially and environmentally responsible way. That's a lot to feel good about!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How I Spin Beaded Singles

I knew I wanted to spin one of my beaded Singles for Tour de Fleece 2010. Just as I was preparing my fiber, I received an email from one of my customers. She noticed one of my beaded skeins in my shop and asked me how I made it. I wrote a post entitled How to Spin Beaded Yarn over a year ago, but I thought that I might recap today with some added pictures.

When this idea first came to me, I was so excited. My enthusiasm grew when I tried it out and really liked my finished product. I named my first beaded singles skein Underwater Fantasy. It sold immediately when I listed it in my shop. That's when I thought I was really onto something. I shared a couple pictures on the Spin Off Magazine site thinking that the spinning community would really dig it. There were a couple comments, but it didn't get the fervent reception I thought it might. What's the point of telling you this? I guess none really. I just consider my readers friends and I wanted to share this little piece of history.

Okay, back to my recap.

The first thing I do is thread a bunch of beads onto slivers of fiber. I use a bead threading needle, the kind that looks like just a big needle eye. I take a very fine sliver of whatever fiber I'm working with and insert in through the eye of the threader. Then I take the bead and slide it onto the fiber. I've been able to thread pretty small beads. The trick is to put just the very tip if the fiber through the eye so the bead doesn't have to travel over anything too thick.

This particular skein, which measures 140 yards, contains 351 beads, but as you can see, some of the fibers are holding more than one bead.

Once you have a bunch on fiber threaded beads, you are ready to spin. [I also like to pre-draft my main fiber (pink) into a nice pencil thin roving.] You have to decide how often
to introduce each bead and how structured you want that placement to be. Whatever you choose will be part of your individual design. When you get to the place where you're going to spin in the bead, you basically work it in the same way you join fiber when you are spinning any yarn. Be careful not to make each bead placement thicker than then rest of your skein. Just draft the fiber thin enough to accommodate the fiber that the bead is threaded on.

If you're spinning with larger beads, it helps to have your singles be a little thicker to accommodate the weight of the beads. In this case, I've added some larger glass flowers along with my seed beads so I made this yarn at least a medium weight.

There's one more step. I anchor the beads in place by running a fine piece of the main fiber over the outside of the bead and working it into the twist just beyond the bead. This picture is from a different project, but it does a nice job of illustrating how the fiber is carried over the bead. It's anchoring the bead in this manner that makes it possible to spin beaded singles. You don't need that extra ply to stabilize your yarn and hold the bead in place. I like the singles because the beads really show well are there is something very delicate about them.

There's one more thing I should add. You have to be more careful setting the twist on beaded yarn. The weight of the beads can pull on the fiber. For this reason, I spin my singles at a relatively low twist which makes for nice, easy setting. I know some spinners are reluctant to set twist under any kind of tension, but sometimes I allow my beaded singles to dry on a swift. It gives the yarn a little support while it's drying.

This skein, which I named Moonlit Dance, is one of my personal favorites. The base is a charcoal Merino. The beads are ceramic and glass seed beads plus some Dalmation Jasper. I threaded the beads onto a dark turquoise. As I spun, I went back and forth between the beaded turquoise and some teased natural mohair locks. The contrast and the texture really makes me happy.

On a final note, I made a YouTube video about Spinning a Beaded Single. I was only using a Flip camera and I should have talked a little louder so the quality isn't what it could be. However, in the beginning of the video, I show how to thread the beads and you may find this useful.

So that's it! If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I'll do my best to clarify. I hope you give it a try sometime. They are so much fun to make and you can go crazy with infinite designs. With yarn like this, something as simple as a scarf can look like a work of art!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Horse Hair Weaving by Alba Rosa Sepúlueda Japia ~ International Folk Art Market

Light as a feather, Alba's breathtaking butterflies appear as though they may actually take flight. A closer look and you begin to take in a miniature masterpiece.

Alba Rosa Sepúlueda Japia has been weaving sculptures out of horse hair since the age of seven. She is now one of the foremost weavers in Chile with more than 50 years of experience and countless recognitions.

She was born into a family of artisans in the town of Rari which is known for horse hair weaving. Alba has recently started a cooperative, "Arte en Crin," comprised of 14 artisans from Rari. They use local agave fiber along with horse hair to create their works of art.

I knew before entering the Folk Art Market, that Alba's booth was one I had to see. I was lucky to arrive early on Saturday morning before the crowds. The sculptures all looked so delicate. I had that childlike feeling of wanted to touch them, but thinking I shouldn't. That's when I saw Alba for the first time. She was putting the final touches on her display. I watched as she picked up butterflies one at a time and stretched their wings. This is when I realized that perhaps these creations were more rugged than I expected. I allowed myself to pick up a butterfly and admire it up close.

This is when Alba noticed me and quickly put a little shopping basket into my hands. Not only a fine artist, but a savvy saleswoman, she began to pick up pieces and give them to me. She made sure that I missed nothing. She also noticed the colors I was wearing and brought me necklaces and earrings to match. It was hard to put any of it back down because each and every piece was beautiful.

I wish I could conjure the right words to describe this weaving to you. If you look at the necklaces in the picture at the top of this post, they measure about 34". They each have 20 woven beads that look like perfect little baskets. When you press on these baskets between two fingers, they feel malleable and strong. I weighed a necklace and it barely came to 1/10 of an ounce. Incredible! They have an ethereal quality, but are so well constructed, they can be worn with confidence.

As I write this post, I'm sitting at my desk with a small butterfly pinned to my vest. I feel like she's keeping me company, this little treasure from Chile. Thank you Alba for this charming friend!