Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Inspired by Vintage and Lace

My last few posts have been pictures of roving, so I decided it was time to mix things up. I try to keep things at least a little interesting around here!

This piece of lace is one of the prototypes of a new design I'm working on. If it turns out as I hope it will, it will become the newest pattern in my shop. I almost hate to tell you what it's going to be. What if it doesn't turn out?

I don't follow fashion as closely as I used to, but I feel like I'm seeing a resurgence of lace. We all know styles cycle in a never ending revolution. At any given time you can find influences from more than one era. In this fusion, there seems to be a trend toward more detailed pieces. I see many examples of this in the handmade community. Those fat needles and big, round hooks are being traded for much smaller sizes. The shift seems to be moving away from thick and quick and in the direction of fine and focused.

Throughout this year, much of my work has been inspired by 19th century patterns. All of us who knit and crochet are building on a very rich heritage that I feel is worth cherishing. I love the idea of taking patterns that may seem like old fashion and making them into current style. It's a bit like steampunking for yarnies. With that in mind, I am breaking down portions of a Vandyke Edging pattern from the September Issue of the Art of Crocheting first published in 1895.

This project still needs much work before I have a finished sample, but I had that moment last night, as I was studying this little purple piece, when the design came together in my head. I love that moment! Now I just need to get my hands to perform what I see in my mind. This usually takes a few days. When I'm finished, I hope it will be a unique and pretty necklace.

When I was in high school, in the days of Pretty in Pink, we wore our grandmother's cameo with our dad's sport coat. So, how about a Vandyke Lace Necklace with a Boyfriend Blazer? I guess we'll see...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Northern Lights Pencil Roving ~ 2 New Colorways

I'm doing a little shopkeeping today. I mentioned a week or so ago that I would be bringing in some new colors of Louet's Northern Lights into the shop. This is a pencil roving that is comparable to Corriedale and dyed in some very pretty color combinations. I call it my "grab & go" roving because it's so handy to have around. On the left is Forest Glade and on the right is Meadow Trail. You can purchase them by the ounce at Wind Rose. I usually only list a couple ounces at a time, so contact me if you need more. I have a few more colors on the way, so I'll be sure to share those when they come in.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Two New Corriedale Wool Samplers

Last week I added two new wool samplers to my inventory at Wind Rose. Corriedale has a nice (approx 4") staple length and its a great choice for both wet felting and needle felting. It's also a good choice for beginning spinners. The length and crimp of this fiber make it a little easier to handle than some. I've been assembling these 2oz samplers in convenient color groupings to make it easy to collect all of your favorite shades.

On the left is Maple Tree. It's .5oz each of brown, orange, hunter green and yellow. This if perfect for your fall felting projects. I can see the pumpkins now! On the right is a mix I gave a long name too. It's a little ridiculous, but I named this one Cool Blush Warm Glow. This is less of a theme than Maple Tree, but it includes four very useful colors. There's dark charcoal and pink as well as a cool beige and a warm wine. These are the kind of colors that you find yourself in need of when felting things like animals and nature.

My Wool Samplers section is getting pretty full. There just seems to be a need for small quantities in a wide variety of colors. It's a nice and inexpensive way to build your wool inventory. If you'd like to see the rest, I have a Contemporary Wool Sampler, my Skin Tones Sampler, Back to Basics (a fave) and even a Classic Christmas collection.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rescue Roving Revealed

I'm just popping by to show you how the Rescue Roving turned out. I'm actually thrilled with the outcome. I've decided that this one is not for sale. I've developed a sentimental attachment and therefore must claim it for my own. I've had this notion of spinning a coils and curls yarn and then weaving it on my rigid heddle loom. I think this will be the roving I'll use.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dye Gone Wrong? ~ How to Rescue Your Roving

Here's a picture of the roving I have drying in the sun right now. It definitely has those fall colors working throughout. There are shades of chestnut and olive as well as burnt orange and warm yellow. Adding a little interest to the mix is a touch of pink. When this is dry, I think it will be very pretty.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because yesterday this roving looked so bad I could barely stand it! My intention was to dye this roving in shades of pink, chestnut and olive green, but something went horribly wrong. My olive green came out grey with hints of blue. It formed a terrible contrast to the warm chestnut tones. I set it out to dry trying to convince myself that it wasn't that bad. The next morning, gazing upon the fiber with rested eyes, I knew I had to rescue this roving.

It happens to all of us. Sometimes we don't get the colors we want. Maybe its a new and unfamiliar dye product or a dye stock that is getting old which is what I think occurred in my case. So how do you fix it? You can rescue your roving by dyeing it again. We call this overdyeing in the biz and people do it all the time.

This morning my roving went right back into a bowl of water with a little vinegar to soak. This is painted roving, so when the time came to dye, I laid it out so that all of the olive-gone-bad sections were together.
I needed to warm up those greys so I attacked them with a yellow-orange. I could see that it was helping to bring in some of the green I had wanted in the first place. I also worked some of the overdye color into the pink to add some sunset tones. I knew the roving would be nothing like my initial concept, but it could still be pretty.

So remember, there's no reason you can't go back to the drawing board. Dye jobs gone wrong can be rescued. You may have to be a little flexible and roll with the changes. Who knows? You might find yourself with an unexpected and even more interesting outcome.

Hand Painted Merino/Angora/Silk

I have more painted roving to share today. I've really enjoyed working with this blend of Merino, Silk and Angora. This is one of those fibers where it just makes me sad that all I can do is take a picture. It would be so much nicer if you could feel it. It's so soft. I love wool blends because you have the workability of the wool with the added luxury of silk and in this case angora. They are so wonderful together.

On the left is a colorway that I have dyed before. I call this Caspian Sea. I can't seem to get enough of sapphire and violet together and my customers seem to like it too. On the right is Out To Play. I had a hard time naming this one, but when I looked at these colors together, they seemed youthful to me. I thought of a playground full of happy children. Of course we grown-ups like to play too, so that's how Out To Play came to be.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hand Painted Luxury Fibers ~ So Soft!

Painting fiber has become one of my favorite forms of dyeing. I love the way the colors interact and become so vibrant. I haven't gotten to the point yet where I've settled on certain colorways to keep stocked in my inventory. At this point its more fun to experiment with new color combinations and see what I can create. When a roving sells, I take it as a sign that it was well received and I replace that colorway in my shop.

I'm very excited about my two new rovings today. First of all, the fiber itself is lovely. It's a blend of 50% Merino, 30% Silk and 20% Angora. It's so soft and lustrous that the only word for it is luxury. I'm pleased with the colors too. On the left is Growing Wild. It's a blend of vermillion, wine and a bright green. It makes me think of wild flowers. On the right is Spirit Rock. This is one of those times when experimenting really paid off. I love these colors together. They make me think of the sun setting over the mountains in the desert.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Handmade Dolls from Kyrgyzstan ~ Felt and Embroidery

Can you believe that I still have more folk art to share from the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market? You're probably wondering if there is anything I didn't come home with. The truth is, there were so many amazing artists, that it was painful to pick and choose. There are booths that I still think about and wish I had gone back to!

The felted and embroidered dolls that I'm sharing today were part of an extraordinary display from Kyrgyzstan. All of the designs were so dear, but I loved these two ladies that had a more traditional style to them. They seemed to be a true reflection of the artist, Erkebu who was also there in traditional dress.

"Erkebu Djumagulova is a textile artist from the capital city of Bishtek, Kyrgyzstan, who is a master at capturing the expressions and customs of the villagers of her native Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia through the intricately dressed dolls she makes from embroidered felt wool, silk and yarn. Drawn to the traditional Kyrgyz felt arts since childhood, Erkebu followed her dreams all the way to professional art college where she carefully researched and learned the intricate arts of felt making from local folk artists around the country. Today, her repertoire includes traditional clothes and decorated household items in addition to the felt dolls for which she is most well known."

Information about Erkebu Djumagulova provided by the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market website.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Globe-Trotting Fiber Finds Its Way Home

When you open an online store, there's a lot to figure out. Even if you have a venue like Etsy as your host, you still have to make certain decisions. What will you make? How will you market your products? What will you charge? How will you ship? Should you sell internationally? It takes most of us at least a few months to get everything sorted and running like clockwork.

For me, one of the big decisions was to start selling internationally. I don't know why this felt like such a leap, but it did. I guess there is a little more risk involved. There's customs forms and you have to figure out what shipping will cost all over the world. Still, it's the best decision I've ever made.

It's exciting when you wake up in the morning and find that people have been shopping in your store while you were sleeping. In the beginning, I kept track of each new country to which I shipped. China! Chile! Finland! New Zealand! It felt incredible to me that my hand dyed roving was traveling the world. At some point I lost track of all the countries. There were too many of them.

What happens when something goes wrong? That's what we all worry about and that's kind of why I'm writing this post. For all the other store owners or people who are thinking about it, I thought it might be nice to share my track record. In two years, eight months and eleven days of doing business, during which time I've made 2,698 sales and shipped 1,128 packages (most people order more than one item), only one package has been lost in the mail. Not bad!

So what's that picture of a crumpled mailing envelope all about? Well, I thought that was going to be lost package number two. This package left for Spain on June 28, but never made it to my customer. After patiently waiting for its arrival beyond a typical time frame, I sent her a replacement. I was nervous about this second package making it to her, because all the information had been correct on the first one. What went wrong? After less than two weeks my customer sent me an email letting me know that the second package had made it safely. I was relieved.

I had accepted the loss of the first package. I told myself it was the price of doing business. I would just have to absorb the cost. Then yesterday, it found its way back home. Rumpled and stamped, written on (in Spanish) and stickered, here it is! Once more, the roving inside is still in perfect condition! How about that? My roving traveled all the way to Spain and back again. I'm a little envious. I've never been to Spain!

BFL in Four Cool Colors

This has been a busy week. Altogether I've dyed 10 shades of Blue Faced Leicester for the shop. Today I'm finishing off with these four cool colors. From left to right we have Violet, Spruce, Silver and Night Blue.

Next week I'll be moving on to blended fibers like Merino/Silk. I haven't decided exactly what I want to do yet. I may do some painting.

Also, to let you know what's coming, I have soy silk on order. I'll be replenishing my inventory there. I'll also be adding more colors of Louet's Northern Lights. If you are unfamiliar with this fiber, it's pencil roving that is comparable to Corriedale and dyed in different colorways. It's very nice for beginning spinners and I like to keep some on hand. It's good grab and go fiber if you know what I mean. If you have a meeting or are waiting while the kids are taking classes, you can pop a drop spindle and a few ounces of Northern Lights in a bag and have something to keep your hands happy. I'll post pictures of the new colors as soon as they come in.

I have one more new item to share today. While I was dyeing my BFL, I got inspired to whip up a little Firestar too. I dyed some Silver and I also dyed this Jet Black.

Firestar is a nylon roving with about a 4" staple length. It adds lots of sparkle to your projects. You can spin it on its own or add it as you spin your wool or any other fiber. I should warn you though, Firestar can be very addictive!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BFL in Beautiful Fall Colors!

Today I've added four warm shades of Blue Faced Leicester wool to Wind Rose. Before you know it, we'll be seeing these colors outside of our windows. I've dyed a nice Chestnut, Golden Ochre, Pumpkin, and Chartreuse. Perhaps the Chartreuse is the least autumnal of these, but if you're lucky, you may just see this shade of green as the leaves change.

Today I'll be shifting back to cool tones and dyeing blues, purples and maybe a nice spruce. I tend to go where the dyeing spirits take me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gypsy Wine & Fuchsia BFL

Here they are! Gypsy Wine and Fuchsia Blue Faced Leicester.

I'll be dyeing even more colors of BFL today. If you have requests, I'll give them top priority. Otherwise, I'll just be working my way around the color wheel trying to offer as much variety as I can.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tour de Fleece Yarn For Sale!

I'm doing my best to get this week off to a great start! Today I decided to list some of the yarn I spun during the Tour de Fleece. Remember this one? My Pink Flowers Beaded Yarn is now available at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!

In addition to my beaded yarn, I have also listed my Jacob Swirl, Green Stripes and Candied Alpaca. It was so nice to be a part of this summer's Tour de Fleece and to be inspired by my fellow spinners.

I'm also getting back to my dye work. It's rare that my inventory gets down to zero, but that's exactly where my Blue Faced Leicester stock is at the moment. This just won't do, so I'm going to be replenishing my BFL in all the colors of the rainbow. Right now I have a rich Gypsy Wine and a beautiful, bright Fuchsia drying outside. Starting tomorrow, the shop will begin to fill back up with this soft and lovely wool!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wool, Metal & Glass Bracelet

I really don't need an excuse to play with beads, but it doesn't hurt that they look great with fiber. I love mixing wool, metal & glass!

I know I've posted a similar bracelet in the past, but today I was perfecting my design. The bead droplets are actually a new addition to this wool wrapped bracelet. I tried making them with beads before and it didn't quite work. When I switched to these teardrop shaped beads, it came together. I like them because they add even more color possibilities even though I chose to go more monotone today.

These bracelets look so cute on, but they are such a challenge to photograph. (My hat's off to people who work with jewelry full time.) They wear like bangles without all the clinking around and the fiber beads are very eye catching. People tend to look twice and you can see them trying to identify the soft forms.

I ended up giving away all of the first bracelets I made in this style; sisters, niece, mom, you know how it is. I've been wanting to make some more and yesterday I think I received my inspiration. My son takes art classes at this very cool music and arts center and they are putting on a craft show this fall. I haven't done the vendor thing for over three years, but now I'm thinking about it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Under the Weather, but On the Mend

I guess one of the things you can count on with school is that it's only a matter of time before one of your kids catches a bug. I was feeling fairly invincible this summer as every member of my family came down with something except me. I guess my immune system finally caved when my son came down with a cold last week.

How frustrating to be taken out by the common cold. Even now, after three days of laying around, I'm so tired.

Anyway, I just wanted to explain the lack of blog posts this week. I'm giving this sickness one more day and then I'm moving on whether the cold likes it or not!

In the meantime, since I'm vertical, I'm going to continue work on building my pages.

Clip Art

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chameleon by Jacobo Angeles Ojeda ~ Oaxacan Artist

Oaxacan wood carving and painting is an art form I have come to love since moving to the southwest. Here, I have had the opportunity to meet a few of the artists and admire their work. It gives me a lot of pleasure to share it with you and to celebrate this incredible expression of culture and folklore.

This enchanting chameleon is the art that my oldest son selected at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. My husband and I gave both of our boys an amount that they were allowed to spend. We want them to value art and to be supporters of the arts as adults. We also think that you start to look at art with a more critical and appreciative eye when you are a consumer.

My son knew he wanted a sculpture of some kind. We started to walk through the market until we found the Oaxacan wood carvings. He loved them right away and knew it was just what he was looking for. There were carvings both large and small. Though he had a fairly nice budget of $100, he found that this was only enough to buy a smaller sculpture. This gave us the opportunity to discuss why these sculptures are so valuable.

I encouraged my son to take a closer look at the painting on the figures. Just think about how many strokes of a very fine brush it would take to form these patterns. Look at how perfectly arranged the shapes are. The painter must have a very steady and skilled hand. How long did it take to paint this chameleon?

As we pondered these details, we heard another shopper ask how long it took to paint one of the largest pieces. Our jaws both dropped as we heard the artist tell her that the piece in question took nine months to complete. Wow!

As it turns out, our chameleon took around three to four weeks. When you consider the time to carve and sand the wood, and all of the different layers of color that make up the design, it makes sense. It also makes the price tag sound more than reasonable. It was a good lesson in art appreciation.

This style of wood carving is called alebrijes. It has only been on the art scene for around 30 years. Alebrijes are mythical creatures that combine human and animal features. They are imaginative and colorful
and they relate to ancient Mexican religious beliefs.

Jacobo Angeles Ojeda, the artist behind this handsome fellow, is from the San Martin Tilcajete village in Oaxaca. He learned the craft from his father and has now been working together with his wife, Maria Mendoza Mendez, for 25 years.

Jacobo cuts a piece of copal wood with a machete and begins to form a shape. He uses progressively smaller tools until the final touches are made with a pocket knife. The natural twists and bends in the wood inspire the creatures they will become. Maria provides the magic of the paint. she uses traditional vegetable and mineral pigments to create her colors and designs.

The work of Jacobo and his wife Maria is some of the most intricate that I have seen. Their attention to detail makes their creatures really come to life. It's easy to look into the eyes of this chameleon and imagine a personality to match!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gaia Headdress

I always feel bad when I'm away from my blog for a day, but from time to time I get caught up in other activities. This weekend I've been devoting myself to costume preparation.

There is an annual party that my family and I attend. This party is given a new theme each year. This year the theme is Greek.

I can't do the toga thing. I'd be lying if I said I've never been to a toga party, but I just don't feel like running around in a sheet. Besides, it's not very original.

I decided to be my own version of Gaia, basically the Greek Mother Earth. This started a debate in my house over whether or not Gaia is truly Greek or technically a Titan. That's what I get for marrying a man who played Dungeons & Dragons as a kid. Greek or Titan, the name Gaia comes from Ancient Greek and means land or earth. So there!

Anyway, the eye catching piece of my costume will be this flowered headdress that I made yesterday. I also plan to have the flowers spill onto my clothes as though where I go, nature goes with me. My sons have embraced the idea of being Greek gods, so at least I won't be the only one doing my own thing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tree Inspired Earrings

I have one more thing to share today. After my post about making a tree, I started to think that an inverted wire tree would make cool looking earrings. I goofed around a little, and here are my results.

The earrings have five ornaments that are related in color so they don't really compete for attention. They have more a feeling of happy coexistence as they perch on their respective branches. That's how I see them, as intertwined branches.

They dangle from a link that's attached to the earwire. This gives them more freedom of movement. While the limbs are structural and hold their shape, they can still sway and twist in the breeze.

So what do you think? Good design or weird design? I'm trying to decide if I should make a few for the shop.

Oh, by the way, I realize I've gone off on one of my beading binges. I assure you, there's plenty of fiber in the future. I'm kind of letting monsoon season run its course and then I'll be back to my dyeing. I plan on adding a lot more painted roving to my inventory at Wind Rose this fall. I have some very nice wool and silk blends that I think will be beautiful. Never fear, fiber girl is still here!

Weaving from Peru ~ Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

Believe it or not, I still have more to share from my visit to the Folk Art Market. I spotted this weaving from a distance and allowed its magnetic pull to draw me in. As someone who admires weaving, there are two cultures that I particularly respect, the Navajo and the weavers of Peru. This neck pouch is distinctly Peruvian.

I wish I had more of a story to go along with my woven pouch. The truth is, that this pouch and a few others, along with woven straps or belts, were sort of a side note at a booth that featured a wood carver from Peru. There was a small photograph of the man who wove the pouches. Perhaps he and the wood carver are part of the same community.

The women who were volunteering at the booth were very enthusiastic. They wore several woven straps around their necks as jewelry and one of the ladies had one tied around her hat. They seemed pleased when I identified the origin of the work right away. I picked out a strap to go with my pouch as we shared our mutual admiration for the weaving.

Returning to the pouch, this particular style is often worn with more of a spiritual intent. Items in the pouch may be there because they contain a comforting or healing quality to the wearer.

I'm wearing it right now to draw inspiration for this post. When you feel it around your neck, it evokes a sense of serenity. You feel as though you posses something special and personal. It's like wearing a locket and you are the only one who knows what's inside. You can choose to share it, or keep it private. It belongs to you and becomes an extension of yourself.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Look Mom, I Made A Tree!

Have you ever done a craft project with your kids, and when you're done, you feel as excited and proud as they do? You just want to hold it up to your mom and say, "Look what I made!"

Well, that's me right now and hopefully my mom will see this post and say, "That's nice dear."

My son and I have been studying crafts that other cultures brought with them when they immigrated to this country. Today we were talking about the Celtic Irish. Our common saying "knock on wood" comes from them. They believed that spirits lived in trees and you could knock on them for good luck. "I haven't caught the flu this year, knock on wood!"

And so we made this spritely tree and decorated it with glass flowers and leaves. You would have laughed watching us. We'd each add another flower and then exclaim, "Oh look at our tree!" We were both so pleased with ourselves. We also both think it would be cool to make a giant one. This one stands at about twelve inches.

Wouldn't this be an awesome earring tree? If I ever start doing craft shows again, I'm going to make two or three of these to show off my jewelry. If you want to make one, our source book is Crafts Across America by Cindy A. Littlefield.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Moroccan Bead Earrings

Feel like you're seeing double? No, it's just Kaino, my ceramic friend, modeling my latest earrings. These are made with handwoven Moroccan beads that are smaller than the ones from my previous post. I like that they are sort of dainty looking. I also have one more color of the larger beads, so I made those up too.

Here they are in this pretty wine color. I really like this style and if I get back to the folk festival next year, I'll buy more of these beads. They are so well constructed and I love the pumpkin shape of them.

I'm still playing around and testing out these woven beads. They're so pretty, but they also seem to need anchoring. I'm exploring end caps and other findings, looking for those perfect matches. I'm sure I'll have more designs to share. When I have a little inventory, I'll be adding some to my Etsy shop.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Brand New Top Whorl Drop Spindle Kit

It's almost too hazy, hot and humid to do anything right now. Monsoon season is in full swing and even with the air conditioning running full blast, the moisture in the air seems to be finding its way into my house. This weather makes me lethargic.

Even so, I managed to put a new Top Whorl Drop Spindle Kit together. I've had the roving ready and waiting for some time. I like to share my new kits here on my blog because each one comes with one-of-a-kind, hand pulled roving.

This one has pretty summer colors. As you can see, there's turquoise and then a lighter shade that I call Sea Spray. These two blues are accompanied by sparkling Firestar. As with all of my kits, they come with everything you need to get started including complete directions.

Now, back to my lethargy.