Thursday, March 31, 2011

Freshly Dyed Merino

It's one of those early springs where everything seems to conspire to keep me from my creative time, but in the midst of it all, I'm always dyeing.

I feel like I've been sounding like a broken record since the beginning of the year. I keep writing that my goal is to get to 40 colors of Merino roving in my shop and then maintain them. The trouble is, I just can't seem to meet what I thought was an achievable goal. The weather turns sour or travel takes me away. I'm still determined to make it happen though and really, I have to say that I'm grateful to all of my customers who keep buying my wool. If in the end, it's just too hard to maintain 40 colors at all times, well I guess that means that business is good!

For the next couple months, I have no travel plans, so perhaps this means I'll be able to make my goal happen after all. By the way, I do have some summer travel. I'll be crossing the pond this year and spending time in London, Munich and Verona. Those are the major cities anyway. If any of my readers have insight into the fiber arts scene in any of these places, I'd love some ideas of where to go and what to see.

Oh, and let's not forget the freshly dyed Merino! I have restocked six favorite colors this week. So from left to right and top to bottom: Precious Peach, Chartreuse, Pink Blush, Happy Green, Golden Brown and Salmon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Whimsical Glass and Metal Chain

Yesterday I finally got back on the blogging horse after half a month's absence. I'm definitely going through one of those unfocused periods where my creative time is scattered in all directions. I have some plans for fiber related projects that I am preparing, but today, I'm making this whimsical glass and metal chain.

My attention is still focused on my backyard spruce and spiff. I have a double swing that sits next to our pool which used to have an umbrella. We get some terrible windstorms here in the southwest and the umbrella portion of my swing is now a casualty of one such storm. The swing seems a bit naked without its topper, so I am making it some jewelry. When my chain is complete, I'll wrap it around the top cross bar. The pieces of stained glass should dangle and catch the light. Perhaps then my swing will look happily dressed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Keeping Me From My Craft

I cannot believe that I've allowed half a month to pass by since my last post! It's actually been eating away at me because I enjoy this blog so much. Every time I tell myself to just sit down and write something, I think, "but I haven't made anything new".

Today, in an effort to break this chain of silence, I figure I can at least share what has been my distraction. Here it is, our new waterfall! This spring we are giving our backyard a little spruce and as part of our effort, we decided to replace our ever rusting diving board with a waterfall.

I estimate that the entire feature weighs somewhere between 3 and 4 tons and contains 70+ cubic feet of natural rock. I mapped out the design I wanted for my contractor, but the real artistry was performed by a crew of three men who each possess the gifts of incredible strength as well as superb design sensibility. Though I fancy myself visually creative, I must admit that when a pile of boulders was delivered to my home, though I could appreciate their beauty, I could not bring them together in my mind to form such a breathtaking sculpture. Watching this waterfall come together was like watching a piece of performance art!

The waterfall is accessible from either side and we've been climbing all over it like a jungle gym. It has one tall, just off center, platform which provides a thrilling jump into the pool below. On either side there are two, lower, flat surfaced rocks for additional jumping or perhaps to just lounge on. Our water is still a chilly 73ยบ, but that didn't stop my boys from trying things out! As for me, I could sit and watch the water cascade all day. The sound and the beauty is so pleasing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tatted Charm Bracelet

I'm really in love with tatting these days. It's still new and exciting and there are so many possibilities to explore. I knew I wanted to bring tatting supplies on this vacation. What I didn't know is how the airline would feel about my tatting needle. Tatting needles aren't sharp, but they are long and metal, so to be safe, I packed a tatting needle size of which I have two into my carry on bag. So, for the small percent of people out there who might be wondering if they can tat on their next plane ride, I can tell you that mine made it through security. My bag was examined once, and the security person mumbled something like, "just when you think you've seen everything...", but they let my needle through.

I didn't have any particular tatting project planned, so I just started making little shapes. Then I got to thinking that it would be cute to make a charm bracelet. I could tat the charms and then attach them when I tatted the chain. With this in mind I began tatting little flowers and leaves giving them stems. I created an oversize join space on each stem so it could serve my purpose and look like a little leaf all at once. After I had my charms completed, I strung them onto my bracelet chain thread along with a lobster clasp.

My bracelet is a series of short, curved chains and split rings. I alternated the curve of the chains so that one would go to the left and the next to the right and then back and forth. This way it took on the appearance of a winding vine. I joined my charms in the middle of each chain. Since the chains alternate in direction, the charms follow suit and really give it that charm bracelet look. I ended with a ring so that the lobster clasp would have a place to join. It turned out very cute. I'm already working on a second one. Now that I know how many charms I need to make a bracelet of a certain size, I can better plan my colors and pattern. I'm thinking it will make a nice thank you gift for the neighbor who is collecting my mail.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Virgin Gorda

I'm on a little field trip this week. I'm visiting the beautiful island of Virgin Gorda with my family. I can report that there are chickens, goats and cows happily roaming the streets, but so far not a single sheep. Oh well, I left my spinning wheel at home anyway.

I did bring my tatting and had a lovely afternoon in the sun enjoying the scenery and finishing a project I started on the plane. I'll share that tomorrow. It's fun to have my sister-in-laws here so I have women with whom to share my little projects.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tatted Pendant Necklace

I just finished this little personal project and I need to play show and tell. This is a needle tatted necklace with the chain made from rings and Josephine chains. I made a joining space in the center of the middle ring. Then, after I tatted my flower pendant, I passed the beginning and ending threads through the join before weaving them in and finishing my piece.

The length of the necklace is 18" which is about my favorite length. I like how balanced it is with 5 rings on either side of the center. The design isn't very complicated, but it was good practice for me just the same. I'm getting ready to go away for a few days and I'm hoping to have some time to experiment with more more intricate designs. Now, the only thing I need to know is, do they allow tatting needles on the plane?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Crimson & Russet Merino

I don't usually post this much in one day, but I feel I'm making up for lost time. The sun shining through my windows has me energized!

I told you I'd be dyeing a lot this weekend. I'm starting at the top of the rainbow and working through the reds and pinks. By Sunday I should be able to take a group picture so you can see all of the wonderful shades of red available. This is part of my ongoing efforts to get my Merino roving fully stocked. When I'm done, they will be over 40 different colors to choose from!

For now, enjoy these reds. On the top is Crimson which is a pink based, cooler red. On the bottom is Russet. This is a warmer tone. I also have Holiday Red dyeing on the stove right now as well as the hottest of hot pinks. I can't wait until they are all ready!

My Recoverying Ash Tree

The post I wrote earlier today probably sounded a bit dramatic. I guess I get moody when winter tries to kill my plants. On the flip side, I get very happy when the healing warmth of the early spring brings them back to life!

Here's one of my ash trees. You can see that the first young leaves died during our winter freezes. Now new leaves are sprouting. The vibrant green is so reassuring. Spring is coming!

Night Blue and Silver Firestar

You know, some winters have a way of feeling longer than others. This has felt like a long winter to me. Even living in this more mild climate, we've had freezing temperatures that have left our more delicate, tropical plants struggling. Everywhere you look, the trees and bushes are covered in brown. The new leaves which sprout each January hang lifeless from their branches.

Now, at long last, signs of spring and recovery have arrived. The plants are doing their best to come back and you can see bits of green peeking through the brown. The temperature is rising back up to what is more of the norm for this time of year. The sun is shining and it's warmth is comforting. It feels like a rebirth and as a result, I feel my own spirit elevated.

The warmer weather also means I can work more freely. The climate here in the southwest has become part of my dyeing process. The dry, warm air does wonderful things for my fiber. With the temperatures in the 80's this weekend, I hope to get a lot of good dyeing done. These two sparkling shades of Firestar, Night Blue and Silver, are just the first two fibers in what I hope will be a very productive weekend!