Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Felted Lantern Necklace ~ Companion Video

The Felted Lantern Necklace is one of the free crochet patterns you'll find here on my blog. I'm getting ready to use this pattern for a crochet class, so I decided to make a companion video.

When I first designed this necklace, it was for a young crochet class. At the time I called it "The Hopes and Dreams Necklace". That might sound like a funny name, but there's a reason. Each student selected a special little stone and as they did so, they attached to it one of their own secret hopes or dreams. Then, as we crocheted the pendant, the little stone was placed inside. Once felted, only the crocheter knows the secret of the stone. The necklace becomes a symbol of that particular hope or dream.

When I published the pattern here on my blog, I changed the name to The Felted Lantern. I was afraid that The Hopes and Dreams Necklace might sound a little silly to the general population. I chose The Felted Lantern because the shape reminded me of the Chinese paper lanterns so many of us make as children. I sort of regret changing the name, but the pattern has been published in several places, so it would be confusing to switch now. I just thought I'd share the story of the necklace with you tonight.

Crochet Community Service ~ 3

Today's post is about the highs and lows of community service. Yesterday I was teaching the crochet class downtown in the AZOP building. This morning I was getting ready to run through and prep our project for next week when I recieved an email saying that the AZOP building has to close its doors.

This is a profound loss for the community of homeless and poverty stricken who count on that building for so many things. It's shelter form the harsh Arizona heat, access to classes and computers, and a gathering place where they can support each other. My heart goes out to all of the individuals who are saddened and hurting as a result.

On the positive side, there's news that a local church might open its doors and allow us to hold our classes on their property. It's always good to have hope and in that spirit I'll plan for our next class even if I don't know exactly when or where it will happen. It's incredibly hard to rise up out of poverty without some form of help. At the same time, providing the right kind of help can be so challenging. The bottom line is that people need each other. It's as simple as that.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hand Painted Mohair Top ~ Four More Colors!

Hi, quick post today. I just wanted to share four more colors of Mohair Top that I've dyed for my shop. I just listed Turquoise, Gypsy Wine, Emerald and Silver.

That's all for mohair. I think I'm moving on to soy silk, plus I have a few colors of Merino I need to dye. Tomorrow is the first day of school for my kiddos and I have my Tuesday Crochet Class to get ready for, so it will probably be midweek before I have more dyeing done.

I'm also still working on my Regensburg Scarf Pattern. The pattern is actually finished, but I found a verbal mistake in my companion video, so I need to shoot a short segment and do a little editing. I also need to take a few more pics. It's hard to find the time to do all of these little things!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hand Painted Mohair Top

I've been in the dyeing zone this week, so I have more fun stuff to share today. Yesterday I painted these four bright colors of Mohair Top. I went for Crimson, Desert Gold, Violet and Sapphire. Today I'm going to do a couple greens and I'm thinking a silver and maybe a wine. I haven't fully decided yet.

I just love mohair. It seems to have a smaller following than merino and other wools and I guess I can see why. It's kind of in a different category. It has more of a hair-like feel which is why it's very often used for doll hair. It helps that it has a longer staple length and just look at that pretty crimp! It has a wonderful luster as well. When you spin mohair or blend it with other fibers, you get a soft, pretty halo effect. Love it!

Spinning Hemp

Hi, I thought I'd do another quick post on hemp today. Yesterday I listed 8oz of hemp in the shop and it got snatched up. Most of it is winging its way to Sweden right now. I have to order and dye some more because it really is a cool fiber.

A couple years ago, I made two YouTube videos All About Hemp Roving and Spinning Hemp. Back in those days, I was using a little flip camera, so I apologize for the low resolution. You kind of have to crank the volume too. In spite of the amateur video production, you can still get a closer look at hemp roving and see how it handles.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of hemp is hemp jewelry. That may be true for you as well, but hemp is getting more and more popular among fiber artists. A lot of spinners like to add hemp to their wool batts for the texture it provides. It also makes a cool core fiber. When you spin a singles of hemp, it turns into that hemp cord you see at the craft stores. In my video I say that you almost don't need to set the twist. The truth is, you really don't. I like to give all of my handspun a final soak, but it really isn't necessary with hemp. When you used it as a core fiber it creates a strong yarn that's great for rug weaving or more structural pieces.

Hemp roving can also be used for other crafts. You can tease the fibers apart and use them in paper making, small amounts can be worked into nuno felt and in general, it can be a handy embellishment for scrapbooks and other handicrafts. Here I am talking about hemp when I'm down to just a couple ounces in the shop. I still have 1oz of Fire Red, 1oz of Azalea and 1oz of dye free. When I get more in stock, I'll be sure to let you know!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hemp Roving in Four Great Colors!

Yesterday I took some time out to dye. I've been meaning to replenish my hemp colors for some time now. I spend most of my time dyeing protein fibers like wool and silk, so when I work with a plant fiber like hemp, I often feel a little rusty. There are extra steps in the process and ingredients too. Somehow, it all comes back to me and I'm always pleasantly surprised by the vivid results. It's hard to imagine that these bold colors started out as brown hemp roving.

I only have a couple ounces of each so I like to let my blog readers know first so you can claim them if you want them. The colors are Fire Red, Deep Purple, Avocado Green, and Marigold.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mohair & Doll Mohair

It's amazing what I find when I get to spend a little quality time in my studio. I was going through my fibers today, looking for hemp, when I came across a nice big bag of fine mohair (left photo). I went to my shop to see if I had any listed and sure enough, I didn't. That just wouldn't do, so I've spent a little time today taking this lovely mohair's photograph so I could offer it at Wind Rose. I put it up in 1oz, 2oz, 2.5oz and 3oz lots.

I also came across some doll hair mohair (right photo). This is mohair with a long, 8" staple length and is commonly used in doll making. I listed this mohair in 1oz and 2oz sizes.

Oh, and by the way, I did find that hemp I was looking for. Earlier this afternoon I painted four batches. I should be back tomorrow to share those with you. Now that my kids are getting ready to go back to school, I have more time on my hands. I can't wait to get busy!

Silk Hankies ~ 100% Cultivated Silk

I've had these in my studio for almost a month now. I can't believe it's taken me this long to open them up and list these beauties in the shop at Wind Rose. It's a testament to how occupied my summer has been!

What are silk hankies? Silk Hankies are made by spreading out individual silk cocoons onto a square wooden frame. The original Japanese name for silk handled this way is mawata, which means "to spread out".

When you buy 1oz of Silk Hankies, you receive several dozen hankies. These can be spun into yarn but have also become popular in other areas of fiber art. They can be used in paper making, to embellish nuno felted projects, needle felting and more.

These hankies are dye free, but they can be dyed with dyes made specifically for working with protein fibers like Jacquard Acid Dyes. I haven't dyed any myself yet, but I can't wait to paint a few. They're so pretty. The more I look at them and handle them, the more ideas I get for how they may be used. I think the creative minds out there will have a wonderful time with these!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Crochet Community Service ~ 2

Earlier this summer I talked about this new volunteer project with which I've become involved. On Tuesday mornings, I drive into downtown Phoenix, meet up with my fellow instructor Ann, and teach a crochet class to people who are working to raise themselves out of poverty. The hope is that one day we'll market our handmade products. For now, we're teaching new skills and having a good time getting to know one another.

Today was a fun day. We made felted bangles from crocheted pencil roving. It was great because everyone was able to make their bracelets from start to finish during class time. I think felting projects are a lot of fun because it feels like play. Water and soap bubbles tend to bring out the kid in all of us.

It's a super sweet class. Several of the students chose to make their bracelets for someone else. Also, I brought my 14-year-old son with me to help out and they were so warm and welcoming. I had warned my son ahead of time that they would probably make a fuss over him. I don't think he believed me, but he does now.

Next week I think we'll be making crocheted hemp charm bracelets. I brought some in to show the group and everyone got excited about them. I'll be sure to share our future adventures in crochet.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Baby Cozy by Cheryl

A couple years ago, I decided to start giving away some of my crochet patterns here on my blog. Several of my free patterns read more like photo tutorials and that's because they were presented as crochet-alongs. Those pattern posts are some of the most labor intensive I've done, but also the most gratifying. Not only did I have fellow crocheters joining in as I wrote each part, but to this day, they are the most visited pages on this site.

Every once in a while, I get a special treat and someone will share their project with me. That happened a couple weeks ago when I got an email from Cheryl. She's been enjoying The Baby Cozy Pattern and has even started putting her own spin on it. This is one of her creations in pink. She added the stripes and the matching hat. What a sweet gift this will make for some lucky baby!

I want to thank Cheryl for sharing her project with me and allowing me to share it with you. I always hope that people will use my patterns as a jumping off point for their own ideas. Perhaps Cheryl's stripes will inspire even more variations on The Baby Cozy. Thanks Cheryl!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Regensburg Scarf ~ Three Great Looks

I've been talking about The Regensburg Scarf for about a month now. Today I'm here with a look at what the pattern will include. This scarf is similar to The City Scarf, the pattern I just released, but it has a few key differences.

1 ~ The Regensburg Scarf is worked up in medium [4] weight yarn. This makes it more suited for the colder months. In addition to the benefit of being warm, you need less yardage for the overall project. You only need about 250 yards and I'm erring on the high side with that amount.

2 ~ It has ruffles! I named this scarf after the city of Regensburg, Germany because it was there that I saw ruffles being highlighted in the little boutiques. In the top photo, I have the top turned over so that the ruffles appear like an edging. In this next picture, it has almost a turtleneck look. Imagine how cozy this will feel on a cold winter day.

If you really want to bundle up, you can fold the top back down and add a little tie in the front. Now neither wind nor snow will slow you down!

3 ~ Variety! This pattern will include some variations on the basic pattern. You may decide to make the ruffles a little more pronounced as in this natural colored scarf or have no ruffles at all. This multicolored yarn had so much texture, ruffles just didn't seem necessary.

The Regensburg Scarf pattern has been really fun to work with. I kind of can't stop making them. I have a stack of yarn in my studio set aside just for making into Regensburg Scarves. I can't wait to see how they look. Come to think of it, I need to show you one more picture.

Here's an example (the orange scarf) with the ruffles made in a different yarn or in this case ribbon. The ruffle is a great place to showcase those pretty novelty yarns hiding out in your stash. It seems like art yarns often come in smaller skeins, but with just 40 yards, you can have a striking scarf ruffle.

Okay, so where's the pattern? Um... alright, it's still in my head, but tomorrow I'm determined to start writing and by the end of the weekend, I should have the pattern ready. I'll definitely come back with a link when the time comes!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 9, Really? ~ TdF 2011

My last post was only a couple days ago, but I feel like I've been gone for a long time. I can't believe we're already up to day 9 of the Tour de Fleece!

I think the reason I'm feeling time warped is because I've spent the better part of the last three days cleaning and organizing my kids' rooms. Most of this time was in my younger son's room, the family pack rat. To his credit, he can tell you the origin of every scrap of paper or little doodad. He also knows the right things to say to tug at his mother's heart strings like, "it's a memory" or "it's very important to me". Somehow, I still managed to clean and purge while holding on to the most valued items. It feels like such a major accomplishment that I've walked into his room several times today just to bask in the cleanliness.

By early evening I've been exhausted, but it's Tour de Fleece, so spin I must. This sport weight singles yarn is a mix of light and fawn alpaca, golden brown Merino, some Firestar, a little lace weight boucle yarn cut into bits and some raffia. I know the raffia is probably a weird choice, but it makes for some fun texture and after cleaning all day, I needed a little fun!

I'm psyched to have tomorrow off. I need a "me" day! I still have a pattern that I'm writing and so many other things that I want to do for Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 5 TdF 2011

Yesterday was day 5 of this year's Tour de Fleece and I spent my day finishing up this project. This is the first wool batt that I made using my Ashford Wild Drum Carder. So you can see the progression from wild fibers to combed batt. Then I spun that up. Next I made a singles yarn with just plain, black Merino. Finally I plied the two together to make a worsted weight yarn with lots of glitz and just enough texture to keep things interesting.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The City Scarf ~ A Brand New Crochet Pattern!

The City Scarf Pattern is complete! I'm always excited when I finish a new pattern. So much time goes into them, so to finally be able to say, "Here it is!" is awesome!

In my last post I was trying to decide how to publish my new scarf designs. I determined that this scarf was a good one to publish on its own. The Regensburg Scarf, which is still in the works, will come with a few suggestions for variations on the pattern.

I have also created a companion video for the first time. While this scarf looks fairly straight forward, the fringe may be a little challenging for newer crocheters. So this is the first time I've created a pattern that comes with a link to a help video.

Speaking of companion videos, later this summer, I'll be producing a companion video series for the Mini Muk Luk pattern. It has been requested and I have promised to get that done this summer. So if you are a visual person, you may find that news appealing.

Now I need to run to my spinning wheel! It's almost the end of Day 5 in the Tour de Fleece and I haven't spun anything yet!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Regensburg Scarf Preview

Here's a sneak peak at the pattern I'm working on. This is the Regensburg Scarf inspired by my time in Germany. The shape of the scarf is a long narrow triangle. The point is worn in the front and then the ends wrap around your neck and then back to the front. You can let them hang freely or tie them for a cozy and stylish look.

I've been playing around with this pattern for about three weeks now and have come up with several variations that I like. This leads me to a quandary about which I would love your input.

I'm ready to sit down and write my pattern, but I'm not sure how to present it. A couple of the variations are unique enough that they could be written as separate patterns. If you look at the photos above, the scarf in sunset colors is made without a ruffle and in fine [2] weight yarn. On the other hand, the purple scarf next to it is made with a ruffle and in a medium [4] weight yarn.

So I guess, in a nutshell, my question is this. Would you rather purchase a pattern that included several variations and would therefore cost a little more, or would you prefer to be able to pick and choose which look you like and buy that pattern specifically?

Once again, your feedback is seriously appreciated. I'm usually a pretty decisive woman, but I keep going back and forth on this one. Thank you sooo much for your help!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

TdF 2011 ~ Spinning from Days 1 & 2

Here's the first project I'm working on for this year's Tour de Fleece. I had to put my new Ashford Wild Drum carder to the test. I pillaged my craft supplies and came out with a feather boa, some tinsel garland and silver mesh fabric. Then I hit my fiber stash and came up with some black Merino, a pretty wine soy silk, a little pink Merino and some natural Mohair locks.

I sat on my studio floor and and began to play. I teased apart the fibers and layered them creating a fluffy bed. Then I just started to rip feathers out of the boa and pull the silver tinsel from the garland. Feathers filled the air and the mess I was making gave me a childish joy. Then I cut up little strips of the fabric. The drum carder claims to be able to handle fabric so let's just see!

The amazing thing about the Wild Drum Carder isn't just that it will card through anything, it does it almost effortlessly. It really is wild. I spend a lot more time and care working fine fibers through my Deb's Delicate Deluxe by Pat Green. My crazy combination with its fabric and feathers just sailed on through. I thought maybe it would need a second run, but I was fully satisfied with the batt created by just one pass.

I've been making about an ounce at a time, and that seems like a nice amount, but I think the carder could handle more. It creates a batt that is about 5" wide which is very handy to work with. One of my goals for this year's Tour de Fleece is to create longer skeins. I'd like them each to be at least 350 yards, This means that each new skein will take me a little longer, but I'll end up with enough yarn to make a project.

I think I'll be finishing this one off by making a lace weight singles in black and then plying the two together. I want black to be the dominant color. I have two more ounces of my wild wool to spin and then I'll move on the the plain black. I'm impatient to see how it will look when it's all done!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ready, Steady, Spin! ~ Tour de Fleece 2011

It's been a few days since my last post and that's because I've been in pattern writing hibernation. I'm getting ready to launch my next new design and I'm excited to share it with you. I have all the kinks worked out and now it's time for a final write up and I want to make a couple more samples. By Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, I should be all set to launch the Regensburg Scarf Pattern.

In the meantime, I've also been getting ready for this year's Tour de Fleece. 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 every day 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.

The race begins tomorrow and I've joined back up with the Team of Wonder on Ravelry. It's much more fun to spin in the TdF if you're on a team. You get to share pictures of your spinning projects and cheer each other on. The Team of Wonder is led by WonderWhyGal of the Wisdom Begins in Wonder Blog. You know, I can't remember how we first met, Etsy maybe, but I've been following her blog for some time now and feel a bond over our mutual love of all things fiber.

As WonderWhyGal runs an alpaca farm, most of the team members are alpaca people. I like to be a team player, so in a show of solidarity, I've ordered myself some raw alpaca locks. I've got a little bit of black Suri and a nice supply of award winning fawn Huacaya locks. These haven't been washed or anything yet, but as they're alpaca, they're already pretty clean and will be gorgeous after a bath.

I've also used this year's tour as an excuse to treat myself to an Ashford Wild Drum Carder. It's designed with longer teeth you you can add fun things to your batts like bits of fabric, ribbons, feathers, noils, cocoons, etc. I'm in the mood to make some novelty yarn, but not crazy, chunky stuff. I'm interested in trying to create novelty yarn that's more of a sport weight. That's one of my goals for this year's TdF.

I'm also hoping to just increase my inventory of handspun so I have some skeins ready and waiting for me when I'm crocheting my designs. I'll be sure to post my projects along the way and hey, if you're a spinner, why not join the fun?