Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Because It Matters

What matters?  In this case I'm talking about The Grey Matters Foundation.  This is a "nonprofit organization created to support and empower brain tumor patients and their loved ones through encouragement and personal outreach."

I met the founder, Lanette, and her husband earlier this fall at an event.  I spent a few minutes talking to Lanette's husband.  I was moved by how he spoke of his wife and her journey after being diagnosed with an Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma.  When Lanette discovered that there was very little support out there for people with brain tumors, she became that support for others.  That's a short version of the story, but that's how The Grey Matters Foundation began.  

Not long after that meeting, I found The Grey Matters website and signed up to be a Brain Buddie.   I love that this is a way that my kids and I can help to support others.  Since it's the holiday season, I sat down with my son Wes and we made some ornaments to put in Christmas cards.  Can you guess which ones I made? 

I know that the crafting community is full of big hearts and everyone finds such wonderful ways to give of themselves.  I like to share the little things that my family and I do because you never who you may inspire.  I know that I find myself inspired daily!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday Sale!

Cyber Monday is almost here and this year you can save 15% on everything at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!  Just use the coupon code: 


Wishing you a warm and woolly holiday season! 

(December 28th from 12am to Midnight EST.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Son's New Room ~ The Great Boggly Tree

When I moved a little over four years ago, I promised myself that I was retired from elaborate decorating. My kids were getting a little older and I had already created a construction truck room, a farm themed room in which I painted murals, Madagascar (not the movie, but the country), and the emerald forest room. I guess I was feeling a little burnt out, but when my son announced that he wanted his room to look like the inside of The Great Boggly Tree, that was just crazy enough to spark my interest. I guess my basic approach to kids' rooms is that if you are going to decorate, go for it!

If you're not familiar with The Great Boggly Tree, it's part of the video game Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. This picture is of the outside. When you enter the tree, there are black trunks with white, arty lines on them and they're surrounded by water with bubbles floating up. It's pretty cool looking to tell you the truth.

My son's room was already painted a light blue which would represent the water well. I couldn't quite commit to freestyle painting all the trees, so I found some great decals at Dali Decals. I happily let Dali supply the trees and bubbles and this weekend I got to work. So far I have installed 8 trees surrounding three walls of my son's room. The fourth wall has a large window with shelves lining either side and his drawing desk in the middle, so we left that wall alone. Just doing the three walls has had a dramatic affect on the space.

Today I'll start adding leaves to the trees. The final step will be to have bubbles rising in the background between the trees. We also bought a little green, shag, area rug to represent the grassy floor. The best part is seeing his face light up when he enters his own space. I don't think he expected me to say yes when he asked for this particular room design. It's fun to keep surprising your kids!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Does Your Santa Need A Beard?

The Christmas craft season is underway and with it the hunt for pure white fiber. It comes in handy for all sorts of projects from Santa's beard to snow dusted pine branches. Many customers ask me for white wool, but the truth is, unless bleached, wool in it's natural state is more of an ecru. If you want seriously white fiber, Snow Mountain is a nice product for crafting.

Snow Mountain is a nylon that is prepared into a top like wool. It's soft and has a nice staple length of approximately 4 inches. It's easy to spin and though it will not wet felt, it needle felts with ease. The fibers can also be teased apart to create a snow covered landscape. It's a very handy craft fiber to have around and right now I have it listed in 1oz, 2oz and 3oz sizes.

If you like the idea of Snow Mountain, but you also like a little sparkle, there's a new fiber on the block. It's called StarBright. StarBright is a high luster tri-lobal nylon product that has more luster than Snow Mountain. StarBright is a 3 Denier nylon. If we transfer Deniers to Microns, that would make StarBright a 19 micron nylon, so it's a very soft fiber. The staple length is approximately 3 inches. It's a nice way to add a subtle sparkle to your crafts.

If you feel that there is no such thing as too much sparkle, then Firestar is the fiber for you. Firestar is also a nylon and when it comes to sparkle, it's one of the best! It has about a 4" staple length and it too will needle felt just like StarBright and Snow Mountain.

If you're reading this and thinking to yourself that all this is well and good, but you really just prefer natural wool. I hear you and I'd like to recommend Falkland top. It's natural color is quite light and it has a very long staple length. It averages around 5" so you could give Santa a nice long beard. Sometimes using natural wool gives your crafts a more homey or vintage feel. Whatever fiber you choose, have a wonderful, crafty time!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Firestar Holiday Samplers!

I guess I can't fight it anymore. Thanksgiving is just a couple weeks away which means Christmas is right around the corner. The requests for Firestar in holiday colors have been rolling in, so here we go!

Today I just added Firestar Holiday Samplers to the shop at Wind Rose. They include 1/4oz each of Merry Green, Yellow Gold, Silver and Holiday Red. As you know, a little Firestar goes a long way, so this should be enough to add sparkle to your needle felted holiday crafts. Of course you can also blend it with other fibers and spin it up for pretty, luminous yarns.

If you're a big fan of Firestar and 1/4oz just isn't enough. You can also find these four colors sold by the ounce in my Firestar & Craft Supplies Section.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reversible Scarf ~ Double Ended Crochet

Hi. I hope everyone's week is getting off to a good start. I just thought I'd take a moment to show you how my reversible scarf is coming along. This is the first real project I've done with a double ended crochet hook. Up until now, I've just made swatches to play around with different stitch patterns.

The scarf I'm making is one of my own patterns. It's basically a long, skinny triangle which I call The City Scarf because I saw people wearing scarves like this all over the cities of Europe. It's worn with the widest point front and center and then the ends are wrapped around the neck and brought back to the front. Wait, let me go grab a picture...

Okay, here we go. In this photo, the ends are tied in front, but you get the general idea. I fell in love with this style and so when I returned home, I designed a scarf of my own.

In this reversible version I'm working on, I'm keeping things simple, literally. I'm using the Tunisian simple stitch or Tss throughout. I guess this isn't very adventurous of me, but I didn't want to get tripped up at the points of increase and decrease. This is my first effort after all. I'll mix things up a bit more on the next project.

I have a couple of close-ups so you can see both sides:

I'm using two sock weight yarns for this scarf. One is Bamboo & Ewe made by Sensations. That one is solid grey. The other yarn is Poems Socks made by Wisdom Yarns. It's a self striping yarn and the colorway is called Aurora Borealis. I think I was as drawn by the name as I was by the colors. Interestingly enough, both of these yarns were manufactured in Turkey. I guess they've come a long way to be a part of my little project!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stars & Squares ~ Interlocking Crochet

You know how when something comes on your radar, that wasn't there before, you start to notice it everywhere? Well, I've been thinking about reversible crochet, so now it seems to be popping up before my eyes. In the middle of making a double ended crochet scarf, I stumbled upon a book, Interlocking Crochet by Tanis Galik. I already had an interlock project on my bucket list, so when I found this book, I was compelled to put down my scarf and explore.

The author, Tanis Galik, has made this style of crochet her sole focus. As a result, she has compiled some 80 unique stitch patterns or 40 different reversible fabrics. That's impressive! She's also an excellent writer and covers the basics of interlocking crochet in clear in very easy to understand language. Illustrations are included for those of us who like our visual aids.

Anxious to get started, I grabbed some cotton in Christmas colors thinking I'd make a pot holder or washcloth as a first project. In other words, just a nice square swatch.

I think the best way to describe the process of this interlocking pattern, is that you are making two squares of filet crochet and weaving them together as you go. The red yarn is always worked into the red and the green into the green. The designs are formed by alternating whether you work in the front or back of the other color.

It's fun to watch the pattern emerge as you crochet from row to row. The book, in addition to being a stitch guide, has a variety of nice projects to try. If you enjoy crochet, you might want to add Interlocking Crochet to your holiday wish list.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Double Ended Crochet

Yesterday I spent a little time exploring double ended crochet or crocheting with a double ended hook. The easiest way to describe this form of crochet is that it's basically Tunisian crochet working with two yarns. You pick up a row of stitches, then slide your work to the other end of the double ended crochet hook. Then you give your hook a 180º turn and work the stitches off with a second color. Sticking with color number 2, you pick up the next row of stitches then turn your hook again and switch back to the first color.

I realize that this doesn't make much sense if you are unfamiliar with Tunisian crochet. In fact, the knitters out there may be nodding in understanding more than many crochet enthusiasts. Actually, Tunisian and double ended crochet are very similar to knitting in that you first pick up stitches and then work them off again. The fabric created is very much like knitted fabric only it's just one hook doing all the work.

The fun thing about double ended crochet is that you can make things that are reversible. One side will have one look and the flip side another, but there is no wrong side. This can make designing pretty interesting and fun. I crocheted a little example. The two swatches in the picture are actually the same piece of fabric. It's just been photographed from both sides. On one side, the blue seems to dominate and on the other, the burgundy is highlighted. Both sides have a textured, two-toned appearance making for an eye-catching look.

If you are interested in learning more about double ended crochet, Crochet Master Class has a nice tutorial. There are also quite a few patterns available. Try working with multicolored yarn or textured yarn for really fun results. Right now, I'm making a reversible version of my City Scarf with a solid color on one side and a variegated color on the other. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ecru Bouclé Mohair Yarn

I love bouclé yarns. They add just the perfect touch of texture and they're so soft. That's why I'm adding Ecru Bouclé Mohair Yarn to my inventory at Wind Rose. I'm putting it up in 250 yard hanks that are loosely bound and ready for dyeing or painting.