Monday, December 31, 2012

One Last Post for 2012

Leicester Longwool Locks

I couldn't let the year come to a close without one last post.  My blogging has waned over the last 12 months, but certainly not my devotion to fiber.  The irony is, that after putting off starting a Facebook page, I now find myself going there more often than not.  I can't help but feel that my blog asks a bit more of me when I write each new post.  I feel I should have something interesting to offer whereas Facebook doesn't seem to mind if I just check in and say hello.  It's silly isn't it?

Now, on the precipice of a new year, my mind seems to be devoted to resolutions.  It's quite out of my control.  I'm on autopilot and personal pledges appear like clouds drifting through my brain.  One such cloud is circling, promising to linger until I devote myself once again the my Wind Rose Fiber Studio blog.  I'm determined to do so, but I want to make a special space for Facebook as well.  I'm setting a goal to blog once a week, more of course if the muse strikes.  Facebook will take over as a more daily exchange of thoughts and ideas.  I would love to have your company there as it seems a more interactive and intimate place.  I like to share my works in progress and, not to be a tease, but it is also the place where I am more likely to give away a new pattern or post a special offer at the shop.  

Speaking of the shop, I just listed some lovely Leicester Longwool locks.  This fleece was my last splurge of the year.  It was rather greasy, so it has taken some preparation, but I am pleased with the results.  It's so bright and pretty with a long staple and gorgeous curl.  I have more to make ready, so for now I have just 4oz listed. I can't wait to spin up a few ounces myself.  I'm trying to decide what sort of yarn these locks would like to become.  

Before I close, I want to thank everyone for a wonderful 2012, for the community you provide and the positive energy I feel flowing.  Creativity is a sustaining force in my life and your company is a big part of that.  I only hope that I also provide a good and useful spirit.  It is my sincere wish that 2013 will bring you joy and prosperity.  Happy New Year!        

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spinnin' & Chillin'

I decided to do a little spinning yesterday.  It was too hot to sit outside and I didn't feel like being in my studio, so I started to look around my living room for a good spot.  My living room is far from traditional.  It's the cool room in our house.  There's a pool table, flat screen, old school record player; it's more of hangout than a "living room".  Our leather couch sits a little too high for treadling which left our club chairs as the only choice.  The club chairs are modern, swiveling on pedestals and semicircle in shape.  I don't typically spin in chairs with armrests, so I wasn't certain this would work out.

I selected a song and hit the genius button on my laptop and then plopped down.  In addition to my spinning accoutrements, I had a green spray bottle of water next to me.  Spinning out in the open means attracting the attention of our two cats, Costello and Elvis.  They are trained well enough that the mere presence of the water bottle is enough to keep them at a respectable distance.  

I usually use an antique wooden chair when I spin.  I sit with my back straight and my hands fairly centered.  I feel I can spin longer without tiring when I'm balanced.  That's why yesterday was such a departure for me.  I leaned back into the club chair which is actually a very comf seat.  I pushed my wheel a little farther away than usual and stretched my legs out.  I let my elbows rest on the arms of the chair.  When I began to spin, I found myself drafting in a sideways motion.  It was surprisingly pleasant.  I always find spinning relaxing, but I've never felt quite this laid-back.  It felt revolutionary.

I ended up spending most of the day, just spinnin' & chillin' with good music and the company of my teenage son.  He hung out playing video games and we talked about our favorite tunes and stuff.  I was enjoying myself so much that after finishing 150 yards of 2ply, I started in on a thick and thin just because.  For all of you spinners who are way ahead of me and have been hangin' out in this style for ages, all I can say is, "You rule."  If you haven't tried a more laid back posture, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baby Girl Christmas Hat

My cousin is about to have her first baby this December and I couldn't be happier for her and her husband. This is turning out to be a year of babies for my friends and family which means I am revisiting some of my favorite old baby designs.  

I first made this hat about 7 or 8 years ago for a friend and neighbor back when I lived in Virginia.  She has a little boy and was trying to describe a hat shape that she liked.  On a piece of paper she sketched what was basically a square and explained how the points would stick up when the hat was sitting on someone's head.  It sounded like a cute idea, so after taking a few measurements, I set out to make my own version of this hat.

Well, I've been making these little hats ever since.  They are just so cute and whimsical.  For girls I scallop the brim and make loopy flowers at the points.  for boys I make the brim straight and make loopy pom-poms instead of flowers.  This one is a holiday version as you can see.  I also like to make them with red and white stripes.  I think this is a sweet first Christmas design.

This hat looks great in everything from pastels to primary colors.  I've chosen a bouclé for this project, but other textures look great too.  From furry to flat, the possibilities abound.  I had to work this hat up my my own, ancient, chicken scratch.  I was old school back then, walking around scribbling ideas in a journal.  It's time I preserve this design with a proper pattern! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Spinning My Milk Sheep Fiber

It was a nice lazy weekend around my house.  My hands needed a break from crocheting, so my thoughts turned to spinning.  I went into my studio and dug a huge bag of German milk sheep fiber out of a corner cupboard.  It's coarse wool, good for rug making, and I need a new rug right now.  The small rug I keep on the back porch is beginning to crumble and it will be nice to replace it with something homemade.  

After spending a large part of the afternoon filling this spool, I have to say that I don't know how people attend long spinning events.  My backside gets so tired of my spinning chair and my neck and upper back ache from being in one aspect for so long.  I guess I don't spin often enough to build up stamina.  This fact is in direct conflict with my determination to spin though my mountain of wool.  Today my chair will receive the addition of a pillow and I'll have to stop and stretch more often.  

What I'd like to do is to spin all of this fiber into a nice heavy 2ply.  Then divide it into around 200 yard hanks to be dyed in a variety of colors.  This would be a nice project to weave on my rigid heddle, but I don't know if I can get myself back into weaving.  Crochet is just so quick and easy for me.  I guess I'll have plenty of time to contemplate this while I'm spinning. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Crocheted Necklaces ~ More Styles

Here are a few more samples of the necklaces I've been making lately.  I really love working with linen these days.  It feels sturdy and strong and yet as you wear it, it becomes softer and softer.  My favorite place to shop for linen lace is Yarn Mountain.  There are so many gorgeous colorways.

Another favorite lace weight of mine is Shoppel Wolle Zauberball.  I love the long striping effect and it looks great in projects like these.  I first bought Shoppel Wolle in Germany, but it's readily available here in the states. 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Linen and Lace Necklace ~ A New Pattern!

I'm feeling more than a little sheepish for having been away so long.  Is if possible to develop attention deficit issues in midlife?  I find myself spending more time on Wind Rose Fiber Studio's Facebook page than here and I think it's because it's so quick and easy.  If you want to see what I've been working on lately, I would welcome your visit.  

My latest design is the Linen and Lace Necklace and last week I even managed to write up the pattern. It's available for sale in my Etsy shop, but until Sept 15th, the pattern is available for free to people who follow my Facebook page.  You'll find the simple details here.  

Now that I've flexed my fingers, I hope to rekindle my attention span and return to more regular blogging.  I've missed you and I know I have a handful of questions waiting for answers here as well. Please forgive my time away and I'll be getting to you with answers very soon.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ May

The Cinnamon Log Tote

•Two colors of yarn, same weight, will be referred to as Yarn A and Yarn B.  In sample piece the brown is Yarn A and the ecru is Yarn B.
•Crochet hook that is an appropriate size for chosen yarn.  Sample made with size H hook and worsted weight handspun 
•large eye needle for sewing in loose ends
•3 cinnamon sticks approximately 3.5” long

If you need a stitch guide or help with the abbreviations, Crochet 'N' More is a great resource for all of the basics.

Finished piece measures 2.75” wide and 2.25” long folded in half or 4.5” laid flat.  These measurements do not include the handles. 

With Yarn A, Ch 18
Row 1:  sc in second chain from hook, *skip next 3 chains, work 4 dc, ch 1, 4 dc in next st, skip next 3 chains, sc in next st* twice, (see image 1, arrows indicate upcoming stitch placement) working along the opposite side of the beginning chain, skip first 4 chains, work 4 dc, ch 1, 4 dc in next st, skip next 3 chains, sc in next st, skip next 3 chains, work 4 dc, ch 1, 4 dc in next st, skip next 3 chains, sl st in first sc, finish off (image 2)


Row 2:  with Yarn B
We are going to work a 4bpdc dec (back post double crochet decrease) over the first four dc just left of the 1st sc of Row 1.  Here’s how:  Join Yarn B to hook with a standard slip knot, yarn over, insert hook around first dc from back to front (image 3), yo pull up a loop, yo pull through two loops, *insert hook around next dc from back to front, yo pull up a loop, yo pull through two loops* 3 times (image 4), yo pull through all five loops on hook (4bpdc dec complete, image 5), ch 4, sc in next ch 1 space, ch 4, 8bpdc dec, ch 4, sc in next ch 1 space, *ch 4, 4bpdc dec, ch 4, sc in next ch 1 space* twice,
ch 4, 8bpdc dec, ch 4, sc in next ch 1 space, ch 4, 4bpdc dec, ch 4, sc in next ch 1 space, ch 4, sl st to top of beg 4bpdc dec (image 6)

Row 3:  ch 1, work 3sc into same st as joining, 2 sc in next ch 4sp, 2 sc in next sc, 2 sc in next ch 4 space, 2 sc in top of 8bpdc dec, 2 sc in next ch 4 space, 2 sc in next sc, 2 sc in next ch 4 space, 3 sc in top of 4bpdc dec, continue around in this way being sure to work 3 sc in each corner (image 7), join with sl st to to first sc, do not finish off

sl st into next sc, ch 20, join with sl st in the adjacent corner, finish off.  Make handle for the opposite side by joining with a slip st in one  corner, ch 20, join with sl st in the adjacent corner, finish off (image 8)  weave in all loose ends.

Now the Cinnamon Log Tote is ready to be folded in half and filled with cinnamon sticks.  Just hang it on your tree and enjoy the spicy bouquet!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ May Preview

I guess the first thing I should say is that I realize it is no longer the month of May.  In fact, June is well on its way, but my goal was one ornament pattern a month, and so late or not, I'm going for it.  Hopefully, I'll be able to come up with one more design idea for this month and then I'll be back on track.  

I was in a little creative slump, so I just started to think about my favorite tree decorations.  One of my favorite years, was the first time I bought my very own tree for the holidays.  I was living in a basement apartment across the street from an antique shop.  They started selling Christmas trees and so I bought one.  

It was all I could do to haul my tree down my basement steps leaving a reckless trail of pine needles.  When I finally managed it, I realized that I had neither a stand nor any ornaments to my name.  For a few minutes I stood with what I am sure was a "now what do I do" expression on my face when I came up with an idea.  I had a big basket that I used for something (I can't remember what), so I dumped out the contents and in I plopped my tree .  It looked like a giant version of those cone shaped rosemary plants they sell around the holidays.  I was thrilled both by the fact that the basket was actually managing to hold my tree upright, and how whimsical it looked.  Perfect!

The next step was to figure out some way to decorate my first tree.  I started rummaging around and found a collection of little silk roses on wires.  I've been buying spices in bulk for a long time, so I happened to have a bag of cinnamon sticks on hand as well.  I used the roses to attach the cinnamon to my tree.  It was pretty and the fragrant blend of evergreen and cinnamon was wonderful.  I topped the tree off with ribbon tied into a bow and that was that.  

I always get sentimental when I think about my cinnamon adorned tree.  It was simple and sweet and now it's the inspiration for my next ornament design.  For the month of May, the ornament is...
The Cinnamon Log Tote

I hope you like it.  I've been wanting to make a two toned ornament, so this fulfills that wish as well.  Of course you can make your ornament out of any yarn or any colors, but I have been using only handspun ecru.  To add just a little color, I spun up some baby camel top.  The camel and merino look very pretty and earthy together.  

This ends my very verbose preview.  I haven't blogged in a while, so I guess I'm feeling chatty.  I'll be back in just a day or two with the free pattern.  Once I've finished a design, it doesn't take long for me to write it up.  See you soon!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Felted Fountain

I guess you know you've been MIA for too long when your own blog wants you to sign in.  Between the end of the school year and an extreme case of spring fever, I feel like I've been in a constant state of distraction.  I have a feeling that May does this to a lot of people and I am in good company.  

In an effort to regain focus, I've decided to use a couple days of my summer holiday to revamp my studio.  This seems to be an annual event for me.  I think my subconscious is stuck on the notion that with a little reorg, there is more space to be had in my one room studio.  My conscious however, knows that the only way to achieve space is to do some painful purging. 

The closet seemed like the place to start.  After pulling out a couple of big items, a six foot easel and a standing floor loom, I uncovered my felted fountain.  I went through a period of making felted structures.  I was obsessed with seeing how big a sculpture I could make, out of just wool yarn, that would maintain it's integrity without the assistance of any stiffeners or wire or anything else.  To be accurate, I should say fulled structures since I was working from crocheted fabric.  Everything was free-form, design on the fly, so I was always investing time without any guarantees of success.  This fountain was one of my faves and I have to say that it's in pretty good shape despite being unceremoniously stuffed in a closet.  

For anyone who's curious, the fountain stands 14 inches high with a base that's 15.5 inches in diameter.  The center part is about 5 inches in diameter.  Fountains became a theme because I found that I could make larger sculptures by bringing the shape up through the center.  It lended balance and support to the overall piece.  I also carried a running strand of yarn as I crocheted to add more stability and another dimension of color.  I had a good time with these projects because of the element of risk and the fulling process was creatively satisfying.  At times I felt more like a sculptor than a fiber artist.

My kids have a nautical themed bath, so what could be a more natural addition than a felted fountain filled with shells? Every loo has one of these, right?  Mainly, I just couldn't stuff in back into the closet or some random box.  I think my subconscious may be in the lead at this point.  I have a whole box of Hefty bags sitting on the floor of my studio with the plan to give away as much as I can.  So far, I haven't opened it.  It's an internal battle of wills and I hope my practical side wins. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Home Fibers ~ Part IV

I'm getting back to my series on home fibers today.  My next stop was a visit to my mom's.  My mom is an avid knitter and always has a project in the works.  Here's the sweater she's currently making.  I love the beehive pattern.  As a novice knitter, I look at this and consider how hard I would have to think about what row I was working and the stitch counting, not to mention the inevitable goofs.  My mom, however, knits right along.

I said it before and I'll say it again, it's fun to go exploring for fibers in people's homes.  As this was my mom's, I could snoop rather freely.  Cuddling together in her closet I found Raggedy Ann and Andy.  These dolls have been well cared for as they still look brand new.  In truth they are probably closer to 30 years old.  

On display out in the open, is a more recent addition to my mom's doll family.  She looks a bit like a prairie doll with the apron and long braids.  Growing up in Yorktown, VA, prairie/colonial type dress is part of my childhood and has a nostalgic affect.  

My mom has also done quite a bit of needlepoint.  Above her bed is the angel holding the world and I even found a creation of my own propped up on a chair.  Years ago I made little quilted pillows for my mom and her two sisters.  I printed a favorite picture of the three of them onto fabric and then pieced it together with classic cotton prints and lace. 

These posts are almost starting to feel like a time capsule.  It's interesting to see what people cherish enough to keep and it's touching to revisit the memories that coincide with the fibers in our homes.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Pickup The Planet Pouch ~ Tutorial

In my last post, I introduced you to Pickup The Planet.  This is my son's project.  He's picking up one piece of litter everyday and hoping to inspire others to do the same.  I love supporting his efforts and together, we came up with an easy craft that comes in handy when you're cleaning up the planet.  We call it The Pickup The Planet Pouch.

Sometimes you run into litter that's dangerous to handle like broken glass or sharp metal.  Other times you may encounter trash that's just kind of gross.  These are the perfect occasions for The Pickup The Planet Pouch!

Made from a classic bandanna cut in half, this little pouch is a great size to keep in your pocket or carry with you in a purse.  It's 100% cotton and can be washed and reused over and over again.  Here's my son in action, showing you how to make a pouch of your own. 

The Pickup The Planet Pouch

Click on each collage for a larger view and easier reading.  With a pouch in your pocket, everyday can be earth day.  Thank you for helping Pickup The Planet!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pickup The Planet ~ Environmentalism & Kids

I hope you won't mind a little side step into environmentalism today.  I want to share my son's new project.  He has just started a facebook page called Pickup The Planet.  In his words, "I'm planning to pickup at least one piece of trash a day, everyday. I'm hoping that people will like this idea and join me. Just imagine if everyone in the world did this. The earth would be much cleaner! This is something kids and adults can do to help the planet. I'll share my efforts along the way."

When I was helping him choose a name for his project, we were playing around with a lot of words and phrases.  When we thought of Pickup The Planet, I looked up pickup in the dictionary.  I wasn't sure if it was properly spelled as two separate words or as a hyphenate.  What I learned is that it can be spelled either way or as one word.  We thought the one word spelling was catchy and made a good title.  Also, it's nice to think of pickup, not just as the act of picking up something, but as improving or elevated its state.  When we clean our earth, we make it a better place for us and all of the inhabitants. 

Our family lives in a nice suburb close to our local school.  Many of the kids in our neighborhood walk to school cutting through an alley that passes behind our house.  This is what that alley typically looks like.  It's sad that so many kids don't give a second thought to dropping trash on the ground.  I look at this picture and think that it's time to start setting an example and I'm proud of my son for taking a leadership role in doing just that!

Earth Day is this Friday and many of us go out and clean up our neighborhoods or try to do something special for the environment.  It would be hard to do these larger efforts everyday, but picking up one piece of litter a day is something we can all do, kids and grown-ups.  Won't you join us in becoming more mindful about taking care of our planet?  Come on over to facebook and click the "Like" button to show your support.  It would mean a lot to my son, but more importantly, it would mean a lot to the Planet.  Thanks!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bavarian Baby Blanket

Recently, I've had two new babies enter my world.  One is the daughter of a friend and the other, my new nephew.  As a result, I've had babies on the brain.  When you see a newborn and you look into those big eyes, the feelings of wonder and joy come streaming back.  What a gift!

I thought I'd share a little peek at the baby blanket I'm making for my nephew.  I was looking through my personal library for inspiration, when I came across a book on Bavarian Crochet about which I had completely forgotten.  I purchased it rather spontaneously and then undoubtedly became distracted by numerous things.  I love the look of Bavarian crochet.  It reminds me of quilting and I especially like the way it blends colors together.  That subtle overlapping along with the texture is so appealing to me.  I hope it will appeal to my nephew too, because this is the beginning of his new blanket.   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Antique Textile Spools Repurposed

In Part II of my Home Fibers series, I talked about my Mother-in-law's antique spool collection.  I inherited five of these spools and brought them home not knowing how I would display them.  I thought I would just show them off in a grouping on a shelf or maybe use them as candle holders.  Then I got an idea.

I decided to use them around my bath.  I must be in bathroom remodel mode because this is the same room for which I just crocheted a new rug.  I guess bathrooms are fun to fix up because they are small.  Anyway, back to the spools.  I put candles in three of them because candlelit baths are always nice.  A large one with wide ends has become a soap holder.  Next, I got the idea to wrap washcloths around a couple of the smaller spools.  That little notion made me very happy.  In my book, its just quirky enough to be cool.  

Now my bath feels very luxurious.  I put some bubble bath in a little Mexican ceramic creamer that a friend gave me.  It has painted peacock feathers and is very sweet.   Next to that is a bowl of dead sea salts because I love how salts soothe my skin.  It's like my own little spa.  It's even more special to me with the addition of the textiles.  There's nothing like relaxing surrounded by the things you love!  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Three Day Weekend Rug

I have a studio full of stuff I've made, but around my house I don't have that much on display.  Just a few things.  I love folk art and art in general, so my decorating involves an eclectic blend of pieces from all over the world.  I enjoy this mix and I like the idea of supporting individuals over big companies.  The one down side to this is the question, "Oh, did you made that?"  I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.  When people know you to be creative, they seem to think that you must create most of your surroundings.  It's a compliment really, but I start to feel bad when I have to keep saying "no".  I feel like I'm letting them down or something.

Lately, I've decided that I want to rectify this situation.  I've been feeling inspired, especially after my latest trip back home where I spent time exploring the handmade pieces that my family and friends proudly display.  I want to start making more things for my house.  I want to start answering that question with "yes"!   

This leads me to my new bathroom rug.  I have a pretty big bathroom floor space on which I had a chenille throw.  The chenille rug served its purpose, but it lacked any sort of personality.  What you can't see is that I have these really cool sari silk curtains hanging over the bath.   I wanted something that would play to that style.  I chose a dark eggplant yarn because this color is in the curtains and would get along well with the color of my tile.  I used 26 skeins of bulky weight yarn.  That's roughly 2,700 yards to create this 5 by 7 foot area rug.  I love how swirly it looks from a distance.  

It began with 10 hexagons each measuring 20 inches in diameter.  I called this post Three Day Weekend Rug, but I did make a couple of these hexagons before this weekend.  I think I had four of them made, but the rest of the rug came together over three days.  It's been a long time since I've made anything this big.  The finishing touch was three rows worked around the edge.  I sat in a recliner half covered by this heavy rug.  It was comical to feel so pinned down and every time I needed to shift the piece, it was a major undertaking.

Finally, my rug was finished and I laid it out on the floor.  I had to fight the urge to walk around it.  It felt wrong at first to step on this thing in which I had just invested so much time.  My son had no trouble walking on it.  In fact, he thinks it looks a bit like a hopscotch board and so he's been hopping across it and encouraging me to do the same.   

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Summer Scarf ~ Free Form?

 I sat down one afternoon this week and just kind of whipped up this scarf.  When I wear it, I only wrap it around my neck once and then let the ends come forward.  It's so light and airy, it's kind of like wearing a necklace, more decorative than practical.  I've gotten into wearing scarves lately, and I wanted something to wear even during the warm months.  

The back story on this piece is that I had the flowers already.  A couple months ago, I was going to make this free form design from a book.  The instructions have you create motifs and then guide you in the assembly process.  I realize that using instructions to make a free form accessory is in and of itself a contradiction.  I think I was motivated by seeing some of these fantastic free form works that are made up of hundreds of small shapes.  They are very stunning and I feel drawn to them.  However, after I made all of my motifs and started putting them together, I remembered something about myself.  I don't really enjoy assemblage work.  I find it tedious.  I told myself that I must not be the free form type and on I moved. 

About a week ago I started thinking about all those motifs I had just sitting in a bag.  They were cute; flowers, wheels and little circles.  I started to play with them in my mind.  What would they like to be?  Then it came to me, how about a spring scarf?  The flowers could dangle playfully at different lengths and I could make the scarf so light that it could be worn even during a southwest summer.  I began to look through my stash for an appropriate yarn for the scarf.  I got very lucky.  I don't even remember buying this hand painted linen lace from Claudia Hand Painted Yarns.  The colors were perfect and the lace weight linen ideal.  The flowers were also made with lace weight yarn and the linen would feel good next to my skin and breath in the warm summer months.  

I guess this is my style of free form.  Now I want to turn the rest of my motifs into summer scarves.  If you're out and about this summer and you see a woman with flowers dangling from her neck, it might be me!     

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Home Fibers ~ Part III

While in southern Virginia, I paid a visit to some dear family friends.  In this case, my reputation preceded me.  Sitting out on the dining room table, as if waiting for me, were three tatted family heirlooms.

I really wasn't expecting to see tatting when I set out to discover fiber arts in the homes of my loved ones.  I have only been tatting for a couple years now, so maybe it just wasn't on my radar.  These are all precious, however the ornament on the far right strikes me as unique.  At first glance, I thought I was looking at a classic wreath or ring design, but then I realized that it has been worked onto a ring that was first wrapped in crochet.  The inside loops of the tatting are a little more complicated as well.  They are actually loops within loops.  All in all, it's a pretty intricate little ornament.

Believe it or not, I have fiber finds from three more homes to share.  Just as a teaser, one of my best friends recently moved back from living in Japan for three years.  She brought back some gorgeous silks as well as a few other surprises, but first, a visit to see my sister and my mom.  Get ready for knitting and needlepoint!  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ April

I've been saving this design for April in honor of that old saying, April showers bring May flowers.
The Falling Raindrop Ornament looks so pretty hanging from the tree.  It has that icicle effect and just imagine if they were made in sparkling silver or gold.  These crochet up quickly and as an added bonus, there are no loose ends to sew.  I think you're going to like this one! 

Falling Raindrop

Yarn of choice and appropriately sized hook, scissors

If you need a stitch guide or help with the abbreviations, Crochet 'N' More is a great resource for all of the basics. 

Ch 19
Row 1:  5 sc in second ch from hook
Row 2:  (working in the round and skipping over the beg ch) 2 sc in each st around = 10 sc
Row 3:  sc around = 10 sc

Completing Raindrop:  *sc dec, sc* 5 times (decrease rounds), sl st into back loop of beg ch #13, 3 sc in back loop of each beg ch until you reach the first.  Insert hook in back loop of 1st ch, pull up a loop, cut working yarn leaving 4 or 5 inches, yarn over with both the working yarn and the beginning tail end, pull through both loops on hook.  Tie an overhand knot to create loop for hanging.

That's all there is to it.  Give your raindrop a little tug to extend the spirals.  Also, and this is just a personal taste kind of thing, I like to keep the hanging loop on this ornament pretty small.  I make it just big enough to fit over the end of a branch.  That way the raindrop looks like it's falling right from the tree branch.  

I hope you've enjoyed making the Falling Raindrop ornament!

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ April Preview

I know a few of you may be wondering about April's ornament.  I haven't forgotten.  This month the free crochet pattern will be for this falling raindrop ornament.  This is my prototype pictured here.  I want to make a couple more and tweak the design a little before I write it up.  I just wanted to let you know it's coming!

A Spinning Frame

Yesterday I was sharing some of my mother-in-law's collection of antique spools or bobbins.  On my most recent visit, I had the fun task of selecting five to bring home with me.  Among the more traditional looking bobbins were a few funny looking ones.  I wasn't really sure if they were bobbins or perhaps another part of textile machinery, but I brought one home just the same.

I thought it might take a little research to figure out the function of this odd shaped part, but I stumbled onto the answer very quickly.  In fact, this is a bobbin, known as a spinning frame. It was also called a beehive because of the shape of the base.  The graduated ridges at the bottom gave the yarn something to grip when they started a new run.  The smooth top prevented any snagging.

Though I checked my information with a number of sites, I particularly like Becki's Bobbins. She has some wonderful pictures of old textile mills and good descriptions of the different bobbins.  About the spinning frame she goes on to say, "Cotton or wool rovings were transferred from a larger spool via the spinning process onto the frame bobbin. Different frame sizes were used for different weights and thickness of fibers."  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Flax Top

I just added some Flax Top to my inventory at Wind Rose.  I've been wanting to try spinning flax myself, so I thought I'd get enough for the shop too.  This flax is very soft and fine.  The staple length is approx 12 inches which means it would work well for doll hair.  There are some very nice YouTube videos on spinning flax.  Here's a couple of my favorites.  Flax Spinning and Spinning Flax Into Linen Thread.

Home Fibers ~ Part II

I arrived home from my Virginia vacation and kind of spazzed on my blogging.  I'm the sort of person who makes daily goals and likes to get a lot done, so when I returned after a week off, I went crazy doing things with the kids and around the house.  My vacation involved much sitting and visiting and I just couldn't sit still any longer.  Whenever I thought about blogging, I was deterred by the prospect of idle desk time. 

I'm starting to settle back down now and I miss my routine of daily blogging.  Plus, I have a lot about which to blog.  I took so many pictures of home fibers while I was away.  I had a great time asking people about the fiber art that they have on display or in use in their homes, and my family and friends seemed to enjoy sharing their treasures.

Before I talk about my collage today, I just have to say a little something about this fiber mission.  I assigned myself the task of searching out home fibers just to add a little fiber flavor to my holiday.  I knew it would be interesting to me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions of my family and friends.  They seemed to enjoy showing me things as much as I enjoyed seeing them.  It gave us something more to talk about than just the everyday catching up.  It also made me feel more connected to the ones I love because talking about the fiber arts in their homes, led to talking about the hands that made them.  This often meant beloved mothers and grandmothers.  Hand crafted items hold so much sentimental value.  The style or condition they're in hardly matters when they are filled with tender, warm memories.

My collage today comes from my father-in-law's house.  My husband and I have been married for almost 17 years and in this time I have come to love his parent's home.  In fact, it seems fitting to display some of their fiber arts in a collage as my mother-in-law, Kathleen, had a gift for creating decorative displays.  She liked to collect items and then strengthen their story by grouping them.  For instance, the pineapple is historically a symbol of welcome.  Kathleen assembled a grand collection of pineapples including plaques, stained glass, needle point and more.  They are the first thing you see when entering the house and they assure you of the warmest of welcomes!

Also in the entryway is an antique cabinet on which stand a collection of wooden spools.  No doubt retired from years of good service in a textile mill, these spools now enjoy a place of rest and a new purpose.  They are fabulous in appearance, not the tidy little spools we use on our spinning wheels, but massive, metal enforced pieces of machinery.  When I look at them, I remember family dinners, sitting at the long dining room table.  The spools in their various heights winding down the center and illuminated by the candles that Kathleen placed in their cores. 

After this lovely greeting in the foyer, we make our way down the hall passing by the living room.  Draped over a chair is the blue shawl that a friend knitted for Kathleen after she was diagnosed with cancer.   I can't help but touch it as I pass by, grateful that Gary has kept it present.  Now it feels like a symbol of how much we all loved Kathleen and do still.

The hallway opens up to the family room.  This is a wonderful, open space with large windows looking out onto the water.   On the opposite wall hangs an impressive macramé made by Gary's mother.  Though this wall hanging was made in Kansas years ago, it seems right at home and takes on more of a nautical feel.  The natural color and play of knots prepare you for a day filled with salty air and sea shells.  At the end of this day, you can curl up on the couch under a knitted afghan that lays waiting just for you.

What I love about my father-in-law's home is that everything feels so natural.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but sometimes you feel as though furnishings are brought in to match their environment.  On the contrary, there is something special about a structure that feels as though it was built just to accommodate the contents within.  I think it's the difference between house and home. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Home Fibers ~ Part I

Hello there.  It feels like a long time since my last post, but I guess it's only been a few days.  This week I'm traveling and I have given myself a little fiber mission.  I'm visiting quite a few homes on this trip, so I thought it would be fun to look for ways people incorporate fiber art in their everyday lives.

The first stop on this trip was to the home of Duane the Great.  He's my husband's grandfather, but our kids know him as Duane the Great.  (I think he approves of the title.)  I knew I would find some fiber on display in his home.  His wife Pauline did handiwork and passed it on to their children.  I wasn't disappointed because right on their kitchen table, being used as an everyday tablecloth was this lovely piece of filet crochet.  

Duane and his wife Pauline were both born in Kansas and from the stories I have been told, it was very much a part of the culture for young women to learn several forms of fiber art.  Pauline's daughter, my mother-in-law, could switch easily from knitting to crochet or embroidery.  Making things by hand seems to be in the blood.  

Pauline passed away quiet a few years ago now, but I was touched to see her wedding accessories still on display as treasured keepsakes.  You can see her pearls, white gloves and lace trimmed handkerchiefs.  My favorite piece is the tatted purse.  I don't know if she made that herself or if it was an heirloom.  It's so delicate that I suspect it may be something that was passed down to Pauline. 

It's nice to see handmade pieces being put to everyday good use whether as a tablecloth or a piece of art.  It's so much more personal than anything you could ever purchase and somehow it gives you a sense of connection.  When I touch the lace of Pauline's tablecloth, I imagine her hands forming each and every stitch.  I think about the time and care she devoted to the project and smile.

Friday, March 9, 2012

BFL/Tussah Top ~ It's New!

I have another treat to share today.  This is my idea of a luxury fiber!  This is 75/25 Bluefaced Leicester and Tussah Silk.  I love spinning BFL.  There's just something about the crimp and the feel of this wool that's so appealing to me as a spinner.  The Tussah silk blended into this top makes for incredible softness.  It also gives it a lovely shine.

Rachel Ray always wishes for "smell-o-vision".  I'm wishing for feel-o-computing.   Okay, so it's not as catchy a phrase, but I really wish you could reach out and touch this fiber!

I guess the best I can do is a close-up.  I like this blend even better than Merino/silk because it handles so well.  Of course Merino/silk is soft and pretty, but BFL/Tussah is just so spinable and the crimp in the wool gives the top a loftiness that I think is unique and special.  Can you tell I like this fiber yet?  

I linked to a 2oz listing above, but you can find it in other amounts at Wind Rose Fiber Studio

Merino/Silk Heavy Worsted Weight Yarn

I was ordering some yarn for the shop last week and I decided to indulge myself.  I selected a yarn that I personally love, so I hope shoppers at Wind Rose will love it too.  It's a single ply, heavy worsted blend of Merino/Silk.  

This yarn is 60% Merino wool and 40% cultivated silk.  It's wonderfully soft and has a gorgeous luster from the silk.  This is exactly the kind of yarn you want for a snuggly scarf or a cozy sweater.  It comes in generous 8oz, 500 yard skeins and is ready to be hand painted or dyed. 

Superwash Merino Worsted Weight Yarn

I'm playing catch-up today with a few posts to share some new products at Wind Rose.  I'm an Ashford Bay dealer, so when I ordered some of this Superwash Merino for a customer, I decided to order a little extra for the shop.  

It's a soft, 4ply yarn that comes in 8oz hanks.  Eight ounces gives you 425+ yards which is enough for many sock patterns as well as hats and scarves.  The hanks are loosely tied and prepared for dyeing or hand painting.  I love the feel of this yarn and I think it will be a nice addition. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Handspun Baby Camel

I did a little spinning yesterday, so I thought I'd play show and tell.  I spun up an ounce of baby camel top into this 2ply yarn.  It was my first time spinning camel and I have to say I enjoyed it.  

Baby camel top is very soft and the fibers are short.  The staple length is right around an inch.  When I first sat down to spin, I began by drafting from the prepared top, but it was hard to manage.  The short, perfectly combed fibers wanted to slip off rather than be drafted in any sort of controlled way.  I feared that not only would my yarn be less even than I desired, but also a little weak with all the fibers so uniform.  

I know a lot of spinners have a very low opinion of commercial top.  I've read more than one blog whose author is passionately opposed to ever touching the stuff.  I'm not quite that hardcore and as a willful woman, I care less about what the accepted wisdom may be and more about the joy of discovery.  I say this not to delight in my own stubborn nature, rather I want you to know that my methods are just my own and I don't claim expertise.

My solution to my drafting situation was to pull off around three inches of the top at a time.  I bent the fibers in half over my index finger and I began drawing the fibers from the bend.  I have spun this way in the past when working with locks and by treating my camel top the same way, I gained all sorts of control.  The next time I sectioned off a piece of top, instead of just folding it in half, I gently rolled it into a rolag of sorts and then drew from the core.  That was even more of an improvement.  

With my new found technique, the top spun very quickly and I was sad when I had exhausted the ounce.  There is evidence in this short skein of my rocky beginning, but I don't mind.  It represents my learning process and I already have plans for this yarn.  I'm designing ornaments this year (I call it my 2012 Ornament Project) and I'm making them all out of natural handspun yarn.  I've been thinking of designs in which I want a second color, but still all natural fiber.  I think this camel will look very pretty with my Merino and Tunis yarns. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ March

Five Point Star

Yarn of choice and appropriately sized hook, scissors, large eye needle for finishing

hdc 5 tog - half double crochet five together - *yo, insert hook behind post, yo draw up a loop* five times, yo and draw through all 11 loops on hook (see pictures 2 & 3)

Ch 5
join with sl st to 1st ch to form a ring
Row 1:  ch 2, work 10 dc into ring, skip beg ch 2, join with sl st to 1st dc
Row 2: 
(see picture 1) *ch 2, dc in next st, ch 3, hdc 5 tog around post of dc just made, ch 3, sc into next st* five times (sl st into last st after making 5th point, see picture 4)
Finish off weaving in loose ends. 

Hanging Loop
Cut a 4 to 5 inch piece of yarn.  Tie the ends together with an overhand knot.  Thread the knot end from back to front through the ch 3 space of the top point.  Pass the knot end under the loop end and pull to form a slip knot. (see pictures 5 & 6)

Pattern Note:  To create a six point star, work 12 dc in Row 1 and repeat Row 2 six times. 

*Note:  The reason I begin Row 1 with a ch 2 which I later skip over is to fill the space typically created between the first and last sts.  It would be perfectly fine to ch 3 and have that count as the first dc, dc 9 in circle and join to the top of the beg ch 3.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fiber Arts for the Front Door!

I was excited to finish my tatted mandala yesterday.  It meant that I was free to do the next big tatted project that I had in my head.  I've been wanting to making decorations for my front doors.  It seems only right that the house of a fiber lover should be somehow be adorned in yarn.

The thought to make front door decor first came to me in December.  I had a design for Christmas wreaths all worked out, but I just couldn't find the time to devote to them.   Since spring in on the way, I changed my plan and decided to make giant flowers.  I have a little tatted flower that I like to make as a charm.  It's cute with an over-sized bloom and little curved stem.  It's the kind of flower you would expect to find on a visit to Wonderland with Alice.  Yesterday, I set out to make a big version of this friendly flower.

After lunch today, I finished my giant flowers.  I made two because I have double front doors.  I tied them right onto the doors even though I do own those metal wreath hanging things.  I thought the hangers were too distracting.  Flowers don't hang, they grow, right?  I guess these are sort of floating in space which is strange, but maybe not stranger than having tatted flowers on your door in the first place.  Projects like these make me happy.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tatted Mandala Wall Art

Every once in a while, I actually finish one of my projects.  Crazy huh?  Today I'm happy to share one such project.  Actually, I haven't blocked it yet, but it's finished enough!

It was last fall when I had the idea to tat a mandala inspired piece of wall art.  I began by working out the design in size 3 crochet thread.  It took quite a few tries to create the shape I had in mind.  Finally, on December 7th, I posted my small tatted mandala.  Here's a little excerpt from that post,

"In the center of the mandala is a circle surrounded by four arched chains.  These arches represent the four gates that you see on traditional mandalas.  On my final row, I have repeated the gates with the four large rings that point north, south, east and west.  They line up with the four arches in the center.  As a matter of fact, I decided that I would use the number four as the core of my design, so every chain and ring on the entire mandala has either four stitches or a multiple of four."

The mandala prototype measured 4.5 by 4.5 inches.  The one I completed today is four times that size measuring in at 18 by 18 inches.  It was an unruly mammoth.  There I sat carrying two strands of extra bulky yarn with my homemade, 12" wooden tatting needle.  My arm would start to tire from pulling the yarn through my stitches.  I very often had yards worth of yarn threaded.

This is also the largest tatting I have completed to date.  It's hanging from one screw that happens to be on my wall.  One of the things that motivates me to create these large tatted pieces is that I think it's cool to have wall art made from yarn that holds its shape.  I'm not using any stiffeners or special hanging materials, the pieces are able to lie flat against the wall and maintain their form.  I totally dig that!

The New & Improved Wind Rose Website

Wind Rose Fiber Studio has a new home.  While I must admit that I spend most of my time here on my blog and in my Etsy shop, I like to keep a website for Wind Rose too.  It's nice to have a home base that links to all of your sites and who doesn't want to be the queen of her own domain? 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The 2012 Ornament Project ~ March Preview

I was cruising along with my day when I realized I hadn't blogged about anything.  There's almost always something hanging out in my studio, so today I thought I'd give you a sneak peek at the ornament I've designed for March. 

I was not planning on making a star when I sat down with my handspun and hook, but it just kind of happened.  I guess a star would make a good July ornament.  When I started this whole project, I wasn't necessarily planning on having the ornaments represent their months in some way.  Still, it makes a certain amount of sense.  I think when the year is complete, I'll sit down and compile all twelve patterns into a small book.  At that point perhaps I can organize them to better represent each month. 

It's hard to believe that March is just a week away.  Whether it comes in like a lion or a lamb, it will also be greeted by a new free ornament pattern! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Playful Stripes Girl's Hat ~ A New Crochet Pattern!

I crocheted the Playful Stripes Girl's Hat just a few weeks ago.  It turned out even cuter than I imagined, so I decided to write up the pattern.  It took me all afternoon, but it's finally ready!

The back of the brim folds up so it is comfortable to wear lying down.  This means it would also make a nice gift if you like to crochet hats for cancer charities.  Actually, the hat pictured here is on it's way to Craft Hope and will hopefully put a smile on the face of its new owner.   

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Block Printing Sheep

I've been block printing sheep among other things today.  My son Wes and I are working together to make tote bags for the current Craft Hope Project.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you.  That's actually an 11-year-old boy at a sewing machine!  How about that?  First, we made our tote bags using plain black t-shirts for fabric.  We used the body of the shirts to make our 12 x 15 inch bags.  There was enough extra fabric on the sides to create our handles.  I also thought it would be really cute to use the ribbed neckline to make a pocket, but I decided against it for this project.  This was my son's first time at the sewing machine, so I wanted to keep things pretty basic.  

Once our tote bags were complete, it was time to decorate.  We decided to block print designs on the fabric.  Using foam board and adhesive backed felt, we cut our shapes.  We wanted things that would appeal to both boys and girls.  My son supplied the Pokéball and the Clamperl as well as the tulip.  I had to make a sheep because who doesn't like sheep?

Happy with our block collection, we set out to make our prints.  We painted our blocks with Soft Scrub with Bleach.  (It wouldn't be a bad idea to wear a face mask for this part.)  This cleanser is thick and makes for easy painting.  When we had our felt evenly covered with the Soft Scrub, we pressed it onto the fabric.  The sheep pictured here is what it looks like before washing out the excess bleach.

After letting the bleach prints sit on the fabric for 3 to five minutes, we rinsed them well with water and set them out in the sun to dry.  (I used bleach stop on our first few prints, but soon decided that it wasn't really necessary.)  Ours turned a warm rust color, but you never know with black fabric.  Sometimes you'll see more reds and other times you see blues and greens.  That's part of the fun.   

We hope the kids will like their block printed tote bags.  Wes and I enjoyed making them!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crocheted Tunic ~ New Project!

I haven't told you about my latest project yet.  I know I've been working on my Solomon's Knot lace vest and actually, I finished it.   I haven't taken pictures because I really want to make a second one now that I have the pattern completely worked out.  Since this was a first effort, I had to add a couple rows here and remove a couple there.  I'm kind of a perfectionist and it looks like a first draft effort to me.  I do like the design so I will make another, but I'm taking a little break.  

Here's what I'm making now.  I referred to this tunic as new, but I've been working on it behind the scenes for a little while.  If I just took a picture of the fabric, it would be hard to tell where I'm going with this project, so I drew a little sketch.  I'm working the design in four pieces, two squares and two long polygons.  The inspiration for this tunic came from my own closet.  I have a cool top that was made in Japan.  I really like the clean lines and construction of the piece, only there is one aspect of it I would change if I could.  Then I started thinking, why couldn't I? 

Baby Chick & Grass Green

Is it spring down on the farm?  No, actually Baby Chick and Grass Green are the names of the two shades of Merino wool roving I dyed yesterday.  It might not feel like spring yet, but I wanted to have these colors ready in plenty of time to felt baby chicks and other springtime themes.