Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hat Parade!

This fall I was asked to teach a crochet class to a group wishing to crochet for charity.  This put me into a frenzied state of hat design.  I started by actually writing up a pattern I've been making for 10 years.  It's the one I have pictured here in the upper left hand corner and it's called The Portland Beanie.  This is a great go-to beanie pattern using DK or light worsted weight yarn.  It looks terrific in solid colors and can be stunning made up in colorful hanspun.  

After finishing that write-up, I decided it would be nice to be able to make a similar hat only in heavier weight yarn.  They would make up quickly and so could be produced on a larger scale for charities.  The Thick and Quick Portland Beanie is the result of that effort and is pictured on the center left.   This pattern uses heavy worsted weight yarn and offers three different sizes great for growing youth to adult and also includes the Little Hat Flower Pattern for free.  

I wasn't quite done with my Portland Beanie stitch.  Once I started designing, I couldn't stop.  The next pattern I made was The Portland Beret. In this pattern I used a sport weight, variegated yarn.  It's pictured in the lower left corner.  It can be worn slouchy style as shown here or it can be worn like a traditional beret.   

After the Portland Beret was complete, I wanted to make an actual slouchy with that exaggerated poof in the back.  I used a worsted weight yarn and created The Portland Slouchy in in the last two pictures of the right column.  This one is my new favorite.  It's comfortable and can be worn all day as a stylish accessory.  It seems to look great on any shaped face or with any hairstyle.  So versatile!

Once I had a hat for all of these different yarn weights and in a fun variety of styles, I had one thing left on my list of hats to make and that was a The Baby Beanie.   It's in the upper right hand corner in blue, but of course it could just as easily be made in pink or any other color of the rainbow.  In this design, I use single crochet stitches for a beanie that will hold in warmth.  The pattern comes with instructions for the tassel topper you see here and a flower option.  I gave it a rolled brim so it can grow with baby for at least a few weeks.

This is what happens to me when I'm asked to teach a class.  I've always been one to over prepare.  These short periods of prolific design are fulfilling, but it's probably good that I don't teach regularly.  I fear all other aspects of life would suffer.  I have even one more hat that I designed this fall, but I'm saving that for another post.  This fall was a veritable parade of hats, hats and more hats!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crochet Covered Storage Tin

It's my birthday and what am I doing?  I'm yarn bombing a 6oz tin just for the fun of it.  I might be getting one step closer to a tea cozy crocheting stereotype, but I love making things out of yarn enough that I don't even care. 

I finished off a 6oz tin of almonds the other day and couldn't bring my self to throw it away.  There are so many bits and pieces in the crafting that I do, so why not hold onto a perfectly good storage item?  

Flashback to my father saving baby food jars for his workshop.  He would screw the metal tops to the bottom of a shelf and then screw on the little glass jars.  This way he could see and keep organized his smaller hardware pieces.  Genius!

The thing is, how can I allow something so plain as a tin to enter Wind Rose Fiber Studio?  Somehow, always, fiber must get involved!  So I grabbed a bit of leftover yarn, I think this is a Noro silk and wool blend, and started making a cover.  The wonderfully colorful Noro was definitely an improvement, but I thought it still needed a little something.  That's when I got the idea to make a classic storage container label slot.  Three sides are sewn onto my cover and the top is open so I can label the contents of my tin. 

Now it's a proper yarn lovers storage container and pretty cute if I do say so myself. Wouldn't a little grouping be fun together?  It could also be cute to decorate a gift tin of cookies.  

I don't think you need instructions for this one.  I've hardly invented the cozy here.  In the way of guidance, I started with a basic 6 stitch circle (working in the round with H hook and in sc) which I increased in circumference until it matched the bottom of the tin (42 sts).  Then I did a round in the back loops only without increasing to form the bottom rim.  I continued on with the same number of stitches in the round until it reached the height of my tin.  I slip stitched one final row around to give it a nice edge.  I covered the bottom of my tin in Weldbond to keep the cover in place.  I don't really think the sides need glueing.  

For my label cover, I chained 17, I single crocheted in 2nd ch from hook and in the next 4 sts, 3 in next st for 1st corner, sc in next st and then 3 sc in next for 2nd corner, sc in next 5 stitches, then 3 sc, sc, 3 sc over the last three sts to create 3rd and 4th corners, join with sl st to first sc, finish off sewing the edges together as you weave in those ends.  I whip stitched it onto my cover with needle and thread and there you have it. 

I guess I basically just wrote a pattern after all.  Of course you can keep the top that came with the tin.  That could also be yarn bombed if you too abide by the notion that everything is better when covered in yarn. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Regensburg Scarf Revisited

Last night I was in the mood to crochet a little something as I wound down for the day. I wanted something familiar, so I chose one of my own designs.  I'm always promising myself that I'll revisit my patterns to see if I think they are holding up over time.  The more pattern writing you do, the better you get, so it makes sense to go back to earlier patterns and do a little editing.  

The pattern I picked is called The Regensburg Scarf.  I wrote it back in 2011 after a trip to Germany including the town of, you guessed it, Regensburg.  It wasn't any scarf in particular that inspired me.  It was the fact that people were wearing scarves all the time and everywhere.  The scarves were almost always the wrap around style where you bring the ends forward and they seemed to become part of an outfit, more like a necklace than a utility.  

The reason why I wanted to share this pattern here again today, is because it's pretty unique.  I was reading over it last night and even found myself watching the companion video I made four years ago.  I had a strange moment of wondering how I came up with this because it's different than anything else I've designed and it's just kind of fun to do something a little different.  

Slowly my thought process came back to me.  I know I liked the idea of working the fringe in as you crochet.  I've always liked the idea of one uninterrupted thread creating an entire piece.  I also made up a ruffle.  I saw a lot of ruffles in Germany as well, so I wanted to make a crocheted scarf with ruffles.  I wanted more than the texture from a popcorn stitch or something similar.  I wanted an actual ruffle. 

So if you find yourself in the mood to crochet something with a couple of unique elements, The Regensburg Scarf is a fun and relatively quick project.  I think you'll enjoy the process, and if you're like me, you'll start thinking about what other designs you can make with a built in ruffle or fringe. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Drop Spindle Earrings

In my last post I shared a doll-sized drop spindle.  Today I'm going from small to smaller with my new Drop Spindle Earrings.  My thought process was not terribly involved.  I think it went something like, "If small is cute, than smaller would be even more cute." 

So I set out to made tiny drop spindles which turned out to be pretty fun.  One night I sat in front of the TV just sanding the ends of at least 50 little spindles.  It was almost meditative. During that time, I took one of my favorite pictures.  Here they are, my little spindles.  They seem to be floating or falling through space. 

Now that I had all of these cuties, I had to figure out how to turn them into earrings. They are much too small for any cup hook to be attached. I'm using fine wire to simulate the yarn.  The wire allows me to create a centered loop at the top so that the earrings hang in a straight and balanced way.  You can see that I have wrapped the wire at the top as though it is hitched into place above the cone of "spun" fiber.  

They can be challenging to make because they are small and call for precise work.  The spindles are only one inch long.  The end result is a nice little dangle earring.  Maybe people will recognize it for what it is, maybe not.  The spinners will know and that's what counts!

I have a few pairs made in my Gift Section at Wind Rose and more colors on the way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Doll Sized Drop Spindle

At the start of September, I found my way back into the studio.  My first project was to replenish my supply of Oversized Tatting Needles.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the interest in these 12" needles.  I have loved the one I made for myself, but you just never know how other people will feel about your ideas.

While these needles are not complex in their design, they can be a challenge to drill.  Needle tatting needles should not exceed the diameter of the yarn or else your tatting will be loose and less stable.  The idea is to have a needle whose diameter matches most bulky yarns, which is actually a rather small diameter.  However, the needle hole needs to be big enough to thread the yarn.  Basically, I'm trying to perfectly center a 3mm hole on a 5mm wooden needle.  

The reason I'm telling you all of this is because as I'm making these needles, there is some inevitable waste.  This got me to thinking and playing around with these bits of wood.  The result is a doll sized drop spindle.  Is there a market for such a thing?  I have no idea, but they are terribly cute.  I'm going to make a handful of them for the shop and sell them with a little ball of wool like my doll has here.  It's a way to use my wooden mishaps and share the spinning love with our 15 to 17 inch friends.  I'll post an update when I have a few made.

On a side note, I looked up the name of my doll, one of the few toys I have left from my childhood.  My mother tells me that my dad loved this doll when they were holiday shopping one year.  The left arm rotates and the doll changes expressions.  After a quick bit of internet research, I can tell you that this is Mattel's Saucy doll from 1972.  I have also discovered that she is featured in a few scary/creepy doll videos on YouTube.  I've always thought she was cute, but I guess it can be a fine line between cute and creepy in doll world. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Summer Hiatus

Gracious, I'm tired of seeing the same post at the top of my blog!  Especially one that begins with ack!  I must admit that I entered a purposeful dormant period over the summer.  I was feeling burnt out.  That along with a son graduating from high school, travel to Ireland and a tenth grade curriculum to write, I decided to take the summer off from fiber arts.  At the heart of this decision was not so much my busy life, but I wanted to miss fiber arts. 

It was not unlike fasting or other forms forms of deprivation.  At first it's not so bad, but then the cravings begin which soon turn to pangs.  Before too long, it's just painful.  Then there's that odd calm period and then the cravings begin all over again.  Of course I couldn't go all summer without food, but I did mange to go without fiber arts.  Towards the end, I came close to cheating several times.  I'd pick up a crochet hook and start thinking about crocheting something, anything, and then I'd force myself to walk away.

What I was hoping for actually came to pass.  By the end of the summer, not only was I itching to get back to fiber arts, but I was brimming with ideas.  So much of the time I spent denying myself, I also spent thinking about what I would make when I finally felt the time was right.  After four months celebrating life's big moments, exploring a bit more of this planet and preparing for the year ahead, I was ready to get my hands busy again and even better, it felt like an earned reward.  

I've been back at it since the beginning of September and the only reason I haven't written before now is because I was too consumed by my own deluge of creative activity.  So, no pictures today or links to products, just a promise that over the next few weeks I'll be sharing what I've been up to.  I have been posting at Wind Rose Fiber Studio on Facebook which I think of as the lazy writers' friend.  It is time to brush off that enabling friend and get my fingers typing!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ack! Pattern Writing! Ack!

Tall Muk Luk shell waiting for a sole and top trim.
Sometimes it's nice to have a blog so you can share the sheer "ack" of it all!  Writing my Tall Muk Luks pattern was making me crazy.  I always knew that it would be challenging to write this design  in a concise and approachable way.  Well, I was right.  

As you know, legs and feet come in all shapes and sizes.  Attempting to accommodate as many as possible has really added to the ack factor.  A little over a week ago, I got so frustrated that I just walked away.  I told myself that it was because I had to pay my taxes and take a road trip to my son's college.  Both were true, but not really the reason I was avoiding my crochet hooks. 

I can only write about this now because I seem to have overcome my stumbling blocks.  Everything is falling neatly into place and all I really have left to do is to make a test pair of each size.  I also need to take some pictures which means finally bonding with my new Nikon 3300.  This will certainly lead to another vent-tastic blog post.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Tall Muk Luk Pattern - Progress Report

This is what my work space looked like at ten o'clock last night.  You'd never know by this pic that I'm kind of a neat-nick, but when I'm in the midst of working on a design, things can get pretty messy.  In the case of these muk luks, I've got more yarn on hand than usual because I'm writing the pattern to fit multiple sizes.  This means experimenting with yarn weights plus various hooks which equals more stuff.

The good news is that I'm making some real progress.  I'm writing this blog post to propel myself forward as much as anything else.  When you are all alone in a studio you have to be your own cheerleader.  Go! Jenn Go! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Tall Muk Luk Pattern - It's Really Happening!

It's a sunny afternoon and I'm on my back porch (my happy place) working on the tall muk luk pattern.  It occurred to me that I should take a picture lest you think I've forgotten or that I'm flaking out.  Never!  In fact, in the past week, I've had two more people comment on older posts asking for this pattern.  The requests keep coming and frankly, they are keeping me motivated. 

I'd love to tell you I'm halfway there, but the truth is, I'm off to a slow start.  It has been several years since I've even made a muk luk so I can't help but play around a little and see if I want to change anything.  For instance, on the crochet along that I published back in 2010, I used a size K crochet hook.  That's a pretty big hook and so I've been experimenting with smaller ones.  Here I have a sole crocheted in a size I (gray) and in the original K (red).  I like the look of the gray sole.  The stitches are smaller and less airy which means warmer too.  On the other hand, the K hook makes up quicker and the soles will eventually be covered with suede or some sort of fabric and will thus be plenty warm.  I think what tilts the table in red's favor, or size K, is that the fabric has more stretch and will be more comfortable I think.  The stretch factor also helps when designing multiple sizes for all of those unique footsies out there.  

So this is me, checking in to let you know that I am following through on the long awaited tall muk luk pattern.  I'll keep you updated with my progress.  Hope your day is sunny too!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Oh Those Muk Luks!

Hi there and happy almost Valentine's Day.  I've been thinking about my muk luks today.  I began sharing muk luk stories the very first year of this blog.  That was 2008.  I actually blogged about them twice that year including an Ode To Muk Luks.  Then in 2010, I decided to share the shorter muk luk pattern in a photo tutorial crochet-along. A handful of people joined me and it was fun to make them in real time with others sharing their feedback and finished muk luks. I put more time into that tutorial than just about anything I've done here on the Wind Rose blog, and when it was done, I felt satisfied and moved on to others projects.  

Since that time, I have felt surprised and grateful to have more and more visitors come for the muk luk pattern.  It led to the making of several YouTube support videos for people who wanted even more of a visual aid.  In addition, I have had quite a few people ask for the tall muk luk pattern.  I have been hesitant and have said as much in comments.  It's not that I don't want to share the pattern, it's that I know how involved this pattern is and how much time it will take to create.  

I'm writing about these dear old muk luks again today, because when I put something in writing, I am sure to follow through.  I have decided to commit to writing the ultimate muk muk pattern.  I'm using the word ultimate because I plan to include both the pattern for the short and the tall muk luks.  In addition, I'll be writing the patterns in small, medium and large sizes and I'll do my best to address all of the questions I've received over the years.  When complete, this pattern will be available as an instant download pdf through my shop.  I will be sure to make announcements here when the time comes.  I will continue to offer the existing tutorial for free, but the complete pattern will be sold for a reasonable price.  I know, free is awesome, but this one is going to be a big project for me, so I hope you understand.  

So this is it!  This is my commitment to finally write the tall muk luk pattern and to revamp the short pattern.  I'm sorry it's taken me so long, but I hope it will be worth the wait!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ducky Appliqué Crochet Pattern - It's New!

This is starting to look like the year of the appliqué.  First there was the Folk Art Heart and now there's a Ducky.  Have I gone mad?  Or worse, have I gone cutie patootie?

I guess there's nothing else to do but own it.  Yes, I designed this little yellow ducky.  I didn't actually wake up one morning with the burning desire to design a duck.  During a recent visit, my mom asked me if I could make one.  She was working on a baby blanket that called for a row of ducks.  The way in which the ducks were to be knitted into the fabric was difficult and so my mother decided to hire a duck woman.  That's me.

 I've never been one to reinvent the wheel, so the first thing I did was jump on Pinterest.  I figured that there were probably some crocheted duckies out there, and though there were, none were quite right.  I was going for more of that classic rubber ducky shape.  After a few false starts, I put down my crochet hook and picked up a pencil.  Once I had a drawing I liked, the rest came easily.  Basically, if I can draw it, I can crochet it.  I guess that's my process.

If you find yourself in need of a Ducky Appliqué pattern, I am adding this one to the mix.  The yellow ducky was made using some of my own handspun, hand dyed yarn.  Then I mused that a brushed mohair ducky would be fairly adorable.  See, I have gone cutie patootie!  I will call him Fluffy.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Design Decisions

Yesterday I was making a few more of my Folk Art Hearts when I became agitated by one of my own design choices.  "Why did I do that?" I asked myself, and "Wouldn't it look better this way or this other way?"

The "that" I was referring to is these four stitches that I've circled in white.  Why did I make them yellow and not green?  Or better yet, why didn't I keep carrying on with the spiral design in which case they would be red?

All of the sudden, this pattern that I had been perfectly happy with, became a source of anxiety.  I could not move on until I explored the other obvious design options.  In the moment, it seemed that making each section an obvious and separate field of color would look more striking.  

I stopped what I was doing and made a heart in which the four stitches in question were green.  That didn't look right to me as it seemed to be too much a break in the spiral pattern.  I ripped it out and carried on with the spiral.  While this was a bit better, it still felt off.  I missed having the spiral shape completely framed in green.  

In the end, after spending at least an hour going back and forth and back again, I decided that the original design was in fact the most appealing.  It was more interesting to have the colors sort of bleeding into one another as opposed to three separate parts.  

The reason I'm sharing this minor freak-out is because I think it's interesting how many decisions go into even the smallest design.  A lot of time and effort can go into something as simple as a heart.  I confess that I am guilty of looking at a finished product and thinking that I could make that in a cinch.  Of course it's easy to think that when you are looking at the completed effort and all of the design decisions have already been made.  Next time I find myself thinking such prideful thoughts, I will remember this humbling little heart.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pieces and Thoughts

Hello. I have pieces and thoughts on my mind today.  How's that for a strange theme?  By pieces I mean the little bits of tatting and crochet that I tend to carry from room to room these days.  They are components for my Fiberpunk™ Jewelry which I find oddly satisfying to make.  I say oddly because individually, they are such tiny, little projects.  I think that's what I like about them.  I can take little rest stops in my day and make a piece or two and feel a sense of accomplishment.  It has become how I transition from one activity to another.  I am currently planning to amass a huge assortment in every color and shape and then I'll have endless possibilities with which to design and play, like raking up a big pile of autumn leaves and then jumping in!

As for thoughts, well, that's less specific.  I guess I've just been thinking about how I miss blogging regularly.  I like the mental exercise of putting words together and seeing how they sound.  There are times when I talk myself out of writing because I'm certain I have nothing to offer and the reality of that is halting.  I have decided to not let that stop me anymore.  Poignant or pathetic, I think I'll go back to sharing the bits and pieces that comprise the day to day life of this fiber loving person that I am.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Folk Art Heart Coaster & Appliqué Crochet Pattern

Last weekend, as I was putting away holiday decorations and replacing them with our everyday things, I noticed that my crocheted coasters were looking a little shabby.  I began to think about a heart coaster design as Valentine's Day is coming.  I didn't want to make an ordinary heart, so I began to play with something less symmetrical and more whimsical.  The result is my latest crochet pattern, the Folk Art Heart.

The finished heart measures 4.5" by 5", the perfect size for a coaster or mug rug. It can also be used as an appliqué to add some homemade goodness to your favorite jeans, t-shirt or tote. The size can be adjusted simply by increasing or decreasing the weight of the yarn and using an appropriately sized hook.  Although I made mine in a cotton/linen blend, it could be fun to add some texture.  Can't you picture a fur trim?

Anyway, I just wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and share this new little pattern.  I hope 2015 brings everyone happy and healthy days filled with love!