My stories of jewelry making, spinning, knitting, and all things fibery.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Treasury of Designs...A Look Back

So many pieces have been created in my little workshop over the past three years...

 photo Lariats079-1.jpg

Many of them have traveled to far away places...Spain, Germany, Australia and the UK.
 photo StoneandFiber2ndSession054.jpg

 photo StoneandFiber2ndSession134.jpg


Some have been gifts for family and friends.
And a few have been for me.

 photo knitwear003.jpg

So very many stitches passed over my needles and countless hours were spent dyeing, spinning, knitting and beading.

And I would not have changed a thing.

So very grateful for the support of my family, friends and loyal customers.

Best Wishes 'Till Next Time,


Keep in touch with me on my Facebook Fan Page.

Stop in at my Stone and Fiber shop to see what's new.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Do You Know Where Your Fiber Comes From?

Greetings!  Today I'm going to tell you a little bit about the animals that provide the wonderful fiber that we wear.  Natural fibers are sustainable, versatile, and very warm.  The animals are not harmed in the gathering and shearing of their fleeces. 

image courtesy of Jomphong/
Wool is by far the most widely used protein (animal) fiber as opposed to cellulose fiber which is fiber from plants. Cellulose fiber would include linen, cotton, hemp and bamboo.  Wool is generally sheared twice a year from a multitudinous variety of sheep.  There are hundreds of breeds of sheep, each having specific fiber characteristics about their fleece that produce different types of yarn.  Wool is not considered hair or fur.  It is "crimped"(wavy or curly), grows in clusters called staple and it is elastic.  Most wool contains a greasy, waxy substance called lanolin which protects the sheep's skin making it kind of waterproof.  Much of this is removed when the fleece is scoured or washed.  Lanolin is an ingredient in many hand and skin creams that acts as a softening agent.  Wool fiber holds heat making it a perfect choice for cold weather clothing. Sheep come is a variety of natural colors or white wool can take dye easily. Wool varieties range in softness to coarseness, and can be itchy or rough.  Merino wool is just about the softest you can get and garments made from it can be worn directly next to the skin.  Other varieties such as Karakul and Icelandic are perfect for house slippers and rugs.  The world's leading wool producers are Austrailia and New Zealand.

One of the oldest yarn and textile fibers used is mohair, from the angora goat.  It has basically the same characteristics as wool and in addition it has a high luster and is considered a luxury fiber.  Mohair is most often blended with wool and is warm in winter and cool to wear in the warmer months.  South Africa is the source for most of the world's mohair.  Another luxury fiber and probably the most well known is cashmere.  Produced mainly in India, this fine textured, very soft and lightweight fiber is also very expensive.

image courtesy of anankkml/
Topping off the luxury fiber list is qiviut (KIV-ee-ut) given to us by the musk ox(seen above).  Hard to believe such a costly and fine fiber comes from such a primitive animal.  This amazingly soft fiber comes mainly from Canada, and is not sheared from the animal like a sheep's fleece but is combed off and collected during the shedding season.  Time consuming and expensive!

Those soft and fluffy sweaters that we all love can attribute their qualities to angora fiber from the angora rabbit.  This lightweight , warm fiber is almost always blended with wool.  Although the majority of the world's commercial angora comes from China, many home spinners have their own small herds of these sweet animals.  They can be plucked during molting season but are often carefully sheared.

The camelid family provides many fiber animals. The 
three most popular are vicuna, llama and alpaca.  These interesting creatures live in great herds in the Andes Mountain regions of South America.  Generally they are raised as fiber animals.  Alpacas are becoming a popular animal for local farms here in the U.S. as they are relatively easy to care for.  Their fiber is warmer, finer and lighter than sheep's wool.  Alpaca is a good choice for garments that are to be worn next to the skin.
So as you can see there is a wide variety of warm and fuzzy fibers to choose from whether you are spinning, knitting or shopping.  A great place to see these animals and their offerings is your local sheep and wool festival or event.  If you are in or around New York state in October check out the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck.  This is an amazing place for a day trip or weekend getaway!

Best Wishes 'Till Next Time,

 Keep in touch with me on my Facebook Fan Page.

Stop in at my Stone and Fiber shop to see what's new.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Shape Up - A Blocking How To

There are many, many good knitters out there.  Good enough to spend the time making an entire garment only to fall short of really finishing it.  Binding off and sewing up the seams do not a finished piece of work make!  The most important step has yet to be taken.  Blocking.  Plain and simple.  This final process can take your misshapen, uneven and somewhat crumply garment to fun and fabulous.  Blocking relaxes the stitches, making them more uniform and straightens out the edges to a smooth finished look.

Here is any easy blocking process for simple projects that works every time!

The first photo shows you the tools you will need to complete this process.  They are not ALL necessary, but they do make life easier and because I block so many garments, I have invested in them.

1- Foam press together mats.  These can be connected to make any shape or size.  You can also use a thick yoga mat, your bed or a carpeted floor that is not in an often used area.  Be sure to put a towel or sheet down first to protect the surface and keep your work clean.
2- A tape measure or ruler
3- Large sturdy pins.  Be sure they are rust proof!
4- Blocking wires.  These are the ultimate in blocking tools as far as I am concerned, but you really don't need them if you do not block a lot.

Begin by soaking the item to be blocked in lukewarm water.  If you are fortunate to have a washer that has a gentle or hand wash cycle on it, you can spin out your wet garment in a mesh bag.  I said SPIN only!  Do not add water with a rinse cycle here.  If you don't have this cycle, don't fret.  Just roll the piece in a layer of towels.  The idea is to remove as much moisture as you can so drying doesn't take forever.

Next you will need to have an idea of the finished size you need to get to.  Here you see the damp pieces laying on the foam board.   

Now I carefully inset the long blocking wires into the straight edges of my neck warmer, weaving in and out gently between the stitches.  Then I stretch a bit to get to the correct length measurement, and pin to the board at intervals to hold it down.

If you are not using blocking wires, begin at one end and pin the garment to the board.  Stretch gently until you have the right length and put a pin in the opposite end.  Continue pinning along as straight as possible, dispersing the stitches as evenly as you can until the entire side is pinned down.  If you are working on carpet or your bed make sure to pin through enough so the pins grip.

Now, insert a wire across the top edge in the same manner.  If you are pinning without wires, you will need to stretch the garment to the width you need here before you start to pin.  Measure up from the center of the bottom edge to the desired width and pin.  Then measure the correct width up from both the left and right edge to the top edge and pin.  Continue from the center point out on each side gently and evenly stretching along as you pin.  You should now have two parallel straight edges pinned to the board at the correct finished width apart and at the correct length.

Back to the wire users...Gently stretch the top wire across to the desired width and pin to the board along the length of the wire.  Check your measurement at intervals as you go.

In this photo you can see the parallel top and bottom edges are straight and pinned to the board.  If the sides of your garment are straight, pin them in the same manner as the length.  Mine were curved, so I just pinned along following the curve, making sure that none of the edge stitches were curled under. 
This same process can be used for a scarf.  If you have a cowl, tube or infinity scarf that is double layer when laid out flat, just pin the two layers as one.  A double thickness will take a while longer to dry.  Drying time will depend on the room temperature or whether you are letting your project dry outdoors on a sunny day.  Make sure to set up you board in an area where it can remain until completely dry.

Although this seems like a lot of work, it is well worth it as you will see when you unpin your dry garment.  After one or two times this process will go quickly.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments section and I will try to help you as much as I can.

Best Wishes and Happy Blocking!


Keep in touch with me on my Facebook Fan Page

Visit my online boutique for one of a kind jewelry designs and original hand knit accessories.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Shopping for Fall Colors

In my opinion it's always the right time to shop for yarn!  Something about all those soft, squishy skeins lined up in a rainbow of color gets me every time.  Because most of my shows and markets are in the later months of the year, now is the time to prepare my inventory and bulk up on my commercial yarn knits. 

I have chosen to continue four of my best selling pieces with only a bit of design tweeking here and there.
Gathered Cowl
5 Button

Wrap & Button

Now for the fun part!  I need to decide what colors to use for which designs, and I need to limit those color selections for each.

This year I have discovered a brand new source for great quality yarn.  The color palate available is amazing, with nice neutrals as well as trendy fashion shades and rustic tweeds.

I've done my homework and have studied the previews and forecasts of 2014 fall fashion colors.
Neutrals - grey, tan, cream and taupe as well as black are on the agenda as always.  Rich jewel tones, darker shades of spring and summer hues are in the forefront with cobalt and teal in the lead. 
So, I have pretty much narrowed it down to, well... a ton of colors!

Trying to match the styles with the most
complimentary colors was not an easy task, but it's finished.  The order is complete.

However my lips are sealed!  You will have to be patient for now while I knit away.  Maybe there will be a sneak peek in store for you somewhere along the line.  I just know you won't be disappointed.

Best Wishes,

Keep in touch with me on my Facebook Fan Page.

Stop in at my Stone and Fiber shop to see what's new.


Monday, January 20, 2014

10 Things to Do for You in 2014

Hello and  welcome!  I'm continuing my New Year 2014 theme this week and sharing with you my top ten things to do for YOU!  This is a collection of small acts and simple tasks that can make you feel really good inside and they're free!  Choose one, choose five, choose all ten, choose what works for you.

1  Cut out one, just one cup of coffee or soda a day. 
2  Listen to 30 minutes of music instead of thirty minutes of news.
3  Smile more.
4  Find a quote or words  of wisdom that inspire you.  Write it down and tape
    it to your bathroom mirror to read every morning.
5  Take a nap without feeling guilty.
6  Drink at least one 16 oz. bottle of water a day.
7  Reach out to an old friend that you have lost touch with.
8  Read.  Every day.  Something - a newspaper, magazine, your kindle.  It
    keeps your brain sharp.
9  Turn off Facebook, Twitter and your computer for one whole day a month.
    You'll be amazed at how much time you have for other things.
10 Start your day by reflecting on the family and friends in your life.  You will
    feel truly wealthy.

Best Wishes  ~ 'Till Next Time,

Keep in touch with me on my Facebook Fan Page.

Stop in at my Stone and Fiber shop to see what's new.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jewelry 2014 ~ What's In

Greetings ~

Here's a little list of what you'll be seeing in the way of spring/summer jewelry for 2014:

1. Messages, Words & Slogans
2. Pendants ~ on chains and cords of all lengths.

3. Fringe ~ lots of it in clothing and accessories too!
4. Skinny Bangles
5. Friendship Bracelets ~ charms on colorful silks and cords.
6. Delicate Feminine Styles ~ with small faceted stones in pastel colors.
7. Birds, Bees & Butterflies

8. Stacked & Layered Bracelets, Rings and Necklaces

9. Summer Ethnics and Tribal ~ wood, shell beads, carved motifs, earthy     naturals and bright colors too.

10. Pins are In ~ Try one as an accent on a fabric bag!

All of these great pieces are available in my Stone and Fiber shop.

Best Wishes,

Keep in touch with me on my Facebook Fan Page