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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Spinning Stella

I have finished three bobbins of the Icelandic fleece (Stella), and have enough carded for about one more. Then I'll ply them and come away with enough yardage for a pair of mittens. I'm thinking of dying the yarn with the husks of black walnuts from my sister's tree. They usually clutter her driveway and become a nuisance, but I've heard they make a rich brown dye.

Stella is a ewe from Holy Myrrhbearer's Monastery in Otego, New York. The grounds at the monastery are available for hiking and I'm hoping one day to venture up there to meet her.

There is a very large time investment involved in processing a sheep fleece. Scouring it is the first step, and through this washing, dirt and lanolin are removed. Two thirty minute soaks and three rinse soaks are needed. Next the fleece is air dried. Then the fluffy, clean fiber needs to be combed or carded to untangle and line up the fibers. I usually do this phase in the evenings in front of the tv. It takes forever and makes a mess. Fuzz ends up everywhere!

It isn't until all these steps are finished that you can start the fun part - the spinning. Many spinners choose not to do the tedious part themselves and send their fleeces out to be processed by professionals. I really enjoy this preparation as it makes the finished yarn more special to me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Natural Christmas

The countdown to the post Thanksgiving weekend has begun, but not for marathon shopping for me. Around my house we will be decking the halls. Last year I bailed completely on the trimming and the tree. This year I have promises to keep.

Christmas 2010 will have a nature theme on Honey Locust Court. Birds, branches and all sorts of berries will adorn my wreaths and tree. I have few yards of cotton Christmas print fabric that I will cut into wide strips with pinking shears to make custom ribbon. At the front door the antique crockery will be filled with pine and evergreen boughs gathered from the property. Simple candles with white lights will sparkle at the windows and the Flexible Flyer will rest on the porch as always.

The vintage glass ornaments will probably be sent to my daughter's place to make an appearance on her first grown up tree, as the new kitty cannot be trusted here yet! More birds, twinkly white lights and country style ornaments will be adorning the tree. Maybe I'll go for a really rustic look and string popcorn and cranberries.

My rather large collection of Santas, St. Nicholas' and Belsnickels may make an appearance after sleeping for the last three years in their boxes. My adult children still love the tradition of unpacking each one and reminiscing about their origins. Many have arrived over the last 25 or so years, as gifts from my sister, transported home from her world travels. In total there are about 125 of them to be displayed throughout the house, a several hour process that most likely will involve eggnog and Grandma's cookies.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Last Remnants of Autumn

The fallen leaves have dried and curled and the perennials wait, naked and brown for a blanket of frosty snow. Only the rocks around my house stand unchanged through the seasons. Their quiet energy remains a constant reminder of the grace and power of mother earth.

Some of us shut down as the winter season begins and some of us are energized by the excitement and bustle of the coming holidays. I am a hibernator. I don't like the early darkness or the cold. My thoughts have already wandered past Christmas celebrations and on to spring.

Fresh new designs are in the works for Stone and Fiber. I am anxiously awaiting the lighter colors and fabrics that will appear on retail racks. But until then I will take a few weeks to spin and dye some yarn for myself.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An End to This Beautiful Lace

My ivory Shetland wool lace scarf is now complete and I can't wait to see how well the pattern looks after it is blocked and stretched. I didn't make it one of those mile long mufflers, so I had about a skein and a half left over. Just enough to make a pair of fingerless gloves. Working for the first time with DPNs (double pointed needles) was relatively painless and I finished one of the pair in a few hours.

It was very enjoyable knitting - to see the shape taking place rather quickly. I would have liked to work a repeat or two of the scarf pattern on the top of the glove, but I'm not quite that good yet with pattern improvisation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Care and Feeding of Your Winter Woolies

Felted things are all the rage right now. From handbags to hair accessories this old fashioned craft has resurfaced today with a new flair. Felting is a process whereby woolen fiber is treated with water, heat and pressure to produce matted wool fabric. Trendy and beautiful - yes - but only when done intentionally! The felting of a cherished sweater can be an ugly surprise. I can admit to ruining many a 100% woolen garment and a favorite pair of hiking socks. That's why washing instructions and care labels are meant to be read.

Any time wool, alpaca or any other animal fiber encounters the above mentioned conditions, the felting process will occur. Shrinking won't be far behind. The fleeces of older sheep not regularly shorn can felt right on the animal from moisture, body heat and abrasion, thus producing a matted clump that is useless for spinning into yarn.

Wool garments must be gently hand washed with little or no agitation, wringing or squeezing. Rolling carefully in a thick towel will remove excess moisture. I have used the spin cycle of my washing machine on delicate to remove excess water with good results. Be careful to reshape the damp piece on a drying rack to air dry.

Many people shy away from purchasing 100% wool garments because of the maintenance, but animal fibers are all natural, very warm and they can be extremely luxurious. Remember - never store unwashed woolen garments for long periods of time as they become a magnet for moths. The extra care steps recommended here will insure a long and happy life for your fibery favorites.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fashion Fabulous!

A striking piece of jewelry or scarf can really make an outfit stand out. It's a well kept secret of fashionistas everywhere--invest in a few classic wardrobe pieces each season and pump up the volume with fabulous accessories. That's a great philosophy in these budget conscious times.

A versatile jewelry and accessory wardrobe does wonders to shout your personalty out to the world. And for the fashion shy, a bold necklace or pair of earrings is a great way to get your toes wet without diving into the pool.

New statement necklaces and lariats are currently popular looks. A statement necklace is usually a larger piece framing the collar area, thus bringing attention to the face. Lariats and longer chain style necklaces give the illusion of length and height to the wearer. Add a pair of heels and you're ready for the runway.

Before a big night, try on your entire outfit including jewelry, shoes and accessories. That way you're sure to head off any fashion disasters at the pass. Holiday party season is just around the corner. Dig out that little black dress and treat yourself to a fabulous new piece of bling. You won't be breaking the bank, but you will look like a million bucks!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Moment of Inspiration

Do you ever want to say something inspiring to a special person in your life? A sister, a friend, a co-worker?
Take a look at Stone and Fiber's Talisman Necklace Collection:

Each piece is inspired by one of my favorite quotes. These one of a kind, pendant style necklaces compliment any neckline and length can be adjusted by a unique slide bead closure.

Each design has been carefully thought out, each charm and stone combination individually chosen to reflect the spirit of the quotation. Some in lead free pewter, some in sterling silver, each one is pulled together by an ultra soft suede cord.

Say something special to someone in your life this holiday!

Shown above is the Ordinary Riches Copper Talisman Necklace

Thursday, November 4, 2010


The Daylight Savings Time change always signals an increase in work load and activity for me. Although the shortened days seem to make me want to hibernate when I'm at home, at work I'm gearing up for the busy holiday season. Getting the shop in order for Thanksgiving and anticipating the arrival of fir trees and Christmas greenery always starts me thinking about what I'll do around my house.

This year we have a new kitty. He's an adorable terror. I don't think he can be trusted with Grandma's antique it looks like the theme will be wood and plastic!

I'm finishing the last few things for Stone and Fiber for the holidays and will list them shortly. Then it's time for family gift shopping -mostly online at Etsy -and decorating the house. I will most likely start up spinning again, as most of my fleeces are washed and waiting patiently for me in the downstairs closet. Spinning is very relaxing and it provides me with the opportunity to think about new designs for Stone and Fiber for Spring 2011. I'm excited to be doing a line of lightweight hand knotted necklaces. Stay tuned here...there may be sneak peeks!