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

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




Monday, January 6, 2014

Creative Space - A Studio Tour

An artist of any kind must have space.  Space to think, space to create and sometimes, space to make a mess.  Jewelry making requires very little space but fiber art - that's another story.

Come along with me now for a little tour of my Stone and Fiber studio...

First stop - my jewelry workbench where the "stone" part of Stone and Fiber comes to life.  This space is actually a closet in my fiber studio fitted with shelves, storage organizers and good lighting.  Pretty convenient don't you think?  I just open the doors, pull up a chair and create!  It's also nice to be able to stop mid-project , close the doors and know that my work will be left undisturbed until the next session. 

My stones and supplies are organized in clear containers by color and metal type. Strands and larger quantities are kept together in larger bins and individual one of a kind stones are in the smaller ones.  This makes it easier to find just the right pieces without sorting through everything.  In the next week or so I will be taking a year end inventory.  I look forward to this process because it's a real refresher as to what I have on hand.  I almost always discover beautiful stones I'd forgotten about. Sorting through all this booty is a great time of inspiration for me too!  My wheels start turning with new design ideas and I do a lot of sketching.

Next let's take a look at the fiber area of my studio.  In the corner here you can see my beautiful maple Kromski Spinning Wheel.  It was a surprise Christmas gift from my man several years ago.  It's a traditional style wheel with a single treadle and light weight enough to take to shows for demos. To the right of my chair are two clean fleeces waiting to be prepped and behind are finished dry skeins.

If I'm not spinning or knitting, I'm washing, dyeing or prepping fiber.  The piece of equipment you see on the table is a drum carder.  It combs and organizes the clean fiber into a fluffy mat called a batt.  These can be rolled and stored for future spinning.  Under the table you see some batts, along with bunches of dyed fiber waiting for a turn on the carder.

As you can see I have plenty of natural light here.  This is also the place where I photograph my work for juried show submissions and for my Etsy shop listings.  I really love spending time here.  It's small and cozy and quiet.

Thanks for coming with me!  Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my world of stone and fiber.

Best Wishes,

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.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wine is the Answer


My Rose Quartz Multi Strand Bracelet is featured in this new Treasury by the Hudson Valley Etsy Team.  What a delicious collection!

Happy New Year 2014

Hello again and Happy New Year 2014!

I have decided to amp up my Stone and Fiber Facebook Fan Page in order to connect with my friends, fans and customers a little better.  There's a lot more to me than jewelry making, fiber crafting and my Etsy Shop. 

I happen to love reading and sharing wonderful quotations from famous and not so famous people.  Quotes inspire me in creating and in my personal life.  I love to collect them and the really good ones I take to heart.  It's amazing how just a few carefully chosen words can really get you thinking.

Sundays are now "Soul Sundays" on my fan page.  I will be sharing with you some of my very favorite inspirational quotes for you to enjoy and ponder.  I hope you will find something in these words of wisdom that will speak to you personally.

On Mondays, "Inspirational Mondays" I will share with you the things that influence my creativity.  You will see what's happening on my workbench and the processes that bring my ideas to finished pieces.  I'm a great multi tasker!  (Aren't all women?)

What's new in the shop will be the feature of Handmade Wednesdays.  I will tell you about the latest arrivals in my shop.  Just a click of the link will take you to my little boutique where you can browse my handcrafted artisan offerings.

I have saved the best for last.  Celebration Thursdays.  I'll be sharing with you thoughts and ideas on holiday celebrations, life celebrations, good food and family traditions.  I hope you will share with me too!

I invite you to follow me in my journey through the world of jewelry making, fiber crafting, inspiration and life!

Best Wishes,

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.