Winter Tales

I love winter.  The gardens, plants and earth all take a break to refuel for next season, and the glory of spring!  Ok, I did plant some lettuce a few days ago, but the temperature was 60 degrees!   I slow down too, with more time to sit in front of the fire, play with the dogs, watch the chickens and discover new knitting patterns on Ravelry.   Usually this time of year, I start making wire wrapped jewelry for the Urbana Market at the Square.  But, I strained my thumb a couple of months ago, and still can’t do wire weaving. Tendons take forever to heal!

So, this winter I have been playing with fiber more than usual.dsc06386

I dyed some roving with Beth Englelbrecht-Wiggans to make hand spun yarn, knit some shawlettes, dyed some warp for hand woven napkins, and played with a circular knitting machine.

The first shawl I did was from the book “Curls“.  The knitting makes a curvy triangle which can be worn around the neck, thrown over one shoulder, or however you want to wear it.  I did mine in Cascade 220 which is a lovely sport weight wool.dsc06328

I found several similarly shaped patterns on Ravelry, and tried a few before changing it up and designing my own pattern!

dsc06384Here is one of mine made from, my hand spun, hand dyed wool.  I call it “Catenary” for the geometric curve that a chain makes under it’s own weight.dsc06382

I finally got my warp on the loom!  This is a much longer process than most people realize.  You have to keep each thread in order and wind it on the back of the loom.  Then, after deciding the pattern, you thread each one into a heddle so that the right threads will be lifted for the pattern.  Then, through the reed, which makes it possible to beat the threads into place.  I’ve got 8 yards of warp, so that should make alot of napkins!

Then, the circular sock knitting machine. dsc06327

Well, I thought it would be easy to learn.  I have handknit for 50 years, have knit on a flat bed knitting machine, and just thought that I understood the whole idea.  Boy, was I wrong!  I kept dropping stitches, and when that happens, they run all the way down as far and fast as they can.  So, I watched hours and hours of YouTube videos on circular sock knitting machines, and just kept trying.  After about 50 hours of trying to make a ribbed sock, I was ready to give up.  But, I kept reading information in a sock knitting group, and decided to give it another try.  After about another 10 hours, it clicked!  I still drop a few stitches, the size is all wrong, and still need to try different yarns, but I actually might get this.

Before I forget, if you like knitting, dying, spinning, check out my friend Melissa’s blog and YouTube videos.

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Handspun, handknit dog sweaters!

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Buddy models the new dog sweater

I have knit dog sweaters for all of my dogs, and have been thinking of making them to sell for a long time.  I also have a lot of yarn that I have spun over the years from my friend Cathe’s Leicester Longwool sheep, which are a critically  rare breed.

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Leicester Longwool Lamb

The wool has a lovely luster and is so wonderful to spin.  It is a bit coarse, so it doesn’t work well for next-to-skin items like hats and scarves.  But! Dogs don’t find it itchy at all.  So, I thought this would be a great, hard-wearing, wonderful yarn for dog coats.

I also wanted to spin and knit the accent yarn with dog hair, preferably a big dog, to make tiny dogs feel big and brave!  Cathe has the perfect dog who guards her sheep, Emma.

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Emma

 

Emma is a gentle giant of a dog, a Great Pyrenees and Anatolian dog who was rescued and now happily guards the sheep at Seven Sisters Farm.

So, I spun a bit of Emma dog hair, and started the design process.  I have a wonderful Toy Manchester Terrier named Buddy.  He is such a sweet dog, and they are very thin and long, so a standard dog sweater didn’t fit very well.

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I started designing, measuring, and trying the work in progress sweaters on Buddy.  He didn’t really like being measured, but sure did like trying on the sweaters!  After 5 designs with little adjustments here and there, I am now making the sweaters for small dogs.

My sweaters standard measurements are:  10″ around the neck, 17″ around the rib cage, and 12-15″ along the back.  I find that most commercial dog sweaters are somewhat short on the back, so I make mine longer.  I also adjust  the length of the underside of the sweater for male or female dogs.  I sure don’t want my male dog peeing on his coat, and neither do you!

So, that is the story.  You can send me a message, talk to me about measurements, and put in an order.  At this time, I will only be making small sweaters.  The price is $55.  These do take some time to make, but I will do my best to send them quickly.

 

 

Special Orders

Jewelry special orders…something I both love and don’t like.  When it works out the way the person wanted, it’s great.  But, sometimes , the person  can’t tell you much about what they want.  Usually it is a meaningful stone that they have had sitting in a drawer for years, always wished they could wear it, but never figured out how it should be done.

Here is the stone:

Heart Sutra Stone
Heart Sutra Stone
Finished Heart Sutra
Finished Heart Sutra

I think it is a piece of soapstone.  She bought from a man who hand painted the Heart Sutra onto the stone.  He wrote her name on the back of the stone while she was watching.  The letters are very small! The whole piece is about 2″ tall.

She wanted in wrapped in gold filled wire. I usually start with a general idea of how the wire should go, but at the end, I just doodle and see what happens. This is what I came up with!

I’ve also made some new waterfall earrings.

Red Waterfall earrings
Red Waterfall earrings

Silver Waterfall Earrings
Silver Waterfall Earrings

Rain!

With this never ending rain, I’ve had more time for jewelry making.

Pendant in Progress
Pendant in Progress

This lovely glass stone is a vintage Swarovski that is no longer being made.  I am making the bail, and finishing up the side weaving.

Here is the finished pendant. The color is amazing!

Finished Pendant
Finished Pendant

My History with Urbana Market at the Square

I started selling jewelry at the Market in 1998.  Wow, that was a long time ago!  Over the years it has become a giant, diverse, amazing force of it’s own that people love to attend every week.  There are of course, farmers, but also, food trucks, bakers, jelly, candy, flowers, and every imaginable art and craft.  If you have never been there, it’s time to get yourself up on Saturday morning from 7-12 and head on over.  It’s in the Lincoln Square parking lot in Urbana. You can find the map HERE:  I am always in spots #61 and #62.

I find that I go through phases in my jewelry design, as well as other parts of my creative life.  I have learned to weave, but don’t like being stuck at the loom, so I incorporated wire weaving into my jewelry, totally portable!  Here are a few of my latest pendants.

Woven crystal pendantPaua ShellTurquoisePaua Shell

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Cecropia Wings Doodle Earrings
Cecropia Wings Doodle Earrings

I started making “Doodle Earrings” last year, and have been working on some new designs.  Here is one from last week, inspired by Cepropia wings.

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Om Doodle Earrings

This one is a prototype for the om mystical sound, sacred and important in various Dharmic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.