Category Archives: Inspiration

My 2016 Fiber Arts Christmas List

So it is that time of year again. I’m going to tell Santa I have been a very good girl this year, so I have a a few special fiber toys on my list.

Celtic Swan ForgeThis one has been on my wish list for quite awhile and some day I am going to break down and purchase it. The silver crochet hooks from Celtic Swan Forge are true works of art. Each hook is hand forged made of silver. It is then hammered while hot and twisted to create beautiful designs. Celtic Swan also makes lovely knitting needles, and even drop spindles! Like I said, someday I will make this special purchase.

I have been trying to find time to do more weaving. I especially love some of the “on the go” weaving tools that have become popular as of late. I recently came across Hokett Tapestry Hand Loom Kit on The Woolery’s website. I also love the “Minnow” Small Hand Held Loom Padauk Caddyfrom Eden Bullrushes Inc. from Eden, NY. These tools are just so lovely and I’m sure they are fun to use!

I have also wanted a hook holder for awhile and I think I found something I really love. The Padauk Caddy by
Hornshaw Wood Works from Holland, Michigan. I absolutely love the deep wood!

Spinning The Yarn by Antonio BorsatoIf price was no object, I would have to go for this beautiful “Spinning The Yarn” by Antonio Borsato. It lists online for about $1,000, so I don’t see this turning up in my curio cabinet anytime soon. But how beautiful is this piece!?

 

Something I am currently bidding on is the Snowbabies figurine “Sheep, Wool, Yarn.” There are several yarn-inspired figurines from Snowbabies and hopefully over time I can collect them.Snowbabies Sheep Wool Yarn

So like I said Santa, I’ve been very good this year so if you want to send some fiber toys my way I would be very appreciative!

What is on your wish list this year?

Using Tinsel in Fiber Arts

So I will first apologize for being woefully overdue with posts. It has been insane – I’ll spare you the details. Nevertheless, I have some great topics so I hope you’ll come back and give them a read.

French tinsel
Beautiful vintage tinsel

As some of you know, in addition to being a fiber fanatic, I am also a fly tyer and angler. My husband and I are blessed to have the opportunity to participate in different tying events in the northeast. For those of you who aren’t familiar, fly tying materials are just great to combine with your fiber craft. One of the great materials is tinsel.

At the recent Fly Tying Symposium, I had the opportunity to see a vendor I had not seen in several years Her name is Marcia and she is the owner of Tinsel Trading Co. on Lexington Avenue in New York City. The last time I saw her a fly tying show I picked up tinsel for not just tying, but to mix with my crochet. I was very happy to see her again and, of course, had to stock up!

Such beautiful metal tinsel!
What wonderful colors!

In 1933, Arch Bergoffen bought the Old French Tinsel Company,

located in the Garment Center of NYC. He was a serious collector by the time of death, 55 years later, he had amassed a fantastic collection of antique thread, trim, tassels, and ribbon, all made out of metal tinsel. Most of the stock was from France and Germany from the 1900s. When he passed away, his granddaughter, Marcia, took over the business and continues to provide these fine materials to designers, fiber artists, and anyone who appreciates the quality of these materials.

Vintage French tinsel
It was hard to pick my favorites!

Marcia and I were able to chat for awhile and I could just feel her passion for this business and how much she loved sharing such beautiful tinsel.

I left the show with several spools of different colors and textures. I plan to use them in my crochet and my spinning, as well as my fly tying. I know they will make my work even more unique! I hope you will check out Marcia’s amazing collection for sale. The next time I head into NYC I am going to stop into her shop and see her entire collection. I also liked her Facebook page so I can keep up to date on all she has available. I hope you will too!

What do you do When you hit a Slump?

We’ve all had it – the slump. You can’t focus. You can’t take ideas you’ve had and act on them. Almost zero creative spark. You sit and watch television and can’t do anything else. Except sleep. You are a champion sleeper. And the migraine’s aren’t helping.

slump
Source: Jones, G. (2002) What is this thing called mental toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sports Performers, Journal of Applied Sports Psychology, volume 14, issue 3.

That’s where I am at the moment. I keep saying “I should be blogging,” but it doesn’t happen. I look at the pile of books to review and giveaway and just can’t motivate myself to do any of them.

The slump. It’s rough.

Maybe it’s the heat. If you live in Jersey, you know how ridiculous the heat has been lately. It does make it hard to focus.

So I know I am WAY overdue to post. I just want you to all know I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ll be back…soon.

What do you do to help get out of a slump? I would love for you to share!

Be Not Afraid to Show Your Creativity

Growing up I often heard the hymn “Be Not Afraid.”

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

be-not-afraidThen during the reign of “House” on television, there was a far more comical use of the phrase “be not afraid.”

The phrase “be not afraid” has been used in multiple situations; comical, inspirational, and religious. Today, however, I am talking about using it in your creative ventures.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the annual CGOA event in New Hampshire. While I was there, I attended an event led by the Stitch Diva herself – Jennifer Hansen.

At the time, she was taking the self-publishing front by storm. She was leading a round table about how to self-publish and how to get your designs in the public space. I listened to the discussion and absorbed everything she said. As the discussion was wrapping up, I quietly asked her about concerns of what people think when you are first getting started. Her answer? “Who cares? Just put your ideas out there.”

In other words – be not afraid.

This has always been hard for me. In all areas of my life. “What if I am not taken seriously?” “What if people laugh?” Those questions continue to plague me even at my age.

As a result, I have avoided many opportunities to design and publish my pattern ideas and express my creativity.

So recently I decided to start taking drawing classes; something I have wanted to do for years but have never acted. I attended a free seminar at Michael’s last week on basic sketching. I completed two items:

building ShadedSpheresObviously, I am far from a great master. But taking a class, and more importantly, sharing my results, are both big steps for me.

Unfortunately, the drawing and sketching classes at Michael’s are held mostly during standard working hours. So I am going to sign up for a class or two on Craftsy. I plan on starting with Patricia Watwood’s 10 Essential Techniques for Better Drawing. My goal is to use these classes as another way to spark my creativity and learn to “be not afraid.”

Trust Your Instincts and Be Confident

So I’ve been away from blogging for awhile. I’ve had a lot going on and really missed sharing my thoughts and ideas with all of you. But I am definitely back.

I had an experience recently I wanted to share with all of you. It was a hard, but good, life lesson.

crochet braided scarf
Credit: DIY Smartly

Recently, a friend sent me a link to a crochet pattern to ask if I could crochet one for her. When I looked at the photo I was shocked. This awesome design on DIY Smartly is very similar to an idea I had several years ago.

Now before you start to think this designer stole I idea, I do not believe that at all.  How do I know this? Because I only showed it to one person at a yarn company several years ago – when it was rejected. As a matter of fact, the person I showed it to disliked it so much I never did anything with it. It has been stuck in my notebook ever since.

So why am I sharing this? Because it has taught me a valuable lesson.

I put too much value on the feedback from the person at the yarn company. I thought because they decided on designs for the company they had a better instinct than I did.

Ultimately, I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust my abilities. I didn’t have confidence in my work.

Confidence has always been a hard concept for me to grasp. I always question if my work is good enough to share. I can’t tell you how many ideas and pieces I have made over the years that have been seen by no one but my husband.

Now this isn’t the first time this has happened. But for some reason, this was the one that made me change my thinking. I am going to trust my instincts more and have confidence in my work.

So stay tuned for new work!

Getting Reacquainted with My Majacraft Rose

My Rose in the car - ready to go!
My Rose in the car – ready to go!

A number of years ago, my husband took me to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey and bought me a spinning wheel. He told me to do my research and pick the wheel that made the most sense for me. I had narrowed it down to a few and he asked to see them. So I went through photos of each wheel until he saw the Rose. He said “that’s the one.” What made it extra special was that my grandmother’s name was Rose. It was a sign. We headed to The Spinnery and I came home with my new wheel.

I had a great teacher not far from my home. After she moved, and I had a few issues that limited my spinning time, my Rose sat unused.

The Spinnery, Frenchtown, New Jersey
The Spinnery, Frenchtown, New Jersey

A few months ago I signed up for an online fiber arts class called Journey to the Golden Fleece Creativity in Fiber Certificate. It inspired me to get started spinning with my Rose again.

I made some attempts, but after my Rose being neglected for so long, she needed some TLC and I needed a refresher. So I went back to wear it all started – The Spinnery. I brought her to Betty, the owner of The Spinnery, to get back on track. We spent an hour taking care of her.

The Bridge Cafe
The Bridge Cafe

We then moved on to my refresher. She gave me a wonderful compliment and said that my spinning skills were still quite good. We then worked on making slubs, over coiling, and plying – three skills that have eluded me. They certainly need practice, but I understand the process better now.

My finished yarn.
My finished yarn.

Afterward I took a quick walk down the main street of Frenchtown (it was quite rainy and cold) and had lunch at The Bridge Café. Then it was back home.

I finished the yarn I started at my lesson and couldn’t be happier!

I look forward to renewing my love to spinning on my beloved Rose.

My 2015 Fiber Resolution List

At the beginning of each year, many promise to lose weight, get in shape, save more money, or other typical resolutions. Well, I make a fiber-related resolution list. Here’s mine for 2015.

Socks: I made a pair of socks awhile ago and it went, well – okay. I would like to give it another try.
Spin: I haven’t had much time to spin the last few years and I really miss it. I definitely want to give my Rose more use.
Fibery Goodness: At the end of last year, I started a class called The Journey of the Golden Fleece. It is all about spinning and challenging your creativity. I wasn’t 100% happy with my work for the first module. I am half-way through the second module and am giving it much more attention. I feel like I am making good progress. I want to continue my momentum and get the most I can out of the class!
Knitting: I am primarily a crocheter. I do other fiber crafts, but I have always struggled with knitting. I would really like to improve my knitting skills so that I can confidently do at least basic projects.
Felting: Along with doing more knitting, I would like to do more felting – both needle and wet.
Weaving: I bought a loom awhile ago and the first attempt at weaving is still on it. I want to rip it all out and start all over again.
Learn to sketch: This may sound like a funny one. What does sketching have to do with the fiber arts? Well, if you design patterns, it has a lot to do with it. When submitting patterns ideas, many publishers, yarn companies, and the like, prefer to have a sketch of the pattern idea. While I have always want to improve my artistic skills, I have never been able to do so. This year I really want to make that a focus.
Continue to learn: What might be most important is that I want to continue to learn and broaden my horizons. I love all the different fiber arts and look forward to learning as much as I can!

So that’s my list! It may sound like an aggressive list, but I am hopeful I can accomplish it!

What are your fiber resolutions? Share them here or on my Facebook page.

Magazine Review: DIY Holiday 2014

DIY holiday
DIY Holiday 2014: The Crafting Life Interweave/F+W; $9.99

This time I don’t have a book review, but a magazine review. When I first saw the announcement for DIY Holiday 2014, I just knew it was going to be great!

There’s a wide variety of different projects for every level crafter. Whether you like crochet, spinning, mixed media, or jewelry, there’s something there for you. The best part is that all the projects keep budget in mind.

I absolutely love the crochet lights garland and the Christmas trees. Another nice surprise was the directions to make a CD spindle for yarn spinning. When I talk to individuals about getting started in spinning, I recommend making a spindle using CDs and a dowel. It avoids the need to make a purchase when you aren’t sure you if you will like it. The directions in this issue are straightforward to follow and get started spinning!

Holiday Flower Lights
Holiday Flower Lights

A while back I picked up a Zoom Loom. I haven’t had much of a chance to use it up to this point. DIY Holiday includes a project idea for it so I really have no excuse!

I’ve always wanted to give jewelry making a try and the Olympic coin necklace looks like a lot of fun.

The directions for all the different projects are easy to follow and nicely presented in the magazine. There are nice close-up shots of the different projects so you can see necessary details. I highly recommend it.

Best of all, F&W sent me three copies to give away to my readers! As an added bonus, I never heard back from one of the Christmas Crochet book giveaway winners, so I have four items to give away this week!

As usual, the rules to enter are simple:

1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick FOUR winners!

I’ll pull the winners on Friday, November 28th. Good luck!

Book Review: The Fine Art of Crochet

Of all the types of crochet, I love when it is brought to the level of high art. That is probably why I love the Free Form Guild so much. I wish I had more time to spend on it. There are tons of ideas swirling around in my head and just not enough hours in the day.

The Fine Art of Crochet
So why am I telling you all this? Because I am VERY excited to share this week’s book review. Great artist Gwen Blakley Kinsler has a new book out, The Fine Art of Crochet: Innovative Works from 20 Contemporary Artists and it is wonderful! It highlights different fiber artists, all with different approaches. It is certainly a feast for the eyes!

I think what blew me away the most is while I was reading through it, I discovered that I was mentioned! To be in a book highlighting such wonderful artists is an honor I could’ve only dreamed of. I was completely without words. She also mentions the Sticks, Hooks & Mobius at Lafayette College in 2012 and the annual challenge from the Free Form Guild.

In this book, Gwen highlights the art of 20 wonderful artists, but she also looks at the art crochet movement from 1915, to the Crochet Revolution of the 1960s, to today. Gwen is the founder of the Crochet Guild of America and a well-respected fiber artist in her own right.

Gwen refers to the works of these amazing artists as “awe-inspiring” and “cutting-edge” and I could not agree more. I have barely been able to put it down since I received it. It is a joy. I am not going to even attempt to pick a favorite. If you want artistic inspiration, this is definitely the book.

And as always, you can win this copy!
Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, April 11th. Trust me when I tell you, you definitely want to be in this giveaway. Good luck!

Book Review: Fair Isle Style

Since most of the country has been in a deep freeze lately, I figured the next book review should be about making patterns that help keep you warm!


This book review is about Fair Isle Style: 20 Fresh Designs for a Classic Technique. This book is full of lovely sweaters, gloves, fingerless gloves, mittens, and socks, to name a few. The collection of twenty patterns assembled by Mary Jane Mucklestone is truly inspiration.

The concept of “Fair Isle” knitting has been produced continuously for more than two hundred years, originating in Fair Isle, a tiny island in the northernmost archipelago of the British Isles.

While I do not knit well enough to attempt any of these patterns, I can certainly appreciate what it takes to knit these wonderful creations. Many patterns come with both written instructions as well as detailed charts. The book starts with a lovely introduction to Fair Isle along with the history of the style. The photography is great and the pieces are just lovely. As I flipped through the book, I especially liked the Mushroom Kelliemuffs – I am a huge fan of fingerless mittens. And I absolutely LOVE the Valenzi Cardigan. I can definitely see myself wrapped up in it!

There is a “design notebook” at the back of the book that includes how to make good yarn choices and how to knit in the Fair Isle tradition. It also includes a little bit about color theory, which I always love to read about and learn more! Just like most books, it includes a glossary of terms and instructions of different stitches required to complete the different patterns.

Like I said, I am far from an expert knitter. But this is a great book I am sure any knitter would love to have it in their library!

And as usual, this book can be yours!

Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, February 7th. Good luck!