Friday, March 25, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday - Letting My Mind Run Free

I need to begin this weeks post with a big THANK YOU to Andrea for her help getting my new blog design looking so rockin' awesome!  We're both part of the Winter's Rhythm KAL (knit a long) at Your Local Yarn Shop on Friday nights.    She took some of her treasured knit time to show me how to manage my blog better.  I can't get over how much more fun it is to blog now that I have this rockin' new design.

A couple years ago I was trying to come up with some ideas for shawl pins that I could make and sell.  I'm very lucky to live quite close  to a wonderful bead store called T & T Trading.  I never need much arm twisting to visit this wonderful store!

I wasn't sure what I wanted but as luck would have it, I found an awesome book on weaving jewelry called Fiber & Bead Jewelry by Helen Banes.  Although the book is actually about weaving jewelry, once I thumbed through it, I knew I could find a way to use these techniques to design my own shawl pins.

This book was truly an inspiration to me even though I did find that some of the pieces I designed decided they wanted to be necklaces instead of shawl pins. I think sometimes you just have to listen to the piece your working on instead of trying to force it into becoming what you had in mind.

Because my husband and I raise alpacas, my intent was to weave jewelry from lace weight alpaca.  Lace weight lends itself to this type of project very nicely.  It takes a little longer to weave as the fiber is "so" soft it wants to bounce back up on the weft but "oh" what an awesome shawl pin or necklace you get in the end.   It's well worth the time and I love that alpaca lends itself to jewelry.  Jewelry, who would have guessed!

1st try at weaving jewelry

This was my first attempt at weaving jewelry and I followed the beginning pattern from the book.  I used beads that I had on hand, and a hand painted variegated cotton.  The cotton is a 3 ply and just like DMC floss you take the strands apart and weave with one strand at a time.  Once I conquered the concept, I started making my own designs.

I use old pieces of jewelery and take necklaces apart and design the piece around the recycled jewelry.  This gives a whole new meaning to your mom & grandma's jewelry. 

Necklace woven from lace weight alpaca

I wove this necklace using 100% lace weight alpaca and used Austrian crystals for the accents.  The chain and findings are sterling silver.  I was lucky enough to sell this piece to a local gentleman who collects vintage clothing.  This just goes to show, you never know where your creations might end up.

The shoulder wrap was designed by Jill Turner owner of Lady Peddler.  The yarn I used was Multicolor by Filatura Di Crosa which I also purchased from Jill.  This yarn is a mohair blend that has a very gentle variegation in shading and my picture does not do it justice.
I designed this shawl pin as a class project I taught at Your Local Yarn Shop.  Linda & Kelly wanted me to come up with a design that the students could make using their left over sock yarn.  So hint, hint you sock lovers.

Using sock yarn instead of alpaca makes this a much quicker project to complete.  Throw in some beads for bling, bling and your done in no time.

This piece decided it wanted to be a picture.  Nope, not a shawl pin, not a necklace, but a picture!  Again, I used hand painted variegated cotton in an awesome color palette and I dyed 100% lace weight alpaca in various shades to use as accents.  I wove this piece with the warp going in the opposite direction from the other pieces.  You can see how it makes the colors flow in a vertical line instead of horizontal.

Even though we like to think it's all about the Fiber, sometimes for me it's all about the creativity.  So when I want a break from following knitting patterns, I let my mind run free to see where it will take me.

Make sure to go to Wisdon Begin in Wonder and check out what everyone else is blogging about today. 

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!!!


  1. Your woven pieces are little jewels! I love tiny things.

  2. Gorgeousness! I especially love that you made wall art out of that last piece!

  3. It absolutely is about the creativity! It's appropo that someone who loves vintage clothes would buy some of your alpaca jewelry - not only because of the design (very vintage) but also because alpaca jewelry has been around for a while. We don't think about today, but back in the day ...

    Great stuff today - happy fiber arts Friday!

  4. How beautiful! Lovely work and how beautiful your jewelry is. Nice to see lots of different ways to use alpaca fiber.

  5. Really beautiful pieces! I like design of the lace weight alpaca one.

  6. The blog looks great, so does the jewellery

  7. Your woven jewelery is so creative and beautiful! I love the necklace with Australian crystals for accent. Look forward to seeing many more original designs.

  8. Your jewelry and bead work is gorgeous! I love the talent you show working with the tiny little beads. One day I hope to have the patience to make one of these beautiful projects.

    Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

  9. Hi Melissa! Fantastic idea! You create something really beautiful and unique!
    Have a lovely weekend! Teje

  10. Truly inspirational...I ordered the book from my library...and now I am looking at my beads, old jewelry, and fiber stash in a totally new way. Thanks for sharing :)