Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year & New Opportunities

Almost the New Year now, and I've decided to change things up a little in my online shops.

Firstly, I've got SIX brand new crochet hooks on eBay right now! I'll continue to post crochet hooks on auction on a regular basis.

Etsy is now my main fiber tools shop! I have a HUGE selection of special crochet hooks, nostepinnes, orifice hooks, needle cases, and thimbles. I also have other marvelous items, like hair sticks, dread beads, letter openers, toothpick holders, jewelry, as well as very fine scale miniatures. Also check out Etsy (or e-mail me personally) about gift certificates or custom items!

Please check them out, and e-mail me if you have any questions!

I just want to thank all of my wonderful customers for your continuing support! Thank you! My best wishes for a fantastic New Year!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dread Beads!

Whenever I do I custom order, I always make some extras! I just listed these extra Dreadlock Beads in my Etsy store. They have a center hole of 10mm (3/8"), and can also be used as focal beads in any fiber arts project! Check them out!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Posting Day!

I just posted some colorful new crochet hooks and hair sticks on eBay last night! Check them out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Garden Glories

Summer is in full swing here in Cheyenne, WY. We are in the midst of Frontier Days -- a nice outing if you're from out of town, but an inconvenient traffic entanglement if you are local. It's brings good business to town though, and the Native American dances are fun to watch.

In my own "backyard", my mum has been working and working to get our garden growing, and what a success it's become! Our planting area is quite large - about 12 by 50 feet, so it takes a huge amount of care and maintenance. Forgive some of the weeds in the photos. Yesterday was a harvest day, and we spent over an hour collecting chard, spinach, and snow peas.

I figured I should post some pictures of our garden glories while the growing is good!

A virtual tour of the garden:

On the north end, we have summer squash in the form of yellow squash and zucchini, which are just starting to bloom. Then, two rows of snow peas, uplifted by trellises. The peas have been fruiting like crazy! We are harvesting every couple of days -- and goodness are they sweet!!!

Between the rows of peas, we snuck in some parsley and dill.

Mid-garden we have tomatoes in the forefront, just beginning to bloom. Behind them are the cucumbers, also starting to have blooms. Both of these plants seemed to get started late -- the cold prevented a lot of the "leaping" from the ground that we have come to expect.

In the very background are raspberry bushes, some type that apparently grows well here. No sign of flowers or fruit yet...

Next, we have kohlrabi, with it's strong and beautiful leaves. And in the same row, bok choy, which has gone to seed (regrettably) without producing a full head of leaves. We think it must be due to the weird weather -- first very cold, then very hot and raining. At least we'll harvest more seeds than were in the packet. (Only 10 seeds!)

The strong beets are next, and spinach. After, chard, which was just harvested yesterday, (hence the de-leafed appearance of the plants). Behind those are onions.

Here, an onion plant is having an intimate entanglement with a strawberry!

The onions are doing great! We planted about 200 of them, (overdoing it, I know), but we can have fresh green onions every single day!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The excitement of something little...

I just made some GORGEOUS new crochet hooks and posted them on eBay last night. (See photo below for the glorious details!)

This spring I was in the unfortunate situation of not having my beloved lathe to work on. My busy hands needing to keep busy, I decided to get out my crochet hooks and knitting needles to delve into some fiber arts. Most specifically, I am knitting socks. I started out by buying the typical ok-but-not-great yarn found at my local craft store, mostly skeins on clearance... and then, as I was searching for nice knitting needles online, I found something entirely different...

(I needed, needed, some Addi Turbo Circular needles -- they are soooooo much easier to use than some other brands I've tried. I like to make my socks on two circular needles -- that way I can do both socks at once, (making sure they are the same length), and finish them both at the same time, avoiding the dreaded "one sock syndrome"!)

Forgive the diversion... I shall continue the story...
At this online fiber-holics shop I found yarn, (sock yarn), on sale... so I bought some. It arrived a few days later and I was enamored: sparkly yarn, yarn that was knitted into flat squares, then printed, yarn space-dyed into brilliant colors! I was hooked!

I then went back and found sock yarn that was NOT on sale, but I couldn't help myself, I bought it anyway! This glorious spun wool felt so scrumptiously silky running through my fingers, it was ecstasy through propinquity!

Then, last night, I sauntered through the gardens of Etsy, and found and found and found... (and bought!) Goodness me it felt fantastic!

And... I have been knitting like crazy, finishing 7 pairs of socks in the past month! (see above) Anyway, I guess my point is -- even if sometimes it feels like there's "no money" -- it can be worth it to treat yourself to a little something. Such bright little spots of happiness enliven and invigorate the spirit, awakening creativity once again.

Starting by following the first couple of patterns by-the-book, I've moved on to designing several of my own, creating unique works for myself and my mom. (One thing I like doing is calculating the exact number of stitches in each sock, so I can relate the fact to curious onlookers. Did you know that (on average) there are over 21,000 stitches in a pair of socks?)

Anyway, I suppose the point is -- take care of yourself. Do something special for yourself: treat yourself to a dinner out, a skein of yarn, a hand-made wooden crochet hook, or even a CD of your favorite artist. Have fun!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Posting Day!

More brand new crochet hooks! I've just posted ALL of the below on eBay, including those scrumptious hair sticks! (With the hot weather, I've been wearing my hair up every day using my favorite hair pin, which I made from Bethlehem Olivewood.)

It's interesting -- when one must take a brief hiatus from creating, sometimes new designs come into view -- it's been fun getting back into the swing of things, turning gorgeous new hooks and hair sticks! Check them out!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tis a Gift to Be Simple

Gardening can bring unexpected pleasures: a walk through growing things, the scent of blooming flowers, and the ability for a spontaneous snack!

My mom has been tending the garden this year. (I've been so busy with my turning production work that I've scarcely had a moment to get out there!) She's been planting, weeding, watering, and the like, and FINALLY her herculean efforts are paying dividends. (The growing season here in Wyoming is very short and starts quite late, so we're only just now starting to harvest).

May I present a harvest of peas from this afternoon (along with a smattering of spinach):

Chard is coming up, so is the bok choy, spinach, radishes, beets, etc. The strawberries are fruiting tenderly, but the birds are pinching all the bounties! Our tomatoes and cucumbers are just beginning to flower, and so are the zucchinis and squash.

All the while I was meandering through our trellises of snow peas, an old Shaker song kept repeating itself in my head and my heart: Simple Gifts. "'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free..." Gardening certainly qualifies as a precious note of freedom in our busy world.


Monday, July 18, 2011

New! New! New!

I've been busy with teaching and demonstrating woodturning the past few months, so I am just getting back into the swing of things. I'm delighted to have had some creation-time to make some beautiful new crochet hooks! With the hot weather we've been having, hair-up seems like a good idea, so I've also posted lots of new hair sticks in gorgeous colors and natural wood! Check them all out in my eBay store & auctions.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back from Utah

Oh, what a time I had! There is something very special about the Utah Woodturning Symposium; there's a sort of magic in the air, a wild anticipation that comes straight from the snow-capped mountains, a sparkle, and glitter in the wind. Every time I've come back home, I feel immeasurably inspired, that my life has made a hard right turn into a positive future destination.

The Utah Woodturning Symposium, (known simply as "Provo" to the old guard), is one of the largest and most prestigious symposiums in the world, and also the longest running -- 32 years as of 2011.

In case you're interested in making the trip, I'll tell you what you can expect... the first day begins with Super Wednesday at Craft Supplies. The staff there go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome. The big draw is the sale -- I picked up lots of DVDs, books, wood, and tools for seriously inexpensive prices!

Gorgeous books! (I even bought a few extra as gifts for friends!)

Some beautiful figured cottonwood.

Pen blanks, including Trustone and several acrylic varieties.

While their warehouse clearance sale is going on, there are 6 demonstration rooms, (including another at Treeline), to view presentations by top turners all day long! It's like getting an extra day at the symposium for free!

I'd like to thank Dale Nish and Darrel Nish (and the rest of the staff!) for organizing this wonderful event -- I had a fantastic time!

The Symposium lasts for three intense days, and I was very honored to be invited to demonstrate this year. The first day I had one rotation, a popular presentation in which I make my Color Rim Bowl. (To my great surprise, many asked me if the coloring is done freehand -- nope, it's all wood! The designs are produced by cutting into dyed plywood, no painting skills required!)

The second day I presented "Grinding, Sharpening, and Chips," in which I talked about the relationship of the tool grind (the shape of the tool) to the cut it's capable of making in wood. I also did my demonstration on Goblet with a Twist, which combines end-grain hollowing with thin-stem turning with a hand-cut twist.

As with the Goblet demonstration, the last day I had a full house, demonstrating Platters: cutting techniques, and decorative embellishments. I'd like to thank everyone who came to my presentations -- I enjoyed meeting everyone!

In between demonstrating, I caught as many of the other presentations as I could, seeing Bob Rosand, Bonnie Klein, Hans Weissflog, Jacob Weissflog, Kip Christensen, Dale Nish, Jason Breach, Rudy Lopez, Dick Sing, and so many others!

I also took time to browse the Instant Gallery, which was full of incredible work! (I took two treasures home this trip: I bought one of Bonnie Klein's top boxes, and a set of three spinning tops from Kip Christensen!)

The Swap Meet is on Thursday evening -- a parking lot full of wood vendors and others selling tools, finished work, even lathes! I brought home a large box elder burl, some Mormon Poplar, a block of Willow, and some little Japanese Yew logs. To top off the evening, three special presentations were scheduled.

From left, clockwise: Maple Burl, figured cottonwood, and a big boxelder burl cap! (The maple square is about 8" across)

Friday is the night of the legendary banquet! After chatting with friends and eating a sumptuous meal, the auction starts. Both world-famous and local artists donate their works to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. I'm delighted that my platter "Sway with Me" was won by a friend!

By now, nearly everyone is exhausted, but three more rotations ensue, followed by a "good-bye" ceremony filled with door prizes! Then, everyone goes off, driving, flying, walking... back to their own shops, their thoughts filled with inspiration!

People ask me what makes Utah different... I guess I would have to say "the community." Every year we return again, greeted by the same friendly faces. They are there year after year, working tirelessly to create a fantastic event. I've come to treasure these dear people just as I would my closest friends.

I wanted to make special mention of some things that were really great this year. First -- videography -- the camera operators were either videography students from the college or woodturners with video experience -- they gave huge value to the demonstrations by following the demonstrator's every move, capturing closeups of the techniques.

The Volunteers: they were always there with a smile, happy to answer questions, or find a forgotten tool, or whatever-you-needed. THANK YOU for your dedication!

And who can forget the organizers: Mike Mahoney, Kip Christensen, and Dale Nish -- THANK YOU!

My own conclusion is that I will never miss the Utah Woodturning Symposium -- it's like a family get-together with the added benefit of learning new techniques, making new friends, and having a three-day party all at once! See you there next year!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Posting Day!

I've posted 14 new hooks in 3-day auctions! That will allow me to ship them on Monday before I leave for Utah. Thread hooks, Small Hooks, All-Wood are all on eBay right now! Auctions end Sunday evening. Check them out!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Utah Woodturning Symposium

My favorite symposium is only a week away! I am delighted to have been invited to demonstrate at the Utah Woodturning Symposium this year, among my honored colleagues: Richard Rafffan, Bonnie Klein, and so many others!

I will be demonstrating my "Color Rim Utility Bowl" (you've seen me post more decorous versions on FaceBook, including my moon plate, "Halo"), "Platters", "Goblet with a Twist", and "Grinding, Sharpening, and Chips," in which I demonstrate the relationship between grind and cut.

If you're still deciding, make up your mind to go! I love Utah because it has such a family atmosphere -- Mike Mahoney is such a generous and gracious host.

I hope to see you there!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Windows - New Crochet Hooks!

I try to update my blog regularly, but time just gets away from me! However, I DO add new items to eBay every other day, so please check out some brand new crochet hooks, posted just this evening! Check Etsy too for new items!

Today I'd like to introduce a new series of crochet hooks -- Windows! (I have some on auction right now!)

These are what woodturners call "multi-axis turnings" because they are mounted two different ways on the lathe.

I took inspiration from the 2011 Winter issue of Woodturning Design magazine (#28), (thank you Thomas R. Farrell for the idea!) and adapted the turning style to my crochet hooks, and to the wood being used.

Indeed, they remind me of the colorful glass ornaments on a Christmas tree -- the ones that have a concave opening, faceted on the inside, that sparkle wildly in the lights of the tree!

First, I mount the rectangular block of wood sideways, so that I can turn the hollow. (Good thing I have a enough swing on my lathe!) I create "steps" that become progressively smaller as they go deeper into the wood. I take advantage of the layered nature of this wood by making each step a different color. I then drill a calibrated hole for the silver setting to rest within.

Now, time to flip the blank around and turn as spindlework, with the grain running parallel to the bed of the lathe. I then turn the piece almost as normal, making sure to be careful around the hollowed area.

The depth of the hollowed bit is crucial: it allows more "steps" to be seen, more colors to show. Therefore, I leave as large a diameter as possible on that part of the hook, (and hence the larger rag/rug hooks that I've been making).

When turning this area, you much make sure to take gentle cuts -- the layers of dyed wood want to chip off fairly easily. Sharp tools are a must. (As always! :-)

After turning and finishing the crochet hook, I then choose a matching stone. In these hooks I've used a cubic zirconia gemstone, set in sterling silver. Not a simple crystal, cubic zirconia has the the second-highest refractive index in the world, (just below diamonds on the scale!)

In the light, these stone sparkle like mad! The drilled hole is precise so the setting fits in with a snug fit, secured by a drop of epoxy.

The photos don't show the depth of the hollowing, but they are really cool to look at in the hand! They remind me of the stepped wells of old India and other ancient cultures.

I love to experiment with new designs, and these are just the latest! It's always fun to take an idea seen in a magazine, or the world, and apply it to what you do, and make it your own.

Have fun!

Monday, February 28, 2011

New Jingly Ring Hooks!

I've had so many requests for these! I've just made and posted lots of new Jingly Ring hooks on eBay and Etsy. These hooks have captured rings that spin freely, adding extra fun and delight to your crochet time! :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Posting Day

I listed more absolutely GORGEOUS hand-made crochet hooks on eBay today! (And the second set will be up on Sunday!) Check them out!

(Click the photo to make it larger and the hooks in all their glorious detail!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Published Article

First, I've got new work! Check out these gorgeous crochet hooks on eBay! (I also have lots of new nostepindes, thimbles, and beads on Etsy, including my famous "Sun Rainbow" colorway!)

The hook in the photo, furthest to the right, is the largest hook I have ever made! A size S, 17mm, for only the most ambitious crochet projects! (In contrast, the hook furthest to the left is a Q, the largest most of us ever attempt!) Both beauties are listed now on eBay.

Without further ado, I give you a photo, then on to the main topic of the day!

It all started one day when I was asked to give a demonstration on how I did my crochet hooks... I was absolutely terrified, but when the time came, everything went very well indeed, and I gained huge confidence in my ability to present a woodturning topic. I also found out one very critical thing that had not occurred to me previously -- people were interested in what I did... !

I thought everyone knew how to make a crochet hook! After all, they've been around for hundreds of years! Well, turns out that it's relatively specialized, and by making very high quality hooks, I had developed even more specialized techniques.

Later, it was suggested that I write an article about making crochet hooks. And again, it seemed to me that the world probably already knew everything I would have to say... but to my great surprise, my idea was preliminarily accepted to be published! So I wrote, took photographs, and turned. And, at length, (the publishing industry has a long lead time), my article has been published in the February 2011 issue of American Woodturner!

You can view it at my web site here: Creating Crochet Hooks article by Katherine Kowalski

We all have our own ways of working, and sometimes it seems so normal to us that we don't even bother talking about it. I would heartily encourage anyone, everyone to share what you know, even if it seems commonplace to you. Give a presentation to your group, write an article for your art/craft magazines.

How do you get started? E-mail the editors of the relevant publications, and ask for their submission guidelines as well as what types of articles they are looking for.

When you hold that magazine in your hand, see your work in full color, and your name on the article, it gives an unforgettable feeling of pride and satisfaction, along with a strong dose of je ne sais quoi! :-)

And, on a more personal note, it was an absolute joy to work with the editor of American Woodturner, Betty Scarpino!