Weaving Wainbow

This scarf was an exploration into a classic weaving pattern called a “color gamp.” The idea is that you do equal strips of many colors along the warp and the weft, that way you can see how each yarn interacts with every other yarn in the set. Most people do them in ROYGBIV order, for obvious reasons, but that’s not required. Its another one of those moments where I really appreciate how weaving and math interact.

Color gamps are great for really seeing color theory in action. Color is one of the most illusive, complex and difficult things to explain or control. Sure, red is red, that’s simple right? But how red is red? What does it mean to be a redder red? Sure, red plus yellow equals orange…. When you’re playing with paint, maybe, less so when you’re playing with light.

How colors interact when they’re next to each other is also very difficult to explain, or predict. So much depends on the weight and hand of the yarn, its fiber content, how reflective it is, how saturated the colors in question are. Thats why something like a color gamp is a good idea. It lets you literally see how each yarn interacts with the other yarns, over and under, shadow and highlight, contrast and complimentary.

Plus it just looks cool.

I’m sorry for the title, I couldn’t help it.

 

When Life Gives You Lemon Fabric

…Make pajamas?

Especially if you know you’re going to get snowed in for a couple of days and wont need real clothes! After finishing off these pajamas a couple of weeks ago, I definitely put them to the test this weekend. They are comfortable, flexible, warm, excellent.

I created these pajamas for the release of a new fabric at spoonflower. This is a first in spoonflower’s fabric history, a cotton spandex blend in a jersey knit. It is an excellent fabric, comfortable, soft, lightly stretchy with a good recovery, but also with enough body to be stable and hold a seam well.

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The pattern is one from a maker I’ve never used before, but it was a great pattern. For the fabric release, the product team chose a selection of projects and fabric designs to show the full breadth of the fabric’s capabilities. I’d definitely use Closet Case patterns again after this project. She walks you through the complicated structure of the split collar with clear instructions. The fit is very nice and works with my body shape. And the result itself is comfy and classy all at once.

I’d say the only problem I really had was that I’ve been working on so many sprout patterns projects, I’d forgotten how truly endlessly irritatingworking from a print out pattern is… First you have to give up a ream of paper just to print it out. Then, if you’re like me, you have that awesome moment where you forgot to print only the first page first to check that it printed right:

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Yep. Then, if you’re like me, and you already feel guilty about the trees you’re killing, you decide to try to reuse the first paper and reprint the pattern on the backside. And then, you realize how THAT was a bad idea, and get extraordinarily paranoid about which side is the “right” side. And then you spend and eternity taping it together. And then you have to cut it out.

I decided to lengthen the shorts for this pattern. I have long legs and just generally find longer shorts more comfortable, so I added two inches to the length of the shorts. This pattern maker made it super easy, providing the classic “add length here” lines that so many people don’t bother to include. And it worked perfectly, and did not distort the end result at all. Professional and perfect pattern.

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And only THEN do you finally even get to touch the fabric. It definitely reminded me of why I love Sprout Patterns so much for removing all of the worst parts of working with indy patterns. Its so hard to get up the energy to use a new pattern when I think about all those steps that aren’t even the fun bits of sewing.

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In the end, I think it was totally worth the angst though. These pjs are comfy and fun and unlike anything else I own or would normally make for myself. I was a little sloppy around the collar, I think if I were to re-do this project I would actually leave off the piping. I absolutely love the visual effect it creates, but the fabric was just a touch too bulky in some places, and it definitely created difficulties around the split collar area, and the pocket.

I reviewed the pattern used in this project here: Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas ★★★★

Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas ★★★★

 

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I’d definitely use Closet Case patterns again after this project. She walks you through the complicated structure of the split collar with clear instructions. The fit is very nice and works with my body shape. And the result itself is comfy and classy all at once.

She was very good about using classic pattern markings, even including “shorten or lengthen here” lines, which many indy pattern makers leave off for some reason.

I used this pattern to make these super comfy adorable pajamas: When Life Gives You Lemon Fabric

Weaving Words

This was probably the hands-down best project I worked on for Christmas. Remember how I said the clasped weft scarf looked kind of like sound waves? I decided to incorporate that into a woven words scarf.

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I recorded myself saying “You are the most wonderful father a daughter could have. I love you daddy.” Then I looked at the sound waves for it, and wove it into a black and white clasped weft scarf. I also artistically drew it out, and wrote the words, and framed it to make it very clear what the scarf meant. Super sentimental, but kind of wonderfully perfect. My dad has always been the most musically inclined in the family, and he’s recently started recording audio books, so sound waves seemed so appropriate.

The yarn is the same dragon tales rayon boucle dyed by an Asheville local place named Earth Guild. Its the same yarn I used for the painted christmas scarves. Its, hands down, some of the easiest and most beautiful yarn I’ve worked with yet. It weaves easy, soft but strong, and washing machine/dryer safe, and SO SOFT once it’s fulled. The colors stayed fast, and it simply glows in the right light.

I love this concept of turning spoken words into a scarf. It could be done with any phrase, or any snatch of music, or famous speech. The black and white look so classic. I also feel like clasped weft would make really cool piano keys along the edge of a scarf.

Pluviophilia Rain Dress

I mentioned my involvement in the new Spoonflower project called Sprout Patterns before, but to repeat myself: there is an amazing new thing out there called Sprout Patterns and you really really must go check it out. The idea is that Spoonflower will actually print the pattern for various garments and projects directly on the fabric for you, filled in with your chosen design. They’ve partnered with a whole bunch of indy pattern makers to bring you a really diverse and excellent set of options. In addition, you can actually see your project before you buy it, projected in 3D in your browser. You can even shift the pattern around if you care about design placement, and they’re working on allowing design rotation so that you can accurately place border prints. Its so cool. This is what my dress looked like when I built it in sprout patterns.

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The bit on the left is literally what your printed fabric will arrive looking like, with obvious cut lines, labels, et al. I find the sense of scale invaluable when trying to judge how a various project will look with a spoonflower fabric design. Not to mention, the bit where you have to print out a pattern, tape endless sheets of paper together, tediously cut out all the bits and only THEN start playing with your fabric is completely removed when you use Sprout Patterns for your project. I cut out the pieces for this dress while sitting on my couch watch tv. I just followed the lines on the fabric. And it turned out fantastic, if I do say so myself.

I actually designed the fabric for this project as well. I’m one of those people who actually really love thunderstorms, cloudy days, even sometimes just the steady drum of of a rainy wet day. You know, when I can sit inside, warm and dry with a book and just watch it. So awhile ago, I designed myself a set of curtains with watercolor and ink pen clouds, pouring forth a stream of words, all quotes about rain. When the sun is too bright and sharp and loud, I can pull the curtains closed and it all gets softer.


I re-used the cloud elements to create a fully repeating cloudy day fabric design. If you like it, you can buy it yourself on spoonflower in small scale like my dress below, and large scale.

The pattern for this dress is the Colette Myrtle, and it was perfect for this project. The fit is very relaxed, obviously, without a whole lot of pieces, or a need for exact fitting. Considering the steps that sprout takes out, it was also very very very fast to put together. I even did french seams on the side of the skirt! The fabric is Spoonflower’s poly crepe de chine, which is still one of my favorites. Light, flowy, slightly textured, super easy to sew.

I reviewed this pattern here: Colette Myrtle ★★★★★

Also as promised, more pictures of myself, wearing my creations. This one is definitely a crowd pleaser, a winner, and something I actually get to wear frequently.

Colette Myrtle ★★★★★

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This pattern is super easy, very flattering, fun and fast to put together. I don’t really have a bad word to say about it. You can use it with wovens and knits, heavier fabrics or things light and drapey. I’m not usually a fan of cowled drapey necklines, but in this case I liked it. I used Sprout Patterns with this pattern, so I didn’t even have to do the usual paper taping and pining. With the easy fit of this pattern, it is definitely the way to go! Check it out here.

You can see this pattern in action here: Pluviophilia Rain Dress

A New Space

In the last few months I’ve lost two roommates, and gained another one. This has meant lots of shlepping furniture, rearranging and cleaning, and not a whole lot of time or space for any sort of sewing or reading. Now, however, that’s all changed…

The end result is a spare bedroom, which I have now claimed as a hoity toity fiber studio. Ooooo, Ahhh. I’m so excited, I’ve never yet had my very own space dedicated to crafting etc.

Its a smallish bedroom, but I’ve still managed to fit both looms, a boxy shelf/drawer/thing, a book shelf, an ironing table, a large warping board, and a large glass-top desk. Any any sort of room is better than stealing and cluttering up the downstairs dining room.

Oh, wait, “both looms”? Yes…. I bought another one. I already knew I’d have a spare bedroom, and then this LOVELY 45″ Nilus Leclerc was at the local weavers fall sale for $100?!?! How could I say no? Of course, the reason it was so cheap was because its currently in pieces. It even comes with its own bench though! And underneath the dust the loom is in good shape! I’m so excited. It’ll be a learning exercise to put all the pieces back together.

I already feel good in this space. The back wall has two windows, hidden by the sliding panel style ikea curtains. I can’t wait to play with various fabrics layered on each other, or weave my own intricate curtain panels (I’ve already got some great ideas there). I also managed to hide a desktop computer, and a monitor that can move back and forth between the desk, and an out of the way shelf corner. That way this is also my computer/gaming room, and I can binge watch netflix while crafting things, or rock out to music. The shelf above the desk was a “picture ledge” according to ikea. I took one look at it and thought that’ll be perfect for thread!. And it is! It fits perfectly, and is organized and close at hand, and even looks good! We also took the door off the closet in the back corner so that it still works as storage, without giving up square footage for the door to open.

Having the space be comfortable and highly functional really contributed to a ton of excellent christmas presents I’ll show off soon.

1920’s Christmas Dress

Well, here’s the yearly Spoonflower Christmas Party dress. The theme this year was the 1920s, so of course I had to draft my own pattern.

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I found this amazing art-deco-ish embroidered net fabric at Mary Jo’s in Charlotte and couldn’t really resist. The lining, and the skirt, is a simple navy blue satin. It has a dropped waist, loose fit, handkerchief skirt line, and (my favorite bit) a cowled low back. I also, of course, bedazzled the crap out of it. The skirt moved really gorgeously when I walked and danced (and in the wind), which is obviously why I assume it was so popular for this era. And I had to make a gif of it.

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I didn’t use a pattern for this dress. I hand drafted a basic bodice sloper, and then used that as the base to drape the fabric directly on the dress form. Its a simple silhouette, but I am still ridiculously proud of how it turned out. The skirt is just a square with a slit cut in the middle. Then I used my old favorite hot-fix crystals in a deep blue all along the hemline to give it a bit of weight and help it move nicely.

 


It has always been a goal of this home-made blog to encourage me to take more and better photos of my work. Especially to take photos of myself wearing each sewing project. Well, here you are, proof that I wear what I sew! A little sloppy but better than nothing ;-). I really enjoy the one where I’m making crazy chicken arms, but I included it for shits and giggles, and because it shows the movement of the skirt quite well.

Twelve Scarves of Christmas

UPDATE: if you love these scarves as much as my friends and family did, I’m selling more of them in my esty shop for this christmas!

Well, I was very very busy for the weeks up to christmas. There are a lot of photos for this post, but I assume you guys wont mind. I, of course, decided to give everyone a scarf. Scarves are so fun and easy, when you get into a rhythm they don’t even take very long, you get to change up the colors frequently, and they’re just so satisfying.

There’s a local to Asheville yarn store called Earth Guild that does their own dye of some rayon weaving yard. It is absolutely gorgeous, and I’ve been eyeing it for awhile now. They also sell hand-painted warp scarf kits. The yarn is already measured and painted for you, and they provide warp and weft all in a bag. Just warp your loom and you’re ready to go! I confess, once I did the first one and saw how fun and easy and BEAUTIFUL they were, I went a little crazy. The given color combinations are absolutely gorgeous, and with everything pre-mesured, as long as I stayed in the twill family, I simply just tied on new ends to the old ones and didn’t have to do 75% of the annoying pre-work bit.

The only two that weren’t pre-painted kits were the two ones I did with their line of variegated yarns. There’s one foresty green and blue scarf, and a golden scarf with purple and reds. Same weight as the other yarn, just the warp is a variegated and the weft is a solid color. For a couple of inches at each end, I also used variegated in the weft, and then slowly transitioned to the solid to create a nice ombre effect. Does it happen to correspond very closely to the very first scarf I did? maaaaaybe 😉 But it just looks so good!


Anyways, it was so delightful to use Earth Guild’s scarf kits. They are the perfect project in a bag, easy, beautiful, somewhat addictive. They’d also be great teaching tools, they easily display the basics, leave out part of the math, good strong soft yarn, the colors look amazing and hide simple flaws, and they don’t take long at all! Any friend that wants a good project to learn to weave on is welcome to come sit at my loom one weekend, and I’ll show you the basics!


You’ll also note that I got the boy to model for me, as long as I also promised to model, haha! Everyone keeps asking for it, well, I’m finally going to attempt to take more photographs of me actually wearing the things I make.

The Gullwing Odyssey ★★★★★

This book review has been waiting for me for a long time. I promised it as part of a birthday present, oh, 8 months ago or so. Well, finally, here we are.

This book was a riot. I actually listened to it on audio book, which I think really made the characters for me. Nominally it is a (young adult?) humor fantasy novel following the adventures of Marco Gullwing. He is a messenger boy, who in the course of a mission accidentally boards the wrong boat and ends up in places doing things he never expected. Its a classic coming of age tale as Marco really starts out as a bit of an ass, but starts coming into his own through various trials and tribulations.

I would call humor the main genre this book fits into. There’s also magic, and dragon people, hence the fantasy. And I assume it is mostly aimed at a young adult audience, as most books with an adolescent main character are, but I waver on that, as the sense of humor is definitely adult. The word-play is fantastic, the satire is delicious, and farce of it all is definitely fun for adults too.

All in all, this book really reminds me of the style of James Branch Cabell, an author in the 1920s who is best known for Jurgen, one of a series of comedy-parody-fantasy-romance novels. Except that Jurgen is chock full of awkward sexism and racism which we try to excuse by saying it is “a product of its time,” but still certainly makes it harder to appreciate in today’s world.

I would equally call The Gullwing Odyssey a product of its time, but in a positive light. This book tackles many of the same problems we face today, sexism, racism and fanatic religion, but is able to do it all with a laugh and a spin because of the overwhelmingly silly and farcical setting. The Gullwing Odyssey has a pretty fantastic female character in Dria, the young dragon princess who is forthright, intelligent, well spoken, and occasionally awkward, young, and normal. Not to mention the pirate queen Maria Giraldinha de Inez, Captain of Far-Reach, Owner-Operator of the Three Skull Privateer Group, Limited Liability Professional Corporation. The two species of humans and dragons definitely have some communication issues and species assumptions to work out. And the character of Barclay, the fanatical Knight, bearer of the word, bigoted and overbearingly righteous, speaks for himself.

As you can imagine, all the characters in the Gullwing Odyssey are parodies of themselves. And yet, the exaggerated characteristics don’t make them any less enjoyable to read about, or imagine in your head. Quite the reverse really. As I said, I listened to this book in audio form, and the narration was just perfect. (Full disclosure, the narrator is actually my dad. So I might be a little biased.) But he does all the voices. And if there’s one thing that makes an exaggerated character even better, its an exaggerated silly accent voice. Oh yes. You can even hear a sample on the audible page, check this out.

See what I mean? The characters come alive in your head, you can practically see the over-the-top costumes they’re wearing as they stride across the back of your eyelids in a vivid colorful world full of snarky dragon princesses, furious pirate queens, and slacker messenger boys.

I would heartily recommend The Gullwing Odyssey to anyone looking for a fun, charming, easy read.