Shoji Cardigan and experiments in natural dyeing.

It’s not too often that I finish a knitting project, and so it’s a celebration when I do. This Shoji cardigan (pattern by Norah Gaughan) is a project that I started back in December 2016, and I finally finished it a few weeks ago. Yay!

I loved the project as soon as I saw it in a Brooklyn Tweed collection a while back. Living in Florida can make knitting challenging at times, because it’s never cold enough to warrant a ton of knitted stuff. What I liked about this design was that it looked like a cozy blanket that you could layer over whatever else you’re wearing. This seemed appropriate for how I tend to dress in the winter here. Plus I was intrigued by the shape and construction. It’s knitted as a long rectangle that gets sewn together and added a collar.

The yarn I used underwent quite a transformation after being fully knitted and dipped into a natural dye bath of cutch with my friend, and expert dyer, Kim Eichler-Messmer. Below are some of Kim’s very helpful samples dyed from a variety of things. They aren’t a promise for what will happen, but good approximations of what all can happen. My Shoji, a swatch and extra yarn pre-dyed are there at the bottom. It’s very different, right?

Natural Dye samples with Kim Eichler-Messmer

The yarn was a fun color to start with, but even though I alternated skeins every row the color variation was too much over the course of the entire project. It looked super patchy, and I wasn’t totally convinced by the shade of pink. As it was, I didn’t think I’d ever wear it outside of my house. I figured it was worth a shot to see what could happen with a little experimenting.

The color came out more gorgeous than I could have ever imagined! That’s it on the left. (We tried some other dye baths as well.) For some reason I figured the only fate for this sweater would be to become navy or black. Brown was not something I’d even thought of as possible, but after seeing her samples, I knew that’s what I wanted to try. I figured it could be a good fit.

The sweater fared the dying process surprisingly well. I know that it probably grew a bit, which is fine–it is still cozy. I ended up tightening up some of the seaming that was loosened during the process, but otherwise not much else needed to happen.

Now that I’m officially done with my Shoji, I can a) wear it(!), and b) get back to work on another knitting project that I started over a year ago. The front and back are done, and I’m working on the sleeves.

pattern: Shoji by Norah Gaughan

yarn: Tosh DK in Pink Clay Optic, overdyed with cutch (and the critical help of expert Kim Eichler-Messmer)

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Trays and Pincushions in Jetty and Collection CF.

I can’t stop thinking about all of the sewn gifts I want to make this holiday season. Are you thinking about that too? If you are looking for ideas for quick favorites, here are some trays and pincushions in Jetty and Collection CF.

I always use Quilt Market as an excuse to make small, sewn things for the booth. Baskets, trays, and pincushions are always easy to set on the table to hold stuff. This time I made 3 trays using Noodlehead’s Tiny Treasures Tray tutorial, some pincushions and a couple of mini thread catchers.

The Treasures Tray is such a great project that comes together quickly, shows off some fabric and is super useful once they are done. I always find about a million uses for these around the house and in the sewing room.

treasure tray and crew pincushions

Anna finishes her trays with leather handles, which is definitely a good-looking finish. I was surprised by how easy the leather handles and rivets were last time I made these, but sadly I didn’t have any leather scraps on hand this time. Rummaging around for an alternative, I decided to give webbing a shot. I like the look of the webbing, but I quickly discovered that it can be a little trickier than the leather. Mainly, webbing can be thicker, and so getting the rivets in place was a test in patience and persistence. I’m guessing that they make thicker rivets to solve that, but I made these work.

PSA: if you use webbing, it’s a good idea to hit the ends with Fray Check to prevent fraying.

treasure tray

Inside the basket are a couple of pincushions from my Crew pattern. They are G and H if you’re wondering.

crew pincushions G and H in Jetty fabric

On the black one I made sure to include some of the selvage so you’d get that fun white stripe on the side. The yellow one also makes use of the selvage design on the fabric.

It is a good thing that all of these projects are speedy, because it’s hard to make just one. I can’t remember exactly, but basically all of these came together in the same day.

treasure trays in jetty fabric

Leading up to Quilt Market I couldn’t stop picking out pairs of fabric for possible Rye projects, which made the fabric pull for these super easy. They may not have made it into a Rye, but I found a use for them here.

sewing trays and mini thread catchers
sewing trays with sewing stuff
sewing tray with sewing stuff

The little thread catchers are the mini version from my free tutorial here. I LOVE traveling with this tiny size, and they come together in a flash. At the show they held my business cards nicely as well as the thread clippings from my demos.

sewing tray and mini thread catchers
sewing tray and mini thread catchers

Tray Pattern: Noodlehead’s Tiny Treasures Basket & Tray

Pincushions: Crew Pincushion pattern by me

Thread Catchers: Mini Thread Catcher tutorial by me

Fabric: Jetty and Collection CF

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Thank You 2019

Thank you!

Thank you for following along and for supporting my work! As a small token of my appreciation, I have a coupon code for you for 20% off PDF patterns and acrylic templates in the shop. (New pattern Rye and wholesale products are excluded from the sale.)

Use the code “THANKYOU2019” through Monday, Dec 2, 2019 at midnight EST.

Thank you and happy sewing!

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