Archive | tips and techniques

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)

Comments: 5 | Leave a comment


Rye Quilt Pattern

I LOVE a 2-color quilt, and my new Rye Quilt Pattern is all about that.

Rye Quilt Pattern . Carolyn Friedlander

Originally inspired by a traditional friendship block that I discovered going through a friend’s old quilting stuff, I was drawn towards a set of geometric shapes that plays with your eye a bit. The design can read many different ways depending on the fabric choose and how you place it. I used prints from Jetty and Collection CF, but you can imagine how different this could play out with bold prints, solids and other choices.

It’s a simple idea, but there’s so much you can do with it.

Rye Quilt Pattern . Carolyn Friedlander

To play off the super graphic nature of these shapes, the pattern focuses on being a 2-color project. Of course you can totally use more colors, or you can even scrap it up within the colors. That would be neat! I wanted my first versions and the process described in the pattern to focus on just 2 tones.

In addition to the idea of 2 colors, the pattern also includes 2 different block sizes that can be used separately or together. Above is the larger block making a larger project–it’s easily a throw. The version below uses the smaller block in a smaller project. I also flipped the positions of the light and dark fabric which brings the design to life in a new way. (The pattern has some illustrations showing the differences so you can better visualize your options.)

Rye Quilt Pattern . Carolyn Friedlander

There’s something sophisticated and satisfying about a project like this. After making these two versions, I’ve already made a 3rd (you’ll see it soon or see some peeks here), and I’ve started a 4th. It’s the kind of project that I keep thinking about in my head as I think of new color and fabric combinations to try. I also really want to have a version on my bed. I think it would just look so nice.

Rye Quilt Pattern . Carolyn Friedlander

There we have it, my new pattern Rye! What do you think about a 2-color quilt?

Pattern: Rye Quilt Pattern (The PDF version is available now, and you can ask about purchasing the print version at your local shop.)

Fabric: Large version uses a print from my Collection CF and Jetty collections (AFR-19933-399, AFR 19067-383). Small version uses 2 prints from Collection CF (AFR-19929-177, AFR-19931-16).

Comments: 19 | Leave a comment


Using the Arlo Templates

I thought it’d be fun to put together a little post on using the Arlo templates. They are a completely optional add-on to the project–all shapes needed are included on paper in the pattern–but I find the acrylic option to make things much easier.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

First off, there are two different sets to choose from–1/4″ and 3/8″. Either option will work to make the project; it basically comes down to a matter of personal preference and how you plan to sew it together as to which option to pick.

Arlo Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

Since there is some flexibility as to how to sew the the project together–be it by machine, by hand or by using English Paper Piecing (EPP)–you might have a preference on your seam allowance as well. For that reason, I created the 2 template options as well as wrote the pattern requirements on the pattern for both options.

Which to choose? If you’re normally a machine piecer and you’re comfortable with a 1/4″ seam allowance, I’d go with the 1/4″ option. In fact, that’s what I like to use when I’m doing this project. But, if you’re a hand piecer with a 3/8″ preference, or you like to set up your EPP this way, or if you just prefer a slightly larger seam allowance, then you’d be more happy with the 3/8″ option.

Both template set options have all of the pieces you need, are super sturdy and have the relevant reference lines and drilled holes to help you put together your project.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

Once you have your set picked out, here are some tips for how I like to use them.

You can use the templates to trace out all of your shapes before cutting them out, or you can use them to mark and cut as you go. Feel free to try both ways and see which way you like best. If I’m cutting around the template, I’ll either move my mat toward an edge of my cutting table so I can cut from a few sides without repositioning, or I find using a rotating cutting mat to be handy too.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

Cut around all sides. Larger rotary cutters can work, but I like using a 28mm cutter with this project because it cuts to just what you need cut.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

After cutting all of the sides, you can mark your points at the holes. (Take note that I’m doing this on the Wrong Side of the fabric.)

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

I like having a seam allowance marked, so after marking where the holes are, I’ll slide the straight edge of the template down and connect all of the dots. This is totally optional and depends on your personal preference.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

Now you have nicely cut and marked pieces ready to go.

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

The issue of marking tools is an important one. Actually, I think the issue of marking tools is always important. For Arlo, it’s important to consider two things: You’re marking the wrong side of the fabric, and depending on how you sew it, you might be ironing the pieces (and still be needing the markings).

arlo quilt acrylic templates . carolyn friedlander

I tried many different marking tools when I was working on my project, and here are some of what I found to work.

marking tools

First, I have a big disclaimer; Because I was using all dark fabrics, it didn’t matter to me if any of the markings were removable. On dark fabric, and with marking the wrong side, you’d never see the markings.

The next thing is that I knew I’d be ironing the pieces while still wanting the markings. For this reason I didn’t want to use any marking tool that can be removed by heat or time. With those conditions, here are some options that I found to work. (From top to bottom in the above picture.)

Muji Gel Ink 0.5mm pens are one of my favorites. There are many color options, and they glide across the fabric nicely. (Note: These are not removable.)

These white felt pens were also my favorite. The ink showed up really nicely on dark fabrics, and the markings were clear and easy to trace on the fabric. They say that they are water soluble, but I haven’t tested that.

I did all of my marking for Arlo with these first two pens, but here are some others that I’ve found to work as well.

Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38mm – Another ink pen option with a lot of colors to choose from. These are finer than the Muji ones. (Note: These are not removable.)

Clover 0.7mm mechanical quilting pencil – I am having a hard time finding a link for this exact one, but other brands make something similar. It’s basically a mechanical pencil, see next rec.

Bic 0.7mm #2 pencil (variety pack link, see note below) – I love these, and they work. You might be able to erase the marks, but do a test to double check first.

Sewline white lead – You can definitely get the mechanical pencil and lead set, but somehow I found myself with just the lead refills and no appropriate holder. Because the refills are 0.9mm they’ll fit perfectly in any 0.9 mechanical pencil. I put mine in one of the Bic holders (variety pack noted above has the 0.9mm size), and it works great. I put a white piece of tape around it so I know I have white lead inside.

Sewline white click pencil – Same effect as some of the others, but with a thicker lead.

There are so many marking tools out there! These are just some that I’ve tried and found to be conducive to using the templates. Any marking tool comes with caveats, so always beware and always test what you’re using on your fabric first.

What are some of your favorite marking tools? In addition to scanning the notions wall at your local quilt shop, I find talking to other quilters helps too!

There we have it, how-to use the templates for my Arlo pattern!

Arlo Quilt . Carolyn Friedlander

Comments: 8 | Leave a comment


Site by Spunmonkey.