Archive | weekend projects

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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Hunt QAL #6 Check In.

Hunt QAL #6 Check In.

We’re halfway there! I cannot believe it, and I’m happy (and surprised) with my progress and hope that you are making good progress too.

Hunt QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

My goals this month were fairly loose. I only finished appliquéing 1 block over the last month, and I have the appliqué on another one underway.

Hunt QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

To tally things up at this 6-month point, I have 9 blocks fully completed, 1 block being appliquéd, 3 fully basted blocks and several background panels cut out and ready to get set up. I need to figure out the appliqué fabrics for the final blocks, which I’m sure I’ll map out all together. It’s easier for me to work in that way, and I hope to do that before the next check in.

Hunt QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

I did have one strategic revelation this month. If you’ve taken a class from me, you know that I love thinking about strategic sewing. I tend to plan out how I baste and appliqué each block so that it’s an efficient use of thread, steps and time. If it makes sense, I start/stop in certain areas, I may leave basting thread to be continuous between nearby sections or I may make use of other tactics. They are small things that over the course of a project can make a difference. Of course whatever works if it gets you to the finish line, but this stuff is fun for me to think about while I’m working through a project.

With every Hunt I’ve made, I’ve appliquéd each piece separately. This is such an obvious approach, that it’s taken me this long to realize that there is an alternative. Working individually isn’t only logical, but it is definitely the way to go if there are a bunch of different colors and you need to change thread for each of them. I can’t think of another way to do it in that case. However, when all of the pieces are the same color, like I have here, it’s different. I realized that I could work multiple shapes continuously instead of stopping to cut and reset a new length of thread at each shape.

If you take a look at the block below, the shapes on the left are only appliquéd at the top. This is because I am working continuously along the tops, easily flowing from shape to shape. I am making my thread jumps from the back, which are not seen from the front. (Note: to do this knot at the back of each shape without cutting the thread, jump to the next shape, knot on the back to secure and pull the thread to the front. Don’t cut the thread, don’t reset.)

This makes for a more continuous flow and importantly, you can now use a full length of thread before stopping, recutting and resetting up. I discovered this on this block, because I needed to use a gray thread on the gray tops and the green thread at the bottom. It seemed silly to stop and start at each little top, and so I worked them continuously in this way. It seemed to go faster because I could use each strand of thread longer, and so I knew I wanted to try it for the other pieces. I think it helps, and I’m continuing to try it out. Let me know what you think, if you’re into the nerdy details!

Hunt QAL . carolyn friedlander

Aside from that revelation, it was fun to finish this block and to see the way the print works in this context.

Hunt QAL . carolyn friedlander

I’ve been storing my blocks in a flat stack on a dresser, but I do pull them out monthly to take a pic. It’s nice to see the finished stack getting larger.

Hunt QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

I’ve decided that over the next 3 months, I’d like to try to get all of my blocks finished, and I’ve updated my calendar to reflect that. This way I can spend the final 3 months assembling my quilt top, quilting and binding this project. That’s the plan anyway! It helps to verbalize it, right?

Hunt QAL . Carolyn Friedlander

pattern: Hunt quilt

fabrics: (so many!) jetty, collection CF, instead, harriot, gleaned, euclid, friedlander lawn

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