Archive for November, 2011

Hello Cotton!

Nov 28

Hello CottonI’m on Hello Cotton, another blog aggregator that happens to feature women bloggers! It strives to connect and inspire by bringing together all the latest news and trends from their rich source of blogs. Part social platform, part girl power. Take a peek and right away you’ll be hooked – it’s not just crafts like Sewing, Crochet, and Knitting but also includes Fashion, Food, Design, Culture … Again, I love learning from others who share their passions online, I glean what’s most relevant to me with a minimum of rhetoric, plus I’m more likely to get a first-hand “opinion” or “review” in that way. Anyway, Hello Cotton is a wonderful resource for just that. It’s free to browse, sign up, and login. Use it for your own personal reference, daily news specific to crafts, or to connect with other noteworthy blogs. See what the latest trends are regarding your fave subjects whether it be Sewing, Cooking, Design, Fashion, etc. It’s Ooo La La!

Hello Cotton

Hellocotton started out in Paris in 2008, with the idea that the web was blooming with talented women bloggers. Their aim is for the best women bloggers out there to get together, creating a community of talented writers, in all categories possible (fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, family…). A place for blog readers to meet up, follow their favorite bloggers and get inspired. Last but not least, Hellocotton is a platform where both established bloggers and newcomers can make the headlines!

Shrek the Sheep

Nov 27

Shrek the Sheep is from New Zealand!

Meet Shrek, he is a Merino Sheep and one of New Zealand’s most beloved icons. He was found wandering the wilderness on his own so debilitated by his overgrown coat because his fleece hadn’t been sheared in 6 years! As the story goes, he escaped his flock in search of freedom or perhaps to satisfy his wanderlust and evaded shearers by hiding in caves in the wild mountains of Otago, South Island. When he was finally caught in 2004, he became a national hero. They removed 60 pounds of fleece from Shrek when he was finally shorn at Golden Gate Lodge in Cromwell by Peter Casserly, a former world blade shearing champion.

Shrek the Sheep is from New Zealand! Shrek the Sheep is from New Zealand!

Just how much yarn can come from 60 pounds of fleece? Well there are about 453 grams in each pound, and an average ball of yarn is about 50 grams, making about 544 balls of yarn from Shrek alone! I heard this story at a friend’s rooftop BBQ where there was a Kiwi visiting from New Zealand! I mentioned that I was going to the Sheep & Wool Family Festival. It turns out Shrek had just passed away earlier this year :( But he was celebrated in many ways. He spent his days traveling around as an advocate for the virtues of Merino Wool, a very sustainable resource, as well as the “poster-sheep” for Cure Kids charity helping them raise $170k. Icebreaker, a New Zealand outdoor apparel maker (kind of like our Patagonia), famously made him a merino wool sweater to wear! Oh the irony.

Shrek the Sheep before he was shorn! Shrek the Sheep after his shearing!

Eco-Friendy – Sustainability – Renewability
Why is Shrek on this blog? Did you know that sheep need to be shorn in order to maintain a healthy life? I did not! And I learned about it through Shrek the Sheep! I knew Merino Wool was eco-friendly but did not know why until now. I always knew wool came from sheep (in general), a natural resource, and when you think yarn you think wool! But I did not know that it was a material that makes use of something that is a necessary process when caring for sheep.

This makes Merino Wool an entirely renewable resource, a resource that is not depleted when harvesting. Which in turn makes it very sustainable and a bonus is animals do not have to be killed or harmed during harvest. All this adds up to merino wool being very ECO-FRIENDLY! Something I first discovered while making this Papercut Patterns Circle Top. The instruction booklet it came with mentioned that Merino Wool was a very sustainable material. It sparked a whole search into sustainable fibers!

Shrek gets shorn http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/archive-video-shrek-sheep-gets-shorn-9-41-4207609
Other famous sheep http://www.sheep101.info/famoussheep.html

UDPATE: I was talking to the Mad Scientist about this sheep wool thing. And he noted that although it is sustainable, sheep (domesticated) are bred to grow lots of fleece which is why they do require shearing. This may or may not color the notion that Merino Wool is Eco-Friendly depending on how you look at it. If it’s humane to breed, keep, and then harvest and process this wool, and then ultimately returned gracefully back to the earth, then this material is earth-friendly. However, the ethical implications may not make it so savory. Depends on how you look at it and as always determining if something is eco-friendly is never so black and white.

Via
http://www.metro.co.uk/news/865592-new-zealand-mourns-shrek-the-shaggy-sheeps-death
http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/new-zealands-most-famous-sheep-dies
http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/lifestyle/pets/nzs-famous-giant-sheep-shrek-dies-921

Pattern: Treasure Hunter Scarf

Nov 22

Treasure Hunter Scarf - Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, United Nations, New York – Sculpture by Rachel Owens

Materials:
Red Heart Super Saver, Medium Thyme #0406, Worsted Weight, 100% Acrylic, 364 yards, $3.99
Red Heart Soft, Dark Leaf #9523, Worsted Weight, 100% Acrylic, 256 yards, $3.89
Catskill Merino, Indigo/Fustic, Worsted Weight 1-Ply, 100% Wool, 140 yards, $19
Catskill Merino, Indigo/Fustic Dark, Worsted Weight 1-Ply, 100% Wool, 140 yards, $19

Crochet Hook: Size N [9.00mm]

Measurements:
Wide: 6 1/2 inches
Long: 83 inches

Skill Level: Easy Beginner

Pattern:
Chain on 150 with Color A
Row 1: Continue with Color A. [DC until end, chain 3, turn].
Row 2: Change color, Color B. Repeat [Row 1].
Row 3: Change color, Color C. Repeat [Row 1].
Repeat [Rows 1-3] two times.
Finish: Bind off. Add tassels in each row, if desired.
Total Rows: 9

I made this as a quickie birthday present for my special treasure hunter! ❤ I wanted to include something handmade but didn’t have enough time for something more intricate. So I used my Tri-Color Scarf pattern, all that was left was some inspiration. Here is what I came up with:

Favorite Color – Kelly Green.
Style – Relaxed, Whimsical yet Bold, Stylish.
My interpretation – Part Indiana Jones, part sneakerhead, part LARPer
Translation – I think treasure hunter, I think Indie. I think sneakerhead, I think Billionaire Boys Club.
I think LARPer, I think Ken Jeong/Christopher Mintz-Plasse from Role Models!
Result – Stylized camouflage look OR Snakeskin python look!

Men’s styles aren’t really my strong suit, so I tend to lean towards obvious themes for boys… Regardless, hopefully I got – Stylish and vibrant yet neutral and casual enough to go with almost anything. Rich and varied, durable and hard-wearing. Super long for a fashion statement. Also, warm and snuggly!

BONUS! This scarf took about 4-6hrs tops. Very easy, very quick, and very customizable. An especially ambitious holiday crafter can make an army of these in a weekend and knock out some serious handcrafted presents for this holiday season!

Treasure Hunter Scarf
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, United Nations, New York – Sculpture by Rachel Owens

Notes:
This pattern is crocheted holding 2 strands of yarn together at once. I used 3 different colorways:

Color A: 2 Strands Dark Leaf
Color B: 2 Strands Medium Thyme
Color C: 1 Strand of Indigo Fustic, 1 Strand of Indigo Fustic Dark

This scarf is crocheted length-wise. This means I crocheted along the entire length of the scarf rather than across the width like normal.

The camouflage-style look is easily done by choosing a self-striping yarn! Yup, because I crocheted length-wise, the row with the self-striping yarn (Row 3) naturally knits up that way.

Catskill Merino Yarn in Indigo Fustic and Indigo Fustic Dark Catskill Merino Yarn in Indigo Fustic and Indigo Fustic Dark Red Heart Super Saver Yarn

Yarn Substitutions – Any worsted weight yarn. Choose any color scheme, perfect if someone has a “fave color”. To keep the camouflage-style look, make sure one of your yarns is self-striping (Indigo Fustic is a self-striping color). Mix that into your colorways. Use a finer weight yarn for a more delicate look and maybe a more fluid drape. Just go a hook size down respectively.

Don’t like working with double stranded yarns? You can also choose a super bulky weight or bulky weight yarn instead, simply use a single strand when crocheting. Keep the same hook size.

John Brinegar also made a gorgeous scarf called “200″. The pattern is almost identical to this one, mine is just shorter. Also, his has a completely different look simply because of the color scheme he chose.

You can get Catskill Merino at the Union Square Farmers Market. 14th Street and Park Avenue. Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat, 8-6pm. I didn’t love working with the yarn but thought I’d try it. The dye comes off in your hands (although it’s said that it does not wash out or fade) and it has a weird feel. Like a felted feel. But it can be wonderful depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

Make this for a girl! Lose a few rows for a skinnier scarf and you get a more feminine look and an even quicker knit. This scarf has a total of 9 rows, I would make it about 7 rows total. Maybe add a fourth colorway in the middle! Keep the same color scheme even! Just a slight change in the width makes for a more elegant look.

Red Heart Super Saver Yarn Treasure Hunter Scarf Treasure Hunter Scarf

Too Legit To Knit – Granted Clothing

Nov 19

Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparel Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparel Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparel
Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparel Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparel Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparel
Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparel Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparel Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparel

I think these knits are to die for! I was yet again trolling the internet for some inspiration for this holiday’s presents and found this lovely gem on Daily Candy. They’re knitty but with some trendy. VIntage-y yet still fresh. My kind of knitting style! Unfortunately, these are not knitting patterns, so they are only for inspiration… But this knit apparel company from Vancouver, Canada hand knits every piece. So for those who have a hankering for neo-knits (what I like to call neo-vintage clothing that happens to feature knitting!) and handmades – Granted Clothing could be for you!

Granted Clothing - Hand knit apparelGranted Clothing sweaters “… have been given a variety of labels such as fair isle sweaters, prairie sweaters, Canadian heritage sweaters, “grandma sweaters,” Mary Maxim sweaters and most commonly and mistakenly Cowichan sweaters. We are all intarsia knits, a technique used to knit pictures or designs into a garment …” -GrantedClothing.com

Via
http://shop.grantedclothing.com/
http://www.dailycandy.com/new-york/article/80689/Granted-Knitwear

Seamingly.com

Nov 18

Seamingly.com

Ever since I discovered this website last year, I’ve been checking it out as part of my daily news. It’s basically a site about other sewing blogs! Seamingly.com finds all the best sewing blogs around the web and aggregates all the best news articles from these blogs.

To best describe it – It’s kind of like a cross between Twitter and Paper.li. Except there’s no need to gather followers. And there’s no need to hit all your favorite sewing blogs separately! It’s also akin to a news aggregator or RSS reader.

Simply hit the website and start reading through the latest news stream. It’s easy to navigate and displayed in an easy to digest format. What I like is that all the news comes from blogs just like mine. I like personal opinion alot (heh), so I tend to get most of my news and research from online resources like Twitter and other blogs.

BONUS! They have a handy feature that helps you get the news that is most relevant to you. All the articles are “favorited” by it’s community and readers. So the better the readers are at “liking” or favorite-ing the content, the better the content will be. It’s also curated by the in-house crew at Seamingly.com and some guest curators, like myself! Coincidentally, I got a lovely note awhile back from Seamingly inviting me to contribute. So naturally I was super excited to be a part of the community.

The website is provided entirely for free to anyone who’d like to browse or join. You are able to create an account, sign in, and begin “luving” all the articles you find most noteworthy. Just hit the button with a ❤ on it! You can also keep track of your faves for later reference. Do a search on what you’re looking for. Or see what news is currently trending in the sewing blogosphere. I found out about National Sewing Month and The Sheep & Wool Family Festival from Seamingly.com!

It’s worth checking out! I am already working on a plan of attack for this year’s holiday season presents! And Seamingly will be a handy resource. More about Seamingly.com and its creators coming soon!

Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers

Nov 14

Fiber Futures Exhibit at the Japan Society
Umi kara no okurimono: Air X (A Gift from the Sea: Air X), 2010

Whoa fiber mania! I saw this on TimeOut NY while looking for some birthday things to do for my special treasure hunter. The Japan Society is running an exhibit on the innovative things the Japanese are doing in the fiber and textile world. Check out the below video for what’s in store. I hope to go check this out myself! This is why I heart NY sometimes. New York is so great for the arts and culture. All the best music, arts, culture come through here at some point from the most obscure to the most mainstream.

“Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers showcases the dynamic field of Japanese fiber art. Organized as a juried show jointly presented by Japan Society and International Textile Network Japan in collaboration with Tama University Art Museum, the works on display range from ethereal silk and hemp to paper pulp and synthetic fiber using methods that are sometimes deeply traditional, but sometimes employ the latest weaving and dyeing technology along with an environmentally conscious “green” ethos. Moving far beyond traditional utility, Japan’s textile pioneers fuse past and present to create innovative, beautiful and sometimes challenging works of art.” –Japan Society

Fiber Futures Exhibit at the Japan Society
Akio Hamatani (1947-). W-Orbit, 2010. Rayon, indigo;
Diameter approx. 157 in.

WHERE: Japan Society, 333 E 47th St, Between 1st and 2nd Aves, (212) 832-1155
WHEN: Tues – Thu 11am–6pm; Fri 11am–9pm; Sat – Sun 11am–5pm; Sep 16 – Dec 18, 2011
HOW: Subway: E, M to Lexington Ave–53rd St; 6 to 51st St.
$12, seniors and students $10, children under 16 free
Docent led tours once a day at 12:30PM. Free with admission
Admission is free Friday nights from 6-9PM

Daphne Guinness at FIT MuseumAlso notable, Daphne Guinness’ collection of clothes at the FIT Museum. I don’t like her particularly but her eclectic style is sometimes thought provoking. So could make for an interesting browse.

The Museum at FIT
7th Avenue @ 27th Street
212-217-4558
Tue–Fri 12–8pm, Sat 10–5pm
Sep 16, 2011- Jan 7, 2012
Admission is Free

Hats AnthologyHats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones
Bard Graduate Center Gallery
18 W 86th St.
Between Central Park West and Columbus Ave
212-501-3023
Tue, Wed, Fri–Sun 11am–5pm; Thu 11am–8pm
$7, seniors and students $5, Thu 5–8pm free
Nov 15, 2011 – Apr 15, 2012

Singer Promise 1409

Nov 11

Singer Promise 1409

I WANT THIS!!! I saw this sewing machine at Target and instantly wanted it. It was exactly what I’ve been looking for for awhile and for the right price, under $100! I love that it’s simple with all the essentials, sturdy, and compact. All in all a great beginner machine that you can also grow with. I don’t have the space for it yet unless I get rid of my vintage Singer, but hopefully soon. Oddly enough, I also prefer anything with knobs and levers rather than something with electronic push buttons! So that was a plus for me. It’s more satisfying! I’m kitschy…

Singer Promise 1409
Singer Promise 1409

Suitable for the crafter who just needs a sewing machine every once in awhile to the budding home sewer to the intermediate seamstress on a budget! It comes with everything you need for most home-sewing projects. No need to buy the buttonhole or zipper foot separately. Or have to shop around for that hard to find foot made of tungsten titanium or whatever for your Bernina. Just plug and play. For those who are serious seamstresses this may not be robust or advanced enough but for most of us home-sewers it could be the perfect sidekick and a good pinch hitter for the occasional advanced project.

~ 9 Stitch Patterns including basic and decorative
~ Automatic 4-step Buttonhole
~ Adjustable Stitch Length
~ Automatic Reverse to reinforce stitches
~ Snap-on Presser Feet, quick release for easy on/off
~ Heavy Duty Metal Frame for skip-free sewing
~ On Board Accessory Storage
~ Free Arm for sewing difficult-to-reach areas
~ Extra-High Presser Foot Lifter for bulky fabric
~ Two Needle Positions for precise top stitching

Included Accessories: Darning Plate for free motion sewing, Spool Caps, Screwdriver, Bobbins, Needles, Lint Brush/Seam Ripper, Oil Bottle, Edge/Quilting Guide, Buttonhole Foot, Button Sewing Foot, General/All Purpose Foot and Zipper Foot

Price: $91.99

Features: Unistyle Buttonhole, Built-In Thread Cutter, Built-In Light, Heavy-Duty Metal Frame, Portable, Reverse Stitch, Free Arm, Light Weight, Built-In Storage, Stitch, Width, Length Adjustments
Includes: Needles, Seam Guide, Extra Presser Feet, Bobbins, Feed Cover, Seam Ripper, Owner’s Manual
Number of Stitch Patterns: 9
Bobbin Type: Front Load Bobbin Class 15
Buttonhole Steps: 4 Step
Presser Feet Included: General Purpose Foot, Zig Zag Foot, Zipper Foot, Buttonhole Foot
Dimensions: 12.0 ” H x 15.0 ” W x 6.25 ” D; 14.2 pounds
Warranty Description: 25 Year Limited Manufacturer Warranty

Singer Promise 1409“The 1409 SINGER Promise sewing machine includes all the basic features you need to create almost any project. Basic and decorative stitches include an automatic buttonhole, easy stitch selection with adjustable stitch length and the included darning plate allows your imagination to run wild and become reality. Simple machine threading and an automatic bobbin winder make set up a breeze. A reverse lever is right at your finger tips for automatic stitch locking. Four included presser feet (general/all purpose, buttonhole, button sewing and zipper) are easily accessible in the accessory storage drawer that can be removed to create a free arm for stitching in hard-to-reach areas. Stitches include buttonhole, straight, zig zag, blind hems, rick rack, scallop, and rampart.” -Target.com

NOTE: The cheapie Singers had a bad reputation for being all plastic bodies and not very sturdy. However, “Singer made the move back to metal frames even for entry level mechanical sewing machines. This means your machine doesn’t bounce all over and is made to last. One review on Amazon claims to be an engineer and approved of the machine engineering.” SewSing.com has a nice review on it.

Also, as a coincidence, I happen to have Singer everything almost… From a sewing machine to serger to dress form. It just turned out that way. As a budding home sewer I felt all their products had the right features for the right price thus making it the right value for someone like me.

Where To Buy
Amazon.com, $129.99
Target.com, $89.99

Quilt Block Patterns

Nov 07

After finding a great inspiration in these IKEA fabrics and some encouragement from Twitter friends, I took a look into making my first quilt. I figure it will make a lovely dead-of-winter project for January and a lovely post-holiday present for myself for once. Plus, it would be great to make use of scrap fabrics. Plus, I need a blanket!

First stop, here are a few free ones from Quilting.about.com ranging from easier to harder. I figure I may try my hand at a few quilt blocks first to see if I can tackle making a whole (Queen-sized) quilt for myself this winter season. I may mix them with solid fabric blocks and work on a nice embroidery pattern too to mix it up while keeping the skill-level at Easy! We shall see.

Quilt BlocksLog Cabin
I liked the simple design pattern. Great for a monochromatic color scheme (I’d like my quilt to be cream/ivory/white tones) and also a good learner pattern to get my feet wet with quilting techniques. No triangular shapes or too many little pieces and the square shapes make less waste fabric and a more efficient use of fabric. Makes an 8-inch quilt block. [pattern]

Quilt BlocksEvening Star
I do want to try a star pattern with triangular pieces too. This pattern was one of the simpler ones I found that was still appealing and that had a star pattern. I liked this pattern also for a monochrome quilt. It’s more intricate than the Log Cabin, having more little pieces per block and a more complex design pattern. Makes a 12-inch quilt block. [pattern]

Quilt BlocksTulip
This was my third fave of the bunch also because I felt it would look cute in a cream monochrome too. Less complex than the star one above yet the design pattern still had some meat to it and also it has a good mix of small pieces rectangular and triangular pieces. Perhaps a great “second block” to try. So a good alternative if the Evening Star is too hard as a first foray is too ambitious. Makes a 9-inch quilt block. [pattern]

Quilt BlocksTwinkling Star
My favorite star design of the bunch. And probably the hardest. Some points on the star are made up of a myriad of smaller triangles, 17 to be exact. So probably much harder to work with for a newbie quilter. At least the pattern design itself is not as complex as say the Evening Star one shown above. Another benefit is this quilt block pattern is an especially great use of tiny scrap fabric because it contains so many extra small triangle pieces. Makes a 12-inch quilt block. [pattern]

City Quilter
If you’re in New York, then we have a shop for you! I also stopped into City Quilter over the weekend to check out this wonderful shop all dedicated to quilting! They have a huge selection of beautiful fabrics and also everything you need to make your quilt from Cotton Batting and Embroidery Stencils, to tools, books, and magazines, to a lovely display of many beautiful quilts and quilt art!! They also teach classes in their back room which looks like it got a face-lift since last time I visited.

Diary of a Quilter
This cute blog is filled with great tips and tutorials and it’s of course dedicated to quilting mania! Check it out here http://www.diaryofaquilter.com/

Note: Quilting will require a few special tools that a home-sewer may not already have including a rotary cutter, self-healing mat, and non-slip grid ruler like an Olfa or OmniGrid. My first sewing class was taught by a quilter so these were the first tools I learned with!

Constructing a quilt will also help demonstrate a lot of great sewing techniques like Top-Stitching for embellishment or Embroidery, fabric grain, measuring and cutting, and color values. So it will be a fun and easy-going project to tackle and in the end I’ll get a lovely present made by me for me!

Some other nice free resources for quilt block patterns and some basic info on how to construct a quilt:
http://www.quilterscache.com/QuiltBlocksGalore19.html
http://www.scrapquilts.com/
http://freequiltpatterns.blogspot.com/
http://quilting.about.com/od/stepbystepquilting/a/make_a_quilt.htm

FOTD: IKEA Fabrics

Nov 02

Fabric of the Day: IKEA Fabrics

Yep, the dorm/modular furniture store from Sweden carries fabric. Right in their stores! Not many home sewers or crafters think IKEA when they are looking for fabrics. I always forget myself. But IKEA always has a wonderful selection of beautiful prints reminiscent of Kokka Fabrics, Japan. And for very affordable prices! They range from $2.99 – $9.99 per yard. They do design right and their side collection of fabrics is no exception. If you love Kokka, then you know. It’s Kokka quality (and style) designs for about half the price!

It’s a stylish and economical option for all those homemade holiday gifts you’ll be making from now until Christmas! Here’s a sampling of my picks from their Fall Collection for North America.

Ikea Fabric
MONALIS Black/White, $7.99 per yard, 100% Cotton, 59″

Ikea Fabric
MONALIS White/Brown, $7.99 per yard, 100% Cotton, 59″

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