Thursday, September 11, 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Another Fiber College has come and gone.  Per usual I have come home with not enough photos. I waffle between capturing the moment in pixels and experiencing the moment fully, like a big bite of delicious food. 

On Friday I met with thirteen brave knitters to explore how variegated yarn behaves. We played with stitch patterns and discussed the superpowers and pitfalls of this challenging yarn. I am stunned at what I come away with in teaching. Knitters are lovely people that are not afraid to communicate joy, enthusiasm, and good ideas. 

photo courtesy Sandy Cohen of Sandolini Buckwheat Crackers

On Saturday and Sunday I played Dyetender at the Dye Tent. We jammed wool and silk and dyes into Mason Jars and then steamed them like pickles. 


I ate lobster, lounged on the beach, woke up to lapping waves, and laughed deliriously with (and at) dear dear friends. Link here to reflections from Gale Zucker and Mary Lou Egan. Keep an eye on Kirsten Kapur, Jani Estell, Beverly Army Williams and Cal Patch as well -- they motivated each other to blog more.


I encourage you to peek at the Fiber College page on facebook as well as Astrig Tanguay's page-- there you will find videos and photos from many folks that better describe the whole event. The Missus of Gee's Bend bathed the week with heartfelt song and the true spirit of Make.

On a personal note, I am in the midst of having cataracts removed. My left eye was fixed yesterday, and my right eye will be fixed next week. In the meantime, I have bionic vision in my newly corrected eye, and super myopic and astigmatic vision in my right eye -- I'm an overachiever in crappy vision. I have resigned myself to having a dicey week. Also, I was the only gal asked to take a pregnancy test before surgery. I am feeling youthful and fortunate.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Scarf

While staying at Searsport Shores this summer I set up my knitting machine for demonstration. I cast on 120 stitches of stockinette in yarn that I knew would knit up easily.


It turns out having a knitting machine set up with good yarn and mindless knitting is about like having a jigsaw puzzle set up: I'm on my way to something else but ... just a few rows.  I knit four scarves in six days.


This yarn is a cashmere blend that I dyed last year.  The pin is another thrifted find from Thea. Did I tell you we went to see Madeleine Albright's pin collection? Check the tour dates, well worth a visit, and best done in good company.


The crochet trim was completed at home.  The felted balls are from Darn Good Yarn. I used a sharp darning needle to secure the balls as I went along.



I'll be back at Searsport Shores soon with a gaggle of friends for Fiber College.  Come join me for Mason Jar dyeing on Saturday, September 6th, 9 til 5 (arrive by 3:30), and Sunday, September 7th, 9 til 3 (arrive by 1:30).  I'll have plenty of wool for sale, plus premixed dyes and a streamlined set of instructions. And/or you can bring your own skeins of wool. The steampots will be chugging!


Monday, August 4, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Slip

If I am wearing a dress I like for it to drape well and not stick to my body. Enter the slip. A slip helps a dress to hang as intended and move freely. But new slips are increasingly hard to find. It seems no one is wearing them.


I purchase slips at thrift stores regardless of their (sometimes hideous) color. They are often in perfect condition ... again, it seems no one is wearing them. Acid dye and an old pot turns a nylon number into something unusual and fun to wear.


This lacy charm was cream colored and identical to another I own. The straps did not take the dye -- they must be polyester. Maybe I'll replace them some day.  Maybe not.

Do you wear slips?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Stitcher's Bender, Part 2

Here at home I have a well appointed studio, but I am often distracted by life's everyday events and duties. The Artist in Residence position at Searsport Shores helps to focus my attention for the week, and re-calibrates me when I arrive home.

When I wasn't helping others with their stitching last week I was cruising along with my own stitching.

Monday I stitched a dress with an elastic waist. The top is cut from some thrifted cotton, the bottom is cut from a linen blend. This dressform is seemingly a size 0. I am not. The bulk of the dress is clipped up behind her.

Tuesday I stitched a denim skirt, a copy of a favorite. 

Wednesday I stitched a buttoned shirt.

Thursday I stitched a smock.  I knit the slub cotton scarf on my knitting machine on Sunday evening, and the pin is a gift from Thea. I've worn this shirt three times since, easily my favorite.

Friday I stitched a mustard linen skirt. I am convinced mustard goes with anything. The scarf was knit on Thursday, and the sleeveless shirt was stitched at home just before my trip.

And when I was all stitched out I wandered the campground, a lovely mellow place.


Puff the Magic Dragon sung by the Airstream people.
I hope you take some time to focus on your stitches this summer. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Stitcher's Bender, Part 1



Searsport Shores Ocean Campground was my home last week as Artist in Residence. It was a super productive week of stitching for me and many campers as well. Today I'll share photos of some of the campers' work. I regret not snapping a picture of every item that walked out the door -- there were some outstanding stitches!

Abbie made a lap blanket for Shaila.

Shaila made a penguin.

This is the studio busy with stitchers. The theme of the week was to celebrate the humble stitch.

Michael made a goober ball.

Avery loved the goober ball.

Elise made a sea star.

Avery's stitches were so beautiful we photographed them before turning her bear right side out. 

And her bear wears a custom sweater.

Elise made a whale.

Grace made this chubby bear that made my family say "Ohmigod, it's so cute!"


Elise fashioned two sweaters for her pinkguin.

Ella jumped right in to hexagon piecing and appliqued it to a pillow.

Sarah made this mouse with a fondness for cheese.

Avery stitched a butterfly.

Maggie's blue bear is wearing a sarong knit by Amy. 
This is Amy's first knitting. Ever!
Maggie is a champion stitcher with a big future in stitching if she wants it. 

I fixed a hole in the screen.

Many more inspiring projects were produced by stitching families from New Hampshire, Indiana, and Indiana (I met two families from Indiana in one day -- they did not know each other, and they both had daughters that showed hogs in 4H). 

Thanks to all for a grand week! I am feeling industrious and I hope you are too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Sleeveless Shirt

I have a 10 x 13 envelope labeled "favorite shirt parts". In it I keep all the parts and pieces for standard shirts -- various collars, scoop neck fronts, regular fronts, facings, sleeves, and dart templates. In order to create ease across the back of my shirts, I have modified the back pattern piece to feature small darts that run perpendicular to the shoulder seam.


I typically shy away from sleeveless shirts -- I feel fleshy in them. This sleeveless shirt with its broad back and high underarms covers those mushy folds of skin where my arms join my body. Phew. And a vintage silhouette is always good in my book.


This fabric was purchased at the Salvation Army sale for a dollar. I love using inexpensive fabric for a first iteration -- the results are sometimes wonderful, and the cost of learning is affordable.

My sewing output is about to explode, and I am thrilled! I am spending next week at Searsport Shores Ocean Campground as Artist in Residence, a highlight of my summer. Like last year, I will be sewing a complete garment each day. Come see what goes into making clothing, and join in the fun. Learn simple hand stitching, construction, and how to mend your own clothing. Let's celebrate the humble stitch.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Brooches and Hankies



I am a sucker for vintage brooches and hankies. They are inexpensive and charming, and easily found at thrift shops, antique stores, and flea markets. 


A brooch adds light and whimsy to any outfit. 








A hanky is a practical accessory and a most thoughtful gift for a girlfriend, especially a girlfriend who is hurting. I keep a stack clean and pressed for gifting. Slip a pretty number into the hand of a dear before a funeral -- actions are easier than words.



Checking in on my year's To Do list, I have loads of good fun ahead of me, and some behind me: 

Old skills: Hand knit and write patterns, machine knit, screen print, sew on the Berninaserge with the Husqvarnaserge and mock chain on the Siruba, acid dyefiber reactive dye, weave, *spin, paint, full or felt, trim, thriftreclaim or refashion.

New challenges: Discharge print, design my own fabric at Spoonflower, embroider, crochet, pompom & tassel, applique & patchwork.

Garments: *Cardigan sweater, sweater vest, pullover sweater, scarf, hat, mittens, coat, dress, shirt, skirt, *leggings, tee, pants, *socks, slip, undershirt, bike shorts, apron, handkerchief, and brooch.

* work in progress

Pants. Why did I say pants?