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?

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Heart Machines, and I am Not Alone

Imagine the equipment you would have in your own dream textile studio. Now imagine more equipment: Think big, this is a fantasy. Next, dream up a large well lit space with jumbo tables, background music, and upbeat busy people, not too many, but enough to make your day. Throw in a well mannered dog.

A Gathering of Stitches in Portland, Maine is the place you just dreamed of. I went for the first time last weekend and was instantly smitten.


I took a Knitting Machine Restoration workshop at AGOS. We tore our machines down and became intimate with their innards, greasy fiber boogers and all.




We scrubbed out the crud with various tools, removed worn parts, wrote shopping lists for replacements, and oiled. And then we oiled some more.


Not only does the instructor have a wealth of experience with the machines (she was a product developer for Land's End and L.L.Bean), her love of the machines and calm and confident approach put us all at ease.



My Singer 360 was a gift from my parents when I was sixteen years old, and came with weekly lessons. It is all reassembled and working smoothly. I am pumped to know it well again. I want to know what every button can do. I am not certain what my parents' idea was, but I think it worked.




AGOS has is an industrial sewing machine for leather: I have intentions, a crush quite frankly.


And this secret little gem is on my short list for this year, all restored and ready for someone like me to master it. Socks are on my wardrobe list, and just between you and me, I have one hand knit sock finished ... and the other one will get done, but I will be distracted now that I have seen this.