Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mid-Holiday Update.

Well, it's been an exciting week of visiting friends and family, sleeping on air mattresses, going to parties and receiving cool gifts. I think, even greater than the gifts I got from Nick and my family, was seeing people enjoy the gifts I made for them so much! All the cards, voicemails, comments and emails I received from my recipients meant a lot and made those weeks of non-stop knitting totally worth every stitch.

Now I am taking a break, working a little bit slower, and still enjoying all the visits I have in store. I am finishing up a felted bag and will hopefully put it up in my store at the end of the week. Then I have my mind on knitting these, probably just for me.

Off to the Vineyard tomorrow for the monochromatic party and some New Years fun. Happy 2008 everyone!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Very Merry Christmas!

The Christmas cards have all been sent...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

things I've finished and things I have not:

Well, today we begin our pre-Holiday visits and are headed to Western Mass to see some friends. I will be bringing these two baby hats with me that my friend will be giving as gifts. I made them with the same organic cotton that I made the first one and even used the same pattern for the one on top. The tan and blue hat, sans earflaps, is from the Stitch and Bitch Book, and also very fun to make!

As for the apron with the bias tape... thats going to have to wait and be completed when we get back. Making the tape is not that hard, just waaay more time consuming than I ever expected. No little gadgets for me! (why would I want to make life easier??) Just a lot of pressing and pinning and swearing (which is typical when I sew). But it does look nice as I start to put it on. I promise finished pictures when I get there, because I think it's coming out beautifully!

see you soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sewing on a Winter's Night

Well Nick arrives TOMORROW and that's when all the fun begins! Tonight I'm enjoying staying in and putting all the finishing touches on gifts, which is fun too. I am getting all my recent projects wrapped up (literally) for family members. It's a nice chilly night to enjoy a glass of wine and warm up to my sewing machine, though I wish I were curled up in the pillows like little Zoe here.

I'm working on an apron for my Grandmother. She wanted one just like her aunt had when she was growing up, so we found an old apron similar which I traced to make a pattern. It's only 5 simple pieces and a cinch to sew together. The trim is done with bias tape. I just read a great tutorial on how to make your own bias tape, which I will be doing. I have never even sewn with bias tape let alone made my own, so you can kind of see why putting this off to the last minute may not have been the best idea. I'll update in the morning to see how the finished piece came out. Here's what I'm expecting it to look somewhat like....

Monday, December 17, 2007

necessary accessory.

I made these fingerless gloves for my friend Rachael, hopefully she doesn't check the blog. Either way, she'll be getting them in a few days!
I designed them so that the top part is really wide and can cover your hand for added warmth, or flip back to free up your hands when you need to get something from your purse or god forbid smoke a cigarette. If I were a really good friend I'd make it more difficult for her to smoke!

I didn't use a pattern, just sort of made them up as I went. I am getting better at writing down what I do so that I can a) repeat it, especially in a situation like this where I need to make more than one and b) so that I can share it with you. Let me know if you are interested and I will type it up this week. I also found good pattern tutorials for making things like these on purl bee and knitty, as always.

I'm hoping Rachael likes these. When we lived in Boston she always wore fingerless gloves -- simply chopping the fingers off her mittens or making them out of old socks and tights! I figured she'd like her own, well made pair. It is true, living in the city these are a necessity. Digging out your bus pass with mittens on is nearly impossible. Plus not to mention all the pairs of conventional gloves I took off inside Dunkin' Donuts when I was paying, then, excited about my warm caffeinated beverage, I left them behind. I'd walk outside and when I would realize it, I'd also see the train coming... gloves, train, gloves, train? Usually train would win.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

podcast inspired.

It seems like this could be turning into a book blog. It shouldn't (because this book blogger does it way better) but after listening to Maira Kalman on Studio 360, I decided to add the illustrated Elements of Style to my long list of desired books. I think Rosemary has it, do you Rosemary? I feel like she told me about it once, but it wasn't until Kalman and Kurt Anderson roamed the streets of New York, photographing old mattresses and rabbits and talking about names of donuts, that she got my attention. Plus, the Strunk and White classic is always good to have on hand illustrated or not.

So... podcasts. Snowed in, knitting, who needs anything more than NPR? I don't. Well maybe a free lunch delivered to me in a picnic basket. That would be nice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Island life.

I really miss the Vineyard since I moved from there in October. Somedays more than others. There is just something about being on the Island in winter that is unlike anywhere else. A strange, desolate, beautiful comfort that is nice to wake up to every morning...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Well, I'm back from the land of vinyl wallets, woodland creatures and silkscreened t-shirts that was the Bazaar Bizarre Boston this past weekend. I made out like a bandit at the repro depot table and jotted down lots of vendors to watch on etsy, but my purchases were somewhat conservative this year, I'll admit. There is just so much out there to choose from, it's hard to make decisions. Through one thing was for sure: I wanted to make more things! After about and hour and a half of looking at crafts my friends and I headed over to Barnes and Noble where we looked at craft books for probably another hour. I found a lot of good titles to top off my wishlist:

You can see that besides some experiments in knitting, I really want to get back into sewing again. Lotta's book has some great patterns to get started with and so does Joelle's, from the Purl Bee. Lots of great ideas for things to do with my fabric!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

How Bazaar...

Tomorrow is Boston's annual craft-stravaganza - the Bazaar Bizarre! If you're in town come check out the local vendors, do some shopping and enjoy some good live music + DJs.

12:00 pm to 6:00 pm
at the Cyclorama (Boston Center for the Arts)
539 Tremont St in the South End of Boston

Admission fee $1.00

I'll be there, waiting for the choreographed dance routine.

Friday, December 07, 2007


It's beginning to get reeeaally cold up here in New England and everyone's asking me to make them a hat! The purple beret I knit awhile back seems to be most in demand, so I have been trying to replicate it without a pattern. I made three versions so far this week, and they're all a little different.

This time I had the bright idea to write down what I did, so that if I wanted to do it again I could. I am really happy with how each of them came out and that they have their own personalities. I am looking forward to making a few more. but not looking forward to modeling them all. I think it's time to invest in a hat stand.

more detailed photos, if you wish to see, are on my flickr page.

Designer's Next Challenge

So far, I'm not quite as wowed by Bravo's Project Runway this season as I was season's past. That show used to be really amazing; brimming with talented designers and clearly all about fashion. Now I feel like it's suddenly all celebrity appearances and character conflict. Fight fight fight! There's plenty of shows on TV about that. I just want to watch people sew clothes!

I rented two movies from netflix to serve my fix for fashion design. Unzipped, which was my favorite in high school and fun to see all over again, and Seamless (same director, 10 years later). Sure they are both character portraits as well, but seem to document that creative process behind fashion design and couture that people buying and wearing fashion these days sort of forget exists. I just love watching Isaac Mizrahi have little epiphanies while watching old movies and that scene in the end where he reads his review in the newspaper. It reminds me that making clothes, accessories -- anything -- is a an artform just the same as painting, sculpting, music, etc, and not always a contest. Maybe the writers from PR just need to learn how to make it work...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

grey grey grey

Yesterday's grey December sky made it hard to shoot decent pictures of my newly completed bag. The end result required much more doctoring in photoshop then I was hoping to give. Still, here's an idea of my hand-felted completion.

I finally got to use this button I bought in a knitting shop in Northampton last year! In fact, I couldn't avoid using this button. It's perfect.

There's a bit of sunlight peeking through the cold New England clouds today. Perhaps I'll get a few more pictures. I also have a cute, cozy neckwarmer to shoot and some fingerless gloves I am finishing up for a friend. I have just been in a knitting frenzy lately, but I can't complain. Perhaps I'll post a weekly roundup of all the things I FINALLY get done!

I'm also working on several more shoulder-style bags. This one will be added to etsy soon, so keep posted!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

merry beary.

Every year I commit to making all of my holiday cards to send to family and friends by hand. I usually only send out about 20 or 30 cards, so its not a huge deal, just a lot of time sitting and cutting out many of whatever that years theme is decided to be. Last year it was Christmas trees, the year before, mittens on clothes pins (teeny, tiny clothespins) and the year before that, little colorful squares cut from patterned paper and finished with HAND TIED ribbons. Yes, as much as I love doing this tedious Holiday craft, there is always that moment when I find myself sitting at the dining room table late at night srrounded by hundreds of paper trees, mittens or ribbons to tie and thinking "WHAT on EARTH HAVE I GOT Myself into!!??" then I'll talk to a family member and they'll say "we can't wait to get one of your cards this year!" and I realize its all worth it.

This year I've cheated a little bit and instead of free forming my cutouts I decided to use this adorable paper from Paper Source. The bears are being cut out individually and assembled on the cards. I am thinking about maybe using tropical scenes with beaches and palm trees in the background to send a message of global warming, but that might be a little too much like a scene from LOST. I have plenty of time to think it over while I am cutting.

The reason I am cutting out so many is to hopefully make double the amount of cards I need so that I can sell them in packs on my etsy store this week. Just look how cute these little faces are. You know you'll want them too!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

felting by hand.

I had some trouble when I first felted this bag today. It may have been the result of an overloaded washing machine or the too-small garment bag I was using, but from the look of my poor project, I was fearful to toss it back in, so I decided to try something new. I googled 'felting by hand' and got some great tips on how to do it. As this helpful tutorial points out, felting has been around a lot longer than washing machines, so why not trust felting by hand?

I began by filling the bathroom sink with a few inches of VERY hot water and a drop of detergent, then put on rubber gloves and started swooshing (yes, swooshing is the technical term for this). This is a LOT more time consuming than just throwing the knits in the washing machine, as I've always done before, but the results from hand-felting are just wonderful! I worked away with my hands in the sink and got to shape the bag myself, so that it came out just as I intended. I pressed and squeezed gently, constantly keeping it in motion so I could cover every inch of the bag. Every so often I would drain the water and do a quick cold rinse then back to hot. The process uses a lot less water than the machine, especially since I always wash my things on cold cycle. And it takes hardly any energy... just my own.

This tool became very useful when my hands got tired of swooshing.

I then shaped the bag and lay it out to dry, stuffing it with old plastic shopping bags to give it some shape.

The whole process reminded me so much of when I was in school (at AIB) and used to process rolls of my own film everyday. All the agitation, draining, rinse, repeat, whew! And then that satisfying surprise when you are done and see your results there in black white. Or, in this case, blue and grey.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

before & after.

Felting is really fun. Basically it's just washing wool so that the fibers shrink together. If you've ever put a new sweater through the hot/cold cycle accidentally and it came out pint-sized, well then you've felted! But the art of felting is not just a happy accident. The knits are first done at a looser gauge so that they shrink to the size that you want. You can see how before they are felted they are loose and floppy. Once they are done you can't see the stitches. I really love that difference in textures.

I've tried a bunch of different yarns, but have found that I like working with Paton's classic merino wool, in either a double or a single strand, the best. It has a nice texture and felts well, plus it is common and they sell it everywhere, so if I am traveling and run out of yarn it's not a problem!

This is a bag I started last spring and just felted recently. I don't think I ever posted a completed photo of it, so here's a before and after.

The green squares are knit with instarsia technique and the color in the images just looks different because of the light inside verses out.

This was one of the first bags I made...

I am currently finishing up some shoulder bags, since there has been request for those. This is an example of a tote-bag style with two straps was made a few years ago. It still remains one of my favorites.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

New Handbags... More Buttons!

It's funny when things come together really well. Like this pink bag I knit and felted last year. I made handles for it that just didn't work out, so I thought the bag would never have a chance of being toted around the way a real handbag should! Then last week when I was on Martha's Vineyard I came across this odd, faded little pink woven bag in a thrift store that looked completely useless except for it's handles. I had to put the bag to rest, but I salvaged the plastic orange handles from the wreckage and voila... they went perfectly with my unfinished tote, giving it a vintage, eclectic sort of feel.

Plus I added buttons. I'm just about to add this bag to the store as well as another felted tote I completed, a 'green' inspired super-soft wool that also features a one-of-a-kind accent. This one is a little more... au naturale.

Again I added a bundle of buttons, like I seem to do to everything. I've got another bag to finish knitting and felt today, along with some Christmas gifts on my to-do list and a few other accessories I want to make for knotty dog. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 23, 2007

2007: musical goodness.

Wow, what a good year for music so far! It seemed as if every band I like put out a new record. There were also a lot of great artists to discover. Here's a list of what I liked about 2007:

The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond
Dr. Dog - We All Belong Together
Feist - The Reminder
Iron and Wine - The Shepard’s Dog
Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature
Justice - Cross
Kanye West - Graduation
M.I.A - Kala
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Radiohead - In Rainbows
The Darjeeling Limited Soundtrack

Have I left anything out? Notice I did not include the new Wilco or Rilo Kiley. Good artists in the past, but this years records just weren't worth highlighting to me.

You can vote for your favorite here on the all songs considered website.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank you Thank you!

I should be thanking more people individually right now, but I am simply too stuffed with turkey and pie so a simple blog post will have to do. Mostly I want to thank all those who have made recent purchases from my store and have made it's brief existance a successful one. Oh, and there are more goodies to come! I just can't exclaim how happy I am to be making things that others can enjoy. I have a lot of fun doing what I do!

Please keep supporting the many talented artists and crafters whose handmade work is for sale on or shown at craft fairs throughout the country. And maybe you will feel inspired to make something for somone, too!

Monday, November 19, 2007

"The Cold Swedish Winter is Right Outside"

I love the cute berets all these Scandanavian fashion bloggers are wearing and was inspired to knit one myself. I used this really wacky Bernat Max yarn and size 11 needles for ultimate texture and the end product came out a little less like I expected. But it was still fun to make and will definitely keep me warm as the days get cooler and cooler.

My signature lately seems to be adding buttons to things. I have a huge stash of random button from old sweaters, craft projects and generous donations. Recently I was going through some more of my mom's things and found a giant container filled with buttons as well. Tons! All colors, shapes, sizes and purposes. Some match, some don't. I am tempted to sew them on everything, and when I get the chance, I will.

Knotty Dog on the Indie Collective!

Knit, too and Knotty Dog are both listed in the Indie Collective shopping directory! Check out things I've added to my store, as well as the abundance of others who are making things as part of this great independent artist and crafters community.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Where were you in '92?

Last week, Stacie and I were talking about how odd it was that Chloe Sevigny had a clothing line when she always seems to look like she got dressed in the dark or from a discarded pile of little boys clothes (did I just say that?) But I do recall a time when she actaully was best-dressed and appeared in Sassy magazine as their 17-year-old intern! Thank god I never threw out my November 1992 issue so that I could scan it now for reference! Just look how cute, fresh-faced and stylish she is!

You can sure see how my 11-year-old scissored-hands took to the pages of this magazine that I was waaay to young to appreciate. Flipping through the vintage issues I still have tucked away in my bookshelf, I am currently fascinated by all the DIY clothing ideas, feminist book reviews and 90210 bashing that I exposed myself to. Oh, Sassy, if only you were still in publication, or if it were 1992 again. Would young girls today even care?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Beauty of Handmade.

So I finished knitting this baby hat last weekend when I was crafting with my friends, and I expressed some sincere disappointment in how it came out. It just didn't look right to me, fresh off the needles and full of odd bumps where I had miscounted sts and decreased too soon or slightly loopier sts where I changed yarn color. These imperfections seemed visible only to my eyes, but they bothered me none the less and I hid the hat away so I wouldn't have to look at it for the rest of the night. It's hard when you work on something so tediously and get this image in your head of what the final project will be. Well, it's going to be perfect! Flawless, not a stitch out of place, a thread too loose or a smidgen off. Especially when it's a gift or when someone else will wear it, you want every detail to be right! of course, but....

Sometimes I forget what marks the beauty of handmade items. The slight imperfections that, well, make them more perfect.

A handmade item should not look like it was made by a machine, but by a simple human being. That is not to compensate for sloppy work or mistakes of course, if you know how to fix it, do. A dropped stitch can be put back in place, a loose button made tighter. You don't want your garments to fall apart or fit incorrectly, but they can reflect some character and personal charm. I thought about all this and started to ease up a little. I was being way to hard in this teeny baby hat! People wear, buy and enjoy handmade items because they reflect the person's touch, the time they took and the uniqueness of the work. Plus I want the item to be worn, loved, touched and know it can't stay pure and pristine forever. So favor the flaws of your handmade items, embrace the imperfections! Know each stitch was made with love, even if it's a bit smaller than the one knit before it.