Archive for June, 2014

24
Jun

A Verb for Keeping Warm

Written by Sarah. Posted in knits, lys, travel, yarn

While I visited a lot of museums, my first stop when I go to a new city is the LYS. It makes me feel like I’m part of the community, like I could picture myself living there a little bit. Every store I’ve visited is different and really shows what the area is all about but at the same time it’s very familiar. There is no better home away from home for me than a LYS.

Speaking of homes away from home, I was just about ready to move in when I got to A Verb for Keeping Warm. I’d always wanted to go after seeing photos by other bloggers and it was so exciting to finally be able to make the trip. I decided to dedicate a day of my adventure to Oakland so that I’d have a good amount of time to spend at Verb. It was way more than what I’d expected!

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Verb is just a lovely shop with a great selection of the higher-end delicious yarns we all love. The fabric selection is something else. There were so many bolts that caught my eye, everything from organic, natural-dyed cottons to Japanese Nani Iro prints. There were a lot of things that wanted to go home with me. Verb recently released their first sewing pattern so I had to pick up a copy of that.

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Sarah gave me a little tour of the shop. Verb specializes in natural dyeing. They sell dyes (which I was VERY tempted to buy but have promised myself that I will not take up dyeing. I can’t have another hobby!) as well as their own line of natural-dyed yarns. I’m absolutely obsessed with these yarns and spent a long time petting them. Sarah explained that the fleeces come from a nearby organic cotton farm which is fertilized by sheep. The mill is also located within 90 miles of the shop and everything is dyed in house. I don’t think it can get more local than that.

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I wish I could’ve taken one of the natural dyeing classes while I was in town. Luckily, Verb’s owner Kristine Vejar is busy finishing up a book about the subject. Those of us who are not lucky enough to be in the Bay Area for lessons will soon be able to learn at home!

This bold red “Transitional Fury” really stood out to me so, I had to have it.

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My favorite thing about the shop is the garden. Not only is there a beautiful and sunny place to take your needles, there is a little garden of plants that can be used in natural dyeing. It really made me want to make better use of my window garden. Maybe a project for next summer? I got to meet Verb’s very own angora rabbit, Marcel. He was the sweetest! So soft and happy. He’s sheered four times a year and the angora yarn quickly sells out every season.

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I’ve certainly seen my share of LYSs. This one is definitely one of my favorites. I love it when a store not only is beautiful and friendly but has a really solid identity. Verb is really dedicated to being a great resource for all crafters and you can tell just by spending a few minutes in there. I’d love to take another visit (maybe when I can afford to bring more souvenirs home) and attend one of the classes there!

Have you been to A Verb for Keeping Warm? Do you want to learn more about natural dyeing?

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20
Jun

Further Reading 6/20/14

Written by Sarah. Posted in further reading

stephen west

I’ve never knit any of Stephen West’s patterns. Honestly, I’m not really into shawls, guys. I’m very open about this. I love his style and his crazy photos. What he’s doing is very exciting in the knitting world and that deserves respect! But I’m loving this new pattern, Dotted Rays, especially since it can be made with lots of different weights and in a few sizes. This has jumped into my queue. I’m totally looking forward to making my first Stephen West shawl!

>> Back on my soap box about why people aren’t concerned about where their clothes come from anymore. Here’s a little analysis from Jezebel about a recent article on the subject. Some good points in there.

>> This music video is so cool. It’s made of stop-motion panels that are embroidered!!!

>> I really hope these gigantic pom pom outfits from Sibling’s SS15 collection become a thing. POM POMS FOR EVERYONE.

>> I’ve been in a bit of a rut recently. I’m having some trouble getting motivated mixed with a lack of inspiration. I don’t know what’s causing it, I’d call it a lack of focus. Anyway, Jon suggested I watch some movies because that usually gets me back in creating mode. Watching the OK Go music video for their new song “The Writing’s on the Wall” a few times has certainly helped. They’ve done it again and it’s got my gears going. Hope it’s just what I needed!

>> Barack Obama proclaimed Wednesday National Day of Making!

I’ve got a lot of stuff on my needles and I think it’s time to sort them all out. I’m hoping to put things in order this weekend. It would be nice to finish one or two of them! What are you working on?

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18
Jun

A Bit of the Bay Area

Written by Sarah. Posted in travel, Uncategorized

I’ve been getting settled since returning from my trip to the Bay Area at the beginning of the month. Jon and I spent five days in Cupertino so I took a few day trips to the cities nearby. I just went through all of my photos and I’m missing California already! The stereotypes about Silicon Valley are pretty true. I won’t say any of that is a bad thing (think lots of parking for electric vehicles and Google has their own branded bikes for employees), it’s just kind of wild that it’s all real but it makes for a lovely place. There was plenty to do in San Francisco (they call it “the city” which is confusing because I live in “the city” and by that I mean THE city) and Oakland. I loved the vibe there.

Think of this as my little cliff notes travel guide to the Bay Area.

golden gate

After dining at In-N-Out (sorry, West Coast, Shake Shack will always be my favorite), we met up with one of my best friends at the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw an old fort and ate clam chowder in sourdough bowls. We got to visit the Painted Ladies and pretend we were in Full House. In San Francisco, I met up with Sonya at Tartine, chatted about east coast/west coast travel and ate a crazy delicious fruit tart.

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I ended up wandering into Fabric Outlet by chance on my way to my car. I must have craft store radar in my brain! It was a great store with so much to choose from. I picked up a few yards of fabric all for under $20.

My trip to Oakland was really fun. It’s filled with such quirky places to visit. I stopped at a swap meet off the freeway that was full of bizarre treasures and Spice Girl Barbies. I wandered through the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, pawing through the old photos and sewing patterns. I spent a long time drooling over everything at A Verb for Keeping Warm (more on that later this week).

oakland museum of california

I stopped in at the Oakland Museum of California. It really was one of the best museums I’ve ever visited. There I listened to records, found some fantastic art, and learned about the history of the state.

In San Jose, I saw mummies at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. I may have mentioned that I’m an ancient Egypt enthusiast. What a funky museum! It seemed like the pet project of an eccentric rich Egyptologist, like that wore safari hats or turbans everywhere. The collection was pretty cool and included a bunch of actual mummies. As another visitor, probably around six, put it, “Spooky!” I took this photo because the motif on this case looks very familiar.

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Jon wanted to see the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. We got to see one of the Google self-driving cars in the museum and on the freeway. Very cool collection of gigantic old computers. I have no idea what anything in there did. We finished our trip with a stop at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Fransisco. I’d really wanted to see this exhibit of the Szyk Haggadah. My grandfather collected haggadot and I’ve been helping my dad add to them. This book was staggeringly gorgeous in person.

I feel like there was so much more to do. I drove A LOT. I think in one week I did more driving than I did all of last year. Crazy, right? I also parallel parked an SUV about ten times, pumped my own gas all by myself for the first time, and sang at the top of my lungs driving 75mph with the windows rolled down. I can’t wait to go back.

What’s your favorite part of the Bay Area? Have you been? What did I miss that is really a must see?

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13
Jun

Further Reading 6/12/14

Written by Sarah. Posted in further reading

Happy Friday the 13th!

Nintendo announced a new Yoshi game coming out next year. Yoshi’s Wooly World will feature a “crocheted” Yoshi in a yarn world. Think Kirby’s Epic Yarn. I don’t really play video games (doesn’t leave enough time for knitting) but this one looks just adorable.

>> Holy craaaap. Have you been seeing the sneak peeks from Maria Dora’s upcoming collections? Her name might sound familiar because she only designed THIS AMAZING THING (among others). I’m swooning over every piece. Really cool.

>> I sewed my first dart last weekend. Here’s a handy video on how to do it!

>> Some fun pieces of needlework from the Jezebel community. There are some great Ghostbusters pieces. Be careful, a couple pieces are NSFW!

>> Prince Charles, the patron of Campaign for Wool, will be demonstrating the benefits of wool’s natural flame-retardancy by setting cheap, synthetic fibers ablaze. The wool industry has of course been suffering since man-made fibers tend to be so inexpensive to produce but the Campaign for Wool is trying to get people interested in wool garments and housewares once again.

>> Brooklyn Tweed gave a shout out to Sphinx on Twitter last week! I was a little overwhelmed. Thanks to everybody that pointed it out!

What are you making for your dads this weekend? It’s Father’s Day!

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12
Jun

I Went Fabric Shopping With My Mom

Written by Sarah. Posted in fabric, sewing

“Oh crap,” I say. “Ohhhhh shit.” My mom starts to laugh. We’ve been inside of the store for about forty-five minutes, I’ve already snagged a pattern that I don’t need (oh, but I do) and I’m toting a bolt of cotton I have no plan for ($3.50/yd, I can’t say no) and I’ve finally found a display of all of the especially twee fabrics that are my kryptonite.

This is my third time rounding the table where the bolts are lined up like an ice-cream-colored, floral-and-deer-printed carousel that was at one time my whole paycheck but will soon become the revenue of Fabricland, “New Jesey’s Largest Fabric Sewing & Window Fashions Store!” My mom is following me, practically wiping sweat from my brow like a 1920s boxing coach at a prize fight asking, “When should I stop you from buying things? You tell me.” The most supportive woman in my life, I tell you. All dress fabrics are 20% off. I’m beginning to feel light-headed.

When I asked her two weeks ago if she wanted to go fabric shopping with me, I wasn’t expecting her to say yes. Turns out she was in the market for a few yards of linen. So we set out on this mother/daughter shopping spree to the first fabric store I ever visited. Honestly, I thought it had closed down. When you google “Fabricland” with the corresponding zip code, they are not even on the first page of search results. But she assured me that they still exist*. I wasn’t expecting find much of anything there, the dressmaking fabric tucked away in the rear of the store, behind yards of heavy, ugly brocade curtains and old-fashioned, upholstered armchairs, and so many valances. (Valances, guys. People still buy them. They get them at Fabricland.) I mean, I know I could go to any number of Manhattan stores and find anything my heart desired but I’m going to be completely honest with you here and say that I was incredibly intimidated. I was too scared to go to Mood because there is a huge selection and I don’t know the difference between voile and double gauze (???) and Tim Gunn shops there (not sure if that is even remotely true but I really loved Project Runway back during season one). I figured that if I could find a decent cotton solid or even a funky remnant in a place where no one would judge me as they purchase their custom bed canopies that it would be a good baby step for me. And besides, if I didn’t find anything my wallet would thank me.

But I was wrong. Fabricland is no Mood. It’s certainly not glamorous or overwhelming. It’s exactly what I wanted. It’s got a tight selection of quality fabrics and just about every Simplicity, Burda, and McCalls paper pattern ever manufactured. The prices were right, the sale helped, and my mom has a frequent buyer card (whatever that means. Neither of us know. She has about five hundred frequent buyer cards on her keychain). While there are a lot of novelty prints (potato fabric?) and some others that just weren’t my style (I’m picky), there was plenty to choose from and when we reached this last table, I was really going through the ringer, trying to talk myself out of buying every polka dotted, pastel piece there was. To top it all off, everybody there is nice and they didn’t think I was crazy kick me out even though I was yelling, “I don’t want you to stop me! I want everything!”

In the end, I did good. This was self-control at its best. I purchased two yards of this adorable pink and white striped cotton. I said before, it was on sale so I felt the need to get 2 yards even though I have no idea what it will become. Scout tee? Probably that’s the only thing I know how to make!

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The best was this adorable print by Art Gallery Fabrics. It’s got these little tiny Xs on it in pink. I don’t know why but it really spoke to me. So adorable. Since I was holding onto this Simplicity 1693 pattern that I was JUST carrying around but DEFINITELY WASN’T GOING TO BUY, I admitted I had been lying and that I was buying this fabric with the intention of it becoming this very top. The pattern was half price when I got to the register.

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The most exciting part was this melon fabric. It’s Robert Kaufman Kona cotton. I decided that I was going to make the collared version of the top and it was going to have to be a matching solid. I was pretty psyched to find a dead match. It’s the little things, really.

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It looks like my starting to build a fabric stash. I’m trying to be good and limit myself since I have nowhere to store more material and my yarn stash is threatening to eat me in my sleep. It’s hard to say no, though. I dream about yarn and fabric and thread and buttons. I’m so happy that I made the trip to Fabricland. I was just so pleasantly surprised. Thanks, guys!

Do you have a favorite local fabric shop? What treasures have you uncovered there?

*I remember taking a basic sewing class at Fabricland when I was in high school. I learned to make a cozy for travel-sized kleenex packages. That was the last time I touched a sewing machine until I bought mine two years ago. I’m definitely going to blame that fricking kleenex cozy.

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05
Jun

Sphinx Inspiration

Written by Sarah. Posted in design, FO, knits

Not that anybody asked but I had so much fun playing around with the Urban Legends theme in this issue of Knitscene Accessories, I just want to talk about it. Here’s the story behind Sphinx.

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As I mentioned before, I was really excited about the mythology theme. I was thinking of lots of cool images including singing vases, bodega coffee cups, and Penelope’s tapestry. I decided that I wanted to do something Egyptian. I really wanted to be an Egyptologist when I was a kid. I think I have this book memorized. Egyptian mythology arouses so many visuals, there’s a lot to work with there.

But my inspiration came mainly from Cleopatra who was not a mythical creature but a real live human being. If you’ve read Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, you know that many of the popular legends about her just that and that she was actually a remarkable leader of her country and army. Cleopatra came along a lot later than King Tut and the pyramids and she was actually Greek. The popular vixen story appeared somewhere later down the line. So Cleopatra herself is something of a myth. (Am I getting too literal here? Stay with me.) Anyway, it lead me to this idea of interpreting the Egyptian nemes, that iconic headdress that the pharaohs wore.

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I had this picture in my mind of modern Cleopatra. Maybe it came from watching too much Clone High (RIP CLONE HIGH. WHERE CAN I STREAM THAT SHOW!?)  but that was where the fun started. I imagine she’s pretty cool and artsy. Still wears a lot of eye make up, obviously, and maybe has some cool tattoos. She definitely knows the best coffee shops and dive bars. I suppose that she’s a myth to me, too.

And this is what that incarnation wears. It’s got those jewel tones of the nemes, the turquoise and ebony in gold, but it’s in a repeating pattern that appeals to me as a minimalist. The shape of the hat really lends itself to that Brooklyn (sorry, I’m using that as an adjective and I don’t care) vibe that our no-nonsense coffee beverage-drinker, who’s working on her latest installation piece modern Cleopatra gives off.

So there you have it. Do you think Cleo would wear one of these?

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02
Jun

FO: Wiksten Tank

Written by Sarah. Posted in sewing, shirt

It’s no secret. I’ve been bitten by the sewing bug. I say it every time the seasons change, I’m a year-round knitter. But seeing so many gorgeous Me Made May outfits really got me inspired to enhance my wardrobe. While I always have this secret (unjustified) feeling that knitting is far superior to any other craft (I’m a craftist, I admit it), the warm weather and near instant gratification of sewing is really putting me on a roll.

That being said, it took just about forever for this top to come into being. When I invested in my sewing machine TWO YEARS AGO, I decided that the Wiksten tank would be a really easy beginner pattern to tackle. I’d already made a skirt and infant-sized jacket so this was a piece of cake. While I was trying to start out (and still am) using discount fabrics in case of failure, I treated myself to some beautiful Liberty London fabric. I figured I was safe in using it here. How bad could I screw up a tank?

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For once, those weren’t famous last words. I actually think I did pretty swell on it. The thing is, I got the shoulder and side seams all worked out and then threw the top into a box, pins still holding up the hem. I didn’t forget about the top, somehow that impulse that had lead me to purchase the machine and get through my first few projects had left me and I was back to knitting 24/7. I mean, in my defense, I have been getting some pretty serious knitting done since I started sewing.

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But when I was once again ready to start sewing, I got it done. I think that it’s not so fantastic in some respects. I didn’t have that much patience when I started the tank and I think I’ve got more of a hang of the process now. In spite of its imperfections, it’s a really great top that’s casual but can easily be dressed up. And that fabric is just great. I’m so happy I splurged on it because it really takes this simple garment up to the next level.

Are you finishing up any UFOs? Are you sewing this season or knitting?

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