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Friday, January 18, 2019

Sew Exciting

With an email from Marcy Tilton's blog/website I got all fired up about Kantha quilts. I didn't think the price was too unreasonable and I thought I'd like some to make a cool jacket. Anyone who knows me and my work knows I'm 'coco' for! Colours I liked were sold out and it was advised to get on the email list (which I must already have been) for notice when more came in. I love her patterns and have used them quite a bit for skirts pants and a great dress.

Bolts of Yardage
Well, I did get an email about silk Kantha scarves at $80US each. That comes to a lot in Canadian money and I didn't want a scarf but yardage. I decided to Google Kantha quilts and got a great result. I ended up purchasing a job lot of 5 bed quilts from Canadian Amazon for $82...what a steal!

Eventually, they arrived...not a big package...vacuum packed and I actually opened it up in my car outside the FedEx depot where I had paid $34 duty...still a steal. WooWoo! I tossed them in the washing machine and hung them out to dry in the sun and now they sit folded in my studio awaiting clearance of my work table and the emergence of my sewing machine...and a pattern.

 I saved the photo of Heidi Klum in a Mieko Mintz jacket and rather like the style. I've poured over the pattern books at my local Fabricland but I have decided to make my own pattern using my Garment Designer software by Cochenille. I'm sure I'm up to the job.

I usually use Garment Designer for my knitting patterns for my knitting machine and have only made a sewing pattern for some nightdresses (which turned out great).

One of the pieces of yardage was overdyed so I may do that first...if I can decide which one to add lavender to. I'll keep you posted on my sewing efforts with this!

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Stupid Questions or Learning?

We're well into 2019 and a new show season but we artisans and craftspeople are reviewing our 2018 shows. It'll be tax time soon so we have to crunch and record the numbers, decide which shows to continue with and apply or reapply, and which shows to move on from.

On the other side of this coin is the humour that cropped up in the Fall when an artisan started a closed Facebook post saying she was gearing up for the 'stupid questions' asked at shows. That started a storm of comments and conversations and various reactions:

🤣 😱 🙄 🤬 🤪
...we laughed...we cried...we were incredulous and we shared our own far there have been 85 'comments'!

I've had to direct folk to read the hang tags I spent sooo much time on my computer making to find out if the garment they are looking at is wool or cotton...or I could just stand in my booth and go 'woo - cotton - cotton - wool - wool -' and so on. What makes this so funny to me is that when I am asked if it's wool or cotton and what the price is I actually have to go to the tag myself and read it!

Then there was the time I was asked what I did for a living and when I told the person 'knitting, I make knit garments' or something to that effect, I couldn't say anymore as she was laughing so hard. Later I showed her my studio and she didn't laugh. 

Stemming from that last incident I have been asked if I do this for a hobby, I explain it was a hobby that I turned into a business. Now that I build my own websites I have my resumé on mine and he header says 'since 1982' so that might give folk an idea of where I'm coming from.

One thing was getting asked where I get my materials, I used to say that I have to buy them from the mills and suppliers and would never reveal my sources. However, over the years the mills have shut down, discontinued my favourite colours, messed with my yarns even!  A case in point. I did a lot of 'BubbleNeck' scarves.... and I used a very fine Merino wool. After tying little balls into the knit I'd put it in my top loader (I think that's how I killed my top loader washing machine...a topic for another day) with extra hot water and 'fulled' the knit, shrinking it and firming it.
Getting ready for a Christmas show in Chicago I was merrily knitting and fulling new stock when one cone of black ran out and I had to start a new cone...the shades were indistinguishable. When I took this puppy out of the washing machine only 2/3 of it had fulled...the rest was just as it had come off my knitting machine!!!!!!!!! It turns out that the company had decided to make this wonderful yarn SUPERWASH!!!!!! No notice, no warning and NO LABELLING!!!! Unfortunately I had to BUY  another cone...they didn't compensate me for their error....oh well....

I still buy from them as their wool is great but I don't mind sharing my sources with those who ask as, if they also buy from them, the companies will (hopefully) stay alive ... for me! longer a stupid or annoying question.

Some of the FB comments were customers asking the material of the artisan's work...again and again, piece by piece. If someone tells you all the work is leather and they NEVER use pleather...why would you keep asking 'how about this one...looks like pleather'.

Then there's copying...we have to deal with other artisans...maybe newbies, maybe someone who has taken classes from us, then they go forth and multiply...but it looks just like your work. Hmmm...but then it's when a visitor to your booth wants to take a photo so they can make one at home, or use the picture of your work to send to someone rather than buying it from you to give.

I guess I've been doing this long enough that little surprises me anymore and I don't mind sharing what I do and how I do it...especially my machine knitting as this is hard to come by, some workshops have faded away, we older artisans are no longer doing machine knitting or even around anymore! out for my classes:

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Feeling Felt

I recently spent a wonderful week in a workshop with Eva Camacho Sanchez on silk surface techniques and Nuno felting.

The first two days were working with silk, paper, fabric paint and dye. We had a lot of colouring, folding, stamping and plopping our bundles into pots of concoctions, and just plain water, on the stove and unwrapping to be surprised at how things turned out! This was the first time I had created a stamp for fabric, I've done it for Polymer Clay but this was more extensive and fun.

I do my own dyeing, in fact prior to participating in this workshop I had learned more about dyes and dyeing a couple of years ago with Pam de Groot which added some techniques to my dyeing at home.

Besides having a lot of fun with a great group of creative women...including Mags Kandis of 'Indigo and Rust'. She sat at her table behind me so we got to gab which was fun, but I also got to hear about her exploits in her indigo dyeing, working with cotton, natural substances...& just enjoyed creating alongside her.

On my other side was my friend Sonja Fijn who has been into fibre and wearables for decades so we have a lot of fun hanging out together and 'playing'. She came up from Toronto and we attended together.

This is my workspace for the week, I added another table for the felting part so I had lots of space.

I do this at home but with two tables up in my studio I lose floor space...I have three knitting machines set up too!

Here are Mags and Sonja venturing outside into the breeze to set their 'sun' paintings. I tried with some leaves on mine but they blew off, I liked what I got anyway...and used my pieces.

What's neat is that we did so much that even after using lots of my dyed, coloured and stamped pieces for the vest I made I have lots left over for work I've been doing at I did, Sonja and I spent the Saturday after the workshop getting out my paints and silks.

We did dash down to ArtNoise in Kingston looking for a stamp pad, some fabric paint but came up with a big fat zero and headed to, of all places, Michael's...where we got a stamp pad at least. I'll be ordering my Pēbēo fabric paints online...oh well. Art Noise is geared mostly to painters.

I never thought I'd have the patience to make a whole fitted garment using roving and silks as opposed to the prefelt which I dye and make my jackets from...but I did and I loved it so much that I and made two in the following two weeks...two days per vest.

Here is Eva helping me work my fibres together on the back of my vest project.

When I got back in my studio I made buttons for it and am looking forward to wearing it in the coming cooler months.

Now I need to make patterns which are larger (for my clients) and also with more waist shaping...this one was more A line so I worked at the fulling stage to take it down to more waist shaping.

Monday, June 04, 2018

When I Work...When I sleep.

I ended the heading of this post with an exclamation mark...why...well, it's because I'm tired of explaining my day to a number of folk. When I discuss my work/sleep/downtime hours to other colleagues, say, in a quiet time at an art show, I don't have to's just taken as my particular part of the day, which may be different from others.

I got onto this when away sharing a vacation home with some new folk and when I wandered into the kitchen to make coffee for my other half and me at 8am I was greeted with something like 'You slept in! How was that?'....whaaaaa? First...what business is it of theirs when I get up as I didn't have anything planned with them...we were on vacation and all doing our own thing.  Second...why did I go to lengths to explain that this was my normal time of rising and I may have been awake for an hour already and I didn't go to bed like them at 9.30pm and I tend to go to bed at 11.30pm and that's just me!

It's been a long time since I had a Monday to Friday 9-5 job (decades!) and being a self-employed fibre artist and working hard I tend to fall into my own circadian rhythm - going to bed when I'm tired and done working or hanging out in front of the TV watching something on PBS with my other half...getting up when my body naturally wakes up, without an alarm.

Don't get me wrong, I can get up at 4 in the morning if I have to catch a plane, or 6am if I have to be travelling to set up a show or such like. Yes, I can ... but that doesn't mean that hopping into bed at 10pm the night before means I'll actually go to sleep at 10pm...I'll go to sleep at my normal time of somewhere between 11 and midnight but get up at the required time to make that flight...and I've never missed a train, bus or plane yet.

Another thing that affects my sleep patterns is that now I'm past menopause I have disturbed sleep...which I never had before I was fifty...hormones or the lack thereof play a large part I think...not to mention being awakened from a deep sleep by a night sweat which at least are not as frequent or horrendous as they use to be but still happen after 19 years....that'd make anybody tired in the morning.

Being self employed I work alone so I don't interact with anyone while I'm working and my studio is at home so I can lose track of time when I'm absorbed in a project...especially if it's going well. I also work well still at night...I always have. Time was when I was sewing a new outfit or a dress for an occasion I have been known to work into the wee small hours.

In one of my last years at the Toronto One Of A Kind Show I was greeted by a lady walking into my booth with 'You open late, why don't you open earlier?'...well, I bit my tongue, counted to 10 and proceeded to enlighten her. I told her that we were there until 9 or 10 at night and that in the two days before opening day (I believe it was opening day that day) we were all building and setting up our booths, working to build, create, display, fix, paint and all the things that go into a booth. Many of us had packed up our studios far away and driven hours to get there .... then set up.

I went on to tell her that, often, the artists who lived in Toronto would go back to their studios when the show closed at night and get more work done...I knew because that's what I did when I lived in Toronto. I closed my little talk by saying that if she encountered an artist who seemed to be nodding off in their chair it may be because they had been working day and night in the preceding weeks to get ready for the show season...especially if it was Christmas time and they were relying on the next 11 days to make the bulk of their annual income.

....she left quiet and enlightened...and I went back to sleep! (..not really!).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dressing Mannequins.

Wow...I haven't written a post since before Christmas! I have so many things I love to share but have been sick, lazy or snowed in...then doing my actually log in and post.  Here is something that came over my email today from and as someone who has done theatre costume work and loves historic costume, I found this very interesting.

I have a copy of an article (somewhere in my files) from Threads years ago on how to make your own mannequin. It involves getting together with another sewing friend, an old Tshirt and either brown wrapping tape or duct tape. with your best undergarments on and that old T you wrap yourself in the tape then cut up the back (where a zip would be) and take it off. Now you have your shape replicated...stuff it, mount it on an old lamp stand and you have your own dress form to help with fitting an designing your own clothes.  I bought a dress form years ago at a yard sale (saving $$$!) and she's all foam but covered with a basic cotton sloper cover. I can stick pins in her when fitting...I've changed a little and my clients are all different sizes but she's still great to pin my pieces on when working up a custom order.

 This article shows how mannequins are sized, adjusted and altered to suit fashions from different eras. We've had bustle bottoms, corseted bosoms, tiny waists and straight up and down 'boy' shapes over the centuries.

Look at the different busts from this mannequin maker KCI Mannequin. Demonstrating corseted, pre bra, older, younger shapes.

This article is an interesting, useful and fun read....and do go to all the links and go deep.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sponge Bar Repair Sponges.

Bar to be strip.
I recently hosted a private one on one workshop in my studio with a newbie knitter student who wanted to learn to make dishcloths for her business...quicker than hand knitting.   First, we started out with an LK150 which I didn't like for the heavy cotton she needed to use so we moved to my Brother 230 which I had set up for knitting some pullovers. 

First, with the 150 we needed to redo the sponge bar...or sponge strip which is in the 150....(see: Sponge Strip or Bar) which we accomplished with materials I have collected for doing the same with my other sponge bars.

Then we moved on to the 230 whose sponge bar needed some oomphing up.... so we temporarily used another (I have several spares ready to go and some needing repairing)....see this Knittsings Blog post.

When I get about half a dozen 'dead' sponge bars I do a repair session using he Knittsings instructions (above) taking a couple of days (Goo Gone working, glue drying and stuff). However, while my student was working away I Googled sponge bars, amongst other things and found this on Ebay ... sponge bar strips. 

I chose the cheapest shipping which said I would get them (from China) January 11th, 2018. No rush, I wouldn't be getting to them for a while....but the arrived last week!
I have written to the seller about what looks like a sticky strip on one side as there wasn't on the ones I bought, but no matter...I'll use Aleene's Original Tacky Glue which I've used for different crafts.

What I like about these strips are that they are pretty much the right length, they are already cut to the right width and there is a strip of ribbon on one side. This'll save me a lot of cutting and extra glueing.

The strips are cheap and I paid $1.37 shipping!!!! And they got here two months early. I'll post again when I actually use them.  Yay!

Monday, October 16, 2017

In a New York 'Mood'.

I may have mentioned this before but I'm a huge fan of the TV program Project Runway. Two weekends ago my sister Judi Goldie and I took a trip to New York (on Amtrak not a Greyhound a la Billy Joel) and as it was her first time in the Big Apple it was 'her' trip with her camera and we went wherever she wanted to go.

I guided and contributed suggestions that I thought she would enjoy photographing and get us as much of Manhattan as we Washington Square Park, and had only two requests of my own. One was the High Line and the other was Mood...where Tim Gunn takes all the designers on Project Runway for their fabrics and findings for their show briefs.    

As you might surmise from this pic...I was really excited to visit...when all you've been able to visit for recently is Fabricland I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Judith took this one of me under a display of ostrich feather boas.
The next three photographs I didn't realize Judith had taken and I think they're fabulous of the bolts of fabric, boxes of buttons and shelves of glittery trims.
Judi Goldie Photography

Judi Goldie Photography

Judi Goldie Photography
There was a lovely young lady who served me who was complaining of sneezing so I told her she should get a Neti pot. Anyone who is in a closed space with all that fabric and - consequently...dust - needs to flush out the nasal passages regularly. She thanked me and proceeded to help me with my purchases. She was a college student.

I decided this was a good place to get some silk for felting...not a bargain (remember I was spending USD's) and the silk was $10 - $14 per yard. (Not even those three extra inches you get in a metre!)

Here is what I had to choose from....I've used some of the black and white patterned in a felted vest already.

By the way...this is only one floor of Mood, they have another floor and further along down on the street is Mood Home with home decor time, eh?

No, I didn't get a Tshirt....I got the book about Project Runway, the first 10 seasons. I did get a tape measure and a giant tote bag as my souvenirs.
Judi Goldie Photography

We ended up taking my packages back to our abode and catching a late diner breakfast at a great place called Scotty's on Lexington at 39th. Thanks Ron for being such a great part of our breakfast, info, quips, remarks about Manhattan and Queens where he said he owned some property...nobody can afford The City....

.....I spent just enough that morning.