Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Colorways E-Magazine

The techno world just keeps on spinning. It seems almost a daily occurrence in which I am introduced to a new technology. One of the shifts in technology that I have been recently introduced is to the format of the E-Magazine. This new type of magazine is downloaded to your computer. One of the coolest things about it is that it is a multimedia format, meaning that it includes both written text and video.

Last August 2010, our Annapurna sock yarn was featured in Interweave Press's first E-mag, Sockupied.

This month, Interweave released a new E-Mag dedicated to natural dyeing, Colorways. They asked me if I would be interested in an article about Verb and natural dyeing. Can you guess my response? It went something like this "Are you kidding? I would die! Yes!" And, then, after sending the acceptance email to Anne, my second thought was "Holy crap! What I have agreed to? Video? Me on video...? Oh dear God, please do not let me say anything totally embarrassing! Or sound too much like a valley girl. Please allow me say something interesting."

Anne Merrow, the editor of Colorways, came to the shop last January. Though I was nervous, Anne was so nice. She made it easy to talk to her. To be honest, I wasn't really sure what Anne was creating in terms of the project on the whole. So, when I received my copy of Colorways, I was floored! Not only did Anne write a great article on Verb, the other articles in Colorways are spectacular. Between the photographs, the text, and the videos, you will travel from Oakland to Oaxaca to Mali. While reading through Colorways, it dawned on me. When natural dyeing, I feel like I am traveling to different parts of the world because I partake in a task that others from around the world are also doing. I love that Colorways creates and extends this feeling to the reader.

I am extremely grateful to Anne for creating Colorways, for giving the fiber community this resource, and am so thankful to Anne and the folks at Interweave for including Verb.

To download Colorways for Mac, click here.
To download Colorways for PC, click here.

Sock Summit 2011: Portland, Oregon
If you are going to Sock Summit, and have not already signed-up for my class, there are still a few spots available in my 3 hour, Global Color class. I've been working hard on my presentation and can not wait to share natural dyeing's wealth of color with you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sailing: Inspiration for the Anna Tunic by Amy Butler

Creating, as I do for a living, can have both its advantages and disadvantages. I would never give it up for the world. Though, I must say, creating for work, and working a lot, can be a serious drain on my imagination, in turn making me kind of sad. So, I decided to take a sabbatical. My plan was to work - but from home, at my own pace and schedule. My goal was to replenish my creative spirit.

My friend, Ysolda, visited from Scotland recently. It was great. Having her here motivated me to actually leave my shop / house to do fun things - like sailing.

Off we went, around the Bay. We decided to sail under the Bay Bridge. For those of you who have never been here, and to give you a sense of scale, the Bay Bridge is a huge, 5 mile long, double decker bridge, that connects Oakland to San Francisco. It is currently being re-built, so if an earthquake hits, ok let's not go there.

I loved seeing the construction of the new bridge from this angle - the colors, the angles, the size. It was remarkable, given there must have been 100s of cars zooming above us, how quiet it was.

The Bay Area is known to have micro-climates which can exist within a mile of one another. Meaning that it can be toasty warm and sunny at my house in Oakland, I can drive a mile towards the Bay, and it can be overcast, windy, and chilly. The weather can also shift dramatically from hour to hour as the fog rolls in and out of the Bay.  I wear and carry many layers of clothing. Well, the same goes for the Bay. As we sailed towards the Bay Bridge, we would stall. No wind. Then, as we sailed under the bridge and began to make our way north again - huge gusts of wind, freezing cold, and the light was drastically different. I love this photo because this is how it really looked as we turned the corner so to speak.

After sailing, I felt so invigorated. Um, and also kinda cold - but that's what hot baths are for!!

I decided to sew the Anna Tunic by Amy Butler out of Cloud 9 Organics Shards. The colors and pattern reminded of my day on the Bay.

Pattern Review and Notes

The pattern said bust measurement 39" = L. 36" = M.
My bust is a 38. To me the photo on the front of the pattern showed ease. So, I made the sz Lg.

As you can see from the photos, the tunic is too large. Notice the large gap along my back. If I had much larger b**bies, everything would be fine. I could have easily taken off 2 inches along the entire piece.

Now, of course, a wise thing to do, is to take measurements of the pattern, and create a schematic. From this schematic, compare your measurements, and make the necessary alterations to the paper pattern.  I did not do this because this is my 1st time sewing from an Amy Butler garment pattern and I wanted to completely follow her directions and to go through the process as a customer of mine might - who is more or less a beginning garment maker. And, being that this is a shop sample, it is ok if it doesn't fit me perfectly.

I thought it odd that I was a sz large. I would say that I am in the small - medium range of women weight wise. I went on to think - If I am a large, and the pattern only goes up to an XL, that means there are a lot of woman who can not use this pattern. Hm.

Well, the good news is - is that the large was too big - so this pattern will accommodate a much greater amount of women.

Suggestion: If you are in between sizes, go down a size. In the future, I would cut the pattern bust / chest section a sz medium. And keep the hip portion a size large. If that is still too large, I would cut the whole pattern down to a medium.

I do plan on making this pattern again, and will report back about the changes in fit.

Fabric & Lining: 
Cotton poplin was perfect. The pattern does call for the tunic to be lined. I did line mine. While I like the finished touch of lining the piece. I am not sure that it is necessary.  If you live in a very hot place, I would not line the tunic. It would only make it hotter.

Another idea would be to keep it lined but make it out of cotton voile or lawn, both fabrics being much lighter, thus, much more flow and drape.

The pattern called for 2 yards. Though I did everything the pattern asked, I used 1 3/4 yds.

Pattern Directions
I have found both this pattern and the Birdie Sling pattern to be quite wordy. I figure they are this way because they are targeting new sewers, so, perhaps giving them a bit of education along the way...or trying to be very specific? For me, though, there were times when making it wordy, or giving too many detailed directions, made the pattern harder to follow.  I wanted to read all of the directions, thinking that, well maybe there is something important about to happen that I need to pay attention for, when really, it was just a lot of details for pretty simple things. If I were to edit the pattern, I might add some of the extra info as quick tips, in bubbles alongside the illustration, instead of including it in the body of the directions, that way if you are an experience seamster, you can just run through it. Doing this would also break up the long blocks of text.  Next time, when I sew the pattern, it will go much faster. While that can be the case for anything, in this case, I think it really applies. In other words, don't be daunted by the amount of steps in this pattern, it really is pretty easy to sew.

The most difficult part was the yoke. I kept being confused by the directions for how to sew the yoke interior and exterior, yoke right, yoke left. A lot of yoke going on in those directions. In the future, I will highlight in yellow the pattern every time yoke interior is mentioned. Perhaps by having a color i.e. visual reminder, it might not be so confusing. Then again, because the interior and exterior are the same fabric, it really does not matter. Worse case scenario is that your buttons are on the wrong side.

I really like the look of this garment. I will sew it again with the alterations listed above. If you would like to see the piece in person, it is at the shop - along with the pattern and fabric.

In case you haven't heard, we have begun a new fat quarter club:

The Pressed Seam

+ 6 fat quarters per month

+ Packages ship 1st of the month

+ Available as a 6 month subscription

+ Modern, cotton, new, unique, Japanese, some hand-dyed, hand-printed by local artists

+ If you would like to purchase more fabric from your shipment, you will will receive a 15% discount.

+ Be the first to get new fabrics and other special goodies!

+ Memberships open today!

+ Memberships close on June 20th.

+ 1st shipment: July 1st

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fabric Club? And Giveaway Day Fabrics

I had so much fun choosing the fabric for the Giveaway Day winners that I have a new idea.

How about a fabric club? I already have 2 yarn and fiber clubs - so, we get the whole club thing here. Why not add fabric into the mix?

Preliminary idea:

+ Fat Stash
         + 6 fat quarters
         + monthly shipments
         + about $22 a month, available as a 6 month subscription
         + modern, cotton, new, unique, some hand-dyed, hand-printed by local artists
         + if you would like to purchase more fabric from your shipment, 10-15% discount. 

It would be fun to have designers do a quickie little, fun pattern. Probably not possible at first, but as the club grows...

So, what do you think? I'd love your input.

To give you a little taste of what could be to come, here are what the Giveaway Day winners are receiving:

(l to r): Freespirit / Silent Cinema, Alexander Henry / Rolling Hills, Freespirit  / Suzani Round, Nani-Iro / Fuccra, Cloud 9 Organics / Free as a bird.

 (l to r): Rowan / Fairytale Garden, Lecien / My Folklore, Freespirit / Parisville, Nani-Iro, Alexander Henry / Griffith Park

(l to r): Freespirit / Garden Divas, Rowan / Soul Blossoms, Nani-Iro / Colorful Pocho, Freespirit / Innocent Crush, Freespirit / Silent Cinema

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Creative Abundance!

Goodness! Thanks everyone for listing your inspirations.  I love learning that there are so many of us walking around, absorbing the beauty around us, and creating from it. 

The 5 winners!

Allison / Field Wonderful / May 24 / 12:58pm
Audreypawdrey / May 25 / 1:50pm
Traci / May 23 / 8:09am
Andreacreates / May 23 / 1:42pm
Shelley / May 25 / 3:52pm

Please get in touch and send your postal address. 

Responses and answers to a few questions asked in the comments. 

"Am planning a bike trek to your shop, and that very cool bike-friendly cafe next door!" 
Kate / May 23rd / 12:16 pm

Yes! Come! We do have an amazing cafe next door, named Actual Cafe. They serve everything from espresso to locally made beer, and empanadas to bacon-Parmesan waffles. This is a great place for the family to hang out while you are having fun in the shop.

"I *love* that red birds and clouds fabric. I know you're busy with all these comments and giveaway day, but I'd love to know what it is. " 
Starandsunshine / May 23rd / 4:09 pm

Both the grey fabric with the silhouettes of plants and the red fabric with clouds and birds are from a company named Cloud 9 Organics. The collection is Cut Out and Keep by South African designer Heather Moore. LOVE her stuff.

"i didn't notice on your blog, but do you sell your fabric online?"
Shelley / May 25 / 3:52pm 

Unfortunately, we don't sell fabric online. We do sell our line of naturally dyed yarn and fiber though. We have talked about dyeing and block-printing our own fabric. While I've had my dyeing studio for 3 years now, our brick and mortar opened only 6 months ago. My hope is that once the new shop stabilizes, I can expand my line or at least open an online fabric shop offering others beautiful work.

PS: Dyeing (pardon the pun!) to know what your verb for keeping warm is! 
Beeps / May 23 / 7:47pm 

There's a wonderful book, Women's Work, by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. She is an archaeologist who studies humans in order to learn about ancient textile practices. On one such occasion, she re-constructed a dead language similar to Latvian and learned that there was once a verb for keeping warm. I loved this. Simply put, if we did not have warmth and protection of clothing, we would not be alive. Today, by a great portion of the populace, cloth is taken for granted. Though there are a few of us who know better ;)

The verb for keeping warm is open to interpretation. The verbs I think of are dyeing, spinning, knitting, weaving, sewing, and quilting.

The Nani-Iro arrived yesterday and it is amazing.  I will prepare the prize bundles for shipping. If you would like a bit of eye candy, check back in the next day or so, I will post photos of the fabric chosen for the bundles. We'll be doing more give-aways in the future. And from learning that you are so inspired by blogs, I will post more of my own projects here. It was lovely to meet all of you. Thank you for stopping. I hope to see you in the future!

If you are in the area, don't be shy! Stop in and say hello! We'd love to meet you :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Giveaway Monday!

Hi! I'm Kristine and I own A Verb for Keeping Warm.

I live in California. My shop is located in Oakland. I am inspired by the ocean and all it has to give; the textures, the color, and its complete largesse.  This environment informs so much of what I make.

One day, I went to India. I studied the applique work created by the Rabari, a group of semi-nomadic herders. Inspired by them and this region, I began to practice natural dyeing.

I returned to the U.S. and created a natural dye studio. The studio grew more and more until I created a much larger studio, shop, and classroom.

Building a new shop allowed me to carry something I have loved my entire life - FABRIC.  I adore bright, graphic prints in cotton and cotton / linen blends. 

Today, we have 5 for 5.

5 bundles of 5 fat quarters for 5 people.

Guess what comes this week? New Nani-Iro fabric from Japan. Guess what you get if you win the giveaway? Nani-Iro fabric. Plus, other new and sweet fabric from many other great companies and designers.

To win, tell me where you go when you want to feel inspired.

Comments will be open until May 25th. From your comments, I will randomly choose 5 people. Please check back on the 26th to see if you have won.

Thank you for stopping by! it is nice to meet you :) 

12am May 26th - Comments are now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered. The winners will be posted here by 6pm pst, May 26th. 

p.s. If you live in this area, I hope you will come by the shop. If you come into the shop, or you send a friend into the shop, the first 5 people to mention Giveaway Monday will get 5 FREE fat quarters. This offer expires on May 25th at 6pm.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Defining Moment: Natural Dyeing meets Sock Summit 2011

Sock Summit (n) : an event inducing fits of excitement, one will touch, feel, and hopefully purchase piles of yarn created by dyers as far north as Canada and whose dyeing process spans every nook and cranny, from semi-solid to striped, from electric yellows to indigo blues, colors abound, internationally known teachers, knitters from around the world gather to knit, spin, and indulge in all conversation relating to socks, occurring every 2 years in the City of Roses aka Portland, Oregon.

Natural Dyeing (v) : the use of plant, fungi, and insect materials, gathered both locally and internationally, to produce the full spectrum of color upon the porous fiber material mostly spun into yarn - to do what we love most - to knit.

Teaching at Sock Summit and teaching natural dyeing. Who knew?

Until Stephanie and Tina brought it up, I didn't even think it would be a possibility. And to be honest, this class is a bit different then others taught at Sock Summit, there is the limitation that I can not practice my craft directly in front of you.  I am technically not allowed to do any dyeing at the convention center (hello! fire marshall! yet, again, we meet!).  Though, with ideas and creativity pulsing, I've been working on a plan to bring the world of natural dyeing to you regardless of these limitations. I am creating a power point presentation which will include step by step instruction of how to use natural dyeing. I am working to make this as close to actually doing it in person as possible.

I will also have on hand the tools that I use to do natural dyeing, as well as the dyestuffs I use, and a huge array of dyed skeins so you can see the endless possibilities available to the natural dyer. To create this presentation, I will draw upon my experiences in India and my work at the Textile Museum in Washington DC, when first learning about natural dyeing, to creating my business and using natural dyes in a production format. There will also be plenty of time for questions. We will also have dyestuffs available for purchase in our Sock Summit booth, in case you would like to start dyeing yourself. 

The class I am teaching is offered in two different formats: 

Natural Dyeing: An Overview
a 1 hour overview of natural dyeing, the process, my methodology, and samples
Friday, 1:30, 2:30, & 3:30


Global Color: A Survey of Natural Dyeing
This is the more in-depth 3 hour class. I will cover all of the above and more! I highly recommend Global Color if you would like to learn about indigo and cochineal. Both of these dyes require a more complex process.
Sunday 9-12

Enrollment for Sock Summit opens at NOON pst on Wednesday, May 4th.

I hope to see you in class!

p.s. If you are in the Bay Area, and can not make it to Sock Summit, I am offering these classes in my studio this Summer. Though in my studio, you will get a more hands on approach to the class.

Class dates:
Global Color
Sunday May 15th 2-5pm
Sunday June 5th 2-5pm

Natural Dyeing: an Overview 
Thursday June 2nd 6:30-7:30pm
Saturday June 18th 12-1pm

Click here to learn more and to sign-up.

Friday, April 22, 2011

State of the Textile Union. The future is fabric, yarn, fiber and community.

I do this thing - I have a vision of something grand.  And then, I actually try to create it, in real life. The store, in its entirety, is an example.  Sure there are details, in the vision though, people are just smiling and creating, colorful textures in the forms of fiber, fabric, and yarn, no problem! Well, in reality there are a LOT of details to sort out.

Verb has grown to encompass fiber, fabric, yarn, a wide selection of kntting, sewing, felting, and spinning notions. Instead of carrying only Verb yarn and fiber, we now carry yarn and fiber from a collection of extremely talented companies.

Verb has also grown to include a staff of 6 people, including me. This means that Verb has 6 times more creativity. I have learned that Verb has in many ways become its own animal. So I am here to announce that Verb is in good hands and that I am leaving. Just kidding! I am here to stay but am going to open the doors a bit to my staff to play a larger role in blogging and tweeting. From here on out,  while I will still be blogging quite a bit, this blog will represent a collection of writers.  

The shop due to its new wings of fabric and the gallery, needs a new mission statement. I've learned that each of these sections require their own communities, and to fit within the larger community of fabric and art galleries in the Bay Area. For a brief moment, this past weekend, I had a thought - why did I do this? Why did I add fabric and the gallery? We have enough going on with yarn and knitting, fiber and spinning, our own line. Then I remembered. I did it because I believe in a beautiful space in which to purchase unique, gorgeous raw materials. So while it feels a bit fractured at the moment, I asked myself to give it 9 months.

We have grown from being primarily web-centric and show-centric to having a space which can be used a local, daily resource for crafting advice and materials.  For so long, I tucked my lil' business in the back of the Activspace building. Well now, it is time to reach out and spread the word! If you have a friend who sews, knits, felts, touches textiles, if you would spread the word, that would be awesome. Our classes are going strong now, with offerings in knitting, sewing, quilting, dyeing, weaving, and spinning. Plus, we are always open to feedback. Let us know what would help you further your crafting and creativity.

In addition to more people writing on the blog, there's going to be greater coverage of the various textile related crafts in which we support. This means more info about fabric and sewing as well as needle felting.

I am really excited by this transition, I hope you are too!

- kristine

p.s. I activated a new Twitter account today. Follow @avfkw_oakland to learn about everything new and exciting happening at our Oakland brick and mortar. New yarn, fabric, fiber, classes, events, and special discounts.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Valentine's Day Party: I Love Ravelry!

Ok, we are cruising steadily along here. February 10th marked our 3 month anniversary in our new space. And the party, or the knitting party train, as I like to call it, continues! I think I have succumbed to to the idea that this is going to be - or it already is a Very Exciting Year (many more exciting announcements soon to come your way!).

So, not long after Ysolda left, and life began to resume a tinge of normalcy, and I began to feel a bit of melancholy that the knitting party train had left me behind (Vogue Live), I received an email from Jess of Ravelry, proposing a Ravelry get together at the shop. Eek excited! Though admittedly a bit concerned with the amount of pre-Stitches work underway, how could I say no?

One might think, that now that I have a staff, I might take some time to do other things in my life, like grocery shop, though no, apparently, I just plan more things at Verb! I have to take a moment here to express my gratitude for the lovely people who work at Verb - I adore you and know that without you I could never say yes to all of these opportunities!! Thank you for all of your help!

Jess and Casey flew arrived on Sunday. We had it in mind to show Casey the beer side of town. We took Casey and Jess to The Trappist. Among all of the awesome beers they have, Jess found a favorite that she could sip on in her current state, Fentimans Dandelion and Burdock Root Soda. She discovered it in Scotland. I love the graphics on the bottle and that their tagline is Botanically Brewed - kinda makes me wish that we carried it in the shop!

It was so nice to hang out with Jess and Casey before the madness of Stitches began. Typically when I see them, we are all so exhausted, so this gave us some time to catch-up. One of my favorite topics was talking to Jess about the baby and pregnancy! I don't have many friends who've been pregnant so this is an endlessly fascinating topic. I especially loved talking about potential outfits for the baby. Jess picked out some adorable fabrics at Verb for the little one!

On Monday, Valentine's Day, Verb hosted an I Love Ravelry party.
 Alisha of Reverie Patisserie graciously made these beautiful cookies and cupcakes for the party! Write to Alisha and she will make you the tastiest, most beautiful cakes and cookies.

 I set up a preview of our new yarns in the gallery.

Jessica with Grace, one of my favorite customers at Verb. Grace is wearing her High Road shawl by Mary-Heather Cogar, out of Metamorphosis in Pilgrim, one of the Pro-Verbial shipments.

Julie Weisenberger, of Cocoknits, and Sonya Philip, of Ordinary Objects

The lucky winner of a skein of our new yarn, Floating!

The fact that a Casey and Jess came for an event on Valentine's Day was perfect. Ravelry has such a huge place in my heart.

Right before I started Verb, working in a job that I had no intrinsic connection, and living a very large city, feeling rather isolated, life was a bit, well, sad. I decided to leave my job not knowing what would come next - a decision I found rather daunting and quite frightening really. Within a few months, wanting to reconnect with the dyeing practices I had learned in India, I had started Verb, and began to participate on Ravelry. At that time, Ravelry was also relatively new. It has been an amazing experience watching Ravelry grow - the website, Casey and Jess, and the addition of Mary-Heather and Sarah. I honestly can not say where my business would be without Ravelry - moreover, personally, what my life would look like. I have met so many people through Ravelry. People who are now my friends and whom I consider my community. Thank you Casey and Jess for making Ravelry!

One thing I truly love about Casey and Jess is that they are so genuinely vested in Ravelry. It is like a giant knitting project that they both work on and are completely conscious of the way this knitted garment functions, looks, and feels. They keep creating sleeves so that we can all put the knitted garment on. Like a gigantic octopus! Whoa! Ok, back it up! But really, I give so much love and adoration to Casey and Jess for their courage and resilience in creating something with care and attentiveness and allowing all million + of us to have a place in it. In my own experience, I can relate to caring about something so much, Verb, and sometimes feeling like my heart is on my sleeve. I know, perhaps not the best business approach, but sometimes the reality of loving what you do. You care. And in that care, there is a vulnerability that is both thrilling and devastating. Perhaps, if you haven't all ready, this is the year for you to create something slightly larger than yourself, and place it in the world. I will be here for you if you do. Because really, caring is not wrong. It's something to celebrate!

Thank you to everyone who made it to our Valentine's Day party - and for personally saying thank you to Casey and Jess.


p.s. I really, really want to write about Tnna - more importantly the YARN at Tnna - because I was in heaven. And I am going to - very soon.

p.p.s Stitches was fun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stitches West 2011: Booth #1134

Folks, it is that time of year. Time for Stitches West. A place where we gather to unabashedly touch a stranger's (knit) sleeve, trip over a fellow knitter's shopping cart of yarn, walk on concrete for far too many hours in search for the perfect yarn(s in many cases), and drink. I am so excited to get this show on the road!

I have spent the last 3 months testing out new yarns and dyeing like a crazy woman in order to bring you the most luscious, soft, delightful skeins of yarn. From this process, I am presenting you with 5 new yarns and a re-release of a Verb classic (alpaca silk).

Introducing my new yarns by weight:

Reliquary II: 80% Superfine Merino / 20% Silk, 1200 yds, 4oz

High Twist: 70% Merino / 30% Silk, 700 yds, 4oz (oops forgot to take a photo)

Luster: 75% BFL / 25% Silk, 400 yds, 4oz

Floating: Alpaca / Silk / Cashmere, approx 400 yds, 4oz

Toasted: 100% Superwash Merino, 210 yds, 4oz

And the re-release:

Alpaca/Silk: 70% Alpaca / 30% Silk - as seen knit in Cocoknits, Yvonne

Fun Tidbits:

See this skein, yep, pretty and fluffy, and now turn the skein, and you'll see that on a few skeins of yarn, Ysolda has written you a little note.

Speaking of Ysolda, have you seen the contest that she has going on over at her blog? Enter to win free patterns and a goody box of Verb yarn!

Oh! And speaking of goody boxes, if you purchase a skein of our newest yarn, you will receive a special box of sweet treats. When I say sweet, I might literally mean chocolate - which we will also have in our booth.

I hope to see you this weekend!!


p.s. I am opening a few spots in our Essential Luxury fiber club, tomorrow, at 7pm PST.