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