Tag Archives: fabric

Meet My New Chevron Blanket!

I commissioned my friend Katie to make me a chevron cut chenille throw blanket and it arrived today! It’s absolutely gorgeous and I’m over the moon about it. I love the bright aqua chevron stripes with the contrasting sunny yellow edging and chenille-style backing. I was inspired by the work in her Etsy shop, Mr. Kitty Is My Name, and knew I wanted one of her fabulous blankets!

For those of you who have never seen this style of cut chenille, it’s created by a very time-consuming but worthwhile process. You sew half-inch to one-inch lines along a set of fabrics that have been layered together (a pretty fabric for the front and different colors of flannel fabric for the back), and then cut the flannel channels made with the sewing. When the blanket is washed and dried, the flannel creates the chenille because since it it is cut on an angle (the bias) it fluffs rather than frays.

I’d been lusting after this blanket since seeing the online tutorial for it about a year ago. However, I’ve loathe sewing machines since I was “taught” to use one in a 7th grade Home Ec. class back in the ’90s, so getting my dream blanket seemed like a far-off wish. Until Katie started her cute little shop and I realized my dream could be a reality! For this blanket, Katie went the extra mile, sewing along the lines of the chevrons to create a lovely zigzag pattern on the chenille side.

As you can see from the images below, I laid this out on the floor and went away to find my camera. By the time I had returned, someone had ensconced herself on the blanket. She didn’t believe me when I told her that white and blue do not match black kitties, promptly rolling over to show me her belly as a response. Sigh.

I love my new blanket, it’s totally awesome, and the perfect size for me to wrap myself in it and take a nap. Which I may or may not have already done. 😉

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Dyeing Arts in Motion

Courtesy Alberto Seveso

Just saw this amazing Fluid Dynamics piece and I had to share it. Italian photographer Alberto Seveso has taken close-up photographs of colorful dyes in the instant that they hit the water, creating these gorgeous life-forms that look like fabric or art sculptures. He’s able to get these amazing images because he takes his pictures underwater! These high-speed macrophotographs are really gorgeous to look at, in part because they are so difficult to see in real life – there and gone again in an instant.

There’s something almost not-quite-real about the way these images look, and what’s impressive is that this is such a simple device (dropping some ink in water and watching what happens). Maybe it’s because this holds the same thrall that clouds do to humans – you want to reach out and touch these inks, even though you know that once you do it ruins the effect.

So many knitters, crocheters and indie yarnies deal with dyes all of the time, whether for their business or simply to finish a project (think the Shipwreck Shawl). So it’s amazing to see how the very act of the dye hitting the water can be an art form all of its own.  This image here is part of his newest series, duo Colori. His first underwater ink series was Disastro Ecologico in 2010, and that was considered gorgeous then! Here is his current online gallery.

Decorative Storage Solutions for Stitch Markers

That’s right, I said it: storage solutions for stitch markers. Man, I like alliteration far too much. Ok, so by now you’ve fallen prey to the siren call of handmade, prettified, dangly, sparkly, adorable stitch markers. You have them in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles, bejeweled and bedazzled, and plain janes that are perfect in a pinch. But there’s a downside to having enough stitch markers to decorate all of your digits – where can you store them all?! Feeling a little overwhelmed yet? That’s what I thought. But don’t worry! I’ve got several solutions that will have you knitting happily away very soon!

I was inspired to write this post after I saw how happy Abigail from KnitLounge was with her Snap ‘n Go Notions Case™ in red. It’s a great little case – everything is very compact and fits neatly inside and there are plenty of fun little compartments for stitch markers. But I don’t know, there’s something sad about having all of your pretty things buried and hidden away all of the time, like when you put all of your pretty baubles in a jewelry box. I certainly need notions cases and jewelry boxes to store my favorite sparklies, but I also like being able to show them off, too.

Snap 'n Go Notions Case

My best friend, knittingale, has long been a member of the decorate-with-your-jewelry club. She has a wall in her closet hung with a lovely silken shawl, and has all of her jewelry pinned to it. When you open the door the first thing you see is this gorgeous bohemian wall that just shines in the light. Recently, she decided to give her stitch markers the same treatment.

Down in her den/craft room she hung all of her stitch markers on a bulletin board to keep track of them – she said she laughed when she’d organized them because she hadn’t realized how many of them had been made by me for her! She loves the way they are both decorative and on display all the same time. Best of all, because this is the family room area of the house, whenever guests visit they admire her board and often can’t help themselves but need to come over and fondle the pretty styles and gleaming bright colors. When she needs a particular set, she grabs them off the wall, pops the set in her notions case and goes.

Hester's Bulletin Board of Stitch Markers

I really like her corkboard. If you want to make this same style but kick yours up a notch, simply take a nice piece of fabric and some ribbon and staple or glue it around the edges for a finished look. Here are a couple of quick tutorials – one for a plush, quilted look and two others with  framed out and vintage styles. You can use a variety of objects to hang your stitch markers – everything from safety pins to stitch holders.

Image courtesy pbteen.com

Corkboards aren’t the end-all, be-all, however. My grandmother, whose Depression-era background makes her the epitome of creative budget craftiness, always hung her brooches on the wall in her bedroom in a vintage wooden picture frame she’d found at some flea market. The wall feature was very stylish and made her jewelry look like a professional art piece. She used a sturdy piece of black velvet and padded the back with polyfill and that worked very well to hold up her pins. But I found something even better to do with a nice vintage picture frame. I was enchanted by blogger Smart and Sassy with Sprinkles‘ mesh picture frame for hanging her earrings on, which is such a simply construction but has this elegant look when it’s all decorated. How clever is that? The link above takes you to her how-to, by the way.

Smart and Sassy with Sprinkles' "Pretties" on Display

If you are trying to do for a style that is less “screen door chic” then I recommend switching out the metal insert on the frame with something softer – perhaps lace? Tanya from the Trey and Lucy blog made this awesome guest post at Ucreate, and I’m in love with her delicate, lacy mesh fabric backing for her teensy sweet earrings. The Vintage Lemon has a lovely DIY tutorial for a similar project. If you are suspicious about just how well something like lace will hold up with all of your stitch markers, you can always go for a funkier variation, like burlap.

Lace Earring Frame by The Vintage Lemon

Maybe your crafty gene doesn’t tend toward using implements sharper than knitting needles. Whatever the case, sometimes simpler is better. Head over to the store and buy yourself a key rack holder. Just make sure that the hooks aren’t huge. Pop that up on your craft room wall with some nails (but please, if you aren’t handy, don’t touch the hammer – let a professional hurt their thumbs) and you are good to go! They’ve even got some pretty cool designs out there in key holder world.

7-Hook Key Rack in Walnut and Satin Nickel by Spectrum

While I’ve listed a few of the big and bold ways to display your stitch markers and other knitting and crocheting notions, there are many many more. Try one of these ideas below for easy ways to show off your favorite stitch markers, no matter what your decorative style is like.

  • For the romantics, take a long piece of ribbon and tack the ends onto the back of a dresser or across your mirror. Pin your stitch markers to it for an instant bejeweled banner.
  • If you are more of a hippie, one of those Tibetan flags would work fabulously strung across your wall with stitch markers tacked to it.
  • For the hipsters in the crowd, recycle a damaged roll of film and stick stitch holders through the tiny holes at the bottom and top that usually keep the film moving in the camera. Slant it across your door and voila.
  • If you have a streamlined, mod style, buy those  clear, round stacking containers that screw together, where the bottom of one container is also the top of the one below it. You’ll be able to see exactly what you want and the tower can sit nicely on a shelf. Try color-coding your stitch markers by container to create a stunning rainbow effect.

But however you choose to store your stitch markers, don’t forget to enjoy using them as well. Happy knitting!

Origami Lotus Bag Tutorial

My favorite project bag is this lotus-shaped drawstring bag I own. It’s square with some design features that reminds me of Japanese origami, the beautiful art of paper folding. I love the way it folds in on itself like those old fortune teller paper games we used to play in school when we were children. The design is both simple yet clever. Pulling the drawstring shuts the bag and creates handles for carrying, all without losing its basic shape. I knew this bag design would be perfect for the vintage fabric my grandmother bought while traveling in India in the ’70s, but when I looked around the Internet in an attempt to make it, I couldn’t find a pattern or tutorial for the design I liked anywhere. I really wanted to have it replicated, so I just decided to write my own pattern! I’m a rudimentary sewer myself, so I assure you this pattern isn’t hard and will gently stretch your abilities. Let’s get sewing!

Origami Lotus Project Bag with yarn being knit into a shawl inside of it

You’ll need two matching squares of fabric that are roughly 18 inches square and some matching ribbon. The final product, when all said and done, is going to have a 12-inch wide flat bottom. Note: If you use squares of fabric that are larger you will make a larger bag and if you use squares that are smaller your bag will, consequently, be smaller.

First, take the two pieces of complementary fabrics and place the designs facing each other so you see the wrong side. If you have thin fabrics I recommend added a layer of interfacing of some sort for added strength. Sew the two fabrics together like you would for a pillowcase, leaving yourself a small hole. Then flip the fabric inside-out. Ta-da! Your fabrics are all sewn together and look like a flat, er…thicker piece of fabric. Don’t worry, we’re getting there.

Second, iron your fabric so that it’s easier to work with. This is where the fabric starts to look like origami, and as the Japanese masters will tell you, trying to fold wrinkled paper (or fabric) never works well. Before you start folding, however, we’re going to sew a nice little edging on the flat piece of pillowcase fabric to make it look finished and to keep the seam from sliding around. This should be about an eighth of an inch from the edge of the fabrics and can be as simple as a backstitch or as complex as crazy ornate miniature heart shapes. Whatever. It’s totally up to you.

Now we’re getting to the folding. At this point, your square of fabrics should be laid flat with the fabric design that you want to be the exterior fabric facing you. Turn the fabric at an angle so it looks like a diamond shape to you (see fig. 1). Then fold each corner diamond inward until it is touching in the center like the Four Corners out West. Can you see the paper fortune teller game right now? I know, so cool!

Origami Lotus Bag, fig. 1

Your folded flaps should now show only the interior fabric. Those flaps are going to become the interior side panels of the bag. Seam up the four sides of the bag halfway (about four inches), making sure that the interior of the bag is still facing you (see fig. 2). This is important, because you are going to flip the bag so that the seams are facing inward when you are done.

Origami Lotus Bag, fig. 2

The reason we only sewed up the sides of the bag halfway is because to create that lotus-like appearance, the unsewn flaps need to be folded over the outside of the bag. This creates the four origami points that look very similar to the points of a flower petal. To help the four points stay put, we’re going to sew them to the exterior of the bag roughly half an inch from the opening (see fig. 3). This creates a hole or gap large enough to draw ribbons or cord through to make the bag a drawstring one.

Origami Lotus Bag, fig. 3

Lastly, cut two long satin ribbons or silken cord. I usually cut them as long as my arm from fingertip to collarbone, but you’ll need to gauge the length yourself. Take one ribbon and thread it through all four half-inch gaps we sewed at the opening of the bag. Tie the ribbon to itself when it reaches the beginning. At the opposite end from where you started threading the first ribbon, take the second ribbon and repeat the process. Pick up the bag, pull the cords, and watch the bag close! Note: The biggest mistake newbie drawstring bag makers find themselves making is at this point. If you pull your cords and the bag doesn’t close but the ribbons just hang taut, you may have knotted the first ribbon to the second. That’s never going to work so unknot and try again.

Enjoy making your own origami lotus bag!

My Beloved Origami Lotus Bag

UPDATE

I have a second origami lotus bag now, sewn out of some vintage fabric my grandmother brought back with her from India in the 1970s. I am absolutely in love with it – I even had some pale brown ribbon that, just by chance, matched the fabric perfectly! My friend Heidi sewed it for me, and helped me pick out the silken orange interior, which, naturally, I ordered from India. Ah, the magic of the Internet. I had this little pocket that my grandmother had sewn ages ago, as well, so I handstitched an edging to slip the matching ribbon through there as well. Hm, my stitches don’t look to bad in this photo.

The Lotus Temple Bag