Home is where the heart is and where I go to sew.
Summer as usual. Great classes at the workroom and my schedule is too busy to take one. Class in question this summer? Johanna Masko’s Machine Paper Foundation Piecing: Houses class. I’ve been meaning to make a wall hanging for home, (translation, smaller quilt project that can actually be finished and enjoyed in newly renovated apartment) and I’ve also been meaning to take one of Johanna’s classes. I keep daydreaming while reading Karyn’s blog, watching progress, enjoying the project sampler, dreaming of making my own house.
Weddings are also part of summer and I was looking forward to the wedding of my friend (and award-winning photographer, in case you need one) from college Karen, who lives in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Montreal (we were immediate friends, both Canadians at RISD), Karen may soon be moving to LA. They’ll likely keep residences in both locations, as home is where the heart is.
While looking through their bridal registry, I realized that I really wanted to make them a wedding gift rather than buying one. I know their Brooklyn pad is small, so a full size quilt seemed neither practical nor realistic. Plus, if they are moving to LA, large objects are not ideal for transportation.
After a bit of thought, and growing jealousy as I saw students from Johanna’s class begin to construct their houses and landscapes, I realized that I could transfer my envy into a house of my own. A Brownstone, for Karen and Chandler, so that even if they move to LA, they can take a little piece of Brooklyn with them. Okay, so they don’t actually live in a Brownstone, but it is a beautiful building that called out to be drawn in fabric.
Here is the process of how this little building came to be. From Google maps, to drafting, fabric hunting, cutting, sewing, pressing and sewing again. Birds, flowers, windows and clouds all came together to make a one of a kind gift, a labour of love for my good friends. In my usual way, I paid great attention to the back as well as the front, drawing inspiration from the invitations for this personalized patchwork homage to their home.
Both tutorial and roadmap, may this journey inspire you to draw your own home in fabric.
Additional images can be found here. Enjoy.
Google Maps. Satellite. Perhaps the first useful reason to look up a friend’s home. The ability to retrieve many photographs of a building in another country, without having to send a friend into the street. For future reference, I did confirm with Karen that she did live in this building. Be aware, too many questions draws unnecessary suspicion.
I then sketched out a section of the building and used the handy dandy office photocopier to enlarge it to a reasonable ‘wall hanging’ size. From there, I taped it together and placed some graph paper on top. I am pleased to say I used the last giant piece of drafting paper I have held onto for decades. I never wanted to throw it out, knowing that one day, I’d actually use it. I am both glad I had it for this project, and glad it is out of my life. Storing rolls of paper is challenging.
I stopped at the workroom on the way home one night, to seek out the perfect stash of fabric for this project. Some sky, some brick, window materials and trim. I also asked a couple of unsuspecting crafters if this project seemed a bit crazy to take on, with less than a month until the wedding. They said yes. In retrospect, they were right, but I loved every minute of it, day and night.
Even though this piece will be wall art, I felt compelled to pre-wash all the fabrics with Soak. It was an Unleash kind of day. I am the one at the office who receives the calls when wall art quilt pieces suffer colour runs or other laundry crises, so always best to pre-wash.
First section first, a simple panel with some angles and sky. I wanted to ‘test the waters’ on this project. I realized, that unlike the formal class at the workroom, where paper piecing is an art form and each student’s house is the same size, I was drawing with fabric and my grids and graph paper were becoming more guides than gospel. As I completed the first panel, the project began to take on its own life and I became consumed.
The windows are my favourite part. I created tiny tuck pleats to replicate the panes of glass seen in the building. As I worked across the image, I took a break from bricks and windows to create the front entrance.
I made larger than life flower pots with liberty print flowers (what else?) and allowed the feature light bricks to become the focal point of the structure.
Since my satellite images blocked most of my view, I allowed myself creative freedom to imagine the building, or at least how the building might appear as if it were made of fabric. The castle top of the building proved great fun. An homage to my friend Katrina, I actually cut and measured exact squares with exact seam allowances so they’d be even.
When I finally finished the front, I realized I hadn’t yet considered the back. That same day, Karen’s wedding invitation arrived by post, providing inspiration for the back and finishing details. The shade of red and variety of prints in the invitation ( I LOVE envelope linings) sent me rummaging through my fabric stash in search of reds, dots and lines. I found the off-cuts of a quilt I made last year, pieces 6-12 inches wide from the trim of a patchwork back, in all shades of red. It was perfect.
Using my free-motion stitch regulator (thank you Ted) I named, dated and signed the quilt before assembling the various pieces of the back. It’s hard to see the writing, but that’s the point, I guess. It’s not obvious, you just need to know it’s there.
Once I finished the back, I pieced it with the front, batting et al.
I used my walking foot for most of the quilting, following the diagonal brick work designs of the original building and outlining some of the windows. I’m a bit addicted to stitching in the ditch. In my next project, I might purposefully avoid the ditch, in an uneven, asymmetrical kind of way. Once I had covered enough brickwork, I used the free-motion foot to embellish the lighter front of the building. I put the building number on the awning and swirled around until the fabric itself told me I was done.
I added some clouds to the sky and I was set.
I tried to find the perfect binding fabric and realized that the building needed to be a continuation of each pattern piece. The sky needed to continue and the building needed to continue. No framing necessary. I added three hanging ribbons along the top and sewed on the binding. I made a note to myself that I must either find my box of binding clips (clean my studio) or buy more. Random bobby pins will not cut it. It is worth noting though, that the paper clip worked shockingly well.
I’m giving them a Lantern Moon bamboo hanger as well. This is the kind I have at the office holding up another quilt. It’s my favorite. I don’t think it’s fair to give someone a hanging quilt without telling them how to hang it. Some people prefer invisible hangers, although upon investigation, I couldn’t find one that was both fantastic and readily available. I like this design, it matches the brickwork and hopefully Karen and Chandler’s home, be it in Brooklyn, LA or wherever their life takes them.
We love when Soak users are so happy with their results that they have to send us an email or call us to say thanks. Send us your great Soak rescue story with photos and we’ll feature it on our blog.
Shireen specifically seeked us out at the Knitter’s Frolic so she could meet us and tell us about how Soak saved her hat. She had lost a hand-knit hat last fall and after the snow had all melted this spring, her friend found it looking quite sad and dirty. With some Soak, she was able to give life to her hat again. You can read her full story at her blog, The Blue Brick.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Shireen!
Send us your Soak experiences to email@example.com.
Four letters, four needles, four inches. For a girl who can knit sweaters and cables, there is one short word that scares the needles right out of my hands: sock.
For no apparent reason, I am terrified of knitting socks. I’m not sure if it is the really fine yarn, the skinny needles, my long fingers or lack of experience on double points, but I just haven’t convinced myself to conquer socks.
On the other hand, I am a great admirer of fancily designed and beautifully executed knit socks. When we launched Heel- our foot cream for feet worthy of hand-knit socks, we asked our good friend Amy Singer of Knitty.com to recommend a fantastic local sock designer to work with for our label photography. We not only love working with great designers, but also love finding them locally. Kate Atherley was our go-to girl for socks, patterns and perfectly executed samples.
I took great pleasure guarding the sock stash, sorting through colours and designs, matching them to Heel labels and graphic designs. We photographed toes, heels, feet from the bottom and socks from the top. The only downside to the sock experience was that Kate’s samples don’t fit my big feet! Luckily, Shannon Okey’s publishing company Cooperative Press is launching a book by Big Foot Knits this summer by sock designer Andi Smith, of Knit Brit. Maybe her larger patterns will inspire me to tackle other couple four letter words, just knit.
I vaguely recall having learned to knit as a child when I used to sit beside my mom as she knit. She was a great knitter. I on the other hand was not and haven’t touched a pair of needles until I started working at Soak.
I’ve been interning at Soak for almost 7 months now and it’s hard not to pick up knitting while you are here. Jacqueline, Chris and Ngoc all know how to knit and they often bring in their projects to work on during lunch. Seeing their fun projects, as well as seeing all the beautiful colourful yarns laying around the office made me wonder if I could actually learn again and maybe even finish one project.
I grabbed some Louet Riverstone yarn and a pair of borrowed needles from Jacqueline and started to knit a simple scarf. I learned how to knit and purl. I finished in about a week. Even though it was a very simple pattern, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment as I wrapped my finished scarf around my neck.
I moved onto my next project right away after being inspired by a cupcake on Jacqueline’s office desk that was knitted by Chris. The instructions I found for cupcakes all suggested crocheting so I tried my hand at crochet. My first cupcake was horribly big; perhaps I didn’t pull the stitches tight enough. My next one was much better. It was so adorable that I gave to my friend as a present. I made one last cupcake before my interest started to subside. I looked through our library to see what I could make for my next project. I decided on a cute little yarn cactus.
I took a break from knitting until I went with Ngoc to a Heel testing/review at the Purple Purl, lead by Amy Singer. That was the first time I went to Purple Purl. I just loved the entire store and the people within it. Everyone was so friendly and made me feel so comfortable and relaxed. I decided that I had to buy some yarn and start my next project. I had initially picked up some black yarn but put it back once I saw Ngoc shaking her head in disapproval. She persuaded me to be a little wild and pick a beautiful raspberry pink yarn instead.
I went from not knowing how to knit or crochet to making 2 scarves, 3 cupcakes, and a cactus this winter. Not bad. For my next project, I might even try cables or even entrelac. Do you have any suggestions for a project for a pretty beginner knitter?
Amy Singer, editor and writer at knitty.com often does reviews on new yarns and knitting accessories. We joined her last month at the Purple Purl as she and a group of reviewers tried out our newest product, Heel. All of our reviewers came with their current knitting projects and eagerly waited to find out what they were going to test this week.
We received a lot of great feedback. You can find Amy Butler’s review here. I’ve summerized a few of the key comments that we received.
– “I like the spearmint. It’s cool and I think in the summer, it’s going to feel good too.”
– “It’s a little greasy, and I like that. It feels more like a lotion than a cream. It could go in a pump.”
– “It’s a lovely consistency and it disappeared into my hands right away.”
– “I didn’t find it greasy at all, in fact, I’m knitting with it right away afterwards and it’s not affecting me in any way.”
– “Definitely not greasy — almost like the moisture is sealed in to my skin now. Very nice.” – Amy Singer
I’m fascinated by photography and lighting. I find photo shoots extremely interesting and just the other week, I was able to go to another photo shoot for our newest product, Heel – foot cream for feet worthy of hand-knit socks.
I am always impressed by the whole process and the beautiful results that we get. The above photograph was professionally taken by Jessica, our wonderful photographer. The following images are from my camera as I documented our day.
The day started off with a quick brainstorming session of different pose ideas so that Jessica could get an idea of how to set up the backdrop and what lighting we would need. We then tried on some of the hand-knit socks that were designed and made by Kate Atherley, a Toronto based knitter, designer and teacher. I never understood the fascination/obsession with hand-knit socks until that morning. They were beautiful and comfortable and hugged my feet in this way that only hand-knit socks can. Some of our Heel labels will feature Kate’s beautiful socks. If you are thinking of a fun gift idea for your favourite knitter, why not pair a tub of Heel with the accompanying sock pattern? Visit Kate’s online store for her designs.
Esther and I were the lucky feet models for the day. After a few hours of tippy toes, pointing, and stretching, I have gained a new appreciation for feet models. I don’t know whether my feet and toes are just terribly out of shape or what, but after holding a pose for 10 mins with slight movements, I started to get cramps galore. As we looked at the images appearing on the computer screen, it was fascinating to see how the slightest movement in the toes or the smallest change in the direction that your feet were pointing could completely change the feel and attitude of the image.
I am always impressed by a beautiful photograph and am constantly asking for tips and advice on how to improve my own photography skills. I find that once in a while, I’ll fluke into a decent photo. I am still striving to take that one photograph that I am proud enough to display on my wall but alas, nothing as of yet.
Here are a few of the tips that I’ve gathered along the way.
1. Welcome to the wonderful world of digital. Just snap away. For every wonderful photo you see, that person probably took 90 mediocre ones. Take a lot of photos. Look at them and figure out what you did wrong, what you like about them, and what you should do differently next time.
2. Catch the light. When photographing people, spin them around and look at their eyes. Stop spinning them once the eyes catch the light.
3. Photos don’t always need to be artistically beautiful. They are about capturing your memories and emotions. A photo might not be impressive to anyone else, but if it brings you back to a wonderful moment or invokes certain wonderful emotions in you, then it’s a good photograph.
4. A good camera and a good lens doesn’t equal a good photograph. I’ve seen people take wonderful photographs with their camera phones. There is so much more to photography than just the equipment.
5. If you’re new to the SLR world, take the time to learn about ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds. Don’t waste a perfectly wonderful camera by only shooting on auto. Try manual. It will open up a wonderful new world.
Do you have any fun photography tips? Please share, I’d love to hear them.
Our unique combination of ingredients restores the skin and soothes tired feet. Cucumber extract, Vitamin E and the soothing powers of menthol work together to form a luxuriously rich treat for sock worthy feet. Go ahead. Indulge.
Not a knitter? Heel– is perfect for all feet. Whether you are walking the mall in search of holiday gifts or treating your feet after a run, Heel is for you.
We’ve launched this great product with a few of our favorite knitting friends. If you are part of the Loopy Ewe sock club, you were treated to the first batch of peppermint infused foot cream.
We were proud to launch Heel with the Loopy Ewe.
Jimmybeanswool.com devotee? Get a customized tub of soothing scentless with menthol to match the Lorna’s Lace limited edition yarn Goblin. We’ll feature a new limited edition tub each month. There’s also a lovely basic Jimmybeanswool.com batch as well.
Soak is also new to JBW. Check out the two-packs on their site.
Along with our scentless Heel, you can also choose from our delicate and cooling cucumer or rich and soothing spearmint.
These delectable treats can also be customized! With a minimum order of 24 units, we can customize the label to your heart’s content. Got a sock club, we can make a label for you. Are you a yarn retailer looking for special holiday gifts for your top customers, Heel is perfect. Knitting retreat? Yoga store? Shoe shop? Even if you have a great group of lucky friends (showers, bridal parties or charity runs) we can personalize Heel for you.
Email us for a quote and conversation on custom designs.
Another brilliant creation by the experts at Soak Wash Inc. Like Soak, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Grab a coffee or tea and join us each Friday, to learn how these Soak worthy bags came to be. Are you bagged? Send us your favorite bag. If we feature it here, we’ll send you a Soak gift pack, in a pretty bag, of course!
This Friday is all about my favorite new knitting bag. It’s not all that new (acquisition knitters frolic 2010) but it’s my favorite.
A couple of months ago (pre-frolic) to be exact, I was introduced to ZigZagStitches when Catherine from ZigZagStitches tweeted that she’d added more bags to Flickr.com before the Frolic. I was immediately in love.
While working on my large green shawl (note- final photo to follow, as soon as I find my lost memory card with all TNNA photos on it!!) I realized that it’s hard work carrying a large knitting project around. In response to this rather obvious fact, my top knitting friends introduced me to the concept of the ‘small, portable simple project’. I was looking towards my trip to the UK and a small project was what I needed indeed.
At the Frolic, I sorted through bags and fabric to find my perfect match. It was the right size for my mid-length needles and fabric style. Echino is one of my favorite textile design houses and I was thrilled to see a boxy bag zippered in one of their fine fabric designs.
While I haven’t finished any particular ‘small, portable simple projects’, I have acquired a few more. I am working on Winter Bud in our very own ‘espresso yourself’ colour of our Ravelry inspired Creative Juices Collection and this killer scarf as seen on someone at TNNA, in a lovely shade of orange(not in production) from Lorna’s Lace. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.
With my ZigZag bag in tote, I’m officially a stylish and organized knitter. Now, if only I can find more time to knit.
Grab a coffee or tea and join us each Friday, to learn how these Soak worthy bags came to be. Are you bagged? Send us your favorite bag. If we feature it here, we’ll send you a Soak gift pack, in a pretty bag, of course!
The doctor in the emergency room said it was a clean break though I would be on crutches for 2 months. He put a plaster splint on my leg that was heavy, awkward and kept me immobile at my parents’ home. I had this monstrosity for 5 days while the swelling went down. A lot of knitting happened in those 5 days; so much knitting that my mother kindly went back to my apartment to get more yarn for me. My home is almost an hour from her home and the yarn was her only reason for going, just in case my mother’s sainthood was in question.
At the fracture clinic later that week, I got my fiberglass cast. Apparently they don’t make white casts anymore so mine is orange. I could have had soccer balls but I’m not that big a fan, World Cup or not.
I had a lot of questions for the doctor at the fracture clinic. As a single girl, how was I supposed to survive at home on crutches for 2 months? It isn’t really going to be 2 months, is it? Driving was out of the question, right? (I knew the answer to this one but sometimes I like things to be reinforced.) How was I supposed to shower?
The night before I broke my ankle, I was giving my almost 5 year old niece a bath. While I was washing her hair, I said “one day when I’m rich I’m going to have someone wash my hair for me every day”. My mother washing it in the kitchen sink isn’t exactly what I had in mind.
I didn’t get all the questions answered to my liking though I did get told I could purchase a watertight bag for my cast so I could shower. The DryCast Waterproof Cover is pretty simple but it has made me feel so much better about the next 6 weeks. I’m back at home and feeling less dependent on others, even though Jacqueline is driving me to work every day and the girls in the office are fetching water for me.
It isn’t exactly how I’d planned to spend my summer. I’ll be well ahead of my Christmas knitting by the time it’s over, though.
TNNA t minus 4 days.
It’s early Sunday morning. Time to block and finish my wrap. The pattern casually stops after BO. I would suggest, not surprisingly, that all patterns end with Soak-ing instructions. Feel free, oh designers of the world, to use these. (Minus the personal details)
Lay out all the tools you need. I have my mats (aka tradeshow floor, hence, finishing before TNNA), towels, pins and of course Soak (celebration, my favourite) and my Carrie basin. This wrap is clearly too large to be soaked in Phil. You need enough water to fully cover the garment, which, is a surprisingly large amount of water, once the yarn soaks and gets fully saturated.
I also documented the wrap, pre-Soak, for comparative reasons. Something tells me that I didn’t bring enough mats home and that it is going to grow. I also went back to the original pattern for ‘finished’ length instructions, so I have a point of reference.
I filled Carrie with luke warm water. I hate super cold water, it makes my hands uncomfortable. Definitely avoiding hot water, it is wool after all.
Once I added the wrap, as predicted, I needed to add more water. When the wrap was fully immersed, I swished it around and around, to make sure there was enough water movement to get in every cable, stitch and twist.
Every few minutes I moved both the water and the wrap around.
Swish, splash, wait.
The water is slowly turning green. The overwhelming vinegar smell that lingered while knitting (probably the fixing of the colour during the dyeing process) was finally dissipating, being replaced by the clean fresh scent of Celebration.
If you haven’t swished the water for a while, make sure you do, one last time before taking the garment out. Suds settle on the top of the water and can create residue spots. One last swish and we’re coming out of the water. Oh, I’ve also realized that this is probably a multiple towel project, so I’ve gone to my stash of back-up towels. To the tub.
I carried Carrie to the tub (Get it? Carried, Carrie- It has been a week full of people asking why Carrie is called Carrie and why Phil is called Phil. When I filled Phil with water, he couldn’t hold enough water so I switched to Carrie. Now get it?)
It’s important to note that a good bunch of the time spent in my messy, poorly lit bathroom was gentling squeezing the wrap while it was in Carrie to remove water. You don’t want to lift up the weight of the water in the garment. It will stretch and distort. I was once again surprised how heavy the wrap was when wet, I clearly shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. This morning I was excited that no one was home, I have the bathroom, kitchen and living room mess to myself. Now I wish I had someone else to help with the Soaking. This wrap is getting long and heavy, further reinforcing the need to properly block it. We recommend bribing a friend when soaking a quilt or vintage textiles. I further amend by including large garments.
Towel sandwich. First round of removing water.
As I start to lay out the wrap, my first thought is that it’s never going to end up the size it is supposed to. Then, suddenly, as I begin to line up ribs and tighten up cables, the oscillating forms of the cables start to come to life. Corny, I know, but it’s true. The blocking process is revealing the cables as they rise above the surface of the double seed stitch, turning at every twist. When the cables are cabling, the wrap suddenly becomes narrower, shorter and closer to its desired finished size.
Back to blocking. It is a lovely textured surface, mountains of green, rising in my living room. I can honestly say that I’m both shocked and thrilled as I discover the smooth curves and valleys of the cables I’ve made. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing (which I’m sure you’ve gathered) and I can’t believe how beautifully the garment is taking shape.
It’s obvious that I’m an advocate of Soak-ing and properly finishing knits. It’s not only about the shaping but also about respecting the process and allowing the fibers and the stitches to blossom to their fullest.
As the scent of Celebration Soak fills the air, it’s almost lunch time, and I should go probably give myself a rewarding morning soak, while my wrap gently dries.