101 things to do with Soak | 018 Fabrics. Quilting. Pre-washing.

Author: Jacqueline

Truth be told, I love it more than yarn. I love looking at it, cutting it, designing with it, wearing it and resting under it. My mom was a clothing designer. I grew up with fabric. I’ve recently acquired an exceptional stash of Liberty of London fabrics from a recent trip to England.


My first thought was to introduce these limited edition fabrics from the V&A collection to my stash immediately, so the various prints, colours and textures could get to know each other. My fabric stash enjoys new friends. I also had a few select acquisitions from the Liberty store itself but I wanted to include some of them in my summer quilting projects. I knew what had to be done. They all needed to be unfolded from their neatly packed pile and given a good Soak.

There are some basic rules to pre-washing quilt fabrics. We’ve talked about pre-washing fabrics for textiles in general, but here, we’re talking quilting specifically. The liberty fabrics I bought at the V&A suggested cold water wash, and discouraged drying, ‘do not tumble dry’.

First, if you are making a quilt that is going to be used, like this one which was a wedding present for my cousins in the UK, at some point it is going to be washed.
Quilt1

Second, if a giant quilt gets wet, it is likely to end up in the dryer, regardless of instructions. So, I recommend pre-washing and drying all fabrics.

I did wash and dry my liberty prints, fear not, I’ll share my secrets.

First, unfold all your fat quarters, yardage and fabric.

fabrics

It is essential that the pieces be loose and relaxed when they go into the wash.

unfold fat quarters

If you have (or have access) to a front loader, I would suggest using it. The agitation caused by the upright machines does add a bit of roughness to the washing (and it tends to increase fraying).

Use cold water, and of course, Soak.

Nothing too crazy happens in the washing machine. Sometimes, you get a bit of fraying at the edges, but mostly you just end up with a tangled bunch of fabric swatches. It is imperative to separate and loosen all the pieces again, before they go in the dryer.

Drying is an important part of the washing process, arguably, the most important. For my machine at home, 6-9 minutes on medium heat is enough to dry cotton. I highly recommend not leaving the room during drying. Your goal, when drying fabric is to remove most of the moisture, while leaving the fabric slightly damp so you can take it out, flatten it and keep it from wrinkling. Clearly I left my liberty print too long, it wrinkled. I am not looking forward to the arduous ironing that will follow. Every fabric and every machine commands different drying times. Once again, grab your favorite craft magazine, say, the summer issue of Studio magazine, featuring Soak and hang out in the laundry room. Your fabric will love you for it.

wrinkles

I remove a few pieces at a time, fold them in half and flatten them out. The continuous movement and heat from the dryer keeps the cotton soft and wrinkle free. If the dryer finishes and the cottons remain still, they will wrinkle. I suspect Liberty suggests not drying, to avoid wrinkling and the countless hours that follow, should one choose to try to iron the wrinkles out.

Here is my stack of fat quarters after I took it out of the machine. Note the small amount of fraying that occurred along the edges.

fraying

When I get my fabrics back upstairs, I drape them over chairs and other firm objects, to air dry.

drying

Once dry, my fabrics were transferred to the stash where they took great comfort in all the other prints. Some were cut up for my summer project, as I mentioned, and more importantly, the rest are ready to go on a moments notice. There’s nothing worse than wanting to start a new quilt and knowing you have to do laundry first. That’s how unwashed fabric ends up in quilts. It’s never pretty, so wash new fabrics immediately for safe keeping.

Distracted by the liberty prints? Find them in Canada at Hyggeligt. Your local home for liberty prints. Both online and in a store front in London, Ontario, Hyggeligt is a haven for fantastic prints. I’m grateful that some of my chosen prints can be found there. I will never be without liberty again. Oh, and if you pass through, they also now stock Soak!
libertyend

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It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 20. Loop.

Author: Jacqueline

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!


Today, as we set up our booth at TNNA, the National Needle Arts Association tradeshow, in Columbus Ohio, we celebrate Loop, in Philadelphia. Our first ever Soak retailer in the USA. Way back when, May 24, 2006 to be exact, Soak crossed the border for the very first time. It was just before our first TNNA, in June of that same year.

Loop window

Who knew that four years later we would be sponsoring parties, working with Ravelry, Louet and other such spectacular companies, dominating the wash category in the knit world? We are thrilled with how our business has grown over the years, as well as how our beloved customers covet our brand.

If you are reading this in or on your way to Columbus, visit us at booth 851. If you are online, check out Loop, as well as their sister store next door, spool. It’s my Mecca, a yarn shop next to a sewing shop, both with friendly staff and great finds!

Craig, owner extraordinaire, has a fantastic blog as well. loop store
I love my Loop bag. I use it for going to the market and going to work. It’s lovely and lively. It always reminds me of how hard we work to build our business and just how lucky we are to work with such great people.

Loop

Not a Soak retailer yet? Get in touch and we’ll hook you up. Would you like to recommend your LYS to us? Email us today!

Be sure when rummaging online not to confuse Craig’s Philadelphia gem with the other Loop, Soak stockist. Loop is also the name of a lovely London, UK based shop but that’s a story for next week.

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The final countdown. A step by step guide to blocking.

Author: Jacqueline

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)

First things first, sew in all the ends. One day I’ll figure out what to do with all the ends. Lovely scraps of green.
the extra ends

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.
tools for blocking

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.
preSoak

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.

15 minutes to Soak. Just enough time for breakfast. Ruby guarded the pattern and the pins.
1ruby

Every few minutes I moved both the water and the wrap around.

Swish, splash, wait.

Breakfast.
breakfast

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.

moretowel

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?)
using carrie for blocking

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.

Post soaking, pre-drying and blocking. Finished measurements 18” x 68”. Any bets on whether I’ll get there?
post soak, pre block

Towel sandwich. First round of removing water.
towel sandwich
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.
1postsoak2
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.

drying

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.

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It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 19. Melt.

Author: Jacqueline

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!


There has been great debate about whether this blog is about just Soak, or great products in general. Is it commercial, or personal? Is it promotional or creative exploration? Well, we’re not ready to commit either way, but we feel that anything that inspires us enough to share should be included.

Sometimes it is about Soak, sometimes our customers, sometimes, like today, brilliant design, merchandising and products in totally unrelated fields. Today, I bring you, Melt.

While in London (yes, there’ll be several posts about great British discoveries), we discovered, at Liberty of London in the ‘confectionery department’, Melt chocolates. More specifically, hot chocolate lollipops.  A stick of perfectly square chocolate, wrapped in vividly coloured papers, filled with deliciousness.  Single origin hot chocolate blocks, as they are called. Hand made in their own kitchen.

Directions: swirl the lollipop in steeped milk and enjoy. How decadent.

A few steps from Portobello Road in a posh neighbourhood in Notting Hill, we found a Melt retail store. There were bars of chocolate, truffles and other caramel treats in the most perfectly elegant space.

There was even a Melt bike for carrying chilled bundles of deliciousness around town.

As I was leaving with my perfectly lovely bag filled with hot chocolate lollipops, I couldn’t resist photographing the shop, to share it with you. From brand to bar, Melt is a true example of a leading company. Check them out; we hope you’ll be as inspired as we were. Oh, and yes, the hot chocolate was delicious!


It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 18: Part 2, Feast of Fabric.

Author: Jacqueline  

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!


IMG_4212

Katherine called it the Mother Ship. Some refer to it as Mecca. You may know it as Liberty of London. This London-based department store is, in my opinion, the perfect store. I could live there (on the fourth floor, in modern antiques/home textiles to be exact). I would venture to the second floor for cosmetics, linens and art deco printed towels and go to the ground floor for sweets, garden accessories and an endless supply of scarves. 
IMG_4201

Most importantly though, I would spend time on the fifth floor, in the haberdashery. Four walls. One yarn, one fabric, one crafts, and one of books and trinkets. An endless wall of Liberty prints is truely my quilting dream come true. I bought six half yards of decadent fabrics as well as an assortment of cotton hankies and scarves.IMG_4203 

There’s a Rowan concession, filled with Amy Butler fabric, Rowan yarns and knitters who demo yarns and books all day long. They can knit on the job, but they can’t sit. One lovely lady told us it took three months for her arms and back to adjust to knitting while standing up.  Best of all, when we talked of our Soak travels, they had heard of us! Fancy that. 

More London updates upon my return. I’ll be flying home when this post goes live. I hope my fabric stash will accept my new Liberty prints with the same enthusiasm with which they were purchased. I can’t wait to get them home.


101 things to do with Soak | 016 When the tag says “wash separately”

Author: Ngoc

Don’t you love when the tag says “wash separately”? Throwing it in with the rest of your laundry could result in excess dye staining the rest of your clothing, but washing it alone in the machine just seems wasteful. This is my dilemma with red shirts. I love red t-shirts. I don’t love how many of them run the first time you wash them.


I have a cousin who only likes fans and vacuums. ‘Likes’ is a fairly modest word, obsessed might be more suitable. He’s loved them since he was 3 (that was almost 10 years ago) and carries them everywhere. He lives in the States and every time he comes to visit, you can be sure that he’ll bring along at least 3 fans and a vacuum. You can also count on the fact that he’ll vacuum your home when he visits. When he walked down the aisle at my aunt’s wedding as a ring bearer, he had a pillow in one hand and a fan in the other. He called and informed me that he’d be coming to visit on his birthday. So what do you get a kid who only loves 2 things? Well I decided to get him t-shirts with pictures of vacuums and fans on them.
My aunt and uncle modelling the shirts. 

I didn’t want his mom to curse me later on if she accidentally threw the brand new red shirt in with the rest of his laundry and turned everything pink. So I handwashed with some Soak to remove most of the excess dye and give it a nice light aquae scent. It took me about 4 washes before the water stopped coming out bright red. 

Even after the second rinse, the water was still coming out bright red. This could have resulted in many pairs of pink tinted socks.

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It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 17: Mission accomplished. Well, the first half.

Author: Jacqueline 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!


I’ve travelled across the Atlantic to see the Quilt Exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England. This morning, we started off at Quilts 1700-2010. What a way to start the day. The exhibition includes historical work created in the UK from eighteenth century patchwork through to modern times. My favorite piece was a quilt made entire of wool by a tailor, James Williams, of Wrexham, Wales, 1842-52. He, yes he, used left over pieces of wool from his tailor shop and spent over 18 years making innovative quilts.  Following the exhibit I went to the shop to secure a stash of limited production, reproduction fabrics made especially for the show. Needless to say, my bag was full. 

 

I bought fat quarters galore, and don’t worry dear quilting friends, you know who you are, I bought fat quarters and treats for you too.  We bought one copy of the show catalog, which I’ll surely bring to the next Quilt Sunday

Incidentally, I’ve also been photographing inspirational patterns as I come across them on my travels. A new sketchbook is surely in the works… but that’s another story. 

 The second half of the journey you ask? Liberty of London, on Thursday. 


First stop, London.

Author: Jacqueline


Dear friends,
Welcome to London. I have arrived in the most beautiful city.

We’ve explored a few areas and here are some highlights. The tube is both convenient and stylish, carrying us around town with ease and grace.
Tube 1

I spent a day with Alice, our new UK National Account Manager, 

seeing lovely architecture and I have once again found my passion for textures and reflections. 

The rain has stopped for the week and the sun is up in London.

Rain 2


Dear Karyn and Chris,
While our field trip last week to Brimfield Mass was exceptional, I strongly suggest that next year we go to Brick Lane and Spitalfields Markets in London.

The antiques were exceptional,

the food was extraordinarily tasty and colorful,

and the people were dressed with unparalleled style.


Dear Jenn,
While the style is lovely, the undergarments are even better. I’ve secured an article from the London Observer on why UK bra sizes have shifted so significantly in recent times, and have once again visited Tabio my favorite Japanese hosiery shop.


Dear Amy Singer,
I have stumbled across the Duke of Uke. Here are the photos, they look forward to your visit.


Next stop,visits with our London retailers. Have a great day, wherever you are.


101 things you can do with Soak | 015 Sequins

Author: Ngoc

Shiny sparkly flashy sequins. There’s just something about sequins that calls to me. I’m attracted to them the same way an insect moves towards that pretty blue light.


I’ll walk into a store and just naturally gravitate towards things that sparkle and shine. No matter how tacky the piece is, I’ll pick it up and whisper to myself, “ooooo pretty!” Now a lot of people avoid buying sequined apparel, or buy it and never wear it because of the hassles involved with washing it afterwards. Well I’m here to tell you to stop holding back!

I tried washing a few different sequined shirts in Soak and they all came out beautifully. I checked the care tags and they all said that you could hand wash in cold water or dry clean. I’d recommend checking your tags for instructions but if it can get wet, then it can be washed in Soak. I tested several different shirts made of different materials. I had silk, polyester, cotton, and sheer chiffon.

I filled my basin with cool water and left my darks and lights to soak separately. Sometimes the sequins are not sewn on tightly so being able to leave it to soak without all the extra agitation helps to keep the sequins on your clothing, where they belong.

Squeeze gently to remove excess water. Be careful to not squish or bend any of the sequins. Lay flat or hang to dry. Avoid the dryer as the high heat can melt, distort or discolor the sequins.


It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 16: Have hat, will travel.

Author: Jacqueline

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!


It is a hectic Friday at the Soak office. I leave tonight for the UK. While the main purpose of our trip is pleasure (fantastic family wedding in a castle!), I’m also meeting up with Alice Yu our new National Account Manager, UK for the yarn market. We’re really excited to have Alice join us as part of our team.

While there, we’re planning on a visit to Loop, where we’ll be hanging out with owner Susan Cropper. We’ll be bringing treats for the grand opening of their new shop on June 12- on Camden Passage, in Islington, London. Their new address, in case you are in town after June 12th, will be 15 Camden Passage, Islington, London N1 8EA.

I’ll also be meeting Robynn, of the extraordinary shop Purlescence, as well as the ladies from the make lounge. How exciting! I’m sure there will be many other stops (Liberty of London, V&A museum) that will delight my senses and satisfy my need to rummage through textiles and other fun finds.

Speaking of rummaging, back to the above mentioned wedding. I’ll be sporting my favorite navy and white dress and shoes, only this time adding a bit of British flair to the outfit with my new (and lovely) hat.

I found this and other fine works of millinery last weekend when Karyn, Chris and I trekked to Brimfield Massachusetts for the Brimfield Antique Market. We walked through miles of antiques, textiles and treasures to find unique items and treats.

Sometimes a hat box is better than a bag. This striped one is the perfect way to protect my new hats, one of which is already packed away for travels.