It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 23. Literally bagged.

It’s Friday and I am literally bagged. I have a summer cold, so I’m going home.


Have a great long weekend, celebrating Canada Day or Independence Day, if you are, wherever you are. If not, try to sneak in a long weekend this summer, the extra day off is sure to cure my cold, it could do you some good too.
See you next week. Sniff, sniff, cough, cough.

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It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 22. Loop. London.

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!


While in London, we visited a myriad of beautiful shops. One such shop was Loop. Loop has been working hard in the last month as they have moved into a beautiful bigger shop at 15 Camden Passage, Islington (right around the corner from Angel tube).

They had their opening party last Saturday with great success. When Susan opened the doors to the new shop at 11am, she was greeted by 150 wonderful customers cheering and clapping.  the line

While their previous shop was lovely, the new shop boasts several floors, workrooms and equally brilliant neighbors.loop camden paassage 3 Loop also has a booming online business. We enjoyed browsing the shop for vintage buttons, yarns and magazines alike. I love the extensive use of the word Haberdashery in the UK. It is highly underused here in Canada. Seriously, where, here, would you ever find this phrase? ‘Pompom kits, olivewood buttons and knitting Nellys are just a part of the huge range of haberdashery available’. Soak will now be part of this great shop, both in its online shop and retail outlet. It’s no surprise I left the shop with a cute bag and some fab finds. That’s the joy of travel.

Loop is also sponsoring the opening night party of Knit Nation, a UK based knit event occurring this summer. If anyone can figure out how I can go back to the UK for this event, do let me know! More on that another day.


It’s Friday and I’m bagged. Week 21. The DryCast

Author: Chris

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!


Two weeks ago today I rolled my ankle, and with nothing to hold onto, I fell.  I fell hard and broke my right ankle.  It happened suddenly and remains a blur.
castdrawing

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.
CastTub
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.


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!