Late last year I was approached by Brooke at Sincere Sheep to design a collection of woven projects in the three different weights of her Cormo yarn: fingering, sport, and worsted. The other purpose of this collection was to be able to weave all of the projects on a rigid heddle loom. All three of these patterns were woven solely on a 15" Cricket Loom from Schacht Spindle Company. This collection quickly became a collaboration between me, Sincere Sheep and Jennie the Potter. I noticed a theme before I even started weaving, intersections.
I saw the intersections between me and three other American-made companies, coming together to create something wonderful. Thus was born the Intersections Woven Collection.
The first pattern is the Plaid Bib Scarf; a unique take on a simple scarf. This plaid scarf uses the Cormo Sport Weight yarn, and is a breeze to create. The crocheted details make the buttons pop, and add a bit of structure to the fabric.
The second pattern is the Double or Nothing Cowl, an oversized infinity cowl that is oh so squishy! Made by doubling the yarn in the warp and weft, the fabric created is dense yet pliable and has a ton of visual texture. Sincere Sheep Cormo Worsted adds to this texture and the loft.
If larger projects are more your speed, and shawls are your go-to accessory, then the Intersections Shawl is the project for you! Two panels woven on one warp with Cormo Fingering Weight yarn, and then seamed together, creates a large piece of fabric that drapes beautifully. This project can also be worn as a poncho, utilizing the buttons and clever button hole technique.
I hope you enjoy this collection as much I do. I am so grateful to Sincere Sheep, Jennie the Potter, and Schacht Spindle Company for creating yarn, notions, and tools that helped to make this collection pop. If you have any questions about the patterns or collection as a whole, please contact me.
If you make any of these projects, use the hashtag #benjaminkrudwig on your Instagram posts so I can be sure to see them!
Five months ago I first blogged about this project, designing, weaving, and sewing a Victorian style topcoat. After co-hosting a Victorian make along with Kristin from the Yarngasm podcast, (I didn't finish the coat by October 31st for those keeping score,) I did however end up finishing the fabric, which I talked about in the second part of this blog series.
I learned a ton of lessons while working on this coat, which I will discuss after the image gallery. This coat ended up being about 5 inches shorter than I had planned, but I added a hood and different closures, so it all evens out. Please look at the photos below and then skip to the bottom where I talk about the process, and the lessons I learned!
At first, I was intimidated by this project. I had just woven yards and yards of fabric using a yarn with blend of wool and alpaca; not cheap stuff. I wasn't intimidated by cutting into the fabric, but was terrified of sewing the pattern itself. I think after the weaving, the next part that took the longest in this process was finding a pattern for me to use.
First Lesson: There are not a lot of men's sewing patterns out there, especially for outerwear, and even more so when it comes to Victorian patterns. There was a wealth of patterns for women's patterns, both modern and Victorian.
After realizing that I wasn't going to find a men's Victorian topcoat pattern I was going to have to find a suit-coat pattern and then alter it.
Second Lesson: There are a few suit coat patterns out there, but many of them are pretty expensive. I also learned that I could easily draft my own pattern based on my own measurements. So I decided to find an online tutorial and went to town.
I started by taking my measurements twice, just to be sure that I was going to get a good fit. The drafting process wasn't hard, though I wish I had bought drafting paper. I used pieces of sketching paper taped together which worked just fine in the end, and the resulting pattern pieces are more durable now.
Third Lesson: I used the cutout piece of the arm pattern piece to frame my fabric since it was two-sided to decide which pattern I was going to use for the right-side of the fabric.
Once I cut all the pattern pieces out it was time to move to sewing.
Anytime you work with handwoven fabric I would HIGHLY recommend using fusible interfacing to stabilize your fabric, I decided that my current skills were high enough that I didn't need to do it for this pattern. I decided to use the reverse side of the coat as a finished object as well, but with a punk twist, so a rough finish inside was going to be ideal!
I cut the pattern pieces out of the fabric with a generous 1" seam allowance.
1. I didn't want to screw up and ruin my fabric.
2. This was going to add to the punk look later.
Fourth Lesson: Lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric one more time before cutting. When I added the extra seam allowance this shifted my pattern pieces significantly, so I ended up having to piece together some pieces of fabric in strategic places.
Once I sewed the pieces up, It was just a matter of sewing in darts and finishing the punk side.
Fifth Lesson: I think overall, the lesson I learned from this project was "Be Fearless." I know I have mentioned this before, but when you're about to cut into fabric that took hours of preparation and creation, it means a little bit more. When you have a big idea, go for it with fierce intention.
Read Part One here. Read Part Two here.
As we learned in part one, I am a crazy person. However, I love a challenge, and sewing a Victorian Topcoat out of handwoven fabric is just the challenge to currently keep me going. I started this project in June, and while it is October, I haven't been slacking off, I have just been busy weaving.
I think this is a good time to talk more about the actual process behind my Victoripunk Topcoat, as we got more into the why in part one.
Let's first start with the yarn choice.
I picked out Blue Sky Fibers Extra for this project for a few reasons; I have knitted with it before and enjoyed it, I love alpaca fiber, I had quite a bit of Marsh leftover from a previous project, and I knew it weave up into wonderfully dense and warm fabric.
Next, the weave structure.
Knowing that this was going to be a garment (though it is outerwear) I decided that a twill would give me the flexibility and movement necessary for a comfortable coat. I also needed the twill to achieve the conceptual part of this project. Ivy snakes up the sides of buildings, and I wanted to replicate that look in fabric. The twill made that possible.
The fabric itself is actually quite fascinating. The right and wrong sides look different (which makes sense) but they really do give a completely different effect when looking at them. One side seems to show off the green more, and the other side, the green is more muted. I think I am still going to use the more bold side, but I am not going to make any final decisions until I see it on the mannequin. Another aspect of the fabric that I was not expecting, was that depending on the angle in which you view the fabric, the pattern changes.
If you look at the sketch, the overall effect looks more muted and blended, which will be the case from far away, but up close the fabric will be quite striking.
Stay tuned for part three when we get into sewing.
I have been fascinated by the Victorian era ever since I was a kid. The scientific Golden Age was happening, Industrialism was taking root, and British fashion was an overall romanticized "gothiness". I remember going to an art show at the Metropolitan Museum in 2006 called Anglomania. This was a pivotal moment for me when it came to my understanding of fashion. This exhibit highlighted many eras of British fashion, but I was most drawn to the Victorian and Punk rooms. Each room had original outfits/costumes as well as "re-imagined" modern pieces that drew inspiration from the Victorian era.
This particular exhibit has stuck with me for over 10 years, and continues to influence how I think about fashion. In this edition of what I am going to call "Slow Fashion", I will tackle one of my most ambitious projects yet; a victorian style topcoat made from handwoven fabric.
Over the next few weeks I will be posting various aspects of my design process with this particular garment, and will walk you through all of my successes and struggles,
A huge thanks to Blue Sky Fibers for providing yarn support for this goliath of a project. I will be using their yarn "Extra" in this project in the colorways Fedora and Marsh.
A long time ago...
in a theatre far far away,
Benjamin Krudwig viewed
one of the best movies in his time;
Star Wars IIV - The Force Awakens.
The rebel forces continued
to battle the First Order.
Meanwhile, Benjamin had
many thoughts of textiles from
the Star Wars universe....
There may be movie spoilers in this post for those people who haven't yet seen the newest installment of Star Wars.
In most movies (especially if I have seen them more than once) I am inherently drawn to the costuming and design . What does it say about the character, the time period, the setting? I find this extremely fascinating when it comes to science fiction and fantasy because the whole world is made up from scratch. I like to imagine somewhere in Middle Earth, Asgard, or the ice planet of Hoth that there are textile mills creating the fabrics of the universe.
I find movie empires like The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars have really taken the thought behind costume design to heart, and it shows in the success of how each of those films make audiences feel.
The wealth of imagery in my head concerning the textile industry in Star Wars is as large as the Empire... I think of sturdy Tauntaun shepherds, gathering the undercoat, (I imagine it is much like yak fiber,) taking it to the village and letting the spinners make the yarn who then give the cones of yarn to the weavers, knitters, etc. to make the garments that people wear. I imagine the textile artists in Kamino use some sort of synthetically created and manufactured material for their outfits. The Gungan spinners from Naboo have been taking kelp from their vast seaweed forests and processing it into a lovely plant fiber.
On a more focused level, my head swims with the thoughts of where did this textile come from, and why does this character wear it? What does it all mean?
In Episode VII, the new 'bad guy' Kylo Ren wears the traditional black, donned by many movie baddies, including his grandfather, Darth Vader. What struck me as the most interesting aspect of his regalia, costume, whatever you might call it, was his hood. There were enough close-ups of him during the film for me to get a closer look.
The piece of his outift that was most compelling to me was his hood. This had elements of his personality scattered throughout, and whether or not the costume designer purposefully did this, much of this character is represented by this hood.
Here is a break down of the hood and what it means to me about Kylo Ren.
It's a hood - Though a few Star Wars villains have sported hoods in the past, I like to think that this one holds some significance in the fact that he still has a little Jedi in him.
It's black - He leans towards the dark side, obvious.
There are flecks of silver-grey in the threads - He has hankerings of going toward the light side.
The weave structure is a 2X2 basket weave (overlaid on top of another fabric it appears) - this shows the structured side of him, his need for order.
It's frayed at the ends - his temper frequently gets the best of him and he lashes out. Better yet "He is rough around the edges"
Having been so inspired by this garment, and that I happen to also wear a lot of black and grey, I felt the need to make one myself. So Long story short, I will be going from raw fiber to finished woven hood in a series of 3 blog posts (2 more after this one.)
If you would like to make your own along with me, you will need:
8-10 ounces of Alpaca Fiber - black. I found mine on Etsy, but you can contact a local farm or yarn shop to see what they have in stock.
I chose Alpaca due to my desire to make this project without using dyed fiber. I have wool sensitivities to medium-coarse fiber, however you may choose any fiber you like.
<1 oz of Silver Firestar - this will be used sparingly. I got this from Greenwood Fiberworks
Carding equipment, hand cards would do just fine, but I will be using my Strauch Drum Carder.
A device to spin all of this lovely fiber, I will be using my delightful Schacht Matchless.
A tool to weave the wonderful hood, I will be using a Schacht 15" Cricket Loom.
A sewing machine or a needle and thread. (Black)
Scissors or a Rotary cutter.
Join me in the next post to see the process of spinning the yarn for this project!
Is there anything else you'd like to see me tackle? Let me know in the comments below!
A few weeks ago I was asked to review the new book by Rohn Strong on Crochet Socks!
Of course I obliged and was so thrilled to delve into a world of crochet that I normally don't do. The book is comprised of a few sock patterns to fit different styles and applications. This book is meant for women's socks, so I wouldn't necessarily wear them myself, but as quickly as they all work up they'd make great gifts!
This review will follow the same formula as my other BEnjAMIN reviews.
B - If I saw this book in the store, I would definitely pick the book up, flip through it, and probably put it in my cart. There are enough projects in this book that anyone could find something to love in this book.
Enj - I enjoyed this book immensely. The colorful photographs and designs are fresh, modern, and completely wearable. The charts and images in this book are well-placed and very easy to understand, and are a big help in some of the more complicated designs.
A - There are 12 sock patterns in this book, ranging from the "Basic Sock" to some lace and cable techniques. This book is jam packed with new sock patterns and great crochet techniques, which could easily be translated into other patterns!
M - I plan on altering the basic sock pattern to make a few pairs of my own. I also think these would make great Christmas gifts this year.
I - The most interesting part of this book is the use of traditional lace techniques in the sock patterns. The falling pineapple sock is fascinating, and would make a great spring/summer house sock.
N - I don't make many sock, so I am not sure I NEED this book, but this guide on constructing crochet socks is a must have for anyone who wants an alternative to the knit sock.
Rohn's other books are also great innovative resources for the crocheters out there who are looking for new things to do with their hooks.
This morning (Sept. 22nd, 2015) I had the pleasure of being interviewed on the Yarn Thing Podcast by Marly Bird (show notes can be found here.)
To understand how I got here, we need to rewind a few months. Earlier this year I was contacted by the lovely folks at Stitchcraft Marketing to do a review and project using Bijou Basin Ranch Yarns, and I swiftly said yes and got to work on weaving a tartan scarf.
At Interweave YarnFest, I sauntered over to the Bijou Basin Ranch booth and showed the scarf to the folks working there, and didn't realize until after the encounter (except I knew she looked familiar) that I was talking to Marly Bird, the creative director of Bijou Basin Ranch.
Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and I get an e-mail from Stefanie at Stitchcraft saying that I should contact Marly about her designer dinner at the Summer TNNA ( a few hurried/flurried emails later I was in.) I then made the connection (along with a face-palm) that I had spoken to Marly at YarnFest.
I remember sitting at the designer dinner, looking around at the tables and noticing faces/names that I recognized, and meeting many people who were brand new to me! I realized a beautiful thing, Marly made this all happen. With the help of her friends and colleagues, she had put this dinner on in order to bring people together in a fun night of promos, giveaways, and at the end of the night all of us were friends, colleagues, and contacts.
Marly says she wants to be the Oprah of the fiber industry, and with her trajectory, she is well on her way to being that figure!
Marly wears MANY hats in her life, and one of the hats she wears the most is the cheerleader. Her support of so many people in the industry is a testament to her love for the industry, and that is why I feel so honored to know her, and help her in her quest!
Please check her podcast out as well as her many knit and crochet designs she has published!
Thank you Marly for all that you do!!
The last couple of weeks have been pretty intense, lots of hard work mixed with some designing of a new cardigan pattern. Based off of the Pulsar Shawl, the cardigan will be long with a hood and belt. I am currently using Caron Simply Soft to calculate gauge and make sure the fit is good.
Along with the cardigan, I started a podcast on YouTube called the Fibercast. I hope you enjoy this new venture of mine, and I always accept questions and will answer them in my Fibercast!
Enjoy the first episode below and let me know what you think!
My wife asked me the other day how I keep track of all of the projects that I am working on. This question was coming from the woman who has memorized dozens of arias. I told her that although it may seem like it's all in my head, I have everything written down in a sketchbook.
At any given time, I probably have at least 3-4 projects in progress (usually one per medium) and most if not all are written down in my sketchbook. Many of my ideas actually start out as sketches that I end up mulling over for awhile.
One such pattern is a companion accessory to the Tectonic Cowl. In have now started the process of taking my sketches to the hook. I have chosen my yarn, Dreamy by Anzula, my hook, and now it is swatching time!
Not every project gets a spot in my sketchbook though. Often times I just pick up my needles or hook and start working. If it's a simple hat or scarf, there is no need for any written documentation.
Also, not every pattern in my sketchbook becomes a physical item. Sometimes the idea morphs into something else, or I scrap the idea entirely.
If I could give any advice to new or aspiring designers, it would be to write down as many ideas of yours as possible! Take photos, jot down notes, sketch a little shape; do anything that gets your ideas out of your head and on to paper.
Keep an eye out for the finished pattern,iIt will be available in my Ravelry pattern store!
Share your sketchbook photos with me on my social media (links at the head of the website!) I'd love to see your way of documenting your process!