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.
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!!
Over the next few weeks, I will be taking you on a journey of a handspun project. Keep an eye on the blog as I transform some fiber to a finished project.
Blending the fiber
I love blending fiber together. Something about taking disparate fibers and combining them to create something beautiful. This blending project took me by surprise, as it wasn't completely obvious to me at the time of purchasing all of these fibers. Inspiration struck me when I saw the fibers all together in my stash. I test-blended a small bit of this with my handcarders, spun it and immediately fell in love. A reptilian yarn emerged from my wheel, and I couldn't be happier. Recipe below!
I had 8 ounces of a 75/25 merino/silk blend, 6 ounces of bright yellow tencel (both from Spinning Straw into Gold), 2 ounces of Hand painted bombyx silk (from Eugene Textile Center), and 1/2 ounce of green flash from Fancy Tiger Crafts.
Each batt consists of 1 oz of merino/silk, 3/4 oz of tencel, 1/4 oz of bombyx silk, 1/16 oz of flash.
I blended each batt twice, once to get the fiber on the carder, and a second time to spread the fibers out a little more within the batt.
This fiber is destined to become a four ply yarn, stay tuned!
I have always been fascinated with natural forms; leaves, feathers, rocks, all forms of flora and fauna. The inspiration for this Crown of the Forest knit hat pattern came from the times spent in the forest on hikes picking up various feathers and photographing interesting leaves. While keeping the general form of the feathers, I took away their more organic shape and organized them into a crown. I used the lovely Alpaca blend yarn from Cascade Yarns - Cloud in the color-way Pumpkin. This knit takes only a few hours and is a delight to work up! Enjoy!
Have you ever wondered how to be a more productive and successful maker? Do you want to take your hobby to the next level? If these thoughts apply to you, or if you are just struggling with productivity, the following tips may help you out. These are just 5 of the many things that I have found to be helpful in my career as a crafter.
1. Stay Organized
Having a lot of projects going on can be a good thing, but having a complete and cluttered mess is counter-productive. Having a specific place for every project is a good idea, whether that means separate project bags, bins or totes, is all up to you.
2. Give Yourself a Deadline
If you want to remain successful and continuously be making new things, or if you do the craft-fair circuit, it is imperative that you give yourself a deadline. This doesn't always have to be a hard and fast date, but a general time-line is a good idea. Not only are most of our weeks full of other life events, making a single date deadline can be stressful and disheartening if you miss it. By having a "week-of" deadline, it gives you flexibility to do other things and in general be more relaxed. Having these deadlines gives you momentum, and when you finish something it feels good. You are less likely to finish things if there isn't a reason or deadline.
3. Write Everything Down
Any ideas you might have should go down on paper. This solidifies them in your mind, and gives you something to reference when you embark on your next project.
Project notes are super important, and can be extremely helpful later on down the road if you choose to make another item using the same template, pattern, design, etc. Also, if you are a blogger, this gives you tons of content to post if you want to share your process or patterns.
4. Have a Few Irons in the Fire.
This sounds counter-productive on the surface, but in my experience, I find that I am more productive when I have multiple projects going. I find that if I work too long on a singular project, I get burnt out quickly and end up resenting what I made. When I have a few projects, I am consistently doing something different, and crafting no longer feels like a chore. Sometimes when I feel particularly stuck on one thing, I can bounce to something else for awhile so as not to become too frustrated with that project. I also have figured a problem out by working on another project. The other side of the coin is to make sure you don't take on too many projects and become overwhelmed.
5. Be Flexible
Sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. The important thing is to take it with a grain of salt and move on. Knowing that projects don't always turn out the way you expected ends up allowing you to still feel good about what you have created. By placing harsh expectations on yourself it leads you to being disappointed when you don't meet them, however rare or common that is.
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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!