Thursday, July 17, 2014

Big yarny events

There are three multi-day events happening yet this summer. I knew about one, but the others came from the Northern Lights Knitting Guild's newsletter.

The soonest is a convention called The Knit and Crochet Show, sponsored by the Crochet Guild of America and the Knitting Guild Association. It runs July 23-27 in Manchester, NH, with lots of classes, shopping, meet-ups and other events. Pre-registration is closed, but you can still fill out the registration form in advance to speed things up at the door. It's hard to say what the cost is because all the pieces cost separately; if all you want to do is shop for a day and you're not a CGOA or KGA member, it's just $5 (if you are a member, it's free).

Next up is Vermont Knit and Fiber Camp, August 8-11 at Kettle Pond Campground in Groton State Forest, about an hour mostly north from White River Junction. This is actually a camp; the campground has lean-tos, outhouses, and a hand-pump well. Because of that, though, the cost is low: the full three day stay runs $17.50 per person, including campsite registration and s'mores money. Knitters, crocheters, spinners, and anyone who does anything else with yarn or wants to learn how are welcome. It's basically a chance to get away and do your craft, though there will be a yarn/tools swap and Friday potluck dinner. (If this sounds good to you except for the camping part, there will be another retreat in February in a lodge.)

Finally, retreats all about knitting: Beth's Vermont Retreats with Beth Brown-Reinsel and Marilyn King. There are two, each held in the Dutton Farmhouse in Dummerston, VT (fifteen minutes north of Brattleboro), August 14-17 and August 21-24. Each costs $500 and includes classes in Scottish Sanquhar Gloves and the Danish Nattrøjer.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Requiem for the projects I will not be completing

There are two types of projects: the ones we finish and the ones we don't.

Like all these jokes, this is both an oversimplification and a truth. We all have projects that sound so good in the abstract but somehow never get completed. Or even started. The ones we carry around like baggage: Someday I'm going to... The ones that nag at us with their presence. The dreams in our head that clutter the path for the projects that we can complete.

So this post is my chance to send some of these projects on their way and thank them for coming. I've upgraded the storage and work surfaces in my studio and while I have lots more space than I did, I only have room for the projects I will actually do. Here is what I'm sure is only the first list of projects that I won't be completing.

Project: Stitched, woven basket out of newsprint paper.

Why I like it: Trash to treasure. This is a major theme of many of my projects and interests. The whole Yankee thing of using what you have to fill a need. And cute storage, ta boot. How cool would it be to have awesomely useful baskets made from IKEA packaging I already had on hand! So tempting! 

Why it won't work: I just have no need for that kind of storage right now.

And so it goes: this project may come around again, but for now, I'm letting it go.

Project: Baskets made from rolled magazines/IKEA instruction manuals/catalogs.

Why I like it: Trash to treasure, cute storage, stuff on hand.

Why it won't work: Sure, I could make all my studio storage out of this stuff. I need boxes for all the cubbies of my new storage system. But stuff needs to be stored by next week and I have a family to take care of and a house to clean. So it's purchased boxes for me.

And so it goes: Life as a parent and person who loves magazine subscriptions mean that I'll always have a ready supply of material for this one. Maybe someday the stars will align and I'll be ready to do it. Perhaps when my daughter goes off to college in 10 years we can make things from all those school brochures.

Project: Bowls made of shredded magazines/IKEA instruction manuals/catalogs.

Why I like it: Trash to treasure, cute storage, stuff on hand. (At least I'm consistent.) Back when I was running the catalog fundraisers at my daughter's school, I was tempted to create beautiful art from all the extra catalogs, envelopes and papers. So very Pinteresty and a sly kick at the fundraisers that encourage you to buy overpriced junk to support your child's public education. Never happened. I'm sure I could use an attactive bowl on my bookshelf/dresser/coffee table. [Oooh! I do need a bowl for my night table.] [Ahem!] [Sigh.]

Why it won't work: time and need. Night table bowl notwithstanding.

And so it goes: Yep, this one won't quite die yet. A bowl is a small project. Maybe it will get done during summer craftiness. But it's last on the list. I have bigger fish to fry.

Project: Alabama Chanin clothing

Why I like it: These clothes are stunningly beautiful. I enjoy hand embroidery and the idea of sewing a garment entirely by hand. And I like the idea of a long-term project like this for trips.

Why it won't work: As beautiful as these clothes are, they're not my style. An they're an enormous amount of work. I think a car/plane project should be something I'm capable of finishing in a season. Something small that will fit in a carry-on bag. Plus I just can't seem to get around to buying supplies for a project and the kits are more than I'd like to pay.

And so it goes: I do love hand sewing so I will probably use the patterns as inspiration in other projects.

Project: A memory quilt made out of my daughter's old clothing

Why I like it: I've been saving my favorites of my daughter's clothing for years in the hopes of making a memory quilt. (But stay tuned, I'm learning and will be teaching a couple of classes at the Sew-op this year.)

Why it won't work: Great idea but lots of knits. And all are so different it's tough to work them all in to one quilt. And it's a big project for a first quilt. Maybe I will work bits into future quilts so each quilt I make has a little piece of my daughter's babyhood but no designated memory quilt. (oooh, that's actually a great idea... Sort of a signature... Always in the same place. Hmmmm.)

And so it goes: I've got a plan now for all those baby clothes and I think it will be a nice way of spreading around the memories.

So there's my list. Say your own farewells to projects in the comments.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

E-Textiles and other July events

All across Vermont, libraries are going to have STEAM events this summer. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, and it's the usual STEM with a creative twist. There's one class relevant to this blog by location and content: E-Textiles at the Quechee Library, July 26, 10 AM to 1 PM. It's for kids and families, best for middle school and up, and combines sewing with circuit design to incorporate LEDs into fabric. For more about the class, see the STEAM-e-zine; for information about signing up, visit the Quechee Library page. If you are further afield in Vermont, the STEAM-e-zine has an interactive map of programs all over the state.

What about other happenings? Many if not most of the Artistree classes from the previous listing are still ahead of us.

AVA Gallery's fabric doll making course (for children age 5-8, July 21-25, 1-4 PM) is still open. For more information and registration visit the member listing or the nonmember listing and scroll down a bit.

Some of the upcoming League of NH Craftsmen classes have filled; here are the ones still open:
  • Cloaks and Shawls (and armor) summer camp for ages 8-10, July 21-25, 9 AM-noon
  • The Wonderful World of Color Captured on Fabric summer camp for ages 8-10, July 28-August 1, 1-4 PM (one place left as of this writing)
  • Transforming (t-shirts into other items) summer camp; ages 8-12: August 4-8, 1-4 PM; ages 8-10: August 18-22, 9 AM-noon
  • Suminigashi (marbled dye technique) for adults, Saturday August 9, 2-5 PM
See the mixed media class page for Suminigashi and the summer camp section of the children's classes page for the rest.

The Upper Valley Sew-op has reduced hours in July and will be closed for the month of August except for a "yard sale" August 1-2 (more on that closer to the date). Most offerings in July are Open Hours, the free drop-in times to come use the Sew-ops tools and materials. Those occur every Wednesday afternoon 1-3 and two Saturday mornings 10-noon: the 12th and 26th. On Saturday the 19th 10-noon there is a kids' class for ages 7 and up: Make a Chalkboard Place Mat. For the description and a registration form visit the the Co-op's calendar page.

Friday, June 27, 2014

July's Craft Challenge: Tee Shirt Rehab

Welcome to second UV Craft Challenge. We are inspired by Just Crafty Enough's Iron Craft challenges to create our own. Here at Upper Valley Fiber Crafts we host a quarterly challenge for anyone to join in. Sometimes there will be a theme and sometimes there will be a specific craft. We'll post our own interpretations of the challenge here at the blog and at the end of the month we'll have a round-up for you to show off your project.

Summer is here and school is finally out. It's probably safe to swap your wintery woolens for summery tees. Each season I inevitably find that time in storage has not been kind to at least one tee. Maybe a grease stain magically appeared, or a tear, or it's too worn to be worn. Or maybe it's just too boring. A quick Google search or glance at Pinterest will show you oodles of ideas for making a tee shirt wearable again.

For this month's challenge I'd like you to choose a tee shirt to rehab and turn it into something wearable or usable by the end of the month. There are four categories of techniques you can use to transform your tee.
  • Alterations (make the tee shirt fit better or differently) 
  • Decorations (embelishments) 
  • Repurpose as a different garment 
  • Repurpose as a different object 

Here are some ideas to get you started:


Take an oversized shirt and alter it for style and fit.
Or change the neckline.


You could use this fabric dot patch technique or paint to strategically cover stains or mended holes. Many dots make the design look intentional.
Or copy a high-end tee. There's also an opportunity here to hide stains and mends.

Repurpose: New Garment

Like a cute headband.
Here's a cute toddler dress.

Repurpose: New Object

Make a cozy for your morning cup of tea.

Be sure to check out my Tee Shirt Rehab Pinterest page as well. I have many great ideas pinned that contain dead-end links but the pinned picture contains enough info to give you an idea and get you started.

We'll be posting our own ideas for this challenge. Post a comment if you will be following this challenge. I can't wait to see what you come up with.

P.S. This was once offered as a Sew-op workshop but garnered little interest. Reply in the comments if you'd like to attend a live class on this topic.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quilting field trips

If you want to see some lovely quilts, there are two major events within day-trip distance.

The Vermont Quilt Festival is this weekend in Essex Junction, up near Burlington. There will be exhibits and classes on quilting skills, designing, and specific quilt patterns. The festival is open Friday and Saturday 9-6 and Sunday 9-3, and costs $12 for one day plus $10 for each additional day. Check out their website for all the details.

For looking only, you can visit the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which has a special exhibit until July 27 of the Pilgrim/Roy collection of quilts. The exhibition page has a slideshow of some of the quilts, which in person are accompanied by descriptions of the visual effects and aspects of color theory they exemplify (though these are historical quilts, made for household use). I'm intrigued by the inclusion of a section called "Optical Illusions."

If you go (or have been) let us know what you think!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Participating in UVFC

Every fiber crafter in the Upper Valley has a different perspective, different interests and different expertise. Upper Valley Fiber Crafts aims to be a place to share those perspectives, interests, and expertise for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone. To that end, here are six ways to share with other crafters via UVFC - consider this your invitation!

On the Blog:
  • Guest post or join up as a regular contributor (more on this below).
  • Send us tips about upcoming events or ideas for posts you'd like us to write.
  • Comment on posts: especially when we have guest posters, let them know you appreciate their contribution.

On the Lists:
  • Add your blog to our blogroll (in the sidebar below the archive list). As long as fibercraft is in your posting mix, we'd love to have you.
  • Send us information for our Fiber Craft Location page: shops for craft materials, groups that gather on a regular schedule to craft together, and places that teach classes are all there.
  • Add to our Skills for Hire page: this is for shops and individuals who provide services, from alterations to professional knitting to scissors sharpening to private craft lessons.

You can easily get in touch with us via the contact form in the sidebar.

More on Guest Posting

We welcome any number or regularity of posts. Want to write a month-long series of weekly posts? A single post? A monthly column? Five posts a year? We are happy to have all of these. Contact us through the form in the sidebar. If you have specific topics in mind, include them, but if you don't know exactly what to write about (or, perhaps, how to write about the topic you have in mind) we will help you formulate your ideas.

There are many kinds of posts you could contribute. Here's an incomplete list:
  • Reviews: your favorite books, techniques, or materials, or a useful resource online.
  • Event announcements or recaps: festivals, fairs, sales, craft markets, classes....
  • Profiles: of fellow crafters, crafting groups, shops, educational establishments, etc.
  • Tutorials: for projects or techniques.
  • Sightings and stories: such as yarn bombing, fiber-based art, or tales of glee or woe about crafting.

There are really only two cautions:
  • Be constrictive in your criticism: reviews should be honest, but remember this blog is for celebrating all of the fibercraft happening in the Upper Valley.
  • Posts are not sales pitches: If you are selling handmade crafts, we'd like to know about it, but make it more than an advertisement.

Tell your fellow crafters what you know!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Get Scrappy

First, there's still plenty of room in my skirt drafting class, June 14th from 10-12, Upstairs at the Sew-op at the Upper Valley Food Co-op. You'll learn how to draft your own pattern and sew a basic a-line, elastic or drawstring waist skirt. It's an easy and fun class. It helps if you've had our Basic Sewing class or have similar experience. You can sign-up by the registers in the Co-op.

Scrap Busting

Every project creates scraps. Even the most carefully designed layout will result in scraps. And thread scraps are also unavoidable. Some professional crafters even sell their scraps. So what can be done with all those scraps?

Very Small Scraps

Visitors to the Sew-op may have noticed there are special buckets to collect very small fabric and thread scraps. It's partly for tidyness and convenience, but also that we could potentially do something with those scraps. Back before polyfil those scraps would be saved and used as stuffing for a pillow or doll or other stuffed thingy. Sawdust was also used as stuffing and while that is a fiber, it's not under this blog's umbrella. (Anyone know the expresion about feeling so worn out your sawdust is leaking from your stitches?) Anyway, at home I save those fabric and thread scraps in a box and I almost have enough for a small stuffie. Like maybe this one, a turtle pin cushin that is also made from scrap fabric. It makes for a lumpier look but it can be charming.

Larger Scraps

Larger scraps, let's say at least 1 inch square, can be used in many ways. 

Qulting them together to create a sort of fabric is an easy one and works with all shapes and sizes.

Scraps make great patches.
photo credit: kellyhogaboom via photopin cc

These little keychains are adorable and use very small scraps.

And kids will happily make use of any sized scrap. I used to make doll clothes from the 2"x2" fabric swatches my grandma used to to get. She lived on a farm in SD and ordered all her fabric by mail.

Still Larger Scraps
Once you have a piece of fabric about 3 or 4 inches square there are all sorts of small projects you can create.

You can make fabric rope from scraps

A cute, scrappy bracelet

Beanbag book ends are a creative idea

Yarn Scraps

I don't knit or crochet, but of course those crafts also create scraps. Yarn and floss scraps can be saved as stuffing, used in kid projects, etc.

Or to make carrots

Check out my Pinterest board devoted to scrappy projects for more ideas. What do you do with your fabric scraps?