archives: misc crafts

weaving into the storm

What is it about natural disasters that makes me want to weave? I broke in my 10-inch Schacht Cricket during Hurricane Irene a few years ago, and I haven’t touched it in a while—but I feel as though I’ve only pulled it out during long stretches forced at home. (Let’s not talk about how often I normally have long stretches at home—it’s not as if an incoming storm really changes things!) But the threats of a blizzard—complete with a total subway shutdown and a ban on all cars on roads after 11pm—got me itching to use it again.

pepperknit | woven scarf

This time, I turned to the space-dyed yarn I bought from Jill Draper Makes Stuff while at Vogue Knitting LIVE two weekends ago. I recently saw a few examples of deliberate-pooling woven scarves that were truly gorgeous (this one in particular has me swooning), and I wanted to play with the technique. The colorful skein of Hudson that I got (colorway Deep Breath, Cold Air) was not actually a palindrome skein; two patches of gray were divided by one dark teal and one light. But I went forward, matching the teal sections and the gray sections for the warp. I used this technique and it was quite easy, but I forgot all the steps of warping exactly, and a few strands got quite askew before I started weaving them up (not that anyone would notice).  For my weft I used a solid gray (Mourning Dove) in the same yarn; the result in the color sections is very gridded, and I like it a lot, even if it wasn’t what I’d envisioned happening.

I kept the tension on the warp and the weft rather even, and the end result is maybe a little light and loose—the sproingy yarn didn’t bounce back as much as I thought it would when it was taken out of tension. I really have no clue what I’m doing, but I think I did a good job of keeping my “gauge” even. However, I prefer a heavily beaten look—when the weft is scrunchy in the warp. I think in this case that would have highlighted the weft (solid gray) too much, though, so it’s all well and good that it worked out this way.

pepperknit | woven scarf

I started warping this around 4pm or so the night the storm was coming (I think), and I hemstitched it at around 10pm, including a break to cook and eat dinner (but no other real breaks). I still marvel at how fast weaving can be!

I went the full width of the 13″ loom, and ended up with a scarf 8 inches wide by 64 inches long. Kind of an awkwardly wide scarf but I didn’t want it to be narrow, either. This used up nearly all of each skein of yarn, too, so that was satisfying. The next morning we woke up to find that the blizzard had been all talk and no action; we had a nice good snowfall and some wind but not the three feet of snow that was predicted. I took the scarf with me while we went on a photowalk and set it in the snow to shoot it. Because the snow is so light and fluffy and the temp still so frigid, giving the scarf a good shake removed all the snow from it—and I set it down, snow-free. It was so windy and snowing so hard during the few minutes I was shooting that it ended up nearly covered in snow!

pepperknit | woven scarf


home sweet home

pepperknit | embroidered NYC map

I embroidered this map of the boroughs of New York City for my friend Jodi’s birthday gift last year. I plotted all of the apartments she’d lived in—overly accurately, I might add, by overlaying a Google Map of the points atop my borough map, all in Photoshop. This thread was the closest I had to “Jodi aqua,” a color I’ve always associated with her, and red gave it a pop. This came together quickly, and I’m considering making another for myself!

2014 in review

How is it that two years in a row I declared it the “year of garment sewing,” but I have only one measly finished garment from 2014 to show? Oh well—maybe 2015 is the year? But even if I didn’t make much clothing (in fact, I had an epic failure of a Moss Mini Skirt), I have plenty of finished handmade goodness to show off! Much of it of course is still not blogged—how is it I resolve every year to blog more and then utterly neglect this space by the end of the year? Anyway, I scrolled through my Lightroom and mentally assessed my whole apartment and discovered I’d made a load of things this year!

pepperknit | finished knits in 2014

Let’s talk knitting. Not much, it’s true, given the continued pain I have in my hands. My first magazine cover, though, which was a particular thrill! I wholeheartedly enjoyed knitting Stonecutter, but the more I think about it the more likely I am to give it to my mother, who will wear it proudly when I am likely to ignore it in my sweater drawer. Those squishy monsters are hopefully making some cute babies happy, and though I really didn’t like my Follow Your Arrow upon completion, I wear it regularly! That pillow needs blogging…

pepperknit | finished sewing in 2014

Boy did I sew more quilts than I thought I did. Three full-sized quilts: two for wedding presents, one for us. Two baby quilts (one yet to be blogged, that I’d like to make into a pattern if I could get my act together to do so). Three minis, a set of coasters, and I threw that one garment in here because it’s made of fabric. I’ve been spending the end of the year slashing through my stash, trying to make a dent in the bins that are full to bursting! I am looking forward to making lots more in the coming year, as I think i’ve really got the hang of this quilting thing now. A year ago I was feeling confident but still like a novice; at this point, I think I know my stuff. My technique for basting still needs some work, and as a result I need lots more practice quilting items, but I do think my entry-level sewing machine is at least partly to blame here. It’s time to start saving up for something bigger and better.

pepperknit | finished embroidery in 2014

But what I hadn’t anticipated upon starting this look-back is just how much embroidery I did in 2014. I love how satisfying it is to complete a project; plus it’s so comparatively fast (not like knitting or quilting!). Some of these are the elaborate quilt labels I made, others were just to be framed on their own, and others were part of a group project—they’ll be incorporated into a quilt or wall hanging. My embroidery supplies are in a completely terrible jumble in a Ziploc bag because it seemed like a lark of a craft, but it seems I do it a lot more than I thought, so I ought to get that organized. Tucked in the corner there are two of the onesies I made for the baby shower of my friend; these are complete no-sew projects that are great activities for a shower!

I don’t think I can express more strongly how surprised I was at my turnout this year when I gathered all the photos together today. Before I figured out how much I’d knit, I started to write my paragraph about it and I could think of only two things off the top of my head. Then I started actually looking, and I found that I finished 9 things!? One of them a highly complex cabled sweater? Yeah, I knit quite a bit. How did I not crochet anything, though?

Here’s to more making in 2015! It’ll be a #yearofmaking!

les monts verts!

It was my friend Beth’s birthday, and never did you meet a more loyal Vermonter. She goes home whenever she can, but I figured she could use a little reminder when she’s in New York, too.

state of vermont embroidery

So I embroidered her a little Vermont, with a heart over her hometown. It was a simple little stitching project, but I must say this is the best satin stitch I’ve ever achieved! I carefully outlined the water first, then worked the satin stitch over that boundary. I suppose I’ve seen that that is the “correct” way to do it but I confess I haven’t always. I held the floss double for it but it didn’t need a lot of passes to look really filled in. I freehanded the heart and it came out pretty good, too. The frame is 3×5, and I sized the state’s outline to fit within that dimension.

state of vermont embroidery

personalizing a purchased embroidery pattern

So this FO is basically one big inside joke—forgive me! But it’s a great example of how you can take a pattern and personalize it for your intended recipient. I’ve actually done so twice with this lion by Penguin & Fish, who normally only says “ROAR.”

lion embroidery

One of my favorite coworkers, Emily (who I used to be in the same knitting group as!), is prone to some, shall we say, theatrics. If frustrations are reaching a tipping point, she will relatively calmly say “ROAR!” to express her anger. Sometimes she is so annoyed about a person she’ll call them “a dumb dummy.” And for some inexplicable reason, she’s always saying “honk” or “hello honk” when answering the phone. And sometimes she gets this urge to spill water on the floor. Perhaps I have painted a picture of a mentally unstable person? No, it’s just Emily, one of the funniest, kindest people I know. For her last day at the office, Beth and I cooked up a customized lion embroidery. He’s saying all her favorite phrases—and even he couldn’t resist tipping that glass of water out. But look, he’s just as sweet and calm as you’d expect.

I stitched it onto Kona Snow and used a cheap embroidery hoop and found various flosses in my stash, so this guy came together really quickly and easily. When I made this pattern once before, from the kit, it was for a friend I met in yoga class. We eventually joined a studio together, then started seeing Iyengar senior instructor Joan White together. So when she was expecting, I embroidered this little guy with a modification: I stuck out his tongue and wrote “simhasana” below; that’s the Sanskrit for Lion Pose. I have only a photo I took with my phone of this and I can’t even find it now! (I did this years ago.)

Who will get a little lion next?