Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Etsy Fashion - Malu Leggings

I love these printed leggings by Malu! This one-woman company is constantly churning out a great product, and I only hope to own a pair someday. I am especially fond of the leggings with birds on them, but, of course, I am a total leggings and stockings and hosiery addict, so there's no surprise that I would love things from this shop.

In addition to being handmade, these leggings also come in extra-long lengths, some of them dipping well past your ankle and worn on the arch of your foot with super-cute ties. I love this style since it actually allows you to wear thick leggings in the winter with your ballet flats without having to rock the sock-and-flats look that I wear so very, very often. Too often, maybe.

Monday, August 30, 2010

DIY - Make Your Cat a Fancy Collar

I have noticed, quite recently, that the collars they portray as 'cat collars' are really dog collars in disguise. Yes, they're supposed to withstand the scratching and the outdoor romping that some cats do, but my cat, Thusa, is pretty darn pampered. She doesn't go outside. She gets flea medication when it's required. Most of the time, she's found sleeping in a sun patch on a plush pillow. Somehow, her old, green, tatty collar doesn't seem to properly convey how spoiled this cat is.

I wasn't too keen on buying a new collar, especially when the hardware on this one was still good, so I decided to make one! I turned it into a how-to, so that if you have a pampered, spoiled cat -- or your house pet just needs a little more crafty flair -- you'll be able to make your own, and recycle the plastic parts of your old collar.

Step 1: Gather Supplies
The first thing you'll need is, of course, your pet's old collar. If you're getting them new tags, go ahead and purchase these, so that you have them around. Thusa didn't need new tags, she just needed a new band, but I did take the opportunity to get some kind of smudge off of the 'Home Again' yellow tag.

Other than your pet's tag, you'll need a piece of fabric roughly 11" wide, and more than three inches tall. I used one that was 10.5" wide and 6.5" tall. It was a scrap I had left over from a quilt I made. You will also need straight pins, measuring tape (obviously), sewing machine thread in a coordinating or complimentary color, and some kind of marking chalk/pen/pencil. In addition, it's good to have a very sharp pair of scissors, since you will be cutting through the heavy-duty polyester of your pet's old collar.

Step 2: Measuring and Hardware Removal
For this step, take the collar off your pet and do not alter its size at all - measure the length as is, and write it down. Thusa's collar was 7"; I measured from the point that the buckle meets the fabric. This is the circumference of the comfortable collar around your pet's neck. You want to make sure that if you are using this DIY for any other animal - small dogs, larger cats, etc. - that you measure this and adjust your fabric need accordingly. I technically only need about 9" of fabric for this pattern, but I prefer to have 10.5" and keep the sliding adjustment piece intact, so that if Thusa grows, there is some room.

Now, cut the fabric of the collar and free the buckles, the sliding adjustment, and the jump rings that connect the tags to the collar. Set these all aside, clean them if needed -- keep track of them, you'll need them soon.

Step 3: Making the Collar

Take your fabric, and measure out the length of fabric (for me, 10.5"). The width of the original collar was about half an inch, so I have decided to stick to that. Basically, I am going to make hem tape, so the width of my fabric will be three times that of my finished object (1.5"). Take your strip to the iron and fold in from each edge 1/4" on the backside of the fabric. Press. I used a starch spray to make sure that the edges stayed crisp. Fold it over again, this time wrong side to wrong side, and press. Take it to your threaded machine and put a running stitch all along the edge, as close as you like. I did a 5/8 " edging.

Step 4: Re-Attaching the Hardware

Next, you are going to take your original hardware and put it back on the new collar structure. This means that you are going to be bringing metal and plastic parts near your sewing machine, so please pay attention that you don't run over anything with your sewing needle - it could be dangerous (not to mention disastrous!) There are four parts to the collar I had: The female end of the collar buckle, the male end of the collar buckle, the sliding adjustment, and the jump ring. The jump ring can be connected after the collar is constructed. The other parts cannot.

First, you will take the sliding adjustment and make a 1/2" loop of your fabric around part of it. Pin it if desired (I didn't see a need to). Take this part through your machine. I used a straight stitch. Next, flip it over so the hem is on the inside, and thread the female end of your buckle onto the collar. Now, bring the strip of fabric around and back through the sliding adjustment on the other side.

Take the female end of the buckle and make the 1/2" loop that you did through the adjustment, in the same way. Double check that the buckles line up by clipping them together. Once you are sure you have the right side on the outside, sew the hem on the inside. Re-attach the jump rings, and you have a new collar!

Note: If your pet is rough on their collars (Leopold, my parent's cat, loves to try and remove his), make the collar thicker or add a bit of interfacing to make the collar a little sturdier.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sajou Love

Oh, how I have fallen in love with all things Sajou. Sajou is a sewing notions and supply company based in France. In truth, anything with European history, especially textile history, I adore endlessly. After seeing the recent addition of their line of thread to the Purl Bee (the ladies of whom are responsible for these lovely photographs, please click the link to see more!)

I have a particular weakness for animal-shaped scissors, apparently -- I recently was given a pair of golden crane embroidery scissors from a dear friend, and I adore them. I even someday hope to get a tattoo of them. But when I saw these little rabbit-shaped scissors, my heart stopped. Too bad they are so difficult to come by - I only have seen them on The Purl Bee, and not even the Sajou site seems to sell them. edit: BagSmith, a distributor of Sajou, contacted me, and their website carries these scissors! They are labeled 'Hare Scissors'!

They make the most lovely embroidery threads, too, all lined up on little cards in a box. I have, however, quite an extensive collection of embroidery threads already, and see no need to upgrade. Sometimes, I suppose, it's okay just to love something because it's pretty.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Project Potential

I've been reading the book Stuff, by Randy O. Frost. It seems that, like the media, I've also become a little morbidly fascinated by hoarding and hoarders - what makes them, what breaks them down, why they do what they do. The idea of living in a mess caused by your own devices -- an inability to say no to what you want and don't need, or connecting to things more than people -- both baffles and intrigues me. Sometimes, I worry that as a knitter I may someday accumulate more things than I can possibly contain in a single space, and it will suddenly spill out into the rest of my life and the world will look at my stashes of fabric, yarn, and fiber, and say: "How could she possibly have thought she would use all these things?"

The truth is, that I've found something strangely resonate within the words of the hoarders on the pages of this book -- while I don't seem to match the tendencies that are more dangerous within them, I do match the tendency to look at a raw material and wonder at the potential of it. I say to myself quite often, imagine what I could make with that. Of course, my obsession, if you could call it that, doesn't extend to the mundane and destroyed. I don't collect metal buckets with holes in them, or single pieces of mini-blinds, or table legs..... I collect things that I see as infinitely useful, but only within the realms of their restrictions. I can make cloth things with fabrics. I can make cloth things with yarns. I can make yarns with fibers. And I find enjoyment out of all of them.

I have been doing a little bit of comfort stashing, as of late, being that I am getting ready to move (out to Lexington, Kentucky). One of my favorite accumulations recently was a 4 ounce 'bump' of the Hello Yarn Club's Fiber, "Seasick". The fiber is Corriedale, a very strong but soft wool that will be wonderful for nearly anything I should choose to make with it.

I also recently connected with a very sweet woman on Ravelry, who is expecting a baby! She's getting ready to take her first quilting class but I offered to make something for her, quilt-wise, using the Heather Ross Far Far Away II set in her favorite colors. She sent me the fabric in the mail and I really adore the ones she chose. Such sweet, perfect fabrics for a family start.

They go suspiciously well with the Seasick, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inspired by: Reytan Jewelry

I first spotted a few pieces on Color Collective, which had used one of Denise Julian Reytan's necklaces in a color post, but when I went to the Reytan site I fell in love not only with the fantastic, artistic interpretations of jewelry, but the bright photography style. You know I love color. How could I not share these here?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Handspun Hankerchiefs

They aren't hankerchiefs, really, but I'm a sucker for alliteration. They are, however, made from handspun! Just some sweet summer finished objects so that you guys know I've been doing something with my time! Details on Ravelry, for those of you who knit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Manzanilla Olive

While I was at Malabrigo, I had the amazing opportunity (or should I say, I had the resources) to work on some new colors for the color cards in Twist and Silky. One color I had in mind to add to the Malabrigo resume was inspired by something I had seen at home here in the US - a vibrant, rich yellow-green. The staff at Malabrigo Yarns were eager to help me realize the dream to have yarn in this color, and we even sent it to TNNA on the color cards for Twist and Silky -- Manzanilla Olive.

On the colorcard, this colorway sits between Frank Ochre and Lettuce in hue and intensity. It has the sort of mustard bitterness of Frank Ochre with just a touch of green, allowing even those who detest yellow on themselves, but love yellow or Frank Ochre as a colorway, to try something different on their complexions.

As a gift, the company sent me ten skeins of Manzanilla Olive, my colorway, in Twist, which is an aran-weight, plied yarn made of super-soft merino wool. If you would like to enter to win the skein pictured with Thusa (who greatly approves this colorway) above, just leave a message in the comments! You have until September 1 to enter.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Interview on The Diamond Blog

I have been pretty busy settling in back here at home, but I did take the time to do an interview with Diamond Yarn's blog writer about my experiences at Malabrigo! If you'd like to read it, the interview can be found here. There are more posts coming soon -- I've been busy blocking some of the projects I finished up in Uruguay and working on a few more here at home!