Shibori at the Winter Market

Vireo Fibercrafts will be at Northampton Winter Market every Saturday, now through April 30. I will have for sale various Shibori dyed items; scarves, socks, and wraps for furoshiki. Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese way to wrap items for safe keeping or transport. It is a versatile, beautiful and sustainable way to wrap and present gifts here in the 21st century. They can be reused again and again and laundered as needed. Wouldn’t it be cool if every time we gave each other gifts, part of the fun was anticipating the new furoshiki cloth? It’s wrapping a gift with a gift!

Special for Valentine’s Day at the Winter Market! 20 x 20 squares $10 each, with a complimentary empty box, if you like. Perfect to wrap up some Shibori socks or felted critters from Chris! You can wrap most any shaped thing, as there are a variety of techniques. Fabulous for books! 

Speaking of fabulous, the Winter Market in Northampton is just that. Lots of yummy fresh and local food, crafts, house plants, music and more brought to you, by your neighbors! 

  

   
 

Shibori at the Winter Market

Shibori anyone?

I am very excited to be offering Intro to Shibori at Beehive Sewing Studio in Northampton, MA. We’ll be offering the same session twice, Sunday’s February 14 and March 13, 4-6pm.

Shibori is the ancient craft of folding, binding, clamping and stitching fabric before dyeing to create geometric designs.  Modern fabric artists use the term shibori to describe many of these techniques. The word derives from shiboru “to press”. These words are Japanese and there is a very strong tradition of this craft there. The techniques also developed in other parts of the world. Today we see fabric decorated with these techniques in clothing and linens from Indonesia and India.

Itajime, soot dye on cotton

The traditional materials in the Japanese tradition are indigo, and cotton or linen. Modern shibori artists use all kinds of fabrics and dyes in their work. Both traditional and modern interpretations of this craft are memorable. Tie dye borrows binding techniques from shibori, but the way the dye is applied to the cloth is different.

  

Itajime, indigo on cotton

I had never dyed fabric before taking a shibori workshop with the fabulous Mo Kelman at Snow Farm. Well, after that workshop I was completely obsessed. There really is nothing else like it. The fabric and how you manipulate it makes the resists that creates the patterns. The fabric essentially decorates itself with your guidance. Every little thing influnces the final design: if you folded it, how did you fold, which direction, did you iron the folds, did you wet the fabric before you dyed it, how long did you dye it for with what kind of dye, did you immerse the whole thing or just dip the edges? All of these factors and more affect the uptake of dye by capillary action into the cloth. You can predict the design somewhat, but the beauty and fascination comes with all of the variety. 
 

Itajime, indigo on cotton
 
Intrigued yet? It helps to have a guide your first times trying out these techniques.  In the Intro to Shibori class at Beehive, we will explore the folding and clamping technique itajime, using traditional soot and mineral dyes from Japan. You’ll dye a piece of fabric to use in your next sewing project. Head on over to Beehive to sign up! 

Shibori anyone?

There’s Cozy. And Then There’s Thrummed Cozy.

Bring up the topic of thrums and inevitably a number of people in a room full of experienced fiber folk will ask “what’s this thrum, you speak of?” Thrumming is one of the ways to incorporate fiber in addition to the yarn used for stitches to make an extra cuddly and warm garment. Loops of unspun roving are worked into the stitches. The outside of the garment is decorated by charming little pearls of roving. The inside of the piece becomes lined with the loops of roving. Upon completion, the thrums produce a sigh inducing soft lining.  Over time, the roving felts to make an even cuddlier lining. Combine a soft yarn you love to touch such as Valley Yarns Stockbridge, with an especially soft roving such as merino or blue faced Leicester, and you’ll have a something to make you feel better about cold weather.

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Cold weather crocheted accessories benefit greatly from this embeshiment. They tend to be more open in their stitches. The thrums fill in and back the spaces between stitches for better warmth. The thrumming technique is not particularly difficult to learn, with the right instruction. The Crocheted Thrummed Baby Hat workshop at webs  (Saturdays, 1:30-3:30 pm 2/27, 3/5, 3/12) features a small sized pattern, to keep learning this new technique manageable. The pattern has been designed to be fully adjustable. It can be worked to any size, with or without ear flaps.

   
    
   

There’s Cozy. And Then There’s Thrummed Cozy.

Sweet Marguerites

I love crocheted motifs, I love crocheting with thread, and I love vintage patterns. I’m bring all three together for Sweet Marguerites. This one time workshop meets Sunday 3/20 or 4/17 1:00-3:30 PM at Sheep and Shawl in South Deerfield. Call 413-397-3680 or stop by the store to sign up. The cost is $20 per person. Students need to bring at least 50 yards of size 10 Crochet cotton and a size 1.5mm crochet hook. If you use any kind of magnification when you craft, or you have a portable battery powered craft light, bring it.

   
 Vintage crochet patterns abound with floral motifs. They appear as inserts on nightgowns and linens, embellishing pillows and antimacassars and in trims. One old favorite is the Marguerite or Paris Daisy. These delicate, but relatively simple motifs are a good introduction to working with crochet thread. Familiar crochet stitches a brought together in an unusual way to create the petals. We’ll make a finished project of a shade or lamp cord pull with one motif, but I will also demonstrate join as you go techniques for future projects.

 

Sweet Marguerites

A Crochet Refresher

A Crochet Refresher is the first of two new and fun spring crochet classes at Sheep and Shawl, located in South Deerfield, MA. You can call 413-397-3680 or stop by the store to sign up. A Crochet Refresher will be offered Sunday’s 1:00-3:30pm, twice 3/6 and 4/3.   The cost is $20 per person. Each student shoulda bring 50 yards of a light colored worsted weight yarn and a size 4mm hook, both available at Sheep and Shawl.

It’s been a while since you picked up a hook, and you’ve got your eye on a project or a class. YouTube is great, but you can’t ask your iPad “is this where my hook goes next?” Or “how come my double crochet stitches look like that?” In this Refresher, we’ll cover all of the basic stitches (single, half double, double, treble and slip), review of hooks, yarn and other materials, 
the language, abbreviations, and symbols, 
and a quick review of finishing techniques. This is a techniques class, so you can just swatch. If you prefer to make something, I will provide a pattern for a little crocheted pouch that incorporates all of the stitches (except the treble.) If we get through all of this before the 2.5 hours is up, we’ll also work a simple flower as a refresher for motifs and an embellishment for the pouch. This isn’t a beginner’s class! It’s meant for those who have made crochet projects in the past, and need some review of the basics and assurance that they have got it right.


A Crochet Refresher

Spring 2016 Classes at WEBs

I am pleased to offer both old fave and new rave crochet classes this spring at WEBs Yarn in Notrthampton, MA.

First Crochet I and Crochet II. These two series of classes provide students with core skills to start their crochet career off with a solid foundation. They are offered every semester at WEBs. We work through fun and functional projects designed to teach you the basic crochet stitches and other skills you need to tackle projects on your own and for future instruction. Wednesday’s 5:30-7:30 pm. Crochet I 1/27-3/2. Crochet II 3/16-4/20

Thrummed Baby Hat! I’ve been threatening a thrummed project for a while now and here it is. Thrumming is a technique of working unspun roving into knitting or crochet stitches while you work. This creates a cuddly, lined, and warm fabric as the roving felts over time. Making the thrums is a bit of effort on top of the stitches, so I introduce you to the technique with a small piece for a special little one. Saturday’s 1:30-3:30pm 2/27, 3/5, 3/12.

  

Tunisian Crochet Basics. This is basically “Come and swatch with me! “We’ll meet three times to cover the basic crochet stitches and various combinations and variations of those stitches. Tunisian crochet is a lot of fun and the stitches look enough like knitted stitches to fool seasoned knitters. They allow for patterns and color play you don’t quite get with traditional crochet or knitting. The pictures say it best! Saturday’s 1:30-3:30pm, 4/2, 4/9, 4/16.

  
Crochet a Bouquet. A natural offshoot of crocheted motifs, a world of crocheted flowers exists out there. They are great to embellish all sorts of garments, accessories and home goods. We’ll look at 3 different patterns, with charts. We’ll compare results with different fibers and hook sizes. I’ll provide the yarn! Saturday 4/30 1:30-4:30.

  

Spring 2016 Classes at WEBs

Cozy Slipper Boots

Last spring, I helped a friend crochet a pair of slippers. She already knew how to crochet, but needed some help working through the pattern she had selected.

It was fun. As we worked through it,I started thinking that slippers would be a great crochet class. They involve some simple shaping, and opportunities to customize fit, but are way more forgiving than socks. I was determined to come up with my own pattern. I wanted it to be cute and fun but also practical. I wanted it to be relatively easy to make and something folks would want to make again and again.

Here it is!

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After making my store samples, and working through the pattern, it was Summer, so my feet were not cold at all and I put aside my own pair. With the sudden arrival of colder temperatures, I can’t make my own pair fast enough!

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This really is a pattern that provides guidelines on how to make and construct the slipper boot, but let’s you adjust for size. That means you can relax about exact stitch counts as long as it looks how you want and fits well. (You may never hear me say this again.)

One of the other things I love about the pattern is that it is all variations on the single crochet stitch. Other than some slip stitches, the entire slipper is composed of single crochet stitches. This really is a chance to get to know some of the versitatlity that this little stitch has to offer.

The yarn, Plymouth Gina Chunky does all the color work for us. The chunky weight helps make the project work up quickly. Gina is a wool yarn,  I have not tried it in another fiber, but bulky, cuddly yarns are the way to go here. A solid color would also be interesting, maybe even a deliberately mismatched pair?

The soles are made with a little bit of short row shaping. If you have never done this before, it’s a gentle introduction to the concept, and will leave you prepared to tackle other projects that employ this technique.

We’ll also look at the range of options for making the soles non skid, from sewing on a leather sole, to a quick fix with fabric paint.

And lastly, who does not love a Pom Pon? They are an optional embellishment, but an easy one to learn how to make. No fancy gadgets necessary.

Join me Sunday’s 11/15, 11/22 and 12/6 at WEBs for a fun skill building class, with slippers to boot.

Cozy Slipper Boots

A Bag Idea

As soon as I opened the cover of the bound copy of several “Corticelli Lessons in Crochet and Tatting” booklets, I started thinking of how I could adapt some of these patterns for a modern day crochet class. I liked the designs, and I liked the idea of bringing a little local history into things; the Corticelli Silk Mills were right here in Florence, MA.

I’ll be offering a 2 session workshop at Sheep and Shawl in South Deerfield, MA with a bag inspired by these booklets. Thursday’s 11/5 and 12/3 6-8:00pm. Head on over to Sheep and Shawl for details on how to sign up.

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The booklets date from 1916-1917. I am always struck by two things as I look through these patterns. One, how many little edgings, inserts, cuffs, and little things there are patterns for to brighten up the plain and everyday wardrobe and household. Two, the assumed knowledge of the stitcher when reading the patterns. It is taken for granted that for example that the reader knows how to ” Make a ring and fill closely with s.c.  Make 20 rows of s.c., widening enough so the work will not be perfectly flat, and have 156 stitches in the last row.”

It’s curious what is not illustrated. Hairpin lace, called Maltese lace in these books is described only through written instructions. There is a picture of the finished product, but I’m not sure that would lead me to the method easily!

One whole booklet is devoted to bags, and that is where I drew my inspiration for this bag. I decided self striping sock yarn would be a pretty, sturdy, and readily available substitute for the silk. This would mean fewer ends to weave in and a larger gauge than the original which called for a size 12 steel hook. That is a 1 mm diameter hook. Teenie weenie would be the technical term.

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You will need 375 yards of a sock or fingering weight yarn. A long self striping pattern will work best. You’ll need a size 3mm crochet hook. I’ll provide rings at cost for the drawstring path. The cord is crocheted. I will also provide guidance for a simple sewn cloth lining. This will help the bag hold up better, and keep stuff like crochet hooks, pens, and keys from poking through and stretching stitches and maybe falling out.

If you are feeling a little intimidated by sewing, don’t be. I am brushing up my own skills this fall. Luckily we have local resources, like Beehive Sewing in Northampton. If you need help getting started, Tess and company are there to help with classes and studio rental in a nice bright, clean, open space with plenty of room and quality machines in good working order. No need to monopolize the dining room table.

If you’d like to know more about the silk industry, and its history both in New England and the world check out the Northampton Silk Project.

If you are interested in antique crochet patterns Antique Patterns has a lot of scanned patterns to browse, including some of the Corticelli booklets.

A Bag Idea