Linen Wickelhose, Asian style wrap pants, Burda

We all have signature pieces, styles of clothing that we enjoy wearing. Either they suit our figures, our moods or are reflective of cultural belonging, or longing.

Much of my life is informed by Asian styles and sensibilities. Maybe it’s the ancestral heritage peeking through. When I was touring through South East Asia, a few years ago now, I picked up some fabulous outfits. Some I had custom made for me in Viet Nam, others I found at local markets in Laos and Thailand. I still have my blue silk wrap skirt. Another piece that saw a lot of wear were my wrap pants.

Wasn’t I pleased to see a pattern for this very style in a Burda magazine when I was in Germany sometime after my Wickelhose had been retired! Here is the page the pattern is featured on:

Wikelhose, wrap pants my Burda magazine, auf Deutsch!

Wikelhose, wrap pants my Burda magazine, auf Deutsch!

It’s a bit tricky to discern the actual pattern between the print of the fabric and all the other images on the pages. That is why I always appreciate the line drawings on the ‘Alle modelle auf Einen Blick’ page. All styles at a glance, basically. This allows you to see the structure of the garment including seams, darts, pockets etc.

The pattern Key, line drawings let you see exactly what the garment looks like.

The pattern Key, line drawings let you see exactly what the garment looks like.

This was more of a formula with maths than an actual pattern. The instructions were clear and the huge sheet of tissue dressmakers graph paper was the perfect way to mark out the pattern.

Always keep good notes on your pattern pieces. Here I have written what the pattern is for, the size I cut, the model number and which issue of Burda the pattern is from. Makes it easier for quick referencing. Other useful details are the names of the pattern piece, grain lines, whether seam allowances are included or to be added,  and how many pieces to cut and from which fabric – in case there are linings and interfacings involved.

Tracing paper by Burda for drafting your pattern.

Tracing paper by Burda for drafting your pattern.

I made my wrap pants in some cool and classic pure European linen in a soft sage-grey.

Pure linen fabric and some of my favourite tools.

Pure linen fabric and some of my favourite tools.  Burda magazine issue 7/2005, the theme is Holiday Fashion.

The thread I used is is a variegated long staple pure cotton. Valdani is the brand, the colour is Muddy Monet, it is made in Romania.  The subtle colour shifts in the thread show up the decorative stitching along the sides and on the ties quite nicely. This is one of my go-to stitches on my Juki, it reminds me of little bird tracks!

Detail of the fancy stitching along the sides of the pant legs. The variegated thread is a nice touch.

Detail of the fancy stitching along the sides of the pant legs. The variegated thread is a nice touch.

The construction was really simple so a short while later, here is the result:

wikelhose.lean

I would normally wear these with a loose white shirt or tunic, but the tucked in Tee allows one to see the wrap of the waistband.

You tie the straps on the front piece in the back using a simple overhand knot, not a bow – that would be too bulky, then bring ties on the back piece to the front and tie in a bow. If you’re wearing these with a shirt or tunic over top of the waistband, rather than tucked in, a simple knot is better, as it lays flatter.

Finished! Front view.

Finished! Front view… and I had shoes to match, a fabulous pair of Naot’s!

Yes, the linen wrinkles, but that’s what let’s you know that it is real linen. A natural, breathable and beautiful fibre.

wikelhose.rightThis style is fitted at the waist and gradually expands to the wide legs, giving a slimming effect.. all modest and covered up, until you take a step..

wikelhose.leftOne does have to be a bit cautious in the wind, but really, nothing will show, but a bit of leg.

Back view. I would normally wear these with a loose white shirt, but the tucked in T allows one to see the wrap of the waistband.

I am glad to have a pair of wrap pants again, and may make another pair, but not just now. Many other projects are in the queue!

Wishing you a beautiful, and creative day,

Coryna

Sleeveless top, pattern and tutorials by Angela Kane

In looking to refresh my sewing skills, I went in search of the tips and tricks I knew existed but couldn’t quite recall all the details thereof…like lining a simple shift dress or sleeveless top quickly and easily. I came across Angela Kane and her fabulous video tutorials. You can find her site here.

The finished top, a perfect colour and style match for my very bright orange creamsicle jeans.

The finished top, a perfect colour and style match for my very bright orange creamsicle jeans.

Ms. Kane offers a couple of free patterns to try out – one for a sleeveless summer top in sizes small, medium, and large,  and the other for a pinafore style dress. This is a great way to see if you like the way the patterns are drafted and how the video tutorials are structured.  I signed up for the free trial  and decided to start with the top. I had 1.25 metres of ‘Indian Summer’ by Art Gallery Fabrics  that I picked up earlier in the year from The Workroom. This nice crisp cotton with its blue geometric print was the perfect choice for this style. For the button, I decided to use one of the several orange ceramic buttons I made to match this fabric.

The sewing patterns are available as pdf downloads. One size per pdf which makes things nice and clear (unlike the wild and scrambled multi-pattern sheets from Burda magazines, which I love!). The pattern printed off on letter size paper easily. I set mine to draft quality and black and white to save on ink.  There is an option for A4 paper too.  Helpful hints for printer settings are provided which meant the tester page printed out perfectly. You mustn’t skip this step, or your whole pattern could end up completely the wrong size.

This is what the pattern looks like when printed, stuck together and cut with paper (not fabric!) scissors:

ak.sleevelesstop.patternIt is important to note that Ms.Kane’s pattern are ‘net’ patterns. Proper couture patterns like these, and those from Burda magazine, do not have the seam allowances included within the pattern lines -  you add the desired seam allowance (usually between  3/8 and  5/8 inches)  when you cut your fabric.

When I prepared my paper pattern, I added 1.5 inches of length at the waistline as per usual for my long waist. I also wanted more of a tunic style top so I added 4.5 inches to the length of the garment. So glad I did this, as you shall see later.

ak.bluetop.facingdetailWhile this is a relatively simple style, there are so many thoughtful technical details that make this a solid little pattern. For example: the facings that are just a bit narrower than the fashion fabric pieces to ensure that the facings don’t show. Not a big issue when self facing, like on my sample, but if the facings were to be made of a contrast fabric, or lining material, then this is an especially nice feature.

ak.bluetop.front

Front with earthenware button, that I made, feature on the front pleat (my addition, not part of the original pattern).

The hand stitched loop buttonhole is a classic couture feature. I didn’t have any buttonhole thread on hand, so used some hand quilting cotton thread instead. Worked beautifully.

ak.bluetop.back

Back of the sleeveless top. Note the hand crafted button loop closure. Hand quilting thread made a good substitute for the recommended buttonhole thread. The additional buttons and shoulder pleats were my addition to get a better fit.

My top is a bit different from the original at the hem. Remember I added those extra few inches at the bottom?  Instead of adding interfacing for stability to the hemline, I opted for side vents and a deeper hem.  I also machine stitched the hem instead of hand sewing it. The top-stitching followed up the side vent to the side seam then back down creating a pleasing visual.

ak.bluetop.hemdetail

Hem detail. I skipped the interfacing at the hemline and double turned the hem instead. I also machine stitched the hem following up (and down) the side vents instead of hand hemming the piece. This is a pretty casual garment and the cotton looks fine with this hem treatment.

The top went together very quickly and easily, but there was one catch. With the fit. I didn’t bother to make a muslin this time. I should have. Bad seamstress.

While I went into this with the full knowledge that this style is really not the most flattering for my body type (an hourglass does not go well with big shapeless tops), I realized part way through the sewing that this was going to be really big.. and it wasn’t just because I tend to think of myself as bigger than I actually am. I tried it on once the shoulders were joined and it was clearly huge. I compensated with really wide seams on the sides taking in as much as I could in the only place that I could without taking the whole thing apart. I pressed on.

When it was finished, the fit was more or less what one expects with this style of top. The bust area fit well and the armhole openings were good, my wide side seams did their trick…. but the neck gaped to a ridiculous level. This may not have been as noticeable with a drapey fabric, but the crisp cool cotton, even though pre-washed, was not sitting well at all. Nothing to do for it but be creative!  I formed a single wide (read stylish) pleat at the front and two small pleats on the back. These were bar-tacked in place to secure them. The additional buttons, front and back, are purely cosmetic. Thank goodness I had made lots of these orange earthenware buttons, they came in handy!

ak.bluetop.2

Finished top, front view. I made the white earthenware buttons too! they are a perfect match for this top.

I wore my top right after I finished making it, with my crazy bright creamsicle orange jeans. What would possess me to buy such a colour? In this case… well, price. They cost me all of $7.00! After a long dreary winter and a rather grey spring, I am quite alright with a bit of bright just now. The top was cool and comfortable on a hot and humid summer day.

But back to the review of the pattern.. I could best sum it up this way: Angela Kane’s tutorial videos are fabulous, the pattern is well drafted, but the fit and sizing of the garment is a bit off. Maybe it’s just this pattern. It was, however, a pleasure to make.

The video tutorials are clear.  Every detail is explained and illustrated. I only wish there were a written summary of the steps in print form available. This would be helpful.

Maybe I just missed it, but I don’t recall a detail summary of the materials needed.  What materials  required were listed – fabric, interfacing, thread and a button, but not the actual amount of fabric.

The pattern itself is well drafted and attention to detail and a real effort towards clarity is made. Fab.

The only reservation I have in making another one of her patterns is the sizing. The Medium should have fit me perfectly according to the size chart, but it didn’t. Besides the neckline being really wide, the other issue with fit was the length. Had I not added the extra length (6.0 in. in total) for the waist and hem areas, this would have been a seriously short top; not suitable for wearing with the low-rise jeans so popular right now.

All in all, I like this top. It was nice and cool  on a hot and humid day in the city. I may make another one, but will make the necessary adjustments to the pattern for a better fit without having to add post construction pleats. This was a good reminder to always make a muslin first, even for the simplest of garments.

If you’re looking for excellent video tutorials for garment construction and couture techniques, Angela Kane is well worth a look whether you’re new to sewing clothing or looking to brush up on your techniques.

Will I make another one of Angela Kane’s patterns? Yes. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have a beautiful day,

Coryna

 

 

A welcome bit of greenery to soften the cityscape.

I miss having a garden. Alot. The semi-nomadic lifestyle that has been my life these last few years has some very good things about it, but the never being quite sure how long one will stay in any given place means that some things are just not going to happen. Like gardens. They take time. And setting up a patio garden in an apartment also means carting everything, including bags of soil, home from the shops. Ugh.

But the dreariness of the concrete cityscape that is Toronto has gotten to me. Even though there is a small park in view from our balcony, I need (and want) more green, and pink, and purple…

There are now several planters on the balcony, and a few more are slated for completion in the next couple of days!

planters on the balcony

I find that plants provide an immediate sense of relaxation and calm.

2014.greenpolebeans.1

The Blue Lake pole beans are popping up nicely; they’ll be needing bamboo canes to climb up on soon enough!

2014.beefstake.blossom

As will my two burly Beefsteak tomato plants! Flowering already, I can hardly wait for the giant fruits to appear!

2014.geraniums.1

 

Not hyacinths, but Geraniums and Petunias for the soul.  Some people look at me askance when I tell them that I choose my petunias based not on their colour, but on their fragrance.  You can have your fancy new hybrid, scentless Wave petunias if you want, but I’ll take the old-fashioned sweetly scented varieties any day of the year.  These purple ones are heady!

 

sweetpea.firstshootsSlower starting, but coming along nicely are the Spencer Giant Sweet Peas  (the scented flowers, not edible peas!).

Also on the balcony are Hot Hungarian Peppers, Sweet Million cherry tomatoes, butternut squash and a small selection of herbs.

With all the climbing varieties I have planted, perhaps some netting would be better than canes?

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Coryna

Rice and noodle bowls in speckled stoneware

I adore rice, and noodles, and I believe food tastes better when served in proper dishes.

Visually more appealing, to be sure, but the dishes and utensils used to serve and to consume our food should also enhance the tactile pleasure of the overall dining experience.

Here now are some of my recent stoneware bowls. CCSS Speckled stoneware, wheel thrown, hand carved.

This first little rice bowl  holds a sampling of uncooked mixed grains and rice including sprouted brown rice. It is delicious and toothy, especially nice in soups!

ccss.ricebowl.with riceBelow are three sets of bowls. Each pair is of the ‘same-same, but different’ school.

Bowls are similar in size, shape, and colour, but each is a unique.

Set 1. Shades of waxwing and variegated greens and blues. Each of this set features a tiny scorpion impression near the base.

ricebowls.stackedricebowl.2.detailSet 2. Noodle bowls (larger than the rice bowls). Shades of grey on the interior and warm tones of red and ivory on the exterior.

noodlebowls.2.sps.2

 

noodlebowls.2.sps.1 Set 3. Rice bowls with double carved feet.

ricebowls.2.sps.1ricebowls.2.sps.interiorsKindest regards,

Coryna

Fairytale Dress by Oliver + S, Foxes and friends

After some consideration, I decided to try the Oliver + S sewing patterns. The patterns have a very pleasing, vintage look to them and clever presentation with a paper dolly and dress up clothes on the packaging. The reviews were almost unanimous in their high praise for this line. I don’t mind paying a higher price for a product that is good, but thought I would ‘test drive’ a couple of the patterns before investing in a full wardrobe building set.

My choices were:  ‘Fairytale’, a pretty and feminine party dress, and ‘Sketchbook Shirt and Shorts’ which is meant for boys, but the shirt and shorts could easily be modified for girls.

I decided to start with the dress, 18 month size.

Oliver + S Fairytale pattern. Completed dress and pattern envelope.

Oliver + S Fairytale pattern. Completed dress and pattern envelope.

I was smitten with the leaping foxes print, and all the other forest creatures on Les Amis de la Forêt fabric…. but there were only fat quarters left when I came upon this collection at The Workroom. This meant that I would have to make some modifications to the original pattern:  a tiered skirt and selective placement of the dark and light colours in the balance of the dress.

The pattern and 5 fat quarters to make the tulip sleeved party dress.

The pattern and 5 fat quarters to make the tulip sleeved party dress.

I added a gathered and pieced section to the last tier to stretch the fat quarters even further and to balance the colour placement.  I also pleated, rather than gathered, the skirt at the waistband. It just seemed to fit better. The skirt was not  overly full and the scant ruffles just looked awkward. Pleats looked more deliberate. The directions for applying the contrast waistband was a bit suspect so I improvised.

Skirt pleated instead of gathered.

Skirt pleated instead of gathered.

The tulip sleeves were easy enough.

Tulip sleeves.

Tulip sleeves. I like the little birds peeking out from the flowered sleeves, one of the perks of using several fabrics!

Instead of hand sewing the hem of the dress and the lining, I opted to use a decorative stitch; my Juki has so many of them, that it would be silly of me not to take advantage of them!

Fully lined. Embroidery detail on dress and on  fashion fabric and on lining.

Fully lined. Embroidery detail on dress and on fashion fabric and on lining.

I used up almost all of my fabric, about 4.5 fat quarters, a very small amount of interfacing (just for the collar), about a metre of silky lining, and a couple of metres of ribbon for a pretty bow at the waist.

For the most part, I found the instructions to be lacking and/or unclear. Especially in terms of adding a full lining to the dress. I am a fairly accomplished seamstress, having sewn pretty much everything from diaper bags to evening dresses, and thank goodness for that! I was able to sort my way through the murky regions of the pattern but cannot imagine how a novice sewer would get through this project.

I also found it odd that the seam allowances were set at 1/2 inch  instead of the customary 5/8 inches for commercial patterns. There are standards…quilts are sewn at 1/4 inch, North American garments at 5/8 in.  When using European patterns like Burda, you can set your own preferred seam allowance when you trace your pattern pieces. Not a deal breaker, just a bit annoying.

The fit is also a bit suspect. When cutting the fabric, I thought the waist was a bit too long, but decided to just make the pattern as drafted. This waistline of this dress is meant to sit at the child’s natural waist, although most 18 month old girls don’t have much of a defined waist. A better fit for the smaller size range in this pattern would be an empire waist, this would allow for a more natural fit for the baby’s tummy and the wearing of very necessary nappies! Next time I would shorten the bodice.

Then there’s the sizing itself. If the child is on the smaller to slim side of the standard growth charts, then this pattern will fit true to size, i.e. making the 12-18 month size for a 12 month old should be fine. However, if the intended  child is off the growth charts, then it would be best to shorten the bodice and go up a size or two so that the dress will fit for more than a week, if at all!

In summary, I am happy with how this dress turned out, it is quite cute and it fit! In technical terms, Fairytale is  this is one of the more complex patterns put out by Oliver + S so it proved to be a good test pattern. I will probably make this again in a bigger size and with several modifications.

Honestly, I’m not sure why this line has had such favourable reviews, maybe it’s the cute paper dollies?  I am not won over. For the premium pricing of these patterns, I expected more. Much more.

Let’s hope that the Sketchbook Shirt and Shorts is better.

os.ft.bowdetail

Kindest regards,

Coryna

Birdie Sling goes Goth

The perfect bag is hard to find. There are several in our house, just bags that is, not perfect ones! Many have been purchased to carry groceries so as to minimize the atrocious levels of plastic used in our world. Some have been ‘gifts’ with purchases made. Each of them seems fit to only a particular use. In my search for a great carry bag I came across the Birdie Sling by Amy Butler.                         It looked like it would meet all of the criterion set out by Yours Truly.

Birdie Sling, bag designed by Amy Butler. Completed in Poe inspired cotton fabric.

Birdie Sling, bag designed by Amy Butler. Completed in Poe inspired cotton fabric.

I like a bag large enough to pop my handbag inside. I do this when I go out, that way if I need a shopping bag for unplanned purchases, or to hold my gloves, scarf, cardigan or other superfluous item it is at hand. Doing this also keeps my good purse protected on the crowded city streets and while on public transportation.  And then there is the knitting. I really do bring it pretty much everywhere so a good bag needs to accommodate sticks and string.

This bag is big, and has a wide padded handle to make the carrying more comfortable. The Goth in me couldn’t resist the Nevermore fabric inspired by The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Wide padded handle.

Wide padded handle in a small floral, compliments the sculls, bats and other darker images nicely.

I had a bit of trouble getting some of the materials listed for making this bag. Fusible woven interfacing was easy enough, but the fusible fleece… not so much. What I ended up using was HeatnBond Lite, a double sided iron on adhesive. This was used to secure some cotton quilt batting to the lining pieces, a do-it-yourself kind of fusible fleece, if you will.

Even though the adhesive was not supposed to wrinkle or pucker, it did. A bit. Enough to bother me, even though no one would really see it. I ended up free motion quilting the batting to the lining fabric in the end. This also allowed me to have a bit of fun with swirls and hearts and even my initials!

A bit of subtle personalization, initials worked into the free motion quilting.

A bit of subtle personalization, initials worked into the free motion quilting along with hearts and random loops and swirls!

There are two pockets, one is really large, but it is just right for my tablet. The other is smaller and I divided it into sections custom fitted for my Blackberry, my travel chop-sticks set, and a pen or spoon.

Linings prepared with pockets and free motion quilting to secure the batting.

Linings prepared with pockets and free motion quilting to secure the batting.

 

This panel features a very large pocket, perfect for my tablet.

This panel features a very large pocket, perfect for my tablet.

There are no closures on this bag. This may be a good thing, and maybe not. I’ll wait and see how it goes. I can still add a magnetic or tie closure at this point.

View into the interior. Alternating the nevermore fabric, Kona cotton solid, and a feminine retro-chic floral.

View into the interior. Alternating the nevermore fabric, Kona cotton solid, and a feminine retro-chic floral.

If I make this again, I would change a few things and add a few things.

For a fully padded version, as this one, next time I would just pin the lining and cotton batting together before quilting and not bother with the HeatnBond.

Actually, I’m not sure that I would use the batting again, except for the handle where it is useful, but even there, it could be limited to the shoulder section only. This is a big bag and it is heavy enough without adding the extra layer. I would still use the regular iron on interfacing to add body to the lining.

Another option would be to use heavier weight cotton or a linen/cotton blend for the exterior and regular quilting cotton for the lining. This should provide enough heft.

The other thing I would add is a key ring tab. I had one prepared but didn’t have a clip or clasp at hand and just wanted to get this project finished. I can add it later if I really want one.

nevermore.sidepanelOverall, I am pleased with how this turned out. The instructions were clear enough. I think the fabric estimates are a bit generous, and like I said, some of the materials may be hard to find, but perhaps you can follow my lead and do a little impromptu quilting instead.

Have you made a Birdie Sling? How did yours turn out?

Kindest regards,

Coryna

Half Hexagons in Taupe, a table runner.

It started innocently enough. A trip to The Workroom for a metre or two of fabric for a baby sized shirt. And then I saw these:

Terribly tempting taupe palette.

Terribly tempting taupe palette.

A seductive palette of neutral taupes and blacks. Swoon. I knew that these would make a lovely and classic table runner. Since I wasn’t really planning on making such an item just yet – other things, like the shirt for a wee lad were more of a priority I stopped at four pieces. That should be enough, right?

The Hex'n'More ruler.

The Hex’n'More ruler.

I would also get a chance to use my Hex N More ruler, by Jaybird Quilts, that I bought from Sew Sisters (here in Toronto) awhile ago now. There were few Canadian resources at the time to purchase just a simple hexagonal or half hexagon quilting ruler or template so I opted for this one which can do multiple sizes of hexagons, half hexagons, diamonds, 60 degree triangles and maybe a few more things! There are American suppliers, to be sure, but usually their shipping costs are just, well, prohibitively high.

The work surface and half hexagons sewn into strips.

The work surface and half-hexagons sewn into strips.

I pre-washed my fabric. Cut it into 2.5 inch strips and cut the 4.5 inch half hexagons from the strips. You could use pre-cut jelly roll strips, but why pay someone else to cut a few strips of cloth?       Once they were all cut, I laid the pieces out on the table in such a way that no two of the same fabric were touching and that there were no full hexagons, only halves. Consideration of dark, light and mid range placement was also considered. Use a digital camera with black and white mode to help you with this!

I used the 4.5 inch half hexagon size when cutting the 2.5 inch strips.

I used the 4.5 inch half hexagon size when cutting the 2.5 inch strips.

Ok, I did want one or two full hexagons! Once a pleasing pattern is found, all the strips are sewn first. I had 6 strips of 12 half hexagons and one partial half hexagon at each end. These 6 strips were then sewn together.

Half Hexagon placement  on the fabric.

Half Hexagon placement on the fabric.

I toyed with the idea of hand quilting this runner, but after a few stitches, I realized that quilting through the dense cotton batting was not going to be kind to my hands. Machine quilting won.           I stitched in the ditch along the lengthwise seams and 0.25 inch inside the two hexagons. I  didn’t buy fabric for the backing, so I used some lovely pure linen that I bought last summer.

Linen backing.

Linen backing in a coordinating soft sage grey.

 

Machine quilted this one in stripes mostly, but outlined the two solid hexagons.

Machine quilted this one in stripes mostly, but outlined the two solid hexagons, Valdani hand-dyed variegated thread; made in Romania, purchased at The Workroom.

I did have to make a return trip to The Workroom (!) to get some fabric for the binding.  One Fat Quarter was just enough!  My maths came out right, yay!

Stitching down the binding. Using Black Gold needles from Clover.

Stitching down the binding. Using Black Gold needles from Clover.

On the return trip to my favourite fabric store, I picked up a few extra notions. Some new sewing needles from Clover. These are Black Gold Needles. They have a special slick black coating on the needle shafts and gold electroplated on the eyes. Nice, they are. At first use they don’t seem that special, until you try to use one of your old needles!

Black Gold needles from Clover - made in Japan.

Black Gold needles from Clover – made in Japan.

And a needle threader, also from Clover.  I have dithered on buying one of these. Is it just one more gadget to clutter up my limited space? But no. This is a gadget worth having. When I bought my Juki sewing machine I sniffed at all the ‘extra’s’ that were included, like the automatic needle threader. Now I don’t know how I did without it. I could still thread my needles ( on the machine or for hand sewing) the regular way, but this just makes it so much quicker!

Clover needle threader..some gadgets are worth having!

Clover needle threader..some gadgets are worth having!

More about notions on another day.
I best get started on that shirt…

Kindest regards,

Coryna

Same Same but different, Stoneware Rice bowls

Slowly getting results back from the new studio!

New clays to work with, new glazes to experiment with and much more time to explore new techniques.

Here is a small sampling of some of the new works.

First, the Same Same but different rice bowls. I am not yet a production potter, and really, I prefer my pieces to maintain their individuality rather than trying to look exactly the same. May as well buy mass produced non artisan pieces if you want that look.

Rice Bowls in speckled stoneware. Same Same but different!

Rice Bowls in speckled stoneware. Same Same but different!

Similar in size and shape, this pair is just the right size for a proper portion of rice.

Rice bowl bases.

Rice bowl bases.

The clay is speckled stoneware from PHS and the glazes are non-commercial, that is to say they are recipes particular to the studio where I now rent am fortunate enough to rent space from.

Rice Bowl detail with my signature scorpion stamp on the side.

Rice Bowl detail

A bit rough on the edges, but I am pretty pleased with this pair.

Wishing you peace and happiness,

Coryna

The search for long dpns brought me to…Bergere de France!

Not one for lying low or taking half measures, I realize that I may be overdoing the artsy things that I love, like throwing clay and knitting. Aching forearms and complaining digits are urging me, not to slow down, but rather, to search for alternate working methods.

As for the wheel, well, there is little one can do to change tac, but knitting.. that is another matter. There are so many ways to knit, and mastering a couple of methods just to mix up the hand motions required cannot be a bad thing. I knit continental German style and while this is a relatively ergonomic style of knitting, repetition is still just that, repetitive. In my search for an alternative, I decided that lever knitting, or production knitting, as practiced by the ladies and gentlemen of Shetland might be a good fit.

I went in search of the required long needles. Straights to be braced under the arm and double pointed needles to fit into a leather yarn belt, also called a maakin’ belt.

Rare as hen’s teeth these long straight needles are! The popularity of circular needles, which are brilliant (I have more than a few pairs), has seen the demise of the very long needles. So off to the interweb I went and found a brilliant source for long needles, from Bergere de France!

I browsed the online catalogue and signed up for an account. They asked if I would like a catalogue mailed out. Normally I would say ‘no’ and stick with digital only. I am so glad that I clicked ‘yes’.

After a tiring day of throwing clay and glazing bowls I came home to find the catalogue had arrived in record time… and treated myself to a leisurely perusal of the substantial offering with a glass of wine!

Bergere de France catalogue 2013.2014 with needles and wineglass

Bergere de France catalogue 2013.2014 with needles and wine glass

This delightful catalogue is full pictures of gorgeous patterns for women, men, children, and babies, all photographed in Paris (one of my favourite places).

All of the yarns include a full description including fibre composition, gauge, care, recommended needles, meterage (yes, metres not yards.. yay!), all the details a knitter needs. All of the premium yarns feature a printed shade card on the side of one page and I have a feeling these are pretty accurate.

Bergere de France catalogue. Printed shade card page sample

Bergere de France catalogue. Printed shade card page sample

But to my delight I discovered that many, many, of the yarns have real shade cards with actual yarn samples carefully attached to the pages. How fabulous is that!

Bergere de France catalogue. Printed shade card page sample

Bergere de France shade card apage with yarn samples attached!

Remember I was looking for long needles? Here, on one of the catalogue pages, you can see that the aluminum dpns come in 20 or 40 cm lengths (8 or 16 inches)! The 40 cm ones are just what I need for my maakin’ belt  – which, incidentally, is on its way from Shetland as I type! I’ll write more about that when it arrives. The long straight needles that I was after are available as 40 cm birch needles in sizes from 3.5 – 8.0 mm. They also have several options for long straights in aluminum, but I wanted the wooden ones for tucking under the arm.

Bergere de France, needle page featuring 40 cm dpns perfect for knittng with a Shetland Knitting belt!

Bergere de France, needle page featuring 40 cm dpns perfect for knittng with a Shetland Knitting belt!

If one had a need for really big and long needles, Bergere de France carries applewood  or maplewood needles that are 50 cm long in sizes from 7 – 20 mm! I can see an art installation in my mind’s eye.

Bergere de France wooden needle catalogue. if you need really long, really big needles, here they are!

Bergere de France wooden needle catalogue. if you need really long, really big needles, here they are!

They also carry rosewood, bamboo, carbon, and acrylic needles in many variations of size, length and format including interchangeable sets. Crochet hooks too. Really, they should have just what you need.

Catalogue price sheets and featured pattern index.

Catalogue price sheets and featured pattern index.

Along with the yarn and yarn related accessories, Bergere de France also have supplies for other needlework endeavours including crochet, needlepoint and cross stitch.

One of the things I look at when I make purchases is where is the product coming from. All Bergere de France yarns are made in France and they offer tours of their facility. I will definitely have a look next time we are in the neighbourhood.

In Canada the head office is in Quebec and shipping rates for Canadian orders are reasonable. Bravo!

I am off to complete my order, do I,  or do I not succumb to the allure of lurex!? … and more good news, they take payment via Paypal!

Cheers,

Coryna

Bergere de France catalogue 2013.2014 back cover.

Bergere de France catalogue 2013.2014 back cover.

First try at Sashiko

I purchased a kit for 4 coasters from Sake Puppets on Etsy. It came complete with everything needed to experience Sashiko from start to finish including gorgeous linen blend designer print backing fabric. I also purchased a set of 2 traditional needles, and a leather thimble.

Sashiko coaster kit and purchases as received!

Sashiko coaster kit and purchases as received! Love the personalized note and little handmade bow decoration.

Components of the kit – indigo fabric, backing fabric, thread, needle, carbon (chako) paper, clear transfer sheet, patterns for transferring.

Sake Puppets, Sashiko kit components, and additional items.

Sake Puppets, Sashiko kit components.

I selected this kit rather than the pre-printed mini-kits available from some vendors, as I wanted to understand and be able to execute all aspects of  Sashiko. One of the key skills is transferring the traditional stitching pattern to the indigo.

Transferring the Sashiko stitching pattern onto the indigo fabric!

Transferring the Sashiko stitching pattern onto the indigo fabric!

Transferring the design to the fabric.. make a ‘sandwich’ layering the components together and hold them securely with a couple of bull clips while you trace the pattern with a dry pen or Hera marker.

The sequence of layers is shown below. From bottom to top (left to right):  Indigo, chaco tracing paper, pattern, clear film.

Tranferring the design. components, right to left,bull clips to keep everything in place,  dry pen, clear transfer sheet, sashiko design, chako paper, indigo fabric.

transferring the design. components, right to left,bull clips to keep everything in place, dry pen, clear transfer sheet, sashiko design, chako paper, indigo fabric.

Almost done!

Sashiko stitching completed (mostly), now to sew the coasters together!

Sashiko stitching completed (mostly), now to sew the coasters together!

I have found that I prefer the shorter of the traditional needles in the package – it is the mid size one overall – and didn’t need the thimble. Quite honestly, had I needed a thimble my regular quilting one would have sufficed.I like the thinner style of Sashiko thread used double, although I haven’t tried the thicker type yet.

Sashiko stitching completed (mostly), now to sew the coasters together!

Sashiko coasters kit from Sake Puppets, almost finished.

I added a single layer of pure wool felt in the centre of each coaster for loft and absorbency.

They just need a quick steaming to finish!