Friday, December 25, 2020

Non-Traditional Christmas Tree #16: A Celebration of Yarn

Celebrating Christmas at the End of a Pandemic Year

Christmas Tree 2020

What a strange year this has been. I think I have spent more hours in my home since March of 2020 than in many years combined prior to that. A lot of the ‘at home’ activity revolved around creative projects, so it would make sense that my 2020 non-traditional Christmas tree this year reflect that.

Since fibers are a bit part of my life and I have ample in my possession, I decided to create this year’s tree from all things related to yarn.  You can see some of the ingredients below.

balls, skeins and cones of yarn

cord, tassels and pompoms

The core of the tree was set around some decorative display items that Starbucks used in their stores a few years ago. I had asked my local store if they were going to toss the displays at the end of the season, if they would toss it my way. Lucky for me, they did, and I’ve been using these yarn and glass ball displays in my home holiday décor for many years.
Decorative core, thanks to Starbucks

Around the tree I placed my cones of yarn around the core. Some of these were from my weaving years, and others from my current machine-knitting years. I attached tassels around the edge of the tabletop. These I made these as demo items in my Textiles class. When we began to study yarns, I showed my students how to create cord, and then how to build a tassel. 
tassels placed around the edge of the table top

Next, I draped the hanks/skeins of hand-painted yarns around the base, and then, I positioned pompoms (also a demo item for my students in Textile Design) and balls of yarn to fill in the gaps.
fill-in items

The last item for the decoration was the stringing of lights. There you have it… a yarn holiday tree,  #16 for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

NewDo: Machine Knit T-Shirt Top by Theresa Avila

Machine Knit T-Shirt Challenge: Complete!

Theresa Avila

Garment Designer user, Theres Avila from Albuquerque recently shared a project with us. Her machine knitting club decided to have a summer T-Shirt challenge. Teresa got involved and used Garment Designer to create her pattern. She knit the garment on a Brother 940 knitting machine using one strand of Yeoman Panama cotton yarn at tension 6.2. This was her first Garment Designer project. Great work Theresa!

Theresa Avila Sweater
Machine-Knit T-Shirt top by Theresa Avila

A Little about Theresa

Teresa says she is a good old-fashioned homemaker. Her love for sewing and knitting started when, at age 13, her mother told her, that due to her over-flowing closet, they were not going shopping for clothes anymore. Thus began her love of sewing and anything one could do to create clothes. She developed a passion to create new things and has continued this ever since.

Monday, April 20, 2020

ToDo/NewDo: Original Textile Prints and One-Yard Fabric Designs with Garment Designer by Carrie Schneider

African Culture Transformed: One-Yard Print Challenge 

Carrie Schneider

Recently, San Diego Mesa College Fashion Program was involved with a collaboration with the African Art collection at the college and Visions Art Museum in Liberty Station, San Diego. 
Students designed fabrics using imagery from the online African Art archives. Approximately 20 fabrics were printed in one-yard pieces. These fabrics were placed in an exhibit at the museum called African Art Transformed.

In early March, the museum hosted a fashion show of African-inspired garments from Mesa Fashion students (also part of the collaborative effort). Carrie was challenged to create a garment from a one-yard piece of fabric. And this she did, not once, but twice, with two fabrics she had designed.

Here are Carrie's prints.

And now... look at what Carrie managed to do with a single yard of each! She used Garment Designer to create the pattern and her ingenuity to manage garments with a yard of fabric.

Straight skirt

Square neck, cap-sleeved top

A little about Carrie
Carrie Schneider is a biologist who never fails to be entertained by the unique and fascinating qualities of San Diego's natural habitats. She grew up in the verdant countryside of the Hoosier state then moved to the east coast, where she earned a Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is now a consultant in biotechnology company. She led the Environmental Systems subcommittee for the City Wide Canyons Sewer Maintenance Task Force, whose proposed improvements to City procedures for accessing sewer infrastructure in open space parks were adopted by the City Council in 2002. She is a co-founder of San Diego Canyonlands, started the Friends of Switzer Canyon in North Park, and continues to lead volunteers to restore upland and stream-side habitat. She enjoys contributing to the Herbarium collections at the San Diego Natural History Museum as a trained parabotanist for the Plant Atlas project and was president of the San Diego chapter of the California Native Plant Society from 2002-2004.

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Log Cabin Quilt Challenge... as interpreted by a Wearable Artist, Judith Pipher

A Log Cabin Quilt Challenge with Sewing, Machine Knitting and Beading...
as interpreted by a Wearable Artist, Judith Pipher

Front of Garment
Judith shares her process of following a Quilt Challenge and incorporating multiple textile arts to create a one-of-a-kind garment.

My goal in life is to surround myself with like-minded people. In the world of fabric the nearest group to me is a quilt guild . I joined the guild and appreciate the art form that quilting gives. Now to explain, I am not a quilt maker. I am a quilter. I quilt garments. I do try to fit in sometimes and I do take part in guild challenges.

This Challenge was to do a log cabin design. Of course it was meant to be a wall hanging or quilt. My interpretation was a garment. The  inspiration came from The Asymmetrical Layered Jacket from Cochenille Design Studio's The Easy Seven Series book. 

All pieces were charted out using Garment Designer pattern making software ( 

Both sleeves, left front and half the back were knit using my knitting machine. All hems were knit first using stocking stitch. The fabric was an assortment of Chinese inspired quilt fabrics. I took the right front pattern piece and the upper back piece from my pattern and then cut  the shape out of light weight cotton. Then the Log Cabin pattern began to take shape. On the centre back, the quilt pattern was overlapped to lay on the knitting. This was done to extend the log cabin square and to draw the eye away from the line of  sewing. The V-shape was then hand sewn on top of the knitting. The seam that joins the knitting and quilting was above the armhole to making it easier to manage. 

Front and Back of the garment

The inside of back quilting was finished by using a bias-trimmed lining to cover the stitching of the fabric. On the right front fabric side I used the same pattern shape to create the lining and slip stitched it in place. On the left side, a knit  facing was made to allow  the v-neck to lay flat and not curl. 

Inside of the garment

I continued to think about the art form of the Victorian Era of Crazy Quilting. On a black ultra suede strip on the fabric side  a dragon was created with embroidery and beading. A zipper was used for the closure and the stitches were concealed with an embroidery stitch. On the knit side, appliquéd strips of cloth were used at the shoulder matching up with the back fabric, creating an over the shoulder flow. Brass Chinese coins  were added to create whimsical detail.

To  add other focal points Bead work was done in the centre of a large flower, plus a small floral brass charm was added on the back.


Once finished I realized that the back length was not the correct proportion for me. I shortened it by undoing the side seams, picking up stitches, then rehung the garment on my knitting machine finishing it with a hem and mitre corners at the side slits. 

The results of this design are, it is not a traditional quilt but it is wearable and  keeps me warm and best of all it forms a part of my one of a kind Signature garments !
"Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world".  Marianne Williamson.

A Little about Judith
Judith is a retired historical interpreter. She loves history and now volunteers to do textile management at different museums.  She does condition reports, exhibits and cares for them. Her first and best love? Fibre of all kinds.

Judith travel to learn, to meet like-minded people and to be inspired. She went back to college at the age of 64  to learn pattern making. She continued on to study tailoring with Le Grand Chic school In Italy through Georgian College Barrie. and she graduated at 70!  We were honored to have Judith study with Cochenille in both Italy and San Diego. she has also studied with Jon Moore in London,  Susan Khalje in NYC, and Kathryn Brenne in North Bay (ON, Canada)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

ToDo/NewDo: Hand-Painted Bird Houses are the Talk of Bird Town

At last.. they are hung in the yard

There is no greater pleasure that wrapping up a project that has sat dormant for a little bit, or a long bit, as is actually the case.

A few years ago, as a creative project, four of us sat down one afternoon and began to paint unfinished bird houses that I had gathered for the social activity. The group included Missy (from France) who was visiting, on loan from her parents, Teresa, a past student from Mesa College, and Don and I. 

We gathered acrylic paints, and began the process of adding color and design to wood.
Missy finished hers, but the rest of us had a way to go when it was time to break down for dinner. Teresa later finished her house, but Don's and mine sat dormant for ... well, a couple of years.
Wrapping them up...

With the enforced stay-at-home we are now experiencing, it seemed like the perfect challenge to finish these bird houses and get it out in the yard. So, out came the paints, and in a matter of an hour or so, we were done.

The group

Of course, the next thing was to coat them with polyurethane, and then, we had to determine where to hang them in the yard. 

I've run out of wall space in my house (for art), and so, the yard and garden have become my new playground.
So, after and little experimenting, all the houses now are hanging on my back fence, amid my bicycle wheel/depression glass hangings.

New homes for the bird houses
Missy's polka dot version... Why Not?

What a great cloudy day! It set the colors off.

Already a birdie or two have been poking around, checking out the real estate. Don and I are having amusing conversations about what the 'he' bird is saying to his 'she' bird. 
"Hey honey... check out this red house. Don't you like the porch?"
"No dear, I think it is too much. I prefer the pastel model over here. It has a bit more deco style"
"But that one is beyond a starter house... I don't think we are ready for that"...

The summer should be interesting.

Monday, April 6, 2020

ToDo/NewDo: Ethnic, Up-cycle, and Surface Design with Anna Walden

Getting It Done! Completing Projects

Anna Walden, Point Loma, California

Anna has been completing projects. Here are a few recent ones.

First is a pair of Harem Pants made in plaid cotton flannel according to the instructions in the diagram.  I made them smaller because my fabric was narrower but it turned out to be a good decision as they would have been too large on me.

Second is the Sweatshirt Dress, a up-cycle project. I cropped the sweatshirt, added a skirt in a Liberty knit borrowed from a dress pattern, made the collar from the leftovers, again borrowed.  I drafted the sleeves in Garment Designer and appliquéd the lace using HeatBond and sewing machine.  

The top below is from the Garment Designer pattern I made for the Kuba top project I made this past Fall in a Textile Design class at Mesa College in San Diego. When I made that project, I incorporated fabric that I had dyed using an Ice Dye method. When cleaning up recently,I found the extra fabric, and I sewed it up.  I love this top.  

 A Little About Anna
Anna is a Psychologist and an active textile artist. Most of her creative time is spent sewing or knitting, and ow she has thrown in various forms of surface design. She has published numerous knitting patterns and was part-owner of a yarn company in years past.

Friday, April 3, 2020

ToDo: First Project with Garment Designer, Susan Van Campen

Handwoven Garment 

Susan Van Campen, Inland Empire, California

Susan won a door prize called Proportioned 4 You (an e-Book of patterns) from my business at Stitches West this past February. 
Below is a garment she made using the Cape Coat pattern in the E-book.

Front View

Susan say:
I wove the fabric on a four-shaft loom with ten dent reed. The warp yarn is an 8/2 Cotton and the weft is chenille.

Back View

A Little Bit About Susan
Susan is a retired LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been weaving for a couple of years now.
One of her retirement goals has been to learn to weave fabric with the goal of making clothing. Susan is the co-president of the Inland Empire Handweavers Guild.