Archives for category: diy

My original inspiration for creating knitted jewelry was to showcase the beauty of hand-dyed fibers. When I started knitting, I fell in love with the gorgeous skeins of hand-dyed yarn and their rich variegated hues. Naturally, I became curious about the dyeing process and when I mentioned my interest to Anne-Marie of Pirtti Handwoven, she told me to check out Fibershed.

Fibershed is a non-profit dedicated to building communities to support local fiber and dye farmers and educating others about sustainable “soil to skin” processes. Poking around their website, I found a natural dyeing workshop in my area and signed myself up.

natural dye workshop book

The workshop, taught by Fibershed founder and Harvesting Color author Rebecca Burgess, opened with a well-informed talk by Rebecca about the textile industry and the adverse effects its current practices have on our health, environment and quality of life. I had never thought about all of the fossil fuels that go into creating colored fabric. And I was shocked to hear that two-thirds of the global textile workforce is comprised of indentured slaves. I had come to learn about the dyeing process out of personal interest and gained a better understanding of the impact our current choices have on a global level.

sagebrush in copper

coreopsis in stainless steel

toyon dye samples

The rest of the day was spent in a hands-on exploration of natural plant dyes that can all be found in the Bay Area. We made five vats of dye in stainless steel and copper pots, which draw out colors in different ways. We brewed deliciously fragrant concoctions of oak galls (slate grey), french broom (lime/pale yellow), toyon (peach), sagebrush (taupe), and coreopsis (orange/brown).  We dipped and dyed locally-sourced silk, cotton and wool samples to see how each one takes color. My favorites were toyon, because it smells like marzipan, and oak galls in rust water, which transforms into a gorgeous deep blueish-grey.

natural dye workshop blends

It was an inspiring day that got my creative juices flowing. I’m already thinking about ways to incorporate natural hand-dyeing into some new designs. Better start foraging!

It’s that time of year when everyone is scrambling to preserve their favorite summer fruit to enjoy all year long. In the last few weeks we’ve received half a dozen varieties of berry jam from friends and neighbors. We couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon and canning our own strawberry-rhubarb jam last weekend.

Rhubarb is my husband’s favorite summer vegetable, which is more popular in Germany than in the US. When he first started buying it here, he would get puzzled looks at the checkout and had to explain what it was. It looks like red celery, but has a sharp tart flavor. When it’s cooked down with a lot of sugar and combined with a sweet fruit like strawberry, it becomes a delicious summertime treat.

Our strawberry-rhubarb jam follows this standard recipe, but has a few of unexpected twists. First, Peter substitutes half of the lemon juice with orange bitters and pours in about a 1/4 cup of white wine to give it more complexity. He also adds lemon rind while the rhubarb is being cooked down. Last, but not least, a teaspoon of pepper gives it a nice kick at the end. A little something for all the taste buds!

After my husband makes the jam, my job is to make them pretty. I love the Kitchen Collage labels by Galison and use them on practically everything gifted from our kitchen. I cut out circles of gingham fabric with pinking shears, tie them on with kitchen twine, and they are ready to go!

I first discovered Avarcas when I spotted them on the lovely Ana of We Love Citrus at Craftcation back in March. She had the flats in yellow and I was coveting them from the minute I saw them. I procrastinated on purchasing them and was glad I did when I saw them on sale at Fab.

You know about Fab, don’t you? It’s my favorite resource to discover new and fabulous designers. Their mission is to help people better their lives with design. Gotta love that, right? If you haven’t checked them out yet, head on over there pronto (right after you finish reading this post)!

It was tough deciding which sandals to get because I really wanted a pair in each color. I ended up ordering the wedges in saffron, because I loved the color on Ana. Now that they’re on my feet, I love them even more! She had told me how comfortable they are, but they’re incredibly lightweight as well. They’re going to be perfect on my trip to Scandinavia next month, but I’m enjoying breaking them in now!

The fabulousness didn’t end there, because their packaging provided an unexpected source of inspiration. My Avarcas came with this simple but clever little bracelet tag. I have been brainstorming diy tag ideas for my necklaces and I think this might be a winner.

Don’t you love it when you find inspiration in unexpected places? Where did your latest inspiration come from?

Since my launch was postponed, I had some extra time to make a couple baby gifts for one of nearest and dearest friends. She is actually the one who taught me to knit ten years ago on a weekend getaway. We laugh that once those needles were in my hands I never looked up again that weekend.

Not wanting to take on a big project, I was just going to knit a hat or something small. Then I saw the Four Corners blanket on the Purl Bee, a gorgeous modern baby blanket. I knew immediately that it would be the perfect gift. I used a much bulkier yarn in bold colors and it knit up fast!

Since I finished the blanket faster than expected, I had time to whip up a quick nursing cover. I’m just learning to sew, so I love practicing on these. I followed the Prudent Baby tutorial and added a soft terry cloth corner pocket. I think it’s especially nice for moms having boys (like my friend) to have some pretty, girly things. I love how the fabric coordinates with the colors in the blanket.

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