Stitch Exchange: New Pattern Collection Featuring Verb Yarn!

Posted by AVFKW Staff on January 22, 2015 2 Comments

In April 2013, Bristol Ivy wrote to us and asked us to be part of a very special project that she and five other designers were embarking on. The project sounded intriguing, and the designers -- Bristol, Mary-Heather BrowneAmy ChristoffersMichele WangOlga Buraya-Kefelian, and Leila Raabe -- are some of our very favorites, so of course we said yes!

Today Bristol and her five collaborators are releasing that project -- and we are proud to be a part of 54 Rue du Chateau! It's a collection of six shawls, each knit out of one of our naturally dyed yarns, each one truly beautiful. But the most remarkable thing about the collection is that every collaborator designed part of each shawl pattern!

If you've ever heard of the game Exquisite Corpse, this will sound familiar. Each designer chose her yarn and colorway, and created the first section of her shawl. Then each shawl was sent to another designer -- who then added the next section, working off the theme and stitch pattern that the original designer chose. Each of the six designers added a section to each shawl.

The result was six different shawls that are truly collaborative pieces. Because all the shawls follow the same general top-down construction, each corresponding section is interchangeable, meaning there are endless possibilities for combining patterns and designs!

I've been lucky enough to watch the project evolve, as the yarn and shawls made their way around the world, and to get a glimpse of the designing and organizational prowess that went into this project. As soon as I heard it was close to be launched, I jumped at the chance to talk to each of the designers, to hear their thoughts on the process, patterns, and -- of course -- the yarn and colors. I love seeing the similarities and difference between their answers -- just like in the patterns themselves!

Here are the answers from the designers, preceded by a photo of the design each one started (photos copyright Bristol Ivy & Lelia Raabe).

Mary-Heather Browne / Breton / Creating in Indigo Blue Sky

Favorite overall shawl? There is no way I could pick a very favorite, because I see everyone's touches throughout all of them which makes me love them all!

Favorite yarn or color used? Favorite yarn - Annapurna! We worked with it on several shawls; it's luxurious, squishy and drapey at the same time, and shows stitches well. Favorite color - gotta be the Indigo. Kristine's passion for indigo has taught me so much about the process and unique qualities of the dye; it's a beautiful blue with a story.

Briefly, from where did you draw inspiration? Motifs in nature and architecture, and the yarn itself.

What does this project inspire you do next? Play and swatch more, and loosen up a bit. Though working on a collaborative project like this was challenging, it was also very freeing to send off the sections to the next person and know it was in great hands!

Each shawl section - easier than designing a whole shawl at once, or harder? I thought it was harder! When my turns came around on the shawl, I really wanted to respect the design work that all the other women had done while at the same time making an interesting section within 20 rows. It required a bit of study each time.

Would you do a project like this again / why / why not? It was truly an honor to have been asked to participate in this project, and I learned so much from seeing the designs develop among my talented colleagues - I would absolutely do a project like this again!

Amy Christoffers / Reverdy / Annapurna in Old Vine 

Favorite overall shawl? Prevert or Reverdy.

Favorite yarn or color used? Too hard to choose, the Indigo is stunning, Hawks Feather is another favorite but I have to go with my Old Vine.

Briefly, from where did you draw inspiration? From the sections that arrived ready to be knit.

What does this project inspire you do next? I'd like to cast-on again the same first section that I began Reverdy with and take it off in my own direction.

Each shawl section - easier than designing a whole shawl at once, or harder? Easier and harder, sometimes the picking up where someone else left off felt daunting but once the stitches were on the needles it felt like the pattern evolved organically from what had happened before.

Would you do a project like this again / why / why not? Yes, but maybe with some slightly different parameters. I think it became a struggle to keep focused at times because it went on so long and there were so many variables. If there was a way to condense the schedule without sacrificing the project I would do it again tomorrow. At times it was a struggle to keep up and to give this right amount of attention to this project- especially as the sections got longer and bigger- but I'm so in love with how everything turned out I would love to do something similar again. There is something incredibly magical about this kind of collaboration. I feel so honored to have been a part of this project.

Michele Wang / Prevert / Annapurna in Hawk's Feather 

Favorite overall shawl? Tanguay & Duchamp - can't decide between the two.

Favorite yarn or color used? Floating in Topological

Briefly, from where did you draw inspiration? I'm not sure I used inspiration in the traditional sense for these shawls. I tried to work off of the row before my section and change it up a little without losing the already established essence. I guess you could say I used the previous rows as my inspiration!

What does this project inspire you do next? The lace shawl is not part of my regular repertoire so I'm definitely more inspired to do a lace shawl. They still surprise me after I see them blocked - you can never expect how beautiful they are.

Each shawl section - easier than designing a whole shawl at once, or harder? I think it was easier. I'm sometimes daunted by all of that flat empty space, and this allowed me to take little bites at a time.

Would you do a project like this again / why / why not? I would definitely do this again! It was so much fun to see what people decided to do, and I ended up learning so much about reading other people's lace knitting and figuring out what to do. There was a lot of "letting go" and I think that is very educational when you're creating something.

Olga Buraya-Kefelian / Peret / Annapurna in Supernova

Favorite overall shawl? I am going to be completely biased and admit that I do love the way Peret, my shawl turned out. It's very graphic and geometric - things I am drawn to constantly in kniwear design. Between ancient runes and game of Tetris if you like by the means of eyelet and mesh. The shawls that I have personally designed previously were always driven by these aspects first. So it is extremely true to my aesthetic and I am happy to know that my collaborators recognized it and helped me in making it what it became!

Favorite yarn or color used? Annapurna in Supernova colorway that I used in my shawl was just the right amount of lavender and grey in it which appealed to me in the first place, but I really enjoyed working with yarn in the Old Vine colorway used in Amy's Reverdy shawl. And now I think the reason why is that a color very close to it was just announced as color of the year by Pantone. Maybe I was having a premonition!

Briefly, from where did you draw inspiration? From all the usual places for me. Graphics, print, typography, geometric things that catch my eye and what I personally love to wear.

What does this project inspire you do next? Use more AVFKW yarn in my future projects probably. It gave me a chance to spend some extra quality time discovering more of the bases and colors. And other aspect would be to design more lace stitch patterns, because it is very fun.

Each shawl section - easier than designing a whole shawl at once, or harder? It was harder for me. To me it was a representation of the designer who has started this shawl and who was going to finish it, so I wanted to give support to their original idea while contributing a small bit of my creativity. All while doing so not to over-design it but rather find a better balance for it before sending it off onto the next designer.

Would you do a project like this again / why / why not? If I have time and if it is not a tight deadline, definitely. It is a great way to learn how your fellow designers knit and think when it comes to knitting. And such improvisations certainly help my math practices to keep your mind fresh as if solving a puzzle, so when I got each shawl it felt like a math problem I needed to solve besides a creative one. Taking all of those into account to make something pretty. All of those certainly make you discover another facet to being a knitwear designer.

Leila Raabe / Duchamp / Annapurna in Jade (Alpine is close substitute)

Favorite overall shawl? I personally love the way each designer's individual sections came together for Tanguy -- a nicely balanced example for the concept of multiple designers working on a single piece.

Favorite yarn or color used? Annapurna (used in Michele's Prevert and Olga's Peret) was my favorite -- so incredibly soft to work with. Though I have to admit I enjoyed all of the yarns we used. Favorite color has to be Supernova, with its tonal pink-grey.

Briefly, from where did you draw inspiration? Primarily from the designer(s) before my section of the shawls: in some cases a continuation of the previous motifs used, and others more of a basic starting point to go in a completely different (but hopefully still harmonious) direction. I also enjoyed browsing the works of the surrealists after whom these shawls are named.

What does this project inspire you do next? I'd love to someday design other projects in these yarns, particularly Annapurna. This was my first time knitting with it, and the drape and stitch definition combine to make beautiful knitted fabric that feels light as air, yet still shows off stitch patterns so clearly. Often there's a compromise of one for the other, but not with this yarn. I need more of it in my life.

Each shawl section - easier than designing a whole shawl at once, or harder? Harder. I guess that sense of ease depends on individual creative process -- usually I design as I go and work out details while knitting a project, keeping in mind the whole of the piece the entire time. Doing just a section of a mere 20 rows, mid-project, required me to think of designing a different way. For these shawls there was also a strong desire to do the other designers' work justice, wanting to get it "right", knowing that there was no possibility of ripping back to change what I did so it better supported the sections that came after mine! The number of shawl designs we had to do also proved to be surprisingly challenging -- the original concept of a single result, rather than five, would likely have been a different experience altogether.

Would you do a project like this again / why / why not? I think it would be neat to see how a similar project with different parameters would turn out. There is no limit to the possibilities and variations, which was one of the most compelling aspects of a collaborative project like this. Changing up things like type of project, number of finished pieces, and designer roster would be very interesting. Even if (or especially if?) the yarn remained the same. :-)

Bristol Ivy / Tanguy / Floating in Topological

(As the head of the project, I asked Bristol a couple extra questions about planning and execution.)

How did you come up with the idea for the project? I tend to have ideas for small, fun, personal projects that snowball quickly into something much more epic. I played a lot of Exquisite Corpse in art classes as a teenager, and so a couple summers ago, Leila and I were talking about how it might be fun to trade a shawl back and forth all summer in that theme. Then it became logical to have two shawls so we could each have one at the end. And then the lightbulb went off and I about knocked her over when I figured out that we could bring in others and do it round robin style. I knew it was a crazy idea, but we put a list together of our dream team designers and dream yarn company to work with, and everyone said yes! I have been so thrilled and honored to work with such an amazing group and with such amazing yarn through this process.

How long did the whole process take? Did the shawls all travel around separately, then come back to you for photography? We started trading shawls in August 2013. Everyone got two skeins of yarn, some basic instructions, and a notebook to sketch and leave notes for the other designers. The initial idea was that the shawls would travel every month for seven months, going to each designer and then back to the originator, but when you’re working with six incredibly busy designers, that’s not easy! We ended up getting all the pieces back in early June, and shooting them in August 2014 in downtown Portland.

Favorite overall shawl? SO hard to pick! I love all of them—despite the original designer only having twenty little rows to work with, the rest of the shawl is so imbued with their aesthetic. I have to be selfish and say that I’m totally enamored of Tanguy—because I get to keep it! I love the Art Deco swoops and angles to it, and the unexpected and soft eyelets near the border. That was the best part about this whole process—you think you know how things will go, but the evolution is even more fascinating than you could ever imagine.

Each shawl section — Easier than designing a whole shawl at once, or harder? Hmmm. A bit of both. With a traditional shawl, I’d be worried more about pattern repeats for ease of charting in the bigger picture, but in this case since I knew I had a concrete and finite twenty rows to work with, I could be more creative and fluid. But that led to a lot more thinking on the needles than I’m used to!

Would you do a project like this again / why / why not? I’ll give it a couple years before I think about it again, but yes! One idea that I had about halfway through (again with the snowballing) was that the originating designer could start two shawls, each with the same chart. Then they’d send one away to travel to other designers and keep the other, continuing the evolution of the patterning as they had envisioned it. Then once both were complete, the two could be shown and offered in comparison, to see how much the traveling shawl had diverged from the designer’s original idea. But that’s an idea for much further down the road!

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The shawls themselves will be on display at Verb starting January 31st -- so you can come take a look and decide which is your favorite. Personally, I'm torn: I love the geometric motifs in Breton and Peret, but I also love the traditional lace appeal of Duchamp, Prevert, and Tanguay, and I'm fascinated by the garter stitch lace of Reverdy. I guess I'll have to wait to see them in person as well!

Ready to cast-on? Join us on Sunday, January 25th for our Community Knitting event at 11:30 am. And after that, we'll be hosting a KAL at the shop on Thursday nights -- click here for more details!

Thanks so much to all the designers for sharing their thoughts about this great project! And a huge thanks to Bristol for planning and coordinating everything -- we can't wait to see other people knit these designs! 

-- Sarah

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Stitch Exchange: Introducing the Nell Shirt!

Posted by AVFKW Staff on December 29, 2014 0 Comments

Hello everyone, we have a new sewing pattern

 

Nell is a beautiful, softly-shaped shirt with unique collar and cuff details. This shirt draws inspiration from a variety of places. We looked at classic button down shirts, tuxedo shirts, and vintage shirts for both men and women. We wanted an easy-to-wear top that could be made up in many different fabrications for different looks. It was also important to us to design something with some details that would set this shirt apart from other sewing patterns on the market. We love the collar and cuff details we settled on!

The V detail is very flattering and offers a lovely line to the neck and wrist. The collar can be worn standing up or folded down, with very interesting lines created by both wearing options. 

The front panel is another visually interesting element of this shirt, and it's a fun puzzle to sew! It is fully lined so that you can wear the collar folded down and still have a very sleek look. For the cleanest look you will want to line the front panel with the same fabric you are using for the shell of the shirt. For a fun detail you can line the front panel and cuffs with a contrasting fabric -- a perfect time for a little secret Liberty!

We also love how Nell can be sewn from a wide variety of fabrics. Make this shirt up out of a naturally dyed linen, double gauze, or a shirting fabric for a casual look; or make her up out of a silk or silk blend for an elevated, evening look. Nell also works out of a light garment weight wool for a wonderful cold weather layer! 

 

Another perfect fabric option is our handspun, handwoven, organic khadi cloth! The khadi is a great alternative to a shirting fabric for the Nell, it's a little more casual but still has a sophisticated feel. 

Nell is our most advanced pattern thus far, it's a great opportunity to stretch your sewing abilities with some more advanced construction. However, if you are feeling hesitant we will be doing a Nell sew-a-long in the coming months! Stay tuned for more details! 

Nell is available as an immediate download, as well as a printed pattern.

We hope you like this new addition to our pattern line! As a reminder, we have samples of all of our patterns in the full range of sizes sewn up in the store. Please come in and try them on if you are feeling hesitant about what size to make for yourself. 

As always if you have any questions or comments about the patterns please feel free to contact us!

Happy sewing!

-- Tasa

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Holiday Stitch Exchange: Pressed Seam Fabric Club!

Posted by AVFKW Staff on December 11, 2014 0 Comments

Hello everyone!

I'm excited to announce that our fabric club, Pressed Seam, is open for sign-ups today! As a member you will receive 6 fat quarters each month, shipped on the 1st of the month! Memberships are available in 3 and 6 month subscriptions, and this month, as part of our Holiday Stitch Exchange blog series, we have a special offer: ALL new subscribers will receive a free gift with their first shipment!

This club is a great way to build your fabric stash with great prints and blenders, as well as specialty textiles, unique hand-dyed fabric, and hand-printed fabric that you might not have picked for yourself!

In anticipation of sign-ups being open I worked up this little quilt. All the fabrics I used have been part of shipments in the last 6 months, and to complete the quilt top the minty green solid is the only fabric where I used more than a fat quarter. I wanted to illustrate how this club is a great way to have a library of materials you can draw from to make a last minute project or gift, without a trip to the store. 

I'm a big fan of having a stash of supplies to pull from. I'm sure it comes mostly from growing up 50 miles from the nearest fabric store! But I love being able to wake up, brainstorm my project and start on it straightaway. I also like having pieces in my collection that I didn't actually pick out for myself but got from a friend, family member or other trusted source. I keep a large collection of fabrics I inherited from my grandmother and I pull from it often. Sometimes I end up using something I would never have picked out at the store for myself, and it ends up being my favorite element in the project.

I encourage people to sign up for Pressed Seam for the fun of getting the package every month as well as the adventure of having materials you may not otherwise have thought of using! Here is one more look at my little lap quilt and some basic directions if you want to sew one up for yourself! 

Finished quilt:

33" x 40"

Materials:

4 coordinated fat quarters

1 yard of contrast for background 

1 yard of fabric for back

1/2 yard of fabric for binding

Directions:

Sew all seams with 1/4" seam allowance.

1. Cut 6x 4.5" inch squares from each of your 4 fat quarters.

2. Cut 24x 4.5" squares from the contrast fabric

3. Sew each of your fat quarter squares to a contrasting square, resulting in 12 half-square-triangels from each of your fat quarter fabrics (48 half-square-triangles total). Click here for 2 different techniques to make half-square-triangles.

4. Play with laying the squares out and establishing a graphic pattern that you like, and sew it up!

5. Add a 5.5" border out of contrasting fabric all the way around. 

6. For quilt back use one solid piece, or piece together scraps from fat quarters.

7. Bind the quilt, and you're done!

Happy sewing!

Tasa

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Holiday Stitch Exchange: New Clover Pattern from Huelo!

Posted by AVFKW Staff on December 11, 2014 0 Comments

We are super excited that our old friend and coworker, Huelo, is continuing her design work and has a brand new pattern out using our yarn Clover! It's a cute hooded cowl, worked in stockinette and garter stitch and shaped with short rows.

We love her design and can't wait to knit it ourselves. It's available to purchase on Ravelry today, and there's lots of wonderful Clover in stock at the shop and online to knit it out of. Without further ado, here's Huelo to tell you about her life in Bulgaria and her new pattern, Chervena.

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Hi there Verb friends! It’s me, Huelo, of Verb circa 2013. I’ve been following Kristine’s yarn-making and dyeing adventures from afar, and I’m so excited to introduce a new design using her beautiful Montana Targhee wool/silk blend, Clover.

It’s been almost a year since my boy and I packed his Camry full of all of our stuff and left California, Bulgaria-bound (well, Portland-bound at first. We couldn’t drive the Camry to Bulgaria). We’ve been living in a lovely little block apartment in the country’s capital, Sofia, for almost nine months.

A couple things have happened since we got here. We got married and became full-time freelance creative-types, Lorenzo blogging about our wacky lives here, and me mostly just knitting. I miss the sunshine, the creative and energetic people, and the taco trucks of Oakland. But in exchange, I have wonderful new friends, plenty of time for knitting and writing, and gorgeous post-Soviet decay all around me as constant inspiration (not for long, sadly; Bulgaria is embracing capitalism as fast as she can, and Sofia is leading the charge).

Amidst the concrete, the shiny metal dumpsters, and the leafy playgrounds ringed with benches, the color red defines Bulgaria’s aesthetic, to me. Salads are usually more red than green here, loaded with tomatoes and sweet peppers. In traditional folk costumes, embroidery and textiles, red is the constant, defining color. The political associations of the color are recent and superficial, against red’s long associations with life, strength and fertility.

In September I took a trip to Chiprovtsi, a small town in the Balkan Mountains famous for handwoven carpets. Yulka, one of the town’s few remaining master weavers, explained to me the color red’s significance in Chiprovtsi textiles. The rugs’ traditionals symbols and motifs often represent family, birth, and womanhood, and are often depicted in dark red wool. Yulka unfolded one of her largest, reddest rugs and told me that one hundred years ago, this would’ve been a rug “only for rich people.” Red was important not just because it’s beautiful, but because it’s dear. Before synthetic dyes, the richest reds came from snail shells, Yulka told me, and a room-sized red carpet required the sacrifice of thousands of snails.

It’s a little bit magical to me that today, with some madder root extract and Kristine’s natural dye expertise, a rich, bright red can be achieved without chemical dyes, and without all those poor snails. I named this hooded cowl “Chervena,” after the Bulgarian word for red. I plan to wear it all winter, as a reminder that spring is always coming, no matter how cold or dark it gets.

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Thanks for sharing a slice of your life with us, Huelo!

To celebrate the debut of her pattern, Huelo has kindly offered us 20 free copies of the pattern to give away! If you would like to knit Chervena, come into our brick and mortar store or shop online and receive a free copy when you buy 2 skeins of Clover to knit it! If you're shopping online, please mention "Chervena" in the comments section and we'll include a copy with your order.

I hope you'll cast on with me!

-- Sarah

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Holiday Stitch Exchange: Make a Needle Felted Ornament

Posted by Kristine Vejar on December 08, 2014 1 Comment

Materials Needed:

  • Foam block
  • Heavy Gauge Felting Needle
  • 1 oz of Light Brown/golden Wool, merino and corriedale are best
  • .25 oz of Red Wool
  • .25 oz of White Wool
  • Gingerbread Cookie Cutter
  • 6" Piece of Red Yarn
  • Tapestry Needle

Felting Directions:

Place your foam block flat on a sturdy surface

Take your gingerbread cookie cutter and place it in the middle of your foam block

Use your golden colored wool - open it up and tear off 2" x 1/2" chunks

Lay the pulled fiber inside the cookie cutter, creating a solid layer of wool.

Using your felting needle slowly push in the golden wool, making sure to press down the cookie cutter against the foam, carefully keeping the wool within the cookie cutter shape.

Keep your fingers away from the needle point and continue slowly punching the needle over the wool

Once the wool has become felted, you can add more wool, until the felted gingerbread reaches a felted piece of 1/2" thick

Once all the wool has been firmly attached to itself, lift the cookie cutter, then lift you gingerbread from the foam

The wool will likely be slightly attached to the foam, carefully lift peeling from each corner to keep the shape

Flip the gingerbread on the foam and place the cookie cutter back - lining up the gingerbread outline

Slowly punch your needle into the gingerbread shape, felting the fibers

The density of the gingerbread should be firm but still squishy

Remove cookie cutter and gently peel the gingerbread from the foam block

Pull a few more wisps of golden fiber and gently lay them over the gingerbread, wrapping them around

Place gingerbread over foam, keeping your fingers out of the way

Lightly punch the wisps, creating a uniform layer of wool - this will cover any needle holes, continue on all sides

To make the gingerbread's buttons, use a very tiny amount of red wool

Take a tiny piece of wool and roll it into a ball with your hands

Place the ball on the foam and gently punch it - this should make a small red, flat felt button

Once finished with the button - place it on top of the gingerbread and slowly punch the outer edges

You can test the attachment of the button by slowly trying to lift the button - it should stay put

Repeat this process for the other red button and white eyes

To make a smiling mouth - use a small amount of white fiber and make a tiny roll 1/2" long

Place it over the gingerbread and again punch very slowly attaching it in a thin mouth shape

Thread your tapestry needle with the red yarn and pull through the top of the gingerbread

Tie the two ends together and hang on tree branch

Congratulations! You have just needle felted a happy little gingerbread ornament 

Need more help?

Join Us!

Holiday Knitting & Needle Felting Party - Sunday, December 21st

Come celebrate the holidays Verb style - by knitting gifts, needle felting, eating cookies, and sipping tea!

Spend the afternoon in our studio, working on your holiday knitting or needle-felting cute ornaments! Everyone is welcome -- feel free to bring a friend and a snack to share!

Need a little help with your knitting? Stop by and get a little help with your project. New to needle-felting? Learn the basics and start on a cute animal ornament!

We have all the supplies you need available for purchase in the shop.

Bring your favorite cookie cutter or use ours! Hands on help is available!

Date: Sunday, December 21st
Time: 1:00-5:00pm

This event is free! No RSVP needed. Seats are limited and are first come first served.

 

 

Happy Holidays!

Adrienne

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