Stitch Exchange: Endless Summer Tunic x Sashiko

Posted by Kristine Vejar on October 10, 2016 0 Comments

When designing our line of sewing patterns, we aimed to create patterns which are simple and could become a canvas for your personal creativity.

Sashiko, a style of stitching from Japan, is a great way to personalize your garment. In Japan, sasho means stitch and ko means small. It is easy to create a plethora of designs across your dress using this stitch. Many times, the sashiko style of stitching is used in conjunction with indigo dyed fabric.

In this example, we chose The Endless Summer Tunic and paired it with a fabric which is very close to our heart: Vreseis 100% US grown organic cotton in the blue color.

I typically like a minimal look so I added stitches to the back yoke and down the center front and back of the garment. That said, there are endless possibilities to stitch - in terms of design and placement. Check out my Pinterest board for inspiration.

Tips and tricks:  
+ Sashiko is composed of a simple running stitch.
+ Traditionally, the stitch is longer on the surface. In our example, we played with the length of stitch to create movement.
+ Sashiko thread is made of cotton and is quite thick in comparison to other embroidery floss. For the best results use a sashiko needle. The sashiko needle’s length is long, so it is possible to load many stitches onto the needle. This will create a smooth line.
+ When threading your needle, cut a piece of thread the length of the line you would like to stitch.
+ Make sure after each line of stitching is completed to pull the fabric taut to smooth any puckers.
+ Traditionally, a knot is tied at the beginning and end of the line of stitching to secure. In this case, since we knew we would be stitching over the lines, the knots were not necessary.

If you choose to do a pattern which has more lines and is more geometric in shape, follow these general guidelines:

1. When turning a corner, leave a little space to help control puckering.
2. Stitch the horizontal lines first, followed by the diagonal lines, and then any remaining shapes.

Here is how I created my garment:

I traced off the pattern onto paper as I always do, then I traced the pattern onto the fabric. I cut the pattern out of my fabric.

Then, I sashiko-style stitched my yoke. I sewed the garment.

As a final touch I sashiko-style stitched down the center front and back of my dress.

Currently, we have a kit available which includes the fabric, sashiko thread and needles in case you want to jump in and make one of your very own sashiko style Endless Summer Tunic!

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Flock / 1st Edition : From Sheep to Shelf

Posted by Kristine Vejar on July 31, 2015 2 Comments

I learned to spin in 2002 - and instantly became obsessed with the idea of combining fiber types when making yarn. My first goal was to learn about the properties of each type of wool. Feeling confident that I knew the main differences between an Icelandic fleece and a Targhee fleece, I found myself looking at the various strengths - or weaknesses - and looking to pair fibers.

We have decided to create a line of yarn called Flock - which indicates that we have combined either fleece from various farms and / or fleece from various types of sheep or types of animals. Today, we are releasing our 1st edition of Flock, our newest California wool yarn.

Flock / 1sr Edition is constructed of one strand of spun wool - this is referred to as a single. This has always been one of my favorite kinds of yarn to spin and to knit. I adore the rustic quality.

This yarn has quite a tale to tell - starting back in 2012. Sue Reuser, a renowned Cormo sheep farmer, living just outside Chico, had a stroke. Sue had been raising Cormo for many years. She paid great attention to her sheep, only breeding those with the best attributes of strong body, wool, and mind. She raised Cormo sheep in a multitude of colors. Her award winning fleeces were highly sought after by spinners. While she had a positive recovery, Sue decided that her time had come to sell her farm and her sheep. I had quite a few fleeces from Sue which I was hand-spinning (ahem, coveting). I decided to purchase a large quantity of white fleeces from her with the idea of milling them into yarn for Verb.

Then, in 2013, I began to work with Matt Gilbert, a local shearer, and the person who is working to start Mendocino Wool Mill. Through Matt, I was able to purchase Targhee from a Mendocino County wool grower. In 2014, Matt connected me with a farmer, named Leigh, who loves animals - and has quite a collection - including the Corriedale used in this yarn. Sarah went on quite an adventure to get this wool. When shearing season comes around, we like to say that things becomes very alive - in other words - chaotic (though now with more perspective, and having continued to work with nature and the earth this Summer, I think anytime when working this closely with nature, life tends to be rather edgy - more on that soon).

I had planned to go with Matt to shear Leigh’s sheep. Matt shears, and we skirt (remove all the poopy bits / wool that is too short to be milled into yarn). One thing led to another, and when the shearing date came, it landed on a day in which I was going to be out of town. So Sarah bravely volunteered her time to travel to Cloverdale and skirt with Matt.

Leigh’s sheep are more like pets than livestock. She doesn’t like to shear her sheep because she thinks it is stressful for them. Yes, the sheep do bleat while waiting to be shorn. That said, the sheep, once they have received their annual haircut, jump out of the pen, and go right back to grazing. If I were to project onto the sheep what I think they could be feeling - I would have to say, in 100 degree weather, hardly a tree in sight, the sheep feel better without 12 pounds of wool. Needless to say, Leigh had not shorn her sheep in over a year and a half, so their wool was quite long. Leigh’s barn is not set up for organizing the sheep into a line for shearing, so it was quite an adventure to catch the sheep to lead them to the shearing station. Sarah and Matt persisted. When you look at Flock, that beautiful line of grey running through the yarn is from Leigh’s pretty, naturally colored sheep

In 2014, I was very occupied writing my upcoming book, The Modern Natural Dyer, dreaming about the yarn I could make when the book was completed. Writing a book was so exciting, yet I had no idea how many things had to be put on hold to fulfill that monumental project. So, once the final manuscript was submitted to my publisher, with photos. I began to wade through this large amount of wool I had amassed, and began to contemplate what to do with it.

Looming in the wings, I had promised Verb’s yarn club, Pro-Verbial, I would mill a yarn for them, and I needed to come through on my promise. That was my first priority. Because the designs created for Pro-Verbial (subscriptions opened today for Year 6!) are focused upon shawls and wraps, I knew I wanted to mill something a bit finer; lace-weight, fingering-weight, or sport-weight. I analyzed using only one of the wools for this yarn. But then began to think how beautiful it would be to combine these various wools into one yarn. The Cormo is exquisitely soft, though can be prone to pills since the fleece is so fine, the targhee picks up dye nicely, is a great middle-of-the-road fleece, soft but not so fine that it is hard to mill, and the corriedale, which can be a bit toothy at times, which the cormo would help balance, was shades of beautiful brown and grey.

We have had a great experience working with Green Mountain Spinnery, so we decided to send it to them to have the yarn milled. Though first before the wool could be sent to Green Mountain Spinnery, it had to be packaged. The only wool we have worked with from farm to finished yarn - is Sally’s wool for our line of yarn named Horizon. At Sally’s we had put the wool into cardboard containers, strapped these to pallets, and shipped them from Sally’s farm. This is the first time we needed to figure out how to get 350 pounds of wool packed. We began to brainstorm. And remembered meeting a man, named Joe Pozzi, at Fibershed’s first Fine Wool Symposium. He was on the panel there. And his flock is over one thousand heads. Most of his wool is used for wool felt, batting for comforters, and the like, as it has a bit too much tooth for knitting sweaters. We decided to give him a call to learn what he does with his wool. And guess what? He did! He has a motorized wool baler. Usually the wool baler is out, sometimes for months with the shearing team, though it just so happened that it was dropped off at his western Sonoma county barn. He graciously invited us to bring our wool and have it baled. His baler is from New Zealand.

Side Note: Upon researching balers we came across a collection of amazing videos.

This first one - about 2 minutes in - watch two women get to work on creating a wool bale by hand. Tough stuff! 

Then, we came to learn about a competition in New Zealand called the Golden Shears. Here's a video of women in a shearing competition with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cindi Lauper playing in the background.

Back to this story --> So now we had our wool packed hard into a very large tyvek envelope. Joe, using a pair of very sharp hooks fit over his hands - which are usually used to move straw bales - rolled the bale into Adrienne's pickup truck.

We were so excited - cruising down the road - where we made a pit stop at the beach before heading home. Just me, Adrienne, Cleo, Callie, and our bale of wool.

So now it was time to ship the bale. And we quickly ran into a quandary...you know, we are really used to weighing pretty small quantities of yarn - or dye - in the shop - things more in the range of 1 pound, maybe 10 pounds. Well, something we did not think about was how on earth we were going to weigh this bale in order to ship it! Moreover, how were we going to get the bale out of Adrienne's truck, onto a scale, and then back onto Adrienne's truck.

We drove over to West Oakland, near the Port, amidst the semi-trucks hauling containers, we drove onto the scale. From researching on the internet of what Adrienne's truck might weight, and what we guessed the weight as from our invoices for the wool, we were able to schedule the pick-up for the wool for the next day. The truck showed up - and we rolled the bale into the trailer. We waved goodbye - hoping that it would make it safely to Vermont. Then, Adrienne jumped back into her truck to have it weighed so we could double check our numbers. Now, we have the weight of her truck on file!

About 2 months later, we received our new yarn. It was as beautiful as imagined. As always Green Mountain Spinnery did a lovely job. We began the process of scouring, mordanting, and dyeing the yarn.

One of the most compelling parts of this yarn, is the way the natural, brown-silver wool appears every so often, almost like a grey vein running through white granite. As a natural dyer, I adore overdyeing natural colored fleece because of the depth and nuances it adds to the naturally dyed color. This yarn is 300 yards to 50 grams, making a lightweight yarn which can be knit into a variety of things from wraps to lightweight sweaters.

It has been so exciting to see this yarn come to life! I hope you will try it out and let me know what you think! You can find Flock here.



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Gathering at Stitches West 2014 - A show debrief...

Posted by AVFKW Staff on February 25, 2014 0 Comments


This past week, me, Kristine, and Sarah, packed up a portion of the store into two small vehicles and drove them down to the Santa Clara Convention center for the annual Knitting and Crochet Expo called Stitches West.  We had a heck of time packing the cars but finally late Tuesday night, we were mostly packed.  Too tired to pack anymore, we decided to come back early the next morning and finish up.  However, to Kristine's surprise, she received a request for a photo shoot of her and the store on Wednesday morning for an Oakland Magazine article.  How could she say no?! So I finished packing her car and my wee truck.  

We brought our yarnBrooklyn Tweed, and most of the yarn from Quince & Co. AVFKW is one of the few stores on the West coast to carry both Brooklyn Tweed and Quince & Co., so it was a treat to showcase them for the Stitches West attendees; most whom have only seen the yarn online.  This year we had three booths, the most we have had yet at Stitches West.  One reason for the additional booth, was because we won a free booth for winning the most beautiful booth last year.  We took full advantage of the space and laid it out with our favorite patterns, yarn, two trunk shows, an author signing, and Romi's larger display.  

Cactus Flower by Rosemary (Romi) Hill

This year, like two years prior, we shared the booths with shawl designer, jewelry maker, and author, Rosemary Hill, who owns Designs by Romi.  Romi had all of her patterns, shawls and many beautiful shawl pins on full display and for sale.  To make the occasion even more special we created two shawl kits for the show.  One of the shawl kits was a mystery shawl which included two skeins of AVFKW yarn, an exclusive shawl pin made by Romi, the first clue for the pattern, and a souvenir project bag.  We displayed last year's mystery shawl kit, Cactus Flower, to entice.  The second shawl kit was for a limited edition yarn we called Rumor, a naturally dyed, super soft single, 70% superwash merino and 30% silk with Romi's Fuchsia Nouveau pattern.  And as a treat for those that could not make it to Stitches West, we had a limited number of mystery shawl kits available online; we called it Virtual Stitches.  


Rachael Herron, local author and knitter, held a book signing at our booth. She featured her books Cora's Heart and Eliza's Home and a preview of her new book Pack Up the Moon.  It's was a pleasure to host her and hope to have her in the store for a reading in the future.  We are so happy with her continued success and expect to see more!


One pattern we featured prominently was Huelo Dunn's San Pablo cowl knit in various yarns.  People loved the pattern and had lots of fun choosing colors from, Horizon, Quince & Co.'s Owl, and Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter.  It's a great pattern that features three yarn colors, and the versatility to be worn more snug by wrapping it twice.  

Photo by Jared Flood - Rook by Kyoko Nakayoshi

Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People 6 trunk show, along with the patterns tantalized and inspired new projects made with Shelter and Loft.  We are grateful to have the trunk show also available at the store through the weekend.

Photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge - Brise Cardigan by Hannah Fettig 

The Quince & Co. Knitbot Linen trunk show hung next to a mirror for many to try on.  The comments we heard were very positive, mentioning the linen's elegant drape and compatibility with California's moderate climate.  We sold out of the Knitbot book, but hope to order more for the store.


Kristine and I set up the booth all day Wednesday and all day Thursday with the help of Jeanne, Sarah and Auban.  Thursday night is the show's preview and we prepped for a lot of people.  Sure enough, Thursday night was very lively, with most of the Mystery Kits snatched up fast.  Friday was another big day, with lots of folks inspired by the CocoKnits sweaters and cardigans out of Horizon, like the stunning Number 9 pattern. We love CocoKnits designs and were excited to be showcased in her booth. We are lucky enough to have her teach at the shop monthly and carry her Knitter's Blocks.

Saturday and Sunday were steady and we saw a lot of our friends and loyal customers.  We owe a big Thank you to Grace Kang for helping out at the booth, she loves Horizon and shared her enthusiasm easily. AVFKW staff that helped out at the booth includes, Sarah, Mckenzie, and Chris; without them we could not make this show happen. Amazingly, our Brick and Mortar was kept open regular hours the entire weekend by Vivian, Karen, Chris, and Mckenzie.  The AVFKW team is truly awesome!  On Monday morning, the staff helped us unpack and put the store back together again and assessed inventory at the same time! Wow! They rock!



Another exciting announcement: we have fresh stock of Spincycle and The Plucky Knitter yarn. They both had booths at Stitches West, so if you missed them, stop by the store and check it out.

Last but not least, a huge heartfelt thank you to Michelle, Kristine's mom, who took care of Cleopatra and Calliope while we were away.  She also had dinner waiting for us when we got home! She came all the way from Northern Minnesota to help and we appreciated every minute.

Thanks again to all of our fellow vendors, customers, new customers, and designers for all of your support, we continue to flourish with your support!

Cheers,
Adrienne Rodriguez

 

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Stitches West 2014 - Santa Clara, CA

Posted by Kristine Vejar on February 18, 2014 0 Comments

 

It's that time of the year again!  
The yarn has been dyed and labeled ready to hit the showroom floor.  
This weekend we will have three booths of luxurious items waiting to go home with you.  
We will be in the same location as last year with booth numbers 1034, 1036, 1038.  

Patterns and Samples
Designs by Romi will be showcasing her patterns and a new mystery shawl made with our yarns, Annapurna and Floating.  The mystery shawl pattern, yarn, bag, and shawl pin will be available as kits in limited supply, so come early to get yours!  And for those of you not able to attend, we will have a Virtual Stitches West, where you can buy the kit online!


American Made
This year we have dedicated a portion of our space to American made wool yarn, which includes, Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co. and AVFKW's lovely, locally grown and dyed Horizon yarn line.

Trunk Shows! 
Brooklyn Tweed Trunk show AND a Quince & Co. Trunk show! Wow! How can you miss that!

Book Signing
Special guest, Rachael Herron, will be signing and selling her new book, Cora's Heart at our booth!
Look for her: Fri 11-4, Sat 11-6, Sun 12-4

See You Soon!
We always have a blast visiting with customers and sharing our new products,
so please make time to say hello, we would love to see you!

Here's a link to buy tickets with a discount: https://www.knittinguniverse.com/W/TIckets

Cheers!

Adrienne Rodriguez

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