Tag Archives: fabric

creative fuel

i love a trip to the city.  i mean the city.  toronto.

once or twice a year i have a work-related stay in TO.  when i’m there, my mission is to cram in as much walking, gawking and general city-imbibing as possible.  the chaos and crowds are both exhilarating and exhausting, and i find, for a short time anyways, that i am strangely soothed by the rhythm of urban life.  it couldn’t be more different from our home in the countryside, where trees outnumber people exponentially and heavy traffic means actually having to stop at the stop sign before turning.

one of the benefits of city excursions, apart from the fashion lessons, teashops and people-watching, is the improved access to all things crafty and the ability to refuel for my creative pursuits.  this trip allowed me to expand my stirandstitch stashes quite nicely (and to soothe IDS, who can get a little testy when left in the countryside for too long).

{crochet-fuel}     the yarn related highlight of this trip was my first ever visit to romni wools  – the epic toronto yarn store.  i don’t use the word epic flippantly here.  romni’s monstrous, bursting, teeming and towering collection of fibers is daunting to even the most yarn-starved shopper.  it was utterly overwhelming, but i managed to find some lovely, squishy goodies to take home, including some bright malabrigo sock and some nifty ‘braided’ cascade.


{sewing-fuel}     i discovered the workroom online and was instantly smitten.  they have a fabulous selection of contemporary fabrics and high quality notions, a friendly shop dog and a great calendar of sewing classes.  the timing of my trip worked out perfectly for me to take their three hour ‘serger essentials’ course – instruction i’ve been needing for years.  i came home with some new-found serger confidence and a set of rolled-hem napkins which we made in class.  i couldn’t resist a couple of pieces of lotta jansdotter fabric and three marvy patterns (including one for a sweet colette blouse) that i can’t wait to dig into.

{baking-fuel}     i have a cookbook addiction.  i could read cookbooks all day.  really.  this obsession has necessitated a moratorium on cookbook purchases (i also have a moratorium on tea mugs and flip-flops).  i had to allow myself an exception in toronto, though, for dorie greenspan’s ‘baking – from my home to yours’.  it’s been around for a while now, so it seemed less impulsive and more appropriate to add it to my collection (and really, what baker’s library is complete without it?).  i’ve been eagerly flipping the pages, wondering which recipe will be the first into my mixer.

•  •  •

stirandstitch has refueled!  three days in toronto allowed me to absorb just enough urban sensibility to remain connected to city-life.  it also offered loads of tea, a little bit of chocolate and plenty of creative fuel for projects-to-be.  and it was just long enough, just windy enough and just lonely enough to make me (and even my testy IDS) feel happy to come home.

•  •  •
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mighty {stash baskets}

this is the project that marked my return to sewing.

i learned to sew as a youngster (on my sew easy) and carried on with it right through high school.  my twenties, however, saw me neglecting my sewing skills in favour of travel and adventure.  when i finally settled long enough to start nesting again, i bought my first grown-up sewing machine.  despite moving with me from the arctic to the rockies and from the rockies to ontario, my machine didn’t see much regular use until i faced 3 months away from work after knee surgery.  i found myself a copy of sew liberated and became inspired.  i started searching for fabric shops and discovered the likes of amy butler and purl soho online (this would be akin to a trendy bargain-hunter finding h&m).  i planned all kinds of nifty projects to while away my time off, and this was my first.

i chose molly’s sewn stash basket pattern from the purl bee (one of the most amazing craft blogs ever).  these make great multi-purpose storage baskets – perfect for corralling yarn, books, knickers, extra toilet paper…they have so much potential!

the bird basket was take one.  i chose lightweight cotton for both the exterior and interior (that great bird fabric was from ikea), which i learned wasn’t particularly well suited for this use.  even though they were stabilized with a mid-weight interfacing, the fabrics weren’t sturdy enough for the basket to stand up on its own when it was empty.  still, it’s perfect for holding mitts and scarves and shopping bags – all of the bits and bobs that collect near the front door.

i wised up for take two.  i used heavier canvas-weight fabric for the exterior and the lining, et voila – they stand on their own and hold their shape nicely.  i thought that the mama basket needed a baby basket, so i modified the pattern in order to make a smaller version of the  purl soho size.  aren’t they cute together?

actually, when i think back, i made another slight modification – instead of hand stitching much of the bottom and back seams as instructed (sooo tedious and time-consuming, not to mention super difficult to do with 4 to 6 layers of canvas-weight material), i machine-sewed everything and it worked out perfectly (but see the safety caveat below).

these baskets taught me that i need to sew and create.  they led me to discover that there are legions of like-minded crafty folk out there, eager to share their patterns, ideas and experiences.  they also taught me a valuable safety lesson worth noting…whilst powering my machine through said thick layers, my needle broke and the tip flew from the machine, narrowly missing my left eyeball.  yikes!  from thereafter i donned my cycling glasses whenever sewing the thickest sections.  who says sewing is for sissies?

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new year, new bag

being a grey and rainy january 1st, the only sensible thing to do was to remain indoors.  apart from a soggy dog-walk, i happily partook of solely indoor domestic activities today.   i stoked the fire.  i made hearty soup.  i baked some lovely cheddar biscuits.  i let the dogs in and out approximately 157 times. and i sewed!!

new year's bag

just before the holidays, i came across a brilliant pattern for a simple, unstructured, reversible bag.  the pattern is offered on this marvy blog by novita, aka ‘very purple person’.  if you sew and/or appreciate handmade clothing and accessories, you must have a look through her work.  she is enviably talented, has a great sense of style and is generous enough to share some of her patterns and ideas with the whole wide world.  so, back to the bag.  it’s ever so sweet and worked up quite quickly.  the hardest part was deciding which fabrics to use.  i chose a soft grey paisley print for the exterior and a classy neutral print of a map of paris for the interior.  i had a lovely time reminiscing while pressing the fabric…retracing steps i’d taken along the seine and the streets of paris too many years ago…sigh. but i digress!  i decided to add an inner zippered pocket and i must say that i’m pretty chuffed with the results .  i see myself making many more of these in the future.  thank you, novita!

though i hadn’t planned it this way, i kind of like the symbolism of creating a new bag on new year’s day.  maybe i’m getting a little too sentimental this evening, what with the backpacking memories and all, but this bag has that ‘new pencil case/first day of school’ kind of feel to it, you know?  what a nice and nesty way to start the new year.  cheers!

fat stack of potential

topstitching

zipper pride

interior & pocket

ah, paris

c'est fini!

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