Monthly Archives: August 2016

Long Project: Alabama Chanin #1 Done

I do not remember the first time I heard or read about Natalie Chanin and what she’s created at Alabama Chanin. I think it was a podcast called ThreadCult.

I love her philosophy of creating handmade couture garments with American grown and processed organic cotton knit fabric and hand stitched in her home state of Alabama.

Of course, that meant I had to follow her in Pinterest and Instagram. 

Her Craftsy class, Hand Embellishing Knit Fabric, is one of a few that I’ve actually watched from start to finish. I thought it would be a frugal way to have one of her garments. Except the project is a coat. Kinda big project. Scared me.

Coat pattern from Craftsy class


Then she published a sewing book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns.  This I could do. 

Took awhile to accumulate the materials. You can purchase kits from her. But I wanted to practice.  Bought enough rayon knit at Hancock’s going-out-of-business sale to freely experiment.  Then the unexpected find of a linen knit at Harris in MN. 

Found linen knits at RS Harris in MN

Printed patterns & stencils at Office Depot

Cutting the A-line & fitted dress patterns

Swatching hand finishing options

Finished detail of A-line dress neckline

I didn’t hand stitch any of the seams on the practice dresses. I was more interested in making sure of the fit. And also practicing the finishing techniques for the neckline and armholes. 

Modified the A-line neckline higher for more coverage and then matched it to the Fitted dress pattern. (The Fitted dress has a scooped neck.)

Alabama Chanin A-line tunic over fitted dress


They both fit well. But I like the fitted dress a little better. 

Modifications: matched the necklines & arm holes to the tunic. 

Next time: change the grain line on the tunic to the center seam or cut off the flare at the center seam. 

Now I have to decide on the ‘real’ versions. 

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Spinning Decision part 2

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I decided against getting a spinning wheel and decided to whole-heartedly pursue spindle spinning instead. 

It was the right decision. 

At the SSK retreat in July, I wasn’t able to get into the lace spinning workshop. Hopefully, enough friends could give me some pointers.  Emily of Fibre Town podcast, provided a breakout session on supported spindling.  Very helpful tips and when Emily said supported is ideal for road trips, I got excited. 

Big sister addition to the spindle family


I bought 2 spindles at the SSK market. A large Strong Heart walnut Jeri Brock Turkish to match my medium sized Strong Heart in Koa. It will be for plying turtles (cops) spun on the Koa. 

Akerworks spindle and extra shaft

And an Akerworks medium drop spindle with the trillium whorl and an extra shaft. 

Experimenting with them. I flipped the Akerworks upside-down to see if it could be used as a supported spindle. The first cop was wound counterclockwise. AND I had put the whorl on upside-down.  So I couldn’t leave the first cop on. Wound it onto a plying ball. 

Watched a few more YouTube videos on supported spindles. Lori Rhone of Deerfield Creations was the most helpful. Another helpful video was from The Woolery. And Emily of Fibre Town just posted a short podcast episode demonstrating the supported spindle. 

1st Plying ball of merino spun on supported spindle

After some fits & starts, there’s less fiddling setting the hook  for the top whorl, flicking the spindle and adding the finished single on to the cop. Pretty good on the car, unless the roads are so bad, you’re bouncing around too much. 

At first, I thought I was spinning faster on supported. That might have been true last week. But I started drop spinning again. I am definitely faster on the drop spindle and much more consistent. 

Clearly I still a novice about fiber. I’m playing now with fiber that has lots of little bits of random bits and shiny Angelina.  On supported, very difficult to get a fine single. It’s more like a thin art yarn…very slubby. Interestingly, I switched to drop spinning (same spindle) and I now get a very fine consistent single. Guessing, the weight of the spindle with a cop and a faster, longer spin are what makes the difference. 

Will need to check with my spinning friends. 

Two knitting projects and spindle spinning all live in my one hobo bag now. A wheel would never fit in my bag. I can easily switch between all three projects with easy. 

It’s working perfectly for road trips. When my hands get tired doing one, switching to something different is easy. 

Adan of Akerworks said I could request a pointy tip on the shaft that could be used for supported spindling. It’s a sharp tip. 

Haven’t figured out a spindle bag yet. Although I’m starting to think a simple satin drawstring bag or Japanese bento bag for now. 

FABLE Continues

FABLE (Fabric or Fiber Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy)

With Hancock Fabrics stores now closed, I have a scarcity mentality. I feel l HAVE to buy what I want when I find it. No matter what. Jo-Ann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, or Walmart just doesn’t have the fabrics I love. Those are my local choices now, sorry, only if I’m desperate. 

Sorry too, online fabric shops, I need to see and feel the fabric before I buy. 

Sigh…

Or it’s my version of FOMO (Fear Of Missed Opportunity)

Sigh

What can I say…my favorite fabric, 100% handkerchief linen, at 60% off at a store with zero customer service & 900 miles on a road trip. I’m buying. I haven’t visited SR Harris Fabrics in 30 years. It hasn’t changed. If you are easily intimidated by an abundance of choice don’t even bother. You will be overwhelmed. 

Aisle of linen & linen blends at SR Harris Fabrics

In 30 minutes, I bought chambray blue, cranberry, and navy. Took a chance on linen single knits in charcoal grey and teal. Knowing the hand knitted linen tends to bias (look wonky crooked), I’m a bit worried these might do the same. 

knit & woven linen from Harris Fabrics for dresses & tunics


That’s a lot of potential summer outfits. 

And how could I resist 50% off decorator fabric remnants for my bags. More linen and cotton. It might have taken 30 minutes to find good choices. 

Linen & cotton for project bags


Then there was the novelty fabrics I really was looking for…not as successful there. You would think I’d find something worthwhile in 8 long, unorganized, rarely labeled, aisles of novelty prints. 2 hours of hunting these aisle with few good choices. 

1 of 8 aisles of novelty prints


No regrets. 
I feel much stronger than six months ago. I can do this. Really I can. 

Happening soon, another opportunity to hunt at another favorite fabric shopping destination in Dallas.  But must stick to specific shopping list for here.

  1. A warm grey lining for custom cross body bag. 
  2. Those novelty prints. 

So much for shrinking my existing fabric stash. 

Roadtrip Pictures

Quincy bridge on the Mississippi river

Sunrise over the St. Croix river

Morning walk along the St. Croix river

Waiting for hubby at airport

Early morning visitor, a pileated woodpecker

Standard Minnesota weekend on a lake

Must see Largest Ball of Twine in Darwin Mn

Old Washington county courthouse jail

Jackpot find of handkerchief linen and knitted linen

Hopelessly looking for specific novelty print cotton