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Entries in By Amy (10)

do you know sashiko?

by Amy

Most of us here at the shop enjoy a bit of handwork occasionally. (I myself will admit to being pretty much obsessive about it.) Like knitting, or yoga, hand sewing can be a great way to slow down, focus, and breathe. Whether I am finishing a quilt binding, hemming a skirt, or adding a touch of embroidery, it is always when I feel most connected to a project. Lately I have been relaxing with a bit of sashiko stitching in the evenings.

Sashiko is a traditional Japanese form of hand embroidery which uses a very simple running stitch to create patterns inspired by nature and geometric forms. Some people feel a bit intimidated by all the fancy stitches that are possible with embroidery, but I really think that if you have two or three embroidery stitches in your arsenal, you can do just about any embroidery design. Sashiko refines that even further to one basic stitch. The rhythm is soothing and the results are so clean and modern. We carry sashiko floss, needles, and printed samplers which you could use to create a bag, a pillow, or anything else you can dream up.

If you can’t make it into the shop, check out our shiny new online store for your sashiko supplies. And always remember to keep your stitch arm strong!

weekend project: fringed napkins

by Amy


I’m sort of a cloth napkin evangelist. If you are still regularly using paper towels or paper napkins on a daily basis and only pull out the cloth napkins for special occasions, I will probably try to convert you. Cloth napkins are not just a greener, more environmentally friendly option than paper, they bring a special hand-made touch to your table every day. There are lots of ways to make cloth napkins, and we have talked about some of them here and here, but my favorite way to make cloth napkins is to use a yarn died fabric (as opposed to a printed one) and fringe the edges.

The great thing about these napkins is that it is as close as you can get to a no sew project. At the moment my living situation does not easily accommodate a lot of measuring and rotary cutting. Fortunately, all I needed to make this set of napkins was my fabric, a tape measure, a pair of snips, and my sewing machine. Since I don’t have room for a cutting table, I gravitate towards projects like these napkins which I can easily tear to size.

Almost any fairly substantial yarn-dyed fabric will work for these napkins, but this time I chose a striped hemp/cotton blend that we regularly have in stock. At 60” wide, I can get 3 generous 20” napkins across the width. No need to even measure here! Just fold the width in even thirds, snip at the folds, and tear. (Note: most plain woven fabrics will tear well on the grain, but not all, so snip that selvege and give it a pull. I always love hauling off and tearing into a bolt of heavy canvas at the shop. If you have never had the pleasure yourself, I highly recommend it for working off stress in a productive way!)

I find that a tiny zigzag stitch is perfect for this since it is forgiving over many washings if your stitiching line isn’t precisely on grain. Here I’ve used a contrasting thread so that you can see what’s going on, but you can use a color to match your fabric and it will almost disappear. Once you have sewn around the raw edges, settle into the couch and start pulling threads. It pleases me to see the nature of a particular material, be it wood, clay, leather, or fabric, honored in a finished object, as it is in the fringes of these napkins. I hope you will enjoy them too.


getting cozy

-by Amy    When the weather is cold and rainy here, I long to snuggle up with a good book and wait for spring. Recently I was given a Kindle e-book reader as a gift, and I wasn’t sure if I would like the technological intrusion on my “cozy time.” I tend to be pretty casual with my analog books, tossing them into my bag and taking them everywhere with me, a holdover from childhood when I couldn’t be separated from whatever I happened to be reading. This little felt cozy protects my new device from bumps and scratches, and puts a little warmth back into my reading experience.

A little measuring,

…a little sewing,

 …a little cutting.

        I love working with our wool/rayon blend felt. It’s great for quick crafts and gifts. The colors are so rich, and it is remarkably durable. I made the green iPad cozy about two years ago, and it is only now starting to wear at the corners. For the Kindle cozy I used two layers of felt, and I expect it will be nearly indestructable. What else can I wrap up in felt?