Monday, February 28, 2011

ReSew - interview & book giveaway!

I have been following Jenny's blog, The Wildcards, for a little while now, partly because she's such an entertaining blog writer, partly because her kids are so darn funny& cute, but also because of our shared love of reusing thrifted materials. When she contacted me to let know she wrote a book, and to ask if I would do a giveaway, my answer was, an enthusiastic "yes!". She sent me 2 copies, one for me (yay!), and one to give away to one of you, my fabulous recyclist readers! First though, is the first Q & A interview i've ever done, with the author of Resew, Jenny Wilding Cardon:

What was your first project ever using recycled wool?

I’m pretty sure it was this one. I turned this sweater:

into this purse:

I made the purse several years ago, when people (like me!) were just starting to “get” all the fun there was to be had with recycled wool. Fray-free, sturdy, strong, warm, wooly—awesome! I changed up a few details—mainly the handle—to make a new version of the purse for ReSew, here:

Now that I think about it, I may have tried to make diaper covers before I made this purse—my husband and I cloth diapered both of our boys—but this was my first successful project! It was the beginning of a journey that I do believe I will be continuing indefinitely.

What is your favorite thing to make with recycled wool?

Well, what I like best about it is that you can make so many things with it; I think I have a lifetime’s worth of ideas for it! I’ve experimented a lot, which for me means I’ve had plenty of failed designs. But what’s super about felted wool is that you can repurpose it after you’ve already repurposed it, you know? I’ve saved even the tiniest of scraps of felted wool from a multitude of projects because it can almost always be used for something new.

What else do you like to make from recycled wool?

One of my latest experiments has been to make small baskets with felted wool, like this one:

I used two different sweaters (just bits of them, really) to make it, and it’s all hand sewn. I put pieces of cardboard in between the layers to give it a nice, firm form. I’m surprised at how functional it is—right now it’s on one of my sewing tables, being used to hold pens and scissors. Not bad for an experiment of mine!

I don't plan to write any books in the near future, but some of my readers might be toying with the idea, or might be curious about the subject. How does one go about publishing a book?

Kris, you should totally toy with the idea. :) There are a lot of different ways to get there. My situation is a bit unique, because before I published my first book, I worked for my publisher as their copywriter for ten years. I timidly submitted a proposal to them for The Little Box of Baby Quilts after I had left the company to become a stay-at-home mom. My husband encouraged me to submit my ideas. I gathered up my sketched designs, sewn quilts and quilt blocks, fabric swatches, my own written pattern directions and illustrations, and a kind of “essay” about the book I envisioned. Then I waited. And waited. And waited! Finally, I got the green light. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I made 20 quilts in nine months. Just like having a baby! The second time around, I was approached by the same company to write ReSew. They had seen all the refashioning I had been doing on my blog and wanted to know if I would like to put together a book about the subject. Since thrifting and sewing are my two diehard passions, it took me about three seconds to say yes. And then it was exciting and terrifying all over again! But I am so very proud of how the book turned out. The editorial team at Martingale & Company is so very cool. Smart, innovative, ready to listen as needed—ready to hand-hold as needed!—and receptive to author ideas.

I’ve been extremely lucky to know people in the industry who helped me and encouraged me to develop my ideas. But from my years in publishing, I know that there are plenty more designers who were “strangers” to the industry, and they submitted proposals that were happily accepted. In the end, it’s all about the strength of your work and the overarching idea for your book. If you are interested in pursuing your dream of writing a book, I suggest visiting the websites of publishers whose books you love, finding specific information on how they would like you to submit a proposal, and then by golly, go for it!

How long did it take you to write your book?

I started writing ReSew in August 2009 and sent my final manuscript to the publisher in March 2010. I also drew the illustrations you see in the book—over 300 of them—so that took quite a bit of time! Then there were lots of important questions to answer about my step-by-step directions from the technical editor. There were proofs from the publisher to look at and agonize over, and lots of tweaks, adjustments and corrections to be made. There was a break while the book was being printed. And now, I’ve just started the monumental task of getting the word out about the book so people might buy it! So, yeah… I guess from August 2009 until today. And I still have a way to go.

What was the hardest part?

The hardest part was the time I had to spend away from my two boys and my husband to get the book completed on time. They were so helpful and supportive though—my oldest son, Jack, who is six, had such a “go get ‘em, mama!” attitude about it. It made me all the more confident that I had made the right choice in saying yes to the adventure.

What do you get excited to find in the thrift stores?

I get excited just GOING to the thrift store! You never know what you are going to find. Sometimes you hit the jackpot and come home with a carload of what you wanted, needed, or never knew you needed; sometimes you find one special little thing; and sometimes you go home empty-handed. I just get excited about the possibilities that abound when I walk through the front door.
When you find things in a fabric you like at the thrift store, do you immediately know what you want to do with it, or do you bring it home & add it to your stash to await inspiration?

Both! Sometimes I see an item—a shirt, a skirt, a dress—and I immediately envision how I can remake it into something I would love to wear. Other times, particularly with linens and other fabric items that aren’t clothing, I just go with my gut. If I like the pattern, the colors, the yardage, and the quality, I buy it. I have several baskets in my sewing room containing those kinds of items. Then, when I have an idea for something to make, I look through the baskets to see if I have something I can work with. If yes, great. If no? Then it’s off to the thrift store again!

Have you always known how to sew?
No. I did take one sewing class in junior high with my mom, though, and that was enough to familiarize me with a sewing machine. I started experimenting with sewing more in high school, just teaching myself through trial and error. I stopped sewing completely in college. But when you land a job working for the world’s largest quilt-book publisher right out of college, and 50 of your new coworkers are avid sewists, you’d better get back on the wagon! I learned more intermediate sewing skills during that time. I don’t consider myself a beginner anymore, but I’m certainly not advanced. I’m right in the middle, I think. I never like my techniques to get too fancy. I like the idea of sharing a design with others, and that means making it simple enough for a wide range of skill levels.

I know your son Charlie is probably too young, but does Jack think it’s cool what you do?

Ha ha, I wish! You know how your parents had something a little quirky about them, or there was something different about your family, but you just thought that it was average family stuff until you were a grown-up? Like for me—I come from family where four family members are deaf or hearing-impaired. Did I see that as different or unusual growing up? Nope. Just your typical family. I think that’s what Jack thinks about my avid sewing, my avid thrifting, and these two books of mine. Just another day in the life of Jack. Although he does try to take advantage of it by asking me to sew just about anything and everything under the sun!

What was your favorite thrift store find ever?

Oh boy, that is a hard question to answer! I thrift often; I find great stuff all the time. I have so many favorites, it’s hard to decide. If it’s quirky and unique and has a personality all its own, I’ll take it home. I guess I just love finding the beauty in the broken. Taking something that someone else has tossed aside, brushing it off, and giving it a new meaning, a new purpose. So I guess the greatest thrift-store find for me is the thrift-store itself. It gives me the chance to bring things back to life. Thank you, Kris, for being such a gracious host on the ReSew blog tour! I so enjoy your blog—from Tutorial Tuesday to Sweater Sunday, I always look forward to learning what you’ve been up to with wool. Thank you for continuing to share your creativity on your blog, and cheers to you for doing what you do! Good luck with the giveaway, everyone!

Isn't Jenny fun?! Her book is too! To learn more about her book, check out her Youtube video, or get sneak peeks at some of the pages on Amazon! Ready for the giveaway? One lucky winner will get a brand new copy of Resew, signed by Jenny herself!

Ways to enter:
* Follow my blog, and if you already do just say so.
* Follow Jenny's blog, The Wildcards, and if you already do, just say so.
* Blog about this giveaway & link to it.

Make sure to leave a separate comment for each of the entries you complete!

Deadline: midnight cst on Friday, March 4th. I will use to pick the winner the following morning (March 5th). **please leave an email if your blogger profile does not include it. I need a way to contact you.** Once a winner is drawn I will contact them and the winner will have 48 hours to reply back before I draw a new winner.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's What I've Been Working on Wednesday!

I fell in love with a recycled wool running sweater jacket in Ewerun's Etsy shop, but alas, it was a size small. No amount of jogging will turn me into a size small ;). I decided to attempt my own, and though it's not nearly as cute, I am pretty happy with it, and it will be great for running.
I used a soft stripey merino for the arms & hood, and a thicker soft gray wool for the body & "hand warmers"... I just added part of the sleeves from the the gray to make them longer. When they are rolled down, they make great hand warmers. When they are rolled up, they are just cuffs. I made the hood a bit elfish looking, and used felted seams to make the drawstring.

When it is zipped all the way, and the drawstrings are tightened, it covers quite a bit of my face.

So, what have you been working on? Feel free to post your finished recycled wool projects on my Facebook page!

A few random Resweater things... Facebook, Sweater Sunday

As some of you with Facebook pages know, FB has changed a few things. One of the better changes, is that you can "like" other FB pages as your page, meaning that I can now "like" another page as Resweater, instead of Kris (my personal page). When I "like" a page now, I have the option of "featuring" it on my sidebar. They are randomly rotating, now that I have more than 5 pages "liked". If you have a recycled wool related FB page, feel free to leave the link to your page in the comments here, and I will "like" your page as Resweater, and add you to my featured pages. Free advertisement for you!
If you want to do this with your own pages, just "like" a FB page, like Resweater's FB page for example ;), using your page as your identity. Now go back to your page and click on "edit page" (upper right on page), then click on "featured" (on the left), click on "edit featured likes", select any pages you want to be on your page's sidebar (select 5 & they will always be there. Select more than 5, and they will rotate randomly), and click on save.

I'm sure many of my newer readers have questions about Sweater Sunday. I post a brief explanation of SS at the bottom of each SS post, but a reader emailed me with some great questions that I thought I would share, in case others wanted to know:

1. What do you charge for shipping and handling?

I charge by the weight of the sweaters, just like the post office, until you reach my
shipping max. My shipping max is $6 for Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan, and
$10 for all other states. You never pay more than $10 for shipping. It's my way of giving
a "volume discount" to those that are buying multiple sweaters.

2. How does one pay for the goodies? Is it through your shop?

If you are purchasing sweaters only from my shop, you can pay through my shop. If you are
buying sweaters from my shop and Sweater Sunday sweaters, you can check out the sweaters
from my shop without paying, and I will send you an invoice with all of them on it. If
you are only buying Sweater Sunday sweaters, just let me know & I will send you an
invoice. If you are not in a hurry, and want to wait a week or 2 to see what comes in, to
combine shipping, you are welcome to ask me to hold the sweaters for you until you are
ready. Just please be committed to buying the sweaters you ask me to hold them.

3. Can one "order" a sweater from a previous sweater Sunday if it is still

You sure can! Many get listed in my shop if they don't sell that weekend, so you may want
to check my shop first.

4. If I want a sweater but would like to know the size, do I need to call dibs first and
then ask you about the size? Is it okay to change my mind if the size not what I want?

You are always welcome to say specifics, like "I want the green cashmere, as long as
it is a size medium or larger", or "I want the blue lambswool, as long as it's
not a v-neck", etc. That's what a lot of my regulars do. That way you are calling
dibs on it, only if it falls within the terms that you state.

5. Also, I understand that froggable means that the sweater can be unraveled and the yarn
re-used. But I am not sure what the photos you have under the froggables ones mean.

Those are a close up of a knit gauge against the sweaters. I don't knit or crochet myself
(yet), so I don't know the technical terms, but it helps them to see how thick the yarn

Do any of you have any questions about Sweater Sunday that you would like me to answer here?

This Sunday will be a random mix of sweaters, as usual, but after that I am going to try posting them in themes for a while. What would you like to see as the first theme? All cashmere? All merino? All lambswool? All blends? You tell me!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Tutorial Tuesday - recycled wool shoe/boot insoles!

A couple of my readers mentioned that they make these, and it's a fabulous idea... and easy! Why buy expensive insoles for your shoes & boots, when you can make a pair for the whole family out of one sweater? Wool has natural anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, wicks away moisture (aka sweaty feet!), is insulated (will keep your toes toasty in the winter), and comfy! I hate wearing socks, so these are great for me!

You know that sweater you had planned for a project, but it felted up too much, and you set it aside? Go get it!

Just trace a foot (yes, I am wearing Christmas socks in February), and cut it out. I like to use my son's washable markers for stuff like this.

Now take that piece & flip it over to use it as a pattern to cut out the other foot. If you have 2 different sized feet (some people do), I recommend tracing each foot separately.

Voila! Now you have insoles, at a fraction of the price of the ones in the store, but are better because they are all natural & recycled to boot!

Now you can just place them in your shoes, like they are, or you can secure them down somehow. For the people that have already made these... what do you do? I personally just stick them in my shoes as is, and hold them down with a thumb as I slip my foot in, as pictured below.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's What I've Been working on Wednesday! Guess what it is!

Guess what I made?

Wow Kris, that's the ugliest purse i've ever seen! First wool underwear & now this? Maybe you need a vacation... or 2.

Nope... it's an insulated grocery bag liner for frozen/cold foods! Yes, it's ugly, but it will always be inside of a grocery bag, so who cares! I don't know about you, but I always have one more stop to make, or a kid to pick up from school, and sometimes those frozen foods don't go straight home & into the fridge/freezer. This will keep them cold/frozen much longer, because wool is naturally insulating.

I made it in the basic shape of a paper grocery bag (sides & a bottom, though it's hard to tell from the picture), so it will stand up like one, even if you place it in a floppy bag, like the one I used below. In the next ones I make, I will use basic rectangles for the front & back, but for this one I tapered it toward the top, so I could incorporate the piece of cardigan I had on hand for the closure.

How do you use it? Just put the insulated liner in your grocery bag, put your cold/frozen groceries in....

... button it up...

... and you're ready to go!

This is a great way to use up those sweaters that felted up a bit too thick for it's intended project. For these, the thicker the better!

As always, I love to see what you've been working on, so feel free to post your finished recycled wool projects on my Facebook Page!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's Tutorial Tuesday! Wool underwear!

I am sure some of you are shaking your heads & saying "yep... Kris has finally lost it!", but I made wool underwear! I wanted these mostly for running, since you need your underwear to be made of a moisture wicking material, but they can be worn any time.

You'll want to use lightly felted merino wool for these... felted enough that the edges don't unravel when cut, but is still stretchy & drapey. For your pattern, use a pair of underwear that fit you well, but need to go (I won't be showing you the underwear that I used!)! Take your old pair of underwear & cut off the waist band, then down the center. These pieces will be your pattern.

Take your pattern and cut out 2 pieces, making sure to add 1/2" on each side, for seam allowance, and because your regular underwear material will most likey be slightly stretchier than the wool is. You should end up with 2 pieces that look like this:

Now sew the ends together, wrong sides out.

Now turn it, so the seams are down the center & sew the bottom pieces (the crotch) together.

Now to make the waist band, cut 2 piece of wool that are a little shorter than the underwear (you may want to measure your waist & take it down a couple of inches to account for the stretch). Your waistband will end up being less half the width of your pieces, so make sure they are wide enough. In hindsight, I could have used a little more waistband on mine, but they are fine as is too.

Sew the ends of your pieces together, wrong sides out.

Now you will take this & fold the width in half, seams in, right side out & sew this to the waist of your underwear. Your underwear should have seams out still, and you will be sewing the waist band to the inside of the underwear. Since the waistband is a little smaller, you will need to be stretching it as you go. When you are done, and flip them right side out, they should look like this:

Now flip them back wrong side out, and repeat the waist band process on the legs (only smaller, obviously). When you are done with that, they will look like they are done, but you have one more step, adding a panel to cover the crotch seams.

Just cut a small piece to the shape of the crotch, and sew it to the seams on either side.

Now you are done!

I took mine for a test run last night (went jogging in them). The only con to wearing these that I found, is that they are slightly more bulky at the seams than regular underwear, so where they are fine under jeans, I had definite panty lines under my tighter fitting jogging pants. I think i'll work up a pattern for a more "boy short" style, using the original seams, and that should eliminate than problem. The pros? There is no sweat smell on my wool underwear (or even on the synthetic jogging pants I wore over them), that is usually on my clothes after I run (I can't believe I am telling you all this!), there was no unpleasant dampness from sweat while I ran, I was the perfect temp (neither hot or cold) in that region while I ran, and they are really cute looking! Of course these can be worn for everyday underwear too. I would imagine these would be fantastic for any mom that has to sit in cold bleachers!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's What I've Been Working on Wednesday! Heart trivet potholders

I starting making these a few weeks ago, and oddly enough it wasn't because Valentine's Day is approaching. It just occurred to me that a heart is the perfect shape for a potholder trivet. Here's the backs. I'll explain why they are all different.

I started out with this one... a pain in the you-know-what to line up the finger pouches. I pinned them in place before sewing, but they still managed to move around on me. At least they were still function, or at least I thought, until a friend with smaller hands than me said they were too big & her fingers slipped out of them.

Next I made these. The finger pockets are closer together, so good for small & big hands! .... but they are still wonky & unsymetrical :(

Then, I saw this design on a craft website, and voila!... a little sloppy on my stitching here, but symetrical pockets! I just need to make them a little closer together now, for the small of hand.

Jack has been loving his cashmere solar system pillow, but informed me that I really needed to add Pluto (it's a dwarf planet, you know!), and it made him sad that Pluto wasn't there. See the smallest brown circle at the end? That's Pluto. I added him last night, and all is happy again in Jackville.

Here's a sneak peek at what i'm working on, but haven't finished... a blanket made of my favorite scraps. More on that in a future What I've Been Working on Wednesday!

So, what have you been working on? Feel free, as always, to post your finished recycled wool projects on my Facebook page. I love to see them! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's Tutorial Tuesday! Make a baseball style shirt

This ones for the boys... and girls that wear baseball style shirts! When I saw the super cutie below over at the Make It and Love It blog, with this adorable shirt, I knew I had to make one for mine! I was about to make mine, like hers, out of t shirts, thinking what a shame it was that he wouldn't be able to wear it until it was warmer. Then the light bulb went off, and I made one from lightly felted merino! I just made the sleeves longer.

Unfortunately, my model isn't as eager as her model (ok, i'll do it, but i'm not going to look at the camera), but here it is. I though I would like the bottom edge with no hem (pictured below), like some baseball shirts have, but it just looked unfinished, so I made a simple hem (first picture).

Ready to make this awesome shirt? Head over to Make It and Love It's tutorial!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's What I've Been Working on Wednesday! Pillows, pillows, pillows!

Making those pillows last week were so much fun, that I made more! What do you think? I think i'll be selling these throw pillows at my craft shows this year. Any advice or suggestions on these is welcome! What other animals would you like to see?

My owls...

my sheep....

This is a red winged blackbird that did not turn out well. My husband refers to it as "the black bird in flames", lol. I think if I do a red winged blackbird again I will be making the wings more subtle & off to the sides, like the owls' wings.

I had a sweater that I know is alpaca, but didn't have a tag on it, so into my personal stash it went. My feet were extra cold yesterday, so I made myself another pair of slippers (I think I have enough now, lol). They are SO soft & warm!

I also starting making a batch of dryer balls, and here they are in their various unfinished stages...

Boy am I productive during blizzards! What have you been working on this week? Feel free, as always, to show off your finished recycled wool projects on my Facebook page!