Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Estonia Adventures Part 2: Finland

When booking this trip, I learned that one of the more affordable ways to get to Estonia is by ferry from Helsinki, Finland. Reasonable Icelandair flights to Helsinki made this the best route for us and we couldn't resist spending a couple of days in a new city while we were travelling through.

In preparation for the ferry ride (since Megan had never been on a boat before!) we took this boat to a pizza restaurant in an island.

Helsinki is a clean and modern port city, surrounded by water. It is known for its architecture and design and we were able to take in both of these things in our brief time.

Also, great coffee and food! We checked out many coffee shops and spent quite a bit of time knitting at these stops.

There are fantastic markets in Helsinki where one can shop for food and veggies alongside touristy items like reindeer hides and juniper wood utensils. We bought chanterelles and the most delicious strawberries!

We were thrilled to find a yarn vendor, Riihivilla, among these booths. He sold handknit items and kits for making mittens and things, as well as yarn made of local Finnsheep wool, naturally dyed in an amazing range of color. We, of course, were all swooning over this Finnsheep yarn and I'm sure we made his day!

The skeins came in both natural, un-dyed colors as well as naturally dyed colors. Again, these were dyed using the country's local dye-plants - in this case: mushrooms! Amber loves both yarn and mushrooms, so she couldn't resist these. Can you believe this amazing red comes from a mushroom?

Finnsheep come in a range of colors, like Icelandic and Shetland sheep, so of course I had to pick up some fingering weight un-dyed wool in two natural colors. Yummy!

After the markets, one more stop we had to make was at Finnish fabric designer and icon, Marimekko. Marimekko has been designing patterns since 1951.

Marimekko is responsible for many iconic pattern designs and no trip to Helsinki would be complete without a stop in one of their shops. They make and sell all sorts of goods printed with the classic designs including clothing, umbrellas, plates and wallets. What were we most excited about? The fabric! 

The fabric came in various weights from home dec to woven cotton to lawn. Amber and I each bought a cut of fabric which we will covet for a while I'm sure before cutting into! I am absolutely in love with my black cat fabric since I have a kitty just like this at home. 

Next up: Tallinn, Estonia and the medieval festival!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Estonia Adventures Part 1: Iceland

Earlier this month, Amber and I went on an epic adventure to Estonian Craft Camp. We will get to Craft Camp next week - which was life-altering - but first, a quick stop in Iceland en route to Finland en route to Estonia (thank you, Icelandair!).

Iceland is one of my favorite places. This was my third visit and even though it was for a mere 48 hours, we were able to experience new magical places and revisit some of our favorite stops. Iceland is a must-visit for any travel-loving, yarn aficionado. Their love of wool and knitting knows no bounds. Free range sheep dot every landscape and Lopi yarn can be purchased in even the smallest town's grocery market.

You know of our love of Lopi yarn - the Icelandic yarn made from Icelandic sheep's wool since we have made no fewer than 5 Lopi sweaters between Amber and I. The hardy Icelandic sheep that produce all this yarn are the only sheep to see in Iceland and they are everywhere. Farmers let them graze free during the spring - fall and then they gather and sort them every September to keep them safe during the harsh winter months.

Sheep with her babies on a picturesque fjord

We hopped off our plane at 6am, rented a car and immediately headed up to the West Fjords - a 3 hour journey to a northern land of fjords. We stopped along the way to take in the elven magic of the moss covered lava fields at Glanni.

Magical Moss covered Lava fields of Glanni

Once we reached the West Fjords, we were greeted with the epic and otherworldly landscape of this remote part of Iceland. We spent a bit of time in Holmavik at the Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery and then stayed the night in a picturesque B n' B in Bjarnarfjörður that had its own hot pots.

Sheep and carin

Amber frolics in the West Fjords

On our way back to Reykjavik the next day we stopped at one of our favorite places - the wool shop Ullarselið in Hvanneyri. This shop stocks the beautiful naturally-dyed Hespa yarns by Gudrun Bjarnadottir. We all purchased mass quantities of yarn at this, our first yarn-buying opportunity of the trip! The natural colors that Gudrun achieves using Icelandic mosses and lichens are irresistible. She combines these native dye plants with indigo and madder for more depth of color. The yarns are all Icelandic wool and all of us purchased the lace weight - perfect for shawls.

Jaime has some tough decisions to make...

We ended our Iceland adventure with a late night dip in the Blue Lagoon in the midnight sun...so magical!

10pm in Iceland in July...so bright!

Next up: Helsinki, Finland: Marimekko and Finnsheep wool

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cricket is Here and We ♥ It!

Cricket is here from Anzula!

The blend of Merino/Cashmere/Nylon gives this hand-dyed DK beauty the softest, plushest feel and the enchanting color palette makes colorwork a great choice.

We fell in love with this sproingy soft DK weight yarn from Anzula after seeing Olgajazzy's Fractals hat pattern.

We have always loved the insane brights from Anzula. Olga uses them to their magical max by mixing these neon shades with delicate neutrals in this new hat pattern!

We ♥ this soft yarn so hard.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Better Know A Crafter: Pink Pitcher

Pink is old school Fancy T. She has been coming to our craft night since the beginning of time. She's also one of the fastest knitters we know--always the first to finish knit-alongs, and she won't follow a pattern to save her life. She gets the gist of a pattern and then makes it up as she goes. It always turns out magically awesome. Because of this, we weren't surprised to find out the epic dragon sweater she has been working on is a little of this pattern and a little of that...

Pink Pitcher

How did you learn to knit?
I learned to knit when I was six, but I never really got in to it until I was 16 or so. My mother originally taught me, but everything after basic knit stitch I learned from trial and error. Along the way I also learned to sew, crochet, spin, weave, felt...etc. I am a seamstress, making bags from recycled materials (www.pinkilicious.etsy.com), so I knit to unwind from my other crafting.

Tell us about your project.
This project was inspired by a Ravelry find a friend forwarded to me: Betsala's Valhalla I Am Coming, a much hipper version of the Norwegian pattern, 9 Viking Boat Jacket. I loved the chart and it was nice to see it liberated from the original drop sleeves (I hate drop sleeves!). I found a colorwork yoke pattern 0611-1 Pullover, also entirely in Norwegian, that worked for the fingering weight yarn I used--Imperial Stock Ranch Tracie. 

Fortunately, since I was only using the charts from these two, the language didn't matter. I also used an altered version of the Deathflake chart, a chart from a book I bought in Norway about "Lice-Pattern Sweaters", and then I made a chart of all 24 runes of the Elder Furthark

Basically, I stitched together a Frankenstein's Monster of awesome Norwegian designs.

What inspired you to make this?
Plunder. The promise of Plunder. (There may have been some drunken boasting as well, I don't recall clearly.)

Does your sweater transport you to other lands/dimensions when you wear it?
I transport this sweater to other lands and times when *I* wear it! (But it keeps me mighty warm while I'm there.)

Did you put any protection spells on your sweater?
I asked my homegirl Frigga to do me a solid and keep and eye on it. She's a spinner, she understands.

What is your favorite viking weapon?
My fist.

OMG Pink, we love it. Thank you and happy knitting!

Monday, July 21, 2014

An Everyday Skirt for Everyday

Liesl Gibson wasn't messing around when she named this sewing pattern the "Everyday Skirt." I've made two already, and let me tell you, these babies have been in heavy rotation this summer. 

Jaime's Nani Iro Everyday Skirt
Pattern: Everyday Skirt by Liesl + Co.
Fabric: Nani Iro canvas, 1 3/4 yds
Size Made: small
Alterations: none

Welcome to what is likely to be just the beginning of my new Nani Iro wardrobe. I just can't resist. She puts out just a few canvas prints each collection and they are perfect for skirts and bags or anything that needs more structure. This painterly ombre print was just calling my name in its gorgeous neutral palette.

The Everyday skirt features an elastic waistband on the back and some light gathering in the front. The sides are left un-gathered for a flattering fit on the hips. This is an easy pattern to fit - I found it ran just a touch big and sized down to a small from my waist measurement which put me in the medium size. The combination of an elastic waist and full hips makes it easy to adjust for size. 

Pockets! You all know that pockets are the winning key to any wearable skirt. You're not going to be wearing a skirt Everyday without pockets. These ones are easy to put in and sit just off the side seam which incorporate them into the skirt design more. Nice one, Liesl.

Jaime's Brussels Washer Everyday Skirt
Pattern: Everyday Skirt by Liesl + Co.
Fabric: Brussels washer in gray, 1 3/4 yds
Size Made: small
Alterations: none

Oh hey, Brussels Washer. I haven't sewn anything with you in at least a month and boy did I miss you. I love how light and drapey you are. You are so comfortable to wear it feels like I'm getting away with wearing pjs in public. I love that about you.

You're perfect blend of linen with rayon means you are light and summery like linen, but without getting so wrinkly thanks to the addition of silky rayon. You are so nice to sew with and your pale gray color goes with almost everything. Is it too much if I wear you a few times a week?

Oh, excuse me. You can pick up your own digital copy of the Everyday Skirt pattern here. If you need help, we are offering this as a class this summer. Check out the dates here and call us to sign up! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Caitlin's Handmade Engagement Photo Dress!


When my fiancé and I scheduled our engagement photos a while back, I dragged my feet a little on what to wear (and make), but finally decided on the Sureau dress by Deer and Doe.  I have always loved Deer & Doe's aesthetic and I am slowly working my way through the dress patterns. Eleanor's designs are so classic and flattering, and make me feel girly without feeling costume-y.

Pattern:  Deer & Doe's Robe Sureau
Fabric: Blue polka dotted Lecien lawn
Size Made: 46
Alterations:  I made the waist a bit bigger and added a few cm to the skirt.  I also shortened the sleeves.

I didn't make a muslin, and decided to dive right in with alterations (no, I would not recommend this but I was on a time crunch!).  I was really concerned the waist would be too snug, so I simply "let out" the darts on both the front and back bodice a little bit.  They were in the exact same place, with the same bust point, but were just a bit skinnier than the pattern suggests.  I've never done this kind of alteration before, but it totally worked! I added a few cm to the front and back skirt as well. In the end, it was actually a bit loose in the waist for my liking, but it's not too noticeable with a belt. 

Our lovely photos were taken by Danielle of DeFiore Photography.  She was amazing and totally embraced the crafty theme!  Check back in a few months to see what I make for the big day!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meet the Designer: Latifah Saafir!

Modern quilter Latfiah Saafir is teaching at Fancy Tiger! We are so excited to host her for her Glam Clam quilting class Sunday August 24th. Latfiah has an eye for color and design! Her mechanical engineer brain operates perfectly into the quilting world bringing us such stylish looking quilts. Let's meet Latfiah! 

1) How did you get started in the quilting industry? What is your background?
I am a Mechanical Engineer by training but, I’ve been sewing since I was a kid. I worked in technology for many years and when I got laid off decided to try my hand at making a living with the true love of my life - quilting.

I actually started quilting in 2009 when I saw a quilt that a friend of mine made. Something about that quilt made something click in me and I decided not only could I quilt but that I needed to. Later that same year I co-founded the Modern Quilt Guild and it’s first chapter in Los Angeles with only one quilt under my belt. I have a tendency to dive in head first with things. Quilting has been my life ever since.

2) What are you most excited about in quilting right now?
As the generation of modern quilters becomes more competent in their technique, I’m looking forward to new innovations in quilting. I’m almost sure we’ll start to see some of this soon and bits and pieces are starting to filter through. Also, I’m very interested to see how modern quilting will grow over time.

I’m also excited about younger and younger people being interested in quilting and I’m dreaming of ways to introduce more of them to it in a way that is palatable and exciting to them.

3) What do you look for when you're fabric shopping?
I’ve never thought about that because I guess I just know it when I see it! I guess I look for uniqueness, clean lines, and bold designs. Mostly I buy really great basics though. And I’m always on the search for the perfect solid color! There are never enough solids. I also love sophisticated whimsical novelty prints for all the baby quilts that I make.

4) What is your favorite mythological animal?
Ummm, does Tinker Bell count? Hehe. I know she’s not mythological or quite an animal but, I wasn’t much into cartoons as a kid and fell in love with Tink just a year or so ago. If I were a cartoon character that’s who I’d be. She captures the engineering and creative sides of me and she wears my favorite color!

5) If you could have any super power, what would it be?
I’m sure you have all guessed that my super power would be quilt related.  My super power would be having my quilt tops quilted and bound with a wave of a wand. The wand is key. ☺ I actually like to take ownership of the whole quilt and so I don’t often send my quilts off to a long armer BUT, the most exciting part of the process is piecing and seeing the pattern come to life. Then I’m sorta done and have to force myself finish the quilt. ☺

Thanks Latifah! We can't wait to quilt magic with you!