I have the digital equivalent of a scratch pad I’ve been randomly dumping snippets, URLs and half-thoughts into for several years now, and last night as I was perusing it, I found a link to a 2013 post on my friend Anne Weil’s blog, Flax and Twine. (Did I even know Anne when I copied that URL into the page, I wonder? Or has it been there that long.) Anyway! It’s such a tiny but stunning project: hoop earrings wrapped in embroidery floss. Obviously it’s perfect for embroidery floss or sashiko thread, but I feel like you could also do a version with some of the finer yarn bits rolling around your home. Anne’s original post is a reference to the full DIY which appeared as a guest post on Creature Comforts. Seems like an especially fun little summer weekend alternative to a pile of yarn in your lap, if it’s sweltering where you are.
Speaking of Anne, she was working on her next book while we were together at Squam last year. It comes out in August and I can’t wait to get my hands on it: Weaving Within Reach. For more of Anne’s endless crafty gorgeousness, follow @flaxandtwine on Instagram.
PREVIOUSLY: The moment my anti-“arm knitting” resolve crumbled
You may not know this about me, but in the aughts I ran a site called Readerville, where for nine years I covered books from every possible angle — from reviews to cover critiques to author discussions in the once-booming forum. I knew from having worked several years at Salon how many review copies of books are sent indiscriminately to the addresses of people who publish book reviews, but didn’t grasp what a … shall we say … mixed blessing it is to be on publicists’ mailing lists until the mountains of books began landing on my own doorstep. It took me years to get off some of those lists — not even an unannounced change of address could stop them! So as much as I’ve wanted books to be a part of the mix here at Fringe, I’ve been reluctant to risk finding myself back on those lists. But lately there have been a few books that are just too good not to write about, and first among them is Lena Corwin’s Made by Hand.
The story goes that Corwin, an illustrator and textile designer, used to host classes in her New York studio, with her various creative friends teaching their various creative skills. (Including Cal Patch — hi, Cal!) Reading about it makes one envious of everyone who got to teach and/or attend those classes. They ceased a few years ago, but luckily someone had the bright idea to recreate them in book form. So what lives between these covers is twenty-six projects, “taught” by the original slate of instructors, plus a few new ones. I say projects, but really each one is a lesson in a technique — from braiding a rug to tie-dyeing a pillowcase to coiling a bowl — that can be extrapolated and applied in as many ways as you can dream up. Some of them are what you would think of as large-scale undertakings shrunken down to kitchen-table scale, most notably a technique for using a rolling pin to simulate the action of giant rotary fabric-printing machines. And while there’s soap-making and beading and candle-making, nearly all of the projects are fiber-centric: printing and resist-dyeing fabrics; knitting and crocheting everything from socks to garlands to cat toys; weaving on improvised “looms”; sewing; embroidery; braiding; fabric origami; the list goes on. And the book manages to be extremely beautiful without failing to be useful: Every project is accompanied by copious step-by-step photos, diagrams and patterns, along with the materials lists and instructions.
Ever since I first stumbled across Jenny Gordy’s blog posts about her socks, I’ve been wishing she’d publish her pattern, and here it is! But there are so many wonderful, fundamental skills to be learned here, it’s hard to decide where to start.