Summer is all over but the shouting and we’ve been busy, busy, busy here at SODesigns!

Just got an update from our favorite designer, Natalia Fedner – the dress with the angora yarn has recently been tried on by not one, not two, but three entertainment industry heavy hitters! Here’s another look if you missed it the first time –

Famous DressNatalia told me who the famous woman are, but I can’t share that info with you…yet! Trust me when I say I’m over the moon about it and wish Natalia years and years of fashion success.

Meanwhile, back at the Studio – we’ve moved! The space above the yarn shop proved to be too small for three people to work in and so we put Jean on the hunt for a larger space that’s closer to her house. Less than 24 hours later we were looking at the perfect space and moving in as quick as we could. Jean makes shit happen!

Now the Sweatshop Girls are hot and heavy into production for the upcoming Craft Faire Season – we’re booked for six weekends in a row November thru early December. Schedule to follow. These particular shows are geared towards people looking for Holiday gifts so we’re churning out goods as fast as we can – no fleece or stuff to spin for these shows except packaged as gifts for knitters and spinners.

An interesting conversation the other day:

Jean: I think we need more fiber to spin if we’re going to make enough stuff for all the shows…

Awana: Yes! We don’t have much wool laying around do we?

Me: ::blink blink::

J: Where do you two usually get your wool? We have to watch the costs and it has to be locally sourced.

A: I dunno – Sofia, where do you get your Romney wool?

Me: Well…I generally just open this here bin and fish out what I want. If it’s not there I look in this bin. And this box, which is full of alpaca fleece. Or this bin, full of angora fiber. Or this bag here – more Romney. This bag is Scottish Blackface wool. Over here we have some commercial stuff, firestar, silk, even a bit of Quiviut…

Them: ::blink blink::

Me: I think we have plenty of fiber for what we’re doing πŸ™‚

Pictures to follow – the new Studio has WiFi, so expect updates to appear in a more timely manner…

Midsummer Spin In & Fiber Faire

The Sweatshop Girls* will be at the Spin In at the Wren Community Hall on Saturday from o’dark-thirty until 4:00 with stuff to sell –

Wren FlyerThe Sweatshop has been humming with activity these past two weeks and more and we have some fabulous New Stuff for your fiber needs:

  • Cotton storage bags for your washed wool – these are fantastic for storage: pack your washed sheep’s wool tight (don’t worry, it won’t felt) pull the drawstring and store in a copier paper box. You’ll be amazed how much you can fit into one box. A handy clear window on the bag provides an easy way to add a label. I’ve stored washed wool this way for years and it was in perfect condition for further processing after a little bit of fluffing. No worries about moths or condensation, either, provided you keep the boxes dry and inspect periodically.
  • Nylon storage bags for those fibers that stick to cloth bags – alpaca, angora, silk, etc. The seams are on the outside so there’s nothing for your fiber to snag on – just upend and dump, no wasted time (or fiber) left in the bag and you don’t have to use plastic and worry about condensation problems.
  • Our handspun yarns will be in the handspun yarn tent – come see what we’ve been talking about!
  • We’ll have a lovely selection of raw alpaca fiber for sale in pretty much every color alpacas come in, from white to almost-black (I kept the one True Black for myself and I’m not even sorry πŸ™‚ ) and every shade in between.
  • Knitting patterns, blank greeting cards, stitch markers and stuff I can’t remember right now…

The SOD team has expanded to include Awana, who is learning all about fabric, sewing and cutting and using her powerful sense of color, texture and matching** to drum card some yummy batts for your next spinning or felting project:

AwanaAnd Jeanie who brings a breath of fresh creativity, mad organizational skillz*** and artist’s sensibilities, rounding out the perfect Design Trio we are becoming:

JeanieYou can find us under the black pop-up somewhere on the grounds outside – look for the red handspun shawl hanging from the awning. We’ll probably be the women laughing the loudest…

* The Studio is quite hot in the evenings right now. Even with fans, we’re all sweating, hence the new moniker. Of course, we’re also not getting paid, so in that sense the name also fits πŸ™‚

** Awana has strong ideas about what “goes together,” something I’ve been told I lack. Letting her have at it and match fabrics and colors has really amped up our product quality.

*** Jeanie used to be an event planner and has an inherent need for a Schedule, a Plan, a Method of Attack – something sorely lacking here at SOD. Stay tuned for pictures of the new white board πŸ™‚

Busy Summer!

It’s been a Crazy Summer so far. Obviously blogging has fallen by the wayside.

Events not blogged about (yet):

  • Columbia Gorge Fiber Fest
  • Rug Hooking class
  • Revy’s rubber fetish
  • Dentist visits
  • Alpaca shearing
  • Long Draw Spinning class
  • Black Sheep Gathering
  • Sabu’s new haircut
  • Trailer repairs/remodels
  • Alpaca fleece tumbler
  • Mom’s yard sale
  • Visits to various Cool Places
  • Sabu and Sleep-away camp
  • Various and sundry new projects being planned or underway

Whew! I have a lot of ground to catch up on!

We’ll be back later today to start crossing things off the above list. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep up better in future. Lots of irons in the fire!

The House of Mom – Part One

Still recovering from a very busy weekend. Awana needed a ride to the airport and I volunteered to drive into The Big City and drop her off. I took the Friday off work and made a long weekend of it, packing dog, cat and necessities into Awana’s van in case I needed to haul something back from The House of Mom (I’ve posted a bit about THoM on another blog.) Sadly, her flight left too early for us to make a day of it like we did last time.

Some of you may scoff at the idea of taking a cat on a road trip, but Revy did just fine. I was going to leave him behind, but Mom said, “Oh, just put him in his carrier, pack his litter box and bring him along.” Now, Mom has been reading my blogs – she knows Shredmaster is capable of some vile deeds and she has a large collection of glass, so I was sure this would be a disaster but she insistedΒ  she would “have a little talk with him,” they would reach an understanding and all would be well. Having lived with Revy’s stubborn streak for awhile now I was not as confident, but it did provide an opportunity to visit Harley and let him see how big his tiny kitten had grown.

The visit with Harley turned into a major event when he invited his BFF, wife and small son over to see how kitty had grown. Revy seemed to remember the apartment and spent most of his time exploring, not really letting anyone pick him up and pet him. We had a nice visit and got back on the road.

Arriving at THoM, I unloaded the car and went to work, letting Mom and Revy sort out what would be allowed (perching in the windowsills and eating his food on the bathroom counter) and what would not (jumping onto the kitchen counters, dining table or knocking things off the buffet.) I had come to Hood River to help sort out Mom’s Round To-it room and get her organized so she could work in there.

It went much easier than I expected. When I arrived there were many, many boxes in the family room – she had emptied out the room for the most part so we could re-arrange the furniture. Turns out many of the boxes were filled with glass objects (more about that in another post) and they fit nicely onto a new shelf assembly I put together. Much of the rest was organizing and putting like with like. I was expecting a huge purge would be necessary and that I might be driving home with a van full of Cool Stuff – I’d seen how much was crammed into that room and didn’t see how it could all go back in – but that was not the case.

Dog, cat and I will be traveling back this weekend for Round Two and a quick stop at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival – I’ll be sure to take some pictures this time!

I did come back with some Cool Stuff, including a small knitting machine –

Fashion KnitterI had an ISM years ago that I traded for a rectangular shawl loom and I’ve been sorry about that exchange on and off for years. Of course I’m only borrowing this one for now (hi, Mom!)

Anyway. I’ve been interested in knitting up sock blanks and dyeing them for a few weeks now, but hand knitting them would be a waste of valuable time and buying them doesn’t seem all that economical considering I want to sell the blanks. Take a look at these –

Aren’t they wild? Each one is machine knit with a double strand of sock weight yarn. When you’re ready to knit, you start to unravel and knit two socks at the same time, toe up or cuff down and they will be virtually identical. You can use various techniques to create your own self-striping sock yarn, but I love this idea of having the blank look like art before you even start knitting. There’s even a group on Ravelry that discusses techniques.

I know! I don’t really need another obsession, but there you have it. Sock blanks and dyeing have been around for a few years, I’ve come late to the game, but I’m determined to try it out even if it’s only a passing interest.

Okay, I’m off to give the dentist all my money to get a tooth fixed and must cut this post short. More updates to follow…

Under the Gunn – Finale

What a disappointment the UtG finale was! There was plenty of time for ads, promotions, a re-cap of the prizes, and drivel from the “surprise” judges, but precious little time to show the designers, their assistants, advice from the mentors and the creations of each collection. The editing was choppy, irritating and not nearly enough about the designers or their designs.

I was expecting something more in line with Project Runway finales, maybe even a double episode, but no. For instance, on PR, for the final challenge designers who have been eliminated come back and assist the finalists in creating and sewing a mini collection. UtG was similar in that each designer had one former team mate come back to assist, but other than a few glimpses of the eliminated designers we saw nothing of them and that was, IMHO, a mistake. Some of the most entertaining moments on PR are the conflicts between the eliminated designers and the finalists.

Oscar got the well deserved win and he and Nick were obviously over the moon about the win. Oscar’s collection:

UTG01-ep13-episode45While it was an expansion of some of his “best of” looks, every one was better than the original and overall it was a very cohesive collection, deserving of the judges’ praise.

While she wasn’t really shown on the episode, Natalia was there assisting and cheering Oscar to the finish line:

Natalia_Nick_OscarOverall I was disappointed with UtG and if it comes back for a second season I hope they hire some new editors and give us more of what we love the most about Project Runway.

Nick’s Take can be found here.

Under the Gunn – Episode 12

For the penultimate UtG episode, the theme was Superhero Fashion. The designers were to use inspiration from Marvel superheros to design a wearable look. Oscar chose Gamora as his muse and he was off to Mood to choose fabric.

The final result? Fabulous!

This three piece outfit is totally wearable and classic! The coat is made of felt but looks like an expensive wool.

Oscar was the clear winner of this episode and Asha should have been sent home – all three mentors would still have been in the finale – but instead the judges (or the network?!?) decided that the Final Four designers would ALL be competing for the championship. Not only that, but no winner was selected for this episode and no prizes were given. A bit of a letdown, really.

Who will win the competition? My bet is on Oscar, with Shan coming in second and Sam third. Asha should have gone home long ago, but since no one asked me, there she is.

Nick’s Take can be found here.

Under the Gunn – Episode 11

Only a couple more episodes to go and Season One of UtG will be history. Who will win? Since Natalia was sent home, we here at SODesigns are rooting for Oscar and he performed last week in a very big way.

The challenge was to create a look for a “real” client and the look of horror on a couple of the designers’ faces was very telling. I find it amazing that at this point in the competition they are so surprised to find themselves asked to make clothes for actual people instead of hanger-skinny models.

Oscar, however, was not at all intimidated. His client, a very petite blond pixie, is a pageant contestant and lamented that she can never find a gown that fits and doesn’t make her look like a child – right up Oscar’s alley! He delivered his most amazing gown yet:

Dani did a pageant walk down the runway and it was obvious she loved her gown. The color was wonderful, the sewing and styling were perfect and Oscar should have walked away with the win.

The emerald green gown fit like a glove, Dani looked like an Amazon and the details were astounding. Oscar turned his tiny client into a statuesque queen and she was over the moon. Oscar delivered exactly what she wanted, which was the goal of this challenge, yes?

Not according to the judges. They were all like, “Yawn. Yes, Oscar, you can make a gown. Big deal. You should have taken some risks and done something different. You’re safe because we’re bored.”

I was stunned. Yes, he made a gown, but they totally ignored the fact that he made his client very happy by creating the look she asked for.

Blake ended up going home even though his client was happy with his creation. Asha submitted another badly sewn outfit, but her client was happy with the results and she ended up in second place. Whatever.

Nick’s Take can be found here.

Weekly Update – Issue One

I’m having a lot of trouble composing regular posts for this here blog. Time is just flying by, the ideas and inspiration coming fast and furious. I find myself with no time at the end of the day to even get the laundry and dishes washed, much less compose a coherent blog post! These updates will (hopefully) fill in the blanks between FOs and document some important ideas before they are lost to the ether. I do read back over past posts on occasion πŸ™‚

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERALast weekend found Sabu and I in Yachats with some free time. We walked on several beaches, including this particular spot where the sand appeared to be black. Upon closer inspection I discovered that it wasn’t sand at all but tiny little stones, worn smooth by the sea. I took several pictures and collected some especially pretty samples for inspiration later. It was warm behind the rocks and Sabu decided to lay on her back while I mucked about taking pictures and sifting through the fascinating rocks.

The weather was perfect and I got some great pictures which I’ll post tomorrow.

Awana came over and we did some Project Planning. Whenever we get together the new ideas flow fast and furious. Thankfully I take notes πŸ™‚

The regular Wednesday night gathering at Knitty Gritty was even more exciting than usual. Kristin brought a hooked rug to work on and was instantly besieged with questions. Silly girl! She thought since the majority of us bring knitting or crochet projects to work on that we would have no interest in rug hooking. Ha ha! By the time it was over she had agreed to teach a two-day class and had six signed up. More on that when it happens in May.

Thursday was Laundry Day and I spent the evening at the Laun-dro-mat, washing fabric, felting sweaters and washing clothes for like three hours 😦 It’s all done now, but I hate such an ordinary thing taking so much valuable time.

Many new ideas swirling around my head and I hope to bring them to fruition soon. I’ve always been interested in rug hooking but figured it wouldn’t fit into my already tight “hobby” schedule. Now that I know someone who can guide me, well, it’s become a bit of an obsession. Being a drafter by trade, it just seems logical to design my own patterns and fill Towanda with hand made rugs. I may have lost my mind (again) but it feels like a good fit with the other things I like to do and there’s plenty of wool fabric in The Stash that can be dyed and used up. Seems like kismet, right?

Don’t tell me if you think I’m crazy πŸ™‚

Under the Gunn – Episode 10

I’ve been too angry to post about last week’s UtG episode until today, waiting to see what’s being said around the interwebs, deciding if my anger was justified. I think it was. As you all know by now (unless you live under a rock somewhere, in which case, good for you!) Natalia was sent home last week.

The challenge was to work in three teams of two and collaborate on three designs – a mini collection for hip retailer Francescas. Natalia was paired up with Asha and Asha was not a bit happy about it. Sam and Blake moderated their comments about Natalia on this episode, but Asha made it very clear that she was pissed at being paired with Natalia and, IMHO, she went into this challenge with one goal in mind – get Natalia sent home – and she did a wonderful job. She was likely guessing that she could survive (another) Fashion Fail, while Natalia could not, and she was right.

The trouble started at Mood where Natalia’s fabric choices were flatly turned down by Asha and continued into the work room where Asha took over and dictated exactly what Natalia would be allowed to do. The result? A cute dress that had a lot of potential from Natalia –

The front had some fit problems, but the back was great and totally Natalia –

We got only a glimpse of the cute, well fitting shorts underneath Asha’s hideous dashiki and we got a lot of finger pointing by Asha on the runway, making sure the judges knew what Natalia was “responsible” for – way to look like a Team, eh?

The judges rightfully hated Asha’s awful outfits and asked which of them should go home, their team being in the bottom and one of them having to go.

AshaNataliaAsha started to cry and plead with the judges, telling them how much she wanted to stay, when Natalia spoke up and said that she should be eliminated so that Asha would not blame her for getting sent home. And you know she would have moaned all over the interwebs!

Natalia showed amazing grace under pressure – you know she wanted to stay but felt bullied and disliked by the other designers and mentors. She looked so tired and just ready to go home. I love her parting line, “Under pressure, I’m a good person.” And she is.

If you’re following Natalia on Facebook or Twitter you know that she’s designing and creating like crazy and that at least one of the dresses embellished with my yarn is now in Europe being worn by someone fabulous – more info as she’s able to share πŸ™‚

Oscar and Shan were a wonderful team, working together seamlessly and turning out the winning looks, models of sewing perfection, as we expect from both Oscar and Shan –

Oscar_Shan1The blazer and maxi dress are in Francesca’s shops and online for purchase and each of them won a $5000 prize. Well done, gentlemen! We here at SODesigns are still rooting for Team Nick – good luck tonight, Oscar!

Read Nick’s Inside Scoop on his blog.

Tim Gunn asserts that Natalia was not bullied by Asha or anyone else, but what I saw was most certainly bullying. Tim said that Natalia’s poor time management made everyone crazy, but we didn’t see any of that on ANY episode, except what Natalia said about herself. One has to wonder why there was so much time to show Isabella’s craziness (and there were many more designers to cover way back then) but nothing at all was shown about Natalia’s supposed “issues.” Doesn’t make for unbiased TV now, does it? Click the pic to read Tim’s full statement and enjoy the comments, too.




Tim Gunn on WhoSay

Under the Gunn – Episodes 8 and 9

Wow. Just. Wow. I know “reality” shows are edited to showcase drama and boost ratings, but Episode 9 of Under the Gunn was harsh.

It all started with Episode 8 and Natalia’s Beach Themed Unconventional design –

She chose to use grass to create an overlay fabric and it was ah-mazing. The judges were a bit mixed on her look, but she made it through safe. I don’t quite understand the animosity of the other designers over this design, especially seeing as how Stephanie (Natalia’s team mate) went home, but there it was.

I thought Natalia’s design was unique (not a fan in sight!) and if she’d had a bit more time it would have been over the top lovely. It did have some construction issues, but the idea and execution were uniquely Natalia and the judges saw that.

Oscar won with a dress made of fans, and it was a justified win:

Oscar’s execution was flawless. Dude can SEW!!

Episode 9 was a “Transformation” challenge. The designers were to create a look that would go from day to evening. The models would show both looks on the runway and it promised to be interesting, to say the least.

Natalia’s design was, once again, very different from every one else’s –

Lemme just say that any day look that has sleeves to keep a person warm in the office is a Great Thing! I hate, hate, hate sleeveless outfits that have to be covered up with a sweater or jacket for the office – what’s the point of having a fabulous look if no one can see it?

The Evening Transformation –

The knit cowl/sleeves transformed into a purse! The body-hugging dress was appropriate for any occasion so Natalia’s Girl could go from office to wherever without having to carry an extra bag. I thought it was wonderful and so did the judges, awarding Natalia second place behind team mate Oscar who designed this little number:

It would have been better, IMHO, if the Day look didn’t have slits in the skirt, but I’m not rich and famous, so what do I know?

The real shockers were the designer interviews where everyone but Oscar ripped on Natalia’s design skills, sewing abilities and her penchant for crying. Really? I hadn’t noticed her crying until you guys started being assholes!

It was everyone against Natalia, including Mondo and Anya once the judging was over. The judges asked Mondo and Anya if they disagreed with the final decision and they were pale and trembling with rage. It was shameful. While neither one of them insulted Natalia personally (I understand they’ve gotten some negative feedback for their harsh words from the online community) I thought it was in poor taste to air their grievances in front of the cameras – it would have been so much more professional and interesting if they’d taken their opinions to their blogs, Twitter feeds, etc. and sparked a reasoned debate instead of spouting off like a couple of petulant children in front of the world.

I did disagree with the judges about who went home, however. Asha’s design was a Hot Mess. There is not a woman in the world who would buy an outfit that makes a model look pregnant both coming and going. The sewing was atrocious and the whole look was just ugly. Her fabric choice was good, but as soon as that skirt was turned up it was a disaster – the print was All Wrong and left me shaking my head. It was so bad I’m not even going to link to a picture. The sewing alone should have sent her home – she knows better and has shown that she can sew. It’s like she was phoning this one in.

The judges sent Michelle home because her look was “boring” and they didn’t like the color palette. Huh. Taupe for the office – that’s always going to be a winner. Her tunic dress was very well made and the silhouette would have flattered many body types –

Go ahead and eat lunch, Girl, this dress won’t make you look fat! The evening look didn’t do it for me (too bulky around the hips) but the idea was sound. I don’t understand why she went home while Asha was safe, but I don’t get a vote, either.

Nick’s Take on Episode 9 can be found here and judging by the sneak previews and commercial snippets, this week promises to be full of drama as the designers are paired up for this week’s challenge. Natalia is paired up with Asha who went into the challenge with a very bad attitude if the commercials are to be believed…

Go Team Nick!