Working From Home

Today I had the luxury of working from home. Normally not something I am a fan of as it usually involves putting in a bunch of extra hours Saturdays and Sundays, but today was delightful.

I awoke early to the sun streaming through my window and the curtains billowing, filled with a warm breeze. Breakfast was simple – a plate of perfectly sweet, ripened strawberries and a tall glass of chilled nettle tea.

Work was pleasant. With the sun shining and gorgeous 80 degree weather, I took advantage and brought my laptop and work materials out on the porch. Something about the sunshine, the bamboo jungle surrounding me and the relaxing atmosphere of the dogs sunning themselves created an unbelievably productive environment.

Finishing most of my tasks quite early, I took an early lunch break and created this little bit of artwork out of old chalk I found from when I was a wee little tot:

While I am no artist (though quite proud of the butterfly on the right), I rarely have an opportunity to express artistic creativity. Even something as simple and chalk on the sidewalk allows for this beautiful expression of the right brain.

Today will conclude with a bright colored salad and a 3 mile run and some weight training. Have a great night!

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DIY: Design and Sew Your Own Leggings

Came across this “how-to” article a few moments ago. Etsy is one of my favorite sites! I can spend hours perusing the merchandise and blogs. This looks like a really fun project! Enjoy!

The following is all courtesy of Etsy.com and can be found here

Story by hodgepodgefarm

Published on Feb 28, 2012 in Make

Photo by Richard A. Smith

Cal Patch is a renaissance crafter, with know-how spanning the fields of crochet, pattern-making, sewingembroidery, dyeing, printing, spinning, and beyond. She is the author ofDesign-It-Yourself Clothing, writes a blog, and can can be found teaching classes around New York state (and beyond). For this week’s How-Tuesday, Cal will teach us how to make a custom pair of leggings. From taking measurements, to making the pattern, to sewing it all up, Cal will be with us each step of the way!

I adore leggings. I live in leggings. I always wish I had more leggings: colored ones, printed ones, stripey ones, long cozy woolly ones in winter, and shorter lightweight cotton ones in summer. I wear  them under dresses or tunics, I wear them to the gym, I lounge and sleep in them. As a clothing designer, I’m glad I can make my own, because when I look around I don’t see nearly enough options out there in fun colors, prints, and natural fibers. Today I’m going to show you that you can make your own leggings, too!

You’ll need to measure yourself, draft a pattern, get some stretchy knit fabric, and stitch it up. This isn’t a difficult project, but I’m assuming you’re at least a competent beginner sewer. Let’s get started!


Supplies You’ll Need:

For the pattern:

  • Paper to make the pattern. Get a pad or roll; bigger is better. (I like an 18 x 24” pad of drawing paper.)
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Scissors (for cutting paper)
  • Tape measure
  • Ruler (clear 18” x 2” sewing ruler is best)
  • Clear tape

For the leggings:

  • About 1 ½ yards of nice stretchy knit fabric, like cotton/Lycra jersey.
  • About 1 ½ yards of cheaper stretchy knit fabric, like cotton/Lycra jersey (for the muslin).
  • All-purpose thread to match.
  • Pins
  • Scissors (for fabric)
  • Sewing machine

You’ll need the following measurements:

  • Length
  • Half Waist (Waist divided by 2)*
  • Thigh Circumference*
  • Knee Circumference*
  • Ankle Circumference*
  • Front Rise Height
  • Back Rise Height
  • Distance from Thigh to Knee
  • Distance from Knee to Ankle

Okay, now let me explain how to go about measuring each one, as I’ve no doubt you might have a question or two! I’ll explain them as though you’re making the leggings for yourself, but you can make them to fit anyone, even kids. All of these measurements can be taken while holding the tape fairly snugly; you might want to wear something close-fitting (like a pair of leggings) as you measure. Actually, if you have a pair of leggings that fit well, putting them on will help you in determining some of these measurements that you may never have thought about before, such as where you’d like the waist to sit.

Length: This is really a design decision, but it will also relate to your body.  Hold the tape measure at your side, where you’d like the waist of the leggings to sit (anywhere from waist to hip), and drop it down to your ankle. A full-length mirror should help you see the measurement of your desired length. If in doubt, I recommend going an inch or two longer. You can always shorten!

Half Waist (divided by 2)*: Measure around your waist, at the point where you want the top of the leggings to sit (and where you measured your length from). If this is more like your hip, that’s fine! Just measure yourself there. Then divide this number by 2, for your half waist.

Thigh Circumference*: Measure around the full circumference of one thigh, at its highest point (just below the crotch).

Knee Circumference*: Measure around one knee.

Ankle Circumference*: Measure around one ankle, exactly where you want the leggings to end.

Front Rise Height: This might sound odd, but here’s the best way to get this measurement: Take your ruler and hold it between your legs, as high up as is comfortable.  Be sure the ruler is parallel to the floor. Now measure up from the ruler, in a straight line, to where you want the waistline of the leggings to rest. (Note: The rise seam will be curved, but for now you just want the height, which is a straight line, so don’t measure all the way from where the inseams intersect.)

Back Rise Height: Same as Front Rise, but in the back.

Distance from Thigh to Knee: Along your side, measure from the point where you took your thigh circumference down to where you took your knee circumference.

Distance from Knee to Ankle: Same, but from knee to ankle.

Now that you have all of your body measurements, we just need to do a tiny bit of math before we begin drafting the pattern. First though, we need to talk about an important concept in patternmaking: ease. Ease is the difference in size between you and your clothes. In a woven fabric, the garment needs to be bigger than you in order for it to fit and be comfortable, because wovens generally don’t stretch. This is called positive ease. When working with knits, the garment might be bigger than you, or exactly the same, or even smaller, depending on the style. The latter is possible because knits stretch and mold to fit the body, and is called negative ease. Leggings are generally meant to cling snugly to the body, so you will want to incorporate a bit of negative ease. If you prefer a looser fit, you can skip this step.

You also need to decide on the type of knit to use. Different kinds of knits have vastly different amounts of stretch. 100% cotton sweatshirt fleece has very little stretch, while 90% cotton/10% Lycra jersey has lots of it. Lycra or Spandex (same thing, just different brands) give a fabric the ability to stretch and will also give it recovery, or the ability to return to its original shape after stretching. So if you’re not a fan of baggy knees, you might want to choose a knit with 5-10% of an elastic fiber added to it. My favorite fabrics to use for leggings are cotton/Lycra jersey or rib knits, and wool jersey or rib (with or without Lycra; wool has better recovery on its own than cotton does).

Assuming you’ll be using one of these types of knit, you can deduct 10% from each of the measurements with a * after them for negative ease. These are your four horizontal circumferences. If you are using a knit with less stretch, you might want to deduct only 5% or none at all. You will now use these adjusted numbers in place of the original measurements.

Next we need to figure out the depth of the rise seam. Take your Thigh Circumference (after deducting ease), and subtract from it your half-waist (also minus ease). Let’s call this D (for Depth). Multiply D by 1/3; this is your Front Rise Depth. Multiply D by 2/3; this is your Back Rise Depth. Write these down, you’ll need them in a little while.

So we’re ready to draft our pattern! It’ll be just one pattern piece (there’s no need for a side seam), from which you’ll cut two pieces (one for each leg) to make a pair of leggings.

This is what your pattern piece will look like after you follow the steps below.

Patternmaking Directions

1. To begin, you need to cut (or tape together) a piece of paper that measures at least 4” longer than your Length measurement, and at least 2” wider than your Thigh. Draw a vertical line down the center of the paper (or fold if it’s easier); all of your drafting will originate from this line. Imagine that this line will run down the side of your leg, where a side seam would be; this will be the center of the pattern, and I’ll refer to it as the Center Line (CL).

2. On CL, make a small mark about 2” down from the top edge of the paper. Then measure down the full Length measurement, and make another mark. At this mark, draw a line, perpendicular to CL, that measures your Ankle Circumference. Half of the measurement should extend from either side of CL.

3. From the Ankle, use your Knee to Ankle Height measurement to determine where to draw your Knee Circumference, also centered over CL. Draw the Knee line, perpendicular to CL.

4. Repeat this step, using your Thigh to Knee Height, to Draw the Thigh line. Connect the dots from Thigh to Knee to Ankle on each side. You will probably have a slight angle at the knee point; smooth it into a gentle curve.

5. Now let’s work on the rise seams. On the Thigh line, measure in from the right side your Front Rise Depth, and make a mark. From this mark, draw a line upward, measuring your Front Rise Height, perpendicular to the Thigh line. From the left side, measure in your Back Rise Depth, and mark. From here, draw a perpendicular line upward, measuring your Back Rise Height. Connect the Front and Back Rise points, starting out perpendicular from the top of the Front Rise line, and gently curving up to meet the Back Rise line. This is the Waist line. Next, slope the Back Rise by holding your ruler along the Waist line, at the top of the Back Rise, and drawing a perpendicular line which intersects the Thigh line. Draw curves to fill in the lower corners of the Front and Back Rise lines.

6. All that’s left is to add seam allowance. I use ½” seam allowance on all seams except for the bottom hems, where I add a full inch for hem allowance. Draw the seam allowance around all sides of the patterns, and cut it out. CL becomes your grainline, and you can label the pattern and write the cutting instructions of Cut 2.

Now you can make a muslin, or fit sample. Try to find a cheap fabric that has similar stretch to the real fabric you plan to use. All you really need to sew are the inseams and rise seams to test the fit and make corrections. Don’t bother finishing the waistband or hems since you may want to adjust them; just remember that you will lose a little height at the waist and length at the hem when you do finish these edges in the final garment. If you see anything you want to change or adjust, pin or mark with chalk on the muslin. If you need to add fabric, such as if you want to raise the waistline, just pin on a scrap to extend the edge to where you want it. Then be sure to correct your pattern accordingly. Every body is unique, so are likely to need a few tweaks to get the fit just right. If you only make slight adjustments, you can probably jump straight to your final fabric, but if you change the pattern drastically, I’d suggest making a second muslin.


How to Sew Your Leggings

When sewing knits, you need to use a stitch that will stretch as much as your knit does, or the seam will break. Test a few options on a swatch of the same fabric, until you find a stitch that works well. I recommend using either a stretch straight stitch, or a small (I like 1.5 x 1.5mm) zigzag stitch on your sewing machine (or a serger, if you happen to have one). Fold each piece upon itself, right sides together, along the inseams, pin and sew. You’ll now have two individual leg pieces.

The edges of most knits won’t unravel, so you don’t really need to finish the seam allowances, but you might want to trim them to ¼” and either zigzag over the edges, or sew a second stretchy seam right next to the first, in case any stitches do break. Turn one leg right side out and place it inside the other, matching up the front and back rise seams and pinning together. Sew the rise as one continuous curved seam front front to back. Finish as you did the inseams, if necessary.

Finishing the Waistband

There are several ways you can finish the waistband. I usually use ½” elastic, cut to waist size, and seamed into a loop. Lay the elastic loop on the wrong side of the leggings waist, right at the top edge, pin and zigzag the edges together. Then turn the elastic down, so the waistline seam allowance covers it, and stitch again along the lower edge with a stretch straight stitch or a wide 3-step zig zag.

Another way is to make a folded waistband casing (with or without elastic inside) made from a separate piece of fabric. Cut the piece to your waist measurement (minus ease, plus 1” for seam allowance), by twice the desired casing width (plus 1” for seam allowance). With right sides together, sew the short seam. Sew the elastic into a loop if you’re using it, and fold the casing over it, wrong sides together. Pin the raw edges of the folded casing to the right side of the waist, and stitch around. Zigzag the three seam allowances together to finish.

To hem, turn the bottom edges under by ½”, then turn them again by another ½”, and pin. Sew with a stretch seam along the fold that is ½” from the edge.

Thank you to Cal Patch for sharing this project with us. Be sure to check out her Etsy shop and blogIf you make your own leggings, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.

Benefits of Nettles

Stinging Nettle – a super herb that as its name professes, stings the skin through hollow hair called trichomes. Best handled with gloves.

A superior tonic herb, nettle is rich in iron, calcium, potassium, silicon, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and chronium, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals. It is a great hair and scalp tonic, an excellent reproductive tonic for both men and women , and a superior herb for the genitourinary system. Nettle is also extremely helpful for treating liver problems and allergies and hay fever (Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health). 

This herb has an extraordinary amount of nutrients and health benefits on top of being tasty and super easy to prepare. Some of the benefits:

  • It is widely known to assist with nerves as well as restoring and replenishing energy when used over a period of time.
  • Can be added to a hair rinse for an excellent hair and scalp tonic that can assist in preventing hair loss and thicken hair by stimulating hair growth. Also adds shine and luster.
  • Activates the metabolism by strengthening and toning the internal systems.
  • High levels of iron which are essential for health and high energy as well as keeping the blood oxygen rich.
  • Rich in B vitamins and vitamin C.
  • Can be used in tea to assist young children with growing pains.
  • Is frequently used in to assist with cystitis or urinary bladder inflammation.
  • Herbs for Women: One of the best all-round women’s tonic herbs. A rich source of iron, calcium and vitamin A. Used during pregnancy to enrich and increase the flow of mother’s milk and to help relieve water retention (Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health).
  • It is high in calcium which can help prevent osteoporosis and other bone problems as well as hot flashes.
  • Can help to alleviate symptoms of PMS and menopause.
  • Known to help with impotence and infertility in both men and women.

There are a few different ways to consume nettles without harming yourself in the process. If there is a farmer’s market nearby or a grocery store that sells fresh nettle, it can either be cooked or juiced. To juice, be sure to wear gloves so you do not get stung, simply run through your juicer and drink. When cooking, prepare similar to spinach. They can be sauteed, but be sure to cook completely or it can still sting. You can also prepare nettle tea. I recently purchased a bag of organic nettle from my local Whole Foods and have been drinking roughly 2-3 mugs per day. This is a loose leaf, but I believe you can also buy tea bags.

I have never juiced or cooked nettle, but as a tea it is grassy and earthy. Very delicious. I hear it tastes amazing with a hint of Elderflower syrup.

DIY: Weaving a Complex Ojo de Dios

I came across this great art project on Etsy for weaving your own Ojo de Dios. These stunning, brightly colored “Eyes of God” are made from simple sticks and colored yarn. All photos and text are courtesy of Etsy. 

Ojos de Dios, which is Spanish for “Eyes of God,” are made from yarn and sticks by native peoples of Mexico and South America. Native Americans of the Southwestern United States adopted the craft more recently, and the eight sided mandala of the Navajo is the basic pattern that I’ve most often used in my own work.

These instructions are not intended to teach you how to construct one particular ojo, but rather to demonstrate techniques that you can use to improvise and create your own unique design. Let’s get started!


Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Sticks — I use doweling, available at building supply places and hardware stores. You can use 1/4″ for up to 16″, 5/16″ for up 22″ Ojo de Dios, and 3/8″ for up to 32″, and 7/16″ for up to 40″ Ojo de Dios.
  • Yarn
  • Scissors suitable for cutting yarn
  • A yarn needle — A large needle with an eye large enough for yarn to fit through it, and a blunt end where other needles are sharp.

Directions:

1. Planning Your Ojos de Dios: For an eight-sided ojo, consider the overall pattern to be two four-sided ojos joined together. Each set of sticks for these two parts are notched in the middle, about 1/4 the thickness of the sticks, so the two sticks fit and stack closely together. Keeping yarn tight is a problem, so I’ll make small notches, with a file or pocket knife, every inch (closer on a smaller than 12 inch ojo) all along the doweling. Besides holding the yarn from slipping in towards the center, the notches act as guides for keeping the pattern even.

Equally important as the pattern that you weave in an ojo, are the color combinations that you choose. Myself, I tend to stick with colors from the American Southwest. I recommend choosing color combinations that you find especially beautiful in nature. There are also color wheel sites online that might be useful in matching up harmonious colors (such asCOLOURlovers), although I’ve always gone by intuition and schemes from nature myself, and drawn inspiration from other artists.

2. Start Weaving: Start with the two sticks that will be the top two of the eventual 8-sided pattern. The way of making the central diamond is exactly the same from the very start, and the pattern that makes that central diamond also holds the first two sticks together.

Holding your first two sticks as illustrated here, cross over the central joining of the sticks, wrap around one stick two times, bringing your yarn to a new starting place, then cross over again, wrap around the next stick, and so on, to build up your central diamond pattern.

From the very beginning, watch to keep the pattern even. Look at both the space between strands of yarn, and the amount the diamond pattern has expanded along each stick. If you’re not satisfied, start over. Errors are easy enough to correct when caught early.

3. Add New Colors: To add to this, cut the old color to where a one inch tail is left, and simply twist the new color to the old, leaving the tails running along the stick. After a couple wraps have securely held the new color in place, you can snip the tails shorter, so they won’t get in the way later.

4. Prepare the Second Set of Sticks: When you are finished with your central diamond, cut the color yarn you are working with, leaving enough tail to tuck under itself to hold it temporarily in place. Prepare your second set of sticks in the same manner. After finishing the central diamond, prepare a second set of sticks with a solid color diamond, to be used behind the central diamond. I always make this second diamond slightly larger than the first, so it shows up well in the finished ojo.

5. Attach the Two Sets of Sticks: Now comes the trickiest part. Most commonly I use a dagger pattern at this point to hold the two sets of sticks together. Choosing my next color yarn, I start the new color by securing it over the tails of the last color one twist under itself, leaving a tail running down beside the earlier color. Now, holding the sets of sticks together with thumb and forefinger, I use my other hand to bring the yarn underneath both from where I started, as illustrated.

This stage, so near the beginning of the project, is the most difficult stage, so take your time with it, and don’t be afraid to unwind and start over again if the dagger pattern you are creating to hold the sets together doesn’t look quite right. Remember, once you have this stage down, everything else will be relatively easy-going.

Surprisingly, with just one strand of yarn running underneath, and wrapped twice around the opposite end of your starting stick, your ojo is already sturdy enough that you can now twirl the ojo to continue wrapping. In this case I went back and forth four times, then did the same temporary tie as when ending the diamond, by tucking the cut end underneath itself once, leaving a tail long enough to start a new color later. Be careful to keep things centered, and remember, although the ojo at this point may seem horribly wobbly and unwieldy, it will now grow stronger with every wrap of yarn that strings underneath the two sets, holding it all together with more and more strands of yarn as the pattern grows.

6. Continue Weaving: As you work, use your fingernails to push the strands of yarn into a nice even pattern. Throughout any ojo I create, I’m constantly making tiny little adjustments with my fingernails, both on the front and back sides. Be sure to keep adjusting the sticks to be evenly distanced from each other, as well as evenly balanced on top of each other. With practice, making all these little, but necessary, adjustments, will become automatic.

With this ojo in the illustrations, I’ve decided to do what I call a kaleidoscope pattern, where I switch colors frequently, alternating between the two original sets of sticks with interwoven diamonds. First I wove the orange, then the gold added with the yarn, in the way I almost invariably add onto a pattern, running underneath the earlier color. These beginning diamonds have three rows of yarn each, wrapping twice around each stick, unless I adjust how far along the stick the pattern is growing, by either wrapping once, or perhaps even three times. Occasionally I’ll use my thumbnail to gently push a pattern into a more agreeable looking place.

A challenge for me with this type of ojo, is to try and avoid any part of the pattern looking like a boring square, or box, sitting flat. We see all too much of that kind of shape in our lives: walls, buildings, TVs, and so much more!  I think that circles and interlocking diamonds are so much more agreeable to the eye in an ojo. The other main challenge is to use colors in a harmonious and pleasing way. Be sure there is enough contrast between adjoining colors, so that they don’t blend too easily into each other and create a kind of uneasy blurring of the line between them. Also, though, try hard not to have two adjoining colors clash sharply.

7. Keeping Color in Mind: It’s important, besides following the well known guides of the color wheel (search for online help if needed) to be aware of how color types fit together: primary colors; pastel colors, jewel tones, and earth tone colors. Some people would say not to mix these different types. I say, mix carefully, and be aware of the effect that the different types have. I often mix in a couple jewel tones with a mainly earth-toned ojo, using the jewel tones for highlights. I like that kind of effect a lot. Pastel tones can also be used for highlights against a background of earth tones.

I’ll start creating an ojo with as many as fifteen or twenty balls of yarn beside me to choose from, but usually narrow the colors down to seven, or maybe nine, for an ojo of this size. For one of my much larger ojos, I might actually use fifteen colors. I’ve found that it’s generally a good idea, once you have used a certain color, to repeat it again later in your design, rather than have any one color stand alone. Also, it’s often best to pick out one or two colors to be your dominant color theme, and let all other colors play lesser roles. However, any and all generalities about color I’ve made here, I’ve broken many times in my own creations, so never feel bound by rules, but rather try to let intuition lead you to the highest of artistic creativity, if at all possible!

8. Weaving Patterns: In this particular ojo, after a bit of contemplation, I decide to add a bold, simple pattern, to balance out the quick changes I’ve woven so far. Here I’ve added four rows of a mossy green, then one row of a bronze color, then two more rows of the green. To prepare for the next stage, which will be orange going to all of the sticks, I’ll snip the yarn seen closest to the bottom of this photo short, and start the pattern from the stick which you see here in my hand.

Next, I weave to every third stick, and wrapping around the sticks twice on average, I make an eight pointed star pattern. With this pattern, the angle to and from each stick is very sharp, and you can easily wrap three times around each stick without your yarn bunching up at all. Also, its a good time to really even up your pattern, as there is more flexibility than at other points in the process to wrap the yarn more times, or fewer times, around each stick and still not show too much of either separation between the strands of yarn or to have the yarn bunch up too closely together.

9. Creating a Border: Finally I add the border, wrapping on average once per stick. On the last time around, I might give some extra wraps to the stick ends; the last chance to make the pattern come out even. When I get back to the starting stick for the last time, I cut a tail two or three inches long, and wrap three or four times around the stick, tucking the end of the yarn underneath itself once on each turn around the stick. The tail left at the very end I cut to about one inch in length, and tucked it in between the wrapped stick and ojo border, on the back side.

10. Adding Embellishments: The ojo could be declared finished right here, but I usually add some embroidery to the border, using a yarn needle. In this ojo I’ve chosen to embroider a fairly complex circular design. When I curve back at the two ends of such a design, I find it’s best to run the yarn underneath the back strands of that section of the design, to hold the last stitch properly in place.

Experiment a bit as you make this type of design, and try and find a balance between the design made by the yarn, and the spaces created in between the design elements. I encourage everyone to try adding needlework to your ojos. The design possibilities are endless, and you can truly make an ojo your own with a new and unique bit of needlework. Designs can also be added to parts of the ojo before the
border, and can even be used to pull the yarn of an ojo into a new position. After getting the working end of the needlework yarn back to the starting position, I tie the two ends together with a square knot.

11. Finishing: The final step is to add a loop to the backside for hanging the ojo.

You can find many examples of Ojo de Dios possibilities in my Etsy shop, and also in a Facebook group I started, Ojos de Dios, Yarn Mandalas of the World, where weavers from many countries around the globe have showcased their work. Happy weaving to you!

If you make your own Ojo de Dios, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.