I hope you all had a wonderful Earth Day. My family celebrated by spending some time outside in nature at the lake near our house.

While we live in Florida, no it was not warm enough to go swimming this weekend.

This was the result of indulging in cold water fun.

Once they warmed up a bit, the kids decided that playing on the shore was just as much fun as swimming.



Rit is an inexpensive dye that can be found in the laundry section of grocery stores across America. If you are an average American that wants to dye a piece of cotton clothing Rit is probably the dye you will turn to. I myself have turned to Rit on multiple occasion to dye clothes, and on multiple occasions I have been disappointed with the results.

What I had not realized is that Rit is an acid dye, and despite the proclamation on the box that it is suitable for dying cotton, Rit, like all acid dyes, is terrible at dying cotton. To dye plant fibers, like cotton or linen, you would use a fiber reactive dye. To dye an animal fiber like wool or silk,you would use an acid dye, like Rit.

How to Dye Wool Yarn with Rit – Uniform Color

I started with some yarn I had previously dyed with a food safe acid dye. I had not been happy with the washed out red, and decided to over dye it with Rit’s dark red wine color.

Since I wanted uniform color, I started with a dye pot large enough for my yarn to move freely. I filled it with water, my dye, a cup of vinegar, and my yarn (already wet). Then I turned up the heat.

Slowly heat the water to almost boiling, and occasionally move the yarn within the pot very gently. As the dye is absorbed, the water will become lighter in color.

When the water is as light as it is going to get (clear if you added just the right amount of dye), and you yarn is the color you want, turn off the heat, and let the water slowly cool.

When the yarn has cooled, fill a container with water the SAME temperature as the water in the dye pot, then rinse your yarn. If all of your dye was incorporated you should see little to no color run off.

Now it’s your turn!

Note: When dying your yarn take care to change temperatures slowly and move the yarn gently. Abrupt temperature changes and agitation of the yarn will turn it into a large felted lump. Also, don’t use kitchen implements that will later be used to cook food!

A crafter’s stash consists of the materials required to engage in that craft. It may consist of yarn, fabric, paint, beads, bits of metal, or anything else required to engage in the craft. I would venture to guess that all crafters have some stash whether it is boxes and bag full of materials that would last a lifetime, or only enough for the next project. I would also guess that, given enough time, crafters will experience the inexplicable phenomenon of their stash growing of it’s own accord.

Given the number of crafts that I engage in, and the amount of time I have been crafting, my stash is pretty small; however, the amount of space allocated to my stash in my tiny house is even smaller. After cleaning up the working area of my little craft studio last week, and putting away all of the pieces of my stash that had been left out, I realized that the cabinet in which my stash is stored needed a good de-cluttering too.


Here is the before and after! Wow, look at the difference! What is the secret to my success? Bags that can fit 3 blanket into the space of one, baskets whose interior dimensions are greater than their exterior dimensions, or hiding everything under the bed? No! I also didn’t spend any money on clever organizational gizmos, or new baskets, or magical vacuum bags. In fact, I didn’t spend any money at all. So how did I do it?

I got rid of stuff. A lot of stuff. 3 garbage bags full of stuff. I mercilessly purged all of those items I did not love, or could not think of a purpose for. The small bits of fabric, too small to even make a napkin, suffered the worse. I put them all in a pile, and told my kids to give me those that they would like doll clothes made from (the only thing I routinely use small pieces of fabric for). The rest went in the trash (sorry quilters).


My left over bits of yarn went in a basket my kids can reach so they can access them. They will now be easily accessed for kids projects, wrapping and tying things, and knitting experiments.


The left over bits of fabric, and squares large enough for napkins (but not much else) are now in a drawer of their own.

And my interfacing, stuffing, and dye have their own space now too.

I have to admit that I was scared to get rid of my stash at first. After all, it could be used to make something. And I love to make things. But now that it is over I feel a huge sense of relief. I am now left with those things I actually WANT to make into something, and I no longer have an insurmountable mountain of stuff bearing down on me waiting to be worked on.

I encourage all of you to turn a critical eye on your stash, be it big or small, and cut out the chaff. I think you will be glad once you have done it.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. My family was sick during the holiday, and we are still on the mend, but we still pulled ourselves together long enough for an egg hunt.




I have been reducing the clutter in my house, and sharing the results with you in my power of less series. I will finish off national craft month, with crafty decluttering.

For me, having no space to craft is the most discouraging barricade to crafting. When my craft “studio” is a mess, nothing gets done until the clutter is cleared.

This decluttering was simply reestablishing my pre existing organizational system, rather than an overhaul of that system. I’m pretty happy with the results.

As national craft month comes quickly to a close, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite crafty podcasts.


3) Destination DIY
Destination DIY is a independently produced radio show from Oregon, US that is also released as a podcast. It tackles a variety of crafty topics, from maker fair to crafting disasters. The professional quality of this podcast makes it a joy to listen to. Unfortunately it is not produced very often.


2) iMake
iMake is a multi-craft podcast from Guernsey, an island dependency of the UK. It usually consists of a craft segment, and a segment about Guernsey itself. My favorite thing about this podcast is the range of crafts it covers, some of which I had not heard previous to this podcast.

Electric Sheep

1) Electric Sheep
Electric Sheep is a knitting podcast, featuring pattern reviews, knitting essays, a ninja sheep, Molotov chickens, and beards. This smart and funny podcast from London, England, is the only crafty podcast that Fire Beard has ever willingly listened to, even the kids like the yearly audio panto at Christmas Time.

In celebration of national craft month check out some of these entertaining crafty podcasts!

As I said in my previous post, while working on the Taffy blouse from Colette Patterns I became a bit disenchanted with the Full Bust Adjustment, and decided to try the small shoulder adjustment instead. It worked beautifully, and now I am ready to share with you the method and the results.

I began by copying the front and back bodice pieces that corresponded to my full bust measurement. On the copy I also traced the upper portion of the pattern size corresponding to my high bust measurement. At the bottom of the armscye, I blended the smaller shoulder into the larger side seam. This new line was my new armscye.


If the length of the new armscye was more than 1.5 inches bigger than the sleeve, then the sleeve cap would have to be adjusted to compensate for the new size of the armsyce as well. Fortunately, that was not the case with this sleeve cap, and no adjustments had to be made. Frankly the idea of adjusting the sleeve cap of this bizarrely shaped sleeve is the stuff of nightmares, and I thanked God that it didn’t have to be adjusted.

The initial tissue fitting indicated that I was pretty close to a great fit, and a muslin indicated that it was nearly perfect. Here is the result.


I think that a comparison of the FBA adjustment and the small shoulder adjustment makes the difference in fit pretty apparent. The armsyce is really distorted after the large FBA, but looks pretty normal after the small shoulder adjustment.


Like nearly all pattern adjustments the small shoulder adjustment can be done in more than one way. My way, is simply that, my way. It is not necessarily the best way, or the “correct” way, but it is what worked for me, and I will continue using it, until I find something that works better.

Most sewing patterns base the measurements of their sizes on an imaginary ideal person. Her bust is a B cup, her full bust measurement is equal to her hip measurement, and her waist is 10 inches smaller than her full bust or hip. It is usually recommended that those sewers whose bust is larger than a b cup adjust their pattern using a full bust adjustment to accommodate their larger busts.

For those people whose busts are larger than a B cup, and their full busts are larger than their hips, I highly recommend this adjustment. But what about those, like me, whose busts are larger than a B cup, but the same size as their hips? For many of these people (including me), a full bust adjustment would have to be followed by a full hip adjustment for the garment to fit the entire body.

I have, as generally recommended, adjusted the bust and then the hip, with mediocre results. After hours of pains taking adjustments, I usually end up with a mangled pattern that is more tape than paper, and the proportions always seem a bit off even through my bust and hip are proportionate. I decided there had to be a better way, and began experimenting with small shoulder adjustments instead.

The problem for those with cup sizes larger than B (and nothing else is larger), is that, if the pattern size is determined by the full bust measurement, the garment will be too large in every place but the bust. What I realized, is that my hips and waist are proportionate to my full bust measurement. The only part of my body that is small in relation to my full bust is my shoulders. So, why should I pick a pattern size based on my upper bust (basically my shoulders) and adjust everywhere else, when I can pick the size based on my full bust, and only adjust the shoulders?

I believe the reason the full bust adjustment is generally recommended is that it is considered easier than the small shoulder adjustment. After all, the small shoulder adjustment involves the armscye, and adjusting the armscye is scary for most.

After doing an FBA and making a muslin I was not happy. The blouse hung strangely, still didn’t fit that well. I decided to start over and do the small shoulder adjustment instead. After making the muslin using this new adjustment, I knew I was on to something. I did a few more tweaks, the made the final garment.

I am pretty happy with the results (although I would adjust it a bit more if I made it again), and I am using this technique again in the garment I am currently making. Details to follow.

The Taffy Blouse, from The Colette Sewing Handbook.

My latest crafty endeavor is the Colette Taffy Blouse, which, given my limited crafty time and exacting standards, took me over a month to complete. While I will try to cover a few of the reasons it took me so long over several posts, today I will only be covering the sleeves.

The Sleeves of the Colette Taffy Blouse are, as you can see, quite voluminous. While they are very pretty, frankly, they are a bit much for my taste. So I decided to make the full circle sleeves half circles. I will show the the first step in that process today.


First I traced the original full circle pattern piece. I trace all of my pattern pieces before I make any adjustments so that I can go back to the original if I make any mistakes and so I can make a different size in the future.


I started to adjust the pattern by making evenly spaced cuts through the sleeve, up to but not through the seam line. I mirrored these cuts in the seam allowance, again, not cutting through the seam line. Keeping the seam line intact keeps the armscye intact, so that the armscye on the blouse portion of the pattern doesn’t have to be adjusted as well.


Then I overlapped my cuts evenly and taped them in place.

It is worth noting at this point that I could have also simply cut a large wedge shape from the center of the sleeve and taped the exposed ends back together. The reason I didn’t do this is that the sleeve ins’t a perfect circle, and while taking a piece out of the middle would have reduced it’s bulk, it would also change it’s shape. Reducing the sleeve evenly around it’s circumference better retains it’s shape.


When finished, the pattern looked something like this.

In the final version I further decreased the bulk of the sleeve and extended it’s length by several inches.

Gerwerken Crafts now has a new address; http://gerwerkencrafts.com!

For now, you can still access the website at the old WordPress address too, but that will (eventually) change. So start changing your bookmarks as Gerwerken Crafts is moving on to bigger and better things!


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