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Classes at Kill Devil Hill

20 Sep





*CALL : 347.534.3088

Community Tailoring Classes

7 Jul

The response to my classes at the Brooklyn Brainery have been so overwhelming! Thus, I’m very excited to announce my upcoming plans to teach community tailoring classes. I hope to launch the first class in late August (after I return from my annual month-long retreat to the Berkshires) at a Brooklyn coffee shop, TBD. 

These will be casual, open classes. Everyone can walk away with something useful, whether or not you have a sewing machine at home and no matter your level of experience. Beginners can come for an introductory crash course; the more advanced can come for individualized advice on altering specific garments. Bring your ill-fitting clothes, and I’ll provide the rest. Cost is pay-what-you-wish, suggested donation $20.

Subscribe via email with the form in the right sidebar if you’d like to be notified about upcoming classes.



The Basics of Fitting and Alterations at the Brooklyn Brainery

18 Jun

On Saturday, one of my students from my first alteration class at the Brooklyn Brainery just happened to stop into Kill Devil Hill (my place of business), wearing the romper she altered in my class. 

It was a beautiful coincidence.

I’ll be teaching another session of The Basics of Fitting and Altering on July 2nd. It fills up quickly, so get on the wait list to be the first to find out about future sessions! It looks like I’ll be teaching more of these as time goes on, as well as a more in-depth, multi-session version of the class. So keep your eyes peeled!



Just When You Thought You Had to Throw Them Away…

5 Jun

For over a month now I’ve been working at family-owned Greenpoint general store, Kill Devil Hill. We sell an assorted collection of antiques, gifts, house-made candles and soaps, products from other local artisans, custom-made aprons and denim repairs (among other things).

It had never occurred to me before I started at Kill Devil Hill that a tear in a pair of jeans was reparable (apart from, perhaps, with an unsightly patch). But oh how wrong I was! If you have a pair of jeans that are full of holes (or just inappropriate thanks to one inopportune crotch hole), but you just can’t bear to part with them, you are not alone. As it turns out, we Americans really love our jeans. Bring them on by the shop — 170 Franklin St @ Java — and we will mend your holes!

This new-found knowledge, of course, inspired me to dig out some of my old trash-bound jeans and fix them up.

Sad jeans…

Happy jeans!

Close-up jeans…
mended hole on left,  original denim on right

Never give up!


Librarian Paraphernalia: Taking it Back!

22 Apr
Summer. A season for two-eyed folks to join ranks with four-eyed folks. A season when the ocularly-blessed among us no longer have to envy the less fortunate because of the radical accessories they are prescribed to indulge in. I’m talking eyeglass chains. They are fabulously useful for keeping your glasses (whether prescription, sun, or ironic vanity) ever-handy. They adorn your glasses while you wear them, and transform them into the best kind of neckwear when you’re not. And they are super easy to make!
Style options are infinite. If you need some inspiration, check out what Etsy sellers are offering. I went for kind of a steam punk vibe because I just happened to have brass chain and fish vertebrae hanging around.

 Most of the supplies you’ll need will depend on your design, but the one thing you’ll definitely need are adjustable rubber eyeglass chain ends.
These are available at most bead-crafting shops, online, or at the ends of those horrible neon eyeglass chains they sell at the drug store for next to nothing.
For instructions regarding basic beading techniques, visit my post from last June, To Bead or Not to Bead… (perhaps my corniest post title yet).
If you’re using chain, you will need jump rings to connect the chain to the rubber ends. This is a simple task with just a pair of pliers or two. Just remember, always open and close jump rings laterally so as not to weaken or disrupt the circle.
 Now, go forth… be irrepressibly hip in a reminiscently secretarial fashion!

Wool Dying and Sweater Blocking

28 Mar
And just in time for the resurfacing of a little season-appropriate weather I’ve finally finished a long-running sweater project I’ve been picking up and putting down for over a year. 
It started with a box of white virgin wool that a dear friend of mine gave to me. 
Her father is an antiques dealer and she went with him on one of his estate excursions, and picked out this gift that only a knitter would truly covet. The white of the yarn was pure and bright in a way that doesn’t really fit with my palette, so I didn’t use it until the brilliant thought occurred to me that I could dye it. 
I considered writing my own pattern for the sweater, as I have done a few times in the past, but I have learned that making your own pattern can really complicate things. I don’t have anyone to check my math and knit me samples and edit my patterns. And with all that time and labor, no one wants to re-knit a sweater. So unless undeniable inspiration strikes, for the time being I am sticking to published patterns. For this sweater I found my pattern on Knitty, an exhaustible, but good free online pattern library. I knit cardigan “Zora”.
I decided to knit first and dye second, a.k.a. garment dying. I wanted a single, solid color and particularly for yarn balled up like mine it is the easier option. You could dye yarn sold in a skein (when you untwist it, it unfolds to a big circle), especially if you’re interested in making self-striping yarn. 
So anyway, for the past year-plus I have been occasionally visiting my Zora, knitting straight from the pattern in the original white of the yarn. Until last week, I finished.
I pieced her together and began a little online research about dying wool. I’ve used the Procion MX fiber reactive dyes recommended by my professors in my fashion school days before and had some lying around. I’ve used it on cotton, silk, and rayon, but never on wool. And it turns out, wool is more finicky, but certainly dyable. Procion MX dyes can be purchased at any art supply store worth its salt. It comes in about a million shades (if you buy online, the in-store displays I’ve seen usually offer around 30), but it can also be mixed to create your own shades. 
Queen Dinah didn’t care for me taking pictures of anything but her.
Cotton can be dyed in a bucket of lukewarm water (see Dharma Trading for instructions regarding the dying of cellulose fibers like cotton, rayon, bamboo, etc.).
But wool has to be simmered. And if you’ve ever accidentally thrown a wool sweater in the washing machine you may know that carelessness with wool and water = felt. Wool doesn’t like change. It has to be gently eased into temperature change, and it has to stirred with care. Friction = felt. 
The only decent instructions I could find are here. I followed them pretty strictly, so I won’t bother reiterating them. The only I didn’t use was Synthrapol, the special detergent that they recommend. I used what I had in the house and it worked out just fine.

I mixed the Ice Blue and Bright Green pictured above in hopes of achieving a pale mint hue, which was admittedly only marginally successful. As it turns out, there is a reason that people who really care do preliminary color tests. But I’m just one girl with one sweater, and I couldn’t be bothered. I added a bit too much of the green and my sweater turned more spring than mint. Perhaps someday I’ll redye it (it is a bit of a sore thumb within the color palette of my wardrobe), but for now my Zora will remain her cheerful spring green, and I’ll admit it’s growing on me.
The next imperative step is blocking. Blocking should be done with any hand knit sweater whether you dye it or not, but once your sweater is wet you cannot escape it. Blocking is a tool with which you can perfect your finished sweater. Smooth out your lumps, even out your sleeve lengths, whatever it is. But wet wool is delicate and you can also botch it pretty easily. 
1. Hand wash your sweater in lukewarm water, avoiding friction as much as possible. Gently squeeze as much water out of your sweater as you can, but DON’T WRING IT.
2. Put down a towel wherever you have the space and carry your balled-up sweater to it. 
3. Lay your sweater on the towel. Don’t hold it up to admire your beautiful work; wet wool is like a slinky! Ribbing especially is difficult to smush back into its original elasticity after you accidentally stretch it out.
4. Spread your sweater on the towel carefully arranging it to the proper proportions and measurements, patting it into place and bunching up any ribbing you want to remain elastic.
5. If your sweater is still pretty wet roll up your towel with the sweater inside and squeeze out as much excess water as possible. 
6. Unroll, replace the towel with a new, dry one and repeat Step 4.
7. Allow your sweater to dry completely.
8. Wear it and look fabulous!


R.I.P. Good Vibes

7 Mar
Huffy “Good Vibrations” Beach Cruiser was pronounced dead at 2:17PM on Monday, March 5, 2012. Good Vibrations suffered severe trauma to the frame as a result of repeated abuse and neglect. A pothole was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Good Vibrations was survived by owner, Melody Litwin. Good Vibrations and Melody enjoyed five and a half happy years together. “I knew she was getting tired in her old age, but I never expected her to go so soon and so suddenly,” mourned Ms. Litwin. “Good Vibrations was always there for me ever since fate brought us together, shortly after my move to Brooklyn. She showed me all the wonderful things New York City has to offer, she always supported my in my endeavors, and she never abandoned me; good times and bad, sun and rain. She will be sorely missed.”
Though Ms. Litwin continues to mourn the loss of beloved friend and bike, Good Vibrations, she also joyously welcomes newcomer CyclePro “Sylvie” Crosstown into her home and heart.

Welcome Sylvie, and best of luck to you in your future together!